Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What's new pussycat and a call for a little dog in need


Greetings to all:)

I know this blog has been fairly dormant over the past few weeks and I apologize for that.  There has just been so much going on both good and bad.  Never fear, all is well and I hope to have an updated Fall Fair schedule listed in my next post:)  To summarize I have received a job offer with the company Aramark, Inc. as a prep/grill cook two weeks ago which I took:)  I feel like the Dunkin Donuts guy when I get up in the morning but I love my hours and my coworkers are pretty cool too.  Granted it's a fairly entry level job but I understand practically everyone starts at the bottom with these guys and there's lots of room for rapid advancement so I'm not worried:)  I'm still volunteering in the hospital cafe Mondays after work so my days can get fairly long and tiring.  It's a situation that takes getting used to but hey at least I'm not bored right?;)

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier I've got a few applications floating around for the new holiday season and I should have my complete schedule up shortly.  In the meantime, I need your help.  Recently, as a favor to a family member who shall remain nameless for the time being, I took in a little Shih Tzu named Mugsy.  I won't go into full detail here but basically Mugsy arrived in a condition that was described by my vet as neglected and has medical issues that call for surgery to the tune of $700!  Said family member has decided Mugsy is no longer a priority and has since abandoned him to us.  Needless to say animal control officers have been contacted and charges of animal cruelty and abandonment are forthcoming.  In the meantime, I've set up a blog documenting Mugsy's story and our attempt to raise the funds for his operation by October 18th.  And so all proceeds from candles sold in my shop (this includes custom orders) until October 18th when we hope to have the surgery, will go towards Mugsy's operation.  We are also accepting donations if you don't wish to buy a candle.  Any money left after the surgery will be donated to the Coastal Humane Society of Maine.  So please, take a look at Mugsy's blog and spread the word to help us get Mugsy back on his feet again:)  Thank you in advance!  Ciao for now.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Hi ho, hi ho it's back to work I go...



Heartfelt thanks to the well wishers who inquired after my mother's health. The surgery went very well and she's back home recovering nicely! So I'm heading back to Maine this weekend and will be opening Culinarychiq Concepts on Etsy and 1000 Markets again tomorrow with orders being shipped first thing Monday morning. I've got a lot of great ideas for some new Fall candles that I'll be working on this week and should be launching by next weekend. In the meantime, due to the shop closures, I'm extending my Christmas in July sale until Sunday August 22nd. This will be your last chance to get 20% off my mouthwatering tropical drink and ice cream candles before they disappear for the season.

Also, Sunday August 15th marks the 98th birthday of the one and only Julia Child. The Cooking Channel is asking people to post pictures of any of her recipes that you make and since I'm nowhere near the DC area to sneak a stick of butter into her display at the Smithsonian (something I've always wanted to do to play homage to the great lady. I thought about a nice freshly made croissant but that'd just attract ants which I don't think the Smithsonian people would appreciate;) I thought it'd be the perfect opportunity to actually attempt one of the recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking (volume 1). Even with the training I've received in school it's a bit intimidating, maybe because of how detailed the instructions are, so I haven't actually attempted anything yet but this week I'm going to be brave and crank out not just dinner but dessert!

Enjoy the weekend everyone. Ciao for now:)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

So what's for dinner?

Apologies for the unannounced hiatus, sometimes life throws you a couple of curve balls and it takes a little while to come back from it. Anyway, lots to talk about this week so let's get started:)

First, I found a new website that though it definitely needs some tweaking, has lots of potential! It's called Dinner Tool and I found it via one of those ads that hangs out along the sides of your Facebook page. It's geared towards the busy mom but basically if you're usually too busy to cook or are tired of standing in front of the fridge and staring endlessly at the contents trying to figure out what you're gonna make for dinner only to throw up your hands and run to the nearest fast food joint, this is the site for you. You can log in either with or without your facebook account, then you can make up the menu for the week or just set it up one day at a time. You can enter an ingredient (say you wanna make chicken but chicken and what?) and you have boxes to tick off (or not) of whether you want the recipe(s) to be easy, fast, budget, healthy and made ahead and drop down boxes with dietary restrictions like gluten free, low carb, vegan etc. and another drop down box asking which of 16 cuisines you prefer (if any) ranging from African, English or French, Latin American, New American (whatever that is) and Thai. Once that's done you get a list of main dishes, sides and desserts or meals which include the other three lists. My one complaint about this is that should you see a meal that you want you can't just click "drag to menu" like you can with the other tabs. Instead you have to click each course in the meal, drag that into the menu and hope you remember to click "search results" instead of back or you lose the whole thing and after to start all over! You also have to remember to save every time you add to the menu or once again back will clear everything out.

