Getting Ready for Baking Camp

Every year around this time, I am hard at work planning my Summer Kids Baking Camp. I have been teaching these mini week long baking courses for kids in middle school to high school for over 16 years!

Although it is lots of work and takes oodles of patience I LOVE IT! I meet all sorts of kids from different geographical areas. Some of the kids are quiet and some not so much. However, once the quiet ones start feeling comfortable watch out…

I am excited about this summer’s first week. We begin the week with home made marshmallows. They are super simple to make and the kids love taking them home to make S’mores with their parents. I even put a home made S’mores recipe in my new cookbook, “Baking with Success” with graham cracker cookies that you make from scratch.

Some marshmallow recipes start out with a meringue using egg whites that have a boiling sugar syrup beaten into them with a bit of gelatin. And some recipes just use a lot of unflavored gelatin instead of the meringue with the boiling syrup beaten in as well. Both ways work well and taste great.

I know what you are thinking. Why don’t we just use store bought marshmallows?Well, buying them is no fun, and I find that kids love to explore how to make an item that seems so hard to do and yet is not. When they see the food science of how air can be beaten into egg whites, or gelatin, and then stabilized by using the gelatin itself, it becomes an edible science experiment. The kids are amazed that they actually made something that they never thought they could.

If you are looking for a fun and educational activity for your middle schooler or high schooler this summer, please look into my Professional Baking Course for Kids at Schenectady County Community College.

Remember to never take the simple things in life, like marshmallows for granted!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail


Baking Out of Bags

I am getting down to the wire now, emptying out all of my cabinets and drawers for the BIG re-do of my kitchen. It really isn’t pretty with bags and boxes all through out the house.

Yet amidst all the turmoil, I am still finding a way to bake right up to the day of demolition. I must be crazy. Why do I do this to myself? I know why– because baking calms me down and is like a relaxing yoga-like exercise for me. Really? Really.

So today, I have decided to stockpile my freezer with homemade good-for-you muffins that my family and I can have in a pinch when there is nothing to cook or bake on during the re-do. Continuing to bake in these conditions causes other upsetting issues, I can tell you right now. Such thoughts run through my mind like: where exactly did I pack the baking powder or the salt? Where are the muffin pans?? I almost feel like a lab rat in some weird memory experiment. Hint to self: packing together what was originally in each cabinet really helps you remember where things are in each bag.

Baking must REALLY be RELAXING for me if I am willing to go through this, or like I stated before, I must really be cray cray.

I will leave you with this thought: baking out of bags is better than NOT baking at all!  At least for me. Six days until demolition.

Happy Baking!

Chef  Gail

Time To Move On and Get Over It

My kitchen is 30 years old! You’ve seen it in my YouTube videos. There’s such atrocities as pink Formica counter tops and bright, peeling, white cabinets. What was I thinking way back when?!

Well, my next baking video that I make for you will be in the newly renovated kitchen. Yes. I am getting a kitchen face lift. I know that I should be thrilled to be getting a new kitchen, but part of me is a little sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am lucky that I can swing this renovation, but I am not complaining because I am being a baking diva. Really! The whole process is unbelievably layered with thousands of both large and little decisions that you must live with for eternity. To me this is stressful.

Not to mention that during the renovation you can’t use the kitchen or even be in the vicinity! The kitchen is MY room. I spend at least 95% of my time there and I love every minute of it.

I am getting quite sentimental about destroying the old kitchen. My kids grew up in that kitchen, and we have so many memories in THAT room, of great times creating foods together.

When the kids were too young I put them on the counter top to watch me as I made meals and baked desserts. I even talked to them as if I was explaining to them what I was doing; like we were having our very own little cooking show, even though they could not understand what I was saying or doing.

As they got older, my kids happily joined me offering to stir or mix the ingredients for a recipe. Many memories were made.

On the schedule for the re-model of what gets done when, the first day is labeled as “Demo” day. Demo means DEMOLITION, where they remove everything I associate with this kitchen in order to start from scratch.

