Chocolate Birds and Blossoms

 

Beth's been at it again. Creating something lovely - and edible too - with some simple techniques and just the right tools. Although this cake is just a small one, it was a big hit - and easy enough to put together with just a few steps.

 

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Let's all admit that for a novice, cake decorating can be daunting, especially if you've tried something fancy and been disappointed with the result; like the first time I tried to make frosting roses and ended up with something closer to chewed pink bubble gum blobs...

When it came to our Mother's Day cake, we wanted something simple yet springy.

 

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So with the addition of color and just a few chocolate shapes, Beth transformed a plain frosted cake with just enough piping frills, to a showpiece worthy to be the center of our Mother's Day Brunch table scape.

 

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Molding chocolate is a relatively easy way to make adornments for everything from cupcake toppers to gingerbread house accessories. And the best part - your guests get to eat them too! We made our birds and blossoms with decadent Belgian Callebaut Chocolate in semisweet, milk and white. They can be made days in advance of your event and when the chocolate is properly tempered, store well for later use. Our three shapes - the birds in right & left facing profiles, tree branches and petite flowers - all come on one mold sheet and make a lovely boxed chocolate gift in addition to being the perfect embellishment to our tiny cake. The fact that the chocolates are flat on one side makes them easy to press into the soft frosted wall of the cake surface and can easily be 'glued' into place with a little extra dab of frosting.

 

Callebaut Chocolate

 

White chocolates is the most versatile of the chocolate flavors in that you can add colors and literally 'paint' layers of chocolate inside the mold, allowing you to get as detailed as you like.

 

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In addition, you can use luster dust to add an extra special glimmer to your shapes and they also come in a number of colors, adding another dimension to the natural color of your chocolates.

Because cakes can be custom built with different flavors of frosting, cake and fillings, the possibilities are endless, especially when you see the selection of chocolate molds available to top them off!

Make Mom something special so she can have her cake, and eat the chocolate too!

 

By Tina LeBaron, Kitchen Store Specialist & Writer for Alaska's Best Kitchens

IMG_4933 Every now and then you come across a friend or family member at a holiday gathering who hoards their star recipe. My Aunt Sandi makes the best turtle cheesecake, but ask her to share her secret techniques and you’ll quickly learn she is prepared to take her coveted recipe to the grave. And let’s admit, no amount of harassing can stand up to her with her heavy maple rolling pin! Time and again, these traditional recipes end right along with their tight-lipped keepers. And what a shame, no one else can carry on that favorite dish.

It’s my goal to find those in our community who have outstanding recipes and are eager to share! Ralph Achenbach came into the store loving his tried and true recipes so much that, unlike Aunt Sandi, couldn’t help passing them on to an interested ear. My favorite is one his lovely wife Paula learned from an Oregon guest of theirs some 20 years ago while living remote in Copper Center, Alaska. Through the years, they’ve played with the recipe in their kitchen – making tweaks here and there to perfectly suite the tastes of their own family members.

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Ralph & Paula Achenbach shared this recipe with us.

 

This recipe is one that can turn a twenty-dollar bill into a hearty meal to feed a good-sized family, twice! - Apple, Sausage, and Potato Pie with a white cheese sauce for serving.

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The copy they sent over to me read, “2 pie crusts, just breakdown and buy the ones at the store, its easier and just as tasty. Or if you want to spend hours and hours in the kitchen and just love making pastry, go ahead and make your own.”

That was a relief for me, since I’d never made a piecrust and have been quite intimidated by the process. Sounds like I’m not alone. But our Chef Lucy wouldn’t hear of it, and taught me how to make the quickest and easiest piecrust I could’ve imagined – and it takes cream cheese (my weakness!).

You see, passing on a recipe does evoke each new cook to take liberties and add a twist here and there – not only making the borrowed recipe their own, but in turn keeping it alive for generations to come.

