Friday, October 09, 2015

Since I Don't Have a Place On Campus

I'll tell you about the best Mexican food in the world.

It is at Camacho's Place. You hear restauranteurs talking all the time about the importance of Location. Here's the truth of that. If you have a good location you can serve shit burgers and people will come once to savor the view. If there's enough traffic you will never have to worry about steady or repeat business. If your food is exceptional, people will flock to your door.

I set out this afternoon about 12:30 to be there to pick up the order I made by calling Maria Camacho at home last night. Just making the order took about half an hour because I had to give her an update on every single one of my kids, all my sisters, promise to tell my cousin, the brilliant attorney's partner hello from Maria and her son. All that good, honest local stuff.

The first landmark on the drive is The New River, or as we locals call it, Shit Creek. This is one of the most polluted waterways in the world. One mouthfull of this water can quite literally kill you.

Coming up out of the river basin, you see Billy Hale's horse operation.

Billy has some of the most prized cutters and penning stock in the West. You can take one of his ponies into a feedlot pen looking for the mostly black one with a white splotch over its left eye and once you put that horse on the cow, that cow will be forced out of the herd, and coaxed to where ever you want it to go. All you have to do is hang the fuck on. Once one of these guys gets a bead on a cow they drop into that pea picking stance and they fucking explode at light speed in what ever direction they need to go to get the job done. Nothing like a cutting horse to show you how superfulous a rider really is on a working ranch. Billy has also been kind enough to offer a very reasonable boarding set up for my arabs come September. Stud fees from Casey are involved, I don't think Casey will mind a bit.

Next is about eight miles of this:

But don't relax too much. If you miss the turn, you'll have less than a mile before you're across the border. The border fence hasn't happened yet. Here's the thing to remember, when the pavement ends you're in Mexico. Act accordingly. Lucky for us all, there's a high voltage transmission line at the road we need to turn left on.

Before I quit drinking I managed to miss that turn a few times.

The next landmark is Farmer Ed's feedlot. This is an old fashioned farmer's co-operative venture. Hay farmers pool their resources to have a ready market for their overages. There's some damned fine beef here. The main breed is Brangus. Regular Angus cows can't take the desert heat, Bhramas taste like shit but are hardy as hell. These aren't anywhere near as tractable as the Angus beeves, but that's why Billy's horses are such top notch masters. One of Billy's Bulldog Quarter Horses will not only make that cow do what ever you want, they will humiliate the poor horned critter too.

Right across from the feed lot they are cutting a field of Timothy.

This is a great smelling crop, normally, driving past something like this I would roll down the windows and inhale deeply. Sweet, country hay. Smells great. Since there are about 3,000 cows on the other side of the road, I just keep driving.

Back down into the New River Basin to cross Shit Creek again.

Up the bluff, past Danny Phillip's Cattle yard. Another 5,000 goddamned cattle.

Then we're here. Camacho's Place, established in 1946.

The place started out as a country store, but Maria Primera, being a tender hearted soul, began making tortas and burritos for the field hands and vaqueros. Word got out and folks started showing up for cooked food. It is pure Norteño cuisine. Poor people's, working people's food. It is wonderful stuff. The parking lot is always full. People start coming in at 7 a.m. and will eat steady until 9 p.m., except on Mondays (closed) and Sundays (they open after Mass, when ever after Mass happens)

That's the original counter from the store, those are the original reefer cases too. They still work.

That's the main dining area. Those dark brown beams are the main framing of the building, and the family houses. They started out as railroad ties, but when the Southern Pacific discontinued its runs to San Diego they left all this fine timber lying around and Tapio figured "Porque no?" There are ten consecutive years of Blue Angels portraits on the wall. It's a rite of passage for new members of the Angels to come here and taste real Mexican food.

I don't know if you can make out the headline but it's about how the Skipper of the Blue Angels was surprised by his crew. They flew from Pensacola to NAF El Centro, picked up his birthday lunch and flew back. Your tax dollars at work.