Am I excited to have a kitchen where the cabinets are not falling off the hinges? A kitchen where all the leaky ceiling stains can be removed and painted over? Absolutely. But a piece of my family’s history will be torn down and taken away. Getting a bit teary now. Do you hear music from the world’s smallest violin?

We will certainly create new memories in the new kitchen, which I do look forward to. I, also, look forward to creating more videos on baking for you that you may find more eye appealing.

Until then.

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

Excitement Over My New Cookbook About To Come Out

I have been working on a new cookbook for the past year and a half! Thankfully, it is almost done. I am now going over the galleys for final changes before it goes into publication.

I am very excited to see the fruits of my labor completed, and yet it’s scary because no matter how many times one goes over a manuscript, even one with recipes and little actual text, there is always something else to edit or tweak.

Ever the perfectionist,  I guess I just want the book to be the best it can be. I love to teach baking and know this new book explains the how to’s in a simple and basic way that anyone can understand. There are some fantastic recipes as well!

What I am most proud of is that the photographs for this book were done by my daughter, Rebekah. She did an amazing job working with me sometimes late into the night, after a long day at work, to get just the perfect shot of each of my baked goods.

The food is the real focus in the photos of this book, so you can actually see all of the different textures of the baked goods up close. I knew that I wanted to create a cookbook like that so that when I looked at the pictures of the foods,  I would have a strong urge to make those delicious looking recipes.

Writing a book is like raising a baby. You nurture it and then you must let it go and it takes on a life of its own. I hope my new book has a nice long life and people buy it and use it well!

Happy Baking!

Chef Gail

So Proud of My Quantity Foods Class at The Sage Colleges

I wanted to give my students some experience cooking food for a large quantity of people, and they had their moment this past Wednesday, April 12th. They created a delicious and nutritious meal, and they sold it to the Sage faculty and students as a Take Out Meal that they called “Sage To Go”. It consisted of BBQ chicken,  vegetable tabbouleh, a corn muffin and maple butter and a dark chocolate oatmeal cookie.

It was a huge success with the students selling 104 meals!! The students actually cooked the food in the large dining hall of the school to get experience working with commercial kitchen equipment.

You should have seen them marketing and advertising the meal to their target audience, then cooking, baking, measuring out portions, and packing all the food up in plastic containers with labels on how to re-heat the food and store it. The bags they placed the food in also had the nutrition facts of each component of the meal included.

I am so very proud of them!! They worked so hard, and the food was amazing. You may ask how would I know this? Well, I purchased a meal so I could try it for myself, of course.

This was our first attempt for such an ambitious project like this one. It got such accolades that I would love to make this Take Out Meal the capstone project for next year’s class as well, and do it every year after that. A great learning experience!

Happy Baking (and cooking)!

Chef Gail



You Call That a Cake?

My paternal grandmother has been gone now for many years and we were very close. I think of her often, but more now than ever as Passover is nearing.

I loved watching her cook or bake because she was such a natural at it. A little of this and a lot of that was the way she put her delicious dishes together. I remember following her around the kitchen with a notepad, writing down what I thought were the approximate amounts of ingredients that she used. She would always yell at me, in a loving way, stating that I was too attached to EXACT amounts, and yet I always strove for the results that she created.

As Passover approaches, I recall her showing me how to gently fold the dry ingredients into an egg foam to make a mile high sponge cake. When I was old enough, I made my own sponge cake and, well…it wasn’t quite the fine baked good that grandma would have produced. Now, my grandma was always one to speak her mind and not hold back on whatever she was thinking. To be blunt, she had absolutely NO TACT!! When she saw my attempt at a sponge cake, she said, “You call THAT a sponge cake?”

(We’ll save her colorful comments about my potato kugel for another day…)

Although it was painful to hear the negative critique of my first solo-made sponge cake, I took it well knowing she was saying it with love. Because of this, I kept making sponge cakes to ensure that they got closer to hers. My future attempts got rave reviews from her, so practice makes perfect.

After making another annual sponge cake, a new tradition has started. After the cake is baked and taken out of the pan, I proudly hold it up for grandma to see (wherever she may be) and state proudly,” Yes, grandma, I call THIS a sponge cake!”

Happy Baking and Happy Passover to all who celebrate it!

Chef Gail