Little did I know when I mentioned Hershey's and Scharffenberger in my recent memes I would put the chocolate world into a tailspin! I didn't mean to do it! Honest!
Evidently, according to this story Hershey's is buying Scharffenberger.
Well John is truly living the American dream! Build a good company from scratch. Don't go too fast, do what you do very well, gain national attention because you do it so well, and then the dream is fulfilled. You sell out to a big corporate conglomerate and they keep your name. Wow, I'm stunned. I'm not saying this is a bad thing, just that it get very interesting in the months, years to come. I'm also really looking forward to seeing where John goes in the future.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Little did I know when I mentioned Hershey's and Scharffenberger in my recent memes I would put the chocolate world into a tailspin! I didn't mean to do it! Honest!
Saturday, July 30, 2005
I was given this book at age 7 (not 1957, a few years later). I began perusing its covers from front to back and back to front. I dreamed of the day I could make everything from cover to cover. Mind you I didn't even know what a mushroom was at 7, but I was willing to try anything. Well, everything except rutabegas! In fact it was a rule at our house that you had to try everything put before you and after three bites if you couldn't stand it you didn't have to finish it. That was the modified version. There were those horrible years of having to eat something for breakfast that you didn't (refused to) eat for dinner. Thank goodness that rule changed!
S'mee said she used to yearn for that igloo cake! I remember thinking it must take a real chef to pull that one off! This is the silly salad! And there are those mushrooms, that were so intriguing years ago. However, the piece de resistance was the cheesedreams! I made these until the entire family was sick of them! I actually still like them. They were easy, tasty and filling! I remember when my girls were young I even would make them for a family night simple dinner.
My little cookbook is falling apart. The front cover and first 11 pages are separated from the rest of the book. They actually now have a facsimile copy of the edition available that looks and reads just like old one. Amazon, Alibris and others have it available. It truly is a fun book for kids, everyone should own one!
Friday, July 29, 2005
A couple of months ago I wrote an article about Radio Frequency Identification or better known in the indutry as RFID. I mentioned the fact that it was too Orwellian for me. These little chips placed in packaging track the packages lifespan. From production plant to store inventory to store shelf to consumer to consumer's home. It is then tracked how long it sits on the shelf at the consumer's home. All this is done through satellite transmissions. Creepy!
So today I open my Food Production Daily update and read: According to ABI Research the RFID industry is due to undergo a shakeup in the next 6-9 months. Why? Better inventory management? Better tags and readers? Better software to handle transport info? No on each account. The number one reason given for the shakeout ABI believes many companies are only now realizing that data management is key to the technology rather than the tags and readers, previously regarded as the "business end" of RFID. Ick. I knew they would want to manipulate the data more than offer a service. It is exacty that type of statement which really bothers me. With the breach recently made public with financial data information, do we really trust someone else keeping our buying habits private?
What if you are a struggling corporation with specific needs in production you don't want your competitors to know about? I have a friend who works for a large food production company. When you go visit him at work, you first must have permission to be there. Then when you arrive the building has no identifiers. If you didn't know who my friend worked for, you'd never know. The production floor is off limits to everyone unless you have prior authoriztion. They are trying to keep their production methods secret. They are trying to also keep what they produce secret. Why? Because in their industry a few cents can make the difference between success and failure. Would they want an RFID firm tracking their purchases? Would they want an RFID firm manipulating their data? Possibly someone using their information to give someone else a hand in the competition? I think not. This information is important to consumers and businesses alike.
It makes me wonder will there be anything that anyone won't know about us if they're willing to pay the price? Shop local. Grow your own. Cook from scratch. Know your meat producer locally. All those mantras are becoming more and more important to me. We need to be careful out there!
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Many of us shop at Whole Foods. We like the quality, selection, and corporate "mission". Well this story is not about Whole Foods. It's about a company I learned about through Whole Foods. Endagered Species Chocolate has been on the shelf at Whole Foods for quite some time now. I first encountered them in the late 90s. ESC has a "mission" too. Make the very best chocolate from organic sources. I bought some, it was okay. It didn't compare to my affinity for Scharffenberger though. Sigh. I keep purchasing it in hopes that it will improve. I want to purchase and support companies that are forging ahead with "organic" methods, but I have limits. It has to taste good.