Now if you're not picky or don't have any allergies to worry about, clicking the "I'm Hungry" button is like activating the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on Google. Do this and your whole week is planned out for you. Once you have your week set up, click shopping list and it exports your menu to a neatly arranged list according to section (dairy, baking, grocery etc.). The recipes are very good too and only as elaborate as you'd like them to be. Because I like a challenge I refuse to click fast and easy and so far my two favorite meals are the Jamaican Jerk Pork Roast which I've made both with Gingered Sweet Potatoes and with yellow rice and it's just phenomenal although a word to the wise, if you don't like much spice or heat I suggest dramatically reducing the amount of spice the recipe calls for. Lightly dust it rather than coat it. If it's still too spicy, a tall glass of milk or a bowl of ice cream will easily extinguish the flame:) The other recipe I'm in love with is the Grilled grouper with orange ginger glaze and roasted asparagus only I substituted salmon for grouper and it was excellent! The Pasta Sauce with beef ribs and cinnamon gave hubby and I indigestion which we usually don't get and I think next time I'll just stick with my old faithful Ropa Vieja recipe. Anyway, I've only used the site for about a week and a half and as i mentioned before it's got some real promise.



Businesswise the shop is starting to pick up as my Christmas in July sale winds down and my Back to School sale starts up (courtesy of Etsy's Team Homefront) I've started working on my Fall and Winter candle line.



The fall candles are available now, the winter candles become available in September but here's a sneak peak:



Nice aren't they? Anyway, that's about it for now. Who can believe July is nearly gone already? Have a good week everyone and stay cool!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toaster Oven Talk


Once upon a time, before the existence of microwave ovens, people used a little invention called the toaster oven. Recently when our microwave decided to make its journey to Silicone Heaven we hit the store to buy a new one and found them sitting next to some toaster ovens. We'd been mulling over the idea of going with a toaster oven when our microwave and toaster died but now we were faced with that decision. I mean sure you can make something super hot super fast with a microwave but you mostly get rubberized food with all the flavor nuked out. With a toaster oven you can do pretty much whatever you would with a regular oven except you wouldn't raise the temperature of your kitchen which means if you get tired of grilling all the time this summer and start jonesing for a winter favorite, there's your trusty toaster oven for all your baking needs! Since picking up our toaster oven we've toasted things, made pizza, baked ziti, chicken wrapped in bacon and reheated leftovers.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with a traditional Sunday roast but in the meantime I'll be trying recipes and seeing what works and what doesn't. So far the only thing I can't do with a toaster oven is make popcorn, but I'm working on it:)

In the meantime, for anyone out there who have a toaster oven collecting dust or have been considering buying one. Here are some recipes to try:

Cannelloni
prep: 10 min, cook: 10min
10-12 pieces round
dumpling wrappers
3 oz. red pasta sauce
3 Cups ricotta cheese
2 Tbs heavy cream
2 tsp grated mozzarella
1Tbs olive oil
green vegetables or meat of choice

Bring a pan of water to a boil and reduce heat. Add wrappers individually, for 10 seconds at a time and spread them out (they will be sticky). Fill them with sauce and steamed vegetables or meat of choice, fold over. Spread olive oil onto a heatproof dish. Combine cheese and cream, pour it over the folded wraps. Sprinkle with mozzarella and bake in toaster oven for 10 minutes, until slightly browned.


Good Housekeeping has lots of great recipes including this one for Maple-Glazed Sausages and Figs and Big Oven has a terrific selection of toaster oven recipes including this one for Stuffed Chicken Breasts!

That's about it for this week except to announce my Christmas in July craft fair has been cancelled due to lack of interest. Oh well, guess I'll stick with Etsy and 1000 Markets for the time being. Next week I hope to announce my membership with a local Arts Group and dates of a rrrrreally big shoe (ok, ok, bad Ed Sullivan impression)! Chow for now!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A challenge on this the second day of summer...

Psst, see the comic strip above? It's a new feature of my blog and every week you'll see a new cartoon depicting a humorous but true adventure in the kitchen with "In The Weeds." Enjoy!

This morning I turned on the news to hear experts say knocking back multiple cups of coffee can fight certain types of Cancer, however, this afternoon these same experts say all that coffee from this morning can make you fat! Of course why worry about coffee affecting your waistline when you have this to contend with!

Yep, that's right folks Friendly's has decided to join the multiple attempts by fast food establishments to assassinate real cooking with a deluxe burger sandwiched between well, two grilled cheese sandwiches! The Epicurean inside of me gave a little gasp and began weeping when I saw this although not nearly as much as when KFC's latest monstrosity came out. Still, I don't get how Friendly's gastronomic disaster has almost twice as many calories as a "sandwich" made from two greasy pieces of fried chicken with two pieces of cheese, strips of bacon and some kind of mayonnaise sauce between them! I find myself laughing when I think of how not too long ago McDonald's and other fast food restaurants were forced to kill the super size options on their menu for cries of obesity, lawsuits yadda yadda yadda and yet as fast food "restaurants" leap at us with increasingly larger and more disgusting "sandwiches" I hear nothing but crickets. Is it because they're too busy wretching and twitching from grease and fat overload? While I do, on limited occasion, visit my local fast food chain (there are seven on my block alone) I recognize that these places are destroying American palettes. We spoke to someone just today who will be visiting friends in Europe for two weeks but admitted to being afraid of the cultures she'll be experiencing. We urged her not to be frightened and to try all the new dishes that will come before her! There are two things hubby and I detest in our travels, 1. Americans visiting a foreign country who yell in English REALLY REALLY LOUD LIKE VOLUME WILL SUDDENLY MAKE A NATIVE OF FRANCE UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE TRYING TO ASK THEM.

