Thursday, May 25, 2006

Cheese Please

About a year and a little over I wrote a post on visiting our local cheese farm. And then for some unknown reason it didin't get published. I just noticed the post was nevedr shared with you. Soooooo long after I visited with Jules Wesselink, of Winchester Cheese Farm and interviewed him after an article appeared in Saveur Magazine naming him one of the 50 best cheese producers in the States.

Jules Wesselink, WInchester Cheese Farm

Jules emmigrated to the states in the 1950s after being bron and raised in Holland. He had a dairy in the Los Angeles area and slowly moved east to avoid urban scrawl and eventually ended up here in WInchester. He returned to Holland to learn the art of making cheese from the milk his cows produce. He made a few batches, shared it with friends and the business has grown steadily since then.

The farm lies off a main drag, with an old covered wagon beckoning you to come to the farm: To the Cheese Farm

At first view, the farm is just a farm. There is a trailer out front inviting you in to buy cheese. Inside is the wonderful aroma of Gouda cheese. There are several tasting tables and suggestions on how to serve or cook with the cheese. Jules was very welcoming and willingly gave me a tour.

His daughter Valerie and her husband are the cheese makers these days. Valerie took me on a quick tour of the production room, which of course, being late afternoon empty. Cheesemaking takes place in the mornings. If you go to their home site you can get a good look at cheese production. Valerie also showed me the post production storage area. She told me that when they started out they had one refrigerated trailer to store the cheese. They now own nine.

Just out of the presser
This is the cheese just out of the presser. The one closest to the lens was their Jalepeno spoced cheese. MMmmmmm.

In order for the cheese to be called Gouda it must age at least 90 days. It can be aged longer and Winchester cheese has a variety of aged cheeses. My favorite being the longest aged. It is very hard and has a great "pecorrino" taste to it. A very pungent, yet nutty flavor. It is great for grating and putting on a salad.

Aging Cheese

I asked Jules for his favorite way to eat his cheese and he said with bread. Nothing fancy, just a good loaf of bread and his cheese. It's that simple for him. I enjoy his cheese in a bread loaf I've made with green onion and spices.

Cheese Please

I asked Jules if he would limit his production to a few thousand pounds a year. "No way!" He said if people will continue buying, he'd be happy to sell the world his cheeses. They are currently available in our local Trader Joe's and a few other grocers. You can also purchase it directly from the farm and at cheese events nationwide. If you have a favorite cheese purveyor, ask them to contact Jules and acquire some of his cheese to try.

Weighing and Packaging

I cannot emphasize enough that this is a farm produced product. It is a family owned and operated business, with a few other employees. There is not a corparate agenda, just cheese lovers, producing a superior product. Come on out to the farm for a tour! If you do, contact me, and maybe we can go together!

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Shangri-La beginnings

So far so good. Lisa asked me to give some details about how it's going.

Well the first few days went well. I didn't have problems with hunger and really had to think about eating. Friday evening I took home a mini cake (cause it was a day old and time to toss it) so I had dinner and then thought to eat the cake. Mind you the cake is about three inches around kindof like an overgrown muffin and frosted in buttercream. I ate about half of it and didn't want the rest. It just didn't taste all that good. Usually I'll eat one and not even think about possibly downing another later. I actually tossed it in the trash.

Yesterday I read that taking the sucrose (table sugar) can cause sugar spikes, unlike the fructose that doesn't. I have fructose on the shelf here at the house so decided to give it a try. Fructose didn't work very well with me. I got hungry and in the late afternoon, the cravings returned. Not good. I had a left-over angel food cake from a RS function, and had two slices. Not good. So today we're all about the sucrose. I had three tablespoons in water at 9 this morning and at 12:30 had to remind myself to eat lunch. I had a small chicken enchilda for lunch with water. I find myself not "tasting" at the bakery.

Today was a full baking day. I baked chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip cookies with nuts, cherry and apple turnovers, and cinnamon rolls without nary a nibble. Who can resist a warm chocolate chip cookie with pecans??? Me!
It feels really good to be able to just walk away from those urges.

