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  1. @blbst36 If you've abandoned low-carb eating, then you, my friend, must get a Pudgy Pie maker for desserts. I discovered these while in girl scouts some decades ago, but they still make them. Ace/True Value, Sears, and I don't know who else sells them. Need a loaf of white bread. Butter (I mean use real butter) the outside of two slices of bread. Fit one piece into one side of the mold/tin. Spread that piece with 2-3 TBS of your favorite pie filling. Slap the other piece of buttered bread over it- buttered side out, then fit the other tin/plate over that slice of bread, and tighten the plates with the little thingy. Cook over the fire-5-7 min each side. Then pop it out, and behold the glorious Pudgy Pie. Let it cool a bit, 'cause the insides get so hot it'll melt your tongue and teeth right outta your mouth. . Delicious. If you want to get fancy, fill a cleaned, empty parmesan cheese container with powdered sugar, and take it along to sprinkle on the pie. If that doesn't fit your tastes, there's also the marvelous campfire donuts. You need a metal coffee can, oil, cinnamon and sugar (mixed), and a roll of pre-made biscuits. and paper towel to drain them a bit. Get your oil hot over the fire. take your biscuit dough out, and separate the little guys. Poke holes through the center, and drop one or two in the hot oil. Once they get all puffy, take them out with tongs, and either drain them right away- or skip that, and throw them in the sugar/cinnamon mix. Eat either of these delicacies with your fresh perked coffee. Once you get home, return to the low-carb diet immediately.
  2. @BeeZee... They don't taste much like raspberries. These are rather tart, and very juicy. I really have not found anything that tastes very similar. (There are other varieties that grow in California and a few other places- which may taste a little more like raspberries.) The seeds are teeny tiny, also. Folks up here turn it into jam mostly. But, pie, scones, tarts....all of those can be made with them. And, they can be dried. The other unique thing that distinguishes it from raspberries is that the plants don't have any thorns or pickers- which make them really pleasant to go pick. (The leaves are kind of cool too---really big and fuzzy.)
  3. ChocoMom


    FWIW....Couldn't wait until my Cameron's Intense French Roast coffee was gone, so I opened this and made a pot. For $3.97, its not bad at all. I'll give it about a B/B+. Given the way I go through coffee, especially in the fall and winter, its a great find.
  4. Not actually from a "garden"....but scattered around the Keweenaw Peninsula are the wonderful little thimbleberries. My oldest daughter and her boyfriend found a "secret place" loaded with the bushes, and picked over 900 grams of these babies one afternoon. She asked me to make a puree for a PdF and use it in some sort of bon bon this winter. So, the puree is made and going into the freezer until I'm ready for it.
  5. ChocoMom


    @kayb Thanks for the input on the cheeses and other things. I didn't spend too much time examining everything- but its good to know. I was just trying to find the things that get gobbled up quickly here. Since we raise our own grass fed beef, I don't worry about meats too much. We also have a bulk food store right by our farm, so, I hit that up for staples like flour, sugar, spices, pasta, rice, beans and oatmeal. Have you tried the Aldi's brand coffee? I was intrigued with the price, but not sure if its going to be up to par. I'd love to get feedback about that. I'm a java-junkie. (Blood type: Maxwell House.) thank you again!!!
  6. ChocoMom


