Saturday, December 09, 2006

Truffle Blogging

Bittersweets ready to trim and box

Most of the work is done. I'm down to sorting, boxing, labeling, and packing the stuff for the trip to San Diego so my aunt and uncle can take their share up to Idaho for my cousins and family in the frozen north. My niece hasn't delivered on the photos yet, so I went to the trusty cell-phone cam to bring these photos. . .


hands down
most popular
(not my favorites
though, but, that's
something I'm used

The Dark Wraith saw a bumper sticker recently it said

Save the Earth...It's the only planet that has chocolate!
That Works for me.

And The Winner(s) Is....

Jeff (no, the other one). He left a comment the very first day over at 3B's that said with the arrival home of his son Jackson (yeah!) he and his wife were too tired to have sex.

Chocolate's better than sex. For many reasons. So, Jeff, as soon as you read this email me with your shipping information and I will overnight your dozen truffles.

Pissed off Patricia

email your shipping info (it's on my profile page) and I'll send yours off too.

Once the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared if I have any left we can do a fire sale.

Congratulations Jeff!


Friday, December 08, 2006

Yesterday in the World of Truffles

Picked up a nice, used fridge in Calexico, melted and mixed 30lbs of bittersweet chocolate with 4.5 lbs of butter, three gallons of heavy cream and various flavorings. Six pounds of white chocolate was mixed with 1.5 lbs of butter, 12 egg yolks, vanilla beans, and other wonderful things.

My niece photographed the rolling and dipping parts of the dark truffles and the melting and mixing part of the white ones. as soon as she gets the pics uploaded i'll post them with commentary.

These are the flavors that are being rolled and dipped over the next few days. The decoration scheme is how I tell them apart.

Raspberry- - - White Stripes, Red Sparkles
Jessie’s Peppermint Stick - - - Peppermint bits, White Stripes
Sofia’s Mexicali Spice- - - Cinnamon Dust, Dark Stripes
Classic Bittersweet- - - Dark Stripes
Chambord- - -Milk Stripes, Red Sparkles
Frangelico- - - Milk & White Stripes
Starbuck’s Coffee- - - Milk and Dark Stripes
Calvados- - -Red & Milk Stripes
White Chocolate- - -White Stripes
Jessie O’s Raspberry Creme - - -White Stripes, Red Sparkles

The next few days are all about rolling and dipping.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Truffle Production Set to Begin

I've been dealing with Mom issues, trying to get her care-givers organized and documented. I have a five pound batch of ganache mixed and chilled, ready to roll up and dip as soon as I get the refrigerator stuff handled (chocolate is very absorbent when it comes to odors so I've been tracking down a used fridge to hold only the truffles). My brother-in-law has an old Coke refrigerated display case in his garage, it just needs a shot of freon. We'll see.

Then it's into full on, full speed production. The flavors that will be dipped tonight are Starbuck's Coffee Liqueur and Chambord.

I'm heading into Calexico to prowl the indoor swap meet first. You can find anything there, it's an old fashioned Marcado.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Crow's Anthem

From The Wiz which I just saw in San Diego (it's on its way to New York again and the set alone is worth the price of a ticket).

This is the song that the crows make the scarecrow sing every day. This is the song Bush should be singing to himself. It's what I was singing while I perused the Iraq Study Group report.

The crows said it better and to music.

You can't win
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game
People keep sayin'
Things are gonna change
But they look just like they're staying the same
You get in
Way over your head
And you've only got yourself to blame

You can't win, chile
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game

You can't win
The world keeps movin'
And you're standin' far behind
People keep sayin'
Things 'll get better
Just to ease your state of mind
So you lay back
And you smoke that smoke
And you drink your glass of wine

You can't win, chile
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game

You can't win
You can't win
No way if your story stays the same
You ain't winnin'
But it's nice to see you
I'm awfully glad you came
Better cool it
'Cause it ain't about losin'
Then the world has got no shame

You can't win, chile
You can't break even
And you can't get out of the game

You can't win
You can't win
You can't break even
Ain't the way
It's supposed to be
You'll be spendin'
Your little bit of money
While someone else ride free
Learn your lesson, refuel your mind
Before some turkey blows out your flame

Washington Makes Silly Plans, Marines Use Silly String

What Marines Need

right now. Not in a few months, but right now. Is Silly String. From this morning's San Diego Union. . .

