Claudia and Nancy's Chocolate Factory - Lavender, Lemon and Strawberry Marshmallows on Chocolate Bark

Yes, that's chocolate on our faces, hands, arms and clothing.  Getting in touch with our inner child here.  Deb actually gave that as one of her reasons for picking our current Cook the Books Club selection,  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.  It was just partly this lightweight, but charming fairy tale's fault for inspiring me to do the chocolate making thing once more.

 Kealani (my granddaughter) remembers me saying the last time, that it was the LAST TIME.  A lot of work, in other words.  Or, maybe not so much work as MESS.  You might compare the process to having a baby, in that you don't ask the just delivered mother if she's going to do it again.  If I wait a bit I might even want to.  You have to weigh the good with the not so.

We did lick up a lot.  And it was good.  It also means I won't be buying any chocolate bars for quite awhile.  Four pounds worth.  And if anybody happens to wonder why I don't post more dessert recipes, well this is your answer.  I'd most always rather just have a little chocolate.  Preferably this kind.


Mean Mr., Honey Wholegrain, Mustard

Song lyrics that date me.  This is just a quick post because of how thrilled I am with the way my mustard turned out.  It all started innocently enough in my favorite market, looking for a wholegrain type jar of mustard.  I don't know about you, but when I'm looking for something, most of the time there is an ideal lurking in the back of my mind.  If that is not met, then everything comes to a screeching halt, pardon the drama.  Not a world crisis..  But the selection was pitiful, sorry to say.  So, I said to myself,  let's just do it ourselves.  I wasn't totally talking to myself.  My granddaughter was present.

Admittedly, I could have gone to a mega, national chain Supermarket and found the perfect mustard of my dreams, but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.  So over to the bulk bins for a bag of mustard seeds.  Once home I quickly Googled recipes to see how difficult the process might be. 


Chicken Pozole Rojo for Daring Cooks

I realize that some (well okay most) might consider this a soup, however it is more than that, much more - a stew, a braise, a hearty meal garnished with fresh herbs and vegetables, a Mexican National treasure.  So, maybe I can be excused.  Originally  from the state of Guerrero, Mexico, where pozole, is practically the state dish. While in California and New Mexico pozole is traditionally served on Christmas eve, in Guerrero it is served every Thursday and Saturday, all year long..  I think I could handle that.

Dry hominy corn kernels, which add an incomparable corn flavor to this soup, are soaked overnight and next day cooked for several hours, (though many recipes just call for canned hominy and you can do that) then added to the meat, which has been braised separately.  It can be pozole blanco, in which case chicken is used and there are no red chilies or tomatoes in the braise.  So rojo, as you might have gathered, is red.  Previously I had made a pork version, which was delicious, and so wanted to try chicken this time. 

This was soooo good, I especially enjoyed the contrast of a savory stew with the fresh toppings, an assortment including slices of avocado, radishes, cabbage, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.  With tortilla chips on the side.


Mapo Tofu with Pak and Ong Choy

Though Mapo Tofu came originally from the Sichuan province in China, it is now served in Chinese restaurants all over the world, and is known to have hundreds of variations.  So, I feel fairly safe with my designation here. Bob objects to dozens of those tiny, bright red, searingly hot chili peppers scattered throughout a dish of food. So that was the first thing to go.  Instead, I just added a healthy sized dollop of Mae Ploy Chili Sauce, with the thought that what you don't see can't hurt.  Right?  And, then for it's vibrant color, sliced strips of red bell pepper.

The Ong Choy is at the very bottom of the photo.  Pond desperately in need of weeding.

Our pond, thanks to a water garden tour I took last year, now has Ong Choy growing in there.  I have read that in some places this hardy little green is taking over bodies of water and considered noxious.  A point of view that depends upon your perspective.  A good remedy would be for more of you folks to eat this plant.  It is a popular Asian green with scads of other alias', such as Swamp Cabbage, Water Convolvulus, Water Morning Glory, Pak Bung, Rau Muong, and etc.  I didn't care for the sound of Swamp Cabbage, but with so many names to choose from, we can take our pick.  The Chinese around here all know it as ong choy, so ong choy it is.