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April, 2014 |

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Hundreds of mystery mansion furnishings auctioned – The Post

DeWitt, N.Y — More than 500 furnishings purportedly purchased for a mansion that was never built have been auctioned off, but the mystery surrounding the project remains.

Organizers of the auction said all 542 pieces of furniture and accessories were sold Saturday in a Thompson Road warehouse elaborately staged to resemble the rooms of the mystery mansion.

They declined to say how much in total the furnishings sold for during the auction, which took more than 13 hours. However, the winning bids listed on the auction’s website totaled $176,010.

View full sizeThis custom-made Hatch Billiards table sold for $5,000 at auction on Saturday. It was one of 542 pieces of furniture and accessories purportedly purchased for a mansion that was never built. 

A Hatch Billiards custom wenge billiard table sold for $5,000. A MacKenzie-Childs kitchen armoire, which was listed on the website as having a retail value of $19,000, sold for $3,300. A MacKenzie-Childs love seat, which had a retail value of $8,250, sold for $2,200, according to the website. An antique Spanish leaf-back chair went for $2,500. A Harden antiqued ivory entertainment cabinet sold for $2,000.

Organizers said approximately 200 people attended the auction and numerous others, some from other states and at least one person from Hong Kong, placed bids online.

Plenty of mystery still surrounds the sale of the unusually large collection of high-end furniture, many from MacKenzie-Childs, an Aurora-based maker of luxury home furnishings characterized by their colorful, whimsical style.

Organizers said the furniture was purchased for a 24-room, 12,000-square-foot mansion that was planned but never built because of a family dispute. No more information about the family and the never-built mansion has been released.

Contact Rick Moriarty anytime: Email | Twitter | Facebook | 315-470-3148

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Duck Commander Coffee coming to a cup near you

LAFAYETTE, La. (KNOE 8 News) – Mello Joy Coffee will collaborate with Duck Commander Family Foods to craft two new specialty coffee roasts in 12oz bags and single serve cups. The tentatively dubbed “Duck Commander Coffee” by Mello Joy will feature Dark Roast and Medium Roast 100% Arabica coffee versions. The single serve cups will feature the Dark and Medium Roast, as well as Hot Chocolate and Cappuccino. The two brands plan to launch the new “Duck Commander Coffee” in September 2014.

“When we set out to launch our Duck Commander coffee, we searched for the best coffee and chose Mello Joy Coffee right here in Louisiana,” commented Duck Commander CEO, Willie Robertson. “It is exciting to have these two iconic Louisiana brands come together to create something new.”

Duck Commander Coffee will be the latest addition to the Duck Commander line of products, which already includes Robertson Family-inspired cookbooks, kitchen accessories, apparel and sporting goods.

“We are thrilled to have these two Louisiana family-owned businesses come together. Mello Joy is the ‘Original Cajun Coffee’ and the Robertson family has become the quintessential Louisiana family to the world,” adds Wayne Elmore, owner of Mello Joy Coffee Company.

Founded in 1936 and revived in 2000, Mello Joy Coffee is the Original Cajun Coffee. Mello Joy Coffee provides the highest-quality coffee products in a variety of roasts and flavors to please every taste. With more than seven decades of wonderful brand experience, there is no doubt the distinct aroma of a fresh-brewed cup of Mello Joy Coffee will spark memories of Louisiana’s rich culture.

