Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Taste of Schakolad

There was a mini kidnapping of Himself last week.

I was a very good friend...

The kidnapping was down to Franklin, TN where we had a tour of Schakolad Chocolate Factory.  When you walk into the door your nose gets happy.

Then your stomach gets even happier!

We were greeted with the invitation to indulge in as much as we wanted of the chocolate fountain.  Alrighty then!

We also had time to look at the tempting display cases.

See anything you like?

Once everyone got there, we were taken back to the 'chocolate machines' where melted chocolate (both dark and milk) were constantly being swirled in a circle.

We were shown how to dip the spatula into the chocolate and fill a tray to make chocolate bars.

Then we each did a bar for ourselves.

You betcha I filled it as full as I could!

After everyone made a bar for themselves, the chocolate was put in the refrigerator to harden while we headed into the back of the store for a chocolate class.

This is a cacao pod that grows on the cacao tree.

And these are the cacao seeds.  These seeds have been cleaned and roasted already.  We sampled a cacao seed that had a brown sugar crust (kind of like a candied pecan).  It was crunchy and somewhat bitter.

Then we tried "nibs", which is the cacao seed crushed, after being roasted.  They are really, really bitter and taste more nutty than chocolaty.

Once we got past tasting cacao... we tasted chocolate.  From 91% (extremely bitter) to 70% for the dark chocolate.  That range is considered 'health food'.  Of the 70%-ers, we tried one from Peru and one from Madagascar.  There was a difference!  The Peru tasted more "citrus/honey" and the Madagascar was more "berry-tangy/spice".  Then we worked our way down to the milk chocolates.  At 40% it was very sweet and smooth.  We found out that is what they use in the chocolate fountain as it has enough natural cocoa oil to make it flow.  At the bottom of the scale at basically 0% cocoa is "white chocolate".  It is made from the cocoa fat/oil and has no cocoa in it.

Then we sampled some of the delicious chocolates from the store... amaretto, whiskey peach, butterscotch, and orange.

After getting our fill of chocolate, the group was broken into 3 groups of 2 teams each.

First task... build a chocolate house in 10 minutes.  They with the best house got a prize.

Himself and our team mates hard at work.

Group photo!  

I'm blurry because of chocolate on my lens!  LOL

Our finished house.

Our next activity was back over at the chocolate machine where we learn to hand dip chocolate.  As you can see, we did pretzels, Oreos, and marshmallows.

Himself working on his milk chocolate pretzel.

And a marshmallow.

My turn!

We got to make 2 each.

Our final activity was to decorate our candy with a 'tube' of very warm white chocolate.

I had a blast getting fancy, even tried a bit of zentangling!

Himself... he didn't want to 'contaminate' his chocolate with white chocolate.  (I think he scraped off his writing before he ate his chocolate bar.  LOL )

Oh... our team won the house prize!  Here's my team mate and I selecting our candy (our dear hubbies gave us their boxes to fill).

The delicious prizes!

From top left across:  Amaretto, Whiskey Peach, Blackberry Brandy, and Mint
Bottom row: Orange, dark choc covered cherry, Key Lime, and the Mystery Piece (I forgot!).

If you are in the Nashville area, I highly recommend taking this tour (and watch for a Groupon to make it even cheaper).  It was a grand evening!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lunar Eclipse... Red Moon

I managed a few shots of the lunar eclipse last night.  Darn digital camera fought with me the whole time... it thinks it knows more than me.  Anyway, here's the best of what I managed with hand holding my camera:

During the 'red' phase.

At the end of the eclipse.

A cool reddish ring on the clouds around the moon.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TONIGHT!! Be Outside!!

There is a total lunar eclipse to see tonight!

If you live in the center area (white) on this map, with a clear sky you will have the treat of watching a 'Super Moon' in total lunar eclipse.  This hasn't happened in 32 years and won't happen again for another 18 years.

For the eastern half of the United States, not only will we see it but it will be at a decent time too.  Totality will start at 9:11pm CT... and you'll have an hour to get out there and look.  

           It will be your last chance to see a total lunar eclipse until 2018!

                                                Don't blow it!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Meal To Remember

When we went to Ethiopia in '03 (the same trip of the coffee ceremony I wrote about a few weeks ago), I had not been able to make contact with our friends due to the phone lines not working.  They knew we were coming, but not exactly when.

Since that is what it was, we decided to just show up.  We found their home largely because as we were looking, we kept saying Tadelle's name over and over.  As we went by their home, their son heard his dad's name be spoken, checked it out, and welcomed us hugely.

His parents were not home right then.  We visited briefly and said we'd be back tomorrow.

We were welcomed most wonderfully with this feast.  Oh goodness!

However, before the meal Belaynesh taught Himself and me how to make the wonderful sourdough flat bread called 'injera'.

You take the fermented batter and spread it on a huge griddle like you would pancake batter.  I was trying to be very careful, all the while Belaynesh was saying to me something that sounded like "easy".  I thought she was telling me to slow down.


She grabbed my hand and started slinging that batter on the griddle!  Seems that 'easy' was probably more like 'essi' or something.  It really meant 'faster' or 'hurry up'!

Needless to say, my injera came out looking a bit sorry.  But it tasted great!!

That show-off I'm married to used his 'next in line' advantage and of course his came out perfectly.

That was the same evening we were treated to the "Welcome" coffee ceremony.

Then to my total shock, Belaynesh said she wanted to teach me how to do the ceremony AND that she had made a dress just for me.

I was speechless.

After putting it on, Belaynesh started making the neccessary tweaks and adjustments so it looked right.  About that time Tadelle decided he would add his opinion.

You can tell from the look on her face that was NOT a good idea!  LOL

Coffee anyone?

Himself getting seriously caffiene wired...

At the end of the evening, our friends walked us back to our hotel.

Such a wonderful visit.

Linked to Travelers Notes "Food" Challenge:

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

EHC Project: DIY Tea Light Lamp

This month I took over the Presidency of my Extension Homemakers Club.  One of the things I'm doing is having a 'make and take' activity at the end of the meeting.  Something cute, fast, and inexpensive.  

The first project was this wine glass votive candle lamp.

I set up a table will all sorts of choices for their candle lamps.

You start by printing off the lampshade pattern.  You get it at:

I then used the paper pattern to make a cardboard pattern.

Just trace it onto your paper of choice.  The thicker the paper, the better it works.  My thin scrapbook paper was OK, the card stock weight was better.  Wall paper would probably be good, especially the textured stuff.

You can get two shades from one 12x12 piece of paper.  Once you cut them out, you curl it around and use a piece of double stick tape to secure the sides together.

The only other thing you need is a wine glass and a battery operated tea light.  Both of these came from Dollar Tree.  The tea light was 2 for a dollar.

There were several types of wine glasses at the store I visited.  Or you can use glasses you already own since the glass is not altered in any way.

You drop the tea light in like so...

And pop your shade on.

If you have deckle scissors, you can make a decorative edge.  Or put some trim around the edges.

You can even stack one shade on top of a contrasting shade.

This craft was a smash hit and only cost right at $2 each for all the supplies.

Great to add to a shelf or the dinner table when you have company.