Here's the three generations who have owned and operated this fine restaurant. The fourth generation (and the third Maria) are here now.

The food comes and I drive the same road back. Once at home I spread out the goodies.

Quesadilla Especiale Take an uncooked tortilla round, stuff with cotija and jack cheese, crimp and fry. Total, gooey, lucious, goodness. Also something you won't find anywhere else. This is Norteño Pocho style. Delicioso.

Arroz, Salsa Roja, y frijoles. Each one of them exquisite.

Rolled tacos. Machaca, and cotija cheese, rolled in home made tortillas and fried to a perfect crispy but not crunchy texture. The perfect mixture of crisp and chew.
There were also some flat tacos, which are exactly the same, the machaca and the cotija are flash fried together, then shredded lettuce, diced tomatos and grated jack cheese are added. I blew the picture, sorry, they're all gone now. I only got two dozen of them. Nope, I didn't blow the picture at all, just blew the order of them. Now it's right These beauties below are the tacos. Probably the smell and the anticipation drove me temporarily insane and shit.

Every thing on the menu here is homemade, from local ingredients. It's all so very good. Especially since the folks here have been family friends forever. That makes it extra nice.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Since You're College Students, We Need to Have "The Talk"

A friend recently interviewed me by phone for a piece he wrote about the NRA's claim that "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Here's the link to that story. You should read that before you continue.

There were two strange coincidences in the interview. The other quoted veteran is also a friend of mine, and both of us are former contestants on the game show Jeopardy! (Jeopardy! really doesn't mean anything in relation to the story but it is cool)

It was funny that even though our experiences were separated by four decades, they were very much the same. Raf served in Iraq, I served in Viet Nam. Joshua had to pick one or the other of us many times when we said the same thing. I remarked to Joshua that if he could have interviewed Ceasar's or Alexander's veterans the experiences would have been close to the same. Uniforms and weaponry might change but war itself is pretty close to eternal.

Here are Uncle Stevie's things to do if you, by bad luck and happenstance find yourself in that situation.

1. Run. Figure out what direction the shots are coming from and go as fast as you can the other way. If you pass somebody standing still with their arms raised pleading for calm, run them over if it won't slow you down too much. Panic is your friend right now, it will help you to run faster. Also, the more people running, the safer running will become.

2. Hide. Make yourself small, get as close to the floor or the ground as you can. If there's a door, start piling things like desks, bookcases, chairs, or anything else to block the door you came into. Above all, do not quit looking for ways to run. At the Virginia Tech shooting, students used barricades to buy time to escape out of windows.

3. If all else fails, fight. If the shooter is right there and gives you commands do something else. A shooter has done nothing to merit your compliance. Charge them, throw things, scream, cry, but fight. Fight desperately. Fight crazy. Crazy can beat bigger and better armed often enough to make that an acceptable option.

Above all though, in the aftermath, be kind to yourself. What ever you choose to do, or feel forced to do is just what happened then, nothing more. You should not have been placed in that situation to begin with and what ever you do in those horrible moments will be understood in that perspective. Don't "should" all over yourself thinking about rights, wrongs, or options.

If something like that happens to you, I am sincerely sorry. It's wrong and unfair that these things happen. I hope you survive.

I wish I didn't feel the need to talk to you about it. In the time it took to compose this, it happened again. I really hate this world sometimes.

I'll leave with this musical offering:

Monday, October 05, 2015

A Blog Post Doesn't Need to be Long, to be Effective.

Jeb! Bush is going to revitalize his failing campaign by having his brother, G.W. Bush campaign with him in South Carolina.

