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ChocoMom

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  1. I've been pleasantly surprised by my favorite grocery store's pricing lately. Usually, the pricing, esp. produce, is quite high this time of year, but, blueberries and strawberries have been insanely inexpensive as of late, with exceptional quality and flavor. The blueberries, 2 (pints) for $5 , were plump, juicy and not one squished little bub in the whole bunch! Strawberries- 2 (quarts) for $5 - same deal. Ripe, none were moldy or squishy, and they actually tasted like a strawberry. Most of the winter berries we get up here look more orange than red, and the flavor has no resemblance to a strawberry. Asparagus was only $2.99/bunch- about a pound or so. Melons, pineapples, lettuces, cukes, spring onions, ....the list goes on and on. Chicken breasts were on sale as well, and the dairy dept. blew me away. Almost everything I needed was buy one, get one free. Special K - all the varieties were 2/$4. My favorite coffee- Cameron's, was 2/$10. Normally, it's $6.99/lb. This blew me away yesterday. My hubby and kids love the store-made fried chicken from the deli. Normally, it's $8.99/8 pc bucket. Yesterday, I was gobsmacked. I was in a hurry to get lunch on the table, but I was stuck in town for longer than expected. So, I ran into my favorite store, for the chicken. Not only did I get the 8 piece bucket of chicken, but also a TUB of mashies, a TUB of gravy, 2lb of coleslaw, AND 4 dinner rolls.....for $8.99. Felt like I won the lotto! I don't buy that food very often, but wit h my daughter, her boyfriend, hubby and the moose to feed...that whole spread was greatly appreciated. When hubby heads out of town again, and he does the Aldi- trip for me, I'll have him stock up on the favorites - butter, salmon, turkey bacon, and the take-n-bake breads. I'm going to be saving up dough for a more lengthy Aldi trip when I do another show in May down in Escanaba. I'd love nothing more than to stock the freezer with salmon, and turkey bacon!
  2. Liver is at the tippy top of my list. My Mom would cook it for my Dad and brother once in a while. I thought the smell was so horrid, I'd get my nose plug from swimming class, and put it on until I went to bed. I never got over that. Then, anchovies, kippered herring, sardines, escargot, and *bleu cheese. Funny thing is, after I got pregnant with my first kid, that bleu cheese I so hated- became a staple. Salads had to have bleu cheese dressing for the duration of the pregnancy. I still love it, decades later. About corn. I loved corn, in all its forms. But, when I was undergoing testing for allergies as a kid- the doc discovered I was very allergic to it. I thought perhaps the allergy might have lessened or gone away - so I tried some about 7 or 8 years ago. It about killed me. I tried hominy also- figuring that the processing might have neutralized the allergens. Nope. One little bite and my tongue and throat swelled up so quick...I couldn't believe it. Corn on the cob didn't even react that quickly! So, no corn for me. It sucks, because I especially loved grits, and popcorn.
  3. I have the Dulcey from Valrhona. If the flavor profiles are similar, lavender should work. I just used the Dulcey in some Earl Grey chocolates this week, and they are quite delicious. I haven't tried it yet, but I suspect that a Chai flavor might pair well with it, too. I would think something along the lines of coconut / lemongrass, or a coffee / cappuccino might work as well. I drink Earl Grey tea daily, and I've been wanting to try this for awhile. Reading of @jmacnaughtan's amazing adventures with bergamot just inspired me to try the Earl chocolates now.
