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Celebrate your heritage or simply be Irish for the day and savor Irish Soda IMG_3196Bread.  This nourishing family tradition is served in our home for St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, or anytime a hearty bread is desired.  It’s perfect spread with butter to accompany soups and stews, for a snack or lunch topped with a slab of cheese, or with butter and jam and a hot cup of tea.  Try making a loaf- you’ll surprise yourself how quick and easy it is to make a good looking, satisfying  bread your friends and family will love!

*4 cups unbleached white flour         IMG_3172IMG_3164

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients together.  Be sure your baking soda is fresh.   I replace mine often, and put the used box to good use as a cleaner.  Add the buttermilk and stir together quickly till dough forms a ball. Don’t worry if all of the flour doesn’t mix in.   Knead the dough and any remaining flour on lightly floured counter 8-10 times till smooth.  Smooth side up, place the dough in buttered 9 inch pie pan (you may of course use a buttered baking sheet – the pie plate for me is more of a guide for a round loaf).  Pat it down a bit.  Slash the dough with a knife, making a cross with 2 cuts.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. It will be nicely brown sometime before the 45 minutes, regardless I don’t pull it out earlier than 45 minutes nor do I bake it beyond 50 minutes.

The first quarter always disappears quickly!

The first quarter always disappears quickly!

*4 cups of whole wheat flour may be used but I have found a 50-50 mix is best if whole wheat is desired.   Although most of my family members favor whole wheat bread in general- they prefer white flour in their Soda Bread.

Despite what one might suspect about winter life on an island off the coast of New England,

    Baby Love.  Photo taken by Lynn Christoffers

Baby Love. Photo taken by Lynn Christoffers

we have been busy here at Enchanted Chocolates.  True, busy braving the many nor’easters but also preparing for the upcoming season by making lots of new chocolate treats.  Most importantly we’ve been happily occupied with the new addition to our family, Finnegan Edward Roland, born January 18th to Amandine and Louis Hall.  Amandine, as Hatchery Manager of Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group, is also responsible for spawning the delicious island scallops, oysters and clams we all enjoy.  My son Louis  is a teacher at the M.V. Charter School, owner of Anything Apple, and aso known to many  as the “chocolate guy” at the West Tisbury Farmers Market.  Their delightful pirate baby has captured our hearts and rules our days.  He reigns in the chocolate kitchen as head Ooompa Loompa and muse, enchanting us all.

Finnegan and his Rainbows.  Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Finnegan and his Rainbows. Photo by Lynn Christoffers

He recently inspired Finnegan’s Rainbow Nonpareils, our fun and colorful version of the classic confection.  The color combination was perfected by namesake and great-grandfather Edward Cowley and grandmother while Finnegan, Uncle Brian and great-grandmother oversaw production.  Four generations at home together, creating, working, playing in the kitchen.   Sometimes dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

On island this weekend?  Don’t miss the great food & music at the Shellfish Extravaganza & Chowder Contest this Saturday, April 20th, 7 to 10 at the Chilmark Community Center.  All proceeds go to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group.

Contact Lynn Christoffers when in need of a great photographer- she specializes in babies and pets.  508-696-4920

Vesta of the Great Hole in the Wall, aka Smudge.  Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Vesta of the Great Hole in the Wall, aka Smudge. Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Another snow storm?!  Why we haven’t shoveled thoroughly out from last week’s blizzard. Chase the blues away and Bake Apple Crisp- its sweet scent alone wafting through the house is the perfect remedy for winter doldrums.  My mother, Bette Cowley always knew how to lift our spirits during the long icy winters of upstate New York.  We lived in apple country so luckily we were treated to this often.  She makes the best and this is her recipe which she gave to me when I was a young mother.  It is my go to recipe to celebrate autumn, when the crisp fall air beckons cozy thoughts and heartier foods.  Most importantly I bake it to soothe the soul and ease cabin fever in the dead of winter.  The topping is not one of those often served soggy crisps but is a firm, spicy spread, the perfect contrast to the soft warm apples below.

If you live in apple country buy a half peck of  Northern Spy, an heirloom variety which is my mom’s baking apple of choice.  Otherwise Jonagold or Cortland are fine baking apples.   Apples, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon are all foods used to promote love, peace & happiness- especially important with a house full of winter weary people!

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Cortland apples

Bette Cowley’s Apple Crisp

7-8 apples

1 cup unbleached flour  or use a 1/2 cup of both unbleached and wheat

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 8 oz. stick of butter

Start with 7-8 apples for a 9 inch pan.  Peel, core and slice in chunks, use enough apples to roundly fill the pan.  If you have the time, prepare the Crisp with extra love and care.    Focus and peel the apple in one continuous circle, thinking good thoughts and wishes for each of those you’ll be serving.

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Mound the apples a bit.

