Saturday, December 31, 2005

Some of my favorite non-food bloggers on food

Every now and then I find some of the best posts on food by non-food bloggers. Recently I have been slacking due to the flu and have found a couple of great posts regarding food, food companies and becoming food professionals. My two favorites I've listed below:
The first is by my very favorite web writer. Tony Woodlief authors a blog called Sand In the Gears. I have been reading Tony's blog for about two years now and have read the archives all the way through. He has an amazing ability to capture and retell the stories of home so well. I live through my own childhood and that of my children's while reading his blog. However, I read the post I linked to in December. it made me laugh out loud. I love his take on the Swiss Miss pudding cup fiasco and he also has one to the Frito Lay company a little later in the month. If you need a good laugh, Tony is your guy.

Second, is the blog of one incredible person. Superhero journal is the blog of Andrea Scher. Most of you are probably familiar with her blog and love going there as much as I do. What I like about her is the way she is able to see with different eyes and point out to all of us the wonder of the world we live in. She posts great photos everyday and the photos alone are enough to make you want to grab a camera and see what you haven't seen. Recently she had posted this picture and story. It helps to remind us that we all work hard and mess up and work hard some more. That even talent takes work and incredible things happen when we try try again.

Tony and Andrea are two of my favorite non-food bloggers!

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Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm a different kind of food blogger

Most food blogs you visit always have a nice picture or a recipe of something they've recently cooked or eaten at a restaurant. I find myself half way through preparation, and then think oops, should've grabbed my camera. Or, if I'm eating out, the light isn't right or I've already eaten the best part.

To tell you the truth, I don't think it's the picture. It's the passion. I love food. Most food bloggers love food. But I come at it from a different angle. I like origins. It's why I began in the business those oh so many years ago. At 15 and a half. My first job: fast food. It was exhilarating, it was humiliating. Exhilarating because I got a job for the first time ever. It gave me independence. It also came at a price. When all the kids were at the football game on Friday night, I was slinging tacos. Then when the game was over, they'd come in and I'd have to take orders and feed them. It was humiliating at times. I didn't last in fast food long.

I quickly accepted a job at a photo shop down the street. Mr. Holt introduced me to the best optics available. With my very first tax return I bought the best camera money could buy. An Olympus OM-1. I still own that camera. It has taken many, many pictures. Not many of food.

I didn't last long at the photo shop. Mr. Holt retired and so did his business. I was again without employ. I wrote about the next job I landed in one of my very first posts here. It was for a big box grocery company. It has now been assimiliated through acquisition after acquisition. However, food became an obsession of mine.

I even married a farmer's son. We began dating in high school. I remember being at their home during lunch hour in the summertime. His dad would come in from the field dirty and worn looking. He'd laugh at my then boyfriend and tell him he wouldn't last a half a day working with him. It was true. The man was a worker. A hard worker. He grew the best melons and tomatoes I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy.

He introduced me to farming. Tractors, combines, drying sheds, sulphur. We lived in a farm community. We still do. People laugh when I tell them where I live. I ask them why and the explanation is always the silliest to me. "It stinks there". I tell them it keeps the riff raff away. And the smell to me, is the smell of money. Dairy farmers used to be on three sides of the valley, now just two. And they will disappear from the landscape soon, I'm sure.

Before the farmer's son, I had a crush on another farmer's son. He was the smartest guy I knew. He went to the rival high school in the valley. His dad had about 2000 acres of apricots. I pitted apricots at his dad's farm to earn camp money two summers in a row when I was younger. He was so cute back then, and we're still friends today. In fact when we needed a new driveway a couple of years ago, he did the cement work.

So what I'm trying to say is food began to be all around me. Farming, grocery, as a brokers seeling stock talking about food companies, and finally managing a food production facility. Where does it all grow, how is it all packed, who does all that work? That's what interests me. In the next few months that's where the focus will go with this blog. I'll still talk about recipes and favorite places I eat, but there will also be more emphasis on the stuff I love about food.

Come along, share the journey, add comments as you please.

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News Flash

Whole Foods is replacing MBNA on the S&P 500 list beginning January 1st!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Just in case you haven't heard

The news on Albertson's. They have decided that they are no longer for sale. They will be revamping their operations and getting rid of underperforming assets. Albertson's will be focusing on their core business and improving the company from within.

Good for them! (now if they'll just kick the manager in my town's store in the butt and make him clean up his store!)

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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Hreed's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for your support this year!

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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Presents for me!

Presents for me!
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I rarely ask for persents. It makes me feel weird. "what do you want?" Well, what i really want is a trip to Ireland for four weeks, but that ain't happening so really nothing is usually my response.

I do keep a wish list at Amazon, just so I can remember all the cookbooks I want to purchase. I am severely lacking in the retention mode as far as book titles and Amazon helps keep me informed, thus the list.

So the big guy went to look at my list and got me this book. It is really nice! I always say used is good on my list just in case someone wants to buy me something they never have to pay full price. It also is a good way to know what recipes are good, if the pages are dog eared and all. This book was listed as used, but it evidently was a gift for someone who didn't want it or some other reason. It had never been opened! It's a great book, I will spend a lot of time with in the future.

The second wonderful gift pictured was from my great sister s'mee! She made this plate for me because she knows my love for all things chocolate. She hand painted all the chocolates and they look very much like the real thing! They even have ridges and swirls like the real thing.

Her best statement about the plate was that her grandson, was upset because the chocolates weren't real. He didn't find the illusion to his liking at all.

Wonderful unexpected gifts. They're the best kind!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Light Blogging

Blogging has been and will continue to be light through the 28th or so. I have a few pics I will post, not food related, however, in keeping with the season.

See you soon!

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Bride was different

Chocolate Cake
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Every now and then an adventurous bride will walk through the door. One who knows exactly what she wants, and she doesn't want the same old thing. Buttercream in stark white, a white or lemon cake with simple dots all around and live (well looking live while dying) flowers in pink or orange or rose.

She'll be daring enough to say something like chocolate. I want it all chocolate. Chocolate cake, with chocolate mousse filling, iced with ganache beat to a light buttery chocolate cream!

Or possibly a flourless chocolate cake served in individual servings. Or a pavlova with passion fruit and guava.

Something different. Adventure! It's worth it usually.

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Friday, December 16, 2005

Bite Me!

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This is Canada MINI's Christmas greeting to all of us enthusiasts. They actually had a cookie cutter download so we could reproduce our own cookies!

So in the spirit of Canada's Christmas greeting, I downloaded it and made my own cookies. Mmmmm.!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This one's for Lisa - Chinese Fried Walnuts

Out of the hot oil
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
These are a holiday favorite. Very easy to make and simply one of the best salty/sweet snacks around!

I got the recipe from a Good Housekeeping magazine back in the late 70s. It takes a bit of time, but it is well worth the effort.

