Chocolate Covered Strawberries

In our house we make chocolate covered strawberries for Valentine’s every year.  So many people ask for us to make them some thinking it is too timing consuming or tricky to do and honestly, they are one of the most simply things you can make.  There are a few things to know, so today’s post will be about the things some things might now.

The easiest chocolate to use is chocolate chips.  For every 1 cups of chips you use, add one tablespoon of shortening.  The shortening does not change the taste, nor does it make them greasy.  The shortening thins out the chocolate a bit and makes it much easier to dip the strawberries.

Your strawberries must be dry because water will seize your chocolate and then  can’t be used and will have to throw it away.  Melt the chocolate in the microwave, start with 45 seconds.  Stir the chocolate and then continue to put in for an additional 30 seconds at a time stirring well after each session.  When there are no lumps left in the chocolate it is ready to use.

If you find your microwave just won’t melt the chocolate for some reason, then chances are it has been exposed to moisture and while you can use the chips for cookies and such it is no longer usable to melt for dipping.

Watch my video to see how very easy it is to make chocolate dipped strawberries and make some for Valentine’s!

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Valentine’s Day – Thinking of Others

earring-set

I know all too well the struggles some couples experience just making ends meet. When days like Valentine’s Day comes around I am sure there is some stress when you can’t afford to buy anything for your Significant Other.  Social Media certainly doesn’t help when people of means show off all the amazing things they get or give, and you stay silent because you don’t want to announce “Hey, we are broke, I didn’t get anything”

Companies often send me things that I do not use, so I thought I would put this little jewelry set up I received on a local Pay It Forward group.  I specifically said it was meant for someone unable to purchase a gift for their female Significant Other.  I even went on to say not to say you were interested if you could afford a gift as it would lesson the chances of someone truly in need of winning.

Well I have to say that the although I was not surprised, I was disappointed by the amount of greed people show and how little compassion some people have.  About 98% of the people asking to be considered were female, and while it is open to gay females to give to their partners, these woman were not gay, their profiles were full of pictures of their husbands and boyfriends.  There was also the “interested for my daughter, interested for my mother-in-law” etc.  Not only that, when you checked their profiles they looked nothing like people in need with professionally landscaped homes, new cars in the driveway etc.  I ended up disgusted because this is an inexpensive set that most of these people could buy easily.

I would never dream of asking for an item meant for someone in need, yet people today simply don’t care.  They see something for free and they don’t care if they need it, want it or could use it, they will take it if they can get it, for the thrill of it I guess.  Which is ok, if it is just a giveaway open to everyone, but not ok if it is meant to help someone in a tight spot.  It’s pretty sad, but I guess the only way to change things is to continue to be generous, but be selective in who we are generous to.  Then hopefully the people that were shown kindness will in turn look for opportunities to help others in need and just totally ignore all the selfish people out there.

 

 

Mutant Turkey From Hell

christmas-tree

Anyone that has come to my house for turkey dinners are always impressed as I have to admit I always put on a great meal.  I buy huge turkeys and usually serve hot turkey sandwiches the next day and use the remainder to make Turkey Pies for the freezer.   My meat pies are not only a favorite with out family, but I also sell them and people just can’t get enough of them.

So by now you have probably figured out, the turkey is a big deal in my house.  Well, this year, I decided to just have my son grab a frozen turkey from Walmart.  I admit, that I have only purchased an occasional turkey from Walmart but time was short and the previous ones from there were just fine.  So my son grabs the largest turkey they have and throws it in the freezer.

On Christmas Eve morning I grab the turkey and throw it in a large white kitchen garbage bag and throw it in my sink and fill the bag with water to let it thaw.  The reason for the garbage bag is simple, my sink doesn’t hold water well and rather than filling it up every 10 minutes, I put what I want to thaw in a plastic bag, problem solved.

Well, to make a long story short, it was noon on Christmas Day when I finally got around to check out my bird close up.  My stuffing was all prepared, oven was on and I was just going to open the airtight packaging the turkey comes in to rinse off the turkey and prep it for the oven.

I took scissors and opened the package and to my horror a Mutant Turkey from Hell greeted me.  I grabbed the package and saw that it was a Utility Turkey, not Grade A!  However, that did not explain this turkey.  Utility Turkey’s can be missing a leg or wing, or have a small skin tear, that’s it. I will sometimes buy them during the year for pies when regular turkeys are very pricey.  Missing legs and wings don’t bother me too much as we never eat them, but I do like them just for presentation purposes.   They are not Mutant and the quality of the meat is the same as Grade A.

The Turkey that was before me had NO SKIN at all except for on the legs.  The legs were disjointed from the turkey itself and flopped to the sides, barely attached.  There were no wings.  The area were you stuff the turkey, didn’t exist, it was sliced down almost all the way to the back and the breast was barely attached to the rest of the turkey.  Lastly, there was a chunk missing out of the turkey breast, that I had hoped was not a bite from another animal.

Panic set in.  I could not stuff the turkey, because there was no skin, there would be nothing to baste the turkey, the entire top of the turkey would be dry, rock hard turkey without skin…and there would be no drippings from which to make gravy.

With no stores open and family coming from out of town, I had no choice but to cover the breast with foil and hope for the best.  Well, as you can probably guess by now, dinner was the worst holiday meal I have cooked in 30 years and would be in the Top 5 Worst Meals of All Time.  There was no gravy possible, the stuffing I had to cook outside the turkey was edible…barely and the turkey?  Oh that thing wasn’t edible.  As I was slicing it I was thinking “uh oh, this thing just isn’t slicing like turkey should.  Everyone took a slice and everyone took one bite and that was it.  Everyone was afraid to eat more.  It didn’t taste like turkey and the texture is best described as “spongey”

The best thing I can say about the meal is that it was over quickly.  Thankfully, we made the best of the situation and cracked jokes like “wow, that turkey didn’t give up without a fight” and “well you can tell who lost that fight” and other numerous jokes including the fact I tried to serve road kill for Christmas dinner.

After thinking about things over Boxing Day I decided to call Walmart about the turkey.  Government regulations are very strict when it comes to grading meat, and this turkey was not only not Grade A, but it was also not a Utility Turkey either, in fact, this turkey didn’t make any Grade and should never have been sold.  I thought it was important that they know their suppliers obviously had issues with quality control and when it comes to meat, that is NOT a great thing.

I wasn’t expecting much from Walmart, except for a half hearted apology.  After all, I no longer had my receipt and the turkey was promptly thrown in the trash.  I was however surprised by the reaction of the assistant manager.  She was very emphatic and sincere with an apology and very much wanted as much information as possible as to brand so they can contact the supplier.  They have even arranged to refund me the purchase price plus provide a gift card for ruining our Christmas meal.

Will anything major come of this with the supplier?  Probably not.  Will I ever buy a turkey from Walmart again?  No, never again.  In fact, I would be hesitant to buy any meat products from them unless of course it was something like name brand bacon that is sold everywhere else.  I will however, shop at Walmart as always for 2 reasons.  The first being is that they are close and about the only store in my city that is a low cost department store.  The 2nd being they accepted responsibility for a bad product without much proof of the product.

So in closing, Christmas, other than the meal was wonderful.  The Mutant Turkey is finally at rest and will be buried at the local landfill but will go to Turkey Heaven knowing it won, no one ended up eating him.  I hope he was an old bird, who fought to the very end.  He will actually be remembered with fondness and we will remember and speak of him every Christmas to come.  RIP Mutant Turkey.