Apple Master
Even little kitchen helpers can use the Apple Master to peel and slice apples for pie

Apple, Sausage, & Potato Filling

1 pound         your favorite sausage (Jimmy Dean Maple is the favorite)

1 cup              onion, chopped

1/3 cup          diced celery

½ cup             chopped parsley

2                      medium apples – peeled, cored, & chopped

2                      medium potatoes – chopped

1                      medium yam – chopped

2 Tbls             maple syrup

salt & pepper to taste

IMG_4961IMG_4966Crumble sausage in skillet, and cook most of the fat out. Remove sausage from the skillet into a large mixing bowl. Sauté your onion and celery in the sausage drippings until they begin to soften. Turn off heat and add the chopped potatoes, apples, and parsley. Return sausage to the mix, stir in the maple syrup for a little stickiness, and add salt and pepper to taste. Fill piecrust with the mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

White Sauce

¼ cup             butter

3 Tbls             flour

3 cups             milk to desired thickness

1 ½ cup          cheese

1 tsp               mustard or ground mustard

dash                lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter over low heat, add the flour and whisk continuously until lightly browned. Begin adding milk until desired thickness is achieved (cheese may thin it down a bit). Add at least a 1-½ cups of cheese or more to taste. Finish the sauce off with the mustard and just a dash of lemon juice, then salt and pepper to taste.

Pie Crust

2 cups            flour

1 cup              butter - cold & cubed

6 ounces         cream cheese

1                      Egg

KitchenAid Food Processor Put the flour in your food processor and add butter. Pulse until you have course meal. Add cream cheese and pulse again until  incorporated. Next add the eggs and mix until dough comes together.

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IMG_4935 Roll out half of the dough on a floured surface. Flip the ball of dough as you go to ensure it is coated in flour and not sticking. Roll it out to approximately 1/8”.

 

 

 

 

Check that it is large enough to cover bottom and sides of your greased pie pan. Lay the dough in pie pan fitting it to the bottom and sides then cut off the edges for a perfect fit.

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PicMonkey Collage

After the filling is added, roll out the other half of dough.

IMG_4971Lightly wet the top edges of the piecrust with your fingertip. Lay it on top of the filled pie. Trim extra edges leaving enough extra to tuck under to seal the pie.

 

 

 

 

Use your pointer-finger to give the edges that nice crimped look. Make two small knife slashes in the middle to allow the steam to vent.

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Bake at 325 degrees for an hour and a half – turn up to 350 for the last half an hour if more golden browning is desired.

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Valentine's Day is nearly here, and nothing says "I love you" quite like the gift of chocolate... unless, of coarse it's home made, hand crafted, custom built chocolate, then it SCREAMS! Step aside from the big shiny heart shaped box, the foil wrapped kisses and the talking hearts. That's the easy way out, but truly, making chocolates at home isn't as hard as you may be thinking. The investment in a few tools, a little time and all that love will result in something not only beautiful, but delicious.

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The first step is deciding on your ingredients, shapes and finishes. We've found that the fine chocolate bars and callets by Belgian Chocolatiers, Callebaut, not only make an excellent choice for baking , but also create a lovely finish for molded chocolates.

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When properly tempered and cooled, this chocolate should have a nice shiny finish and comes in semi-sweet, milk and white chocolate. For our strawberry filled bon bons, we chose to start with white chocolate that we later topped off with a pink pearl edible luster dust, fine sprinkles and decorating sugars.

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There are many ways to woo with home made goodies- it's the thought that counts. After all, there's chocolate in cupcakes too!

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Heart shaped definitely counts!

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And if it matches the chocolate, it's always a good idea...

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When these tiny cocottes arrived from Staub, we immediately began compiling a list of what could be adorably baked and served in perfectly personalized servings. On the top of the list was a recipe provided by Zwilling, made specifically for these vessels, and titled "All Chocolate Cocottes". Yes, please!

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It starts and ends with smooth melted chocolate, with a lovely crust and a touch of cake-y-ness in there for texture. The only way it could be any sweeter would be to bake them in the heart shaped ceramic Staub vessels like this recipe, also from Zwilling:

https://www.staub-online.com/uk/en/recipes/mini-cocotte-recipes/ceramic-

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All Chocolate Cocottes

for 4 to 6 cocottes

Preparation time: 20 MInutes

3 eggs

4.5 oz butter + 2 oz to coat the the cocottes

4.5 oz sugar

7 oz semi sweet Callebaut Chocolate Callets

2 oz flour

.5 oz corn starch

.75 oz Powdered sugar

Cut the butter into small pieces and melt with callets in a double boiler.

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Allow 2 oz of butter to soften for coating the cocottes.