Start with 6 cups of water. 4 cups of California walnuts (any states walnuts will do, but I am true to my homeland!)
1/2 cup of granulated sugar, your favorite oil (not olive oil - too much flavor) and a bit of salt.

You'll also want a sieve, like in the picture, ora draining/cooling rack. Also a colander on hand.

Place the sugar in a bowl; set side.

Bring the water to a boil. Add the walnuts and bring to a boil. Then let them cook for one minute (or so).

After the minute of cooking pour the walnuts into the colander and rinse well with hot water to remove all residue for about 30 seconds.

Once rinsed, drain well and then add to sugar that you earlier set aside. Roll the warm walnuts in the sugar until glazed. While you're waiting for the sugar to melt heat your oil.

In a pot, add about an in to two inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees. When sugar is melted add half of the walnuts to the oil and cook to a golden brown, about five minutes. Remove from oil, and let cool. Bring oil up in temperature and add remaining walnuts. Repeat.Frying

One important note! Do not cool on paper! The sugar will stick and you'll have a mess to throw away - believe me!

Once the walnuts have cooled, salt to taste. Store in a tightly covered container. Share with friends.
Ready for a little sea salt

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Food for Models!

I have read in the past that runway models eat only ice. Ugh! Such slaves to fashion that they restrict all caloric content to have a figure (to literally) die for.

Well, the New York Times has an article that will make them smile! I can't imagine anyone else finding this foray into gourmet eating very inviting or filling. Chicago's trendy Moto Restaurant has introduced a new 20 item tasting menu. You can begin with "sushi" and end with a peppermint, all printed on paper - edible paper. The paper is infused with flavors and pictures are good enough to resemble the real thing, maki, candy canes, filet mignon! It has zero caloric content, yet may contain amino acids and other nutrients. The chef - Homaro Cantu - has designed this edible paper from modified food starch and uses food grade inks, infused with intense flavors, to print the pictures. Many who have tried them have enjoyed them enough to book meal, a $240 meal. That would be the meal for non-models, they'll have to stick to the paper stuff!

Chef Cantu has applied for three patents for the process and is very tight lipped about exactly how the paper is made and infused. If a journalist would like to sample a prototype, a four page non-disclosure agreement must be signed. Cantu is already developing ads for magazines and thinks the possibilites of his inventions are expansive.

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Monday, December 12, 2005

Sugar, sugar

Not the song, the real thing, refined sugar.

Sugar prices have risen about 50% due to hurricane Katrina. Most of the Gulf Coast's cane fields were wiped out during the storms of '05. So, make the best of your holiday sweets! In january you'll see a significant price increase.

Why so long before the increase? Well, vendors set their prices long before a season is upon them, so they have to wait for the new season before they can raise prices. Contracts are contracts, and hopefully your favorite retailer has locked their prices in before the hurricane season hit. So many candy, ketchup and confectioners will wait until the beginning of January to raise their prices and recover a bit of the losses they've incurred. Many have said they've a stack of price increases just waiting for January. So if you have a favorite, stock up or enjoy now.

January has always been a good month to give up sweets anyway!

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Update on Albertson's

It looks as though three bids have been submitted for Albertson's. It will be the end of December before we hear if any of them have been accepted.

I looks like Kroger has taken a pass on Albertson's and that Supervalu has joined the group. Supervalu, a Minneapolis wholesaler, has joined with Cerebus Capitol Management and Kimco Realty in making a bid. Hmmmmm. A Whole sale grocer, a money manger and a realty firm. Just where does Albertson's stand with these guys?

Then there is the team of KKR (famous for the RJR Nabisco fiasco), Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group. Apollo Management is the firm that acquired Borden Chemicals last year. They are a described to the press as a provaste investment management company. Borden is now listed as an operating company of Apollo Management. Texas Pacific Group is an investment firm described by Hoover's in this way: "Texas Pacific Group (TPG) has staked its claim on the buyout frontier with a reputation for roping in companies other investors wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. TPG, an active investor with over $20 billion under management, often takes control of the companies in which it invests. The firm is generally interested in resuscitating well-known consumer and luxe brands that have fallen on hard times." I would be very interested in seeing that bid for certain, and seeing who's giving what in what percentages.

Third is the Yucaipa Companies with Dubai Investment Group. Dubai??? Yes, they are an international real estate investment firm. They have 26,500 investors on record. Their focus is real estate. Albertson's owns quite a bit of real estate. Real estate that is believed to be under-utilized in the real estate market. Yucaipa Companies is the only grocery based investment firm in the group. From Hoover's: "Yucaipa has a hungry eye for picking out ripe bargains in different industries, but made its name with grocery stores. The investment company forged its reputation as the ultimate grocery shopper, executing a series of grocery chain mergers and acquisitions that put the company on the supermarket map. The Yucaipa Companies owns Jurgensen's, Falley's, and Alpha Beta, among other chains. The company's chairman, billionaire Ron Burkle, is a prominent Democratic activist and fundraiser; former president Bill Clinton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson serve on the company's board." I would venture to say the Yucaipa Companies couldn't compete on its own in this negotiation and has put together a bid with Dubai on the agreement that some real estate and under-performing store will be closed and sold off. Others will be kept alive and remodeled to increase market share. Purely specualtion on my part, but I've seen this type of deal before.

Then there is the bell of the ball in all these negotiations. Bristol Farms. Bristol just announced last week the acquisition of Lazy Acres. Lazy Acres is a natural and organic grocer with a 19,000 square foot store in Santa Barbara. They have been in operation since 1991. Bristol will keep the Lazy Acres name and has pledged to open additional location throughout the Santa Barbara area.

UPDATE: The Yucaipa offer was classified as timid. Albertson's had their hopes pinned on the Supervalu bid and still is hoping for a firm offer from them. However, the only tabled bid was from the KKR bid. Albertson's had asked for a "whole company" deal, KKR/Apollo were the only firm to deliver just that. Unfortunately it was not the price they were expecting, yet it is close. All I can say about these developements is that if I were Kevin Davis I'd be very concerned.

2nd Update: It looks as though there is now clear winner to the bidding auction. There is large speculation that the company will be broken apart at sale. The Jewel/Osco division going to none other than CVS. The grocery portion possibly will be split between Kroger and Safeway, an east/west divide.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Blogging by Mail #3

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Yahoo! Today is Monday. I have had a difficult time getting the motivation to do anything today! Last night we did a dinner for 120 and I'm just set back by that a bit.

I was sitting, taking a view of outdoors, when the postman pulled up. He got out, fished for something in his truck, and came to the door. I asked my husband if he was expecting a package. No, came his reply.

I opened the door and said thanks to the postman and began inspecting the package. Singapore! Who do you know in Singapore? Not a soul. Hmmm. Thank it hit me! This must be my blogging by mail package! Yay! Yay!

I quickly opened it to find the nicest things!My blogging by Mail person just happens to be Mumu, the author of A Curious Mix! I hoped my package would be from an international blogger! You see I don't travel much at all, and any way to get to learn about other people and places is welcomed!

