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Everything posted by Sugarella

  1. Wow! Congratulations! It's pretty easy.... not like shipping food to the US from Canada where you need government permission for each shipment. As long as you're not shipping meats or cheeses or stone fruits you're fine. Chocolate is fine. I've ordered chocolate from the US many times. Just ship direct and don't give it another thought. Just be sure your shipping company will actually ship it, and be sure it's packaged accordingly. (Some parts of Canada this time of year are hotter/more humid than Tampa.) Some Canadian customers might request that you mark their chocolates as "gift" to avoid paying duty on it.... be aware it's illegal (here, not to you) and our customs (after noticing a pattern if you're shipping through the same customs outlet) will start giving you trouble, or start blocking your shipments altogether. It's rare but it does happen. It's a very nice thing to do for us Canuck customers (we like when you try to save us money and will order again if you do) but it's better for you not to make a habit of it. It's ok to mark the shipments as "product sample" though, although obviously that's just for personal shipments or "testers" to wholesalers. Just FYI. Congrats again.
  2. I agree with Drewman, those are definitely red flags there. But that isn't to say one can't learn from their mistakes either. Maybe she just chose a bad location like many business owners do, or maybe her sales were great but she was horrible with money, or maybe there was a really good reason customers weren't buying, or stopped buying. You mentioned her shop is still open..... your best bet is to have a quick chat with her current employees. If there's any bitching to be done they'll be happy you're all ears. If I'm understanding correctly, she'll warehouse her equipment, work from there and expand your business to include a production line and some catering, you'll stay at the shop and continue doing what you're doing? Am I reading you right? If that's correct, I'll point out 2 things. The first is that you said a partnership could increase your quality of life, but by the sounds of it you won't be putting in any less hours. The second is that, with the partnership, any additional profit will be halved, as will what you're making now, so you'll likely end up with less money for a time. You mentioned your shop is "surviving" (I thought you had 2 of them?) so a partnership at this time could definitely put an enormous financial strain on you. Did you already have expansion plans for some sort of production line (packaged item, online sales, wholesale??) or is this all coming from her? I think you need to get more information. Yes, it could work, because with the right people anything could work. The question is how likely is this the right person? After all is said and done, before you enter into any partnership I think you should have her come and work for you for a period of 3 to 6 months first as a trial, so you can figure out how you really work together, what her integrity and ethics are like, what her workmanship is like, what her management and budgeting skills are like, etc. If she's very serious she'll find that a reasonable request. Good luck....let us know what you decide.
  3. Oh I didn't realize it was one of those powdered sugar/crisco deals. Because the main ingredient is sugar all you need to do is add a little water or milk and any part touching air will crust. You really should try a meringue buttercream though. Much better.
  4. I doubt solid fondant was used in the buttercream you're describing.... even if you melted it and blended it in it'd still solidify again... it's designed to do that. They were probably using the fondant for something else. You can make any buttercream crust just by adding a little meringue powder. It alters the taste a little but it works. For a meringue or swiss buttercream, make as usual but cream the meringue powder in with the butter. (About 1 Tbsp. per batch) As for the white cake I can't help because white isn't a flavour so I never bothered making one.
  5. No.... you'd need to adjust some of the leavening and/or other ingredients in the recipe to get it to turn out like the original, and even then it won't always be right. I never could make heads or tails of the formulas because the rules change based on ingredients, or can vary when using different brands of ingredients. I always found it easier to just make a second smaller cake with the leftover batter than trying to scale up or down the recipe, especially when dealing with any alkaline ingredients. Sorry I know that's not the answer you're looking for.
  6. I don't have the applicator but I have used the icing with just a pastry bag.... the icing is malleable for a period of time and when it dries firm, if you need to move it around you can warm it and it becomes soft again. It's great for lacework, strings, logos/plaques,, etc. If you pipe something with it then let it sit for a bit you can then mold that into what you want..... so a ribbon becomes a bow, etc. Really neat stuff. The icing itself is kind of pricy for what it is, but worth it for certain applications.
  7. ^^ I should've added that I noticed vegetable oil will actually absorb a little more easily into fondant than extract will. Not sure why, plus I also only ever tried it once. So maybe I'm wrong.
  8. Just out of curiosity, assuming one has paid a lot of money for the wine and therefore would have drank the majority of the bottle, how easy would it be to obtain a refund based on the results of a lab test? Or even the results of a portable test? How does the consumer prove the sample came from the bottle in question, without sending the entire bottle for testing?
  9. Sugarella

    Sexy food?