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In a bowl, mix the flour, starch and cocoa. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate and then the whole egg and beat well with a whisk.

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Incorporate the flour/ cocoa mixture into the chocolate until the batter is completely uniform. With a brush, generously butter the inside of the cocottes with the reserved butter.

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Divide the batter between the cocottes and refrigerate for atleast 30 minutes. It is even better to prepare them a day in advance.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the cocottes, unlidded for 7-8 minutes.

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Eat immediately! (yes, that is part of the recipe) Also delicious served a la mode.

A seemingly simple sweet to make for someone special, and the best part is that you don't have to share!

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recipe by Zwilling http://www.staubusa.com/#!recipes/coyy

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1

toolscopy

It's something new. Something wonderful. Something so cool, it might even change the double meaning of the word 'tool'...

Maybe it seems an impossible task- to put someone in front of Alaska's Largest Tool wall and ask them to choose just one favorite- but that's just what we've done in a new series we're calling: 'Tool Day Tuesday'.

Each week we'll introduce you to one of our lovely kitchen store specialist who will, with their experience and know how, accept the challenge to present the World's Greatest Kitchen Gadget (at least in their eyes) because when it comes to utility in the kitchen, these gals know their stuff!

First up, with a love in her heart for Chef'n's Super Tool, the Switchit- allow us to introduce Miss Beth!

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Beth loves to bake. Whether it's cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, cake pops or macarons-  if it goes in the oven, she's not only made it- she's mastered it! Trust our taste buds, it's true. She's the gal we turn to for scrumptious baked goods to fill the store with welcoming scents of sweetness.

And where there is baking, there is batter. For Beth the affection begins with how versatile a Switchit can be, and always has been, in the messiest of baking moments. Her expertise spans the evolution of the tool, from it's early design (back when they were translucent or had cut outs so you could see the strong metal core) to it's present sleekness.

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Any of the many Switchit shapes will work for cookies, cake, batters and doughs. "Being double sided, it can do two things at once- which is handy for goodies like sugar cookies, where the Switchit comes in handy for both the dough and the frosting," notes Beth. Switchits are strong in the middle so they are stiff enough to stand up to the heartiest of doughs, yet flexible enough at either end to scrape every last morsel from the bowl. And because they are made of silicone, the outside is just as tough: durable, dish washer safe and heat resistant up to 650 degrees. It's even safe on non stick cookware, which is a plus for Beth's secret savory side. We keep one of each of the Switchit Slim, Spreader and All-Purpose in the test kitchen drawer, but the shape Beth reaches for over any other scraper is the Spoon Spatula. It's an enduring love affair that extends to her own kitchen where a purple Switchit is THE go to tool.

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That's our Sweet Beth, and that's her cool tool!

rainbow

kitchencolors

As you can see from our shop selections- we LOOOOOVE colors around here. And one is NEVER enough. So, when we were dreaming up our St.Patrick's day demo treat, we knew there would be rainbows!! Oh, and that they would be covered in CHOCOLATE- just add a spoonful of gold sprinkles and tah-dah! Pot-o-gold Rainbow Cake Pops!

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Starting with a simple cake recipe, we spooned equal portions of the white batter into a muffin tin and colored them with the vibrant paste colors from CK Products. We then piped each color into the Nordic Ware cake ball pan- one at a time. You can vary the pattern, depending on what you want your bite to reveal- but for a nice rainbow, start with the deepest cool color first, squirting a small circle in the bottom, then submerge the tip of the next color into the center and squeeze a good amount into the circle, repeating until the semicircle of the pop pan is full. Don't be tempted to overfill, because you'll likely get oozies, like these, which look amazing, but can potentially empty half of your batter spectrum, leaving just BIV while ROY G puffs out the top...

oozies

And on the inside- lift the top half of the pan to reveal something resembling a Nerf ball!

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Notice the residual color in the pan- that is why a light coat of Vegalene Spray in between each batch of cake balls is essential for quick release, otherwise the reveal finds that half of your ball is still stuck in the top half of the pan, and the rest in the bottom, which can still be 'glued' together with a swipe of chocolate before dipping.