And, wonderful is how I would describe this box of goodies and info! Mumu included a good list of items, including dried guava! She remembered reading that I wondered what it must be like dried and sent me some! Along with the guava came all sort of good things: A Curry premix and a chicken rice mix! Some Bak Kwa - barbecue pork slices, mmmm! Some Rice Krispies from Shanghai! Along with those items a couple of pouches of sauce mixes for sweet and sour and a lemon chicken dish. Wow! I will have a feast!

Mumu included these items as the holiday she chose to share is the Chinese New Year. I probably won't wait that long to try some of these items. Some things look too good to put off until later.

Mumu also included a couple of really great looking recipes that I will definitely try. One for steamed fish with fermented soy beans and the other for sweet taro sticks. The taro is readily available so this one will be made shortly. Along with the recipes, she included the food section of the local English paper on Sunday and the local Wine and Dine magazine.

Thank you! Thank you so much Mumu for sharing a bit of Singapore with me! I will keep in touch with you through your blog!

And, my neighborhood grows day by day. ;-)

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ribbon Candy

Ribbon Candy
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Mom brought me some ribbon candy! It comes from Washburn Candy Company. Nice website!

Just a little inspiration for you to help with those "aaaaccck! the holidays are coming!" blues.

See the little reindeer nose in the background? Cute.

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We are so lucky

Those of us who live in the US that is. New statistic: Citizens of the US use only 11 cents of every dollar for food expenses. Wow. Now remember that is an average not specific to everyone. Of course most food bloggers spend a higher than average amount, and certainly there are other that spend even less!

There's a problem though. Food manufacturers recently met in an annual conference and were stymied over the problem of how to get more healthful food to the consumers, while at the same time, making it profitable, and keeping costs current. That's a big problem. In order to make food more healthful, it's going to cost more. That's a fact. If we don't want added chemicals, or preservatives or a litany of other ingredients (that most of us can't pronounce) we have to give up shelf life. That factor alone adds a huge cost to mass marketers, or what we like to call those big box stores the average American shops in.

We have two choices. Eat more healthy foods and pay more. Or accept what major manufacturers offer and take our chances, but it'll be inexpensive. Two choices? Possibly three. We could become proactive consumers. We've all seen and read about the Slow Food movement. Eat foods locally grown and packaged and be willing to accept that not everything will always be available.

Manufacturers don't know what to do because they process data. To quote a recent article, "In his opening remarks at the Ronald Reagan Center on Tuesday, Hershey Co. President-CEO Rick Lenny said "the rate of change is going to accelerate" as innovation in food technology and biotechnology drive companies closer to the "holy grail" of products that offer convenience, taste and nutrition. But at the same time attendees and speakers acknowledged the difficulties marketers face in trying to profitably develop healthful fare even as the threat of government regulation and the continued rise of obesity-related health-care costs demands that they do so.

"There is always pushback from upper management when we come up with new ideas [for more-healthful foods] because they cost too much and it's difficult to come up with meaningful communication that will help sell them at a higher price," said Lamar Johnson, a veteran food developer who recently left General Mills to join Bush Brothers as director of product development.

Consumers blamed Mr. Johnson, like other industry executives at the meeting, lamented that despite all the hype about health, "the majority of consumers have not grasped what it means to lead a healthier lifestyle, which makes it hard to justify development of healthier products as a profitable endeavor."

Parade magazine confirmed Mr. Johnson's supposition with data from its annual consumer food survey that showed health ranked far below other factors, including price and taste, in purchase decisions. Only 12% of respondents cited nutrition as factor in purchasing food."

We can't rely on mass producers for our health needs or concerns. They are assigned the task of feeding the world. We are responsible for our health. They cannot and will not take on that role. Well, at least for now they won't.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I know where the time goes!

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I looked at the calendar and couldn't believe that we're almost to December. I quickly thought to myself "where does the time go?".

Actually i know exactly where it goes! I have been working. A lot. I am perfecting my marshmallow recipe so I can add them to the roster of items for sale online. I currently have a few items, up and ready but am still looking for a few more to add. Over the past week I have been working on these babies!

They're very good and a nice size, so as not to overcome you with a sugar rush, but just enough to say that was a nice treat, I'm good for a bit. I have blended my semi-sweet chocolates (Scharffenberger and Normandie) to give these a rich sumptuous flavor.

Watch for an announcement for the opening of the online store!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now that's a good use of chocolate!

This morning, the House of Brussels, out of British Columbia, announced the introduction of its "Pure Chocolate" line of healthy chocolate and wellness bars.

From the company's press release: "Initial Release Includes, Anti-Aging, Stress Free, Strong Bones, Pre-Natal, Sweet Dreams And Vitamin Bars All Made With The Purest Of Gourmet Chocolate. After almost two years of development, ChocoMed, working with some of the largest International Nutraceutical developers and providers is now bringing to market a delicious gourmet alternative to pills and capsules for the Health Conscience consumer. This has been no easy task in that many of the native nutraceuticals either have an overwhelming negative taste or interact and break down the chocolate matrix in both look and texture. Not so with ChocoMed's Pure Chocolate line. The ChocoMed team paired with its parent, internationally acclaimed Chocolatier House of Brussels Chocolates has overcome these inherent problems and are now delivering a tantalizing and scrumptious product for health conscience chocophiles world wide.

Dr. Donovan stated, "As a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon for more than thirty years, like most other Medical Doctors, one of my main concerns dealing with patients has been getting them to comply with a consistent medication regimen. Now most of us are familiar with the Mary Poppins song which told all our children that, "Just a Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down...". A common sense revelation that we all have used on our children and have been seeing more and more of in Pediatric environments like vitamin "Gummy BearsTM". But what about adults? The same nutraceuticals that taste bad to children, usually taste bad to adults. So when I was approached by House of Brussels some two years ago, with the concept of marrying gourmet chocolate with nutraceuticals and maybe one day drugs, tailored more so for the adult market, I not only immediately concurred with the need, but asked to be involved."

Tim Donovan, ChocoMed's managing director and product development coordinator states, "Functional chocolates are part of a larger transformation using food systems to deliver supplements for specific medical conditions, such as Folic Acid for women, MCHC for soft bones, Q10 and other antioxidants for anti-aging etc.". ChocoMed has targeted specific medical diseases that are ideal for a chocolate delivery system.

Donovan went on to say, "As mentioned above, this has been no easy task coming up with the superior products that we are now releasing. It is not just the matter of mixing in some Nutraceutical liquid into chocolate. Even more important than the challenge of delivering a tasty and attractive looking solution is delivering a product that delivers what we say in a harmless manner. For each of our products, in collaboration with our above mentioned Nutraceutical partners, we have accumulated reams of studies confirming the good, and verifying the safeness of our products." And finally, Donovan stated, "These initial six products are only the beginning and are now available for wholesale distribution under ChocoMed's branded "Pure Chocolate" label, as well as custom packaged in volume. We are working on several more nutraceutical chocolate solutions in truffles as well as bars, and as a Physician, hopefully one day medical solutions as well."

