Women know that eating chocolate is therapeutic. (1) Karen Leland writes that the health effects are official:
A recent Italian survey conducted by the Catholic University in Campobasso, found that 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day (about a half a bar per week) was the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular disease.
Chocolate Bath, anyone?
Leland goes on to note the passing of a great chocolatier:
...one of the chocolate world's great leaders, Robert Steinberg. Steinberg (61) was co-founder of Scharffen Berger Chocolate and a candy maverick who helped turn the humble cacao bean, into a star of the gourmet food world.
Eat a bit of their dark bar in his honor this weekend; your heart will thank you. (2)
Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Here in Portland we are blessed to have the Moonstruck Chocolate Co. and their charming chocolate cafes right in our midst. Moonstruck makes luxurious handcrafted, artisan chocolates. On cold days we love to sit in the cafes and sip coffee and hot chocolate with loved ones. When friends visit, we tour the city, often stopping at Powell's Books, Vodoo Doughnuts, Elephant's Deli and Moonstruck. (Then we go hiking to work off all those calories).
Moonstruck chocolates are as beautiful as they are tasty and they make a lovely gift for Valentine's Day. You can order their offerings at their online store. Organic chocolate treats are available.
Chocolate Dieties & Pagan Themed Chocolate Molds:
Hecate has kindly reminded me to mention some delights I know well: Chocolate Dieties. Now, that's what I call divine.
This morning I found a Spiral Goddess chocolate mold. This same company offers other designs in their molds, such as Thor's Hammer, a set of ritual tools, triple moons, a pentacle and runes.
Organic and Fair Trade Chocolate:
When buying chocolate, it's important to remember where is comes from and who's life is affected by our buying choices. Here is a guide to Organic and Fair Trade Chocolate from The Daily Green: DG notes
Cocoa powder is derived from cacao seeds that grow in pods on the cacao tree. The tree's botanical name, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods," nomenclature with which I wholeheartedly agree. Cocoa "beans" are only called that once they're removed from the tree. What does any of this have to do with the environment? The cacao tree grows in the rainforest. Ideally, cacao trees will be grown on small farms, in the shade, to keep rainforests intact and reduce pesticide use.Someone You Should Know: Adrienne Fitch-Frankel
[Sia notes: Shade grown is best for birds, as well. Most coffee and chocolate is grown on plantations where the trees have been cut down, destroying habitat needed by songbirds. Please make a conscious choice to buy bird friendly, shade grown coffee and chocolate. ]
Even better is organic cocoa that is also produced according to Fair Trade principles, ensuring that farmers are paid a decent wage for their work and no child labor is involved. In countries like Cote d'Ivoire in West Africa, children are being used like slaves to produce cocoa, with profits going to fund the country's civil war.
Adrienne Fitch-Frankel is Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Cocoa Campaigner. She also campaigns for conflict-free diamonds and was part of the Global Exchange-coordinated coalition for Sweatfree legislation in San Francisco.
Check out the Global Exchange website. They have fair exchange stores in San Francisco, Berkeley and Portland and they offer "reality tours" to over 30 countries.
Making Your Own Chocolate Treats:
The article above and the Scharffen Berger link both list a number of chocolate recipes.
You might also want to read: Tempering Chocolate from Cooking for Engineers.
P.S. This post is dedicated to my birding buddy Fyrehawk and her Kitchen Diva partner as well as their very special little cat who is recovering from an illness. May you live long and enjoy many years of chocolate and peanuts. We'll be right by your side. Love, SV
Give Me Enough Chocolate and I Can Rule the World
(filled with chocolate lore and links)
Medicinal Uses of Chocolate
Chocolate History, Glossary and Cooking Tips
A Nice Cuppa - Song Birds and Shade Grown Coffee
The Case of the Missing Songbirds
(1) As always, folks, it's wise to practice moderation in all things. For some people, it is possible that chocolate makes depression worse.
(2) There is more than one kind of loss here. The original Scharffen Berger Chocolate factory in Berkeley, a Bay Area landmark, will soon close.
Image: Chocolate Minerva - from Gizmodo's list of chocolate toys
Wikipedia notes that:
The patriarchial Roman myths have her springing full grown from the head of Zeus. Earlier myths list her as the daughter of Zeus and the Goddess Metis, an oceanic Goddess, and the first great spouse of Zeus, who was, in fact, his equal. I think it's fair to say that in Menrva, we see the offspring of Mother Ocean and Father Sky. She is said to be the inventor of mathematics, language, poetry, the healing arts, and music. As 'Minerva Medica', she was the goddess of medicine and doctors, warriors, wisdom, commerce, and crafts. Ovid called "The Goddess of a 1,000 works".
Her name has the "mn-" stem, linked with memory. See Greek "Mnemosyne" (gr. μνημοσύνη) and "mnestis" (gr. μνῆστις): memory, remembrance, recollection. The Romans could have confused her foreign name with their word mens meaning "mind" since one of her aspects as goddess pertained not only to war but also to the intellectual. Minerva is the Roman name for Athena the goddess of Wisdom and Virginity. She is also depicted as an owl.
All this is probably why the character of Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter books has the first name of Minerva.