Once the cake is cooled, melt a small amount of chocolate (we used Callebaut Semi-Sweet Callets) to secure your sticks. By dipping the tip of each stick before you push it into the cake ball, you get a better anchor in the cake and there's less chance you'll lose your ball in the dipping process.

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We've found it helpful to pop the pops into the freezer at this point to firm up the cake and to solidify the stick. Using a Rose double boiler, we melt enough chocolate to submerge the entire ball so that it gets a nice even coat of chocolate that covers all the way to the top of the cake/stick joint. For these particular pops we then set the pop down on a sheet of parchment- top down- to create a flat surface, which later becomes the top of the pot when it cools. Gently peel the solidified pops from the parchment for their second dipping into white chocolate and third dip into the gold sprinkles. Serve stick side down in a cup of granulated sugar.

What seems to be a simple pot o gold, reveals a surprisingly colorful center that only gets better with each bite!!

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LUCKY YOU!

1

Alaska Flour Company has the best dessert recipes for their Barley Flour, so we borrowed one and made it, 2 WAYS.

Because Halloween fell in the middle of the week, we decided to make these seasonal delights two ways to show how versatile a treat the bars can be. And now that pumpkin carving is over, pumpkin eating is in full swing!! We wanted to use fresh pumpkin puree in our bars, and the BRK Pressure Cooker was just the tool to help us make our own in a hurry. It's so easy, and fast, and depending upon the size of your pumpkin, makes enough puree to freeze for future entertaining opportunities!

Just cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the 'guts'

place the steaming basket in the bottom of the pressure cooker, add water and seal the top. Bring the cooker up to pressure as directed and cook for 5 minutes. Release the steam, and tahdah! The flesh of the pumpkin should just fall out of the shell! 2 cups is all you need for each recipe, so we sealed up the rest in 2 cup portioned ziplocs.

Depending upon how you wish to top your bars, plan ahead enough to be able to make either your chocolate spiders of pinecones prior to serving.

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup melted butter
2 cups Alaska Flour Company barley flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. milk
Preheat oven to 325. Cream  eggs and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients in the order given. Beat until well mixed. Pour into greased & floured 9x13 pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick.
Courtesy of Alaska Flour Company


For spiders: Melt chocolate & fill piping bag fit with a small round tip. Pipe four sets of legs onto a silpat or parchment, pipe large circle for body and small circle for head. Optional: use white chocolate to pipe eyes onto front of head, or designs into abdomen. Chill in freezer until ready to use.


Alternate topping: Melt 1 C butterscotch chips & 1 C milk chocolate callets, smooth over top. Melt white chocolate callets and fill piping bag fitted with a small round tip.

Pipe concentric circles on still melted top layer forming several ‘webs’. Using a toothpick or tip of a sharp knife, drag tip from center to last ring, radiating out, repeat 5-6 times around circles, spacing evenly to create web. Place spiders randomely amongs webs. Allow top to cool, use a sharp knife to cut and serve.


For Chocolate Pinecones: Use left over cake, brownies or ganache truffle center, formed into a ball about the size of a marble. Press sliced almonds into the ball, starting with small pieces at the center top and fan out to bottom. Place in fridge to firm.

Melt dark chocolate, using a dipping tool, dip ‘cones’- submerging completely. Gently tap excess chocolate from the cone and lay to cool on a silpat mat. The dipping tools proved to be essential here, as circular one craddles the cones and allows excess chocolate to drip off, and the two and three prong dipping forks are perfect for scooting the cone onto the parchment and positioning it upright so that it can cool with out smashing one side.

To garnish: lay thin mini pretzel sticks on top of frosted bars, or curl chocolate into ‘bark’. Pipe green pine needles onto stems, top with a pine cone.


Tools needed:
Decorating tips and bags            Pressure Cooker
Rose Double Boiler                       Silpat Mat or Parchment
Dipping Tool Set                           Electric Mixer

The purpose of the first few weeks of the Dessert Shop Demos is to present ideas, methods and recipes for treats and desserts that could be shared at a holiday party or served at home for entertaining- so, this week's theme in particular is CAKE!!

And since it's fall, we chose a blend of delicious flavors- and cooked them up in a seasonally relevant shape- hence the Cocoa Apple Jack-o-lantern Mini Bundts! This can also be done full size if you prefer to make just one- but be sure to chill your cakes enough to have a sturdy base before you frost.