Grant Petersen, Brussels President stated, "Bill and his team have done a magnificent job of spearheading the development of the Pure Chocolate line. From the response we have received from several world wide retailers we have consulted with on these products, we have every reason to expect a bright and very profitable future for this unlimited niche in the high end gourmet chocolate industry." See more at ChocoMed

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Time for a cookie swap!

Jennifer, our resident domestic goddess, and Alberto, the brain trust behind IMBB, have combined the efforts of Sugar High Friday and Is My Blog Burning this month with their version of an old fashioned cookie swap!

I love cookie swaps! It is always a great way of seeing how different people create. You mix together some flour, butter, sugar, eggs and a few other minor ingredients and come up with an amazing array of sweet morsels of indulgence. So many varieties, so much creativity!

I chose to share two of the family favorites that grace our table every year. These two are usually combined with traditional cut out cookies and chocolate chip versions, and a few savories. However, it is not a celebration without these cookies for the family. My daughters have called from college, on different occasions, to get the recipes and duplicate them for friends and loved ones far away.

Little Gems, Log Jams

We begin with my favorite cookie book: Sweet Miniatures. Flo Braker has been my inspiration since the early 1980s. Her book is available here or you could probably find it at Amazon. It is a simple butter cookie recipe that goes together in a snap. I use it as the base for both cookies. Little Gems and Log Jams. Little Gems are the cookie found in Flo's book. In Little Gems the pecans hide a treasure unknown until it is eaten. Log Jams on the other hand are simply made by rolling the dough into a log; pressing a well into the center; and then filling the well with your favorite jam. We always use seedless raspberry jam. Once it is baked you drizzle a lemon glaze over it and let it set up, then consume with abandon.

We choose bite sized treats for the holidays for two reasons. First, it allows you to try several flavors and varieties without over indulging. The second reason is my favorite: If you're not worried about over-indulging, now one really notices how many you really ate!

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

Just a quick note to say Thank You.
All of you, my four or five, readers, (just kidding - I know there are five or ten) really helps keep this thing going. I appreciate the time you take to comment and read and feel the occasional inspriation to try something new. I appreciate the neighborhood you've helped me create. So thanks! Go hug someone special to you, we all know there are people we'd love to hug but just aren't with us any longer, so don't miss this great opportunity today to hug someone and let them know how much they mean to you. Big hugs to each of you! Enjoy your dinner, whatever that may be.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Countdown to cooking

One of my favorite things about this upcoming holiday will seem peculiar to some, familiar to others and downright crazy to my husband. Working on the retail side of food for a good part of my younger life always had special days. Sundays, if you worked, you got paid time and a half. Holidays, such as, Fourth of July, Memorial Day brought triple time. You got three days off for working the holiday and still made the same amount that week because you did work the day of all days. Most of us clamored to work those days. Then if you were lucky enough to work the full week and the holiday - cha ching!

One holiday we always were closed was Thanksgiving day. Up until just a few short years ago even retail gave everyone the day off. I have noticed many grocers are now open until 3 p.m. That makes it really hard for a mom who's in charge of dinner!

My favorite day working in a grocery store was always the day before Thanksgiving. There is just something about the holiday that puts people in such a happy, friendly mode. Everyone is happier, more willing to wait in that long, long, line, and often exchange recipe ideas or traditions while standing waiting for their turn to pay for their foodstuffs and head home. I always was happy to work overtime, even, on this one great day. It put me in such a great mood and my customers loved the way we could make everyone's life happier just by being at the grocery store.

People spend a ton of money prior to Thanksgiving day. People save and scrimp and rationalize spending that extra dollar or two for that much needed traditional item. Women who would never think to go over their budget week after week, would now spend $6 on a coveted jar of spiced crabapples in Southern California just to be reminded of Thanksgivings long past with family back east. My favorite year of being a grocery clerk? Working at Central Market, Austin Texas. Normally I worked the grocery floor, or was in the buying office with the grocery buyer. But on this day of all grocery buying days, I got to man the express lane. I have lightening speed fingers and could check out people with ten items or less in a jiff still letting them know I cared, was interested in them and their gathering and could smile my way to the next wonderful customers. The funnest part was seeing just how expensive ten little items could be! One customer spent over $300, on less than ten items! He of course was in charge of wine selection for their meal and he bought some really great Joseph Schmidt Chocolates and a couple selections of our great cheeses. It was great.

Other retailers call the day after Thanksgiving black Friday. We loved black Wednesday. In 1976 in one store I worked at, in Loma Linda, California - which is the heart of vegetarianism in SoCal - a friend and I had a contest. Who could ring up the most business in 8 hours. We were both bookkeepers and hit the floor for the day. We both broke $30,000 that day. Wow! An average day for any of us was a good $8 or $9,000. That was the beginning of my love of working the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Not only could you have a really fun day, talking with friends and customers, enjoying their excitement of the next day, but you could stay there all day and not move more than four feet all day. I still love it. I miss the days of being there, but am glad I am on the other side of the checkstand now days. My best to you on your trip to your favorite grocer today!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

50 years of green bean casserole

This is the most successful product recipe that has ever come out of the Campbell company's kitchen! It was developed in 1955 for an AP feature article. It is responsible for sales of over $20 million of mushroom soup every year!

Interestingly, I have never eaten the concoction, er, recipe. Mushroom soup has been in my kitchen and a contributor to meals we've eaten, just never mixed with green beans and topped with crunchy fried onions. Who would have known Dorcus Reilly's recipe would endure fifty years! And, stil be so popular. Have you guys eaten it?

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Very ripe bananas

Very ripe bananas
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
A lot of women, after going to the market and picking out the perfect bananas, groan at the sight of these kinds of bananas. Not me, and probably not most of you!

I waited patiently for days while these beauties got ripe and soft and perfect for baking. This morning was the morning!

So I took 5 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 7 tablespoons of baking powder, and 2 teaspoons of salt, and blended them together.
Dry ingredients mixed
Then I added, 1 and a half cups of whole milk, 6 tablespoons of canola oil, 2 egss, my four bananas - mashed, and 2 cups of chopped walnuts.Adding the bananas
Then just stir it up. Be careful not to beat it. You just want to mix the ingredients well with a slight touch. Don't turn it to rubber by turning it over and over and over!
Mixing well
Pour it into your pans, while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. I was able to do the large pan and three gift pans. I found the wooden pans and liners at Crate and Barrel last year and have been waiting all this time to bake up some give-aways! Don't I have the largest counter tops!Ready for the oven
Bake them for 65 minutes, checking on them about half way through. Because the way my oven bakes, I have to turn the pan half way through the baking process. At 65 minutes exactly - this is what I get: Baked!