Cue the effects:

Sunday, October 04, 2015

A History Geek Worries

Being a history geek, i have been seeing many parallels to just before the Civil War in today's situation.
Buchanan (always a contender for "worst president ever" a position he held until gwbush reopened the competition) was faced with an incredibly polarized congress. Everyone was clearly in one camp or the other with zero common ground to be negotiated.
The slavers (fuck calling them "The South" they were fucking slavers) not only wanted to expand slave territory, the slavers of the Carolinas wanted to reopen the African Trade (and flagrantly disobeyed the nonimportation laws), and were constantly trying to do things like sieze Cuba, Nicaraugua, and other Central and South American territories to expand the geographical reach of their system. This was because their main cash crops were incredibly hard on the farmland they currently occupied, but it was also because while their economic model benefitted a very few very well, it was destructive to all other forms of commerce. A few slavers opened factories with slave labor, Thomas Jefferson famously had a nail and a brick factory at Monticello, but, because slave labor was so cheap there was never an incentive for anyone else to open a productive factory and there was also no incentive to modernize or increase production in the existing factories because slaves were cheaper than machinery, and even if someone else began production nobody had any money to buy things. The very few that had wealth were already served by the few in production and what they didn't produce they would import.
The sole issue the slavers were divided on among themselves was the question of African importation. Virginia (which included West Virginia still) was doing quite well with its slave breeding industry (think of the most horrific puppy mill you can imagine, make it for humans, multiply by 10 and you might get close to the level of depravity) and had a huge economic stake in keeping the price of slaves high. The tobacco, cotton, sugar, indigo, and rice plantations of the Carolinas and Louisiana needed cheaper slaves, and longed for the days of free imporation when they could simply work their slaves to death in two or three years and then replace them with the cheap imports.
Charleston had a policy that they applied to any ships, including ships of the French, Spanish, and British navies, that required captains to turn over any sailors of color to the local authorites to imprison them during the stay of the vessel. They also had to pay for that imprisonment, and many free blacks were stolen from those prisons to be quickly sold off deep into the interior never to be seen again. The white people of Charleston were still very frightened by Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey's insurrections and believed, maybe even correctly, that the mere sight of a free black person could incite another rebellion.
The north was in opposition to slavery itself, but they were also hypocritical in that they profited greatly from the slave system. Northern goods were imported to replace what the slavers could not or wouldn't bother to produce on northern ships that also were the main transportation vessels in the smuggling of new slaves.
The vast majority of the slaver's real wealth was in human bodies, and they were loathe to even consider ever breaking that system. Modest buyback proposals were made, but they would have reduced the slaver's wealth to an unacceptable level.
Compromise had played out with the Missouri bargain. the slavers felt they had gotten a raw deal anyway and began to ram through things like the Fugitive Slave Act which tried to make the antislavers complicit even further in the slave system, and also resulted in free blacks (like Solomon Northrup of "Ten Years a Slave") being kidnapped and sold.
While Buchanan was President there wasn't much at all in the business of the nation that could be accomplished. Every issue that came forward swiftly split along intractable party lines and died. For three years of his term he simply quit trying.
On so many issues today, there is no compromise to be found, no common ground to share. Every gain, by either side is continually expanded and exploited. The demand made is, "agree with me that I'm right" on abortion, gay rights, voting rights, minimum wage, or anything else, and the subtext is that if you don't agree and accept that they are both right and moral in their positions they will just fucking kill you like the godless fucking scum you are.
When political balance, economic balance, and now even the balance of nature itself reach states of critical mass to one side or another, corrections will occur. Those corrections are often swift, violent, and destructive when they do so.
I wish I had a better outlook to offer up, but I can't. Things might ease to a better equilibrium, but those wanting the balance tipped to their favor will never take their thumbs off the scales.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Handy Blogging Trick For When Something's Due

And you got nothing.

It's called a "repost." It works better if you have archived posts to choose from. I'm going to choose one of my favorites here. It's from my playing days, so be forewarned, the language gets rough, there's high levels of drug abuse and sexual highjinks, real and imagined.

Know also that it was a fun ride while it lasted.

