Family and Chocolate

We knew from years of experience that spring weather in Boise can be highly variable.   We survived a Sunday morning snow in mid March.

While Randy stayed in Boise to finish his treatments, I went to Vancouver to spend time with my mom and brother.  We prepared for Glenn’s Day, a day of remembrance for my dad who passed away in November.  See  When Real Life Happens.   Randy and Elko joined us in time for Glenn’s Day.

Mom did the majority of the work beforehand, but I helped her with displays and slideshows about my dad’s family, military career, and travels.

We had family members come from six states to remember my dad.  He is well loved.

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The weather barely cooperated but we did have a brief time at the cemetery.  My dad’s headstone will be placed soon.  My mom’s information will eventually be on the back.

My dad’s ashes are at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery.   It is a historic military cemetery but smaller and more intimate than the Willamette National Cemetery in Portland.   Currently, Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery is available only to retired Army veterans and spouses.

The earliest grave stones we found reflected deaths from the 1850s.  There are very few  from 2000 – 2017.  The majority were for those who had served in the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish American War, WWI and WWII.

There are four Medal of Honor recipients at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery  (Indian Wars, Spanish American War, and Civil War) and over 200 Unknowns.  Mom plans to do research on the Unknowns as part of her volunteer work at the Clark County Historical Museum.

While I stayed in Vancouver with Elko, Randy flew to Texas.   He joined his brother and sister-in-law from Arizona in visiting their Aunt Lahoma.  Lahoma is 95 years young and they spent an enjoyable few days visiting with her, cousin Roy and his wife Janice.

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Randy and his Aunt Lahoma.

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Roy, Janice, Tim and Yvette at the cemetery surrounded by Texas Bluebonnets.

A few months ago we were contacted by a family member we didn’t know we had who lives in Maine.  Araminta had been researching her grandfather’s past and discovered us through Facebook and the blog.   The grandfather she never knew was Randy’s uncle.  Unfortunately, families sometimes have disconnect events and this one happened long ago.   Randy and his brother hadn’t known about extended family in Maine.   We found enough corroboration to believe Araminta was on the right track and it has been delightful to help her learn about the Matthews family in Oklahoma, Texas and Arizona.  

As Aunt Lahoma is the only surviving member of the generation that included Araminta’s grandfather and Randy’s father, there were lots of questions and answers texted back and forth.  They found old pictures showing Araminta’s father and aunts as children.  Araminta and Randy included me in the text conversation and it was fun to watch each new discovery and confirmation.

You may remember that our summer 2016 venture towards Maine was cut short as we returned to care for our grandson. (See Grandparents to the Rescue)   The good part of that is when we venture that way again, we’ll get to meet Araminta and her family.

We have had good and meaningful family experiences during the last month and I am grateful.   Yet….I could feel the call of a museum or tour.   Afterall,  it is a big part of what I do in retirement.

We went for a tour at Creo in Portland.  They are Chocolate Makers,  meaning they work  from “bean to bar” – cacao bean to chocolate bar.  Chocolatiers take someone else’s chocolate and use it to make their chocolate products.

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Eighty percent of cacao pods grow on the tree trunks, only 20 percent in the canopy.   Cacao is only grown within 20 degrees of the equator.  The only US state within that range is Hawaii.  The largest segment of high end cacao is grown in central and south America.   Most cacao, and that  used in mass production, is grown in west Africa.

 

We learned that Creo is a family business.  This is mother and son during their search for a cacao source in central America.  They direct trade with a farmer in Equador, getting a shipment once a year from the winter harvest.  There is also a smaller summer harvest.  The farmer grows the cacao, picks it, takes the cacao beans from the pod and puts them through a fermenting process .  He dries and bags the cacao beans.  The beans are sent on a container ship to Seattle or Tacoma.

 

Once the beans are in residence in Portland they must be stored in a climate controlled room before roasting.  The beans are cracked into nibs of cacao.

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Husband, father, and chocolate maker Tim uses his own palate preferences to formulate their dark, milk and white chocolates.  They then produce a variety of truffles, bars and powders.

Then it was time for us to make our own chocolate bars using 73% dark chocolate!

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I used toasted coconut and dried apricot for a fruity bar.

Randy also used fruit – dried raspberries and blueberries – and added toasted coconut.  Our tour mates made a lot of creative bars!

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While we took turns packaging our bars, Randy and Tim talked more detail about the chocolate making process.

P1010080This was our final haul.  We have two of their’s and two of ours.  Our favorite during sampling was the Coffee and Cream bar.   The Strawberry and Hibiscus bar was also delicious.  We’ll see how Randy and Serene’s handcrafted chocolate bars taste when we try them sometime soon!

About Serene

We live full time in our fifth wheel and travel and volunteer. We remember everyday how blessed we are to have the opportunity to live this season of our lives in this way. Our black lab, Elko, keeps us company along the way.
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5 Responses to Family and Chocolate

  1. Nanette says:

    Thanks

  2. Mark says:

    It looks like your father’s Day of Remembrance was well attended and nicely done. I’m sure that you enjoyed seeing your family members for that day.

    The chocolate factory tour looks like our cup of tea. Likelihood of the chocolate surviving beyond that first day would be around 0% for us!

    Mark

    • Serene says:

      We had lots of opportunities for sampling on the tour so we weren’t compelled to start eating our bars right away. I can be satisfied with just a little bit at a time but I’m not so sure about Randy. I may have to step up my game to get my share!

  3. Elaine Ehlers says:

    I extend sympathy to you on your father’s death. Such family support is always helpful and it seems you are receiving it. I am sure you have been support to others too. Yum, yum, I do like chocolate.

  4. Teri McClelland says:

    What a wonderful memorial for your father.
    It sounds like Randy had a nice visit in Texas.
    We’ve seen cacao trees many times. They are very odd looking with the pods sticking out of the trunk. It doesn’t look natural.
    I’ll definitely put the Creo factory tour on our must do list! It sounds like our kind of place!

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