Duck Commander is a family-owned and operated business that was established in 1972 by Phil Robertson and based in West Monroe, Louisiana. What once began as a duck call centered company has grown into a multi-million dollar empire. Duck Commander products, which now include much more than just duck calls, have been sold in all fifty states and in several countries and encompasses lifestyle brands including Duck Commander duck-hunting merchandise, Buck Commander deer-hunting merchandise, Duck Commander Family Foods, and more. Each of the Duck Commander brands was created with a focus on bringing family together. It is their motto of faith, family, and ducks that has resonated with fans at their speaking engagements and on the No. 1 cable show “Duck Dynasty.” Their perseverance, business savvy and knack for storytelling also landed them at the top of the New York Times’ Best Sellers list three times with titles “The Duck Commander Family,” “Happy, Happy, Happy: My Life and Legacy as the Duck Commander,” and “Si-cology,” and the wives just celebrated the release of their new book “The Women of Duck Commander” on April 1. Last fall the family celebrated their first venture into music with a No. 1 debut of their Platinum selling holiday album Duck the Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas. For more information, please visit

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Indiana State Prison kitchen torched for religious purposes – WNDU

A historical event happened this week at the Indiana State Prison.

Rabbi Menachem Fellig from Miami, Florida, came to the Indiana State Prison to the Prisoner’s Dining Area with a propane torch in hand, to make sure all was kosher.

The process is called torching. Torching is a common way to make stoves, pots, pans and other kitchen utensils kosher.

The idea is to superheat the metal, burning away residue from non-kosher items that may have been cooked in them. Torching opens up the pores of the metal.

“The Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC) is seeing an increasing demand for Kosher meals to meet a variety of religious needs. Preparing kosher meals in house will allow the IDOC to meet religious and nutritional needs in a financially responsible way,” stated David Liebel, Director of Religious Services for IDOC.

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Susie Chen, of Susie Chen’s Potstickers. (PHOTO: Paul Fredrich)

Published April 30, 2014 at 11:04 a.m.

Appearances can be deceiving.

You might remember a 1994 episode of Seinfeld during which George Costanza’s telephone line crosses with that of a woman named Donna Chang. Based on her name, the Seinfeld crew assumes she is Chinese, and seeks her advice on a number of topics. But, when Donna Chang appears in the flesh, everyone is surprised to find she’s a far cry from the Chinese woman they expected.

That particular episode resonates in a very personal way with local business owner, Susie Chen of Susie Chen’s Potstickers, whose Chinese name throws many for a loop.

“People often come up to me and ask if I’ve seen the ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” she says. “It’s become a common occurrence. I just smile and tell them that ‘I’m more Chinese than most; after all, I make potstickers for a living.'”

And Chen isn’t joking. Her recipe for potstickers is about as authentic as they come – passed down to her from her husband Kyle’s parents, first-generation immigrants who came to the U.S. to attend school and ultimately laid down roots in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Chen remembers the first time she tried one of Kyle’s mom’s potstickers.

“I was dating him,” she recalls. “His mother had just come back from Taiwan, and she made potstickers for dinner. It was the first time I met her, and it changed my life. They were like nothing I’d ever had.”

The potstickers, as Chen remembers it, were made from beef and spinach – both improvised ingredients the Chen family used as substitutions for the more traditional ground pork and Napa cabbage.

“Since ground pork wasn’t readily available,” Kyle Chen explains, “They used the next best thing.”

Susie Chen’s Potstickers are made in the traditional northern Chinese style, with thick skins and flat bottoms, based on a generations-old family recipe passed down from Kyle’s grandmother.

Chen says she made the traditional Chinese dumplings for years before launching her business.

“I started cooking potstickers for neighbors and friends,” she says. “They loved them, and then they started asking us to make them for occasions.”

One thing led to another, and in 2012 Chen decided she’d like to start a business making the potstickers on a larger scale. She started by selling the dumplings at the Wauwatosa Farmers Market.

“We were so surprised by the reception they got,” Chen says, who recalls that she was bringing about 1,000 potstickers to the market every Saturday morning.

But, the proof is in the flavor, which doesn’t disappoint. Chen’s potstickers are toothsome and filling, made with high quality ingredients like custom ground beef taken from the brisket and sirloin.

“We do everything by hand,” Chen says. “We make the dough and the filling. And we pinch them, freeze them and bag them ourselves.”

In fact she says that up until about a week ago, when they purchased a commercial pasta roller, she was making and rolling the dough by hand with a KitchenAid mixer and pasta roller attachment.

