A photo essay in a series of framable art.

100% within the Zone™.

Recipe is irrelevant, use whatever you like and what you have. Start on stovetop and finish under broiler. I added 1/2 tsp baking powder because I felt like trying it out for foamy goodness, (its effect was negligible -- I think I'd prefer a scrambled egg texture. ) and Italian seasonings with habanero flakes to beaten egg with milk. The older I get the more BANG! I like, I think my taste buds are getting bored. Either that, or they're wearing out. Taking photos was weird. Kept fogging up mah lens. Two types of cheese, Gruyere and Parmigiano.

Kind of like a pizza, 'cept differ'nt.

Photos copyrighted under fair use. <--- Joke. Ha ha ha. See? That ascribes to them more importance than they could possibly possess. Ha ha ha.

seafood salad

If I served this in a restaurant I'd charge twenty-five bucks just to make a point. OK, fine ! Fifteen bucks. It has so many ingredients they're not even all showing in the photograph.

The thing is, so many of its ingredients are treated separately then brought together at the end. Lots of chopping, dicing, rinsing, gently carefully braising, heating, chilling seasoning separately, picking, tearing, opening of jars, tossing and sprinkling. It makes use of strong conflicting flavors used in moderation resulting in a symphony that must be tightly controlled so not to overwhelm the individual flavors of shrimp, halibut and crab, each with their own unique but subtle flavors which must predominate. Every single forkful is a recombination of flavors so that no two mouthfuls are exactly the same but without ever confusing. Additionally, you could graze on this all day and still lose weight, confident that you're eating healthfully.

For the dressing.

* Lemon juice into a bowl with enough size to handle a whisk.
* Olive oil reserved for the end to whip together with the following.
* Cranberry relish, already a combination of sweet + tart
* Mustard, tang, an emulsifier
* Horseradish, either grated or creamed.
* Ginger, grated
* Salt + pepper
* Habanero sauce. Anything hot. Flakes, Tabasco™, Franks™, Cholula™, whatever.

See what what's happening here? Every taste receptor on your tongue is covered. The trick is to use only about 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon each thing so nothing overwhelms but everything manages to contribute a spark of its own special magic. It's pink.

For the salad.

* Halibut is cooked separately. Incidentally, thank you, Friends, for the halibut. It's gently coddled in salted water with lemon juice added. Cut into squares and set aside. It's coated with dressing separately and added at the end so it's not tossed with the rest.

* Shrimp, pre-peeled and cleaned. Nothing was necessary except to thaw, coated along with the crab and halibut with dressing.

* Crab, pre-picked and packaged by the pound. Dressed with the shrimp and halibut

* Tomatoes, diced
* Avocado, diced, and seasoned with salt + pepper separately
* Fennel, shaved
* Pine nut heated to activate their oil and bring it to the surface.
* Artichoke hearts, marinated commercially
* Onion, sliced and rinsed to remove surface sulphur.
* Bell, pepper, cut and cleaned
* Celery, sliced
* Spinach, torn
* Romaine, cut
* Mint, fresh
* Cilantro, fresh

I considered adding apple but then I though, "What, are you CRAZY?"

If your impulse is to blurt, "Yeah, but I don't like seafood," then remind me to smack you.

mushroom, chicken, miso soup

ham, asparagus, mushrooms

crab patties, apple and fennel salad

Recipe from Spongebob Squarepants at the Krusty Krab underwater restaurant and from my own impulse, but mostly from my own impulse.

Recipes for crab patties will not call for celery or bell pepper or onion, and honestly, I can't imagine why not. Club crackers instead of white bread. Cilantro instead of parsley. Jalapeño peppers and habanero flakes instead of Old Bay seasoning, which frankly, makes me sick in the same way commercial chili powder does. I keep trying those two things and I keep concluding they're both cruel hoaxes perpetrated upon an unsuspecting and innocent public. Homemade mayonnaise, which is so fun to make it makes me squeak with glee every time I make it. Plus, I get to add all my favorite things turning it into a veritable aoili. Egg beaten separately from all the above and added to the mixture last.