This is from my wild, indulgent, reckless and mispent youth. It still cracks me up to remember. I was reminded of this by my blogging inspiration litbrit so I will begin by assigning all the blame to her. (I'm practicing my republican blame shifting moves)

I was booked in the common back up band to a Dick Clark All Stars of Rock and Roll tour. Dick, being a savvy business kind of guy realized that if he hired a core combo of versatile professional players that the groups who mainly were all about their singers (like the Doo Wop bands), all about the singer (Dion Manucci), and the other headliners the changes in between acts and the sheer size of the tour would be reduced considerably. It was fun. We were playing great 50's and pre-Beatles 60's tunes (I think this was sometime in the early 80's)and taking our bus and truck caravan all over the country. We played lots of ballparks, lots of county fairs, while averaging four shows a week and thousands of miles of asphalt.

By the time we hit Phoenix we all knew and enjoyed being around each other. We were booked at a fairly new, fairly swank Hyatt Regency downtown. We had four different gigs within decent driving range of downtown so we were also enjoying a nice break from sleeping on the bus and stuff.

The only problem was that we were booked into this hotel at the same time as a huge Shriner's convention. Don't get me wrong, I love the charity stuff the Shriners do, it's a noble thing to help burned kids. It's just that when they get together and put on their funny hats they can be kind of overbearing.

We finally, after about two days of drinking in bars full of Shriners, eating in restaurants full of Shriners, waiting for our bus standing around groups of Shriners, just retreated to our own floor of the hotel. We ordered room service instead of going out, brought back bottles (sometimes cases of bottles) to our room instead of going to the bars and were mainly trying to keep to ourselves.

Usually after we got back from the show a room or two would be designated as "party central" and we would gather to unwind and jam and entertain what ever local road cookies managed to finagle a bus ride back to the hotel with us. All was going well. The Shriners were having their fun, we were having ours.

Let me make this part of the story very clear.

It wasn't me that started the water fight.
It wasn't me that escalated the water fight from squirt guns to ice buckets filled in the bathtub.
It wasn't me that started any of the wet towel action.
It certainly wasn't me that started the wet pillow fight.

I was, however, the guy that took the firehose off the wall, charged it and then hit the "UP" button on the elevator. When the doors opened on an elevator full of Shriners I was the hippie that hosed them down like civil rights marchers on a bridge in Alabama.

That was me.
I'm still laughing about that one.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Tasting Results (So far, all polling places have not reported)

The clear winner, for balance of flavors, complexity, and resemblance to the Mojito, is the rum infusion with added lime zest. While the lime oil flavoring is stronger, it has an artificial, candy type taste that just doesn't fit in with the natural taste of the zest alone. So, it's gone. I might try using it to make a harder candy type thing to bust up and use as a decoration later, but for now, that kid's benched.

Ganache can be funny stuff when it comes to textures. I tell people that in many ways it is like the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It contains very little liquid, 1/3 of a cup to 5 to 6 dozen truffles. What it does contain, in the white chocolate ganache, is fat. Three distinct fats. Butter, cocoa butter in the white chocolate itself, and the animal fats in the egg yolk. When another ingredient is introduced, like the dried lime zest, those fats go to work on assimilating it, and, just like in the show, resistance is futile.

With things like nuts, the work of the ganache is usually unpleasant. Instead of holding their structural and textural integrity the nuts get borgatized (see? I just invented my own word, blogging is great, and "borgatized" now has a chance of holding a place in the lexicon) into globby mush. Nut butters actually stand a better chance than nut chunks. Different spices take different paths. Some of them, like cinnamon, or dried ginger, lose their graininess, and take on a nice, plump texture while their flavors get spread throughout the ganache. Nutmeg is a different story, it needs a full twenty four hours in the ganache before it surrenders its consistency.

The dried lime zest was the same way. After a full twenty four, the flavor it held really began to jump, and the texture plumped and softened to where it's a fine compliment to the silken mouth feel of the ganache.