Now there is a new wrinkle in the works. Jon Stocking started ESC in 1993 with some cash and credit cards. He worked hard and built a solid company. In January of this year he sold 51% of the company to Randy Deer and Wayne Zink. According to reports they would infuse the company with cash and move the company forward, bringing more success. Jon Stocking felt they entered into an agreement that they'd work together in this effort. 99 days after the deal was struck, Jon was dismissed. Now Zink and Deer have ownership of ESC and Stocking is none too happy about it. A lawsuit was filed, they will go to court. Each side of this battle has a tale to tell. It's not pretty.
The only thing I can really say: When you own a company, one you've built from scratch, don't give anyone a higher percentage of ownership than you have. Kind of like the first time you bake that very challenging cake or piecrust from scratch - you'll be upset if you at least don't get a piece of it to enjoy.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
In the middle of a heat wave we celebrated this wedding. First in a reception hall that would not cool down. The air was on and in other rooms in the building it was ice cold. However, where we assembled for the fun, it was hot! 90+ degrees at least.
I was busy taking care of details and asked another to take pictures. Pictures of food. Of fun. Of frolic. Well we have the last two, and I am happy for that. Unfortunately - no pictures of food - unless you count the trailings of platters almost empty after the feast was completed.
Many people have asked what was served. A simple meal of italian pastas and breads: Lemon and Orange Biscotti, mixed greens with vinagrette dressing, anti pasti platter, an asparagus and endive pasta salad, pasta salad with salami, mozarella and artichokes, olives, etc;and bruschetta with crostini and chicken tetrazini. There were supporting players of a parmesan spread with artichokes and garlic, a roasted garlic cream cheese spread, and non- toasted sourdough rounds for those who didn't like crostini. We also had a couple of tiered dishes of tartletts.
These are the signature dish (this photo was not taken the day of the wedding, but is a good representation of what was served). Tartletts with chocolate ganache or fresh strawberries. We of course had wedding cake. White cake with strawberry filling, buttercream frosting. Punch? There were five to compliment the theme of citrus: Watermelon juice, Tangerine punch, Lime cooler, Lemonade, and ice water. It was soooo pretty!
We followed with an open house in another city a few days later. At that the faire was more simple. An olive tapenade, again bruschetta with crostini, an antipasti salad, cheesecake with berries or cherries, cake and punch or ice water.
Oh yes, I must mention that that day we were also in a stage two energy crisis and SoCal Edison turned off eveyone's air conditioners at 2 p.m. The inside temperature climbed to 92 degrees. It was back on two hours later. By the time guests arrived we had the temp down to 80 degrees. It was a hot week for certain!
This is the last daisy standing! You can see remnants of the "citrus theme" in the background and a pic of the happy couple. All in all it was a fine celebration. The last of three weddings for this family.
I am glad my daughters chose well. The guys are all wonderful. They have added sons to our family and we love eachone of them. We even really like the extended families that have joined ours! Each has chosen a man they can be married to forever. They will enjoy the ups and downs of life together and they'll be happy during their journeys.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
My first memeory is not a good one! Way back in the first days of cooked Jello puddings...I was told by my nother that you had to stir it constantly until it began to boil and thicken. So off I went to make the pudding! One packaged of jello pudding mix, 2 cups of cold milk, a pan, stir it together and heat up the stove. Little did a 7 year old know about heating ice cold milk and stirring a concoction until it boiled. I began to think my arm would fall off! Finally about thrity minutes later it began to heat, 20 minutes after that it was actually boiling and I could stop! I never wanted to make pudding again! Actually I think when I tell the story I can still hear my mom saying the spoon had to touch the bottom of the pan at all times to avoid the pudding from sticking and burning. Ugh! However, we all enjoyed a good dish of pudding later in the day, and a chocoholic was born!
Who had the most influence on your cooking?
My grandma on my mother's side. She was an amazing cook and baker. We would only see her about two weeks out of every year but those two weeks were filled with the most wonderful of treats and excellent food. I still have nightmares so I can wake up and have a slice of lemon coconut cake!
Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
As with Karen, unfortunately no. Film was expensive and not used to record everyday mundane tasks such as cooking (so says Mom). Obviously, things are better for me now!
Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Rarely does one dish make my palms sweat. What does, is 30 minutes before any cooking event (catering, or special occasions) I get into panic mode and completely question my abilities. Every time! Even though I am usually lauded with compliments I still get stage fright. As Mathew Carnegie said: "It doesn't matter how polished a speaker you are (replace speaker with cook), you should still get a bit nervous before an engagement." It helps me keep on my toes!
