Friday, February 12, 2010

Southern Snow

Missed Us Again...

So I'm sitting here watching as my Mom's getting 3" to a foot of snow today in LOWER ALABAMA within 110 miles of the Gulf Coast of Florida.

A giant swath of land between there and Atlanta...extending all the way to our little Island on the Georgia Coast to Savannah and Charleston are getting weather they only see every ten or fifteen years, and yet...

I've spent the last month and one half freaking out because I don't have a fireplace in my house and although I have a small electrical generator still in the box...left over from living in the occasional paths of summertime hurricanes, I have nothing to make heat with here but a blow dryer and a heating pad if we finally get the two degrees and 100 mile shift in the moisture and cold air needed to really dump some winter weather on top of our heads and onto our electrical power lines.

All of that said, I'm pleased to report that I just returned home from Home Depot with a lovely kerosene fired heater and a Five Gallon Kerosene container...both of which are now resting happily on top of my unused Electrical Generator in the Basement.

I also received my Chocolate flavoring and coloring oils a day early, so when I'm not banging around on pneumatic valves in the basement or entertaining company I might just throw together another batch of Truffles just for fun with Valentines Day approaching.

Hope every body's warm and safe and enjoying the winter weather if they can, I'm having a L A R G E time all day every day if you haven't noticed...

"Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler"

"Let The Good Times Roll..."

I knew something was bothering me this week. I could feel it in my bones...I was forgetting something that used to be important to me in another life.

This morning I realized what it was...the annual Mardi Gras celebrations are in full swing down in New Orleans and Mobile and Pensacola.

Further, this coming Tuesday is "Fat Tuesday," the last day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

This week marks the 32nd anniversary of my first attendance of the Mardi Gras festivities in the Big Easy in 1978 with the Georgia Tech NROTC band.

I was back again in 1986 and 1987, and again in 1996 or 1997 (the exact year escapes me), but today with the effects of sanity/insanity and age/maturity/immaturity I've elected to leave the raucous antics to the college kids and heartier older adults in the population.

I think that everybody should have the opportunity to experience Mardi Gras once in New Orleans...Beignets and Chicory Coffee at Cafe du Monde and Breakfast at Brennans and dinner at Commander's Palace, but a little bit goes a looooonnnggg way and it's expensive and the crowds these days are nerve wracking and I expect I've probably seen my last sunrise on Dauphine or Royal or Bourbon Street.

Meanwhile, my Forensic Engineering Business partner's coming to town for the weekend, so I guess that it's time to go read the paper and take a nap I guess...

I Wish I Could Play The Horn Like This

She Looks Like She's About Twelve...

Dang fine tone and vibrato on what looks like a "student" model trumpet.

Years ago a couple of my fellow trumpet players and I used to go out and play taps for the Veterans at the VFW and American Legion when they did a flag ceremony on Memorial Day and Veterans Day while we were in High School.

We never sounded like that at age sixteen or seventeen.

That little Girl's performance proves either you got it or you don't I guess...

Thanks for the link Rodg

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Cat's Out Of The Bag

Capitolism Wins Every Time...

This idea has been about three years in the making. Two part time jobs doing things I love is better than the option(s).

These sample portions may yield commercial success...wish me luck.

My Forty Cent Slice Ball Of Heaven

Shipping And Handling Extra...

I'm sitting here waiting for my Ganache to set up in the Fridge so I can move further into the production mode, and like any good injuneer/businessman it occurred to me to do a cost analysis of the process to see where the production budget was going.

Guess what?

I can make a Truffle that's almost as pretty and tastes every bit as good as something from Godiva for...

About $0.40. If you add in the packaging (box and little ruffled cup) the price rises up to about $0.55 each.

The professionals get about $2.15 each as far as I can tell.

Maybe I should quit my new day job and get off my ass, don my Chef's attire, and get into this stuff full time.

I like the mark-up/profit margin...You Know?

Everyone Loves Avatar...

More Original Photoshop Fun...

This just in from this Yahoo News Story:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours an exhibition on laser technology in Tehran on February 7, 2010 takes in a 3-D I-Max screening of Avatar at Disney World....

I'm getting pretty good at thinking of something funny and knocking it out in five minutes rather than taking an hour, Eh?