The complexity of the flavor is delightful. It starts off with a full court press of vanilla, the rum is an undertone, then top notes of lime, and a very nice mint finish happen.

My decorating convention has been to use a milk chocolate striping when there is an alcoholic flavoring present, but the light brown color of milk chocolate doesn't appeal to my eye on the white shell, or with the green that represents two of the ingredients. I'm going to break with convention and go with a white shell, fresh grated lime zest (a nicer texture than the dried for this and a slightly sharper flavor) and a green stripe.

Another thing I'm going to try at a later date is to dip the mojito white ganache in tempered dark chocolate, for a chocolate mojito flavor. I don't think there's a chocolate mojito drink out there and this idea has a chance to fulfill a gap in people's flavor experience that they didn't even know existed.

We'll wait until all precincts have reported, but our network is projecting a win for the rum infusion/dried lime zest party.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Who Put the Dip in the Dip Di Dip Di Dip?

Me, that's who.

White chocolate dips are much easier than when I use dark bittersweet chocolate. Those take a special machine with pinpoint temperature control and a motor to spin the bowl and keep the molten chocolate moving.

With white chocolate I take some big bars of white that are left over from my last dip, chop them coarsely, add in some extra buttons for bulk, microwave 30 seconds, stir, and repeat that until it's smooth.



I also melted a little extra in a coffee cup and hit that with a couple drops of green gel food coloring.

The decoration I use on the truffle not only tells me what flavoring it is, by using a fork to make stripes over the truffle I prevent getting fingerprints all over the shell when I handle it later.

The decoration scheme I am using is this:

Rum infusion only: White stripes
Rum infusion with lime zest: a pinch of lime zest and white stripes
Rum infusion and lime flavoring: green stripes
Rum infusion, lime flavoring, and lime zest: a pinch of lime zest and green stripes

You can spend lots of money, $18 to 20 apiece for specialized dipping forks.
That's a cheap stainless steel fork I bought at the local battered women's shelter thrift store. Then I bent the two middle tines back. It works better than the expensive ones.

The balls of chilled ganache get brought out of the fridge and dipped into the melted white chocolate, then they go onto a simple plastic cutting board that is covered with butcher paper.
When they are all dipped, they go back into the fridge to firmly set the shell.
The next two flavors get dipped and decorated.

Then with a super sharp knife, the excess chocolate from the dip is trimmed off, and they are boxed by eights in plastic deli boxes I buy at the local restaurant supply. My mother and a few other folks used to always rag on me for not getting more into the packaging.

"A nice box, more decorative, and something besides those paper 2oz souffle cups you use to put them in. It would just look so much nicer."

I thought about it for a while, and talked with other people. Then, my Uncle, Mom's brother, who is a very successful and sharp business type guy asked me the big question:

"What are you selling? Truffles? Or boxes?"

So I just stayed with cheap, disposable, and easy to source.

The last step, besides the dishes of course, is to take the trimmings and vacuum seal them for later use in cookies and stuff like that. The trimmings got named "truffle stuffle" by the family kids.
Some good friends are coming over later tonight to do a taste testing. A box with 2 each of the flavors goes to some neighbors and other local friends.

Then we wait. I've tasted them all and I have my thoughts on it, but I've learned that the opinions of others matter greatly.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Picture Me Rolling

Take it 2Pac!

Rolling the ganache is a pretty boring thing. Yet, it's also critical to the end product. I'm trying to get reasonable balls, that are close to the same size. A little variation here and there, a bit out of round, a bit larger, or smaller is all fine. In a way it's one of the things that differentiates my truffles from something made by a machine.

There's also the size. I experimented a lot with the size of the truffles. Looking for that zone where it was big enough to be a stand alone dessert offering, but also small enough so that the richness doesn't overpower the consumer. Since they're dipped in chocolate, there's also the shell to consider. It imparts flavor and texture. Truffles that are much smaller than the ones I make the amount of chocolate shell can dominate and take away from the silken creamy texture of the ganache. Much bigger than mine, it's just too much.

