Walking into Hill Country BBQ in Chelsea one is welcomed by the woody aroma of meat being smoked. Pass by the friendly hostess and the bar, don't get sidetracked by the dessert station, and head downstairs to be greeted by representatives of WhyHunger and Bloggers without Borders. Beyond was an array of goodies and food bloggers I've connected with at local functions and via the Twitterverse. For me being part of the food blogger/foodie community is home and the best way to spend a weekend, especially a chilly and windy Sunday. Baking for them and enjoying food with them is a highlight, but to also do so for charity gets the warm fuzzy feelings going.
Cookie Swap NYC was organized by bloggers around the country with Bloggers without Borders. Bloggers without Borders has partnered with WhyHunger to promote an end to poverty and hunger throughout the nation by connecting people to affordable and nutritious foods. Fellow food blogger Lillian Huang kept many of us updated on the upcoming event. In the end forty food bloggers and food enthusiasts from the tri-state area came out to bake, talk, and share in WhyHunger and Bloggers without Borders mission.
The purpose of the Cookie Swap is, yes to swap cookies, but mainly to join people with common interest for a larger purpose. Tickets cost $40, half of which went to WhyHunger. Beyond purchase of a ticket all you had to do was bake cookies. Any kind you like! And what you get is the generosity of Hill Country BBQ's executive chef Elizabeth Karmel in providing you a tasty barbecue along with samples of their breakfast pastries and award winning cupcake! And again...the warm fuzzies!
Since I figured (and saw via many tweets) that chocolate was a popular theme I went with a recipe I'd made before. Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing. A pillowy cookie that's not too sweet but add on the brown butter icing and you are in sugar country!
It's always great to catch up with the food blogger community and participate in not just eating but helping a greater cause. Jackie did gluten free pinenut cookies, Elizabeth (Brooklyn Supper) made a gorgeous satsuma cranberry shortbread, Angela (Mind Over Batter) made chocolate peanut butter cookies and gingerbread, Hazel (Tasty Pursuits) made Gianduja cookies, Betty Ann (Mango Queen) made purple yam ube shortbread, Abby Dodge did a deliciously ooey gooey bar, and there was more, more, and more.
Hill Country BBQ, and Elizabeth, were super generous in providing the venue two years in a row, this great food spread of their succulent meats and sides, as well as a nice breakfast spread of savory and sweet items and honey butter (HONEY BUTTER!). Attendees were also provided the Hill Country NYC Food & Wine Festival (Godiva) award winning PB&J cupcake! Are there words to describe how much I loved this cupcake? Moist cake, perfect balance of jelly in said cake, a whipped peanut butter icing that did not overwhelm, and salted peanuts on top! Goodness...
Let me be honest. After all that dining and chatting and picture taking I didn't want to go home because (1) it was hard to move and (2) I wanted to take advantage of everyone's generosity and report back accordingly to the world! I only took a handful of cookies after having splurged on Hill Country (been there before and enjoyed it and certainly will be back again) so I tasted gluten free Milanos from Our Gluten Free Family (chewy and, dare I say, even better than the original), Angela's chocolate PB cookie (as always a knock out), Abby's ooey gooey bar (Abby does no wrong as far as I'm concerned), and Betty Ann's chocolate sandwich cookie (sinfully wonderful). Then there's regret at not being able to try more but my Zumba class barely worked off what I had eaten.
During events like these you realize how lucky you are to be able to indulge in great food and make it for others. So to come together for a cause to aid others less fortunate to become more educated about food and have it at their disposal is a great thing to do and promote, year-round not just during the holidays.
Bloggers without Borders has done some great fundraisers including the NYC Blogger Bake Sale that Lillian and Ken spearheaded earlier this year to also provide relief to hungry children.
To stay updated with WhyHunger's mission check out their website and connect. If you're a blogger check out and sign up for Bloggers without Borders and perhaps I'll see you at a function in the very near future.
Thanks again to all who participated and donated and organized and again huge thanks to Hill Country BBQ for the great spread and generosity.
Warm fuzzies people...