2. People who visit foreign countries but will only visit establishments that are familiar to them. Why bother spending thousands of dollars to have the same experiences you can get at home for free? And sorry folks, Americans are NOT the only people guilty of this, nearly every country out there has people like this!

On this second official day of summer I know nearly everybody out there is in vacation mode. So whether you're travelling out of the country, around the country, across the country or just another part of the state, experiment! Every region has its own tastes and culinary delights. If you come across a local favorite, give it a try! Scarf down a Whoopie Pie, chow down on that Philly Cheese steak, indulge in good ole fashioned BBQ in a different part of the country than your own and snack on some Rocky Mountain Oysters... yeah, I know what they are but millions of people descend on Montana in August for them every year so they must be doing something right;) Even if you're too broke or busy to take a vacation this year, include a new area restaurant in your staycation. Challenge yourselves this summer by staying away from the local fast food joint and treat your tastebuds to something that isn't greasy, gooey, and dipped in fat... unless of course you're talking about a nice slice of NYC pizza or a deep fried Milky Way! Chow for now!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Psst, Hey New England crafters, c'mere!


Greetings all!

I'm back and rested from visiting family back home. It was good to see everyone again after so long and I found myself chuckling as I watched my little nephews and cousins running around and being yelled at by the same people who less than 20 years ago were the ones running around and being yelled at! By the way, while I'm on the subject if you're passing through New England and need a quick bite for lunch the Gulf Express station along Route 84 near the border of Connecticut and Massachussetts has THE best turkey and cheese sandwiches I've ever had in life! I don't know what they do to them, maybe it's the bread they use or the mayonnaise or even the type of deli meat and cheese or maybe it's all of the above but we found the place when we first went house hunting in Maine last year and the sandwich tasted so good I nearly crashed the car in surprise he he

Speaking of New England, this is a reminder to all crafters in the area that I'm setting up a Christmas in July Craft Fair and need vendors! The fair will be July 17-18 9am-4pm at the McKeen Street Rec center, 12 Windorf Circle, Brunswick. Items do not have to be Christmas/holiday related. Advertisement for the fair will be viaFacebook, Twitter, 1000 Markets, Cafe Handmade, Diva Cafe and Craigslist online and posters for everyone to display in their area. Set up is Friday evening and Saturday at 7am for those who can't make it Friday. Chairs are available but tables are limited so please bring your own if you have one (let me know if you don't). Spaces are 8x8 for $5 payable by clicking the Buy Now button to the top left of your screen (if you don't have or wish to use a Paypal account you can still pay with a credit or debit card with this button). If you have any questions contact Miranda at culinarychiqconcepts@gmail.com.

Finally, I know I haven't posted any new candles lately but I'm diligently working on some new items for Fall and hope to unveil some of them in time for the craft fair. Items to look forward to include tarts, glassless votives, brand new dessert and beverage candles, some old favorites with a new holiday twist and my favorite Halloween creation, the Boo Kitty! Those of you who have been around from the beginning are familiar with my adorable plush kitty cat with attitude but to those of you who are just joining us or are newly familiar with Culinarychiq Concepts, Boo Kitty will be a pleasant surprise and makes an adorable gift!

That's about it for this week except to say if you're still on the look out for that perfect gift for dad, why not pick up a Bacon Candle? Men and meat go together like, well, ham and eggs! My high quality soy wax Bacon Candle comes in 6, 8 and 10 oz jars with lids hand painted to resemble strips of streaky bacon and give off the smoky meaty scent of real bacon. If meat isn't his thing I also have exclusive Maple Syrup candles and candles that blend bacony goodness with sweet maple decadence and the tart citrus fragrance of Orange Juice. If dad's a foodie or just really enthusiastic about his ice cream, baked desserts or a certain alcoholic beverage, you'll find something unique that he'll just love at Culinarychiq Concepts, Foodie Tees and Foodie Shoppe! Chow for now!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Shop Talk

Greetings to all! This week I've been a busy bee expanding the concepts part of Culinarychiq Concepts. Don't worry, I'm still making my unique soy candles but I've also decided it was time to get into the apparel game. Now you can get buttons, mugs, bags and baseball caps with food pun cartoons as well as T-shirts and tanks for the entire family including the dog! Choose from Snow Pea, Chickpea, Black-eyed Pea, Deviled Egg, Milkman and Milkmaid. Also launching this week will be Deviled Ham, Butterfly, French Bread, Collie Flower (Cauliflower) and Broccoli Rob (broccoli rabe). For shirts and decorative buttons visit my Spreadshirt shop, Foodie Tees and for mugs, bags, baseball caps and other goodies visit my shop on Cafe Press called Foodie Shop.


