Archive for the ‘cooking’ category

A Different Kind of Conch

May 31, 2010

This isn’t about the kind of conch (pronounced “konk”) we find all around The Bahamas. This is not about that staple of island life (and a staple that’s so popular—but not necessarily so prevalent these days—that it may well need some common sense seasonal protection to bring it back to a state of plentifulness, but that’s another story!). No, this is not about the beautiful pink-lipped mild conch that lives in the grassy sea banks of The Bahamas and tastes great in conch salad, fritters, or pounded thin, battered and fried into cracked conch (can you tell it’s around lunchtime as I type this?) …

This is about conch as a verb.  Something I just discovered thanks to The Art of Eating Magazine.

This amazing independent print magazine (that celebrates all the best in food and wine with in-depth articles about the people, places, traditions, growers, and artisans who produce the freshest and most flavorful fare) introduced me to the term “conch” as it applies to the the fine art of making chocolate ….

Yes. Chocolate! And not just any chocolate. Some of the finest chocolate produced anywhere: Taza Chocolate (where a debate on whether to conch or not conch the chocolate is appropos and just a normal part of chocolate-making lingo!).

What I learned reading the Art of Eating article in (click here) is that in chocolate-making “conching” refers to a process by which chocolate’s texture can be smoothed. The original conching machine (developed in 1874) was used to give creamy smoothness to the gritty raw chocolate beans, tempering it for taste and texture. The original chocolate conching machine was shaped like a seashell, and the name still refers to the chocolate mixture smoothing process that happens in the final stages of any chocolate making.

In the true artistry of chocolate purists who craft from bean to bar, Taza Chocolate is unique because they do not conch. They roast, winnow, grind, temper, and mold their chocolate by hand. And they use only authentic Oaxacan stone mills (instead of steel machine mills) to grind their organic cacao beans on a slightly imperfect surface, which allows small small particles of unrefined cacao to pop with intense uncompromised flavor in the finished chocolate, and to give their bars a distinct granular texture.

Chocolate. I love it all. Conched or not conched. And I’m so happy to know that Taza Chocolate exists, and to learn that something sea-inspired is a part of chocolate making history.

And as is the case with all the good things I blog about here, I’m not selling anything—I’m just having fun sharing some of the inspiring stuff that makes life a little more full of wonder and joy—and handcrafted all organic-ingredient chocolate is right up there near the top of that Sweet Life list.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go in search of my copy of one of my most favorite all-time movies: Chocolat! (I’m wondering if there’s a conching machine or grinder anywhere in the background that I didn’t notice before … and even if there isn’t, I just love Johnny Depp in this, don’t you?!)

Indulge! (And share a note about your favorite chocolate-lovin’ treats!)

First Fall Cool Snap & Plum Cake

October 19, 2009


Today brought the first touch of cool temps to the island … seemed like the perfect time to try out this new plum cake recipe I found at Savory Sweet Life.  (Also found some amazingly choice plums at Butler Specialty Foods last week!) This cake smelled heavenly while it was baking and tastes luscious — a hit any time of the year! The picture is not the best — cameras all around and not one of them had batteries in working order! — so I snapped this pic with the built-in MacBook camera … not a bad shot actually considering I was hanging the laptop upside down over the upside-down cake!

At any rate, that plum-delicious (sorry, couldn’t resist) not-too-hot, not-too-cold warm fall/winter weather we’re famous for here in The Bahamas is on the way … hooray!

The Pioneer Woman – love this blog!

September 25, 2009

My friend, Vanessa, told me about this super-fun blog that herds up all kinds of things I enjoy: cooking, photography, Photoshop, gardening, and a delightful and funny look at life and love. A definite outpost of inspiration:

Charging Colts by Ree Drummond,

Charging Colts by Ree Drummond,

Let’s Dance!

August 4, 2009


Oh, sweet life.

Swaying to a samba beat.

A sheaf of smooth writing paper.

Eclectic embraces of everyday exquisiteness.

Aqua ocean vistas.

Chilled mangoes.

Basil and tomatoes plucked from the garden patch.

Succulent stories.

White sand beneath my feet. Movies screened on a moonlit beach.

Books. More books.

Veni. Vidi. Visa. (I came. I saw. I shopped!)

Luscious Italian everything.

Abundant wispy plumbago plants.

Gardenias. Night blooming jasmine.

Mary Anne Radmacher’s word gardens of inspiration.

Anne Lamott’s writings.

A freshly sharpened bouquet of pencils.

The Beauty & Truth Laboratories of Rob Brezsny.



The light in my husband’s eyes.

That little inside joke that makes my daughter laugh every time.

Seriously silly stuff.

Long, deep kisses that last three days. (And the movie, Bull Durham, where that line came from!)

Playing with words and images and impressions and ideas.


Having fun making art. Supporting art.

The steady thrum of a printing press.

Grey’s Anatomy.

iPhone ingenuity.

Vintage wines. (And whines!)

Memorable martinis.

Movie therapy.



President Obama!

My dear, dear wonderful family and deeply fabulous and funny friends,

(each enchanting in their own way).




Making a difference.

A lot of alliteration!

High tea. High heels.


Passionate purposes.

Time and tides.


Soft landings.

Deep breathing.

Gentle lessons.

A tender touch.

And writing. Yes, definitely writing!

Those are just a few of my favorite things. (I really did start out to make a succinct list of just a handful of things, but then one happy thought leads to another, doesn’t it?) It’s hard to stop once you start to put a list like this together … so many pleasures and inspirations to ponder. I love it all. And I want it all. And writing that down helps me remember that I already have it all when I take a breath and really look and sit still long enough to simply enjoy and reflect on the swaths of sumptuous blessings that flow both through me and to me every day.

That’s what starting this blog is about for me.  I am inspired by the wisdom, wit, and whimsy that wing their way through the web and keep us all connected when we’re brave enough to open our hearts and share all the things we love about life, as well as all the things that haven’t quite made that list just yet! We can talk about those another time; right now I’m just pleased to be giving this blog a first twirl ….

The mysteries and marvels, musings and music, are tuning up. Let’s dance!

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