  4. I thought the introduction of tubbed frostings were for the sake of convenience, and less mess. My parents were older than most others, and did things in a more old-fashioned way-so I was quite used to getting out the butter, powdered sugar, etc, or, seeing Mom use a boxed frosting mix. When us kids got older, and Mom got busier with her hobbies, she would still do obligatory baking for various school or church events. But, given her new, busier life, she was looking for shortcuts, and tubbed frosting was a dream come true for her. I thought the stuff was a little off-tasting, and preferred the boxed mix frostings. (I later became accustomed to the really chocolatey tubbed icing.) Soon, I was unable to find the boxed mixes on the shelf at the store. Once in a while, I'd see a Jiffy frosting mix, and now I can't even seem to find that. Jiffy wasn't exactly top of the line, and was kind of grainy, so, I'd decline buying it. More expensive, but quite tasty, is the King Arthur chocolate buttercream frosting mix. Today, I use half butter, half shortening, powdered sugar, 2 drops of almond extract, 2 drops of coconut extract (which erases that funny powdered sugar taste), HWC, marshmallow fluff, and a little vanilla- or cocoa powder and espresso- depending on what is needed. Yes, its messier than cracking open a tub of icing, but waaaaayyyy tastier. I'm not sure that it was the cost of sugar that made manufacturers turn to tubbed icing, but rather their knowing that consumers were living faster paced lives and would pay a little more for convenience of pre-made frosting. Incidentally, that tubbed chocolate frosting is wonderful smacked in between graham crackers. Mom would use up left over frosting like that, and put them in our lunches for a treat. I use the leftover homemade frosting like that for my kids. yum.
  5. Thank you for the suggestions, @Kerry Beal and @pastrygirl !! One for the team, it is. This shall be my weekend project, and I will report back.
  6. So I was pondering what to do with a large container of cherry puree, and decided to do a PdF-type layer in a bonbon. Using Greweling's formula for agar jellies (p. 345 of Choc and Conf.) I can do this. But, his directions say to add the puree when the agar-sugar-glucose mixture cools to 194F. What I am wondering is, if I added the puree when the agar mixture was say, around 195-200F, if the resulting texture might end up being pipe-able? I've not made a pdf using agar before, so I'm interested in learning if it can be manipulated like that. Thanks for any help or suggestions!!!
  7. For Christmas, my 10 year old niece got a gift certificate for a private chocolate class with her Aunt (me). She's been dying to do this for the last couple of years, so that's what I decided to do for her. It was 7 1/2 hours of fun and learning. I did something that I NEVER do in a class....let her concoct her own fillings. I showed her how to weigh out ingredients, mix, taste, etc. So, we ended up with a crazy combination of tangerine creme layered with dragonfruit pineapple; a dark chocolate-cherry ganache, a caramel, and raspberry-white chocolate. She picked out the colors, and I taught her how to airbrush. So, below are a couple pics of the adventure.....
  8. @Toliver I'm dying laughing....Showed the article to my 21 yo son...he LOVES Peeps. 1st question he asks, "Do they make them at Christmas?" 2nd question, "When's Easter?"
  9. Abigail and the chickens have been fighting over scraps since Christmas. I toss it out the back door, and whoever's close by gets dibs. But, the second Abby starts sniffing around, the chickens run. (She doesn't hurt them, but they're still scared.) Ethel, on the other hand, will go neck in neck with Abby when it comes to food scraps. She's more bold, not to mention old and cranky. Since its been quite frigid out the last few days, Abby has been snuggling on her new blankie downstairs on the heated floor in the mudroom. I did toss her down a few lean scraps from the rib roast...and she's not complaining. Its been a feast for all the animals, except Cooties. She's petrified of humans under 3 feet tall, so, she stayed hidden for the past 5 days. The last of that crew just left a little while ago, so she'll be happy with some milk leftover from the little human's sippy cups.
