Thursday, September 29, 2005

A New Adventure

I usually do what I want. I work when I feel like it, not that I am independently wealthy or anything close to it, but I won't take a job just because I need money. Thursday of last week I went exploring a bit to find a bakery my daughter had mentioned was in the area. I found it, and as I was walking in, I noticed a sign on the window that advertised a part time opportunity. Hmm. Maybe I'll inquire about it. I asked, left my name and number, they said the owner was out and would call. Tuesday afternoon, I called to see if they had decided to hire someone else. The owner said not yet and asked me to come in and talk with her. To keep this short - I got the job! Yay!

Many people have already asked why I would go from being a corporate manager to working part time at a small bakery. I know I don't have to explain it to most of you, but for those that still question it, it's because of the experience I can gain. I have never worked in a professional baking operation. There is so much to learn! I am excited to get to learn new things and that knowledge is usually my impetus for just about everything I choose to do. They are a scratch bakery and so there is going to be some great learning opportunities. One thing I have to do is get a food handlers permit. I haven't had one of those in years. It's funny - all the years of working in a food production facility you would think I already would have one. No, it wasn't required for us. Don't know why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that we didn't deal directly with the public.

It is a cute boutique bakery. Cakes, cupcake and cookies mostly. I'll take pictures of some of their stuff when I get a chance, probably not today though. My favorite is a cute little turquoise blue cake, with lime green trim and orange polka dots. Really cute. I'm off to learn and wash some pots and pans!

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Walk down Memory Lane - the 23rd Meme

I've been tagged! Ms. Inspriation, Shuna, of Eggbeater, has tagged me for The 23rd, a Meme! I checked back several generations from her and still was not able to find its originator. I found, however, that it did not begin in land of foodbloggers. The gist of the meme is...

Go to your 23rd post ever. Find the fifth line in the meme. Ponder its meaning and talk about it here. Simple. Hopefully, you have a 23rd post and the 5th line isn't something like: Not. That would be a tough one to ponder. I digress. And then pass this along to five of your favorite bloggers.

So we're off to memory land folks! From my 23rd post: Comfort Food. Fifth line: Comfort food invokes a sense of well being.

Ah, comfort food! It can be the simplest of fare; Or a complex meal shared with friends. Comfort food invokes memories so salient you can almost taste the food of which you speak. Mine - hmmm.... it depends on the time of year. Usually, for me comfort food includes gravy of sauce. You know, turkey and gravy over rice, chicken jerusalum with linguine. Howwever, if, and only if, I had to choose my very favorite of all time it would be something like this:

Lemon Coconut

Yes, white cake with lemon coconut glaze. You see, when I was but a wee girl, I would go to stay with grandma for two weeks in the summertime. She was quite a lady. Very persickety, yet having some sense of her self around the kitchen. She made wonderful things like goulash and sand dollar cookies filled with medjool dates. My favorite was the cake. You would be given a small sliver after dinner. It melted in your mouth with the most wonderful lemony flavor. The coconut had you dreaming of wonderful far away places where children played all day at the beach. Hmmm. Did I not play all day at the beach??? Well, the best part of the story is a best kept secret between grandma and each of her grandkids. If, by chance you, were to suffer the darkest and awful nightmares in the night a wonderful surprise was waiting for you. Grandma felt the best way to rid yourself of horrible scenes was to fill it with something sweet. Yep, that wonderful lemon coconut cake would do the trick. Not a simple sliver either. It was a nice fat piece to chase away the meanies - how could meanies exist in all that lemony goodness?

My grandmother was always concerned about me and the constant barrage of bad dreams I suffered with while staying at her house.

Tag! Your it! Amira because she always has something international to talk about.
Nic at Baking Sheet is a good choice because any of her posts are worthy of repeating!
Then there's Chandra, of Lick the Spoon. Anyone who's had 7 seconds of buttercream fame with Martha must have a great 23rd post.
William is new to me. He has a great blog "never trust a skinny chef". I have just discovered his blog and would love to see an earlier post!
Last but certainly not least I'm going to pick on Dex of Feeding Dexygus Seconds. I know you're moving girl, we'll wait for your post when you get settled in your new place in Austin! (just the best place in the world to have to live!)

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It's my favorite time of year

Fall gourds
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
Yesterday was markedly cooler. There was the ever so slightly cool chill all through the day. It's wonderful! In a week or so we should heat back up to a deathly heat again, then it should cool down for good.

I was shopping yesterday and came across this wonderful assortment of gourds, dried corn and small pumpkins. The colors are so vibrant! I especially liked the green and white bumpy gourd. What wonderful character!

With the gourds signaling the arrival of baking season I can hardly wait to turn the oven back on. Baking pies are a favorite pastime of mine and I can hardly wait to get started.

Someone once told me the small pumpkins can be baked whole, purred and used for pies. I will be baking a couple to explore that possibility.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Poor choice of an acronym

Remember hearing about sales of Chevys in South America years ago? The number one selling car in America in the mid 70s was a wonderful muscle car called the NOVA! My brother in law owned one in fact (he wasn't my bro in law then) but... Well they couldn't figure out why this car just wasn't selling in South America. Until someone kindly pointed out the fact that No va in spanish meant won't go. Why would you want to buy a car that wouldn't go?