The business now sells an average of about 1,500 potstickers a week to area stores including Metcalfe’s Sentry, Grasch Foods, Sendik’s Brookfield, Ono Kine Grindz, Piggly Wiggly Mequon and Ray’s Butcher Shoppe.

Flavors include beef and vegetable, classic pork, ginger chicken, vegetable and a brand new product made from Usinger’s bratwurst that Chen has deemed the “Bratsticker.”

Chen says she’s made potstickers with a number of Usinger’s products, but says they’ve had the most success with the flavors of the bratwurst.

“We were reading Fritz’s blog on the Usinger’s website,” Kyle recollects, “And he’s adamant about the unadulterated brat. So, although we thought about mixing in kimchi or mixing beer into the dough, in the end, we agreed with his assessment. We wanted the bratwurst to be the star.”

The bratstickers are made with a mustard seed-studded dough that’s rolled and filled with bratwurst before being hand-pinched and frozen.

Chen says it’s been fun seeing peoples’ reactions to the product, which has gone over very well.

“They’re great cooked in beer,” Chen says, “And people serve them all kinds of different ways – dipped in mustard, served with kraut. We say it’s ‘east meets wurst.'”

Chen will be sampling her products, including the bratstickers, at the upcoming 14th annual After Breast Cancer Diagnosis event, Date with a Plate, on May 9 at the State Fair Park Expo Center. All proceeds from the event support ABCD’s mission to bring free one-on-one support to those diagnosed with breast cancer.

And if you meet her and mention the classic ‘Seinfeld’ episode, she’s likely to give you a smart and cheerful response:

“I am the Suzie and my husband is the Chen.”

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Home Plates: Vintage kitchen tools

Mostly, I can’t tolerate my son’s taste in music. That’s the natural order of things with teenagers and parents, right?

But I had to laugh when he introduced me to “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore Ryan Lewis. The song thumbs its nose at hip-hop excess and instead celebrates just how far a buck will go at thrift stores. And my son and I share a love for thrifting.

If I want to spend time with him, I suggest a thrift shop outing. We bond over bargains, though he’s usually looking through the clothing racks while I’m scouring the houseware aisles. So it was on a recent trip that we spent a morning wandering through thrift and vintage resell shops, hunting for just the right pieces.

I missed my little beauty on the first tour through a particularly hipster Goodwill store. But then I spotted it sitting on a shelf next to some glassware and dishes. As far as I was concerned, the homely bean pot was the one treasure in the store.

The squat, slightly rotund stoneware crock sports two handles for easy lifting and has that classic brown-on-the-top, beige-on-the-bottom glaze. The blue crown imprint with the “4” tells me this four-quart pot was made by an Ohio company, Robinson Ransbottom. The darkened rim on the pot tells me it was well-used for its intended purpose, perhaps for decades.

I couldn’t wait to cart my bean pot home — or to ask your advice. As far as I’m concerned, the real pleasure in my collection of utilitarian kitchen antiques is in putting them to their intended use. My antique potato mashers aren’t just for show. My cast iron skillets get a regular workout. I want to make beans in my old bean pot.

So, dear readers, I’m hoping you can share advice for making an old-fashioned pot of baked beans. I’ve never baked in a crock before. Do I dare place my crock in the oven? Will a recipe intended for a Dutch oven work? Do I need to be a Bostonian to bake a good pot of beans? Please send recipes as well as tips.

And let us know if you’re still using vintage kitchen tools, utensils and pots, as well. In this age of bright and shiny modern kitchenware, do you have a humble piece with which you can’t part?

Second helpings

Lynne Yates offered a muffin tin recipe that’s a bit different from the mini-meatloaves we showcased last week. Her crab quiche bites in phyllo make elegant appetizers. The filling for the quiches is quite easy. But working with phyllo can be tricky; you don’t want the dough to dry out and tear. The recipe includes such useful instructions for working with phyllo that I’m going to employ when I take on other phyllo recipes.

