Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Posted This In A Coment

over at Big Brass Blog so I won't be bothering with a crosspost. But it was a cool little moment during the day.

During the email exchanges to get the payment made and the shipping information covered I found out some great information about the lady I bought the tempering machine from. It turns out that she is closing a chocolate shop of her very own and is selling off the equipment. I sent her a link to let her see the truffles and other good stuff that is going to be made using her machine. She then offered to send a grip of molding equipment and other specialized chocolate tools. She said that she would rather have them be used than watch them gather dust. She also asked for a box of the Sofia's Mexicali Spice truffles. Turns out that her name is also Sofia.

I explained to her how the truffles that have names got that way. About five years ago, on a whim, I decided to ramp up and make truffles for my family and friends. I had some down time and it just was something that I wanted to do. A couple of big boxes went to a cousin in Idaho's family. The day after they were received I got a call from his beautiful daughter Audrey. She said "Uncle Steve (I know we're cousins technically but among the Apache "uncle" is a catch all term of endearment for any older male) I was thinking that a great truffle flavor would be S'mores." As soon as the words were out of her mouth I knew exactly how to achieve this. Next batch of truffles I made a run using graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow creme. They were exquisite. Thereafter I called them "Audrey's S'mores." Thing was there were a whole lot of other kids in the family who all began to claim their very own truffles. Sofia was the daughter of a close friend of mine in Mexicali. She is a total charmer and one evening she flat out demanded to have a truffle that was not only named after her, but one that reflected her heritage. There was no way I could refuse. I started sampling mexican chocolates like Ibarra and Arbeulita, but quickly found that they would not do for making a ganache. I instead headed to the spice rack and began to experiment with the proportions. I hit upon a combination of, in order of proportion, cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, and cloves (all mixed in with a heavy dose of Santeria and VooDoo). It is a complex, and intruiging flavor. A fitting homage to the Aztec and Maya people who were the ones who brought chocolate to us.

Later that same morning my nephew from down the road, a guitar playing demon, came by to say goodbye. I noticed his guitar loving eyes wandering with love and longing over some of the guitars that he has been allowed to have free play with while I lived here. I remembered the generosity of Sofia and her wanting to see things be used and appreciated rather than simply stacked and stored off somewhere. I did a quick inventory and realilzed that the guitars I am mainly planning to use over the course of the next several months were already loaded for the trip so I gave into my impulse and said "Go ahead and pick one of the electrics. It's yours now."

His eyes lit up, first with disbelief and then with joy. He picked one of the Strats that I built myself. I was thinking that was extra perfect because if I need a project post-op to keep from going apeshit building another Strat should I need one would be a great choice. He's going to have a ball with it. He takes a guitar class at his high school and has taken most of my guitars in for it. The homemade Strats were huge hits with the teacher and the class. They are real screamers that beg to be played.

Travel Plans Re-adjusted

I was planning on heading off into the sunset for California today. That's changed, the excitement of the auction, the scut work of packing all combined to leave me in a very uncomfortable state where I am too caffinated to nap, and too tired to drive.

Morning beckons.

Writer's Strike Talks Scheduled!

L.A. Times story here.

Significant snippets:

The disruption of production threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of crew members as well as administrative assistants and other workers who risked the loss of their jobs when several studios suspended production deals with top writer-producers. Both sides are motivated to resolve the dispute before it disrupts next year's pilot season.

My reaction was along the lines of "Gee, Ya Think?"

Writers had agreed to drop their demand for doubling DVD pay, while studios had for the first time offered a proposal for paying writers for the streaming of shows online, though they sharply disagreed on terms

Quite frankly a doubling of the DVD payment would still be in the realm of "jackshit" but hey, let's not quibble. At least the producers have agreed that there is something to argue about.

Thing is, what this strike has done for me is to show me the incredible feeling of freedom and personal autonomy that came when I decided to walk the hell away from it. We'll see how strong my resolve remains when the second or third topic of conversation is the money they're offering, but, I am still going to follow through on my original intentions.

First thing on the list is deal with the health stuff, including the fucking dentist. Second thing on the list is to make a shitload of truffles to enjoy over the holidays. Third thing on the list is to concentrate on playing music that pleases me.

If the jingle game becomes available again, I can do it if the other stuff doesn't work out or my kids need a major cash infusion. Medskoolgirl, when she was in high school, started calling me "Boxer." I asked why and she said "Like the horse in Animal Farm dude." (yes, my children call me dude a lot, I can't stop it and they won't quit so I learned to live with it) "Your answer to most any problem is always to say I will work harder. It's a compliment."

They could settle the strike tomorrow and I would still want to give these things a try.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Big News in the World of Truffles

I have been watching my bid on the chocolate tempering machine holding steady at $460 for a while now. I'm hoping pretty strong. It's a great piece of equipment that even once the shop's open and the 20lb batches are working I will have plenty of use for it.

Using the little 1.5lb machine was starting to suck out loud because I was only able to dip a dozen at a time, then I'd have to go with another 1.5 which took up to 40 minutes.

A machine that handles batches of 6.5lbs will make that part of the process flow.

I've been mulling over the flavors to make this year. I'll be making two 10lb batches of dark chocolate ganache which translates into eight flavors of four dozen each. That and two white chocolate flavors should be plenty.

