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December 2006

December 28, 2006

Excellent series about Noka chocolate at Dallas Food

While catching up on my reading, I scanned the list of nominees for best post in the Food Blog Awards at Well Fed and came across one that I found both very well written and fascinating. As an added bonus, it was at Dallas Food, a blog I hadn't come across before.

First a bit of back story.

Noka Chocolate is a two year old Texas chocolatier with lots of stylish trappings and unbelievably expensive chocolate. Seriously. Second most expensive in the world. Ranging from a smidge over $300us to a bit under $2100us. Yep, you read that right: almost $2100 a pound! That is a pretty impressive price for any company to command for chocolate, let alone an two year old upstart in a strip mall in Plano, Texas.

But they do have pictures of the chocolate attending the Emmys and being named the  #1 luxury chocolate in the world by a British TV show (or would that be telly?) and a corporate philosophy.

NOKA Chocolatier, Katrina Merrem, has as her life-passion, the goal of returning chocolate to its pure, luxurious state by creating the finest single-origin dark chocolate truffles and chocolates, made from the rarest cacao sourced from exclusive plantations around the world.

It is with this vision that NOKA Chocolate was founded. And it is this very vision that guides NOKA Chocolate in handcrafting the most exquisite chocolates to ever grace the palate.

I am totally there with most exquisite chocolates to ever grace the palate part of this. If the best chocolate in the world costs 2000 a pound, and it is actually the best, then I'd have to buy a little bit...once. (Of course, I would then have to donate a LOT of money to the local food bank to assuage my guilt.) So it's nice that Dallas Food published this series, in which they asked a simple question: Is Noka chocolate worth the price? You know, just in case I ever win the lottery.

The answer comes in the form of a ten part series. It does an excellent job of analyzing the factors that might make the chocolate worth the exorbitant prices and coming to a conclusion that, while not necessarily surprising, is rather hard to dispute. (and comments are disabled, so no disputing is taking place) There's research and interviews and taste testing and everything! (ok, so the muckraking geek part of me was very amused)

It's well worth the read and points to one of the things that is best about independent publishing here on the tubes of the Internets: I doubt that any mainstream outlet would have cared enough to do this piece until the company got big enough to matter and, by then, the company might have mattered enough that the question never got asked.

December 27, 2006

brownies with craisins by way of Jackson Pollock

"Always serve too much hot fudge sauce on hot fudge sundaes. It makes people overjoyed, and puts them in your debt." Judith Olney


If Jackson Pollock made brownies, they would look just like this. Or at least they should. Go clicky on that link and then tell me those brownies aren't Pollock worthy.

These treats started as a rather plain, yet very nice, brownie from a book called The Joy of Chocolate by Judith Olney (the source of the delightful quote). They were supposed to get frosting and a customized chocolate graphical signature of sorts atop that, which always seemed rather frou-frou and counter to my needs when making brownies. If I had the time for all that work on individual brownies, I wouldn't be making brownies, I'd be making mud puffs!

And yet, plain frosting seems so plain somehow. So I had to improvise. Hence the Pollock. Because flinging chocolate at a pan of brownies is much more fun, and a lot faster, than any sort of organized and orderly laying out of designs on perfectly divided squares.

Continue reading "brownies with craisins by way of Jackson Pollock" »

December 24, 2006

holiday frivolity

My breadbaking buddy, Farmgirl, has a new side job. Who knew? (gobble, gobble? gobble, gobble!)

December 20, 2006

pizza face!


Quick report from the first day of Thump Thump Giggle Giggle 06. Make your own pizza night was a hit, with a well organized assembly line (if I do say so myself) with each pizza crust on its own sheet of parchment and all the toppings lined up behind them.  Except for the rum. I have no clue where that came from...well, I know where it came from, just not why it was out with the pizza makings, nor why I didn't get a drink!

This is a great way to make individual pizzas for parties, especially for kids. The parchment gives you something by which to manipulate the floppy while raw, and then extremely hot when cooked, pizza; plus you can write the name of the person who made the pizza on the paper. These were labeled with the names that everyone is using on the network: Kat, Monstrrr, Dracomiss, BabyDuck, and Dead, I mean Dad.

The pizza making rapidly moved into an art exhibition, with most people making faces of one sort or another. Dracomiss swears hers is a pig. Dead, I mean Dad made an abstract piece and mine was a self-referential wedges of wedges sort of thing. (I made mine last and when I picked up the scissors to cut the pepperoni, there was an audible gasp from everyone else; as if there had been rules or something!)

katPizza dracomissPizza monstrrrPizza deadIMeanDadPizza babyduckPizza selfReferentialPizza

We've been munching our way through a plate of densely chocolate brownies studded with craisins and drizzled with a lattice of very dark and white chocolates while screams of dismay and four letter words drift in from the next room, where the carnage continues apace. I hear Dead, I mean Dad asking for directions back to the fray from some back part of a dungeon in which he's if they'll help. Do you suppose that he'd listen if I told him I can tell it's a trap from here? grin

Tomorrow is a big breakfast of some sort, which I just may sleep through, since it's the meal someoneElse is responsible for. Lunch is light: prawns and roasted red pepper sauce, baguettes, olives, marinated artichoke hearts, maybe some chunks of cheese and some fruit. Dinner is chicken that's marinating in this lemon, rosemary, dijon concoction; pasta with citrus ginger cream sauce that I had the other night and want to try to recreate (wish me luck); salad with warm goat cheese, pear slices, and spiced pecans; and a variation on Bananas Foster for dessert.