Attention Maine and New England crafters! I'm setting up a Christmas in July Craft Fair and want you to display your talent and wares! The fair will be July 17-18 9am-4pm at the McKeen Street Rec center, 12 Windorf Circle, Brunswick. Items do not have to be Christmas/holiday related. Advertisement for the fair will be via Facebook, Twitter, 1000 Markets, Cafe Handmade, Diva Cafe and Craigslist online and posters for everyone to display in their area. Set up is Friday evening and Saturday at 7am for those who can't make it Friday. Chairs are available but tables are limited so please bring your own if you have one (let me know if you don't). Spaces are 8x8 for $5 or a potluck dish for customers to snack on while they browse. If you're paying in cash instead of food click the Buy Now button to the top left of your screen (if you don't have or wish to use a Paypal account you can still pay with a credit or debit card with this button). If you have any questions contact Miranda at culinarychiqconcepts@gmail.com.

That's it for now except to say Culinarychiq Concepts will be in vacation mode Thursday June 10th until Tuesday June 14th while I spend some time visiting the family:) I will still be checking my email periodically during that time so if you'd like to place an order or have questions about an order feel free to contact me. Foodie Tees and Foodie Shop will remain open during this time. Have a great week everyone, stay cool and safe. Chow for now!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Summertime and the living is easy...

With summer officially underway my thoughts have immediately jumped to the next season. Of course this doesn't mean I won't be making anymore summer goodies this year but as fast as the year is going we'll all blink twice and start seeing the changing of leaves. So with thoughts of harvest time mixing with the celebratory atmosphere that accompanies the start of summer vacation the first thing that popped into my head was apples. Try as I might, I couldn't get thoughts of apples out of my head. So I decided to create some scrumptious new apple candles! These beauties stand 3" tall, contain 11oz of creamy scented soy wax and smell like the real thing. Pick a Red Delicious, Granny Smith or Golden Delicious for $10 plus shipping (also available unscented upon request).


I also experimented a little this week and came up with a "British Chocolate Spread" candle for my British, ex-pat and Anglophile fans. This exquisite delight was hand poured and set in an old (and thoroughly washed) jar of the famous chocolate spread with the purple label that we all know and love! It's 14 oz of chocolatey goodness for $12 plus shipping (International customers please contact me with your post code for a more accurate shipping cost).


This Saturday, June 5th, I'll be setting up shop at the East Deering Neighborhood Association Craft/Yard/Bake Sale located at The Columbia Club on Wordsworth Street in Portland (just off Veranda Street) from 9am - 4pm. The weatherman is calling for another soggy day (I swear he's out to get me) but fear not, in the event of rain the sale will be moved inside the Columbia Club. Hope to see you there! Have a great week everyone, be sure to check out my personal blog, Egg Drop Soup, which was written in honor of our servicemen and women who have served and continue to serve today. Have a safe and happy Memorial Day:)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Like Flowers for Chocolate

Hi, I am a Culinary chick and I kill plants! Not intentionally of course but I was cursed with the black thumb from elementary school when mine was the only styrofoam cup that didn't sprout the green telltale bud of success. I can make a beautiful and delicious gallantine but in school I cringed when it came time to make aspics because I'm also unable to make jello. Don't ask me why but no matter what I do hours later I wind up with a bowl of Kool-Aid! Miraculously my aspic did form but it was still softer and took longer to set than that of my classmates.

I am however, extremely capable of making pudding which came in handy this weekend when I attended a Plant Swap with some ladies from my gym class at the Y. I told them I didn't do plants so they said I could bring a dessert instead (the lemon cake I'd made at the last luncheon was a huge hit:) I'd thought about making banana bread but the epicurean in me screamed for something more fun. Now, I'm not a baker. I can follow a recipe but would much rather taste and experiment than worry about accidentally swapping baking powder for baking soda (with disastrous results) and with a tightened wallet I was limited in what I could spend. But as I wandered the aisles of the grocery store I was suddenly inspired, I would make a Chocolate Cream Pie!

This was extremely easy and quick to do although you have to remember to leave time for the pie to set. I took two 4oz packets of My T Fine chocolate pudding and followed the pie directions on the label (3 3/4 cups of whole milk although the skim I used worked out fine added to the mix and stirring constantly over medium heat until it comes to a full bubble, then remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes, stirring twice.) If you don't have time to make a graham cracker crust, go ahead and buy the 9" tin with crust included (if you make an 8" pie you only need one packet of pudding and 2 cups of milk) and pour the pudding into the tin. The directions say to let it set in the fridge for 4 hours (3 if using one packet) but I found the pie set in an hour and a half which was a pleasant surprise. In the meantime make sure your Cool Whip is thawing (the package says not to leave it out on the counter to thaw but as I was pressed for time I did it anyway and found most of the container was ready when I needed to use it). Once the pie set I added the Cool Whip (you don't want to bury the pie under half the container... or maybe you do;) and grated some Hershey's Special Dark on top as a garnish. The pie looked beautiful and was a huge hit:) I did end up walking away with some sweet smelling Lillies of the Valley and this other plant that sprouts these pretty pink bell like flowers... that is if they manage to survive! I've got them planted in the garden section of my front yard and will be taking tons of pictures if they end my botanical killing spree (botanicide?).