  10. Well, my SIL (husband's brother's wife) hosted and made lasagna for Christmas dinner, and sent us home with half a tray of it. Super Delish! There were 15 of us present for that. I made desserts and salad for that dinner. Arriving the following day were the rest of the kids and grandkids. Since we had all 5 kids, spouses, and 4 grandkids here....The extra lasagna came in handy. Reheat and eat. My first DIL made bread and brought that along...so with leftover salad, it was the perfect meal. (We also hit a Mexican restaurant for lunch- which was fab!) Dec 27 was my SIL's 60th birthday. (This is my husband's older sister.) It was a surprise party, with a whopping 24 people in attendance. I hosted that event, and wow! Glad we did an open floor plan. Made it buffet style.... Meal was as follows: Martha's Vineyard Salad (a family favorite) Homemade breads Rib Roast, Rump Roast, Venison backstrap fillets....dry rubbed with Umami powder. Mac and Cheese (recipe from ThatWhichNourishes)...its very creamy and wonderful Mixed veggies Rosemary/garlic/sour cream smashed potatoes Gravy made with portobello mushrooms, yellow onion, tarragon and beef broth. Had that simmering for 8 hours. Dessert. Birthday cake, of course. ...3 layer. Devils food center with white outer edge. Thin buttercream icing. In a mille feuille style, added a vanilla marscapone filling, alternating with raspberries. the center of the cake was black cherries rolled in maltodextrin (so they didn't ooze). Made a barrier around them with the marscapone. So that was the bottom 2 layers. The tops was dotted with the marscapone, and piled high with blackberries and raspberries, garnished with mint leaves. Meant to encase the whole thing with spun sugar; ended up mostly the top being encased. Served with a French vanilla ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce. SIL was very happy. (waiting for a pic of that to post it here. ) My other SIL brought a couple extra chocolate cakes for the kids to dig into, because the whole cheese-berry- thing with cake was not appealing to the youngsters. We are eating leftovers from that for dinner tonight. I was extremely pleased to hear that the venison was well-received. We have some folks who can be quite critical about that "gamey " taste they expect- which I can understand. But, remarkably, there was none of that taste detected- which was surprising given the number of critics present. I'm told that the experience has converted one relative over to taking up deer hunting.
  11. My oldest daughter gave the cutest chicken-themed kitchen gifts!! The first a ceramic chicken, about 6" high, with the top-back cut out, and it holds measuring spoons. The spoons function as a tail, when the scoop-end is pointing upwards. Darn cutest thing ever! She also gave me a journal-with goofy chickens all over it. My son gifted me with a huge, fancy Oster blender. ( I used to make him smoothies before work some mornings, so perhaps this is a hint.) Hubby gave me a new immersion blender. I gave myself a couple new dishtowels. A large goofy sheep, with the caption, Fleece Navidad. My youngest daughter gave me a selection of food-themed hand soaps. So you can wash your hands anywhere in the house and end up smelling like fruit salad or baked goods! hahaha! I'm going to give the new phone camera another go, and see if I can get some decent pics. (The dessert pics are kinda lousy on another thread.)
  12. Christmas dinner desserts..... Edited to add the log is a dark chocolate sponge filled with vaniljla-marscapone, and cherry; the cake is actually layer of cheese cake with a layer of a dark chocolate-passionfruit gateau.
  13. So, I had a popup shop in a mall over the weekend--about three hours away from my home. It was adjacent to an Aldi store, which I was ecstatic about. I was so happy to find sourdough bread for hubby, Atlantic salmon- just a massive, gorgeous piece!, and a wide assortment of cheeses. What was absolutely amazing were the bright, stunning strawberries! I just bought a new phone, and have not yet figured out how to work the camera - otherwise you could all enjoy the bright colors with me! But goodness! I don't know that I've ever seen such consistently beautiful (and tasty) strawberries in a supermarket before! None of them were blemished or bruised- just all perfect and delicious. I made off with the usuals as well- cereals, lunch meat, iced tea, butter ($1.99/pound), snack bars, Cliff bars, crackers, coffee pods for my son's new coffee maker, and some frozen snacks for the kids. I was staying the night with my oldest son, daughterinlaw, and 3 grandkids for the night, so I took them some goodies too- including strawberries! The berries convinced my DIL that Aldi might be a neat place to shop...so she is going on her next grocery run. Continuing to lobby for an Aldi in our area.
