September 25, 2011
I stayed up late last night preparing samples of the new Flax Snack Bar that my friend and I created together. I had spent a few hours over at her place the night before. We created quite the mess in the kitchen experimenting with different variations of the recipes in her book, Health by Chocolate, with flaxseed.
She introduced me to the concept of drizzling chocolate over top of delicious energy balls. Another trick she taught me to dress up a simple snack bar was to put a slice of dried fruit or candied ginger on top. Although these touches were certainly successful at decorating a snack bar, I knew that I wouldn’t use the tricks that often. I am more of a “basics” type of person. Drizzling chocolate and laying sliced fruit leans towards being fussy in cooking a little too much for my talents. Definitely something to remember should I ever consider making a plate of healthy chocolate treats for special guests.
It was fun to play around with the different variations. It was even more fun to taste the different samples. We had to make sure we kept the variations separate. That way, we knew which ones had which ingredients added or deleted.
When we first started the evening, I imagined that we would delight in tasting each sample. Yes, I definitely did taste each recipe. But I went from tasting a full sample down to tasting only a small bite of the sample fairly quickly. I found out rapidly that, as a recipe creator, one small bite is quite enough to decide if the recipe was worth making again. By the end of the evening, I had quite a few samples to take home to my teen-aged son. I knew that he would appreciate the taste testers.
This enjoyable evening with my friend turned into an evening spent alone making snack bar samples for the Callingwood Farmer’s Market. I spent all evening re-creating some of the recipes we had experimented with the night before. My first attempt did not turn out as well as I had thought it would. Interesting that, although I followed my friend’s instructions carefully, the ingredients did not behave the same as they had when I was at her place. Some people have the magic touch while the rest of us have to retry again and again.
By the third batch, I had the technique perfected. I was moving smoothly from one step to the other. Batch after batch of sample snack bars were materializing on my kitchen table. After I would finish one batch, I would take a sample to my son. He was the taste tester. His job was to tell me if it tasted better, worse, or the same as the previous sample. The ones that got firm approval from him received three ticks. The ones that got an “okay” from him received only one tick.
Even though I have the ability to cook, and create delicious meals, it is not something that I spend a lot of time on. I am conscious of eating healthy, and my meals reflect that desire. But I don’t take the time I need to experiment to create a variety of meals that meet the healthy criteria. I usually leave that up to those much more inventive than I in cooking, like my friend. So my enjoyment at experimenting with her, then again last night alone, surprised me.
Even more surprising were the reactions from the people who tasted the samples at the farmer’s market. The samples were a bit hit. And they allowed me to offer something more enticing than whole flaxseed. I had more people visit my booth than I had in previous weekends. Some of these even went on to sample the whole flaxseed. It definitely was worth the time that I had spent making the samples.
I’m looking forward to making more samples for the next farmer’s market. And, I think I will try a bit of experimenting myself. I received feedback from those that tasted the samples. I will incorporate some of their suggestions into the next cooking frenzy I undertake.
For a peek at the reaction I get when I offer the whole flaxseed as samples, see my blog titled, “Flaxing the day away.” The reactions I got today from the snack bar samples were quite a bit different!
For more details on the results of the evening I spent with my friend, see my blog titled, “Experimenting with chocolate.”
For more information on Victoria Laine’s recipe book, Health by Chocolate, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on the Callingwood Farmer’s Market, click on the link: http://www.callingwoodmarketplace.com/farmers-market