Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chocolate And Taxes

I have just about finished my tax return. Over the last few days I have taken a moment here and there to work on this blog. Math is not my favourite subject, although it sure helps to get the brain working and for that I am grateful.

When my wife and I were in Switzerland we visited a chocolate shop at the "Swiss open-air museum - Ballenburg". We had wandered over the site looking at historical buildings from all over Switzerland for 7 1/2 hours. We were exhausted. We went through a few gift shops at the end that were by the parking lot and then went into "La Chocolaterie du Ballenberg". Chocolate and Switzerland go hand in hand. Chocolate has a long history in Switzerland and the chocolate of today was developed in Switzerland. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. My wife bought a bar of milk chocolate and it was the best chocolate that I had ever tasted.

Along one wall in the chocolate shop is a display of antique chocolate moulds. Here are close-up images of the wall of chocolate moulds and pewter ice-cream moulds.

Shown with the moulds for chocolate bunnies are cocoa pods and the cocoa nibs where all of that glorious chocolate comes from.

Two shelves of Easter bunnies and at the bottom two chickens and some bells.

Here is a better look at the chickens and bells. Mixed in with the chocolate moulds were pewter ice cream moulds. These roses are for moulding soft ice cream. They are then placed in the freezer to harden. Once hard they would be unmoulded and then air brushed with edible dyes and then placed back into the freezer until needed. Wouldn't that be a treat to have presented to you on a beautiful plate.

These moulds are for producing small decorative shapes in chocolate.

This horse would be a stunning gift to receive or even as the centrepiece for a dinner party.

The antique moulds are art pieces. The detailing that went into the designs is remarkable.

A chocolate mould in the shape of a horse. I was so enthusiastic about the chocolate moulds that the owners brought out some moulds from the back for me to look at. I was in heaven. In the box was an ice cream mould in the shape of a bunch of asparagus. Around the asparagus was modeled a ribbon that delicately entwined the bunch of asparagus. The mould was over 12" tall, making the finished dessert about 12" high and approximately 5" in diameter. The unmoulded ice cream would have been air brushed and then placed back in the freezer. This would have been brought out at the end of a meal and served to the guests after everyone had oohed and aahed over this delightful frivolity. No dessert until you eat your veggies!

The two round shapes are pewter ice cream moulds in the shape of a pumpkin.

On the top shelf in front of the snowman moulds are moulds of seashells. On the shelves below are mandolins and saxophones.

This roosting hen was on top of the display case. It was about 8" or 9" tall.

A sailor in his boat sailing over a chocolate sea.

Easter egg moulds and four leaf clover moulds. The four-leaf clover is a good luck symbol used at New Years and any other time I suppose. The bottles contain samples of the various ingredients that go into the making of chocolate.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Grab Your Easter Bonnet Poopsy Or We'll Be Late For Church!

The day that we went out to photograph the chocolate stores with their Easter candies on display I passed an antiques/collectibles store with a display of vintage hats and other items in the window.

I went through some of my Easter cards and postcards and found these postcards to go with the hats. Enjoy these Easter bonnets and the antique postcards that go with them. Have a wonderful Easter.

This was the hat that first caught my attention.

A cup of tea to go with your chapeau.

I like the lilac floral hat. These flights of fantasy are quite fascinating.

Here is a view from above of both of the hats.

I'm not sure how this little daisy number would actually look on the wearer.

This postcard is from 1916 and is inscribed "Best wishes for a very happy Easter. Love from May."

This postcard was never used so I can't date it. If anyone knows I'd love to find out.

This postcard was used but the last two numbers in the year aren't legible. It looks to be 191? here is another card someone may be able to date for me.

This postcard is from 1929.

This card from Eva Edwards to Mrs. Richards is dated 1913.

This card has never been used either but it is copyrighted 1913.

This card wasn't used either. On the back the printing information says - Designed in England. Published by Wildt & Kray, London E.C. Series 1545. Printed in Bavaria.
Happy Easter everyone. Enjoy dinner, friends and family, and your chocolate bunnies.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Three New Items In My Etsy Store.

I have added these three items to my Etsy store today.

This Pull toy has a rabbit in the watering can that pops his head up as it is pulled along the floor.

Three chicks pull an ornate shoe with a baby in it.

A baby bunny gently swings in his bassinette from the stem of a tulip.

I Love Easter And I Love Chocolate part 3

Bernard Callebaut Chocolates is the last chocolate shop that I photographed. The presentation is modern no nonsense merchandising. We have chocolate for you to buy. Can you tell that I am a romantic. I like to see merchandise presented beautifully. Outside of the "here it is for you to buy", it looks like the chocolates are a decorative accent to the modern interior. Enough ranting. They make fabulous chocolate.

White chocolate figures to munch on. White chocolate has no cocoa mass in it it is just cocoa butter so it really isn't chocolate. But if you like it who cares.

Chocolate bunnies with beautiful bows.

After eating your choccy you have a toy to play with.

The counter display. Forget a chocolate bunny, fill an Easter mug heaped to overflowing with your favourite chocolates.

One very big bunny for the person with no shame and a very greedy sweet tooth.

The Easter display at Chapters.

Friday, April 10, 2009

I Love Easter And I Love Chocolate - Part 2

This is my favourite Easter chocolate presentation, it isn't sophisticated, it is full of fun and the joy of childhood anticipation. The Dutch Bakery makes their own hollow Easter chocolates and they have quite a variety of moulds.