Mmmm. Ready to eat! And, give as gifts, if you're so inclined!
Yuumy good Banana Bread

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another Place...

I'd like to to work for a season. Hammond's Candies is one of the sweetest places on earth. They make the quintessential holiday candies. Hammond's has been around since 1920. Carl Hammond founded Hammond's in the mile high city of Denver Colorado and the business has lasted all these years. I say lasted, I really mean thrived. In fact business is better than ever. Their product has been carried by such notables as Crate and Barrel, Martha by Mail, William Sonoma, and Harry and David.

Hammond's is a year round candy maker. They make delicious toffees, chocolates and hard crack sugar candies in the form of lollipops and canes. Sticky sweet and oh so good. You can even take a tour of the factory Monday through Saturdays. Oh the joy they bring! If you're not in Denver, go take a virtual tour and order a stick or two!

I met Mr. Hammond, the current one, at the Fancy Food show a couple of years ago. It was grat! He was the nicest man and didn't show any inkling that he thought I was a lunatic. I very enthusiastically told him that I wanted to work in his factory. He welcomed me and told me to give him a call and he'd see what he could arrange. What a joy that would be for me. I'd love to rent a flat, cheap and convenient, and stay in Denver for a season learning the art of candy making. It would be grueling, hot and sticky work. I would probably test my limits of strength and tenacity, but I would enjoy every minute of it. The thing I want to learn the most? Ribbon Candy of course. It is my very favorite of their confections! All the pictures are from the Hammond's site!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Guava, Guava, who's got a Guava?

These delightful little fruits! Specialty Food News is telling us that Guava's are on the cusp of something big! The USDA research lab has announced that Guava has emerged, in preliminary findings, as a great little anti-oxidant. Blockbusters like blueberries, brocoli and pomegranates are well known anti-oxidants. Well, Guava is in their league. More intensive studies need to take place, but the evidence is pretty clear. Add Guava to your list of goods for you fruits. If your tired of the same old thing, try something a bit different! Guava's have such a wonderful flavor! Exotic, tropical and mmmmm good. I have used them for fillings in cakes and blended in buttercreams for frosting. Add them into a smoothie for a great pick me up. I wonder if you can get them freeze dried? What a great snack that would be!

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging #23, Thinking Good thoughts, Clare

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Clare over at Clare Eats Suffered a mishap last week on the way to a wedding. :-( They didn't make it to the wedding, needless to say, and Clare has spent the last week in the hospital. Go to her blog, her husband has been keeping us updated on how she's fairing.

So this week we have dedicated ourselves and our cats to cheering up Clare and Kiri. Clare is the type of person that loves pets so much, I bet she doesn't even hold a grudge against the Dog! He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Even still Clare, we hope you are found at home when you read this. Snuggling up with a good comfy blanket and Kiri at your side. This is Tyson. He's a Texas born cat who has been transplanted to sunny California. He's told me that if you'd like, he'll hop a plane and straighten out that dog! Tyson is the best cat in the world! He a cat's cat. Lean and muscular, eats only the best, and loves whipping cream. It is his only indulgence.

If you too, want to get in on the well wishing, just put up a post and get the permablogging info to Masak-masak. She'll put it all together and make sure Clare knows how much we wish her and Kiri well! And, by the way, even if you don't own a cat this week, it's okay to join in with wellness letters!
This last photo is courtesy of Meggiecat, her cat Meggie 17 years old, died this weekend. She posted a couple of vintage postcards this weekend and this postcard along with another, is part of her tribute.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Not in the mood? Get in the mood!

For what? The holdiays of course!

With a hat tip to Brand Autopsy I bring you the The Red Cup.

What is The Red Cup? It is Starbucks' brainchild for holiday marketing this year! Yeah, yeah, Starbucks. Go there! It has fun things to help you rev up your hiliday doldrums and also give you suggestions on how to movitavte yourself to do good stuff. Novemeber thrid's note is a test to find out what holiday cookie you are. I was a snickerdoodle! Fun. The only problem is that they haven't included the html so you can put it on your site. Oops marketing faux pas, Starbucks! The whole point of online tests are so you can share your results with the world!

Go there, have some fun.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dinner - imagine.

Boneless chicken. Sliced mushrooms. Heavy cream. Garlic. Linguine.

Saute the mushrooms in butter and garlic. Remove from pan. Add chicken, that has been cut into small chunks. Add a bit of olive oil. Saute until golden brown and done. Add the heavy cream and mushrooms to the cooked chicken. All the while you've been boiling water. Add the linguine. Cook until al dente. Plate the linguine. Add the chicken mixture. Top with your best pecorino.

Turn on some music and enjoy the food. This is comfort on the first real cold day of fall. Mmmmm. Sorry no pics. Left my camera at work.

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Curve just a little fast!

Curve just a little fast!
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This is what happens when you're trying to do too much at 1 in the morning.

A year ago March we hosted two gatherings for our #1 daughter's wedding. One in his home town and one in ours. Problem was is that they were only hours apart.

At midnight we realized there was no where to put the cake to transport it to the other location. (Things you learn along the way!) We decided the best place fot the cake was on my front seat. I loaded it in to the car and drove slowly toward our home. Heh. It was getting on toward one in the a.m. and I was headed down the pass a mere 20 minutes from home. Eeeeeek!!!! Look at my gas guage! I am OUT of gas! I can do a u turn in the middle of the road head back a half a mile and get gas. Sis stopped to see what I was doing, I told her what I was doing, she said okay and went on.

Of course, out in my area anyone who is anyone is tucked safely in bed by now so I don't have to worry about traffic at this point. I quickly (key word) make a u turn and before you know it - I have a perfect illustration of the scientific phenomenon that is - centrifugal force!

Can you imagine pulling in to a gas station with cake all over you? Oh and at 1 a.m. at a gas station in the middle of nowhere? 4 people. Wondering what I had done. Did she jump out of it? Is this a new wrestling phenomenon? Got really angry and took it out on the cake? Without saying a lot I got gas and carefully drove home. Took pictures and salvaged what we could of said cake. Needless to say it was a one layer representation of a wedding cake. Thank goodness it was just an open house! And thank goodness for the sheet cakes made in advance!

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
And you thought gas prices were just killing you at the pump!

Today, Kraft, and other food companies, are announcing increased prices due to high packaging costs. Plastic packaging is made from petroleum products. Ugh! Kraft's increase will be 3.9% Other food companies are following suit, they have no choice.

So when the oil execs jump and shout for joy at record profits, at least one group of people are happy. The rest of us just continue to pay, pay, pay!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

SHF/IMBB November Event!!!

Oooo! I just read over at Jennifer's place about this month's IMBB/SHF event! It is a combined event once again the brain child of Alberto and Jennifer. They're always coming up with these great cooking ideas! It is a cookie swap! Go read all about the rules at Jennifer's.