Case in point. Microsoft will send me a letter for this one, I just know. But, I couldn't let it go by without at least mentioning this one. It not something you really want to mmention with food either. It's just creepy. But Microsft and Axentia think better of the idea. What am I talking about? This:

Does anyone else seem to have a problem with justfoodERP? Creepy. Just creepy. Find a new way to say it guys.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Rain, rain, go away.

Two big items in the news as another result of the gigantic hurricane season we are experiencing.

1. The seafood in the gulf states is in question currently. It is a known fact that 50-60% of the oyster beds have been wiped out and shrimping has taken a huge hit also. Oysters and shrimp have not only been affected because of the hurricane, but they've also been affected by receding flood waters out of New Orleans. The waters that have filled the gulf coast are extremely toxic and fish coming out of the area will not be able to be sold for human consumption for quite some time. Most retailers and restaurants were assured supplies would be plentiful because of the gulf area of Texas. Hmmm, can we see Rita coming? Fish out of the gulf is going to be scarce.

2. Raisins. Good old California raisins. Now is the time that raisin growers are putting their fully ripened crop on paper lined trays and setting them out to dry. The next few days are crucial to get a good crop and have it dried so it can packaged and sent ot stores throughout the US and Canada. However, there was an unexpected hurricane (Max) off the coast of Baja in the past week. It worked its way up the coast and inland parts of California and yesterday and dumped huge amounts of unexpected rain throughout the state. Raisin growers are praying this is the last of the rains we'll see in the next few weeks. If not, there may be a shortage of raisins this year. There are still two other hurricanes out there on the pacific coast to be concerned about right now. We are hioping we can return to our normal Indian summer weather we usually see this time of year. No fog please!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

This may not be a big thing to everyone.

However, some of you may be concerned to hear that Albertson's is in play. They have, over the past few weeks, put themselves up for sale. Sort of. They are looking to be acquired by a large international firm and are hoping to get inquiries.

I guess it is working. Tesco, Britains largest grocery comapny, has sent an advance team to do due diligence prior to formulating an offer. Other foreign firms include Carrefour from France and Delhaize from Belgium. US firms have shown interest too. According to Supermarket News, the reports suggest that a deal may be inked by Thanksgiving. The five reported to be submitting bids are: Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., New York; Apollo Advisors, Purchase, N.Y.; Bain Capital, New York; Thomas H. Lee Partners, Boston; and Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C. Many of the firms have previous experience in the supermarket business. It is suggested that bids were accepted last Monday. Goldman Sachs and Blackstone Group, advisers to Albertsons, are expected to work with firms before beginning due diligence. Anonymous sources cited the by the news reports, and in-line with Supermarket News analyst interviews, say the equity firms may take Albertsons private following a purchase.

The least favorite of the five is KKR. They are the firm that purchased Philip Morris years ago and blew it to pieces. Many of you may not know that Philip Morris was once the largest food company in America. KKR bouth them and Nabisco, put them together, took out a boat load of money and broke the company apart. Ugh.

But... back to Albertson's. My concern for this isn;t really about Albertsons. It's about a small retailer Albertson's bought this year. Bristol Farms. Bristol is my FAVORITE grocery store in California. They are the closest thing to Central Market here in SoCal. They have high end products and a devotion to quality. The best of everything in the grocery arena. They also have a great catering section and an in house cafe.

I wrote to the president of Bristol, Kevin Davis, earlier this year begging them to build a store in our area, as I currently drive and hour and a half to shop in their closest store to me. He said beacuse of distribution channels they would not be expanding to our area. Then a few short week later I saw the news that Albertson's had purchased them. Gloom and doom. I knew it wouldn't last. One of their VPs assured me that nothing would change. Albertson's was looking to diversify and Bristol was a good fit. Now Albertson's is over extended and looking for a buyer. I can only hope the purchasing firm does take it private. There still may be hope for Bristol in all of this. The thing I am most curious about is whether or not Bristol will stay part of this deal. Will they separate it out and spin it somewhere else? Bristol is too small a firm to take too much meandering and the assurances of Bristol that all will be well is definitely in question at this point.

UPDATE: A Reuters story this morning mentions this interesting factoid:

"Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons says it owns 60 percent of its stores, making it an attractive real estate play for a financial buyer who could sell the assets and lease back the real estate, using the cash to pay down debt used to finance deal."
Also, CVS is showing signs of interest because Albertson's own SavOn and OscoDrugs (which just ahppen to be the old American Stores companies sold off by Sam Skaggs in the late eighties.)

KKR will really take the lead on this considering the real estate holdings involved. Also, if you're looking for a flyer in stocks ABS (albertsons) is currently at $25 and change. It is expected that if this deal goes through the price could climb as high as $33.70 a share. I'm not saying go buy the stock by any means, but if you white collar gamble, this just might interest you for a short term gain. (/turns off old broker brain)

Update2: Terry Leahy, Tesco's chief operating officer, stated this morning that Tesco will not be bidding on Albertson's.

