Thursday, December 20th, 2012
1:37 pm - Insert Truffle Pun Here...  
It's truffle time again at Casa Machina! I've put up 16 dozen or so truffle centers so far, and should finish off the last four batches of centers (about 9 dozen) today. Then it's time to dip.

There was a short snag when I went to look up my truffle recipes. I store them here on Livejournal so that I won't lose them, but LJ was down, and past experience has shown that they could be MIA for days. Now I have the basic mix committed to memory, so I tried to soldier through and make a batch of mocha truffles from memory. Turns out my memory of the details was faulty, as I discovered a couple of hours later when LJ came back. Fortunately, no harm was done. I used incorrect settings whilst melting the chocolate in the microwave, but my habit of checking the progress a lot caught the mistake before I scorched the chocolate. And mixing up tsps of coffee powder with tbsps yielded deep chocolate rather than mocha truffles, which were on the list anyway.

I saved a copy of the recipes to a text file so that I won't have this issue again. The irony here is that normally I am totally against storing info in the cloud, yet I have this huge blind spot when it comes to my recipes, all of which are here in LJ and occasional scraps of hard to find paper.

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My local Walmart recently repaved their parking lot, and I was annoyed to see the word "YEILD" painted in enormous letters in a couple of spots on the driveway. This was always a sore spot for me when I was teaching organic chemistry, because students always had to report their percent yields when synthesizing compounds in the lab, and so many of them spelled it wrong.

A couple of weeks later I noticed that the contractor had come back, painted over the offending "EI"s with black paint, and over painted the correct "IE." Yay.

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One thing I always buy at Walmart is half and half, because it's way cheaper than anywhere else. But up until this week, they were marketing it oddly: quarts were $1.58 and half gallons were $3.98, which makes no mathematical sense whatsoever. It was like this for the last year or so. Yesterday, though, I noticed that quarts are now $1.98 and half gallons are $3.88, which makes far more sense. I wonder how many people actually bought half gallons this past year.

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One thing I always used to include in the food basket I give my father every Christmas was a Hickory Farms Beef Stick, something he really liked. Then a couple of years ago they became very hard to find locally, and I had to substitute a different brand. I went looking again this year, and apart from some small pieces included in some gift boxes, I couldn't find any.

So I googled the stuff to see if I could find someone local who had it. While doing that, I noticed some disturbing words in Google's autocomplete list: "beef stick discontinued." Wait, what?

Clicking around a bit, it turns out what it refers to is the fact that Hickory Farms no longer calls it "Beef Stick," but "Summer Sausage."* Their stated reason was that beef stick has some sort of negative connotation, and that summer sausage is what connoisseurs prefer. The other thing that I discovered was that HF changed the recipe a couple of years ago, apparently wanting to make something a little tastier and a little healthier, etc. Yeah, I'm sure nine out of ten doctors will now recommend that their cardiac patients include lots of summer sausage in their diets.

* Actually, it's now their "signature" summer sausage. Don't get me started on the whole ridiculousness of the craze for adding the word "signature" in front of menu items.

However the first thing that occurred to me after reading all this was to check the ingredients list on those gift boxes I saw. Sure enough, HF Summer Sausage is made from beef AND pork. And of course, pork is generally cheaper than beef. There is nothing wrong with using pork in sausages. Many of the finest are pork alone. But for HF to insist that they changed the name because of a negative connotation is ludicrous. It's because it's not beef anymore. Caveat emptor.

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I didn't do a Christmas card this year. I was going to, then got busy, then looked up and noticed that Christmas is almost here. Not having access to a color laser printer is also a factor.

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I am still slowly recovering from my bout with the flu. After several miserable nights of hacking, I finally thought about the way my old doctor put it, that the flu seems to rototill my lungs, making them extremely sensitive to allergens that otherwise wouldn't bother me. Thus the cough tends to hang on and on**. The best way to deal with allergens isn't cough syrup, but antihistamines. Now, I'd been taking short acting antihistamines, the kinds that come in cold medicine, all along, but maybe going up a level would be better. So I started taking loratidine (Claritin), something I usually only need during the spring, along with guaifenesin to decongest the lungs. That seems to have gotten it pretty much under control. I've been sleeping much better under the regimen, and haven't been coughing much during the day. Better living through chemistry.

** Somervillains reading this may remember me constantly hacking and sucking on mentholyptus drops back in the day, ten years ago or so. Same problem. This isthe first time it's been this bad since.

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I baked bread today, or rather, I took a bread recipe and made hard rolls with it, just to see how they'd work out. Just came out of the oven, so we shall see shortly.


 
 
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meara: reddressmearagrrl on December 21st, 2012 - 12:12 am
Wow, that's a lot of truffles! Merry Christmas!
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DXMachinadxmachina on December 21st, 2012 - 03:39 am
Merry Christmas to you, too!

I saw your FB posts about your travel problems. I hope it gets better tomorrow.
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