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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