Anyway, while I was busy playing Betty Crocker I decided to finally act on a candle idea I'd been contemplating. So I bring you the "Smells Like Freedom" Sundae Candle! The name was inspired by my husband who said exactly that while I was waiting for it to set. The scents are Strawberry, Lemon and Blueberry and comes with little handmade American flags for $10 plus shipping. You can also get French flags for Bastille Day upon request! Next week, I hope to unveil a cute new candle that's a perfect gift for your favorite teacher:) Have a great week everyone, chow for now!




Sunday, May 16, 2010

“Love of beauty is Taste. The creation of beauty is Art.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

They say life often imitates art and so on Saturday when I discovered an article in the LA Times about a former TV chef being arrested for hiring homeless people to kill someone, I was immediately reminded of a great book I'd read last year called, Beat Until Stiff by Claire M. Johnson. In this book an ornery middle aged pastry chef, having recently divorced her cheating husband so who can blame her for being ornery, finds one of her kitchen staff brutally murdered and shoved into the linen closet. As more and more people die, she narrowly escapes being arrested as the main suspect mainly because of a detective and friend of her ex-husband who she has a love/hate relationship with and a very complicated conspiracy is uncovered. I won't give all the details but if you're a foodie who loves a good mystery novel, go pick this book up:) Claire Johnson also wrote Roux Morgue which continues the chef's chaotic life in the Culinary world with more murder and mayhem.

I've been told my candles are art but I don't see it. To me art is Picasso, Rembrandt or even Frank Lloyd Wright but I'm no aficionado so when multiple passersby exclaim that I have real talent, am an artist and "this is real art!" I'll give them the benefit of the doubt:) A lot goes into my candles from the moment of conception until the actual execution. I'm constantly on the lookout for sturdy glasses and containers of good quality that will exemplify whatever candle I may consider making with them in the future but for as little as possible to keep my costs (and therefore selling price) down. There will be times when I'll just stop and stare at something at the grocery store or eatery or even on the street pondering whether or not what I'm staring at can be successfully replicated as a candle. When I'm especially focused, I guess I have a certain expression on my face that makes hubby think I'm angry with him LOL but if I can't envision it, it just doesn't happen.

Anyway, with warmer weather and summer on the brain and Memorial Day just around the corner, I've been busy creating three new candles. The Margarita Votive has the same great scent as its larger cousins except it comes in a 3" votive glass with real Margarita salt on the rim and is very very cute:) I'm especially proud of my Watermelon Jar Candle. Watermelon in itself doesn't actually have a scent so I went for the next best thing and aimed for a watermelon candy scent. This candle resembles the fruit, complete with imitation seeds on top and a lid that's been hand painted by yours truly to resemble an old fashioned picnic blanket. It's a sweet and fresh addition to my jar candle line that will be perfect for summer decor.



Finally, if you find my Breakfast In a Jar candles intriguing you'll love my new Day at the Beach candles! These are double layered colored soy wax scented with the clean, crisp aroma of Ocean Breeze and the tropical fragrance of Pina Colada or Margarita and is available in 6, 14 and 24oz jars. I can also do triple layered candles if you decide you'd like both drink fragrances with Ocean Breeze upon request.



That's about all for today. If you're in Maine this weekend, the Cumberland County Y is holding their annual Tri for the Y event Saturday, May 22nd from 8am -noon when over 300 athletes will swim in a 325 yard pool, bike 12 miles and run 3.1 miles all to raise funds for the Y's Financial Assistance Program which allows the less fortunate a chance to utilize the Y's facilities even if they couldn't afford it. They're still in need of 15 volunteers so if you'd like to help or know someone who does click here. Have a great week everyone, chow for now!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So much to see, so little time

Lots to talk about this week so let's just get right to it shall we?:)

While the weather threatened to put a damper on the event, the NAMI Maine walk was moved at the last minute from Back Cove, Portland to the Field House at USM in Gorham. Hundreds of people showed up to walk including Glenn Close and her family and there was facepainting and balloons for the kids, a juggler on stilts and those giant wearable Carnivale puppets. Lunch was donated by some local delis and we listened to music by a halfway decent band and 102.9.

Apparently there was a breakdown in communication somewhere and the event only lasted until 1 instead of 4 so apologies to anyone who made the trip to Gorham yesterday afternoon. Most of the vendors were from Etsy Maine Team so it was great meeting people I've been talking to online:) Together NAMI Maine and Bring Change 2 Mind raised over $120,000 for awareness and better treatment of people with mental illness and the fight against stigma!


Hubby looks enthralled, doesn't he?;)


On the candle front, in all my preparation for the NAMI event I have neglected my candle making duties and only created one new candle this week but it's a charming little candle at that. The Margarita votive, complete with real Margarita salt, is a smaller version of its popular cousins and is the standard votive price of $5 plus shipping.

Finally, I've come across a couple of great recipes this week I wanted to share with you:) The first I found while reading Julia Child's autobiography "My Life in France." Again I say if you haven't read it and you liked the movie Julie and Julia, run and pick up this book! If I ever hear that the cast of Julie and Julia (minus Julie's side of course) were starring in a movie based solely on this book I'd do cartwheels all over Maine:-D

Anyway, Chapter 2 talks about Le Cordon Bleu and she mentions how after seven weeks her cooking skills changed dramatically and the two dishes she describes sound incredible!