The basic task is to take a pan of ganache that looks like this:
And make it look like this:
I did that four times, wrapped and labeled each packet of right around a dozen. They are in the fridge right now, I rolled them at room temperature so that I could get a feel for the consistency of the ganache. Normally it's something I do when they are fresh from the cold storage. It's easier to handle that way. For dipping a chilled ball of ganache works better. The chill holds its shape better, doesn't dissolve into the dipping medium, and begins to set the shell faster. It also means that I can go for that silky, creamy texture I love. Dipping them will also give me a chance to look at ideas for decorating them. The way I identify the flavor of a truffle is by the decoration.

Dipping will be tonight.
Preview of Coming Attractions:

These all taste great! There is something positive to say about every iteration of the flavoring. The infusion alone is delightful, the lime is a bit understated, but the mint has a nice, subtle, but distinct finish. I'm not sure if the zest makes much of a taste difference, but, the little, bitter bitzes, are a nice contrast. The ones with the lime flavoring might need some work with the amount. Maybe a test batch with 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the flavoring to a full batch. Anyway, I'm calling in some test mouths tonight. We'll munch and compare notes. A couple of them are actual lovers of Mojitos so they'll have a better perspective than I do. I don't drink alcohol anymore, haven't for a very long time and my long run of sobriety is not something I'm willing to sacrifice, even for SCIENCE!

Monday, September 21, 2015

In The Time of Mountains and Moons

Since it will be tomorrow before I continue the Mojito truffle journey, and because it's late at night and I'm awake sitting at the computer, I thought I'd put up something else I wrote.

A friend of mine bought a sculpture by an Apache artist. He asked me about it and I tried to explain about Spirit Dancers, and stuff like that. He's a white guy, a prominent civil rights attorney, very sharp, smart, all the things it takes to become a prominent civil rights attorney.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I got nowhere.

From nowhere I went to poetry. I'm nowhere near the poet of Steve Kuusisto but, in my own sweet way, I try.

Without further ado, asides, or digressions:

we come to this place in our mountains
at the time when the moon rises between two peaks in the east
splitting them exactly

this is because we are not in time
as it is seen by humans but rather
time as it is seen by mountains and moons

we put on the clothes of ceremony
exactly the same way
in the same order

we paint our faces in the certain way
as the faces have always been painted
in this time of mountains and moons

we take out our masks and put them on
exactly the same way that has been done
since before there was human memory

drums begin
singers join the drums
dancers join drums and song

something happens to us then
as we drum sing dance at this time in this place
we share a moment of a dream

others have done this drum sing dance dream
just as we do now others will do at their time
we find that we are the same as those others

this dream that goes back
this dream that goes forward
this dream that is now

this dream that we drum sing dance
into being only on this night
only in this place only at this time

we are part of a thread that goes all the way back
at the same time it goes all the way forward
we share our one soul in the time      
of mountains and moons

Mojito Ganache - Test One

The basic white ganache recipe is made using the rum/mint/lime infusion.

First, as always, we do our mise on place.

Stand mixer, check, kitchen scale, check, white chocolate buttons, check, silicon spatula, check, egg yolks (6), check, rum infusion, check, lime oil flavoring, check, dried lime zest, check, butter, check, vanilla beans (3), 4 loaf pans, check, plastic wrap, check, large pot of water at a gentle boil, check.


3lbs white chocolate
12 oz unsalted butter
6 egg yolks
3 vanilla beans, halved, and split
1/3 cup rum infusion

To Add Later:
1/8 teaspoon lime oil flavoring
1 teaspoon dried lime zest

Three pounds white chocolate buttons, (I use Guittard), 12 oz unsalted butter, and the vanilla beans go into the bowl of the stand mixer and over the gently boiling water.

