Today is a busy day. The kitchen will be in full swing as I  can apples, jalapenos and bake. There’s lots of excitement also because it is my husbands birthday. Aryanna is in West Virginia this morning at the Apple Butter Festival, toughing it out in the rain. Her and my mother went to meet and check out a breeder yesterday in the area and decided to spend the night and go to the festival today, even if there is a hurricane. I was supposed to go with them but had wicked hormonal nausea for a few days and it just wasn’t a good time for me to travel. My poor daughter has awful IBS at times and spent her whole night last night in the bathroom at their hotel room. They were hoping to walk the town since they knew today would be rainy, so we all felt horrible when she started having issues. I was thankful that they didn’t come back last night since they would have been stopping on the side of the road for her to “go”. I think we both ate too many spice cookies (made with a heaping amount of molasses) and topped them off with banana bread, because by last night I was having quite similar issues! It’s just too hard to resist when there’s a jar of cookies sitting there on the counter and I just happen to be working in the kitchen all day. Their soft, alluring spice-goodness call me….  I digress. Aryanna will be home by mid afternoon and we are going to decorate and prepare for a birthday party. I think she has big plans!

I just finished chopping apples. I have 25 pounds to process in the next day before I get more. That’s several hours worth of peeling and chopping since I’m working alone. Once they are chopped and cooking slow over the burner I move onto other things. I’m in the process of perfecting tempering chocolate for chocolate bark and candies. I’m working to avoid any bloom and also achieving the perfect snap. It’s a science because there are different types of crystal formations when the chocolate is setting up. There is only one type of crystal structure that leaves you with an amazing chocolate bark or candy. Anything else will set up soft, off flavored, or you will wake up to chocolate “bloom” the day after you make it. I am also considering working with cocoa nibs since they are a sugar free option and have a deep, mature chocolate flavor when used in baking.

So when I’m done typing I am moving onto chocolate bark tests. My goal is to create the perfect chocolate bark and then add in additions such as my dried ghost peppers, habaneros and scotch bonnets. Another awesome topping for the bark is candied pecans, and even better when its candied pecans topped on ghost pepper bark. Oh, how good they are! I wish I could eat pecans and chocolate without suffering the consequences!

Another thing I’m processing on this rainy Saturday is Jalapeno Jelly. I was hoping to do ghost pepper jelly but the process of working with ghost peppers for jelly is tremendous amount of work and the day is already quite busy. I am so very thankful that my garden continues to grow and I continue to find blossoms on my dozens of very large pepper plants! This week my paprika plants are maturing and the scotch bonnets are getting ready to turn red. When I planted the seeds I estimated that by my husbands birthday we would start to see red scotch bonnets. They started turning red 3 days ago!

Those scotch bonnets are special plants for a few reasons.  I had started some from purchased seeds this past spring. When they were just about ready to be put in pots they were scorched by the sun on a day I was not home. I was upset, but I had a lot of seeds from last years plants that I could try planting. However, I did not know if they would germinate because I ran them through the dehydrator. Turns out, they were viable seeds and every one of them grew into lovely, huge fruit bearing plants! The little scotch bonnet peppers are exactly like last years and look wonderful! So, my award winning scotch bonnets from last year produced good seeds! I have always saved seeds, but did not have faith that my scotch bonnets would reproduce. My mistake! Here are some pictures I took the other night of the plants I started by seed late in the seed starting season! I’m excited to dry and grind my own paprika soon!



I’m off to start the chocolate tempering & prep for jalapeno jelly!




A Birthday & A Busy Saturday

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