My husband has been drinking three tablespoons of extra light olive oil twice a day for three weeks. Other than an occasional bout of nausea (which can happen with oil) he is doing fine. This is a guy who contracted type 2 diabetes due to severe stress in his job. (don't believe it was stress? - try sitting with 1500 dying people and their families in the ER over the course of ten years and tell me differently) He has done a lot of stress eating and now cannot finish a regular sized steak. He has done extremely well and has even enjoyed a new energy level.

I am not sure if it the diet but I have gone from needing about 8 hours of sleep a night to six. I am alert and ready to meet the day without feeling dragged down and have increased energy levels. That's good as this journey is going to last a while.

If you have other questions or comments please make one. I'll be glad to answer as quickly as possible. Also you can go to Dr. Roberts' site and click on forums and read what others are experiencing too.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Shangri-La update

Things seem to be working. I have been doing the fructose/sucrose method. My husband, the big guy, has been doing the oil method. The big guy has been on this for two weeks. As stated before, we do not own a scale, therefore you won't see a pound by pound delineation. He has in two weeks time tightened his belt one hole. That is about an inch and a half gap on the belt.

I am experiencing the lack of cravings. I have little appetite and find myself not thinking about the next meal. This is a phenomenon for me as I usually wondered what I'd eat next. This is a new aspect of eating for me. It has also put "good food" in the forefront. Snacking is out because if I do wish to eat something it is something of value, not junk. Why waste calories on junk? That isn't to say I haven't had a good piece of semi-sweet chocolate and a pecan. I have. Just not a huge amount.

Seth Roberts has said you can eat whatever you want on this diet. I am amazed. You just won't feel like eating a lot of anything. Suddenly I can see myself able to eat anything. Except of course avocados. I'll never eat those. You see I am not a native Californian so it's not required of me. ;-)

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Another mmmmmm.

I am sitting here watching Michael Chirraello (?) make a dessert bar for a gathering. He made his own Ricotta cheese. It looked so simple I am going to have to give it a try. You take:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups of cream
put in a pot to boil. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar and a teaspoon of salt to the milk mixture. Once it is at a full boil add the zest of 8 lemons stir, add the juice from those 8 lemons and stir. Continue to boil until curds begin to form. Remove from heat and let stand to cool. After 30 minutes or so strain through cheese cloth or a good cotton (flour sack type) towel to remove the whey. Voila! you now have made your own Ricotta cheese.

I wonder if this will turn out? I'll give it a try. If you've done it, let me know if it is that simple.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Let's hear it for 'M'mmmmmm!

S'mee has given me a challenge, with a twist however. The target is to describe 10 of your favorite things all beginning with the assigned letter. My letter assignment was 'M', and then she added, use it on your food blog and blog about food! If you want a letter to do on your blog, leave a comment and I'll give you a letter!

Interesting. 10 of my favorite food related things all beginning with the letter 'M'. Here goes!

1. Mustard. The glorius concoction of oil added to crushed seeds. My favorite is Zatarain's. A good vinegary tartness, with all the right flavor enhacement for a good old polish dog. A little bit about my favorite condiment on a hotdog:

Mustard Seed comes from two large shrubs, Brassica juncea (brown mustard) and Brassica hirta (white mustard), native to Asia. Both plants produce bright yellow flowers that contain small round seeds; brown mustard is more pungent than white.

Mustard was used in ancient Greece and Rome as a medicine and a flavoring. By 800 AD, the French were using Mustard as an enhancement for drab meals and salted meats. It was one of the spices taken on Spanish explorations during the 1400s. Mustard powder was invented by Mrs. Clements of Durham, England, who made a fortune selling the dry, paleyellow mustard flour.

Before using, mix Mustard Powder with water to form a paste. It takes about 10 minutes for the mustard flavor to develop. Use in foods needing flavor highlights. Unlike other pungent spices, Mustard's flavor does not build or persist. Mustard helps emulsify liquids use in salad dressing recipes to help blend oil and vinegar and add a spicy zip. (all info from

2. Melons. My father in law had a truck farm before he died. He grew the best melons. Watermelon, Casava, Crenshaw, and one called an Escondido Gold. A combination of a Casava and a cantaloupe. Melons are wonderful alone, in a salad, or pureed as a sauce or a summer evening punch.

A great punch we served at my third daughter's wedding was a watermelon punch. Just cut all the pink flesh from the melon. Seed it (or purchase seedless) and puree it in a blender. Pour in the bowl or a pitcher and voila! you have a refreshing summer drink.