"Take roast veal, for example. Under the tutelage of Chef Bugnard, I simply salt-and-peppered the veal, wrapped it in a thin salt-pork blanket, added julienned carrots and onions to the pan with a tablespoon of butter on top, and basted it as it roasted in the oven. It couldn't have been simpler. When the veal was done, I'd degrease the juices, add a bit of stock, a dollop of butter, and a tiny bit of water, and reduce for a few minutes; then I'd strain the sauce and pour it over the meat. The result: an absolutely sublime meal."

YUM!:-D I'm actually going to attempt this this week except with beef instead of veal:) Wish me luck!

She goes on to say "Chef Bugnard was a wonder with sauces, and one of my favorite lessons was his sole a la normande. Put a half-pound of sole fillets in a buttered pan, place the fish's bones on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper and minced shallots. Fill the pan with liquid just covering the fillets: half white wine, half water, plus mussel and oyster juices. Poach. When the fillets are done, keep them warm while you make a roux of butter and flour. Add half of the cooking juices and heat. Take the remaining cooking juices and reduce to almost nothing, about a third of a cup. Add the reduced liquid to the roux and stir over heat. Then comes Bugnard's touch of genius: remove the pan from the fire and stir in one cup of cream and three egg yolks: then work in a mere three-quarters of a pound of butter. I had never heard of stirring egg yolks into such a common sauce, but what a rich difference they made."

Unfortunately I'm allergic to mussels and oysters and won't be able to try this without making a substitution with some other fish juice but if anyone does try the recipe please let us know how it turns out.

Finally, here's a very elegant and unique recipe for Candied Roses & Dark Chocolate Sorbet, a great surprise for Mother's Day next year! Have a great week everyone and Happy Mother's Day:)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Good food and walking it off


Well, it's official (I guess), the 50 World's Best Restaurants have just been announced.. at least according to S. Pellegrino anyway.

As usual the list consists of some fairly fru fru, high priced venues around the world where mainstream people usually don't go and probably won't step foot into in life! Noma in Denmark snatched the #1 spot from El Bulli of Spain, who had held the position for 4 years and now sits at #2. According to CNN, El Bulli accepts 8000 reservations annually out of millions of requests but will be shutting down until 2011 and 3 years later will become a non-profit organization for young chefs. Surprisingly 8 of the 50 restaurants are located right here in the US, a fairly commendable feat when you think of the decades long struggle for American chefs to be recognized and respected by epicureans around the world.

The thing that gets me about these lists though is they almost never cover regular establishments serving regular food to regular people. I'm not talking about chain restaurants like Applebees or McDonalds but mom and pop small businesses with prices people who work for a living can afford! I remember a year or so ago there was a major uproar when Zagat added a little hole in the wall noodle place (I think it was in Hong Kong) to its list. There were no fancy paintings on the wall, no snooty waiters or pretentious little appetizers posing as $100 meals on big fru fru plates. It was clean, cheap, no frills good food and apparently had people lining around the block for hours BEFORE Zagat added them to the list. I guess when a place is deemed Best Noodlehouse in the World by thousands of happy customers, you can't exactly ignore it even if they aren't charging very much.

This is what I'm talking about though. Yes, if you ever get the chance to experience a fancy restaurant at least once I say do it. The ambiance is nice and the food is usually very good even if you do have to run for a burger an hour later;) But, there are plenty of establishments that serve decent food for decent prices and they don't all involve burgers and fries, fat and grease.

So, what are your favorite, non-chain local places to eat? Who makes the best breakfast? Where's a nice place to go for lunch? Where's your favorite place to go on a date? Let's compile a top 50 list of our own shall we?


On the candle front, there are 6 days left for the NAMI Art Walk and I am PUMPED! The weather looks to be decent, sunny and mid-60s although there's supposed to be one of those bad thunderstorms moving through when the temperature drops 20 degrees like they're saying it will and I'm hoping I won't have to set up in the mud:( I'll be developing one more votive candle but the rest of the week will be devoted to setting up and finishing touches. So next week's blog will be all about NAMI with lots of pictures about the event. So, all you Mainers out there and visitors to the Portland area be sure to visit Back Cove (it's a kind of park off 295 exit 7) from 10-4 and root for the walkers taking part in a good cause, get some food and face painting, listen to some local musicians, support your local artisans and quite possibly you might get a chance to meet Glenn Close:) It promises to be a pretty day so get off your duffs and get some air! Chow for now.

UPDATE: Shortly after this posting I discovered vendors of the Art Walk will be situated in a horseshoe around a tent (assuming it's the BringChange2Mind tent) where Glenn Close will be signing tshirts and having photo ops so it should prove to be an interesting day:)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cooking on TV

I was excited this morning to see a commercial for the upcoming Cooking Channel due to launch May 31st. A quick internet check told me it's a replacement of the Fine Living Channel (which is unfortunate because I LOVE that channel) and it's kinda, sorta but not really a spin-off of the Food Network (the same company owns both channels). By the sound of it, the Cooking Channel will be going back to basics and focusing more on the instructional cooking shows we all know and love but that Food Network has steadily been shying away from. I've never been a huge reality show fan and hate how Food Network seems to be cranking out more and more reality shows every season until ::gasp:: I'm just not tuning in as much as I used to.