I love cookie swaps! It is one activity I try to participate in every year. There are endless possibilities of sugary treats, confections and the occasional sugar free treat or savory! Remember - not all treats have to be sweet! A contest is included wherein 12 participants will win a great cookbook "The Cookie Sutra". I can hardly wait to see the entries! Hmmm, now what are my entries going to be? Mmmmm. endless, I say, endless! Oh, and before I forget, ANYONE can enter this event. Even if you're not a regular food blog. Go read the rules, and jump right in! Mark your calendar for November 25th! It will be a sweet day!

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Monday, November 07, 2005


Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This is a shot of one of the cases at the bakery. It is owned and operated by a Mother /Daughter-in-law team. Both of them or so very creative and have a determination to give the area the best cakes at reasonable prices. The cakes and other pastries are first quality!

I love that you can get a very formal cake or a bit of whimsy. My favorite is the Lemon Coconut pictured at the bottom left. Ah, lemon coconut. I have seen a few of the wedding cakes, prior to delivery and only wish they had been around for the first two weddings we hosted.

If you are in Temecula/Murrieta area and need something nice for a party or special occasion drop by Sweet Layers! You never know, I might be in and get to say hi!

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Black Beans and Rice

Beans and Rice
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This is one very simple meal to make in a time crunch. Dice a small onion. Mince some garlic. Add it to a skillet with some olive oil. Cook a couple of minutes until tender. Add two or three cans of black beans, two of which have been drained. (if you're using two cans, just drain one of them)

Add the beans to the onions and garlic, stir. With your potato masher, mash up half of the skillet of beans. This will provide a "gravy" for the meal. Let it cook for a couple of minutes to blend together.

Serve over rice with salsa. Simple, easy, and a complete protein.

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Perfect Rice

Perfect Rice
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
I gets calls all the time from different people. How do you make rice? It is very simple. I use the same method with Jasmin, Basmati, or long grain white rice. It is a bit different with brown rices, takes a bit more time but not much.

Always use a 2 to 1 ratio. 2 cups of rice. 4 cups of water. Cold water. Place on the stove and let it come to a boil. When it begins to boil, turn it way down, put a lid on it and set your timer to 14 minutes. Voila! You have perfectly filled rice. As you can see by the side of my pan, it usually boil over a bit, but it's not a problem, just wipe it up when you're done.

Once the timer goes off , take the lid off and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Eat however you wish.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Recipe for Success

Last night while working on my other blog I was watching TV. FoodTV is usually a good source for entertainment or BBC America. FoodTV it was. I watched Recipe for Success. It resonated in me like nothing else! A woman (younger than me for certain!) decided to chuck it all and go for her dream. She quit her job, went to culinary school and then began working at a Bakery/Cafe. She was working 50 hours a week and decided to start her own catering company. After struggling to be everything to everyone, she decided it would be best to focus on one product and do it well. She chooses decorated sugar cookies. On the heals of Eleni's! She is based in Boston and does a darling Bean Town Tin. Her husband was able to set up a website and she has kept working hard to make her dreams come true. She will be featured in the Valentine 2006 Dean and DeLuca catalog and has a couple of retailers currently carrying her cookies. Soooo, if you are in the Boston area, look her up and buy a few of her cookies! We can all use some support when we're trying to fulfill our dreams!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Life is short...

Pumkin Pie
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.

Eat dessert first! I was thinking about the big meal at the end of the month. As you know from a previous post, I've already baked a trial turkey. Now I must do trial desserts!

Pumpkin pie is one of my signature dishes. I began as a wee child back in the 70s learning to bake these wonderful pies. There is a specific order in which the ingredients are added to the bowl. It's almost like being the anal retentive baker I guess. First the eggs go in the bowl. Then you add sugar and mix in well. Then you can add your vanilla. A teaspoon for each pie you're making. Mmmmm. Now you add the pumpkin. Then begin adding your spices one at a time, mixing it in completely, before adding the next. I have developed my own spice blend. It of course has all the typical pumpkin pie spices. Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cloves. But I have altered the amounts of each. I experiment with them to get just the right amount of each. After years of practice I think I finally have a blend I like. Not too much ginger. A littl emore cinnamon, but not too much. Very little cloves. Nutmeg about half as much as cinnamon. oooo and please forgive my use of the frozen crust, it's what I had on hand. :-(

I remember a pie I saw at a bizarre once. There were so many cloves in it the pie was actually green! Ack!

The most important thing I would say about pumpkin pie is: Make it the day before you want to eat it. The flavors must marry and give a full bloom. If you eat the pie the same day, they're barely acquainted! Let it sit over-night and get very acquainted and enjoy it like an old friend. Let it waft over you, a heady mixture of smell and flavors that take you back. Old friends are there, family, that silly brother of yours extolling the virtue of a sage dressing versus a fruited one. A feeling of closeness and home; crunchy leaves, cold air that freezes as you take it in; a feeling of gratitude, so real that it brings tears to your eyes as you think of it.

Wow. Didn't know pumpkin pie could do so much, did ya? Well, years of baking and good memories are in every one of my pies.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

Tis the Season...

To be eatin'! Fortunately those of us living in the U.S. and, more than likely, Canada are not like most of the rest of the world. We work to play for the most part. The rest of the world works to eat, to quote a farmer I know. We are now entering into the largest consumption season on our calendar. We begin the foodfest with Thanksgiving in Cananda then Halloween and then move quickly on to Thanksgiving in the U.S. Followed up closely by Christmas and finishing off with New Year's Eve. The next day we vow to lose a few until, of course, Valentine's Day rolls around.

Most of us are beginning to look forward to that Thanksgiving meal. Meal planning can include your home made dinner or a favorite restaurant meal that has become a family tradition. A few questions prevail:

Turkey: Yes or no? White or dark? Vegetarian?
Stuffing: Yes or no? Corn bread, sgae, or fruited?
Vegetables: Green Bean casserole? Crudite plate? Corn? On the cob?
What must be included on the crudite platter if you have one?
Potatoes: Mashed with butter and cream, baked, mashed with garlic, none at all?
Sweet Potatoes or Yams? Baked and served with syrup and butter or brown sugar; Baked in a dish with sugar and marshmallow?
Gravy: packaged or from the drippings with giblets?
Jello: Cherry or raspberry with bananas and cherries, green with carrots?
Pistachio fluff?
Cranberry sauce: Jellied or crushed berries in jelatin?
Pickels: Dill or Sweet?
Olives: Black or green?
Breads: Rolls, nice and yeasty or store bought heat and serve? Croissants?
Turnips, with or without greens?
Desserts: Pies only? Pumpkin, Apple, Chocolate Cream?
Cakes too? Chocolate or Carrot Cake?

I have relatives who will not eat turkey. They opt for Italian on Thanksgiving. Should anything but Turkey be banned from the meal? What else is present at the table that speaks of home?