The 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton wanted "Silly String" – lots of it – while it is in Iraq.
Mark McLain, the General Services Administration's customer service director in San Diego, asked some skeptical questions in his e-mails to the troops overseas. They persuaded him: he took the order and got the goods for the Marines – at a party store.

The request for Silly String, the foamy stuff in aerosol cans that becomes string when sprayed all over, seemed more fitting for a playground than a war zone. Yet, once McLain got the gist of the Marines' plan, he was convinced.

Marines told McLain they wanted to spray Silly String around unexploded ordnance to check for trip wires, or warning systems. If any of the Silly String got caught on wires, they believed, it would indicate the wires were booby traps.

"They need it, and I get it," McLain, 45, said. "The Marines are pretty inventive."

So, I'm sitting here at the computer at Mom's house, MSNBC is waxing all fucking poetic about the "Message From the Mountain" delivered by Baker/Hamilton.

Here are guys who are wearing boots on the ground. This is something they need. If you are putting together care packages or other things for the troops. Hit the party store. Clean out their Silly String. Send your soldier or Marine a case. They need it most in Al-Anbar and Kirkuk and the other places that are fighting house-to-house.

Oh, and how about this? Instead of asking Jim Baker, Gates and the rest of these statesman/philosophers what we need in Iraq. How about asking the kids that are right there, right now? They'll tell you "Silly String."

Hoo-rah. Carry on.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Random Ten, (on the road edition)

The bus is loaded, filled with biodiesel and awaiting Abbie and my getting in to journey back to California. Probably the next thing I post will be on making the chocolate (and even white chocolate) truffles. The contest is still on.

My sister (who gets her issue without contests and stuff) said "Why not tell them you're a sucker for hearing someone's having a cool party where your truffles would be the center of attention?"

There, that's done.

now on to the random ten for the drive today

Step Right Up - - - Tom Waits
Come On Into My Kitchen - - - Robert Johnson
Something So Right - - - Paul Simon
Walk of Life - - - Dire Straights
Superstition - - - Jeff Beck (musical trivia, stevie wrote this song for jeff, then fucking buried him when he released his version)
Two More Bottles of Wine - - - Delbert McClinton
I'll Take You There - - - Staples Singers (come on daddy)
The Back Door - - - Cherish the Ladies
Rock Sweet Rock - - - Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer
Seven Bridges Road - - - Emmylou (live in Malibu)


How Long Blues - - - Furry Lewis

Bonus Bonus

Little Sister - - - Ry Cooder/Taj Mahal

The highway calls. I listeth.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Truffle Contest

Since truffle production will start Wednesday (watch for the step by step posting of the process with pictures) I figured I should get the "Win A Dozen" contest up and running. I've thought long and hard about it. Of course, all that long and hard thinking came up empty. So, I figured, since we are in midwinter, nearing the solstice and the new year. How about this?

Why chocolate is makes life better, and why I am so fucking deserving of it.

The first prize is one dozen truffles, shipped overnight, on my dime. Second place is a dozen, you pay the shipping. (retail value is $45.oo per doz)

There are those of you who are already on the list. You either know who you are or I've been a git and not told anybody. Sarah In Chicago, already rates, just because. If she were explain why, she would still win, but along with the dozen that's going to her, she could designate a beneficiary (including claiming two dozen all for herself).

Somebody in, say, the metropolitan Chicago area, could name deserving friends in their circle and volunteer to be the delivery elf. Same goes for New York. or. . .

To riff on a comment offering from litbrit, if you live in a scandalous region that is not Florida, and are tired of them getting all the press, testify on the corruption and venality that you live right in the middle of and you might be a winner.

I promise that the selection process will be arbitrary, flighty, and most likely unfair. I have been known to take and offer bribes.

One of my favorite things to do is to give someone a truffle for the first time and watch the look on their face when they take that initial bite. Promise of pictures would be a bribe that I might succumb to easily. (that and permission to post the pictures).

Anyway, such as it is. That's the contest. Have at it troops!