The recipe is a family favorite from our own staff, and legend has it- even earned it's share of blue ribbons at the Alaska State Fair!

Ingredients:
3 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 cup water

2 1/2 cups flour

2 Tbs cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 cup nuts (optional)

1/2 cup Callebaut Chocolate Callets

1 tsp vanilla

2 or 3 peeled grated apples

large pretzel rods

Core apples and slice into quarters. Process in a food processor, using the grater blade, set aside. In a large glass bowl, beat eggs, sugar, butter, and water until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. Slowly add dry mix to creamed mixture, stirring with wooden spoon until well blended. Add apple, nuts, chocolate callets and vanilla. Stir until all is combined.
Scoop batter into Nordic Ware mini bundt pan, prepared with a coat of Vegalene spray in each cavity. Fill only 3/4 full, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Bake 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes- use a bundt cake tester to assure middle is cooked through. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a baking rack, 5 minutes. Place rack on top of pan, grasp handles against rack firmly, flip and gently shake until cakes release from pan. Allow to cool completely, trim bottom edge with a serrated knife for flat, stackable surface. Store in fridge up to 24 hours before assembly.

Frosting:
8 ounce cream cheese
4 Tbs butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cream softened cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar one cup at a time, beat on high to combine. Flip one cake on its top, coat with frosting and top with a second cake.

Frost outside of cake, smoothing from bottom to top to create 'ridges' with an offset spatula.

Press a pretzel rod through the center, and pipe green vines and leaves at the base.

If desired, pipe chocolate faces on to parchment and allow to cool and press onto frosting, or pipe directly onto pumpkin surface.

Spooktacular!

Courtesy of Midge Blake & Vicky Barbachano

Tools needed:                                

Food Processor                    Electric Beaters
Large Glass Bowl                 Vegalene Spray
Mini Bundt Pan                   Offset Spatula
Wooden Spoon                    Bundt Cake Tester

Other great seasonal cake and treat ideas:

Buche De Thanksgiving: AKA the delicious Cream Cheese Pumpkin Roll

Spice Cake Pops with White Chocolate and Graham Cracker, Pistachio, Toffee, Granola, and or Sprinkle toppings.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Centered Frogs

Left Over Trick-or-Treat Candy Bars ( Have you tried a handful of candy corn mixed with a handful of salty peanuts? It's devine!!)

Though there is a nip in the air, the trees are donning shades of gold, and shelves of picnic supplies are being replaced by Thanksgiving necessities, it's not too late to do some outdoor cooking.

For example, we recently made the most of the giant outdoor tent that was still up at the store

and created a mini lunch-time slider grilling station to celebrate a coworkers birthday.

Sure the burgers were bite-size, but the flavors were spectacular!

We prepared herbed mayonnaise, spiced ketchup, sliced veggies, grilled onions, pickles, & gourmet cheese and then let the guests design their own flavor combinations.

The results were dazzling to look at, and delicious to bite, even if it was just once or twice!

AS for your own outdoor cooking adventures, here's our list of must-have tools for late season grilling:

The iGrill Wireless Thermometer: Don't let the weather stop you- this new smart thermometer uses an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch- just like everyone else- to keep you up to date on the progress of whatever you've got grilling- which kicks it up to 'Smarty Pants' Thermometer in our opinion. With the free app you can stay cozy and warm inside (up to 200 feet) and your device will alert you when your food has reached it's target temperature.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEFntbudC6k?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Emile Henry Grilling/Baking Stone: Turns your grill grate into a flat surface perfect for grilling vegetables or pizzas. Check out this amazing video to see just how versatile it really is...

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDwdQDfC4eA?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

The Nordic Ware Cheese Dome: Pair this with the Grilling Stone and expect more of your dairy products while not compromising the doneness of your food items.

Viking BBQ Sauce: Trust us- it has all the right stuff to amp up your grilled flavors. Great on just about anything... Ribs, pulled pork, BBQ pizza, roasted chicken, hamburgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, moose burgers- hey, it is Alaska hunting season after all.

And the best part about all these tools is that they can be used indoors as well, so there's no need to pack up and store them away for the winter- so get grillin' while the grillin's good!