Most importantly, the meal is an exercise in Thanksgiving and gratitude. How is gratitude shown at your table or in your home throughout these holidays? Is there something specific you do to show your gratitude? And how it best expressed?

Okay, I've started you off. Let's get a real discussion going here and see if we can inspire each other in different ways to begin this season in the right spirit.

I must give pictorial credits to Eleni's Cookies in New York. If I lived there they would definitely be present at the celebration. Hmmm. I may just order some!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This one's for Tessa Ann!

Dora the Explorer!
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Well miss missy, this is one cake I'll remember for next year. This one is actually for another 2 year old, but I think you'll like it too! One of my bosses decorated it today and I couldn't resist taking a photo of it. Imagine this cake in white icing add some bright sky blue dots and take away the Dora stuff and you've got a pretty good idea of what my first cake at the bakery looked like!

So a simple message from grandma to little miss! I'm thinking of you, give me that big smile!

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Going Postal

Going Postal
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
The web never disappoints! Everyday there is something new, interesting or just downright strange to behold in this medium. Today's new find is one I found a couple of years ago and then it stopped. I am not sure why but the USPS stopped allowing us to create our own personalized stamps. Until now!

The other day I was at Yahoo for something; I'm not sure what, but I noticed a little notice. The notice said make your own personalized postage stamps! Yay the feature is back! This is one place you can go to make them: Photo Stamps. Or there are a number of other places. If you have a yahoo photos account you can get them made through Yahoo. Google the "personal postage" tag and see what you can find.

I kind of like my Scharffenberger chocolate stamps. Imagine what this will do for philatelists!

UPDATE: Over at Craft and Bake she's got the new USPS Winter Cookie Stamps! Really cute!

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

IMBB #20 Has My Blog Fallen?

IMBB #20
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Kitchen Chick is hosting this months edition of Is My Blog Burning? with a great challenge for most of us. Souffle!

Souffle conjurs up some of the wildest ideas of kitchen disasters. No chill in the air, no slamming of doors, no running through the house. No, No, Nos!

I have yet to make a souffle for those very reasons. Had I known it was so easy and would yield such grand results, I would have jumped on the souffle bandwagon years ago.

I looked about for a souffle recipe that would render some really nice pictures. I had just partiicpated in SHF's The Dark Side and wanted to avoid the use of more chocolate...when I stumbled upon an October month theme again. In the Pink! A cheese and beet souffle that the recipe's author guaranteed unique results. As you can see by the pics the display is certainly pink!

I have deemed my venture into the world of souffles a hit by the way it puffed and held for a few minutes, then promptly fell as expected. However, I wouldn't reccomend the beet souffle to anyone else. It just didn't have any real flavor. Quite a disappointment in the palate pleasing regard. It was bland and each bite left you searching for a flavor, any flavor mind you. I won't even bother you with the recipe. If you'd like to try it email me and I will kindly forward it to you!

Tagged with: +

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Friday, October 21, 2005

SHF #13 The Dark Side

SHF #13 The Dark Side
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
The incredible Kelli at Lovescool is hosting this month's Sugar High Friday. She has chosen The Dark Side as her theme. Sugar High Friday is now in its 13th month. Wow a year of SHF's thanks to the one and only Domestic Goddess! Sugar High Friday was here invention in the food world. yay! I actually remember reading her first challenge and telling myself I'd participate soon. It has been a fun event from month to month.

When I saw this theme I knew I had the right stuff to participate. I broke out my stash of Scharffenberger 65% (pre-hersheys) and began chopping away! Added just a bit of white chocolate and came up with this torte. I was inspired by a torte in the book Pure Chocolate but needed to edit the recipe a bit for times sake.

Start off by making a whit chocolate ganache. 16 oz of good quality white chocolate. Remember, unless it lists cocoa butter in the ingredient panel, you don't have white chocolate. You have a representation of white something, but it isn't chocolate. It must have cocoa butter in it if you want to call it chocolate. Chop it into small pieces and add 8 oz of heavy cream that has been heated to just under a boil. Stir together. Allow this to cool completely(this could take up to four hours). Once cooled, whip it up with your mixer until it is light and fluffy. Set aside.

Bake up you favorite dark chocolate cake. I chose Hershey's deep dark chocolate cake. Pour the batter in a quarter sheet pan and bake until done. Let it cool completely. Once cooled, cut it in to three equal pieces (or as close to equal as you can). Place one layer on a rack.
Cake, cut in thirds

Get your white chocolate ganache. Put half of the ganache on the first layer and spread it out to cover the whole layer. Add the second layer of cake and use the rest of the ganache to cover the top of this layer. Top with third layer. Square off the cake to even up the sides and place in the freezer to cool very well; about thirty minutes.

White ganache filling
Ready for the freezer

Now you'll need about 12 oz of good quality dark chocolate. Chop it up into small pieces. Add 8 oz of heavy cream that has been heated just under a boil and stir carefully until the chocolate is completely melted. It should look like this:

65% Scharffenberger


Get the cake from the freezer. Begin pouring the ganache over the cake, making sure to cover all the sides. Save a bit to finish off the top of your cake when you have the sides covered. Once the cake is completely covered in ganache, take a bit of the left over white ganache and pipe three strips of white the length of the cake. Using a toothpick, drag it through the white stripes in a figure 8. It will swirl the white ganache into the chocolate to form a pleasing visual effect for your cake top. Place in the refrigerator to cool. Remove thirty minutes prior to serving.

Go for it! You'll be very pleased with your trip to the dark side!

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cake news!

I went in to work as usual today thinking it was going to be just another day of clean-up work. Well, to my surprise I was given a pop quiz! After doing a bit of clean-up I was given a cake round 8" and told to ice, decorate a cake. Use your imagination I was told. Do anything you want. Whoa! I wasn't prepared for this one. Yet, it was exciting to think they thought I could actually do something worthy of the front case. It was a white cake. I was told to put cookies and cream in the center. Use my imagination. Hmmm. I wouldn't have chosen cookies and cream but I did what I was told. So I decided to ice it in buttercream. I did my crumb coat and set the cake in the fridge. Now I had to think of a way to decorate it.

I went to the back to see what inspiration would come my way. I then shot up to the front to check out a few cookbooks. Then came the dreaded but very expected visitor. Hi! I'm from the county and I'm here to do an inspection. Arggh! Like I'm not already a bit stressed. We all smiled and welcomed him. Look around, get done quick, please. While he poked around and plodded over us with a fine tooth comb, I decided on a design. I began mixing my colors and stayed out of his way. We had one finding. Someone measuring powdered sugar earlier in the day had not swept up. 97.5% the highest grade he had ever given. Nice! Thank you. See ya!

Pulled my cake out of the fridge and began smoothing on the icing. This is my biggest challenge. I usually end with with way too much icing and it gets a bit difficult to regain my composure. I chose to use bright yellow, bright sky blue, and lime. I dotted the cake with all three colors randomly. Then I put all three colors in one tube, used a star tip and lined the edge and bottom of the cake with stars. The varigated colors were super! My boss said it looked super and promptly put in the case for sale. Yay! Maybe tomorrow it'll still be there and I'll be able to take a picture! If it's not there I guess that would be good too!