What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
My most valued kitchen gadget is my cuisinart. I have written about it in the past. Some would call it an extravagance, but for me, it is the most useful item I own. I use it for everything. In fact I have just acquired a second to help ease the burden of the first.
Disappointment: Hmmm. Teflon pans. Until I learned that a well seasoned pan was the best for any cooking, I thought teflon was a godsend. However, the flaking and scratching that goes on is creepy. I recommend seasoning a pan or two and forgetting the teflon, you'll be a better cook in the long run!
Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like and probably no one else.
Hah! My favorite: Fritos with hershey bars. While traveling a good dose of sweet and salty is a comfort. It's quick and always a conversation starter.
What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Of course chocolate, in any form. Farm fresh tomatoes and Salmon. I could possibly live on these three ingredients alone. Well, the occasional group of mixed greens would also be required.
Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!
Favorite ice cream: Baskin Robbins Chocolate Mint or if I'm in a sorbet mood, Orange or tangerine.
You will probably never eat (again??): Any organ meats. I've eaten a few and with all the good food out there, why eat something that is used to filter out impurities?
Signature dish: Tartletts.
I followed my meme forebears here:
Question added by Zarah: On average, how many times a week would you cook something to satisfy your sweet tooth? Twice a month. I really try to keep sweets at bay. I know by looking at me, most people would disagree, but I try not to indulge in too many sweets. Of course, chocolate is a daily event - 4 ounces at least.
Question added by Cathy: What do you usually eat for breakfast? Steel cut oats. Mmmmm.
Question added by Alice: What are your stand-by dinner options when you don't have the time or the inclination to follow or create a new recipe? Chicken. A good chicken breast topped with salsa and rice on the side always is good in a pinch.
Question added by Karen: What would you like to cook someday that you haven't tried before?
I really would like to attempt a deep fried turkey. I have read rave reviews and think I could manage to do it without burning down the garage!
Question added by the chronicler: Sweet or savory? We all lean to one or the other, where do you lean? Savory for me!
Who am I going to tag?
Well a couple of new food bloggers out there should let us get to know them a bit by joining the meme:
I have chosen to hear from Chandra from Lick the Spoon. She's new to me and I think she's got some interesting things to say.
Also, Lisa at Cakefun. She's all things cake on the blog, but I bet there's a lot more to learn!
And finally, Grommie at The Power of Cheese has an interesting blog. She entered a couple of IMBBs and her egg entry was number one in my book! I'd love to hear more from her!
So most of you watched at least snippets of this show. Dan and Steve won and will have their own show. Yeah, that one.
News today: Hans, you know the good looking southerner who talked really fast and was probably the guy to win... because he really can cook! I followed a link from my favorite Loobylu to a new link this morning. Amirue is a designer of children's toys. Yeah, yeah, so what does that have to do with Hans? Well AmyRue is Hans' wife. And she has confided in the net that Hans has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. He is trying to get an appointment at MD Anderson (we all know this is the best place to go for someone with his problems) and well, they could use some prayers and well wishes from the food bloggers of the world. This guy is one of us! Maybe he doesn't blog, but he does cook. So go over to AmyRue's Live Journal spot and leave a kind word or two. Okay?
Friday, July 22, 2005
Today I was taking a much earned break. The Wedding, reception and open house are over. (Much excitement was enjoyed and much happiness!) So I was indulging in a favorite pastime: TV
I was watching The Travel Channel, a show about museums of the world - very interesting - "I must go to London" I heard my husband say. Then off to a commercial. This is where my interest is peaked!
Anthony Bourdain, author of many books including Kitchen Confidential, has signed on to do a show for The Travel Channel. It looks as if it will be very good. As if Chef Bourdain would do anything less! The series is called No Reservations. One line from the commercial: "Food TV, cooks who can't cook and food you can't eat". I look forward to setting my Tivo for this one!
Update: Wow! I enjoyed it very much. Favorite part? Anthony's shaking hands with the green fairy! LOL! I did also enjoy his trip through the sewer, and the breadmaker. I will be a continuing watcher! Two thumbs up here!
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Okay, remember the tartlett dough we put in the fridge?
It's time to take it out of the fridge, grab a cookie sheet, your tartlett tins and get busy. I use a teaspoon size scoop to measure the dough. Line up your tins on the cookie sheet.
Turn your oven on to 350 degrees F. Now get to scooping. I usually scoop dough into each tin prior to beginning to press.