Anyway, I'm especially excited about the news that the Cooking Channel will include shows on how to prepare international cuisine and will be including chefs from Canada and the UK among others! Upcoming shows will include Chuck's Day Off (who's Chuck?;), Chinese Food Made Easy, Everyday Exotic, and French Food at Home. However, if you're not sick to death of Ms. EVOO, want to see more of Bobby Flay and miss seeing Emeril on your screen, these three will also have new shows on the Cooking Channel.

I don't know how much good it actually does but their commercial says to call your cable or satellite provider about getting the Cooking Channel. The way I figure it, if your provider has been carrying the Fine Living Network you'll most likely get to see the new channel come May 31st. Meanwhile, as hubby and I already hate our cable company with the fire of 1000 suns *coughcough*Comcast*coughcough* and have firsthand experience of Direct TV's rotten military transfer policy, we're seriously looking to switch to Dish Network this summer.

On the candle front, tea light sets are now available for sale. You can choose from 10 different scents in clear plastic and come in Neapolitan (chocolate, french vanilla and strawberry) and Taste of the Tropics (pina colada, margarita, orange cream and lemon). You can also mix and match tea lights in assorted sets of 4, 6, 8 and 10 or just stock up on your favorite scent. I'm also adding to my Breakfast In a Jar line with Strawberry Preserve, Blueberry Preserve and Maple Syrup Jars.



Also, be advised Culinarychiq Concepts will not ship to areas experiencing a High Heat Advisory or Warning until it's been lifted by the National Weather Service. This is due to the fact that the wax I use is much softer and has a lower melting point than traditional wax and frankly there's too much risk of a candle being damaged while waiting in the mailbox or on the porch. I've seen them go liquid in direct Floridian sunlight so it's just too much of a risk to take.

That's about it, I think. I'm off to take my beasties for a walk on a very nice day:) Stay safe those of you in areas facing severe weather and condolences, thoughts and prayers to the people in Tornado Alley who have lost loved ones, house and home. Chow for now!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Who Wants Breakfast?

This has been an interesting week of inspiration for me. I sat there staring at my new fragrance oils and mulling over what to do with them after some disastrous results last week and wondering if for the first time I might have to chalk up my latest purchase to a loss. No one in business likes to lose money and the best thing to do is always try to make back at least what you spent.

Anyway, I was watching my favorite movie Julie & Julia (by the way if you haven't read Julia Child's autobiography, My Life In France, definitely pick it up it's an awesome read:) and everything started to fall into place! And so I bring you my latest creations the Breakfast In a Jar scented soy candles:

Choose between Breakfast In a Jar, Continental Breakfast In a Jar and Deluxe Breakfast In a Jar, layered candles with lids hand painted to reflect a bright sunny morning:)

Deluxe Breakfast In a Jar contains the fresh scents of Orange Juice, Smoky Bacon and Maple Syrup reminiscent of a good Sunday morning breakfast!


Continental Breakfast In a Jar has Orange Juice and Maple Syrup scents of breakfast on the go!


Breakfast In a Jar is the idea that started it all and has the scents of Smoky Bacon and Maple Syrup.


Finally, a candle I'm most proud of at how well an experiment can turn out, but then I'm always happy when a risky candle turns out well, Bacon In a Jar!


This candle smells just like smoked bacon cooking on a griddle with a lid that's hand painted to look like strips of streaky bacon!


Every jar candle shown today contains 8oz of wax and sells for $10 plus shipping. Visit culinarychiqconcepts.etsy.com to order from my shop and as always custom orders are welcome. That's about it for now I think. Have a great week everyone, be sure to voice your opinion in my vanilla milkshake poll in the top left corner of your screen by Wednesday, April 21st and don't forget to check out my personal blog Egg Drop Soup. Chow for now!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Candles, candles and more candles

Apologies for the delay folks, with upcoming events in May and June fast approaching time just got away from me! Don't you just hate when it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day?
Anyway, despite the NAMI Walk and Art show being just three weeks away, my imagination refuses to let me mindlessly crank out candles like a machine and so this week I've listed 8 new candles including smaller versions of the Pina Colada, Margarita and Hot Fudge Sundae Candles. I especially love the little green cactus stem on the new Margarita glass!


The new candles listed are Chocolate and Strawberry Milkshake candles and a votive sized chocolate milkshake so you can get both milkshakes either lifesized for $16 or votive sized for $5. It seems I caught chocolate fever because I was also inspired to create the Chocolate Silk Pie candle which is about as much decadent chocolatey goodness you can get without packing on the pounds! Finally, there's the crustless Lemon Meringue pie votive with a cute little whipped cream dollop on top.