Admission. When a friend of mine recently suggested that I could benefit from watching a documentary she had seen, the title made me wonder whether she was pulling my leg - or putting me down. It's called 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead'- and if you haven't seen it, you should (don't take it personal).  All programs, products and people aside, it will- at very least- open your eyes to the world of juicing...

Let's just say that the scene where the Micro-nutrients save the day by busting up the evil Toxins and shining up the Cells until they sparkled and smiled with little *blings* and tiny shouts of joy, was enough to propel me out of bed the following morning so that I too could be a juicer!

Now this isn't just any plop-from-the-concentrate-can kind of juice; no, Sir, we're talking straight from the veg-home-squeezed-nutrient-rich, frothingly fresh JUICE. (WHAAAAAAAAH)

But something that potent can't just be coaxed from a carrot with a reamer. It takes muscle to get to all that goodness. Enter the OMEGA VRT330!

A literal juicing powerhouse masticating machine that gobbles up your fresh produce and spits it out; pulp goes one way, juice, vitamins and micro-nutrients go the other.

Sure, I've had fresh juice before. My first juicer was actually a ten ton (not really, just very sturdy, with reason) - big mouthed - centrifugal juice extractor.

Basically it has a huge plate with sharp teeth which revs up with jet engine spinning speed and flings the chomped up fruit and veggies against a screen that forces the juices to shoot out down a tube to your glass- phew!

It works great for small batches, but once the cavity is full, you have to stop the machine, empty it out and carry on. Plus, a lot of juice is left in the shreds of the fruits and vegetables, and the softer the fruit, the more moosh and mess.

A masticating juicer, on the other hand, has an auger that presses the fruits and veggies against a fine screen, squeezing the maximum amount of juice from the food at a slow rate, allowing the good stuff to stay together in a thick yummy liquid.

You will notice the label on the first picture with two juice glasses, one frothy and thick, the other separated- that's the difference slow juicing makes.

While this looks like separation, it's actually the layers of flavors. This recipe combines fruit and vegetables, adding nutrients from the greens, and blending them with the sweetness of carrot and apple juice. Yum!

Now remember, I'm no expert. My experience is more like 'experimence' and as far as the nutritional value, well all I know is that it just feels good and somewhere deep inside I can hear my tiny cells cheering little hoooorahs. So here are some tips and random learned bits, just in case your just embarking on your own juice journey...

SUGGESTIONS:

Consider flavor combinations before you start- just randomly adding any and all produce from the fridge can be disastrous: onion-kale-tomato-beet-cabbage juice is not as savory and delicious as I had expected, but did add a nice flavor to a noodley soup dish....

Set up your juicing station before you start. Having a cutting board, knife, juice catcher, spill wiper and all the parts to your juicer ready to go will allow you to continuously feed the fruits in to the juicer with out stops and starts. Don't underestimate the Pusher, he's the MVP of this process and the only one- besides the food- that should be going down that feeder chute- so keep him on your side if you want to keep all your fingers.

Juice in order of hardness: soft foods first, with more dense or crisp to follow so that the the second can press the first through. Same goes for greens. Since they tend to be thin and light, they sometimes get caught up in the feeder chute and mouth of the juicer, so a good solid carrot or apple can help them down into the auger. Also, if you are doing a stringy fruit or vegetable (like celery, pineapple or ginger) save it for the second to last. The fibers tend to back up the ejector, so if you send it through with a nice dense item chasing it, you shouldn't get backed up.

Fruits with higher water content can be sent through more than once to maximize juice extraction. This would include things like melon, citrus, etc. Just catch the pulp as it comes out the ejector and drop it back in the top feeder. You can feel in the pulp when it gets to the 'dry', juice-less stage.

If you are adding citrus, remove the peel first. It will come out of the machine fine, but can add bitterness to the juice. Small wedges of lemon, lime or grapefruit can add just enough zing to any combination and ginger brings a good kick to just about everything!

Don't try juicing bananas... nor avocados. If you need the flavor or texture, juice the other items and blend them together in a blender. Or, if you have an immersion blender, use its beeker to catch your juice, then blend in soft items with the stick to avoid the extra heat a blender may create.

Ponder the usefulness of all that beautiful pulp. Depending on your flavor combo- you can save it to add texture to muffins, heartiness to soups or color to your compost pile!