New Drug Shipment Chocolate Purchase

I'm Injuneering Myself A Diabetic Coma...

I have another day off today because I couldn't get my new valve rebuild parts delivered until this afternoon, so we wandered by Fresh Market on the way to happy hour yesterday looking for more Truffle making materials.

Sure enough they had gotten in a new shipment of Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate bars. I'd cleaned them out last weekend and was tempted to do the same again, but I left behind three bars for some other junkie chocolate loving customer after putting this in my shopping cart...

That would be 2-1/4 pounds of semi sweet for Truffle cores and 1/2 pound of white chocolate for covering some of the finished products.

I've pretty much got the process down...16 gram balls for things covered with coco powder or other thin stuff and 14 gram balls for the ones covered with a crisp chocolate skin or crushed nuts like toasted almonds and hazelnuts.

I'm going to set everything up again around lunch time and try to knock out another three or four dozen of three or four flavors in a short time frame...the final details of which are as yet to be determined.

I ordered a bunch of chocolate flavoring and coloring oils on-line but they won't be here until Monday so this batch will just be chocolate and raspberry and orange/Grand Mariner I guess. The coloring oil will allow me to pipe little lines and decorations onto the outside of the hard chocolate shells in the future like Godiva does.

I'm definitely obsessed with the process...somebody save me or distract me or something before I gain another 100 pounds...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Afternoon Comics

Even The Funny Papers Deny Global Warming...

Go to this Web Page and you can add your own text to a Batman and Robin comic panel.

Here's mine:


Sugar Buzz Hangover

I'm Vibrating...


I'm afraid that I've consumed so much sugar and chocolate over the past couple of days that right now if you look at me all you'll see is a fuzzy blurr.

Like something off of Star Wars or a Star Trek movie...

When I look in the mirror I can't see myself clear enough to shave safely...and brushing my teeth is easy because I just hold the toothbrush in my mouth and my head shakes side to side and back and forth and toothpaste lather comes out my ears and nostrils the motion is so vigorous.

For safety reasons OSHA has informed me that I have to shut down the Truffle production operation until I can establish some procedures and written guidelines to protect myself and anyone that comes in contact with me while loaded with little boxes containing orbs of chocolate.

Last evening I assaulted our Barmaid friend Katie and the balance of the women in the bar at another one of our local favorites, The Parkside Grill, with the harvest of yesterday's Truffle making efforts and then ran away to cook my soon to be famous Horseradish crusted pork tenderloin for dinner.

I love it when I can Google "horseradish crusted pork tenderloin" and my recipe on my cooking Blog, The Redneck Gourmet, comes up NUMBER FOUR on page one of the search results.

Any way, I'm taking a day off from "Truffleing" to do some other business stuff and fool around in the shop with a balsa model airplane kit I've been working on, then if the local Whole Foods store will get another shipment of Semi Sweet Dark Ghirardelli Chocolate in (they ran out last weekend) I'll be back in business on Friday for my Grand Finale.

Time to read the paper, do the crossword, and take a nap I think...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


I Am The Master Of The Universe King Of The Truffle...

Well, I finally forced myself to go back into the kitchen and open up the refrigerator and drag the Truffle guts I made yesterday out and try to do something with them.

The second batch, made with a combination of some really expensive raw chocolate (I forget the brand) and some unidentified grocery store crappy chunk stuff we had laying around, had set up rock hard yesterday when I put it in the fridge.

So I set everything out on the counter to come up to room temperature and after a couple of hours I discovered that the hard stuff was quite workable by hand, so I cut the 20 gram lumps down to 16 grams each and then made everything up in 16 gram balls and went to town rolling and covering and dipping.

Things went much better because I had been through the process already (I gave away all of yesterday's efforts to the waitresses and to the wives of some friends at one of our local watering holes), and after only about an hour of fooling around here's what I had in return for my efforts...

Being anal retentive a perfectionist at heart, I couldn't just settle for handing out exotic candy in a zip lock baggie or tin foil, so last year I bought a couple hundred little truffle boxes and here's a look at the packaging process.

And here's today's efforts all boxed up and ready to be delivered to my next set of victims...