Jeff (no, the other one) posted a great entry over at 3B's. He has a young son who was born a preemie and just got home. The comments so far are all very compelling (St. Augustine remains a very dear place in my heart, Gamble Rodgers lived there and he was a true guitar picking demon) I love animals (way more than people most of the time). It's time for ya'll to start thinking seriously along the lines of bribery.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Big Dog Blogging, Butch's Edition

Butch is an English Mastiff. He's 11 years old and I dearly hope that he survives to be 12. For a big guy that's a problem. Right now, he has some pretty severe arthritis, he keeps getting (benign) tumors, some of which have begun to press on his lungs and heart. He refuses to ride in a car. My vet is gracious enough to make house calls for my dear old buddy. When he was in his prime Butch had his job mainly in and around the garage. He kept my mechanical toys (dragster, sand goodies, and various motorcycles) all safe from light fingered visitors. The sight of him alone discourages all intruders.

Don't let the fearsome visage let you think that he's anything but a total sweetheart. Kids, puppies, cats, and his very own pet, Lucy the Chihuaua are all fond of him.

I loves me some big dogs.

Butch's Theme song is

No Lonesome Tune by Townes Van Zandt (who loved Butchie too)

Ain't gonna sing no lonesome tune
Ah Babe, I'm a comin' soon
Cannot believe I been so long away
But a man must look around
You're the sweetest thing I found
Your lost high roller's rollin' home today

Well my daddy said to me
"Son it's hard as you will see
To find someone on whom ya can rely."
In the kitchen Mama sneezed
And he grinned big as you please
Said "God Bless You."
And a tear come to his eye.

Ain't gonna sing. . .

I did decide that very day
That I'd like to live that way
Now I know I've just been wastin' time
It is with you that I would be
And if you feel the same 'bout me
I'm heading home along the straightest line

Ain't gonna sing. . .

He perks up and wags his tail in time when I sing it.

I Stole This From Times Select (and I'm Not Ashamed)

From Frank Rich:

IT turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

The most startling example was his insistence that Al Qaeda is primarily responsible for the country’s spiraling violence. Only a week before Mr. Bush said this, the American military spokesman on the scene, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, called Al Qaeda “extremely disorganized” in Iraq, adding that “I would question at this point how effective they are at all at the state level.” Military intelligence estimates that Al Qaeda makes up only 2 percent to 3 percent of the enemy forces in Iraq, according to Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News. The bottom line: America has a commander in chief who can’t even identify some 97 percent to 98 percent of the combatants in a war that has gone on longer than our involvement in World War II.

But that’s not the half of it. Mr. Bush relentlessly refers to Iraq’s “unity government” though it is not unified and can only nominally govern. (In Henry Kissinger’s accurate recent formulation, Iraq is not even a nation “in the historic sense.”) After that pseudo-government’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, brushed him off in Amman, the president nonetheless declared him “the right guy for Iraq” the morning after. This came only a day after The Times’s revelation of a secret memo by Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, judging Mr. Maliki either “ignorant of what is going on” in his own country or disingenuous or insufficiently capable of running a government. Not that it matters what Mr. Hadley writes when his boss is impervious to facts.

In truth the president is so out of it he wasn’t even meeting with the right guy. No one doubts that the most powerful political leader in Iraq is the anti-American, pro-Hezbollah cleric Moktada al-Sadr, without whom Mr. Maliki would be on the scrap heap next to his short-lived predecessors, Ayad Allawi and Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Mr. Sadr’s militia is far more powerful than the official Iraqi army that we’ve been helping to “stand up” at hideous cost all these years. If we’re not going to take him out, as John McCain proposed this month, we might as well deal with him directly rather than with Mr. Maliki, his puppet. But our president shows few signs of recognizing Mr. Sadr’s existence.

In his classic study, “The Great War and Modern Memory,” Paul Fussell wrote of how World War I shattered and remade literature, for only a new language of irony could convey the trauma and waste. Under the auspices of Mr. Bush, the Iraq war is having a comparable, if different, linguistic impact: the more he loses his hold on reality, the more language is severed from its meaning altogether.

When the president persists in talking about staying until “the mission is complete” even though there is no definable military mission, let alone one that can be completed, he is indulging in pure absurdity. The same goes for his talk of “victory,” another concept robbed of any definition when the prime minister we are trying to prop up is allied with Mr. Sadr, a man who wants Americans dead and has many scalps to prove it. The newest hollowed-out Bush word to mask the endgame in Iraq is “phase,” as if the increasing violence were as transitional as the growing pains of a surly teenager. “Phase” is meant to drown out all the unsettling debate about two words the president doesn’t want to hear, “civil war.”