The more you boil cranberries, the more pectin is drawn out, and the more water evaporates. It thickens as it cools. At room temperature, this cranberry relish became so thick you can cut it with a knife. That's what I wanted. I added raisins and pecans, and crystal ginger because I like goofing on cranberries like everything else and because I intend to use this relish for a bunch of other things.  Just watch.

* one cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup water
* 2 oz. package cranberries
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon crystal ginger
* boil until the cranberries all pop
* raisins and nuts. withheld habanero flakes but I was seriously considering it.

Apple and fennel salad with home-made mayonnaise. Pecans, spinach, Romaine, tomatoes.

The thing about the asparagus is it's purposefully sauteed on only one side. Because they weren't moved once in the pan, they form a single tasty charred stripe. Wine splashed on top of the hot oil, then quickly covered, steams the asparagus to tenderness. Thus, you get the best of both worlds, char and perfectly steamed spears. You can see how rolling them around until they're charred all over will overcook the spears and you'd end up with charred but limp and unpleasant spears.

The patties were sauteed on one side to set the egg then carefully lifted and placed in the convection oven to finish. If I was cooking more of them, I'd have used a larger pan that I could slide into the larger oven to finish. This protects their tender selves from abusive over handling and unnecessary flipping.


... ♫ roasting in ♪ a closed elec♩tric ♬ oven ...

Chestnuts explode. I did not know this. They sound like a gun going off in your oven. Not like popcorn. It makes a huge mess. This is going to take some oven cleaner. The thing is, it didn't alarm me. I thought it was a little bit funny.  I was just going to go ahead and let them explode but eventually it got to be too much. I was risking someone calling the cops. But then I was afraid to cover them or to open the oven door and take them out. It was a problem there for a few minutes. Anyway, they're delicious.

Eventually, I check the internet [ +chestnut +explode ] Sure enough. You're supposed to puncture them. Did not know that.

Live and learn, eh?

Exploded mess sticks to sides, back and top of oven

a modest turkey plate


Turkey in brine. Two cups kosher salt, one cup sugar.

Oiled (olive oil). First baking portion set upside down so internal moisture tends to settle into the breast, to be inverted later to brown the breast in an attempt to produce the elusive Norman Rockwell pictured turkey.

Half baked.

Inverted. A bit lop-sided due to the absence of a rack. Rockwell would not approve. Re-oiled. Returned to oven.

Turkey done! Beyond done, actually. I don't much care for the recommended temperatures. I do prefer to slightly overcook poultry. I realize this is bad, but I don't care. La la la, it's my bird and I'll do what I want. I brined the thing, and I'm certain it'll be moist enough for me. I like to observe the meat pull away from the bones at the legs. This assures me I won't be messing with any of those disobliging resistant uncooperative tough tendons, which are loaded through the bone legs. I hate those. Notice that unreliable automatic red popper thingie failed to alert me the turkey is done, worse it failed to alert me that it's slightly over done. I learned at seventeen years old not to ever trust those things. I burnt a roaster to charcoal because I misplaced my faith in those timers over my own good common sense.

There's the timer! It popped while I was photographing it. Ha ha ha. Beat you!

In'nit purdy? Lopsided, I know. But I'm going to tear it apart.

))) Knock. Knock. (((


"It's me, Norman Rockwell. Your turkey is lopsided."

"Piss off, Norman. I'm carving."

sweet potato, butternut squash soup

Apparently the most downloaded holiday recipe from the NYT online site. The following recipe is nicked from the NYT.

[ This silky fall/winter puree tastes rich, though there is no cream or butter in it.

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 pound butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium-size Yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and diced

6 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock

Salt to taste

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.