Request line

I couldn’t come up with a solution for an Easter week request for a reader who wanted to make a special dessert for a family gathering about an hour from home. Short of heroic efforts, I’m not sure it’s possible to transport ice cream cupcakes without significant melting. If you’ve got a recipe for these desserts, please share. My curiosity is piqued. I can’t quite envision what incorporating melted ice cream into batter does for a cake. And of course, if you’ve got a solution for carrying ice cream cupcakes, short of renting an ice cream truck, please share.

Send recipes and requests to Kim Boatman at HomePlates@bayareanews Find recent Home Plates recipes online at

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My House Beautiful: No shrinking violet

When Kay Manuel and her family moved from north Edmonton to the southwest suburb of Rutherford in 2005, she accepted that the exterior of their new house would be “cookie-cutter.� But the front door is where the resemblance to the rest of their quiet cul-de-sac ends. That’s because the home’s modest white-and-black exterior belies the interior’s canvas, which reflects Manuel’s passion for creating unique spaces.

A professional makeup artist at CTV, Manuel isn’t shy about exploring an array of colour palettes. She also is drawn to contrasting shapes, unusual materials and bargain finds when creating the rooms that she loves.

The focus of the home’s open concept main floor is the kitchen’s unique island, the countertop of which she created using Granicrete, a polymer-modified concrete mix designed for coating new or existing surfaces. Manuel casually lists off the ingredients in this inexpensive alternative to granite, and offers how-to instructions the way one would describe making a favourite cake.

She simply mixed and applied the Granicrete and then experimented with designs, textures and colours she likes.

“I just bought a load of eggshell-like stuff, and craft paints from the dollar store and then I just painted it,� says Manuel matter-of-factly.

Closer inspection reveals flecks of gold glitter and playful lines of tiny, garnet-coloured beads running along the countertop’s length.

She concedes that applying the final epoxy finish was a bit trying — it took five time-consuming applications to cover those whimsical beads. Laughing, she describes blowing through a straw to quickly get rid of any air bubbles on the surface before it set.

Manuel, who had never attempted anything like this project before, went on to finish the centrepiece’s look by tiling and grouting the backsplash as well. “Anyone could do it,� she says firmly.

Simple kitchen accessories — such as the overhead, rectangular, wrought-iron pot rack and a pair of tall, rattan-backed stools — complement her final creation.

The island isn’t just for looking at. Manuel is a keen cook, and the family’s British roots include a passion for Indian food, so Friday night’s menu always includes “making a mess� and homemade naan bread.

The adjoining south-facing breakfast nook, with its large picture window and view of a neighbouring farmyard, is all simple lines and neutral tones. A square wooden table is paired with a drum-shaped, pendant light. Chrome and white fabric-backed chairs combine with a sand-coloured rug to create a restful haven.

In the living room, large, bold art sculptures mix with comfortable furniture in soft hues. A cheerfully upholstered squat footstool creates functional furniture while enlivening the space.

Manuel is a regular at HomeSense, but says she won’t purchase anything unless it is absolutely perfect for what she wants.

She is also willing to splurge on custom-made items to create the look she is after.

Rather than go with a standard banister, Manuel commissioned Andy Young of über iron, to create a “really cool� knotted and twisted, wrought-iron handrail leading to the basement guest room and its inviting bathroom.

She says inspiration for this spa-like space grew out of its pricey, one-of-a-kind, Appalachian walnut countertop. Manuel saved money by going online for affordable, yet beautiful fixtures to complement the counter, including the bathroom’s translucent glass basin and matching wide-spout faucet, which creates a mini-waterfall when the water flows. The backsplash is a wave of pearl-coloured volcanic rock and the base of the mirror has been cut to mimic its line. Large butterflies and dragonflies Manuel repainted from dark brown shimmer on the wall. The feel of a relaxing retreat continues in the bath, where a path of pebble stones meanders soothingly up the wall. Shower accessories are housed in a unique wooden surround that Manuel also found online.