    Just went to Aldi yesterday for the first time ever! It's a new one- less than a year old. I'd have gone sooner, but the closest one is 3 hours away. I didn't drive three hours just to grocery shop, though.....The oldest son (and wife +3 of our grandkids) lives near there, so we went to hear him preach, then celebrate the youngest grandchild's 1st birthday. It was all a surprise for him. But we had a lovely time, and there was lots of time to spare. So after the birthday lunch, we drove 20 mins into Escanaba, hit Menards (where I tore my pinky toe's nail off with the cart ), GFS for turkey bacon, then Aldi- which I was just dying to check out! Maybe because its a new one, there were no off-putting things about it. The lighting was fine, very very clean, well organized, didn't smell at all. So hubby, kid#5, and I zipped through. I found the sourdough bread price quite low, prices on sweet cherries to be excellent when compared with our local grocers; potatoes - good price, GF cereal for kid #4- GREAT price, nacho chips and con queso dip- unbelievably inexpensive next to Walmart. Same stuff, $4.98 at Wallyworld. $1.89 at Aldi. Same brand of nacho chips that were ON SALE at our local store for $3.99 were $1.79 at Aldi. I picked a wide range of our commonly used products to try, and calculated savings, item by item, to be a little over $59. Because we had a 3 hour trip home, and not a lot of space in the cooler, I had to forgo trying the butter and most dairy products. Those I will get on another trip. Hubby was pretty impressed with the pricing after I went through and explained what these items normally cost at Walmart and the local store. He said if I'd make a list, he'd pick up items when he travels to one of his hotel locations- weekly, as there is an Aldi about 2 blocks away. So. I just need to make a list. Saves me time, saves him $$, and he gets his kettle chips for $1.79, instead of $3- $4/bag. I am hoping we will get an Aldi someday up here, but for now, I'm pretty happy with this arrangement. We are going to get a Meijer store here next year, (they've purchased the land already), so that may draw in Aldi's.
  7. ChocoMom

    Opening a shop - dos & don'ts

    This. And radio stations. Here in the states, esp in the smaller community areas, if a food-based business drops off goodies in the am, during the travel hour(s), that company gets loads of free air time/advertising from the talk show hosts. Hospital gift shops are another avenue for business. I'm guessing you might have retirement homes over there? Offer to do a chocolate demo for an afternoon activity. Bring your business cards, and samples of your offerings, and packages available to purchase. About 15-20% of my customers have come via the local retirement village here- and those folks have LOTS of connections in the community- which equates to lots more customers. Each spring, I do a demo. I sell everything I bring, and walk out with hundreds of $ in orders, and they light up my phone during the holidays. I deliver the items to them, and since they're all in one place- its easy. If you have connections to any hotels, friends or family that work or manage one- see if they will let you put some packages for sale (in accordance with your food laws, of course.) I was very blessed to have connections several hotels soon after I moved to my current location. I'd deliver, or send my hubby to deliver orders when he was traveling. It was a source of steady, monthly income I'd often forget about. Always a nice surprise to get an envelope of cash in the mail! My first shop was pale pink and espresso brown, with lots of vintage style decor. Lost all that in a fire- but it was wildly successful. Current shop is built onto my house. After entry through the porch, and foyer, the interior of the shop is again pale pink. When I get around to it, I'll add more decor. It's kinda bland now.....but people here loved that whimsical color and design. But like @gfron1 said-- you need to examine your area shops and see what the successful ones are doing in terms of decor and design. Don't skimp on your presentation packaging either. I go all out on that, and it pays off. Investing the time to travel a bit to a busier area, to a bridal expo or craft show are great places to show off your goods, sell, and get your name out there. Most years, I do some sort of chocolate sculpture that samples can be set in or upon at one or two shows. Samples sell the products at these busy shows, but having an edible tiered stand, or bowl and pedestal is the cat's meow. The customers will place orders, and have no problem enjoying a drive out in the country to find me and pick up their goods. I suspect the same would work for you. (Though, I haven't a clue how near or far you might be from a larger city. ) All things to consider though. I wish you the best of success, and can't wait for updates as your business progresses!!! Andrea
  8. Picked about 10 quarts of blueberries at our friend's place yesterday. Hubby was baling hay for them, and the wife always has me come over to pick berries. Because of the early, heavy rains we had, the berries are enormous. More than 50% of them were nearly the size of grapes- huge, sweet and juicy. Made two pies last evening using up a goodly amount. The Genovese basil I grew from seed indoors. Its gone into nearly every pasta sauce, and now the rest is getting dried and stored for later use. There is another large container of Mammolo basil growing on the porch outside. Its flavor isn't as strong as the Genovese, but still delicious fresh or dried.
  9. I did very well with list- making for a while. We'd pick what meals we would have a week in advance, and create the shopping list based on that plan. It worked well for a bit. But, things in this house never seem to go as planned, so that idea became obsolete. I tried and tried and tried, and I made many grocery lists only to find that two out of three of my smart- ass kids were writing things on the list- with some pretty good imitations of my handwriting. 3 packs of Hershey Bars. 2 bags of large marshies, 2 packs of blueberry Redbull, Oreos, rice pudding, etc.... I actually fell for it more than once. Not sure what was going on in my head during those times, but apparently lost my senses. Now, for the chocolate workshop, I make detailed to-do lists, and immensely enjoy crossing off each task---especially cleaning and polishing molds. I love when that's all done, and use a big blue ball point pen- I love seeing that X!!!
  10. ChocoMom