2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste. ]


What? No butter? No cream? That's nonsense. I put both in mine. What would be the point of leaving them out? If NYT was serious about health they'd have insisted on salt-free home-made chicken broth and not leave it to their readers to error by ruining their soup with overly salty canned broth or even broth in a carton which is an improvement but only hardly. It's barely bullion and water. Home-made chicken broth is 100% aspic, the gelatin extracted from bone marrow, and infinitely richer than commercial broth. Period. Right here is where your broth is put to best use. Ferchristssake. Also, I positively do not understand the dearth of spices. What are they, ascetics over there at the NYT or what? Yo no lo comprendo. Surely, they're intending this as merely a starting point for their reader's own elaboration. This recipe screams for touches of cinnamon, specks of clove, possibly allspice, and definitely nutmeg. Garlic pairs naturally with ginger and goes excellently well with gourds. All of that in amounts so minute compared to the total volume, that it's barely noticeable and in no wise competes with the flavors of roasted sweet potato and butternut squash but adds mysterious flavor and body that has to be tasted to be believed. The potato is almost gratuitous. It's there to add starch and to thicken the soup. I do not understand not suggesting roasting the vegetables rather than just jumping right in and boiling them. Boiling vegetables dilutes their naked flavor into the water, on the other hand, roasting them develops flavor and intensifies it. The depth and breadth of complexity of flavors is completely absent by simply boiling them. Roasting the vegetables causes them to caramelize and then the caramelization undergoes further complex chemical reactions. The sweetness of roasted vegetables is simply outstanding.

I'm such a dunce. After all that, I forgot to buy ginger. Luckily I have crystalized ginger and powdered ginger, but those are whole 'nuther animals. I used both but understated them because they are different and I didn't want the soup to be BANG !, ginger.

Used a couple of leeks because I had them and wanted to use them. They were roasted along with the gourds and potatoes.

This soup would benefit from some citric. Grated orange peel would be excellent.

It would not be harmed by chile pepper flakes. Paprika, dashes of Tabasco, habanero. Anything hot. It could even stand a few dashes of your favorite curry. Look, if you're going to all the trouble of making your own soup, then plan a party for your mouth. That's my attitude.


chocolate cheesecake

Via Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa, a national treasure of the Food Network fame.

I licked the bowl like a dog. Like a dog with no manners at all.  Like a dog with no manners who completely licks finished a bowl of beef gravy.  I do this because there was nobody here to ridicule or to stop me. You can see how that central post in the bowl would present a problem for sticking my face all the way in there. That's why I have chocolate drying in my hair and on my eyebrows and cheeks and in my ears. I can't get it all off. Cats are following me around trying to get all up in my face to lick me. They're so annoying.  OK, I might have made up this whole paragraph. I used a spoon.

Developed at Ina's shop in the Hamptons, New York, here's the recipe for the cheesecake she called The Money Maker. It wasn't called that openly, of course, it was called that in private between her and her shop's co-owner and always with a mischievous giggle. Publicly the cheesecake was called something like Chocolate Cheesecake or some other name sufficiently innocuous that didn't hint at the hideous profits this cake brought in for the shop. It went for something like $40.00 per cake, or perhaps it was $140.00, I forget, but it was outrageous and the good citizens who stalk the easternmost area of the southern fork shore of Long Island are ever impervious to cost when it comes to the subject of their own catering. A helicopter ride around the area will demonstrate why this is so.

Try this cheesecake sometime when you feel like being extra good to yourself. And by good, I mean bad. You will not be disappointed.


For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee
1 3/4 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature (I didn't bother with room temperature because I wanted to get on with it. I just made sure it turned fluffy. Plus I added hot coffee and warmed chocolate)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon of table salt would be too much by double)
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature (I used four regular eggs)
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

For the ganache:
1/4 pound semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust:

Place the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon in a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until combined. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the espresso and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. (I put couverture chocolate discs into the microwave and heated until they melted, carefully watching them like a chocolate-watching hawk the whole time which turned out to be 1 minute 45 seconds.)

To make the filling:

Cream the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and almond extracts and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into the cooled crust.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door opened wide for 1 1/2 hours. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature, until completely cooled.

For the ganache:

Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the cream and stir until just melted. Set aside until cooled to room temperature.
Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving. Drizzle the ganache over the top of the cheesecake.


