28 November 2011

Holiday Table Display

I'm not good at floral design.  Ever.  In fact, most bouquets that come into my house look the best just plopped into a vase.  I've really taken to the idea of using an abundance of one element in design, that way I can't screw it up!

So this is my newest attempt to be "crafty", and if all else fails, I'll have my mom come over and fix it!  (She is great at floral design!)

I have a thing for Osage Oranges, my "thing" is that they repel spiders!  Double "YAY"!  I also like their chartreuse color and nubby exterior.  I picked up a beautifully simple mahogany tray and piled them on.

I happened upon these nifty, battery operated lights at Target.  I like the combination of shiny bulbs with natural elements and I don't have a convenient spot to plug in on my kitchen table, so the battery feature is great.

I gathered up some boxwood sprigs from my shrubs and a few stubby pine cones from our trees.  I chose the boxwood for it's glossy leaves and I don't think it's poisonous to the animals. (I know they party on my table as soon as I leave for work!)  I think holly would look fantastic too!

I piled all the Osage Oranges up and tucked in my light string so you couldn't see the cord.  I then added my other elements in spots that were uneven/bare and tried to even the whole thing up!

I love this mellow glow and rustic look!  I think a few old mercury bulbs would look great too!

23 November 2011

A Year of Pierre

This was the day we met Pierre for the first time!
Today marks a year that we picked up our Pierre.  (Thank goodness the camera notes the date!)  I didn't have a clue about dog ownership!  To this day, I'm not sure who exactly got "trained" myself or Pierre!  I've sure had a lot of fun with this little dog and he has stolen all of our hearts, amongst other things.   I hope you enjoy these photos of Pierre's adventures this first year!

Very first night in my new home.

Happy Thanksgiving 2010! I am the cutest puppy ever!
Merry Christmas! I am helping wrap gifts!
The furniture is a great spot to bury treasures!
Got kicked out of doggie day care the very first day! Feeling sad.
Socks is my best friend...

Grandma and Grandpa give me rides and treats at the farm!
I had lots of fun and met new friends at my first Dog Day Party!
I talk softly and carry a big stick cause I'm a little dog!
Yay! for my first Birthday cake!
Halloween costumes are over rated in my opinion....
Sweet dreams...

14 November 2011

Salted Caramel Mocha at home

If you have not had a Salted Caramel Mocha at Starbucks, you are seriously missing out.  While I'm not one to plug Starbucks, they totally deserve the billions they make on this coffee drink alone, it is delicious!

Since our nearest Starbucks is better than 15 miles away and daylight savings time has me falling asleep on the couch at 9pm, I had to create my own at home.  I thought I'd share my recipe so you too, can gain 5 pounds in 2 weeks on these little buggers!

This recipe is for 1 latte mug worth, probably about a 10 oz cup, so you may need to adjust accordingly;

2 tablespoons good quality caramel sauce (I used Stonewall Kitchen brand)
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
a TINY pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon hazelnut syrup (Torani, Monin, DaVinci etc.)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
double shot of espresso (I used my Nespresso Pixie, double shot of "decaffeinato")

I blended the first 5 ingredients and steamed using the wand on my espresso machine the first time I made these and that was fab.  The second time I warmed it up in the microwave and that was fab...thinking you can't ruin this combination!  I then added my double shot and stirred, added a good amount of whipped cream to the top and drizzled with another small bit of caramel sauce. 

13 November 2011

Christmas Decor & Retailers

I am between a rock and a hard place at this time of the year.  I am a retailer.  Yes, we just had a Holiday Open House to kick off the holiday season on November 11.  Yes, I am one of those irritated consumers that would just like to experience one holiday at a time, but I understand the whys.

Instead of fighting the holiday season let me show you what I do at The Boulevard Market to keep Thanksgiving alive:

 We do put up our Christmas trees, but go with an Autumn decor of colorful leaves, birds (I love these pheasants) and glass bulbs in colors like copper, mocha and warm beige.  We add beaded fruits and berry clusters that will stay once the trees are transitioned to traditional Christmas decor.

The Market also features displays of foods, wines and cheese gear that is perfect for the Thanksgiving feasts!  This Cranberry wine is a customer favorite!

I understand a retailer's dilemma, especially for independent business owners, but I feel it's right for The Boulevard Market to keep Thanksgiving a little special and separate from Christmas.  After all...isn't it the biggest FOOD holiday of all?!

12 November 2011

Incredible Cheeses & First Snowflakes

The first snowflakes of the season for us fell yesterday.  It was beautiful and horrific at the same time.  Giant flakes drifting in the steely grey overcast sky, hanging holiday lights surrounded by cheeses, Italian turrone and fresh bread at The Boulevard Market...all beautiful.  Knowing this will be our weather for the next 5 months...not so beautiful.