When news organizations, politicians and bloggers had their own civil war about the proper usage of that designation last week, it was highly instructive — but about America, not Iraq. The intensity of the squabble showed the corrosive effect the president’s subversion of language has had on our larger culture. Iraq arguably passed beyond civil war months ago into what might more accurately be termed ethnic cleansing or chaos. That we were fighting over “civil war” at this late date was a reminder that wittingly or not, we have all taken to following Mr. Bush’s lead in retreating from English as we once knew it.

It’s been a familiar pattern for the news media, politicians and the public alike in the Bush era. It took us far too long to acknowledge that the “abuses” at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere might be more accurately called torture. And that the “manipulation” of prewar intelligence might be more accurately called lying. Next up is “pullback,” the Iraq Study Group’s reported euphemism to stave off the word “retreat” (if not retreat itself).

In the case of “civil war,” it fell to a morning television anchor, Matt Lauer, to officially bless the term before the “Today” show moved on to such regular fare as an update on the Olsen twins. That juxtaposition of Iraq and post-pubescent eroticism was only too accurate a gauge of how much the word “war” itself has been drained of its meaning in America after years of waging a war that required no shared sacrifice. Whatever you want to label what’s happening in Iraq, it has never impeded our freedom to dote on the Olsen twins.

I have not been one to buy into the arguments that Mr. Bush is stupid or is the sum of his “Bushisms” or is, as feverish Internet speculation periodically has it, secretly drinking again. I still don’t. But I have believed he is a cynic — that he could always distinguish between truth and fiction even as he and Karl Rove sold us their fictions. That’s why, when the president said that “absolutely, we’re winning” in Iraq before the midterms, I just figured it was more of the same: another expedient lie to further his partisan political ends.

But that election has come and gone, and Mr. Bush is more isolated from the real world than ever. That’s scary. Neither he nor his party has anything to gain politically by pretending that Iraq is not in crisis. Yet Mr. Bush clings to his delusions with a near-rage — watch him seethe in his press conference with Mr. Maliki — that can’t be explained away by sheer stubbornness or misguided principles or a pat psychological theory. Whatever the reason, he is slipping into the same zone as Woodrow Wilson did when refusing to face the rejection of the League of Nations, as a sleepless L.B.J. did when micromanaging bombing missions in Vietnam, as Ronald Reagan did when checking out during Iran-Contra. You can understand why Jim Webb, the Virginia senator-elect with a son in Iraq, was tempted to slug the president at a White House reception for newly elected members of Congress. Mr. Bush asked “How’s your boy?” But when Mr. Webb replied, “I’d like to get them out of Iraq,” the president refused to so much as acknowledge the subject. Maybe a timely slug would have woken him up.

Or at least sounded an alarm. Some two years ago, I wrote that Iraq was Vietnam on speed, a quagmire for the MTV generation. Those jump cuts are accelerating now. The illusion that America can control events on the ground is just that: an illusion. As the list of theoretical silver bullets for Iraq grows longer (and more theoretical) by the day — special envoy, embedded military advisers, partition, outreach to Iran and Syria, Holbrooke, international conference, NATO — urgent decisions have to be made by a chief executive who is in touch with reality (or such is the minimal job description). Otherwise the events in Iraq will make the Decider’s decisions for him, as indeed they are doing already.

The joke, history may note, is that even as Mr. Bush deludes himself that he is bringing “democracy” to Iraq, he is flouting democracy at home. American voters could not have delivered a clearer mandate on the war than they did on Nov. 7, but apparently elections don’t register at the White House unless the voters dip their fingers in purple ink. Mr. Bush seems to think that the only decision he had to make was replacing Donald Rumsfeld and the mission of changing course would be accomplished.

Tell that to the Americans in Anbar Province. Back in August the chief of intelligence for the Marines filed a secret report — uncovered by Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post — concluding that American troops “are no longer capable of militarily defeating the insurgency in al-Anbar.” That finding was confirmed in an intelligence update last month. Yet American troops are still being tossed into that maw, and at least 90 have been killed there since Labor Day, including five marines, ages 19 to 24, around Thanksgiving.

Civil war? Sectarian violence? A phase? This much is certain: The dead in Iraq don’t give a damn what we call it.