Last I checked, the kitchen was only mildly thrashed and the cookies a bit more; we were probably down by a couple of dozen cookies, maybe more since Dracomiss brought a few dozen which are also disappearing.

And now I must go pour myself a glass of amaretto. I think I've earned it.

December 18, 2006

getting ready for my favorite december ritual


We are lucky enough to be the host for the great annual "Thump, thump, giggle, giggle" reunion, when a handful of young women gather to kill each other on our network. And Eat. Over and over and over. For days on end. Seriously. (both the killing and the eating)

This year's bash is six people for four days, which adds up to lots of virtual death and lots of food. Coming on the heels of the book, my schedule was tight...and then the storm of madness hit and the power went out and...well, so much for schedules.

Since we got power back two days ago, I have made:

  • 2 dozen Bagels
  • 4 Baguettes
  • 18 Rosemary olive oil pull-apart rolls
  • 2 dozen pita
  • 3 loaves oatmeal cinnamon twist bread
  • 2 dozen cinnamon rolls
  • double batch of brownies
  • double batch of cookies

I'm guessing that I'm going to be too busy to post much in the way here as it's happening, but I put up a flickr set just for this, in case anyone is crazy enough to want to follow along.  It does at least give you a little hint of the mess that is my kitchen.

Menu for the bash after the jump.

Continue reading "getting ready for my favorite december ritual" »

December 14, 2006

wcb: a tad early because...

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige... Clare's been MIA for a bit so the WCb home has been floating around, this week landing here!

The winds are blowing, the water is rising, and according to the weather-guessers, we ain't seen nothing yet! We're supposed to get 85-100 mph winds over the next day or two. (you may all say WTF along with me!) So, I thought I'd get this posted a day early just in case they are right. Want to see how helpful the kittens are in a storm? Check this out.

any couch in a storm

Dargo has found his warm, dry spot and can't be bothered. Shhhhh. Creep away very quietly.

Trubble and T3 (aka 'ssouri, aka Mr Bowtie) Trubble and theCatWithManyPseudoNames (aka t3, Farmgirl's Nameless Cat, 'ssouri, Mr Bowtie...) have scammed a box and Trubble is most disturbed that I dared to use a flash. I'm not thrilled about the flash either, but dark and stormy days call for desperate measures!

'ssouri on the Table

Little 'ssouri bowtie wants to prove that he is in fact a helpful kitten, and here's his proof. Holding down the makeshift seamless in case the winds manage to sneak inside the house. In which case, he would be found hiding in another room whining talking about how much I suck because I let it get windy.

Please post your weekend cat blogging links in the comments. You can also send them to me at kitchenmage(at)gmail(dot)com, and if I still have power and a connection to the tubes Internet, I'll get them posted here.


Power's back! Please go visit these kitties and skrinch their little faces.

Please add me to CBW, Welcome to Rascal's World where Rascal has an encounter with a vishus deer...or is it a sheep?

Little Cat Zee asked "Purrty please" to join the party, so how could we say no? I noticed that she's and Rascal are blog friends, even joining together to show off holiday decorations!

Sam's best friend isn't another cat, it's a bird: Jazz the Lineolated Parakeet

Whaleshaman explains why It's Good To Have A Dribblepuss...

Tobias models a cozy, and takes the time to explain a particular internet meme rather thoroughly.

Krogie sends a homemade Christmas card to everyone at Weekend Cat Blogging. Don't forget to click on the Happy Holidays! to activate the card.

Shishi is sniffing the flowers and having a picnic! In December!

Luckily, Miss Lyra had pictures in the vault so when her power went out she could still come play.

KitiKata-san has a friend, aptly named Buddy, who visits from just next door.

Burekaboy swears it's not storming at his place, but I think it looks like things are moving around a lot--or else the alien cat might have landed!

Puddy has a new pink thing, with a tunnel and a ball and a place to pose!

Max and Noosh are helping out their person with computers and laundry. But they want to know: does a black and white cat go in with the whites?

Xena, Kai, and the tribbles demonstrate camouflage techniques.

Prunella over at Pia's place seems to have lots of friends.

Grendel wants to know why the idle hand is not petting him. Like you have something better to do?

Louis is looking for dinner. Maybe a roast chicken and latkes for Hanukkah?

Jelly says Kamikaze is hungry too, but he looks like he'll explode is he eats another bite.

Maggie Fu is contemplating whether felines should ever "be useful" while counting the drip...drip...drip.

Go visit the post surgical kitty at What did you eat and give the fluffling get well wishes.

