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?
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!
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
So a simple message from grandma to little miss! I'm thinking of you, give me that big smile!
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!
Sunday, October 23, 2005
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: IMBB # 20 + Souffle
Friday, October 21, 2005
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.
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.
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:
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!
Thursday, October 20, 2005
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!
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!)
Friday, October 14, 2005
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!
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.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
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!
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!
I'll post soon about all the things that accompany this turkey!
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
I hopped over the the M&Ms place and they have some cute things witht heir pink campaign. One is to make pink cupcakes and pile them up with pink m&ms and then lay them out in a ribbon. It's a cute way to show support.
I like my picture above. A million little pink m&ms. Each could represent one of us. Who, among us is suffering this dreaded disease? With research, and support we may someday be able to say this is just a plate of M&Ms!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Aw, come on, sing it with me: "When it says Liby's Libby's Libby's on the label, label, label, you will like it, like it, like it, on your table, table, table." Now you all know how old I really am!
That jingle was popular for years through the seventies.
Today I have some Libby's news to share. Not alarming news but news none the less.
This little can of pure pumpkin puree may be in short supply this season. I read a comment on another forum that indicated a shortage. A distributor was only able to secure two pallets of pumpkin for the entire season. There are several reasons he could have had problems securing additional pallets.
One, and probably the biggest reason is that he didn't book his purchase soon enough. This happens all the time. Libby's just like other purveyors are in the business of selling their product. If you book early, you are guaranteed your product. If you hesitate, and wait to place a firm 'buy' you're at the mercy of your supplier. Libby's pumpkin is responsible for 50 million pies a year! The pumpkin needs to be sold, and if you can't get off the dime and place an order, you'll get the "you snooze, you lose" response from a supplier. This kind of hesitancy also drives prices up for the buyer. Pumpkin will be available, at what price, however?
The second reason is an actual shortage of pumpkin. Pumpkin is an organic product. All kinds of problems exist in the cultivation of produce. Early freeze, lack of water, too much water, infestations, you name it. There could have been a crop failure that would affect supply. In this case the buyers are encouraged to get their firm orders in early, and even still, they may be allocated a perentage of their request. When you deal in a product that is subject to acts of nature, there is always a chance that there could be a crop failure at any time. Suppliers will work with you to get a portion of your needs, but a history of buying from them will reign supreme. An established account will always get preference, even if you are a small time buyer. If you have a good buying history with a supplier, you have a good chance of having something set aside for you in the event of a problem crop.
Third a "short-term" shortage could be caused by transportation problems or weather related shipping issues. A shipment that was expected in early September, could be delayed for six to eight weeks due to these types of problems. Once I had a railcar full of canned corn blanks shipping from Idaho to Wisconsin to be labeled. It disappeared from the radar screen. No one could tell me where it went. This was in early September. In March the following year, after the spring thatw, they found my corn. The rail car had fallen off the train while the train went too fast around a bend. My railcar was found at the bottom of a ravine. The canned corn was found, but delays in shipment occurred!
Communication is the key. Knowing your suppliers, keeping abreast of their situation and having a good rapport with them cannot be overstated.
So, back to the shortage. I don't know all the details why this guy couldn't get more pumpkin, but, I still ran down to my local store and bought the last five cans they had on the shelf!
Sunday, October 09, 2005
I let it cool while I was at church. When I returned home three hours later, I made up the frosting and iced the cake very quickly. This has become the "as the sun sets on this event" tribute cake. It doesn't look all that great from an icing standpoint, but what it lacks in esthetics it makes up in taste. It is moist and the buttercream is just like velvet. (I have learned a couple of things in the past week at the bakery!)
While I don't personally know anyone that has been affected by this horrible disease, I have read the effects of its ravages of loved ones by different people on the net. One that strikes to the heart of it is Greg and Cheryl Hammond. I am not sure if Greg is doing a fund raiser this year or not, but stop by, read his story and be ready to have your heart wrenched.
These stories must end. We need to find a cure. We need to stop having women and men die from a disease that should be curable. We can all make a difference in one way or another - just get involved.
Friday, October 07, 2005
John Moore, over at Brand Autopsy has an excellent series of articles entitled Tribal Knowledge defining the success that is Starbucks. He is also going to do the same with Whole Foods.
I have been a reader of his for quite sometime and I must admit it is addicting. Addicting not only because he writes well, but also because what he writes adds value to a business owner. If you have ever thought of owning a business, are an independent contractor or even a 1099 employee this knowledge is valuable. Read it to find out how it applies to you in business. For those of you thinking you need to tweak your business model or figure out why things are working or not where you work, you need to add Brand Autopsy to your reading list. Put it at the top. Go through his archives! John is making quite a name for himself with his spot on in his analysis of all things business.
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Attention Kentuckians! Gordon Foods is opening a new production warehouse in Shepardsville, Kentucky. They're hiring 200 people to staff the new Production facility recently built there. They will begin operations soon! From the ad:
For production and packing positions, take your resume to the express personnel office on Hwy. 44 in Shepherdsville between 8 and 5 Monday through Friday. Those jobs pay from $11.65 to $16 an hour.
For administrative or management positions, email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I don't know anything about Kentucky or the cost of living there. Is this a good wage? It certainly is better than a food packing plant in SoCal! Displaced workers? Here's your opportunity.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
This post is why Cupcake Bakeshop is a favorite of mine. She gets her baking going and then her chemical engineer brain kicks into gear and you learn some very good stuff. Not only does she explain the difference between baking powder and baking sugar, but she soews you the effect of using one or the other, or a combination of both.
Excellent! I love this kind of info!
Sunday, October 02, 2005
I love to shop. Well....I love to drive everyone around me crazy while I shop. Most of the fun for me, while shoping, is to make sure I am paying the lowest possible price for said item. That means uncovering every source, going from shop to shop, checking quality, distance and, if needed, returnable convenience. I rarely return anything but nowdays they have these little computers that track your shopping habits and if you return something at the same store outside of their programmed norm, they'll ban you. Great. Another little piece of irritation to deal with these days.
However, as usual, I Digress. Maybe I should change the name of the blog to I digress. Hmmm.
Comparison shopping does have its advantages. Like this morning I was cruising some favorite places on the net and came across this jem:
What?!? You can buy a log that grows Shitake mushrooms. And if you're careful it will grow them for years! They are difficult to kill and should do well with even the blackest of thumbs! Boy howdy! This one's a keeper. So I click on the link and find it at Red Envelope. While Red Envelope is a nice site, with lots of good items, I was suspect that the $38 price for said Shitake log couldn't be beat. So off I went to google for a Shitake log. Bing, we have another site! Shop.com has an equally as enticing Shitake log for only $20.
My words to the wise are: Comparison Shop. Check the shipping charges, taxes and return policies before you hit send. ;-)
Saturday, October 01, 2005
copyright 2005 David McCarthy
This is the winning picture in the close-up category of Visions of Science competition this year. It is a close-up, very close-up view of a grain of salt and a peppercorn. Interesting. See more of the pictures at the BBC.