Once you have them filled begin pressing the dough toward the sides. You must work quickly because the dough will begin to warm up. If it does, it becomes sticky and it is easier to chill it a bit than to keep going. Press the dough first in the center and begin pushing it towards the sides making sure you fill the scallops well. This will give you a really pretty baked tartlett.
You're ready to bake them. They'll go in the oven for about 12-15 minutes if you are baking just a few. However, when you have the sheet full like mine it takes about 25 minutes to get them to their golden brown perfection.
Cool slightly. Remove them from the tins by simply turning the tin over. The tartlett will pop right out. Store them in an airtight container until you are ready to fill them with some yummy goodness!
Monday, July 11, 2005
A Glimpse, for Stephen and Gabriella
A tiny glimpse of Heaven
Came to us today
A whisp of hair
Perfect little hands,
Two tiny feet,
Your father's eyes,
We watched you sleep.
You did not stay
But for a while
You stole our hearts
Each day we'll smile
And think of you
Through bittersweet tears
Our dear little Ida, forever ours.
It always amazes me to see how simple ingredients can be brought together in different ways to produce different results. Flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, vanilla, UNsalted butter and an egg. In this edition the egg, and butter must be kept COLD. It doesn't hurt to chill the vanilla with the egg.
Many people will tell you to mix your ingredients by hand. You can do it this way, but it sure is a lot easier when you let a food processor do the hard work. Toss your dry ingredients in the food processor. Pulse it a couple of times to combine the ingredients. It is just as if you hand sifted them together, a very important part of the tartlett process. Once this is done, place your chilled cubed butter in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Like this:
A flaky crust is the essence of pies, tarts and tartletts. I'm sure you've all eaten what was deemed to be a pie crust but upon careful inspection and mouthfeel it turned out to be cardboard! That's because the butter was not combined quickly and thoroughly and the dough was over worked. By using a food processor for this stage of the dough you can easily combine the fats with the proteins and it becomes the perfect flaky crust you desire. Pulse the processor until your dough resembles bread crumbs.
Once you have reached the "breadcrumb" look you can begin adding your liquids. As you can see in the photo above I have poured the vanilla into the egg bowl. I quickly beat the egg and vanilla prior to turning on the processor. Once this is done, turn on the food processor and pour the egg mixture through the feed tube into the combined dough. This is the part I love; it will quickly become a wonderfully combined dough. A perfect lightly colored non sticky ready to chill dough. Keep the processor on until the dough mixes and forms a ball. Don't turn it off until it does. With practice, you should be able to accomplish this in about a minute's time. Note: In newer model Cuisinarts I have found I sometimes have to turn off the processor and move the dough a bit to get it to combine. I think it has something to do with the "built in obsolesence" in newer model machines. They just don't have the powerful motors as the older models. Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a ziploc bag or wrap it tightly in saran wrap or foil. Chill it for at least an hour. I usually let it chill overnight.
Tomorrow, I'll show you what I do with this dough. :-)
Sunday, July 10, 2005
We went shopping everywhere. Store after store. We looked at big ones, small ones, medium sized smokers. In fact I thought we had one purchased at one place, but after walking around a bit... the big guy decided it was too much money to spend and we left without purchasing anything.
The big guy then turned to his favorite store: the internet. He found exactly what he was searching for, went ahead and purchased it. We have had it in the backyard and have used it a couple of times. Heh, I say we, heh. I wait, smell the smoke and hope something good comes out. He does all the work.
Today, this is what came out! The most succulent ribs ever! Wow! I am very happy with the result of his hard work! I sent him over to Butterpig for a real man's view of smoking meat. I hope someday our smoker will look just like his does.
Okay, a couple of weeks ago I said I'd take a shot of the bookshelf for the new room when I got a chance. Well, this is it in all its glory.
It looks a bit loaded down, doesn't it. Top of bookshelf: Laminator and cute box I got at an Amish Museum store when I was back in Hyde Park, NY.
First shelf: Computer reference books, Dreamweaver, Flash and Adobe Suite mostly.
Second shelf: Cookbooks
Third shelf: Cookbooks
Fourthshelf: My crafting/cooking/catering/gardening/you name it reference library. Each is labeled as to the contents and it an amazing assortment of information on just about everything domestic!
Last shelf: Nice boxes holding supplies (which isn't very visible in this pic).
Shelf to the side of the bookshelf is loaded with food magazines for professionals. Mags like Bakery management, pastry and baking, food processing and engineering, and specialty food magazines. On top find my picturemate so i can print digital pics when I need them.