  14. You could check with www.packagemachinery,com . They show machines online, but, you'd have call them for more detailed specs and pricing, but they do carry food-wrapping machinery. For my own caramel-wrapping needs, I lure my teenagers into the shop with the promise of cold, hard cash, in exchange for a couple hours of work. It's nice on a couple different fronts. I get to spend some quality time with them; their hands are completely gloved and occupied -so no texting, etc.; and when they're done, I can send them off with some cash- so they don't take up any space in my shop. ;+)
  15. I'll preface this with some background on the situation. I do craft shows, and have for some time, in an effort to boost sales. This weekend was the first time I'd done a pop-up store in a mall. Most venues supply tables and chairs- sometimes free, sometimes at a charge. The mall provided tables for me at no extra charge, which was fabulous. I assumed ( my bad) that there would be some seating available- like a folding chair. THERE WERE NONE. (There was a music concert going on in the mall - and apparently, all the seating had been used up for the 400+ guests.) And, I didn't bring any seating with me. The car was packed to the gills with product, displays and packaging...but if I'd thought for a second that I'd not be able to scavenge a seat, I would've crammed one in. End result is, I sold a ton of chocolate, but my feet are so sore I don't want to climb out of the recliner!!!
  16. Try visiting Worldwide Chocolate. They carry a vast array of brands, email coupon codes pretty frequently, and have fabulous customer service. In most cases, I've been able to get free shipping.
  17. I will never again leave my workshop door unlocked when I am airbrushing chocolate molds. Nor will I leave the window on the workshop door in a see-through condition. Why? Because my smarty pants daughter and her boyfriend snapped pics of me with goggles, mask, gloves, and a hat on. If she posts it to my Instagram page, I am going to die.
  18. Lovely work, @Alan_strt ! That shine is incredible. Would you mind sharing what the flavors are? And, welcome!
  19. They just re-modeled the Aldi's near a couple of hubby's work locations, so I texted him a shopping list. He arrived home with a massive salmon fillet- that was nothing short of amazing. Along with that, a huge bottle of wine- which we tested out Sat. evening----it was wonderful. Along with that, he picked up the usual butter, cheeses, chips, yukon golds, turkey bacon, and some frozen chicken breasts. I am excited to have the opportunity to do a pop-store at a mall about 3 hours away from where I live. There also happens to be an Aldi store right nearby...so I am looking forward to perusing Aldi should my pop-up store's open/close times work with theirs.
  20. I know I'm coming in late on this, but as @Jim D. mentioned, the AUI is a great alternative. I have not purchased the SOSA fillings, but I have tried three of the OSA fillings from Felchlin, and WOW! I tested them out on several long-time customers, and got rave reviews. The tub is larger than what you're getting @JeanneCake, at 5kg / 11 pound buckets, but for that, most of the pricing lingers around the $107 area. And, its keeps a LONG time. My last order wasn't very large, but I did get free shipping with a $240 order. Its something to keep in mind, maybe, for the future. I have yet to try anything from Felchlin that does not absolutely blow me away.
  21. Nearing the end of deer hunting season now. After arriving home from a business trip this evening, hubby headed straight out to the blind. And sure enough, 10 minutes in the blind, and we heard a shot fired. Hubby bagged No. 2 for the season. He's out gutting it right now, as I have tired of that process a bit over the past few years. I don't mind skinning and butchering the meat. But, I am battling a pinched nerve in my right hand/arm/shoulder, and I feel like it just needs rest, so I can get on with the booming chocolate business.
  22. No Strawberry Rice Krispies up here yet.....
  23. Hey all-- I've got orders for some dairy free chocolates. Normally, to skate around the whole dairy issue, I'd make liquor filled bombs, but this is going for the waaaayyy underage group. So....my plan is to use full-fat coconut milk/cream rather than heavy cream. I've not done this before, so I am a little concerned that coconut flavor might come through where I may not want it. The other common dairy component is the butter. So what other fat might I use in place of the usual butter? I was thinking coconut oil, or cocoa butter- just not sure about which way to go. Any help or suggestions would be most appreciated!! Andrea
  24. The light colored pies are buttermilk pies. The other two are pumpkin, made with fresh pumpkin.
  25. I will likely go for the Strawberry Rice Krispies. I like strawberries, and I like Rice Krispies. How they work together with the fake flavoring might be interesting. If it is completely intolerable, well....I do have those chickens that were not blessed with a discerning palate.
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