Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kitchen Fiddler: A Year In Pictures

It seems that just the other day I was enjoying Cranberry Ginger Pecan Muffins on January 1st, but suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve again. What happened to the time??!


As a teenager I did an extensive journal-writing session every December 31st that provided a recap of the current year, celebrating the areas in which I grew and improved, as well as ranking my top 25 favorite days of that particular year. I still do that in a way, spending time reflecting on both the major highlights and lower points of the year. It feels healthy and necessary to recognize the ways in which both the positive and the challenging experiences have stretched and deepened me in different ways. Taking time to acknowledge this always makes me excited about moving forward into a new year.


I’m still working on my own personal recap of 2009, but throughout the various highs and lows of this year, the one thing that remained consistent was that I always had a blast cooking and writing for this blog. I would like to take a moment to thank you for visiting and keeping me company here on Kitchen Fiddler this year. I’ve had such fun experimenting in my kitchen and sharing stories with you these past twelve months, and I look forward to sharing many more culinary adventures in the near future.

Many recent newspapers and magazines have been filled with photo retrospectives of the year. I’ve chosen some of my particular favorite images from my kitchen efforts this year to give you my own version of the year-end photo spread, "Kitchen Fiddler 2009: The Year In Pictures".

I wish you all a joyous and creative 2010, one that is filled with many blessings. And of course, here’s wishing you a year filled with memorable meals, especially ones that you have the pleasure of enjoying with the favorite people in your life. Happy new year!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 2009 CocoaRoar Report


After a whirlwind December, I am now sitting in my quiet clean apartment, taking stock of the past month. The CocoaRoar factory has been dismantled, my cleaning angels have worked their magic, and I’m daydreaming about all the savory dishes I’m going to enjoy cooking in these next weeks. But before that happens, I wanted to thank you all for your great support and chocolate enthusiasm this month!

Last year I enjoyed typing up the CocoaRoar Report for you, and I felt compelled to do the same thing this year. Here are a few photos from these past weeks, and once again, I present to you The Twelve Days of Christmas a la CocoaRoar.

TWELVE Favorite Movies Playing In The Background. I had fun raiding my own personal movie collection and picking out a dozen fun films to keep me going as I truffled my way through the month: L.A. Story, Chicago, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Victor/Victoria, What’s Up Doc?, Quiz Show, Hannah and Her Sisters, Little Miss Sunshine, Cabaret, Waking Ned Devine, The Graduate, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, of course.

ELEVEN Meyer Lemons. I love taking advantage of these seasonal smooth-skinned beauties, finely grating their floral peel and squeezing their juices into a luxurious white chocolate ganache. This irresistible citrus-flecked truffle has beguiled even the most hardcore white-chocolate haters, and some have even gone so far as to proclaim it their favorite of the six flavors!

TEN-Times-Thirty Pieces of Golden Raffia Ribbon. I did everything I could to prepare the packaging materials, including lining all the boxes with leopard tissue paper and precutting 300 pieces of ribbon to the exact length required. This was definitely a time-saver once I was in the middle of the chocolate trenches.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On The Chocolate Homestretch

Greetings from the CocoaRoar factory!  I must apologize for neglecting my dear Kitchen Fiddler readers in these past two weeks, but I'm finding it difficult to do much as my hands are semi-permanently covered in chocolate these days.  That can actually be a lot of fun, but I don't recommend blogging or doing anything else near your computer if you happen to find yourself in a similar chocolatey state.


It makes sense that my hands would be perpetually chocolate-covered this month since i had to fill all of these red boxes with my homemade truffles before Christmas.  The boxes were stacked 4-deep on my shelf two weeks ago, about 300 boxes total.  But as that stack has diminished considerably, I'm racing towards the finish line of the CocoaRoar Christmas '09 season with only five dozen more orders to fill in the next two days.  I think I'm going to make it.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Louise and Her Chocolate Factory

It should surprise no one that my favorite childhood book was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Right from my very first reading of it at age six, I was transported into a magical world, one where a chocolate river churned by waterfall ran through the heart of it while chocolate delights beyond my wildest dreams waited at every turn. I was always disappointed in the Halloween loot I collected each year, thinking that none of it ever held a candle to the scrumdiddliumptious chocolate I imagined that Mr. Wonka created for children and adults all over. I used to have dreams about winning a golden ticket to that chocolate factory, as well as dreams in which I was capable of creating chocolate wonders of my own that made people swoon.

Sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. In my 17 years of serious cocoa-based experimentation, I can say with confidence that I’ve made more than a few swoon-worthy chocolate creations by now. My apartment is certainly not big, and my kitchen lacks adequate storage and counter space. But I’ve managed to create my own little chocolate factory in here, regardless, and I’ve just begun my third Christmas season of CocoaRoar truffles.

You can create your own chocolate factory too. First of all, you’ll need some chocolate. Lots of it. I happen to have FIFTY-SIX pounds worth of Valrhona bittersweet chocolate in varying percentages of cocoa in my kitchen right now, as well as some Callebaut white chocolate too. (I hope that will be enough to get me through this month.)