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Everything posted by ChocoMom

  1. Nothing wild and crazy, just sticking to the basics here for my MIL's 80th birthday. Did 20 of these boxes for party favors. The heart is Thimbleberry ganache Guittard 72%. The dark red dome is wild strawberries and cream in Guittard 72%. The milk chocolate cubes are sea salt caramel in Guittard 38%, then topped with a mixture of Maldon sea salt- and smoked sea salt.
  2. ChocoMom

    Gardening: (2016– )

    I picked my concord grapes early this morning, and made grape juice- waterbath canning it the old way. Drop in a cup of washed grapes, 1/2 cup sugar, filled within 1/2" of the rim with boiling water, then can it for 15 min. It has to sit for 3-4 weeks, then ready for drinking. Then, this afternoon, I snuck out to the horse pen- trying to escape being pounced on by Roadrunner- locked myself in the pen, and picked apples from the Northern Spy tree. I could not believe how large the apples are this year! I embraced my inner-nerd, and proceeded to weigh each of the apples- 2 five gallon bucket's worth. The heaviest was 420 grams, the lightest weighed in at 313 g. And I barely scratched the surface. There are so many apples out there, I will processing apples until Christmas! LOL!
  3. This is still a work in progress, but I HAD to post it. This is a sexy looking, tart Thimbleberry ganache, that will end up in a bon bon eventually. I've never successfully made a Thimbleberry ganache--- so I am just freakin happy about it! It is a unique flavor to work with.
  4. @Artisanne Those look amazing!!! I have several of those gum stimulant things, but have only used them (thus far) for cleaning out the tight areas in molds, and trying an occasional stripe here or there. What incredible talent you have!!!
  5. ChocoMom

    Breakfast! 2018

    My feeble attempt at a "Keto" breakfast. Leftover asparagus with a 3- cheese sauce, topped with 2 poached eggs and a dash of black pepper. I know it does not look all that appetizing, but the flavors were there.
  6. Bouchon's Pate Sucree Apple/caramel/cinnamon filling butter crumb topping
  7. ChocoMom


    We had occasion to visit an Aldi about 3 hours from us- not a large one, but pretty decent. Today was 'cattle to the butcher' day, and since the butcher is within 20 min to the Aldi store, we went. The favorite finds today were: 1# Asparagus for $2.99 Organic Garden Veggie pizza for $3.99 (And they were fabulous!!!) Watermelons....$2.99 We bought a gob of other things---chicken breasts, butter for $2.55/#, cheeses, turkey bacon, almond milk, coconut milk, etc. Overjoyed with the total bill.
  8. No pics, and I promise you all....its a good thing. I can't have dairy in any significant amounts, but I was dying for ice cream. My back and knee are in bad shape, so going to the store for my favorite coconut based ice cream did not appeal to me. Instead, I improvised. Frozen Cool Whip ( I know, gasp!!!), Sander's Hot Fudge, and toasted sliced almonds. It wasn't pretty, and it sounds a little gross, but it totally hit the spot.
  9. @ElsieD Yep, that's the one. I forgot all about the cranberries! I had decided not to use cranberries right from the git-go because no one here likes them much, except at Thanksgiving. The apples were very tart, and they provided the balance that I think the berries might have added. I completely forgot they were part of the recipe.
  10. @Auspicious...The half gallon jars are good for canning juices, or dry canning. My Mom used to do three juices: grape, apple and tomato. For my half gallon jars, I went the dry canning route with oats, rice, pasta, dry beans, lentils, peas, and flour. A 50 lb bag of rice or oats can get infested pretty quickly with critters. The dry canning method preserves all those goods beautifully and for a long time.
  11. Apples are getting ripe early this year. I seized the opportunity to go pick back in the cow's inner paddock, while they feasted on hay. Had to tip-toe through a lot of crap (literally) to reach the best trees. For dessert this evening, I found a recipe for Apple Upside-down cake on Saveur. So here it is..... Caramel could have cooked a bit longer, but pretty tasty for the first attempt.
  12. ChocoMom

    Favorite Food Quotes

    "Bacon bits are like the fairy dust of the food community". - Jim Gaffigan ""Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe and eat cake" - Minions cartoon "People who love to eat are always the best people." - Julia Child
  13. ChocoMom

    Favorite Food Quotes

    I about died the first time I saw this. Found it on a greeting card someone gave me several years ago, so I had it blown up, framed and hung in my old workshop. It was a true conversation piece! Thanks for the reminder!!!
  14. When I started dabbling in all things chocolate (without my Grandma), I had little greenery ($) to work with, also. Over time, I acquired a used copy of the 1985 book Candymaking (by @Chocolot ) , and started from there. If memory serves me correctly, one of the alternative tools for tempering mentioned in there - and someone, please correct me if I am wrong - was to try using an electric frying pan to melt the chocolate, then table it, then warm again. This is the only method I used for the first couple years until I earned enough funds to purchase the small Rev by Chocovision. I would think the electric frying pan would still work as a melter, and you could probably just switch it off for the cooling time, then, hit the heat again when you're ready to dip. Are you able to get your hands on one of those where you live? The upside to this is, there is no water/condensation to be concerned about. The downside is the time commitment required for stirring/circulating. Perhaps a tweeked stand mixer with a paddle attachment set over the electric fry pan could act as a stirring mechanism. I could not find a setting low enough to do that with my mixer set- up back then, but with some finagling, maybe you could. For me, the electric fry pan was too shallow for a lot of hand dipping. So, I had to change my set up. I found my Mom's old, rectangular electric warmer/hot plate to keep the chocolate warm in a bowl. I found that wrapping a towel around the bowl acted as buffer against hot spots. (An electric heating pad or electric blanket would work also, but I always feared getting chocolate on the fabric. ) After adjusting the size of the bowl, and amount of melted chocolate, I was able to find a depth sufficient for my needs. The baby REV was a lifesaver for me, though. And, I threw every last bit of birthday money, Christmas money, bottle return money, and pocket change into buying that first one from King Arthur! Back when I bought it, over 20 years ago, I think it was over $400 USD. Whatever the cost was, it was still a lot of moolah to throw into a machine, but I am SO glad that I did. I do hope you find something that works to your satisfaction. It is such a joy to work with chocolate! =)
  15. No pics, but just finished canning 2 batches of blueberry jam. 12 c total of blueberries, and there are still 2 quarts left to wash and freeze. OY! Blackberries are next.....
  16. @ShelbyThis was the first time I've picked and used gooseberries. My granddad and great uncle used to love gooseberry jam, so that's where the idea came from to try and make jam. Made a rookie mistake while picking.... The berry bush is fenced in, and the owner told me how to open the fence, so I did. But, apparently not enough. Ended up getting my head stuck in the bush- which was awful- as I have long hair. Those pickers are something else! There was an additional 4 cups of berries leftover- so those are getting mixed with fresh blueberries and spread across cheesecake for dessert. YUM!
  17. Today was gooseberries. The first pic is 8 cups of cleaned gooseberries. The second pic is the jam. Mmmmmmm!
  18. ChocoMom

    The Physics of Spaghetti

    This has irked me for decades. Now I know how to do it! I can impress my friends and family next time I serve sketti for dinner!!! LOL!
  19. @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.
  20. ChocoMom

    Gardening: (2016– )

    @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.)
  21. 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.
  22. ChocoMom

    Gardening: (2016– )

    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.
  23. 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!!!
  24. 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.
  25. 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