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FDA news

Originally uploaded by nickehret.
I sometimes am amazed at how we need to regulate things. It would seem that some things would just be common sense. I have a great friend, that while getting her doctorate in animal science, became a vegetarian. Her choice was made after touring several food processing plants. Hmmmm.

In the tone of that I present the news of the day (from the FDA):

"FDA Unveils Mad Cow Prevention Plan

FDA has announced new measures to help further protect consumers against the agent thought to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy BSE, also known as mad cow disease. The agency is proposing to amend its animal feed regulations to prohibit certain high-risk cattle materials that can potentially carry the BSE-infectious agent form use in the food or feed. Most of the proposed prohibitions have already applied to cattle feed since 1997.

The high-risk cattle materials prohibited in the new proposed rule include:

* the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older,
* the brains and spinal cords from cattle of any age not inspected and passed for human consumption,
* the entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption if the brains and spinal cords have not been removed,
* tallow that is derived from the materials prohibited by this proposed rule if the tallow containes more than 0.15 percent insoluble impurities,
* mechanically-separated beef that is derived from the materials prohibited by this proposed rule.

"These additional measures will make an already small risk even smaller by further strengthening the effective measures already in place to protect American consumers from BSE," said Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach."

Hellooo! Isn't this the kind of legislation that shouldn't have to exist? Are we not the superior species inhabiting the planet? Should we already have decided this wasn't a good idea? Good grief. At least it is being implemented, um - proposed. And, I am sure, there are those that will still find the loophole. Slow food guys, slow food.

A big thank you to nickehret for his photo!
(edited: to add quotation marks. oops forgot to do that yesterday!)

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Who am I?

I have been in the food industry for longer than I want to admit. When attending gatherings people always ask you what you do for a living. Of course we discuss the aspects of the job with friends and colleagues. You become known as one those food people. If the aspects of my employment had included professional cooking it could have easily been a culinary artist. However, that term, usually represents a small population of the culinary world.

In recent years that title: a food person has been reduced to a new term: foodie. Is anyone else bothered by this term? Foodie. Please, understand me. There is nothing wrong with being a foodie. I love food, I love the aspects of food production, farming, harvesting, processing, purveying, preparing, all of those things! But, I cringe when I hear the word foodie. Why? It coul be because the first time I truly heard the word used, it was used to describe someone I respected. She had gone to college, decided she wanted to become a chef. Went to France, attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with honors. She worked as a chef for some time and then took over as a grocery buyer for a large corporation with a "new" approach to retail grocery. We were at an intro meeting. They introduced the president of this new operation, included a bit about his resume - MBA graduate of xxx univ; VP of Sales had 25 years experience and had broken all kinds of business models as a proof of his saavy, new marketing director - MBA from Harvard, seafood director college degree number one seafood guy in the world and then introduced the new grocery buyer. She's a foodie! Oh, and by the way, she also graduated from cooking school. (no wonder she was angry most of the time) Foodie didn't even come close to describing her passion for food. She would go out and see the food growing she was going to buy. How it was packaged, processed, what ingredients were in the food they were selling. She raised the level of awareness of organic, fresh, natural, and even better quality canned or frozen foods for the entire community. She lived food. Foodie seemed too cutesy a term to describe what really happens behind the scenes in this the food industry.

It's not that I am gratified by a title. Titles really mean nothing too me. Experience does. Believe me, if you have 30+ years experience doing something you love, whether it be sweeping floors or growing grapes or any number of occupations, as long as you love it I respect you. I respect you if you have one years experience doing something you love. The people that bug me are people who choose to do something becuase it will make them lots of money, even if they hate it. Do you know what that does to one's psyche? But hey, we're into titles, they're short and describe some aspect of where your focus is. They're simple and allow a few words to describe what industry you've chosen.

Okay back to the term foodie. I propose we change it. Not a lot. Just a little. Food is an art form. People that have a passion about what they create are bunched into a big group called artists. Artists, can we call ourselves artists? Probably not, because, somebody may call us and ask us to paint something. Or sculpt something, or mold something. Or, gasp!, create something! Isn't that what we do? So lets take the term artist and merge it with the word foodie. We become foodists. Join me friends - we can change the world - we can become foodists! If you want to continue to use the term foodie, great! I'll be the lone foodist for now!
Foodist button
If you'd like to join me in this quest, you have permission to copy the button. Or you can grab it off my flickr page.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tom Turkey

Tom Turkey
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Hi everyone! Meet Tom. Tom is the first of many turkeys to grace our spcae this year. I love turkey. As soon as the summer heat descends to the high eighties I usually run right out and buy a turkey. It is one of my favorite meats to use in cooking and one good sized turkey can be made into so many different meals!

I was 21 before I roasted my first turkey. I didn't seem to be afraid of the process. While growing up I didn't have the opportunity to help with the thanksgiving meal other than to cook pies. My mom was the turkey person and until I was 21 I enjoyed supping at her table for Thanksgiving.

So on my 21st Thanksgiving I decided I was grown up enough to have everyone to my place and a new tradition was born. I have hosted Thanksgiving at my place ever since. Everyone and anyone is welcome and I do not get offended if you decide to be somewhere else.

So back to the turkey. How I do it. Buy the biggest freekin' turkey you can find. Fresh is best, and it's good to be able to see hwere your turkey grows up, but if that isn't an option, buy fresh from your grocer. If by chance you buy a frozen bird, let it thaw in the refrigerator. This could take a couple of days. Then unwrap him and give it a good rinse. remove the giblets, neck and just check for random stuff that looks like it could be removed. This time the turkey I bought seemed to have an over abundance of fat near the tail. I pulled it out and discarded it before seasoning him. Then I sprinkle a good tablespoon of kosher salt in the cavity along with some good rubbed sage. Then I take some softened buter and rub the outside of the bird with the butter, add some more sage and voila!, the turkey is ready to be placed in the roaster.

There is a lot of discussion about placing the bird breast side down or roasting it the traditional method. The breast side down camp believes that the breasts retain moisture better by roasting the bird breasts down. I've tried it both ways and come out with equal results.

What I have learned through trial and error is that when I use the roasting pan to cook the bird, I must seal the edges with foil. Once the bird is in the roasting pan, I make a tent of foil and then seal it all around the edge to keep the steam from escaping. I have had many a dry turkey by not doing this. All the steam escapes and then it is dry. Ugh!

Roasting Pan

Then you set the roaster at 350 and let it cook for about two and a half to three hours. Your cooking time will vary by the size of your bird, so check on it if your house is filling with those wonderful aromas of cooked turkey!

Done Turkey

I'll post soon about all the things that accompany this turkey!

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