    Dinner 2018 (Part 1)

    Sunday dinner was supposed to be a little more relaxed. In haste, I made a beef brisket with a dry rub, then baked in the cast iron dutch oven at 350F for a couple hours(?). We were trying to get our cows back to our farm, and after some epic failures with that task, I returned home in frustration to finish cooking. I had trimmed off some fat prior to cooking the beef, and threw it in a pan to make some crackling. (I ate the cracking), then used that pan cook the potatoes in. delicious. Made a nice sauce out of the beef drippings, which is in the little glass on the corner of the board. Served with salad, and beets.
  11. I was out in the garden pulling weeds last night, and found 4 cucumber plants! Not at all near where they were originally planted, but by golly! I was tickled to find out that any of them made it! If the knee can handle it, I'm going to try working with the roto-tiller this afternoon and see if we can't get a few more things planted. Hoping that we will have a longer summer than normal, and maybe make up for the losses from the heavy rains.
  12. Vermin during gardening season. But after November 15, its a movable feast.
  13. ChocoMom

    Flavor combinations

    @blbst36 I totally agree with @Tri2Cook....lemon and blueberries, most definitely. And, I agree with @Jim D.... Cherries and almond compliment each other and work beautifully together. But, I am a great lover of chocolate. While the chocolate thing might not work so well with lemon and blueberries (except maybe white chocolate), some chunks of dark chocolate mixed in with the cherries and almonds...that, my friend, is the stuff that dreams are made of.
  14. Its been a while since I ventured out to the garden. The May knee injury has sidelined me from the usual ultra-busy summer gardening regimen I'm accustomed to. Today was a new day though....the long-awaited Curcumin supplement arrived yesterday, and today, I'm 5 doses in- and feeling much better. So, I cautiously approached the garden, found a solid pathway, and set about to locating what the storms have left us with. We had another 2+ inches early this morning, and the ground is quite soft and squishy yet. Navigating once I got out there was interesting. What I found: 9 potato hills still MIA. The rest are growing well, and do not appear to have been munched on by the dreaded potato beetles. Some are growing blossoms. The carrots!!! I found the carrots!!! They are not where I planted them, mind you. But, they are still there. After weeding the areas, there is some optimism in the air regarding a decent harvest. The beets are still MIA. Yellow Beans....A group of them washed downwards to the back area of the garden, and are growing in patchy areas with what I presume are some of the green beans that I thought were MIA. They hadn't been visible previously- because of the weed/grass growth around them. I did a little weed pulling while out there, to solve that. Tomatoes. Lost 3 of the 9 plants. That's the bad news. The good news is, I started 5-6 more plants in the house, and they are doing well enough to transplant outside. I will keep some for indoor growth through the winter. A root vegetable....I do not know what it is. Either turnip or rutabaga- is my best guess. Can't be beets, as they were no where near that area. So, we shall wait and see. Squash. There are various plants mixed and splattered all over the back area- but clearly they are not in the hilled areas where I had planted them. Its maddening, because I've organized it so well other years. Not quite up to root-tilling just yet, but if the progress continues, I might take a stab at it next week. In the meantime, the knee is on ice- and the chickens are dealing with George's distant Michigan relatives.