If you follow me on Twitter you may know that some days I'm on there no stop. Just tweeting away about anything and everything. And then other days I'm not on there at all. With an eight month old and a full time day job, finding time to tweet can be hard! One of my favourite things about Twitter is that I get to know so many wonderful people - both bloggers and readers that I wouldn't have ever interacted with otherwise.
About six weeks ago I came across a tweet from Carol Anne aka @ThisIsRockSalt talking about Foodie Penpals. I was intrigued.... I'd had a penpal when I was younger and loved writing letters to her, and sending and receiving packages. It's always nice to receive packages in the mail rather than the boring bills and junk you normally get. I immediately tweeted her back, and just like that I had signed up to become a Foodie Penpal.
Let me give you a bit of background info - Foodie Penpals was started last year by American food blogger The Lean Green Bean. Since then Foodie Penpals has grown from about 30 participants in the US and Canada, to over 600 participants in the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. Carol Anne from the blog This Is Rock Salt now organises the UK & European side of Foodie Penpals. So what is a Foodie Penpal you ask?? Well, let me tell you! Basically, bloggers (and readers if they wish) are matched up together each month. At the beginning of the month everyone is notified as to who they are matched up with (it's someone different each month), and then they're responsible for putting together a little foodie package for them. How fun!
My first Foodie Penpal package was sent to me by Jules at Good Gobble Blog. I had never "met" Jules before (ie: in person, twitter, or the general blogosphere), so before she put together my package we sent a few emails back and forth so she could get a feel of what types of things she might want to send me. I told her that I liked "snacky" type things and things that I could use in my baking.
Jules put together a fantastic package for me, and I was so excited when it arrived. The first thing she included were some Caramel Callets from Slattery's Parissiery and Chocolatier in Manchester. I first read about Slattery's on Jule's blog post here when I had just found out that she would be my foodie penpal. This place looks seriously amazing! You've got to check out the Chocolate Challenge dessert that her friend Doyle ordered!! OMG! Seriously drool worthy. I have to go to this place when I'm in Manchester. Actually - I have to go to Manchester just so I can go to this place! I sampled a few of the Caramel Callets and they are delicious. I'm still not too sure what I'm going to make with them, but when I do you can be sure to read about it here!
Jules also sent me shortbread mix in a jar. All I have to do is add butter to the mixture and bake. Simple! I had planned on baking the shortbread on Saturday, but I was starting to come down with a cold and couldn't muster up the energy to even attempt to bake anything. Next weekend!
She also included some sweet plantain chips - something I'd never had before, but were a favourite snack of hers while she travelled through Peru. She just happened to find them here in the UK! Jules recommended eating them with a salsa recipe that she included on the back of the package, but my husband and I just snacked on them straight outta the bag. Yum!
Jules was also kind enough to make some things for me to snack on. She made individual rocky road bars fully loaded with chocolate and marshmallows and as well as some delicious walnut free granola (I'm allergic to walnuts). The rocky road bars were absolutely delicious and the fact that they were individually wrapped meant they were the perfect thing to throw in my lunch bag for an afternoon snack at work. The granola was also just as delicious. I've been munching on it by the handful rather than eating it with milk because I rarely have milk in my fridge unless I'm baking with it. I haven't been online much in the past few weeks, so I've not really been able to catch up on my blog reading. I've just noticed that Jules has posted the recipes for the rocky road bars and the granola, so if you'd like the recipes please check them out on her blog. I also must apologise for the complete lack of photos in this post - my camera was on the wrong setting and pretty much all of them turned out blurry except for a few. **Smacks head! Doh!** I did manage to take a picture of a rocky road bar with my iPhone before I gobbled it all up! You can also see more pictures of the rocky road bars and granola on her blog.
My Foodie Penpal for this month was Helen from Aardvark Cakes. I have to be honest and say that I was a little intimidated at the fact Helen was my foodie penpal. After all, she runs her own cake decorating business so she's bound to either have everything or seen it before. I had recently made a trip back home to Canada and the US just after I signed up for Foodie Penpals, so I bought a bunch of different things specifically for my future FP's. Whenever I go on holiday, and even when I'm shopping here at home I'm always on the lookout for different foodie things that I don't see every day and can't buy regularly. I picked out a few things for Helen that I thought she might like, so hopefully she enjoyed them!
I sent her a cute box of Lemon Whoopie Pie Mix, some buttery microwave popcorn (one of my favourite snacks from back home - traditionally popcorn here in the UK is either salty or sweet - not buttery), some maple flavouring for cakes and icing, a little packet of powdered cinnamon bun icing flavouring that I came across while in the US, and a Coffee Crisp Easter Egg - coffee crisp is a Canadian chocolate bar that as far as I know isn't sold outside of Canada.