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Hax: Cleaning service could be investment in domestic harmony

Hi, Carolyn:

To preface, I’m a fairly neat person, not Monica-Geller-from-”Friends” clean (read: not neurotic), but I clean up after myself in the common areas as well as in my personal space. I do a more thorough clean every two or three weeks where I’ll mop, vacuum, dust, etc. My roommates, however, are completely unaware of this fact and probably think there’s some cleaning fairy that comes at night to clean (my) pots, pans and dishes that they use and of course don’t clean. In the past, I’ve brought up the fact, very kindly, that we’re all adults with busy schedules and social lives but that everyone should be cleaning up after themselves and keeping the common areas reasonably clean. The response I received was, “Well, on weekdays we’re just so tired after work we don’t really want to clean anything.” I’ve tried not to be too preachy or “mom-ish,” but I think at this point that ship has sailed. 

They have now suggested that we all chip in for a cleaning service. Personally, I’m of the opinion that having a cleaning service is a privilege and you should know how to take care of things yourself before you start throwing money at a situation. I’m sure it wouldn’t even cost that much to have a service, but it’s the principle of it. I’ve explained the fact that I already clean the common areas, as well as my own space, on a regular basis and it seems wasteful and frankly lazy to me to pay for something that four able-bodied 20-somethings are perfectly capable of doing on our own. Am I being unreasonable for not wanting to contribute to the cleaning service fund?

—Anonymous “Mom” of the House

I receive a lot of questions. As I suspect is true of anyone in this position — say, a manager receiving a lot of resumes or admissions officer deluged by applications — my mind is set to “no” before I read Word 1, and I’m basically reading until something flips it to “yes.”

Here’s what has the power to flip that switch: “Having a cleaning service is a privilege and you should know how to take care of things yourself before you start throwing money at a situation.”

They “should,” should they? Says who? Momica?

You make two breezy maternal references, but that sentence exposes the truth in the humor. You’re presuming to raise these fellow adults you happen to room with. That’s the function of the word “should”; you think both that there’s a right way, and that you have standing to impose said right way on others.

I was with you on the frustration of roommates who use your stuff but don’t wash it — there’s no excuse for them on that one. But their responsibility is to clean what they use, period; they get to decide how.

Now, if you were merely saying you don’t want to pay your money to contract out a job you’re happy to do yourself, then you’d have both a good point and the standing to make it. But that’s not what you said.

So now I have to say that if they want to pay someone, then they can pay someone. If they are willing and able to conjure cleaning fairies, then they can conjure fairies. What you regard as a privilege applies to you alone, and beyond that is purely a rhetorical contribution.

It’s also a contribution I urge you not to make, lest you become the Mom and the Monica in one indignant stroke.

In fact, I say throw principle to the wind (I don’t get to type that often) and agree to the service, as long as it’s frequent enough to make a difference, like weekly. Industry isn’t the only virtue worth supporting; investing in domestic harmony sounds well worth the apparently minor if grudging expense.

Dear Carolyn:

I’m a recent grad who just began working part time as a barista this past week, and so far I really enjoy my job. My best friend was employed by the same coffee company last year, but was fired within a month and is still pretty angry about it. She keeps asking me how work is going whenever I see her, and I feel like I can never say a single, positive thing about my experiences so far without her making some sarcastic aside. I understand her frustration, but this is making me so uncomfortable that a part of me just wants to tell her to stuff it and make peace with the fact that I’m happy. Do you think there’s any way I could approach this with her without setting off another rant or starting a fight?

— Beleaguered Bean

“You’re still (peeved) at this company — I sympathize. I need the money, though, and so far like the job; is there something we can do to move past this?” An airing of the grievances, perhaps, or bare-knuckle boxing. Good luck.

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at

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