I can easily double up on the most popular flavors, making 8 dozen of a few of them rather than four.

Here's where my head's at for now:


Classic Bittersweet (nuthin' but chocolate)
Raspberry (8 dozen of these for sure, far and away the most popular flavor and killer when consumed with champagne)
Starbucks Coffee Liqueur (way better coffee flavor than Kahlua)
Sofia's Mexicali Spice (spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and voodoo)
Calvados (the only workable apple flavor I've ever been able to do)
Frangelico (the hazelnut flavor is flat out scrumptious)
Jessica's Peppermint Stick (these are not only delicious, they look all christmasy and stuff)
Jenna's Candied Ginger (it will require making a batch of crystallized ginger, but hey worse things have happened)

For the white chocolate flavors I'm going to be using some beautiful Tahitian Vanilla which Maheanu was kind enough to have sent from his beautiful islands. Thanks Chief!

I'm going to go classic with the white chocolate babies (although Dark Wraith, I know you are a white chocolate fiend, and since it's your favorite and all, if you have an idea for flavoring a white chocolate truffle please let me know and if I haven't made it yet I am certain I can figure it out)

They will be

White Chocolate (the Tahitian Vanilla will make these babies SING)
Jessie O's Raspberry Creme (a standard white truffle with some raspberries swirled in)

White chocolate truffles also rock with peppermint. . .

Input and ideas are welcomed. Any of you folks who got truffles last year are invited to remind me if I've been foolish and left off one of your favorites.


The tempering machine is fairly won, bought, and paid for. Shipping should commence directly. The main impact that this will have is to increase holiday production. I will easily be able to triple my previous production in the same amount of time. . .hmmmm, time to sniff the winds of demand. . .


Friday Random Ten

Still packing, haven't toddled off yet because I'm waiting until tomorrow morning to see the results of an eBay auction where I'm bidding on a 6lb chocolate tempering machine.

Te Vas A Acordar Te Mi - - - Tony Corona
Home - - - Karla Bonoff
Alabama Boy - - - Alice Peacock
Talk of the Town - - - The Pretenders
Take Good Care of You - - - Elvis Costello
Communique - - - Dire Straights
Devil's Right Hand - - - Steve Earle
If I Follow My Heart - - - Jimmy Cliff
Election Year Rag - - - Steve Goodman (damn, I miss you hoss)
Imagination - - - Mel Torme

Bonus Track - (hit random twice take the top)

We Are Not Alone - - - Frank Zappa

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Email From My Filthy Rich Republican Uncle

My filthy rich republican uncle sends me right wing attempts at humor from time to time. He does this because he knows that I enjoy a good laugh, and don't think that saying something rude or funny makes Jesus cry. Most of the time I try to send it back as an off speed curveball. He sent me this one today.


a.. Back off and let those men who want to marry men, marry men.

b.. Allow those women who want to marry women, marry women.

c.. Allow those folks who want to abort their babies, abort their babies.

d.. In three generations, there will be no Democrats.

I sent back:

The downside of that plan is that there will also be nobody for the republican congressmen to hook up with in public restrooms.

See ya next November Unc.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Talking With Jesus

I doubt that this post title will generate as many hits as the one about "Edible Panties" but hell, I figure it's worth a try.

Most days I use my time in the barn with the straw fork and shovel as my meditation time. I'm there with my critters and we're all together doing that circle of life stuff. I'm tossing food for the horses' front ends, they in turn turn out poop for my fork and shovel. When the mice scurry from the haystack the barn cats pounce with feral glee.

Today, part way through the chores I took a break. A little time to savor the clear morning, bright sunlight with just enough tinge of cool to make it superbly comfortable.

Next thing I know, I'm standing right next to Jesus. I figure it's as good a time as any to get some philosophical questions answered. So I jump right in and say:

Jesus, why do I have to work so hard?

He thought for a moment and replied

When you work you demonstrate the love that you have for your family and your people. You work so hard to keep this beautiful place where your friends and your family all gather together in love.

I'm thinking this Jesus talk is good stuff so I go a little deeper.

What about the money being the root of all evil thing, what about that?

Jesus said:

That's not what was said. LOVE of money, is the root of all evil. When money is loved before God, before our fellow man, that is where the problem lies. You seem to love your animals and your people far more than you love your money. Money is simply something that is. Use it well for good things and the glory of God and there will be joy.

I'm really starting to get into this now. I figure it's time to go even deeper.

Jesus, can you tell me the meaning of life? I'm at a personal crossroads right now and I'm often confused, scared and conflicted.

He thought for a moment and said:

We make our own meaning. I make mine and you make yours. Now, if you please Señor, I must finish my work on your irrigation pipe. Hasta la vista, y muchos gracias for the fine pie and coffee.

Big Brass Blog

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day 2007

This was composed when Alexander dedicated a stele outside of Kabul to the memory of the 6,900 soldiers of his command who died in his Afghan campaign. The poet was known only as Stephanos a sergeant in his army who had won his garland for poetry in Athens.


In the company of soldiers
I have no need to explain myself
In the company of soldiers
everybody understands.

In the company of soldiers,
I don't have to pretend to be the person I'm not
Or strike that pose, however well-intended, that is expected
by those who have not known me under arms.

In the company of soldiers all my crimes are forgiven
I am safe
I am known
I am home
In the company of soldiers.

327 BCE