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cupcake Crazy!

cherry cupcake
It seems we all have a love for these sweet little treats! Everyone is writing about cupcakes lately. I mentioned the cute ones in the MarthaStewart Kids this month (go get a copy!) and S'mee ran right out and got a copy. She has the cutest cupcakes posted today! I will be doing my own rendition of the same cupcakes next Saturday and will post my results.

A couple of other places I go to see great ideas for cupcakes are:

All cupcakes, all the time Rachel and the gang were my forst foray into the online cupcake world.

52 Cupcakes 52 cupcakes! Yep 52 and the journey to discover them week by week.

Not really just cupcakes but Cake Fun still a very fun cake site! I love all the cakes and fun frosting things!

There are also the commercial bakeries like Sprinkle's and Leda's that are local for us SoCal residents.

Do you have a cupcake site I've missed if so leave a link in the comments and I'll add it to the list!

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Amazing utterly amazing!

I was visiting a favorite place today, Design Sponge. I love, love, love her blog! There are always great places to click on and interesting stories to explore. If you haven't visited there, definitely go!

Today I'm linking to a story from her for my daughter. She just moved to Idaho and is bored out of her mind! You see, she is a California girl. Born, bred and wed! She is having a dificult time adjusting to the slower pace of life. I have reassured her life is good where ever you are and you need to get out and take some pictures! She is an avid photographer and loves to see things with new eyes. She is also my petit ami with whom I converse in french. Well, she does most of the conversing...

This one's for you mon ami: Minimiam. Why do I post this on a food blog? Well, you must click on the link. This link will take you to some of the most incredible food photography I have ever seen! They have taken creativity to an entirely different arena! Go there now! I cannot stop smiling!

Update!: Welcome NotMartha visitors! Got in, and thank you for the link. The post on m&ms is two posts down. Kick the tires a bit and leave a comment or two! Thanks! ;-)

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Friday, September 09, 2005

NOLA Restauranteurs Vow to Return

"PapaBoy, Harry Dixon Wilson, was elected to serve his state for thirty-two years, from 1916 to 1948, as Commissioner of Agriculture amd Immigration. Under his inspiring and witty leadership, Louisiana welcomed peoples from many other nations to the safety of our soil, where they could pursue their dreams." Dedication by Justin Wilson to his father in his book Homegrown Louisiana Cookin'.

Justin Wilson introduced me to Cajun cooking. It was that simple man on TV talking about his family and his food. Whooee he'd exclaim. Dems good I ga-ron-tee! He began to light a fire in me. You see I'd never been much of a cook. My husband is the cook, I'm the baker. I still am the baker, but when we have a good bowl of Gumbo, you know I've been cookin. There is rarely anything better than a good bowl of gumbo on a winters eve. I then learned to make a family favorite: Etouffee. One of my first posts in this blog was on what a great meal it is.

Louisiana is food. Area restauranteurs are vowing to rebuild. It may take time, and maybe not all will return, but the stalwarts who've been there through the good times and the bad will be back.

My favorite part of the artice reads "This is not just any food. It is Cajun with its brash, full-bodied take on pork fat and crawfish. It is Creole with its okra and red beans, butter and cream. It is oysters Rockefeller. It is king cakes and beignets.

"That is the epitome of what we're talking about right now," said Melvin Rodrigue, general manager of Galatoire's, a century-old Bourbon Street restaurant known for Creole classics such as shrimp remoulade.

"Everybody who sits down to dinner right now is talking about what they're going to have at their next dinner," he said. "That's part of the fiber of who we are and we're going to bring that back into play."

A votre sante, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississppi.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

em and emmms

While I was doing the marketing (grocery shopping-does anyone else call it marketing? I always have) the other day I was browsing the isle and noticed something new. Giant m&ms! The wrapper extolled the virtue of these new GIANT size of these little chocolatey morsels. Of course I had to purchase them to see if there really was a difference in size?!.


This is a picture I took of the regular m&ms. Their colors are vibrant and inviting. Still, I do miss the colors of long ago - especially tan. Sigh.

This picture gives you a view of both sizes. As you can see the smaller (regular size) is much more colorful. The Giant sized ones come in more muted colors and are not screaming to be consumed. Well, I'm sure they'll still get consumed but... I do like the designer look to the colors though.

What an assortment

At first bite I wasn't sure they were all that much bigger. So I thought we'd have to do the pictoral comparison to really illustrate the difference. You can really see they are larger, however, I am still not convinced I'd choose to call them Giants. Do any of you remember the Giant Jawbreakers of old?

Upclose comparison

All in all I am sure they'll sell as a marketing novelty for a time. If you are impressed with them, stock up, I don't think they'll be around forever!

Update!: Welcome NotMartha visitors! Thank you Megan for the link! Leave a comment if you please ;-)

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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Old Phones

I just talked with a media specialist, John Taylor, with Sprint. He says if you have an old Sprint PCS or Nextel phone, chargers, or batteries, you need to take them to the nearest Nextel store. They will be recycled and the proceeds from the recylceing of said materials will be donated to the Red Cross. I've got six old phones on their way now. Please go check old cupboards and donate what you can.

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