Colin may have the best spot of all, tucked in bed with a good book blogger.

note: I think I'm caught up for the moment! Thanks for all the good wishes for us in the storm. We not only made it through but the refrigerator and freezers stayed cold enough that all the food is still okay. Which is really good since I just went shopping for a four day reunion/party that starts on Tuesday.

December 11, 2006

But EVOO isn't even a word!

The brand that is Rachael Ray strikes again, and this time I really must object. The next edition of the Oxford American College Dictionary will include EVOO as a word and they are crediting RR for the term.

Um, no and no.

First, EVOO isn't a word, it's an acronym and I am concerned that the people associated with Oxford (whom many of us think of as "the dictionary people") don't seem to know the difference.

Next, read this quote from Erin McKean, Editor-in-Chief of American Dictionaries

"In order for a word to get into the dictionary it has to be useful to people. It’s not just enough to be a fabulous celebrity to get your word in. You have to make a word that people like to use. There are words that are connected with celebrities that are not going to make it in the dictionary anytime soon; we’re not going to put in "Brangelina." "EVOO" we see people using. We have a big database of about a billion and a half English words. In that database we found evidence of "EVOO" being used and in more than half of the examples, "Rachael" is also in the same sentence."

I googled "EVOO" and got ~181k hits, while "EVOO -Ray" gets ~127k, which means that ,in the wild, she's only mentioned in a third of the pages with EVOO on them. (it must make it tough to read the page when it has EVOO on it). And Brangelina, a word that is as cringeworthy as EVOO, gets 1.6 million hits, more than ten times as many hits as EVOO, so the argument about people liking to use the word is clearly not true.

EVOO may be a useful acronym for some folks, but it isn't as practiced by RR. For it to be useful, it would have to be a shorter replacement for a longer term. Every time I have heard RR use the term, however, she has said "EVOO, extra-virgin olive oil" proving that it's not only not useful, it simply clutters up the sentence. (Maybe I am just hyper-aware of this because I'm at the author's review stage of a couple of books, which is when the copy editors send everything back with corrections. Corrections like "say 'extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)' once and then just say EVOO." Perhaps RR just needs a good editor. I've got several excellent ones to recommend.)

To sum up:

  • not a word
  • neither created or used most by the person getting the credit
  • not useful as implemented by the person they are crediting with the word
  • far less used than Brangelina which isn't in the dictionary because people don't "like to use it"

This would be easier to explain if the dictionary publisher was also RR's publisher, but unless it's part of an upcoming and as yet undisclosed deal they aren't. Which means I should probably file this under "America, dumbing down of via celebrity worship" and get back to writing that other thing. Which will be done any day now. In a computer minute.

December 09, 2006

wcb: in which a clever grayling helps out Angry Cat

Clare and Kiri from eat stuff organize weekend cat blogging to provide us with an excuse to bring on the cute...and we're all happy to oblige... Clare's been MIA for a bit so the WCb home has been floating around, this week landing just across the river at Belly Timber, where Angry Cat has issues!

If you have been to BellyTimber the Angry Cat blog today, you probably know all about the injustice being perpetrated against Angry Cat. Oh, the felinity! The furlings over here at kittenMage kitchenMage have been working hard to help out, what with the math and all. AC needed extra paws on which to count up all that catnip. While the grayling lent a paw, everyone went out to practice their fighting skills, because you need military pouncing backup on these matters.

two on one While Dargo is scoping out a position from which to sneak up on SC, Trubble (grayling #1) and T3 take advantage of his lack of attention and practice the flying pounce!

Look at that synchronization! Those sneaky snakes who stole AC's picture better watch out!

Dargo stalking the graylingNext maneuver. Dargo thinks that SC (grayling #2) is not watching what's going on and that he has a chance to get in a sneak attack. He's lining up for his attack run, better watch out SC!

airborne cats

Hah! SC laughs at your sneak attack! Look at the air under Dargo, he must have been really surprised by SC's swift and silent attack skills. Man, they are so ready to back up AC. Where are those pesky people from the O? What chance do they stand against the kittenMage horde?

the clever grayling snoozes

Trubble, otherwise known as the clever grayling, has been working very hard to help AC and she's utterly exhausted. Remember, math is hard for Barbies and kittens.  Luckily, Trubble has found a place to snooze while awaiting further orders from AC.

Remember, Weekend Cat Blogging will be hosted right here next weekend. Drop me mail with your permalinks at kitchenMage (at) gmail(dot)com or post them in the comments next Friday.

Until then. Hi Ho Angry Cat Away!

December 03, 2006


I always like watching people stretch their comfort zone in the kitchen, so I had to share this. Picture one of those "make candy/pastry/gingerbread house" competitions except that, instead of 2-3 person teams with a few hours, you let the teams take as long as they needed and use as many people as they wanted. Then, just to keep it interesting, and since it's Gingerbread houses and such, ask architectural firms to do the design and building.

Ah, the possibilities!

Well, the Toronto Star did just that and they are auctioning off the results. If you happen to live in Toronto, maybe you'll get a chance to see them. For the rest of us, Gingerbread Cities has galleries of the creations.

It's been absolutely forever since I made a gingerbread house. At this point, I'd have to build something a bit less Victorianish and a lot more designer.

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