Friday, April 29, 2011

Top 5 Californian Chocolatiers for Mother's Day

Spring has finally sprung. I'm starting to see the signs around Lake Tahoe. No bright splashes of flowers or birds yet. But the sun is warmer during the day and opening windows to doing feng shui inside and outside is on my mind. While fresh seasonal vegetables, fruits, and salads are stuffed in my fridge, I've got chocolate--the good stuff-on the brain. Blame it on the upcoming New Moon and Mother's Day. Both events can play games on feelings during a time of renewal.
I've been busy at work on my new Healing Powers book (a surprise superfood); and The Healing Powers of Honey (both published by Kensington Books) is due out in September. So, these are my new kids (sort of). And my new blue-eyed male Siamese cat, Zen is doing magic with my Brittany duo. Next Sunday, it's time to celebrate the popular holiday to show sweet appreciation for nurturing caretakers. Welcome to the Golden State's gourmet chocolate....People often ask me, the author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate, "What's the best chocolate brand?" Well, here is a quick glance at some of my fave chocolatiers in Napa, the SF Bay Area, and Santa Cruz--just in the nick of time for you and/or the mom (to two or four-leggers) in your world... Annette's Chocolates : Truffles, creams, chews, nuts, and assorted specialities, plus chocolate sauces infused with cabernet, port wine, and amaretto, are just some of the goodies that locals and tourists can and do enjoy. CocoaBella Chocolates: If you love chocolate, you'll love the wide array of chocolates, chocolate-flavored coffees, hot chocolates, and more. Guittard Chocolate Company: This long-time chocolate company offers healthful 71 and 91 percent 2-ounce chocolate bars. It also has Single-Origin & Blended Bars. Recchiuti Confections: At Recchiuti they infuse a variety of chocolates, pairing them with an adventurous spectrum of flavors, from Bergamot Tea, Lemon Verbena, and Spring Jasmine Tea. Their distinctive confections contain the finest herb, nut, and fruit essences in surprising combinations. Richard Donnelly Chocolates: Their dark chocolate sea salt caramel bars dipped in premium Valrhona bittersweet blend are 100 percent bliss, as are their truffles.
One more thing. To celebrate my late mother, I made a Boston cream cake (she did the classic "pie" from scratch). However, while I turned to a store bought butter loaf cake and instant pudding with fresh organic milk, it was the dark chocolate chips from Ghirardelli from San Francisco that made this decadent chocolate dessert work with some healthy virtues. Its 21st century wonders made me feel like a female octopus busy at motherhood and work. (I inherited the Type A thing from my mom. Hope she's converted to Type B in Parent Heaven. I'm still working on it. "Zen. Hey Zen...")

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Down-to-Earth Intuitive Dishes It Out This Week

I'm sensing the Golden State is on a roll...

By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet

This week before Easter you'd think I'd be busy in the kitchen. Not so much. The truth of the matter is, I'm getting over losing my seismically sensitive cat Kerouac (his nine lives ran out). And my Brittany duo is trying to get acclimated to Zen--my new Siamese-mix kitty who I rescued and he rescued me back. But the companion animal crisis that rocked my world isn't all...

Speaking of rocking, there is a mega sierra earthquake swarm happening as I type--and it's happening south of me at Lake Tahoe. (Click your mouse on that link and see the map. Callie and her seismic sentries are in the big circle!) Yep, Hawthorne, Nevada (near the dormant volcanoes) has been shaking it up with more than 500 earthquakes in the recent weeks this month. And this is bigger than the 2008 Verdi-Mogul/Reno quake swarm that ended up rattling my cabin at 11:45 PM, April 25. Of course, Kerouac sensed it before and gave me a head's up, as well as my two Brittanys acting out (rough housing and being Velcro pooches). And we're getting a repeat. My blue-eyed Zen (I know, I know how New Age is that) is vocalizing up a storm and is oh so affectionate (it's only been 5 days! and he's sticking to me like glue). Here come the tremors...
Tomorrow I'm going to be a guest once again on The Mancow Show. Topic? The sierra quake swarm, especially while scientists are "concerned" and their instrumenets are all over the shaky region! After all, I did tell Mancow on the last show after the Japan catastrophe(s) that our Golden State was next in line... But why does it have to be so close to home?
As an article is running right now about my confessions of a phone psychic (featured on MyDaily) you'd think I'd know the answer, right? Wrong. Sometimes, when intuitives are too close to a topic the read is fuzzy. So, I say flip a coin. The next significant shaker could hit in the Sierra south or north of me, the SF Bay Area, SoCal, or even Offshore NorCal. But I--the author-intuitive--can tell you this: as I penned in Oracle 20/20 Magazine, January issue, 2011 Forecasts, California is going to rock and roll. Count on it. I don't need tarot cards to confirm this prediction. (I randomly picked the temperance card for this post--which I just realized deals with loss and that is too spooky. So, the next card that came up was the strength card which is more positive and tells me, a Californian living on shaky ground to be prepared.)
P.S. For serious foodies who wanted a yummy Easter recipe for The Writing Gourmet, do as I do during shaky times: Detox diet. That means fresh fruit, veggies, brown rice, herbal tea, and water (one dark chocolate truffle per day). And pet the cat and dog(s) for comfort. Repeat as needed during turbulent times.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottoncat and Enjou Chocolat

As a Catholic girl, I have always loved Easter--a time of renewal. When I was a kid, my mom would make a mega ordeal out of the holiday. After Sunday mass, she'd bake a honeyed ham, sweet potatoes, greens, and a vanilla and lemon filled bunny coconut cake. Not to forget my dad who always gave me and my siblings Easter baskets full of chocolates--eggs and bunnies. And, of course, we colored boiled eggs and hid them around the house and backyard.
This year, I'm starting to think about Easter baskets. Making one at home can work but so can getting a ready-made basket (or other holiday goodies) at Enjou Chocolat. I glanced at the array of Easter treats and this Easter basket would make bunnies around the globe smile. Enjou Easter Basket includes a large floppy-eared chocolate bunny, jelly bean carrot, Enjoy connoisseur collection of chocolates, 1/2 pound solid milk chocolate eggs, and more. It doesn't get much better than that...
But there is an exception. Tomorrow, the Easter Bunny is coming early for me. I pray that God's feline creature is a purr-fect fit for both of us. And something is telling me that this new kitty on its way may make the upcoming days this spring wonderful and full of life. And if my intuition pans out, an Easter basket will be an ideal way to celebrate the ressurection of a cat in my cabin to help fill the huge void of my beloved Kerouac (my muse and beloved cat companion whom recently used up his ninth life), one of the feline loves in my life. Here comes Peter Cottoncat and chocolate. "Here comes Peter Cottoncat hopping down the kitty trail..."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RIP Kerouac

Yes, Kerouac, there are birds, Brittanys, mice and sunshine in cat heaven.

P.S. I will always love you, my dear sweet cat companion. You were a multi-faceted creature with an uncanny sixth sense. It will take an extraordinary feline to fill your paws. Thank you for being patient when raising my two dogs; sensing oncoming earthquakes and storms with me; our dangling conversations; keeping my lap warm when I penned articles and books; relaxing me during radio shows; purring me to sleep; and using your gentle paw to ask me if you could share my cereal and milk in the morning. I enjoyed our last bittersweet days together. You were the fearless one this morning in bed when you told me it was time to go for dignity's sake. I promise not to cry too much (I'm lying but you surely sense that, right?). Your cat trees, cat nappers, and aquariums are empty. There is a void in the house. I miss your even tempered presence that gave me balance. We'll reconnect in my dreams, my friend. Catch a mouse for me.