    This thread just struck me as really funny, in the sense that I'm clearly not normal! Penis-shaped pasta is not "sensual" to me at all. Bacon with gravy on it is, though.
  10. I wouldn't recommend using water to paint dusts on fondant; you can't get very even coverage. The best result you'll get is something that looks like a watercolour. As for extracts, personally I can't stand using them because they contain oil which does not evaporate, and then you end up with a colour that smears whenever someone touches it, and it (the silver) comes off on people's faces as they're eating too. Worse, the extracts taste just as bad on the cake as they do right out of the bottle. Highly recommended would be to use alcohol as a medium. Have your customers specifically requested that you not use it? Are they aware it all evaporates and there is no alcohol left? (Unless you use gin.... then the SMELL sure lingers and you hear lots of: "Who the hell is wearing so much cologne!?!" If the alcohol is still a no-go, the next best thing is vegetable oil, so at least there's no taste left. After you paint the dust on, wad up a little piece of cheesecloth and buff the cake in little circular motions VERY LIGHTLY and that'll help get any streaks out, plus it'll help remove a little of the excess oil so the colouring doesn't smudge as much later.
  11. It did come out in the 80's to the home consumer. It was called "boil-in-bag." Clearly not the same thing as sous vide, but remember mass food producers need to make products that appeal the the average person, and the average person's IQ is pretty darn low. About 20% of people can't even get microwaving right you know.
  12. Those are adorable.... I wonder what else one can make? I should really find a food carving book somewhere.... I've always thought fiddleheads were adorable. Little marzipan animals made incorrectly, like giraffes with short stubby legs or perfectly round mice, always make me smile. But small cooked birds, like cornish hens, are horrifying to me. Edited to add: Ha ha!!!
  13. It begins when you're halfway through a bowl of cereal, look down, and realize the cereal box had been full of dead bugs. Now I have to seal my cereal in foodsaver bags every time I open a box. I also can't eat raisins that have been baked into anything. I can eat raisins on their own, but baked into anything and I'm methodically dissecting the baked good and checking the raisins for wings. Same reason as above. Exactly. I once made the mistake of serving an olive oil and lemon juice salad dressing to an acquaintance. She couldn't eat the salad because she'd "never heard of that." She could eat olive oil just fine, she could eat lemon juice just fine, but mixed together and she just couldn't do it. I later figured out it was just a manipulative, passive agressive control issue, of which she had many.
  14. WRONG! How is anyone at home going to write Happy Birthday on their cake? With that gawdawful grocery store icing that comes in the tubes, that's how. Then all of their guests are going to think you use that crappy icing in your shop, which can hurt your business. So you do need to come up with a way to give your customers a "completed" cake for their occasions. As nakji suggested, the white chocolate plaque is the way to go. I'm not doing cakes right now, but when I was I kept a few handy and they were just ready to be placed on a normal cake whenever I got an order for one. (I didn't have a shop, just custom orders made in a studio.) My signature look was the plaque, piped white chocolate written on it, then edible gold painted onto the writing. Looked very elegant, but I didn't have to spend too much time on it. I had white chocolate teddy bears and blocks etc. for baby cakes, a scroll for graduations, etc. Or sometimes I would just airbrush food colouring right onto the buttercream, so you can get pretty creative with that without having to dye a bunch of icing. But I NEVER decorated anything outside my own style. Never garish sparkly blues or bubblegum pinks, or anything I'd be embarrassed to say I'd made. There's no point trying to accomodate every customer's whims because it is important to develop your own style; you end up becoming known for it. YEP! P.S. Edited to add there's nothing wrong with telling a customer you can't accomodate their request for cheesy decorations because it doesn't fit in with your business style, then suggesting a more appropriate alternative. I once told a bride who wanted those horrible plastic stairs and bridesmaids all over her wedding cake that I'd have to charge her extra because I didn't know how to make anything look that bad! But then again, I'm not always known for being very tactful.
  15. Someone once told me that men are a lot like cats.... they'll completely ignore you until they want to be petted, then they won't leave you alone until you pet them, then they'll ignore you again. Yes, it's sexist, but in my experience it generally proves true. So if a man were to cook for me, to do such a thoughful and nurturing thing for me, then I'd know he actually cared. (I've yet to meet that guy.) I don't know if cooking is sexy, but being cooked for does give people warm fuzzies and make them feel comforted. I think that's why there are so many people who watch food network but don't actually cook the food.... they just like watching somebody cook for them and talk to them while they're doing it. It makes people happy. I'm sure I could probably make buttercream and a spatula really sexy given the right audience....
  16. Sugarella

