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!

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.

 

Perogy Day

Yeah I know not everyone spells it that way

perogies

One of the ways I earn money is making and selling perogies.  I sell them hot & ready to eat and they are pretty popular in my city.  I have however taken a bit of a break from them and don’t make them as often, because I just ran out of steam.  My daughter and I were putting in a huge amount of hours every week and the number of people that ordered but never showed just got out of control.  Then if you contacted them and told them that you had made their order and were waiting for them to pick up, I was often met with hostility.  I attribute it to the Internet actually.  People think of themselves as anonymous and will often lash out at others because there isn’t that “face to face” interaction and no consequences.  Often times the person would say things like “Sorry, but I have a life you know and I got busy, I will order some next week when I have more time” and when I would reply that if someone doesn’t show we won’t fill an order for them in future they would get verbally abusive, call me rude, say I had the worst customer service in the world, would tell everyone they knew never to buy from me.  It amazed me how them not showing up was suddenly my fault and expecting them to show up was rude and not willing to let them order from me again was poor customer service.

So anyways, it got to be too much and I took a break for a couple of weeks which turned into a few months (although I continued to make them for one customer who had ordered from me numerous dozen every week for years).

Well, finances being the way they are, I will be doing them again, although very small amounts of them, at a higher price and only to select individuals.  Although I really need the money, sometimes you need to step back and rethink things because quality of life matters.

So as for my perogies, they are easy to make, however they are time consuming and there are a few tricks to making them.  First is the filling, it has to be rich and melt in your mouth.  The dough, has to be extremely thin, otherwise it can be a bit chewy.  As a customer always tells me, my pergoies are like little pillows that melt in your mouth.

I use a Wilton round cutter, and the rubber top has made an incredible difference. It really does make cutting out the dough easier because you can put pressure on it and not hurt the palm of your hand.  You should also cut them out on a silicone mat.  Using a cutter on a hard surface just doesn’t work at well as cutting on a mat.  Lastly, I always use a scoop to make sure that each one is not only the exact size, but has the same amount of filling.

If you are interested in purchasing the products I have the links to the ones I use below.  I also have a short video of us making them as well.

You can purchase the Wilton Cookie Cutter for perfectly sized perogies here:

The Oxo Good Grips Medium Cookie scoop can be purchased here:

The Norpro Silicone Mat I use can be purchased here:

And So It Begins….

Some of us are just starting out, some of us are just starting again.  We may not have the finest home or the funds to do much of anything.  Yet, we all deserve a magical life full of fun and adventure.

I don’t have the answers, but this blog will be about my quest to finding my way to a happier life given the means that I have.  A quest for a better life, a more adventurous life, a life that makes me feel fulfilled.

I am one of the ones starting again and I have gone from having it all, to having nothing at all.  I have limitations, but hey, if I can do it, you can too.  My idea is that I can’t exactly write a blog about nothing, so I will have to push myself forward each day for the blog, and hopefully it makes my life a bit better in the process.

What can you expect from this blog?  Well just about anything, from recipes, to tips on saving money, to things I have learned along my journey.  I will share any adventures I have, and, along with my youtube channel, give you insight into my journey of a new, better me.  I hope that you learn something form me, that will help you along your own personal journey.

So let the adventure begin….