Who can resist the phrase "Wow! take a look at those melons!"

3. Measuring. In the kitchen there is a science. People comment to me a lot about working in the bakery. I hear the statement "I just can't bake. Give me the same ingredients as you, I'll follow the directions, and still not be able to recreate a recipe to turn out like yours." Well, Shirley Corrihor and Harold McGee are excellent sources for people who suffer with recipe angst. In their books Cookwise and On food and cooking, respectfully, they explain the science of cooking.

My favorite part of Shirley's book is the discussion on flour and proteins. It explains the reason that some breads come out like a door stop while other are light and flaky.

Mr. McGee's book is my bible. There are so many tidbits of info about everything foo. 46 pages alone regarding eggs. It is utterly amazing. It will help you understand the reason measuring is so important, and why some people can get away without doing it at all! Go to Amazon, buy yourself a good couple of books!

4. M&Ms. Who could forget these photos?
Upclose comparison

I have a whole section of my flickr photos dedicated to the love of these wonderful little gems. I also posted about what children do for toys when no toys are to be found entitled Child's Play:

As a child growing up toys were something we didn't have. Occasionally we would recieve something homemade from my grandpa to play with, but if that happened, he would do it in duplicates of four, so we would all have our own. I remember a donkey pulling a cart as one toy received. The wheels turned and everything!

Most often though we were left to our own devices as how to entertain ourselves. I still remember dirt clod fights and war with my brother in the "trenches" along the railroad tracks. It was the best of fun!

Still, when we visited grandparents, we did not have toys or a chance to go out and play. If we did go out to play we were usually locked out for the day, which lent its own challenges. But that's not what this post is about. It's about the ways my brother and I played war inside the confines of an apartment rented by my grandparents. My grandmother being the pickiest of housekeepers and none to thrilled with the prospect of entertaining us for two weeks, we had to be careful how "play" was managed. One day she introduced treat, it became a new "toy". She thought it was an indulgence, not often enjoyed by kids of our station. m&ms!

So how do m&ms become a toy? Very simple. Put two kids together with a package of m&ms, no other toys to play with and just see what happens. First we would divide the colors up, count them out and of course eat those that didn't fit in as they were the odd count! We then developed the game of war! We were used to being in the trenches and gathered our army and began. You began using your smallest count of colors vs the largest. Brown always seemed to be the largest army so it was usually brown against any other color. One "man" volunteered to do battle against the brown army. It begins:

Begin the war

Using your fingers you took each and pressed the two together as hard as you could with seven year old fingers and see who prevailed:Begin the war

Orange loses!

As you can see, the brown army wills out here. And so the game would go. You of course ate the loser! Soon the brown army would turn on each other and then there would be the last brown army member standing. You couldn't leave him to fend on his own so... mmmmmm!Orange prevails

Now they have included the GIANT m&ms to the mix. As you take a regular m&m vs a Giant you can see who prevails:

Big vs little
Big vs little

Giant prevails
Giant prevails

Fun times were had by all!

5. Mushrooms! All kinds, all sizes. Nothing beats a good sauteed mushroom. A little garlic, a little butter, some heat and you have the best treat! Add little heavy cream and it makes the best sauce for sauteed chicken strips! Grill me up a Portabello musroom and serve it up like a hamburger! Mmmm, mmmm!

6. Macaroni and Cheese. Homemade macaroni and cheese that is! Good creamy macaroni, buried in three cheeses, melted together with the noodles. It is a comfort food enjoyed by just about everyone. Not the box stuff, or the quick stuff, I don't like that stuff at all.

7. Meat. I'm a carnivore. There is nothing better than a well cooked steak. Medium rare, Rib Eye or Porterhouse. No steak sauce, onions, mushrooms, none of that stuff. Just a good grilled steak and a bit of garlic and salt. Serve it up with a few mixed greens with a vinegrette dressing and I'm in heaven.

8. Many friends. While I enjoy eating alone on occasion there is nothing better than a large gathering of friends sharing a supper together.

9. Mediterranean foods. Wow, for such a small place, Greece has added to my table in great ways. Olive oil. I could write three or four posts all about olive oil. Then add a few Kalamata olives, some feta cheese, red onions and a bit of vinegar. Oh man, such delicious food!