All in all a fun little corner of the room! ;-D
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Meme of five
Karen at The Pilgrim's Pots and Pans has tagged me for a meme. This meme actually started out there in the blogosphere somewhere and when it hit foodbloggers we shifted the focus a bit. Instead of five books, we specified five cookbooks. So off we go on my cookbook adventure.
Cooking began for me at an early age. We were the dreaded "latch-key" kids of the neighborhood. There were four of us. My brother being the oldest, me, and then the two "littlegirls". We would arrive home from school early in the afternoon, finding my mother just waking up. She worked the late shift at a local hospital and dinner would be something quick. I remember the fast food place down the block in one place we lived had a deal of ten hamburgers for a dollar. There were five of us. The result was pretty simple. So I yearned to do something different. I was given my first cookbook at ten. My culinary skills began to be honed.
1. Total number of cookbooks I own: Currently 83. I say currently because there is always something on the way from alibris.com! This also does not count all the notebooks full of recipes I've torn out of magazines over the years. I have almost 7 complete notebooks filled with recipes. The oldest one is from 1919. The Searchlight Cookbook. It is an interesting compilation of recipes, most using ingredients most of us wouldn't recognize these days.
2. Last cookbook I bought: It is hard to remember which one was last. I think it must have been Laura Brody's Chocolate American Style.
3. Last food/cook book I read: I am continually reading Shirley Coriher's Cookwise and Harold McGhee's On Food and Cooking. These are primers for me. They have such great information on how simple things can change the effect of a recipe. I have not had a chance to travel, like other foodbloggers, so I must read to find out why certain recipes just don't work in certain areas. Harold and Shirley sort all those things out and give substantial information on being successful in the kitchen.
4. Five (cook) books that mean a lot to me: They're pictured above. As you can see, Shirley and Harold's books are there.
The first book venturing outside of anything I had ever tasted: Cajun cooking. It is one of the best styles of food for me. Justin Wilson is a homey guy that I actually spoke with a time or two for questions. He was the nicest man. I've found the southern Louisiana area to have the nicest cooks, and willing to share secrets and tips on just about everything.
This year's Pure Chocolate. Wow. The love of my life, chocolate! I am enjoying this new book. The pictures are really good.
Last to be listed, but very much my number one choice, in fact I've written a whole post on it, is Flo Braker's Sweet Miniatures. I own two copies. The first one (pictured) is falling apart from use. The pages fall open on my favorite recipes. Flo's ability to write clear and concisely cannot be overstated. She helps you prevent errors. I learned to really stretch myself using her book. I cannot say enough good things about Sweet Miniatures, and its author.
5. Who would you like to see fill this out in their blogs:
I'd be interested in seeing what Amber at Renaissance Culinaire has to say. She's an up and coming pastry chef and has some great photos too!
Also, Tanvi at From The Pantry might have some interesting things to say. She's a med student, food blogger. Tanvi, if you get a minute, it'd be great to see what lurks on your bookshelf.
Thursday, July 07, 2005
Roasted garlic is so simple and easy to do. You begin with a few heads of garlic. Place them root side down and drizzle a bit of olive oil and salt over the heads and that's it. Cover it with foil. Pop it into a heated oven at about 300 degrees for an hour or so.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Usually when one thinks of Independence Day people talk of the picnics, the beach trips, freedom, sacrifice or any number of other topics that signify this great nation.
I think of something else completely. When I was a young child, I was given a book. It became my favorite children's book. Black Beauty. I got it for my eighth Christmas. It came wrapped in its own cover, it was the most beautiful book I had ever seen. I was taught how to break in a book and told how, if I was very careful, this book would be mine forever. My mother took the time to explain the importance of books. You see, she had witnessed the book burnings of the second world war. The atrocity that was burning books to keep people from expanding thier horizons and learning about something they wished to learn. How we, as Americans, could enjoy the gift of reading and learning, anything we wished. It burned inside me. I took to reading as a way to travel and experience things I never thought I would be able to do any other way. I began collecting books - not just cookbooks - but books on just about every subject one can imagine. I read and learned about other people in the world, thier lives and their differences, and most of all how much we are alike.
So Independence Day to me means to read. Really read. Anything and everything. So while on your dash to the picnic or the beach or the mountains or sitting at home under the air conditioning, take time to grab a book and read a passage or two. Remember, we can read, and enjoy, anything.