Mix together the dry ingredients.  Then add the egg, it will appear lumpy and inconsistent- no worries- that’s the way its supposed to be.  Spread the dry mixture over the apples.  Melt a stick of butter and drizzle all around.  Bake at 350 35-45 minutes, till the majority of the topping is firm to the touch and a nice golden brown.  This recipe can be easily doubled for a larger pan.   Serve warm.  For added pleasure add a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side- the melted ice cream and toasty apples make a delectable combination for the senses.

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 So when the wind is howling and the winter blues are knocking on your door- lavish your friends and family with Bette Cowley’s Apple Crisp.   They’ll know they are loved.

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Hanging in the kitchen.

Thank you Mom for the countless marvelous meals you’ve made for us all these many years.  I love you too.

Baby it’s cold outside- so make a cup of steamy hot chocolate  to warm and satisfy the soul!

Enchanted Chocolates' ground 70% cacao chocolate

Enchanted Chocolates’ ground 70% cacao chocolate

It’s fun and so easy to do.  Start with a good quality chocolate bar- a higher cacao will make a richer, more chocolatey flavor.  Finely chop or grate 2-4 ounces (per cup of milk) according to your taste.  Heat milk in a small sauce pan or preferably double boiler till hot – don’t let it boil though.  Add the chocolate and stir with a spoon till smooth.  Try a whisk for a lovely froth.  Pour and enjoy!

Feeling creative?  Hot chocolate blends well with so many flavors, be original and make it your own special potion.

-Scrape out the seeds of a vanilla bean and add .

-Try adding a splash of your favorite liqueur- I love Chambord, Grand Marnier or Ammaretto.

-For added richness mix a small amount of cream with the milk.

-Go Mexican- add ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick- remove stick before serving.

-Add Chinese 5 Spice for a tasty Asian flair.

-Valentine’s Day is coming, make a love spell hot chocolate- add cinnamon and  cardamom with the chocolate- all considered aphrodisiacs.  Your lover will love you for it!

-Add crushed peppermint stick for the perfect snowy day cup of hot chocolate.

-Is Chocolat one of your favorite books?  Make your own magick taking a cue from the beautiful, haunting Vianne Rocher.  Add a cinnamon stick, a seeded hot chili pepper and vanilla bean to the heating milk.  Remove all before serving.

A freshly made batch of Keep It Real Hot Chocolate in the Bialetti Hot Chocolate Maker ;)

A freshly made batch of Keep It Real Hot Chocolate in the Bialetti Hot Chocolate Maker ;)

Please note- Hot chocolate and hot cocoa are 2 entirely different beverages, although the terms are unfortunately interchanged often.   I much prefer the richness and depth of hot chocolate (made with melted chocolate) versus hot cocoa which is made with sugar and cocoa powder.  In my opinion the author Shirley Jackson put it best when she said  “Cocoa? Cocoa! Damn miserable puny stuff, fit for kittens and unwashed boys. Did Shakespeare drink cocoa?”

If you find yourself making lots of hot chocolate you might want to consider buying a Bialetti Hot Chocolate Maker & Milk Frother.  Simply add milk and chocolate, turn it on and in five minutes you’ll have a great frothy cup of deliciousness.  Included is a frothing paddle which I’ve never felt the need to use as am I more than satisfied with the amount of fluffy light froth it creates without the additional paddle.  I use it with our Enchanted Chocolates’ Keep It Real Hot Chocolate regularly, making 2 8 oz. cups at a time- much more and it can splash out near the end of the heating cycle.  Despite this limitation I recommend it for its’ ease of use and cleaning.

Even Pirate Queens love hot chocolate!

Even Pirate Queens love hot chocolate!

This machine is great but if you’re making a seductive love spell  or simply a cup full of love for your family you’ll want to do it the old fashioned way- in the sauce pot with a spoon.  Stir deosil (clockwise) and with each stir focus and impart your love and energy.   Pour and serve with a kiss!

Blog? Me? No way!  Blogging has been something I knew I should be doing but have avoided like the plague, kicking and screaming.  As a small business owner, New Moon Magick-Enchanted Chocolates, I’m already crazy busy with advertising, social media and websites.    Never mind making the chocolates, potions, researching vintage jewelry, shipping, running the shop and an Open Market.

So why today?  I wasn’t sure exactly what inspired this morning epiphany, so I checked out the words of Arlan Wise, one of my 2 favorite island astrologers.   Aha, it all makes sense.   Moon is in Virgo (a Mercury ruled day) and Mercury just went direct!  Mercury rules communication, commerce, thinking and going direct is a time for launching new projects. Thanks for that clarification Arlan!  Check out her monthly forecast at http://www.arlanwise.com  She lives up to her name.

In all honesty, there is 1 more factor I should mention- my chocolate cauldron is nearly empty and no deliveries till later today.   Only 40 lbs of chocolate at hand tweaks  my sense of security, peace of mind.   Less than 20 lbs. in the kitchen absolutely drives me to distraction and beyond, in this case to blogging.

So here’s to Mercury direct, facing a long avoided endeavor and sharing my varied interests with old and new friends and to the occasional bare cupboard!

Now off to make the Butter Crunch :)

http://newmoonmagick.net

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