Thursday, October 24

Happiness is a box of chocolate

“I shall take the heart. For brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world. "
-L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

"Can we eat them now?!" they both cry, grabbing my arms and jumping in excitement as we walk up the drive with the daily mail.  "Pleeease!"  The air is cool and damp, and a shower of leaves floats gently to the ground as a fat, black squirrel, startled by the commotion, scampers through the branches above our heads.

"I want the milk chocolate one!"

"No, I want the milk chocolate!"

The friendly banter ensues, as it always does whenever chocolate is involved, until I assure them both that there are plenty to go around. 

They both feign an exaggerated sigh of relief.  What they're so excited about are the Sun Cups that just arrived from Seth Ellis Chocolatier, a local Colorado based chocolate company.  Happiness is a box of chocolate in the mailbox!

We discovered Sun Cups a few years back and fell in love.  Though they look like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, they don't even compare.  These are filled with all-natural sunflower butter and coated in either luscious, dark or sweet, milk chocolate.  I adore the dark chocolate Sun Cups - that rich, burnt umber chocolate with a smooth, salty filling of sunbutter.  My kids love the milk chocolate ones.  Additionally, they  come in tingly mint and gooey caramel varieties.  Not only are they produced in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free facility, but they are also free of GMOs and are crafted with only the finest, Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate.  You can taste the quality in each bite!

Saturday, October 19

Crème de la crème

Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
-Albert Einstein 

Life is filled with so many complicated things, there's no reason why coffee creamer should be one of them.  Really, it's one of the simplest things to make.  Yet I've seen many recipes for homemade vanilla coffee creamer on Pinterest  that require the milk to be heated to just the right temperature to dissolve the sugar, and then cooled quickly enough to protect its integrity.  They're filled with a mass of unwholesome ingredients like sweetened condensed milk, and most are severely lacking in the vanilla department.  My recipe starts with organic half and half and pure vanilla.  It needs no heating; therefore insuring that the cream stays as fresh as possible.  Quite frankly, this organic double vanilla creamer is the crème de la crème of coffee creamers.

Thursday, October 10

The Classy Crock Pot

I try to hate my crock pot.  Really, I do.  I shove it into the darkest recesses of the cupboard as if it's a source of shame.  I pile my more glamorous Le Creuset in front in a vain attempt to obscure it from view.  But somehow it always finds a way comfortably back onto the counter.  It simmers and bubbles faithfully, like it has for the last ten years, filling the house with intoxicating aromas that make our tummies rumble.  And, despite my best efforts to suppress it, it never fails to deliver a sumptuous meal to my ravenous family.  A crock pot holds no grudge.

I often ask myself, how can I hate something that manages to braise my food, for hours on end, at just the right temperature to draw out every last bit of succulent, savory flavor?  How can I hate something that can transform the toughest, most unpalatable cuts of meat into tender, melt-in-your-mouth morsels?  How can I hate something that has saved my butt more times than I care to admit over these last few, busy months?

Monday, October 7

Little Pumpkin

Little Pumpkin, fat and round,
I'll rescue you from dusty ground.
I'll take you home and make you mine,
A smile to cheer and eyes to shine.
Little Pumpkin, light my way,
Keep the ghosts and ghouls at bay.
Through mist and dangers unforeseen,
Guide me home this Halloween.
-R Sherrow

The moment I cut into a pumpkin, I'm instantly transported back in time.  It's Halloween morning, and the kitchen table is strewn with old newspapers.  My father is there, in an old t-shirt, carefully zig-zaging his knife through the top of what will soon become my Jack-o'-lantern.  My brother and I - eyes wide and sparkling in anticipation - are watching patiently as the knife glides back and forth, up and down.  He removes the lid and passes the pumpkin to me.  I reach in my tiny hand, sleeves rolled up past the elbows, and wrap my little fingers around a cold, slick mass of seeds.  As I pull it out, the wet strings slide through my fingers.  And that scent surrounds me!  That glorious, quintessential aroma of fall!  The smell of fresh cut pumpkin, of toasty Jack-o'-lantern scorched by candle flame, of brisk, cold nights and candle wax.  Like magic, I relive the moments over and over again, whenever I cut into a pumpkin.