BTW the KEY to making Truffles is temperature, Temperature, TEMPERATURE.

Temperature of EVERYTHING...the air, your pots, your pans, and most importantly your HANDS while handling them makes a HUGE difference in the outcome.

After today's effort I have a new little spring in my step because I think that with a little more practice I'll never buy a Truffle again.

Get to work guys and you can do it too on Valentines Day...(make Truffles, that is...and whatever else is up to you and your imagination...)

Mid Winter Hallucinations Fantasies

I Want To Build A Houseboat...

I'm sitting around here this morning afraid to go back into my kitchen because I have a load of Grenache lurking in the Fridge and on the counter top taunting me to try to roll it into little 16 gram balls and cover it with something without getting it in my hair (ok..on my scalp since most of my hair has fallen out.)

Then I started looking around for something new to draw and design and generally distract myself from reality, and a couple of things came to mind.

In the past year I've built a deck on my house (ok...half a Deck, but still...)

I've built a shop in the basement.

Building an airplane is out since the FAA grounded me for medical reasons about 15 years ago, but now, after being "Boatless" for going on eight years, and living near the Mighty Tennessee River, it occurs to me of my need and desire and practical possibility of owning another boat.

Not just any boat mind you...A...

H O U S E B O A T.

Something like this would be nice, but with newer lumber and a little bigger living space...

The guy said he'd make me a good deal, but I hate using someone else's used bed and bathroom, and I think that I want a little more horsepower and a generator.

Time to do some more googling...

Feeding Time...

I'm Afraid To Wonder What The Litter Box Looks Like?

Global Warming Pounding DC Politicians

Owl Gore Peeing His Pants...

I'm not sorry, but I'm afraid that it's easy for me to sit here in the relative warmth of Knoxtown this morning and want to laugh at the Federal Government morons having to "shut down" operations yesterday because they couldn't get out of their driveways.

And in the case of Nasty Pelosi and some of the other elitist political class snobs, I guess that their limo's probably couldn't come pick them up Monday morning so they stayed home, which in retrospect was a good thing because by shutting the government down they couldn't VOTE to come to my house and steal some more of my money to spend on their feckless, obtuse, inane "stimulus programs.".

I wonder if Pelosi even made it back to town on her hijacked Air Force jet from the Left Coast San Francisco, because Reagan National and Andrews AFB were both pushing mountains of snow around after the weekend's storm and air traffic was limited as a result.

Of course if she did it was because "Madam Speaker" went to the head of the air traffic control line as the little common taxpayers people stranded since Friday awaited the availability of an airliner and a departure gate three days later.

Looking at the Weather Channel, there's another "winter event" barrelling down on the Eastern seaboard for today and tomorrow, and yet another one coming in on Friday which has a good chance of delivering more frozen precipitation here to the Turbo Pup Compound on the banks of the Mighty Tennessee River.

Any rational person that's older than about forty years of age knows that, in spite of the media hysteria, what is happening this winter is a gradual return to historical "NORMAL" winter weather patterns which we had up until the early 1980's in the eastern US.

Just like the spike in Hurricane activity in the 1990's after a relatively quiet period in the 1970's and 1980's, people--particularly politicians and the "lamestream media" idiots--have a short memory and further, love to take anything which is a little different from last week or last month or last year and turn it into a news story or an opportunity to pass a new law and steal a little bit more of our constitutional, God given freedoms.

And weird crap you'd never expect to happen suddenly becomes material news headlines are made of...

stuff like that Cities and Counties all over the country are running out of money and equipment for snow removal because, during the relative warm winters over the past couple of decades, they've stolen the money and spent it on "social programs" and on raises for bureaucrats while their heavy equipment aged and wasn't replaced with new machinery.

Even here in Knoxville they've basically already spent the entire season's budget on winter road clearing and treatment, and their fleet of trucks is old and reduced in capacity because they didn't buy new trucks with plows and sand spreaders when things warmed up.

See...that's what politicians do...they THROW MONEY at things that are popular, or things that are on fire, or things that are festering and bleeding, or the groups of people that scream the loudest.