10. Meringue. I have learned to make incredible things with meringue. Frostings, cookie, pies, pie crusts, marshmallows all begin with th esame ingredients. A bit of sugar, a little heat, some water and plenty of air. It never ceases to amaze me what can be done with this amazing stuff! Or should I say fluff?

So there you have it. A few of my favorite Mmmmmm things. I've left out a myriad of others such as, mole, microwaves, melted butter, mousse, muscovado sugar and muffins! Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Mother's Day Cake

Mother's Day Cake
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This was the cake I made on Mother's day. I was hungry for a chocolate cake, but berries too. SO I baked the cake, filled the well with banana pudding and then topped it with all the berries in the house. Added a few stars of whipped cream.


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I have read the buzz all over the net regarding the Shangri-La diet. There is quite a controversary over the way Dr. Roberts has developed this diet. Sooooooo....

1. I ordered the book.
2. I read the book, the testimonials, the positive and negatives on the net.
3. I decided to give it a try. I have battled with random wieght gain since I was in my twenties. Before that, people called me "ribbon" because I was so thin. Something changed in me when I had children. My body no longer responded the way it did as a young girl. I listened to nutritionists for years, tried to balance my intake, increase my activity levels to no avail.
4. Stress entered in the job world and I saw significant problems with my body.
5. I am going to try Dr. Roberts program and see how it goes. I will track my progress for all of you to enjoy. However, because I don't believe in scales, you won't get a pound by pound change. I will however let you know how I begin to feel and changes in clothing.

I am not endorsing this program for everyone. However, humans are a mass of chemicals and cells. Not the same thing will work for everyone. Metabolism has yet to be understood by anyone, in my opinion. Managing a bakery during this process should make it very interesting.

I'll keep you posted. I'll possibly see you in Shangri-La!

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

For Mother's Day

Before I was a Mom -

I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed.
I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
Before I was a Mom -I cleaned my house each day.
I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom-
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Spit on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom -
I never held down a screaming child
So that doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom -
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.
(author unknown)

I just want to say thank you to my daughters for allowing me to be their mom. After three years of marriage my husband talked me into having a baby. If I had been given the choice I probably would have waited longer. I have never regretted it.

You guys have let me be your mom. You're wonderful. I've goofed it up sometimes, not had the patience I needed, burned more than one pan of corn. Yes, corn! Invited a buzzkill to a few functions and yet you still love me and I love you.

Thank you for being my friends now too!

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Cake Gallery

another view
Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
This week was another chance to get creative. The first cake is a Dinosaur cake. The mom asked that we do "something" with dinosaurs. This was my creation in about 40 minutes this afternoon.

Talk about lack of time though. This week was an exercise in time futility. We thought we had a production schedule and then got call after call for cakes. I even got a call at 4:20 this afternoon from a lady wanting a sheet cake for her 6 year olds birthday tomorrow. We don't bake on Fridays. I told her I was sorry, that we didn't do last minute cakes. That's after doing a Batman cake yesterday afternoon at 3:30 for a party today. The difference was that the first mom was willing to take a cake I had on hand, versus the second mom that insisted her son wanted a vanilla bean flavored cake.

So the lesson here folks is, that if you want a custom cake, and not what I have on hand, call me and give me a couple of days notice. Kind of like you knew your little one was having a birthday in a few days. That is of course unless you didn't know.

The next few cakes are some we've been able to do around the Mother's day cakes we've done all week. There were a few birthday's, welcome home baby, and graduation cakes. Yep, graduation has started around the area and we're doing a ton of those too.

What fun we mortals have!

Cute cake

Welcome baby:
Go Team


And last but not least the Triple Berry Delight. It is made with three different berries and whipped cream. We fill the cake with this and customers are all over it. It is usually combined with our white cake that has just a hint of almond:
Tripple Berry

So there is a small snapshot of the week for me. What have you been up to?

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Cupcakes are busting out all over!

Originally uploaded by foodchronicles.
We have baked close to a thousand cupcakes in two weeks. Everyone wants them. These shown are for a first communion celebration. Others have been for weddings, birthdays and a few for Cinco de Mayo.

I love them!

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