The front window of the Dutch Bakery.

This is one seriously big Easter egg. The foil wrapping could have been done a little more professionally though.

Part of the window display as you walk into the bakery.

I love this footed silver planter with the rabbits chomping on carrots incised on the side.

Part of the counter display. I love marzipan. I love chocolate as well, but I do love marzipan.

This is just part of the Easter candy displayed for sale on the back wall.

More chocolate for the Easter bunny to deliver.

Easter eggs with colourful royal icing flowers.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hot Cross Buns

This image is from a Victorian book in my collection called"Children's Songs With Music". The inscription on the inside reads "Dear Irene, with Grannies best love. Xmas 96.

This image is from "Popular Nursery Rhymes - Mother Goose Rhymes, with explanations and illustrations"

We have made these hot cross buns for a very long time now and I thought that I would pass the recipe on. It comes from an old cookbook published by the Vancouver Sun called "Edith Adams Bread Book". Edith Adams was a ficticious character and that is all that I know about her. Try them you may like them.

This image is from "Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes" printed and made in Great Britain by Collins: London and Glasgow, third impression 1957 (first impression 1950) Illustrated by H.T. Cauldwell

Spicy Hot Cross Buns
Sift together 4 cups all-purpose flour with 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon allspice, and ½ teaspoon cloves. Add ¾ cup washed raisins, 1/3 –1/2 cup of mixed peel, ½ cup chopped cherries (opt.) Dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in ¼ cup warm water; sprinkle with 1 package yeast. Proof for 10 minutes and then stir well. Heat 1-cup water; add 1-teaspoon salt, ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons soft shortening, and 1 beaten egg. Mix well. When lukewarm add yeast. Pour into well in flour, stirring until liquid disappears. Form into a ball and knead for 2 minutes. Brush top with melted butter, cover with damp then dry towels. Let rise double. Punch down. Put ball of dough on lightly floured board; cover; rest 10 minutes. Cut in two; form into cylinders. Cut each cylinder in to 9 parts. Form into slightly flat balls. Put in 2 greased 9” square pans or 2” apart on baking sheets. Cover and let rise. Cut crosses in tops. Bake. After 15 minutes brush with glaze of 2 tablespoons sugar and two tablespoons of hot milk or hot water. Finish baking. Reglaze. Cool on racks. Frost in creases if desired. Makes 18 buns. BAKE: 375 deg. F for 20 – 25 minutes.

This image is from "Popular Nursery Rhymes - Mother Goose Rhymes, with explanations and illustrations"

My adaptation to the recipe.
I use whole-wheat flour. It does make them denser but they are very tasty. Any time it mentions sifting I put the flour and /or spices into a large bowl and incorporate them with a French whisk. Using a whisk to fluff up the flour is so much faster and tidier. I use ½ a cup not 1/3 of peel, plus I use candied citron. I make a quadruple batch of buns so when I measure out the mixed peel I measure 1 cup candied citron and 1 cup mixed peel. The raisins must be washed, it helps to plump them up when baking so that they are soft otherwise they tend to be hard. I do a mix of 1 cup golden raisins, 1 cup dark raisins, 1 cup sultanas, and 1 cup currants. I don’t like to use shortening so I substitute it with butter. We try to use honey in place of sugar. If you do use honey the oven temperature should be 25 degrees cooler or your baking will burn. The hot cross buns are baked in two large pans at our house. One pan is left unglazed and the other I glaze with the sugar/milk solution. I like the sugar for glazing. Have fun baking.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Love Easter And I Love Chocolate

I mentioned Godiva Chocolates in an earlier post, but with the excellent chocolatiers in Victoria we can buy fresh gourmet chocolates right from the source. Since our visit to Switzerland our eyes and our taste buds have been opened to the delights of good chocolate. Gourmet chocolate is so incredible on the palate.

Guess what, dark chocolate is good for you. It has more flavonoids than blueberries. According to recent studies eating chocolate with 70% cocoa solids or more helps prevent heart disease, wards off diabetes, and reduces the risk of having a stroke. Do you need any more reasons to indulge in chocolate? I don’t.

Charles Rogers made his first chocolates in 1885 in the back of his grocery store in Victoria, British Columbia. The Roger’s Chocolates flagship store in Victoria was opened 1891. The interior is original Art Nouveau. The Victoria creams are big, about 2" across, about ¾" thick and really really good.

Here are some photos of the Roger’s Chocolates flagship store in downtown Victoria.

Counter display of Easter eggs and Easter chocolates.

Boxes of Easter chocolates, cardboard Easter eggs, and foil wrapped egg shaped Victoria creams.

Wonderful big boxes of chocolates inside the glass showcase.

I would love to get that giant chocolate Easter egg. It's also filled with chocolates.

One Easter my grandparents on my Dad's side gave me a chocolate egg filled with chocolates. I was not as impressed with it then. I wanted "Easter candies"! They were good though.

Some how the way I photographed this chandelier it looks like she has no head.

The lamps in this store are beautiful.

She is lulling you into the bliss of buying her chocolate. It works.

An old scale in the window display filled with chocolates. It shows the weight of the chocolates not your weight from over indulgence.

This machine in their window display is for rolling out hard candies