Stepford Ct Wife

Stepford Ct Wife
Art by Anne Taintor

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Chocolates over Martha

So when I started the blog I was waiting to get a job. It was a period of down time where I had time to make the chicken stock that takes about two days. At the end of February I got a job. My hours vary from evening to midnight and is on any day of the week. These hours made it hard to have set days to do the cooking. When I do a midnight shift I don't want to do anything but sleep when I get back. I call those cooking days "guess it is cold cuts tonight!"

I also forgot which email I used for the blog and the password so I have been a horrible StepfordCTWife! My husband blogs as well and it was saved on his blog about fishing and hunting. But maybe I am not such a bad Stepford CT wife? I have been saving money aggressively with my husband for my Ugly Galley Kitchen transformation into a swan. I will blog about that in yet another blog.

So what has happened since the last post? I have been trying to lose some pounds I gained in nursing school (the pounds stayed on with a lot of friends and I left program because it was not going to happen even if Saint Florence Nightingale took the final exams/clincials for me). I have been running a lot of miles on the elliptical. I work out with a trainer who went to/ and left nursing school the same semester I did. I am using Weight Watchers Online tools to track my progress.

I am still not blonde. I am still not thin. I am still not a WASP (but I am married to half of one). I still kind of do not know how to cook. I still want to be a better cook and a better wife. But it has been so hot this summer. Standing over a stove for those soups or even turning on the stove for periods longer than an hour have been out of the question. So I have been doing quick and easy recipes and being creative with items in the freezer and "pantry."

But I have been happy the last two weeks my husband has switched to evening shifts and I have luckily been assigned to evening shifts as well lately.

Now it is August. It is almost my second year anniversary. Yes it is August and I have been actually reading another book. Don't make fun of me! It is too hot to do soups and eggs right now! Also Martha is a hand full! She is not actually good for beginning home chefs because

1.) The meals are costly to make and sometimes I do not know what she wants me to get. She has different words for them and I get confused if it is the correct item. Aso a lot of the products you have to travel across the world or find a speciality store that is not anywhere near me! You do not even know what it looks like so you try to subsittute the best you can which could be deadly.

2.) The soups that I made required fresh stock and that takes a lot of work more than half of a day (plus overnight refrigeration) and then they expire within two days. You are in a slippery slope of a hungry husband saying "that smells good when is it going to be done?" times one billion. Then you have to say "It will be done in 38 hours!" That is not a good Stepford Wife answer. With Martha's book you pretty much spend a whole weekend making a start of a meal. Then you are just having naked stocks or it goes bad quickly before you can use it. It is hard to do all that work and be tired without the final product done within 3 hours or even 15 hours!

3). They are written in a language that is not for new Chefs. What did she just say? What is that? Google does not even have the answer!

But I still have to salute Martha with my William Sonoma oven gloves because the soups that I made were fantastic. My husband is requesting them for the fall and winter. If you have the time and you have a special event coming up it will be a great star. The French Onion soup I made came out so well even with the searing burn marks I recieved. But I learned to wear long Oven gloves and I am thinking about maybe later on investing in a chef jacket to prevent more burn marks.

I am reading "Chocolates and Confections" by Peter Greweling. I am learning a lot about tempering chocolate which I NEVER knew how to do. You know you cannot just take chocolate chips and then dip pretzels or fruit. So there was a reason my chocolate covering skills were so bad it was because of a couple of things. Okay a lot!

1.) You don't use chocolate chips for dipping items. This is rule #1. You use either Chocolate pistoles or really good quality chocolate that is chopped into 1/2 inch pieces so that it melts better and uniformly. Peter that explains so much!

2.) You need to Temper chocolate before you dip items.

3.) I learned what Tempering chocolate actually means (I did not even know there were things besides melting it then getting it somehow on items you want to dip). Tempering: stabilization of chocolate through regulating the temperature of the chocolate between melting and cooling the chocolate. The result is that the chocolate reaches the correct temperature to ensure that sets firm and be shiny at room temperature (

4.) Peter's explanation of the technique of Tempering chocolate with the seeding technique is featured on page 38-39 of the book. He has a great chart that makes it more scientific and easier to learn for visual learners.

A.) You only melt 75% of the chocolate at the proper temperature (120 F for dark chocolate and 110 F for white or milk chocolate). So you don't just heat up everything and then dump it on the item you want to dip.

B.) Remove from heat then add the other 25% of the chocolate.

C.) Stir for 10-15 minutes until the chocolate reaches 85 F for dark chocolate and 83F for white or milk chocolate (this is a reason they have confectionery thermometers).

D.) Then you use the back of a spoon to test if the chocolate set properly. Peter gives advice on what do if the chocolate does not set properly. On p. 41 shows pictures showing clearly when chocolate is tempered incorrectly and when it is set correctly.

So I pretty much was just burning the chocolate and then making "chocolate bark" (aka throwing stuff in the melted chocolate and let it cool) but it was just tasting good but not really looking right. Well it looked okay to me but now looking back it was not looking the way it should. My mom told me that you just melt the chocolate and add this Hebrew wax to make it shinny! Apparently it is edible and you only use a little bit. I hope it was edible. I hope never to have to use it! I could not cover anything in chocolate except for my kitchen and not what I wanted to be covered.

Also did you know that you should not refrigerate chocolate. Do you know where I was keeping my chocolate--in the fridge. Also you should not cover items like cereal or that would absorb a lot of water from the air. Fresh fruit is not the best to cover unless you plan to eat it the day that you make it. So starting off with candied or dried fruit is better. I have been doing everything wrong. So I am reading this book from cover to cover to learn from it like a science text book. Then I plan to then attack the basics then move onto the recipes. I am excited. Also Summer is not the best time to do chocolate because it does not set as well. So I guess if you are doing great chocolate work in the summer you can do it anytime? Or maybe you have a well regulated room temperature.

So apologizes to all the readers (which might just be my mom) but I do hope to continue to learn how to cook and bake along with becoming a better Stepford, CT wife.