    Sirloin Oscar

    Hmmm.... this just gets more and more interesting!
  17. The prosciutto ... wipe off the excess salt, cut into thin rectangles and cure in the fridge in straight white wine for about a week, then dry in a slow oven. Those are the best bacon bits.
  18. Sugarella

    Sirloin Oscar

    Thanks.... I'll see if I can do it myself.... the crab version always is much better, IMO. As for the garlic, I love garlic, just not loads of garlic powder. This morning at work people asked me if I had garlic for breakfast. Sometimes we have no choice when it's family....
  19. So, I had this dish, which I love, again last night. Unfortunately this time it was in a crappy overpriced chain restaurant, so I highly doubt the version I got last night was the authentic one. (I'm pretty sure *handful of garlic powder* shouldn't be part of it. ) Over the years I've had it with bernaise sauce, with hollandaise, either wrapped in bacon or not, sometimes with crab, sometimes with no crab, sometimes with scallops and shrimp.... always with asparagus. Is there a definitive version of this dish? Does anyone know where it originated?
  20. Ideally, anything can be pureed or liquified, any vegetable, fish, or meat, so try not to limit her to just a few items. No reason you can't still use herbs and add lots of flavour. Try braising things like fish and meats and use the braising liquid for pureeing it in. For vegetables, steam or roast them with some great tasting stocks then puree with the stock included; there's lots of ways to make things taste just as interesting as they would normally. You can even whip & puree soft cheeses that she can eat. To help her gain a little weight, try the inside soft parts of bread pureed warm with some cream or whole milk. That doesn't taste too bad either. Rice and cream or potatoes and cream (think herbed scalloped potatoes, just made with a little extra liquid then pureed.) Have fun with it and get creative! P.S. Here is a thread on smoothies....
  21. Thanks very much for your reply, doc!
  22. First of all, I applaud your posting this, as well as your respect for the animal the meat came from. So few people really respect and truly appreciate their food, and are so quick to waste or discard it without giving any regard to the fact an animal actually died for it. It's quite disheartening to walk through a supermarket and see the discounted, half rotting meat available at the end of the day, or to see a restaurant patron leave so much on their plate. I have to also say that this was very useful for me, seeing as I'm not familiar with butchered meats to even know what all of the parts are and what would be the best use for them. I didn't even know one could go to a farm and purchase an animal this way. Seems like a good option for someone who prefers to know the animal lived and died humanely, and also supports the small farmer. A few questions, if you don't mind: I was wondering what's in the bowl.... is it an absorption material to soak up the blood? I also wondering how much time elapsed between the slaughter and the filling with air. Was it immediate or did the farmer wait a few minutes to make sure the lamb was really dead? Also, (and forgive me please....I'm not very familiar with lamb and have probably only eaten from the rack) you made it sound like the thymus was very prized; could you explain why? As for the lungs, heart and trachea, etc, are these not things you could just roast then use for a stock? (Sorry, never made lamb stock....maybe that's a dumb suggestion.... ) A couple of statements you made also seemed a contradiction: Do the animals on a small farm actually witness the slaughter, or is it done in another area? How do you know your lamb was jittery for that reason? Sorry for all the dumb questions. Again, I'm glad you posted this. What was the california cow incident?
  23. You're right, that framboise wine would be a bad idea. (putrid stuff!) Ever tried the blueberry one? (even worse!) I don't like the idea of raspberry vodka either, and I can't stand kirsch. I say make the simple syrup with just plain almond extract. Raspberry and almond are really lovely together. Hope that helps. Edited to add that if you don't like that idea you could try chambord instead.
  24. Agreed.... I've been using agar agar and xanthan gum in my pastry for nearly a decade. (And I barely even know what I'm doing. )
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