This time I used a water bath because the last time the cake cracked, not a problem because it's covered with ganache anyway, but I hoped to avoid that this time because I'm neurotic that way. This involves wrapping the pan with aluminum foil to prevent the spring-form pan from allowing in a little water from the ban marie.

The ban marie, it failed.

Le boo. Le hoo. Le boo hoo hoo hoo.

I weep.

I wipe away my tears.

I compose myself and hold my chin up high.  Sniff.

Who cares?  I cover this obscene crack with ganache and pretend I planned the whole thing.

Yay! Crack. Gone.

* glees *

* does the happy cheesecake dance *

It's like chocolate foam, with a hint of coffee and a whiff of almond.

spinach omelet

Standard Béchamel, so easy it's ridiculous. Children make it. Butter in a pan. BAM ! Sizzle. Flour in equal part. Cook the flour. Add milk. Whip vigorously. Done.

But why stop there? Salt and pepper. Daub of mustard. Onion. Garlic if you feel like it. Garlic powder if you're lazy today. Look what we've done already. Does it get any better? Wine. Splash. Spinach. Wilt. Remove from heat. Add cheese. What kind of cheese? Any kind of cheese !

Cheese is already processed. If you melt in over heat you risk it separating. Don't want that. Let it melt by the heat already there. This is what distinguishes the amateur from the pro, or in our case, the amateur from the knowledgeable amateur.

Now we've got something.

In real life omelets are not stuffed. But we don't care. We stuff them anyway. Let's call these things egg enchiladas then if by calling them omelets it offends anybody, say, somebody from France.

Whip the eggs, three or two, incompletely in a bowl. Don't go all crazy whipped on them. We don't want foam. Here's the thing that's fun; drop a daub of butter into a heated small non-stick pan, a six inch pan will do. The small pan in a set of pans. When the butter melts and turns to oil and begins to brown, pour the incompletely whipped eggs into the pan. It congeals on the bottom immediately while remaining liquid on the top. Gently push the curd from one edge toward the center. It piles up like a mountain range and liquid egg immediately flows into the space evacuated. Do that to the other side. Not all the way to the center of the pan, but almost all the way to the center. East, West, North, and South. Do it again. East, West, North, and South. Now you've got a proper egg curd mountain range in the pan that ripples with the depth of built-up egg curd all across the surface. Lift the pan off the burner and roll it around so the liquid exceeds the edges you've established and sort of crawls up the sides of the pan. This suggests curling edges within the pan. Sprinkle cheese or add the stuffing which are forbidden in some countries but not forbidden in the US. Yay! I love being an American where we're free to stuff our omelets without fear of being arrested by the omelet police.

While it's still a little wet on top, remove from heat and with a spatula in one hand and the pan handle in the other, tilt the pan over a serving plate and coax one edge up and fold it over by 2/3, leaving 1/3 uncovered. This should cover all your stuffing but not necessarily. Do that again by lifting the folded portion over the untouched portion and coaxing the rolled omelet out of the pan and onto the plate. See? You're not just shoveling the omelet out of the pan and onto the plate, but rather, you're holding the pan closely over the plate and gently and skillfully rolling the omelet out of the pan and onto the plate, as much by slowly inverting the pan so that the pan becomes a cover to the omelet rather than the holder of the omelet and so the omelet gently plops near the center of the plate, much as a hospital patient is gently transfered from a bed to a gurney except with a certain rolling action that hospital orderlies do not use. Pretend you know what you're doing. Impress your friends. Once on the plate, tuck in the edges that misbehaved to make it appear as if your roll was flawless even if it wasn't. Then say, "Wallá !" I mean, "Voilá !" Enhance with some remaining filling, some sauce, or some herbs, or just salt and pepper or maybe chile flakes. Nutmeg even. Chives are standard.

midnight snack

It's 12:00 at night, and time for a snack. Damn. I'm so in the Zone™ I can't stand myself. This, Kids, is how to stay thin, or how to become thin in case you're not already settled at a homeostasis weight with which you're satisfied -- first off all, never be hungry. FerChrist'ssake, you're American! There's no point to it. Wouldn't do to let blood sugar drop. That signals your body, always so loyal and obedient, that it needs to prepare itself for starvation. Secondly, eat whatever you want, just be sure to want the right things. Is that so hard? Make this a way of life, and your body becomes convinced it's OK to release stored body fat. Thus sprach Zarathustra, and by Zarathrustra, I mean Barry Sears.