I'm working on three more candles and hope to release them next week. My plans for the Maple Syrup and Bacon candles didn't go quite as I'd hoped hence the delay but that can happen when dealing with handmade. You can either release garbage and hope it sells or you can go back to the drawing board and make another attempt at good quality. I prefer the latter! And yes, you did read right, I am attempting a bacon scented candle! It's a wonderful scent, so smoky and meaty the husband wanted to drink the oil right out of the bottle! So if you're a bacon lover keep watch for the listing of this little gem. I'm also attempting a vanilla milkshake this weekend, the only problem is figuring out what color says vanilla to the most people. Personally I envision an off yellow shake (almost like the small pina colada), however others have told me white like my hot fudge sundaes while others have suggested more of a beige color. So I think this calls for a poll. Please take a moment between now and the 21st to let me know what you think via the poll on the top left of your screen. Your input is greatly appreciated!

Finally, specifically for the NAMI walk but soon to be listed on Etsy and 1000markets, I'll be selling Tealight Sampler packs of 3, 4, 6, and 8 so you can get a test sniff of any scent you're curious about. The Neopolitan Tealight Sampler with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry will be available in sets of 3 and 6, the Tropical Tealight Sampler will feature Pina Colada, Margarita, Lemon and Orange Creamsicle in packs of 4 and 8, the Fruit Bowl Tealight Sampler will contain Strawberry, Lemon, Apple and Blueberry tealights in packs of 4 and 8 and the Pie Sampler which gives you a choice of chocolate cream, lemon meringue, blueberry, pumpkin, pecan and apple pies in sets of 3 and 6. You can also buy the Assorted Sampler where you can choose any of the above mentioned scents as well as Creme Brulee in packs of 3, 4, 6, and 8. Mix and match or just get the one scent, whatever takes your fancy! Custom orders will also be available for sets of 10 and 12.

That's about it for this week. Be sure to check my personal blog, Egg Drop Soup! Chow for now.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Obscure Food Holidays


The weather this weekend is just too gorgeous for words so I'm about to run out and fly my Smurf kite before sitting down to a nice homemade dinner of Chicken Korma with Basmati rice and Na'an bread (we felt like going Indian tonight:)! As I'm preparing inventory for events in the Portland/Augusta area in May and June, there's nothing new to report. However, next week I should have some pictures and details about my new Creme Brulee and Chocolate Cream Pie candles oh, and possibly an unusual but pleasant surprise.

So have a great week, and tell every man you know to check this blog this time next week:) And of course don't forget to check my other blog, Egg Drop Soup, for a chance to enter a new giveaway!

Obscure Food Holidays for the Month of April

2 National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day – Don’t just settle for a boring ole’ sandwich today, make a Peanut Butter and Jelly swirl Bundt cake!

7 Caramel Popcorn Day - Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack... or you could settle for this cute little notebook made from a recycled Cracker Jack box!

14 National Pecan Day - Find out anything and everything you ever wanted to know about the Pecan, courtesy of the National Pecan Shellers Association.

16 National Eggs Benedict Day - Do you have too many (well, what's too many?) Cadbury Creme Eggs leftover from Easter? This recipe takes my favorite egg dish celebrated on this day and gives it a nice chocolatey twist that I think you'll like:-D

17 National Cheeseball Day - Even the lactose intolerant can celebrate this day with some erm uh, cheezy art! Buy your favorite cheese fan some cheeseball cufflinks or mull over "Cheese Balls and Storm Trooper". Not sure what one has to do with the other but I guess that's what makes good cheese;)

19 National Garlic Day - Not just for keeping vampires out of the kitchen, apparently catfish like it too!

22 National Jelly Bean Day - Put the kids to bed early and call your friends over for some Jelly Bean Shooters!

23 National Zucchini Bread Day - This lady has some great zucchini bread recipes with pictured step by step instructions.

24 Pig in a Blanket Day - We be stylin' with these adorable handmade earrings:)

26 National Pretzel Day - No one makes pretzels like the good people of New York City and you haven't experienced pretzel heaven until you've chomped down on a nice Pretzel Roll! Check out this link to find out where to get some good ones in the city.

27 National Prime Rib Day - This site claims to have the key to making the perfect Prime Rib and has lots of information from choosing the perfect cut to what to serve it with to complete the meal; and for the Prime Rib enthusiast who has everything, this is just too cute for words!

29 National Shrimp Scampi Day - This site claims to have THE best recipe for Shrimp Scampi and it appears that at least 100 people agree with them!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Things for Spring!



Show of hands, who can believe it's nearly April already?

We've got lots to talk about this week! First, I've confirmed Culinarychiq Concepts will have a booth at the NAMI Art Walk, Saturday May 8th at Back Cove, Portland (see earlier blog for details). I should hopefully have news in a week or so about vending at a show coinciding with Augusta's Whatever Festival in June so keep checking back for that:)

I'm currently working on a few new pies and beverages for the summer and hope to unveil my brand new Italian Ice candle shortly. The idea has been dancing around in my head but oh to how to implement it in a safe and aesthetically pleasing manner? I'm also happy to announce Culinarychiq Concepts now has a shop on Etsy and 1000markets! It's a great site with lots of beautiful and unique things to buy made by some very talented artists. So come on by and peruse the new shop.

Finally, hubby and I have launched a new blog called Egg Drop Soup and we need your help. So stop on over there, have a read and get information about our 1st giveaway drawing for some free candles! Pass the word on to your friends and have a great week everyone!