Truffles and a chickadee with a beard
Wednesday March 21st 2012, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes,Wildlife

First, the chocolate.

About 25 years ago, when we’d just moved here, some friends dragged us over to a new shop at Stanford Mall with, You’ve got to try this!

That was the first time we heard the word truffles being used to describe something that was most definitely not a mushroom.

Cocolat was wildly popular, several other shops followed, and then a fire at the central bakery shut the business down, a still-lamented loss.

Alice Medrich, the owner, wrote several dessert books after that; Cocolat‘s  photos were an immediate delight to the locals–oooh, I remember that! And that!

She mentioned in her writing that when she’d first opened up, she’d started off making the truffles far too big but by the time she realized that, her customers were used to buying them that way and so, big they’d stayed.

I well remember that. That was what we’d been told we had to try and what we’d come back for for special occasions.

After Steve finished his first truffle last night, he mentioned (clearly not minding overly) that they were too big.

He couldn’t know I was thrilled nor why.

But he and she were both right: because a chocolate truffle should be small enough that you don’t have to hold it melting in your hand as you take several bites to get through the whole thing; too messy. Small is good.

I thought of that today as I decided to experiment with Michelle’s coconut cream. Could I make good dairy-free truffles?

One 6.8 oz box of that cream, a small one for the learning experience. I melted in 300 g of dark chocolate (I was determined to measure carefully this time.)

I just finished rolling small (!) balls of that now-chilled coconut ganache in my Bergenfield cocoa. The coconut taste is very minor in the background; the chocolate totally rules. The texture is just right. Nailed it.

There you go–I found it. That’s a bigger box than mine but a much better price than Amazon’s. Note that the shipping price is the same for one or ten and one of those big boxes is the right size for making two chocolate tortes. Just sayin’.

And the chickadee? You’re looking at the top of its head straight on at the camera at the bottom of the picture.

Last year my friend Kathy gave me a bagfull of soft fur combed from her dog and I set some out where the birds could take it for their nests. The Bewick’s wren appropriated an impressive amount at the Fall equinox: as Glenn Stewart of SCPBRG explains, bird behaviors at that time often somewhat mimic those of the Spring equinox, when the number of daylight hours vs dark is again equal.

So. There was a little dog fur left, and I had tufts of it set out among my amaryllis pots.

I looked up today to see what looked like a chickadee with a very furry blonde beard. She was diving into the fluff again and again, trying to get as much as her beak could hold.

And then she was off.

I went and got my hairbrush and pulled the last two days’ hair out of it; I was curious to see if I might be as acceptable as the dog. I went back to the patio, gathered up all the dog fluff in one amaryllis pot and put the hair with it.

More ! All in one place! Cool! She came back and her bill dove into it again and again, each time looking up and around to be safe in her surroundings: down, quickly up and left, right, down, peck, quickly up, left, right.

It took her a minute or two to be satisfied with her haul. She took to the air.

She seemed to have felted the dog fur into my long curled hairs with all those bobbings up and down: she flew in an uncertain wobble, as if the wind against her treasure was almost too much.

That little chickadee had a streamer of blond fur three chickadees wide and three chickadees long flowing proudly along behind her, like a small plane with a particularly large banner for the cheering crowd below.

7 Comments so far
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And you didn’t use any of that soft fur for knitting?

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 03.22.12 @ 5:59 am

All that truffle talk has me salivating!!

And it sounds like that little bird knew all about needle, uhm, beak felting…awesome. 🙂

Comment by karin maag-tanchak 03.22.12 @ 7:10 am

Gee,it’s too bad that I don’t care for coconut.

Comment by Don Meyer 03.22.12 @ 9:08 am

it’s nice that my dog’s shedding season coincides so well with the birds’ nest building season — I take her out on the patio and comb her — birds in our neighborhood have soft gray lab down to line their nests with

Comment by Bev 03.22.12 @ 9:46 am

I always clean out Sissy’s brush in the middle of the yard, where the wind can carry her downy undercoat somewhere useful…

I can’t wait to try my hand at coconut milk truffles!

Comment by Channon 03.22.12 @ 10:31 am

I am going to have to try those truffles. A friend puts all her thread, yarn bits, and fabric trimmings in a mesh produce bag, then hangs it out for the birds to pilfer. She hasn’t found a wildly colorful nest yet, but the bits are taken away.

Comment by DebbieR 03.22.12 @ 12:59 pm

This reminded me to look out the window and see if the fistful of spinning bits had been taken from where I tucked it in on the feeder pole – yep! It sure is spring!

Comment by twinsetellen 03.24.12 @ 5:20 am

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