Meanwhile people like me are too busy making plans and putting personal emergency and contingency plans in place...and more importantly...working to make Money to pay my OWN WAY...rather than spending a disproportionate amount of my income "keeping up with the Jones' "--buying houses and cars and taking vacations I can't afford, walking around wearing $100 tennis shoes, and buying giant HD TV's while at the same time ignoring the gathering storm clouds on the horizon.

Unfortunately for me and my peers, the gathering clouds today are not made by Mother Nature.

The clouds I see are man-made...the shadows of an ever growing Government, in all its forms--dark and ominous and energized by millions of ignorant, security seeking, nanny-state voters.

Instead of snowing me in, or flooding me out, I'm fearful of the impact this man-made storm and their mandates and programs and stimulus packages are going to have on my wallet and long term net worth.

Regardless of the outcome, I still take a great deal of enjoyment in the effects this cold winter has had on Owl Gore and his bands of tie died, Kumbaya singing, patchouli stinking, tree hugging, sniveling, booger eating, bed wetting, man-made Global Warming Zombies.

The silence is deafening...don't you think?

Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm Making A Ganache?

Somebody Pass Me My Double Boiler...

So this weekend I was stumbling through the Godiva Chocolatier website looking at all of the fancy boxes of stuff they want to sell me in anticipation of St. Valentines Day.

I've been getting at least one e-mail per day from them and Proflowers and FTD for the past six weeks.

Any way, looking at my schedule this week I have to wait on rebuild kits for the new valve order so I have a couple of days to fool around with the "Jamaican Me Cajun Green Butt Chili Shack" design, and I figure that since Pat had perfected the recipe for home made truffles over the past couple of years that it was time for me to show her how to do it better to use all of the tools we have special purchased to handle chocolate in our kitchen.

I even bought one hundred fancy foil covered boxes last year sized to hold two truffles each in their little paper cups.

Getting back to my title, a "Ganache" is the French term for what you get by combining boiling heavy cream and melted chocolate.

Depending on the proportions you can get something which can be used to ice a cake, or by making a thicker mixture you get that rich, soft stuff you find inside Truffles and other candies.

The thing about making your own truffles is that you have to have cool temperatures and low humidity or they won't set up properly. Winter in Knoxtown must be good for something, and truffle making is one of those things.

So any way, I'm thinking about making four kinds of Truffles this week...plain chocolate with a powdered coco dusting on the outside, a chocolate raspberry flavored truffle with a hard dark chocolate coating, a chocolate amaretto truffle with toasted almond crumbles on the outside, and probably an orange liqueur flavored chocolate truffle with a hard white chocolate coating.

Each has to be processed in individual batches because you have a limited working time and don't have time to be fooling around adding stuff while things are cooling off and setting up.

On that note, I guess that it's time to finish some paperwork and go dirty up the kitchen I guess...

photos to follow...

MORE:...2:00 PM

I've discovered the secret of the PERFECT Truffle!!!


Go into your Kitchen.

Get out your credit card.

Dial the 1-800 Godiva phone number (or go on-line)

Place your order.

The other way is to melt about twenty dollars worth of fancy chocolate in a bowl, dump scalding cream over it, stand around outside the refrigerator for an hour and one half, then utter these sounds before you begin...

"Ah hu eeh haah aaahh hhuuu eeh hoo eeh hoo aaaaahhhhhhhhhhHHHHH."

(you're going to end up screaming something and at least that phrase is rated PG...)

You see, everything goes well until you start scooping out your cold set Ganache from your refrigerated bowl...then the process degenerates up there in complexity with things like solving Differential Equations and herding cats.

Seriously, as far as I can tell it's nigh onto an impossible task getting the stuff out on a sheet of waxed paper in uniform sized balls that don't melt and stick to your hands and the the inside of closed cabinet doors and your eyelids and every other surface within a 6 foot perimeter.

I've got to go back now and mop the ceiling and try to wrestle this stuff into some sort of presentable form.

Wish me luck

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Your Sunday Morning Bluegrass Music

...From The "Darlin's"...and Ernest T. Bass...

(Real fans of the Andy Griffith show know that "the Darlin' Boys" were really a bluegrass band from Missouri called The Dillards.)


And then I just found this classic:

eeeaaaannnnddddd...You're Welcome...Have a LOVELY Day Now