Did I ever tell you about the personal trainer at Broadway Body Works who helped me come back to life? He took a special interest in me because I was such a wreck. He's a total stud. Completely beholden to Barry Sears. He was so funny. Didn't even eat potatoes or rice. Wouldn't touch 'em. That's taking it a little far, if you ask me, but he does have the abs of death.

Check it out, this here is all stuff I have around the house based on what I made previously. When I scrounge around, I can't go wrong because there isn't anything around to wreck a program. Now that there's what ya call planning.

Even chocolate. Chocolate is actually a health food, especially the low sugar kind. Two books I read said that so it must be true. I try to disregard the fact that the two people who wrote those books are morbidly obese. Just say'n.

* Venison meatballs. Those things are still tender and wonderful. Full of good stuff.

* Chicken broth made from roasted chickens. I never get tired of saying that,

* Chickpeas. My new favorite fun things.

* Brown rice miso. Power food extraordinaire.

* Plum tomato that was just sitting there being red, waiting to get used

* Basil from the kitchen AeroGarden with brand spank'n new lights.

* Ice water in a Mason jar 'cause ah still got no class.

* You'll notice this looks remarkably similar to the post below.

chicken, chickpeas, miso

From the Random Recipe Generator™, Middle East meets Far East meets me.

Chicken bits with chickpeas, brown rice and mild white miso, home-made tahini made from unhusked sesame seeds.

Did I say Random Recipe Generator™? I'm sorry, I meant to say from my own impulse.

* chicken bits frozen from chickens roasted for broth.

* chickpeas (garbanzo beans) that were soaked and pressure cooked for 1 minute on extreme then allowed to cooled down the slow way, tossed with tahini and olive oil, garlic, and lime, amounting to a brutally unrefined hummus. Mmmmm, brutal.

* miso because I just can't get enough of that stuff, and because I'm growing quite fond of blending them.

* garden tomato, alas, the last of it.

* onion because it was there.

* cilantro and basil just for the hell of it.


It cracks me up in chocolate books where it says the melting point of chocolate is between 83℉ and 93℉. Ha ha ha ha ha. That's quite a point, inn'it? A range of 10˚. In my mathematics, a point is a single degree and not a range. Not so in the world of chocolate.

OK, that's a lie. It doesn't crack me up.

The thing is, chocolate isn't like water that boils and freezes at specific temperatures at specific altitudes, because chocolate is an amalgam of several complex substances each with their own melting points. And it depends on what type of chocolate is being melted, white, milk, or dark. Further, chocolate is like coffee in that beans from various sources are mixed together, blended by experts in large quantities in order to bring some sort of reliable consistency to their final product.

There are exceptions to this called single-source chocolates, and even those will vary from season to season, as wine and coffee do and pretty much everything else does, and even the precise location of trees within a single plantation produce varying results. Thus the concept of terroir as the French put it, a term usually associated with wine, has equal application to most all foods. This is the wonderful world of chocolate. Nothing is ever simple, is it?

Chocolate comes from cacao trees, which are particularly persnickety trees to grow. They appear only within a range of 15˚ - 20˚ North or South of the Equator, so you can twirl a globe around and see for yourself how limited the number of places it's possible for them to be cultivated. They require constant warmth and rainfall and yet they cannot tolerate strong direct sunlight. Young trees require deep shade, older trees require speckled sunlight. Therefore, they must be planted along with other larger trees to provide them with shade.