I decided instead to think about how many lovely cheeses have arrived from all over the world this week and make myself a Salted Caramel Mocha (recipe to come tomorrow)!

 Beautiful French Goat milk Crottins dusted with Piment d'espelette, a Basque chili pepper that is mild and very flavorful.  I can envision a generous wedge adorning my next omelet! 

The stunning beauty of Shropshire Blue is always a welcome sight for me around the holidays, as it really makes a cheese plate "pop"!  The flavor profile is similar to Stilton, yet a bit stronger with a slightly sour note like Cheshire.  I love it with a thin drizzle of honey!

The plastic glare is not attractive on this Soreda goat cheese assortment...I guess I'll just HAVE to open a package and then I will HAVE to eat them! :) Soreda is a producer of goat cheeses from the Perigord region of France and these tiny trays of goat cheeses are my favorite of their lineup.  Small orbs of fresh goat cheese rolled in various herbs, spices and dried fruit and adorned with a tiny "stem"!  Absolutely charming and delicious!

And finally, the Italians...how can even their cheese wrapper be anything but elegant and stylish?  The wrapper is just the beginning here however.  A combination of  sheep and cows milk in a little soft, furry, pasty package.  Delicate flavor, super rich and creamy, it's a cheese made to celebrate everything in your life!  I paired mine with an Ortrugo made by Santa Giustina in Italy.  Ortrugo is a lovely not-too-dry white wine, and Santa Giustina's Gaia Bucharelli is creating hers in a "vivace" style, meaning just a bit of fizziness to the wine.  Here is Gaia's description of her Ortrugo:

"Color: Light straw Bouquet: Fine, intense, frank, floral, golden apple Taste: Vivace, good structure, equilibrium and long persistence Food paring: Aperitif, cold appetizers, fish"

In Erika's words..."YUM"!     

08 November 2011

Another business...really?

I don't usually write too much about our business' as this blog is a more personal space for me.  However, this week brought a new business into our lives and I thought you might enjoy experiencing it from day one!
Shall we play a guessing game?  "NAME THAT BUSINESS!"  These photos will help!

And here are the companies that we currently own/operate;

This is The Boulevard Market in downtown Tecumseh.  We are a cheese shop that also sells lots of boutique wines and specialty foods. 
Our second floor was converted from studio apartments to overnight accommodations 2 years ago and goes by the name Inn On Evans.  I've had so much fun creating a European apartment feel and hosting guests from all over the world.  The Inn overlooks the downtown and is especially charming during the holidays and winter months when the city trees are bursting with white twinkle lights and the snow is gently falling.  Our building is the center of the downtown, so it's fantastic to be able to shop the boutiques, enjoy cafes and dining or just people watch from the upper floor!

Peppalo Stone Ground Chocolate is our most recent company, launched just this spring.  We create chocolate from the cacao bean to the finished bar, completely by hand.  Created in a 13-15th century Spanish style chocolate with a bit of sugary grittiness and rustic texture, our Peppalo bars are unique and delicious. 

Four Corners Creamery is our cheese making company with production at about 1000 lbs per week of both goat and cows milk cheeses.  We  frequent several Farmers Markets throughout our area and supply to many spectacular restaurants.  John currently makes about 9 different cheeses as well as kefir, butter (if cream is available) and Greek style yogurt. 

While seeing it all at once seems overwhelming, I love my life and welcome the challenges of business and food production!  I can't imagine being happier anywhere but here. 

My newest personal project is a self-published cookbook!  I'm plugging away at it and hopefully it will be finished soon!  I'm sure you'll be the first to know!

05 November 2011

Heirloom Apples

I am an apple girl.  I like them every which way...baked, fresh, sauced, jammed and pressed.  Skin on-skin off, in stuff and on stuff.  I am always curious to sample unusual and brand new to the market.  I don't get worked up about spots or worms (unless they are 1/2 worms.....enough said) and I love the different colors of apple skins and flesh.

Macintosh had been a lifetime favorite for me, usually just for snacking.  I have sampled a fair amount of heirloom apples too, with the Northern Spy and Snow/Fameuse apples as favorites.  This year, we visited a different orchard however and I found a few varieties that I had never tried..JACKPOT!

I purchased Hudsons Golden Gem, Macoun, Sweet Alford, Karmijn de Sonnaville & Mother.  The Karmijn de Sonnaville was by far my favorite and was a beautiful russet apple.  Sweet and crisp with a thin skin.  With cheeses and good company, it was our favorite! 

The Macoun was an interesting green tinted flesh, even though the apple was perfectly ripe.  As you might have guessed, it's genes were used to create the Macintosh!  I also like the Mother apple as it's skin was beautifully golden with red splashes and it was a great balance of sweet/tart.

I've had lots of fun with apples this fall and am looking forward to creating a shared recipe for Apple Pie Jam from France!  I'll let you know how that turns out!