Thursday, January 28, 2010

Chocolate, Hearts & Roses!

After taking a hiatus because of the holidays and the gloomy winter weather, I am back with a vengeance and the February edition of "Living With Martha."

This month's cover of Martha Stewart's Living is full of sugary sweet hearts and pink colored goodness. That can only mean one thing: Valentine's Day!

As usual, Martha has included my favorite part of each month's magazine, "Martha's Calendar".

This month, she has activities such as hand washing sweaters, sanding cast-iron garden urns and repaint them and organize basement and take inventory of wines.

But, as we know, all work and no play makes Martha a dull girl, so she has some fun activities scattered about like Mardi Gras dinner (beads optional), watch the Super Bowl and watching the Winter Olympics.

Martha wants to make sure her readers understand the importance of a good breakfast. So in her "from My Home to Yours" section she shares some of her favorite breakfast recipes.

The recipes actually look really good and they include Maple Granola, Donn's Waffles, Steamed Salmon with Avocado and Breakfast Quinoa (whatever that is).

What really gets me about this section is not the recipes, or even the fact that she is cheer leading for team breakfast.

It is the photo on the front of this section. There is Martha all decked out in a quilted vest holding a china teacup filled with some foamy hot beverage in one hand, and a live chicken in the other. What is really scary, it is probably her chicken from her farm.

Now, if you know chickens, you know how they will almost peck at anything that moves. But, not this chicken. It is sitting, no posing, without a drop of blood lust in its eye.

I think they drugged the chicken. But, do not let PETA hear me say that or else they will start going after Martha.

If anyone knows me, they know that I love cupcakes!

I love how cute they are, I love how they taste and I love that they can come in a variety of colors.

Under Martha's "Good Things," she shows how to do Filigree hearts to place on top of your sweets for your sweetie!

These delicate chocolate hearts are just the perfect addition to her raspberry cupcakes with pink butter cream frosting.

Actually, the hearts don't seem that hard to make.

Basically you trace a heart cookie cutter on some parchment paper, melt some chocolate, put it into a piping bag and trace the hearts. Pop the bad boys into the freezer for about 15 minutes and ta-da, beautiful delicate chocolate hearts!

Continuing with her Chocolate theme, Martha profiles a couple who sells specialty chocolates on an island located in Maine's Penobscot Bay.

The couple who own Black Dinah Chocolatiers, make beautiful handcrafted chocolates in fun shapes like multi-colored frogs and exotic flavors like blueberry-pepper truffles.

After reading this article, I want to move to my own island in the sun and sell chocolates.

My husband loves to make bread. I can tell it is going to be a great day in our home when he brings out his old 1990s bread machine that he purchased from Ebay a few years ago.

Even though it is a little old, the bread machine, not my husband, it manages to turn out some really great bread. (As I type this, the smell of baking bread is wafting into my office at home!)

This month, Martha shares with us some of her bread recipes.

Of course she does not use a bread machine, but some of the recipes look easy enough I might just try a few.

She shares the recipes for classic white bread, multi grain, rye and my favorite cinnamon-raisin.

In a beautifully photographed article, Martha takes a closer look at the poster child for Valentine's Day, the rose.

I never knew there were so many varieties of roses available. I knew they came in beautiful pinks, reds, oranges and lavenders, but I never knew of the softer almost grey colors and and the almost brown oranges.

I think I will need to demand that my husband bring me home orange roses sometime!

Even if you do not feel like reading the entire article, you must just enjoy the beautiful photos.

Along with the roses, Martha takes an even closer look at rice. She talks about how to make the best steamed rice, fried rice, Persian rice and even mouthwatering mushroom risotto.

After you have had your fill of rice, we get to what I love most about Valentine's Day, the crafts.

Martha has outdone herself and shows how to make sweet tarts, a bejeweled box, a beautiful necklace, jewel candies and cloud cupcakes.

In my eyes, those were the noteworthy parts of the February edition of Living. There are other articles and little treasures for you to discover at your newsstand or supermarket checkout counter.

All-in-all the magazine is a great buy because it really gets you into the Valentine's spirit.