There are two main types of cacao trees. Forestero type cacao tree accounts for 95% of world production, but the highest quality of chocolate comes from the Criollo type cacao tree, but the Criollo produces much less yield per tree and is more susceptible to diseases. There is a third, a hybrid between these two types which is considered much higher quality than Forestero and higher yields than Criollo, called Trinitario. Now you'd think Trinitario demonstrating the best of both types would be the main tree used but that is not the case, and this causes me to sense a revolution possible in the cultivation of cacao trees especially in underdeveloped countries near the equator. Venezuela is the chief producer of the Criollo type and their country is presently being run into the ground by an acknowledged maniac and because the Criollo trees are the lowest yielding to begin with, and also the most difficult to deal with, the chocolate from them is much more expensive. This chocolate pictured here is El Rey 73.5% dark chocolate, the Venezuelan Criollo type. It's a premium single-source chocolate. It's considered a delicacy. A lot of people don't much care for it. It does take some getting used to, especially for those who favor milk chocolate.

If you want to put chocolate into a cake, you can just melt it and be done with it. That chocolate tends to melt at temperatures immediately below body temperature, accounts for its extraordinary mouth feel. But, if you want a shiny brittle candy bar, as chocolatiers do, then the chocolate must be tempered, in much the same way that steel is tempered to increase its strength. Except differently. Tempering is how chocolatiers produce chocolate with a shiny finish, a distinct ))) snap ((( when it's broken, and stability of its sugars and its butter. Tempered chocolate tends to hold its shape.

Have you ever seen chocolatiers pushing melted chocolate around a marble slab? They're using the chill of the marble to bring down the temperature of the chocolate that was heated to about 20˚ beyond its melting range. This eases whatever combination of crystalline structures comprise that particular chocolate. Different chocolates have different target temperatures for tempering. The manufacturer of your brand of chocolate will specify the target temperatures. This chocolate, El Rey, 73.5% dark, is heated to 122 ℉ - 131 ℉, then cooled down to 82 ℉-84 ℉, then heated again to 88 ℉-90 ℉. You can see why a precise thermometer is essential. It's like this; smoooooth it up, smoooooth it down, smoooooth it back up, ding. Notice these temperatures are just above and below body temperatures.

If you're sufficiently clever, you can go directly to the precise target temperature, but I've never trusted that. Actually, I have a machine that tempers both ways, but I've never trusted the machine to go to the precise temperature either. I've always made the machine do it the hard way. And now, I've realized I can do it myself a lot more efficiently and reliably than the machine can anyway so I rarely use it anymore. Noisy bastard thing. It makes more of a mess than I do. The directions on the back of El Rey box instruct to melt 2/3 the total amount of chocolate to 104 ℉, then add the remaining 1/3 unmelted discs. I don't trust that method either, because how do they know what temperature my discs are? Huh? They don't. If my discs are cold then that won't work, now will it? Same thing if my disc are too warm. I don't trust it, so I do it the long way. Plus, it's more fun. Lastly, I would hate it if the cocoa butter in my chocolate bloomed to the surface because of half-ass tempering. That's a problem with chocolate that is the result of it experiencing extreme temperatures after being tempered. The butter tends to rise to the surface. It doesn't ruin the chocolate, but it makes it unpleasant to eat as candy. Bloomed chocolate can be restored by re-tempering. Otherwise, it's good for hot chocolate or brownies or cakes, or cheese cakes. Whatev.

I invented a new process that I should get a Nobel for, but yeah, like that's gonna happen. I too have a marble slab, but frankly, I don't see the point in making a gigantic mess and putzing around with melted chocolate for half an hour creating an unnecessary and heavy mess for what can be accomplished in minutes with no mess at all. My idea is, since a double boiler is good enough to heat the chocolate, and it works much more efficiently than the tempering machine does, then why not a cold water bath to bring the temperature down? Clever, eh? Therefore, I use two baths, one hot another cold. The chocolate is tempered quite quickly this way. One must merely take care not to get water into the chocolate which would cause it to seize, as dripping water into a bowl of sugar seizes. Ta daaaaaa.