Stir often, to facilitate a smooth melting of all the chocolate and all the butter.
Move to the stand mixer, and at lowest stir setting begin mixing.
Add in the egg yolks, one at a time, still at lowest setting.
Add in the 1/3 cup of the rum infusion, and gradually, to avoid slopping out, increase the stir speed to highest setting. The goal here is to mix all the ingredients into a tight liason, but also to introduce air into the ganache and speed the cooling (it's pretty damned hot right now, I have about an inch burn on my wrist from it. cooking's dangerous, behave accordingly)

That's what we want. Smooth, silky, luscious ganache, and yes, I tasted at this point and yes, it's pretty wonderful, thanks for asking. At this point I take out the vanilla beans, wipe off the excess ganache, and drop them into the rum infusion bottle, which then gets topped off with fresh rum. Taking the excess ganache off the bean is how it gets on my fingers, those fingers naturally went to my mouth before I washed them.
Divide the ganache into four pans, lined with plastic wrap. I know there's a lot of overhang here. I did that on purpose. We will need to cover closely, and once the ganache sets, it's much easier to remove completely from the pan if it's wrapped.

Here's a rule for my truffle kitchen.

Rule: Plastic is cheap. Chocolate is expensive.

Take this to your hearts, learn it, love it, live it and we'll all get along.

Say it with me. "Plastic is cheap. Chocolate is expensive." There, I feel better now.

Pan one is the ganache and the infusion. That gets covered and labeled now.
Pan two is with a teaspoon of added lime zest.
Pan three is lime zest and 1/8 teaspoon of the lime oil flavoring
Pan four is 1/8 tsp of the lime oil flavoring alone.

There they are, covered closely, and labled. I - Z - ZL - L. Into the refrigerator to set.

Now we wait until tomorrow for SCIENCE! to tell us where we stand.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Here's a Thing About Science

If you know how something's going to turn out, it's not an experiment.

You might have a pretty good idea about the outcome, you might even have some hope about the outcome, but if you attach to it you're not doing science anymore. No, I don't know what it is you might be doing, but I know it's not science.

I now officially declare the poprocks experiment to be a total and abject failure. I'm glad I only lost most of Saturday trying different ways to get different outcomes, but, I'm done.

I went as far as to call a chef I know who's all up into molecular gastronomy to see if she had any ideas about how to get the right kind of fizz into the right kind of consistency in the candy.

She had ideas, more than a few of them, but when she started talking about pressurized canisters of CO2, liquid nitrogen, and $200 pieces of glassware capable of withstanding high pressures and extreme cold I reminded myself:

Dude, this is a decoration. It was a great idea right up until the moment you learned what a pain in the ass it was.

Among the things I didn't like about my results was the hard taffy consistency to the rocks. They did maintain some fizz, but it really was minimal. The flavor was very good. Nice tartness, recognizable as lime. The consistency though, that was the big killer. It became hard, then under chewing became sticky. Not what I was looking for at all.

A thing chefs talk about a lot, especially when talking about things like fine chocolate is mouth feel. A big part of a very fine chocolate is the way that it feels in your mouth. It should go from solid to liquid quickly, with enough resistence to your teeth that you know you've bitten something, but it should also melt very quickly at body temperature. It should not leave a lasting residue. An aftertaste isn't a bad thing, it can even be desirable, but you shouldn't get the feeling of residue or things left behind in your mouth.

From here I am going to concentrate on taking the flavors I already have; the white chocolate ganache, the rum infused with vanilla, mint, and lime and getting the balance of those flavors right.

In the next few days I'm going to start with my first test batch. I'll divide that into fourths with one getting only the rum infusion, one getting an addition of lime zest, one getting a small amount of lime flavoring oil, one getting lime flavoring and zest.

We'll run them all up the flagpole and see which one, if any gets a salute..

Even when you learn a lesson you weren't hoping for, science is still cool.