* salaams elaborately *

* backs out of room *

* returns *

In that picture up there ^^^, notice at the bottom, some of the chocolates are clumpy? Those were the very last of the molds to be filled. At the very end, I got down to the seed discs. ( the chocolate is shipped in disc form ) These few untempered discs were tossed into the bowl of tempered chocolate to seed the batch to start building crystals. Crystals have a hard time organizing on their own, they can use something to build around. Once crystals get started they tend to spread out. You can visualize frost developing on a window to get an idea how all crystals grow. I wanted to use up those discs that seeded the tempered chocolate but the tempered chocolate wasn't hot enough to melt them. So I shoved them in the mold surrounded by melted chocolate. That's why they look like a mess. They're special. They'll be like a lumpy little prize for whoever gets them.

The chocolates still in their molds were taken to a table in a spare bedroom with the window open. It's cold in there. This is enough chocolate for one day. Tomorrow they'll be wrapped and soon after that boxes will be made for them. It all depends, there's no rush at this point. Plus, I'll have a chance to see if the tempering was good and take note if any bloomed.


I carved the shapes from which these molds were produced in the usual way I create bas reliefs by scratching away the background from an image drawn on plaster using dental tools. It's tedious and it hurts my fingers. From those matrices, I poured the silicone molds using food-grade silicone. The yellow molds were my first attempt. Frankly, I didn't know what I was doing but the resulting molds are still serviceable. The orange molds uses silicone from the same company but is a mixture that cures more quickly. Those molds are better, but I ran out of silicone before I was finished because I made them 4 X thicker than they need be. They depict ordinary hieroglyphs that denote common phonemes in the ancient Egyptian language. The molds are proprietary to myself, and as unprofessional as they are, I love them dearly. That is the story of the molds.

There were a few notable failures from the hand mold . I ate them.

As it turned out, there were 102 good ones, or whatever 87 + 15 comes out to, minus the few I ate impulsively along the way because I didn't care how they looked. Wrapping them is a total pain in the ass. The two types of paper, foil, and some other kind of candy paper stuff, keeps sticking to the wrong side electrostatically, so first separating them then sliding them across the table to the edge where I can get my mitts on them with clean dry fingers can become a bit aggravating. See what I endure?

Tomorrow, the boxes. If I feel up to it. The boxes are Photoshop files. I have two printers that manage to both give me trouble one way or another during box production. They must printed on card stock then cut out and glued, and frankly, the thrill is gone. I should hire this part out. Any takers?

But back to this chocolate. This El Rey chocolate here is too exclusive and expensive to mess with artificial flavors. No matter how real they are, artificially. I still have about 10 LBS of El Rey left to temper, plus two types of other French stuff. I have tons of flavors, oils specific for chocolate. OK Fine! Ounces of flavors. My original idea was to create mints, so I have spearmint and peppermint. The kids like orange flavor. But I think I'll save all that for the 60% Ghiradelli chocolate chips I have in bags purchased from Sam's Club for experimentation purposes. I can add Kahlua, raspberry, root beer, lemon, almond, vanilla, a whole bunch of other flavors. Ghiradelli is generally more assessable to most people than El Rey is. Best to use the flavors on the cheaper chocolate, don'cha think? Kids. What do they know?

Also, my original idea was to wrap them all in gold colored wrappers because I wanted them to be like little Egyptian treasures, which having been entombed and unearthed, presumably would be pharaonic and thus gold, but my Hare Krishna friend told me he like colorful wrappers better than gold wrappers and that changed my attitude toward candy wrappers.


There are two sizes of boxes. These are the small ones. They're given to waiters, waitresses, hair dressers, people who stop by for various things, change the filter, remove cardboard boxes, that sort of thing, in short, service people. They sometimes go, "WTF?," but never refuse.

The larger boxes are only slightly larger and they hold only a few more pieces. They go to cool people like yourselves. Want one? Tell me. I'll mail you one. I especially like giving them to ladies because ladies really dig chocolate. That's my theory anyway, and I'm stick'n with it.

The files for the box were created in Photoshop and saved as .jpg files. They're on two laptops, on the backup hard drive, and online at two well-known photo hosting sites, this blog and on another private website. You can just take them. They're printed columns of hieroglyphs printed on card stock, and they're lined with purple construction paper. They have a little ankh pull tap on the lid. They're cute as hell.

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