Archive | 6:55 pm

Peterbrooke Chocolates – FL’s Finest!

17 Jan


I recently heard from Samantha Dzembo, the managing partner of Peterbrooke Chocolatier here in the Sarasota area. She had seen a writeup about DixieDining in a local business magazine and wanted to learn more. This inspired bit of curiosity led to a meeting at her store last week.

Samantha was kind enough to show me around her surprisingly spacious showroom. It was an eye-opening experience. I did not know that Peterbrooke makes their chocolates on site, so the freshness of the products was pretty stunning. Samantha was very generous with the samples, some of which I consumed right there on the spot.

I was exceedingly pleased to find that they carried chocolate covered espresso beans. These gourmet treats are pretty hard to find — and it’s even more difficult to find them done right. Peterbrooke’s version is perfect … expertly roasted crunchy beans dipped in European style dark chocolate.


I am also especially partial to Peterbrooke’s chocolate covered pretzels and their amazing milk chocolate dipped popcorn. Food personalities like TV’s Paula Deen have heaped tons of praise on the latter — and rightly so. The salty/sweet combo is hard to resist and Peterbrooke’s milk chocolate is about as good as it gets. Seriously!   


Samantha loaded me up with a bag of treats to carry home to my wife and kids. Sadly, my wife can’t eat milk chocolate, but she wasted no time in sampling a few espresso beans. She loved them and experienced no after-affects.

I can’t wait to sample all the other specialties offered by Peterbrooke – including the white chocolate dipped, peanut butter filled Ritz crackers, chocolate covered Oreos, and much more. Stay tuned for future words on those tasty topics.


Peterbrooke is a Jacksonville, FL based operation specializing in gifts for individuals and businesses. Keep them in mind for your next party or gift giving opportunity and be sure to stop in and visit Samantha the next time you’re in Sarasota. Her store is located at 3800 South Tamiami Trail #28. Call Samantha to place an order at 941 365-2584.

Mook Mills Cheese Straws from AL

17 Jan


Martha Grace “Mooky” Blackburn (1925-1999)

Martha Grace Blackburn Mills was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, a quite southern community nestled between the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and banks of the Tennessee River on January 6, 1925. When Martha was an infant, for some unknown reason an older sibling gave her the nickname “Mooky,” which was shortened to “Mook” as she grew.

In 1946, after a brief career as a secretary during World War II, “Mook” married her high school sweetheart, Harold Fay Mills, upon his return from serving the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. Like many women of her day, Mook’s life work was devoted to the care of her five children and the support of her husband Fay in operating their family hardware store and later other successful businesses. Mook and Fay enjoyed sharing their life with family and friends and together celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1996.

Mook’s passion for living was exemplified through her engaging and vibrant personality. Mook loved visiting with people and sharing her home with friends and family. It was in these Tuscumbia receptions and gatherings that Mook first shared her love for cooking and her now celebrated cheese straws.  To the delight of her friends and family, Mook took a common recipe and caringly adjusted the amounts of cheeses, flours, spices and unique ingredients until she finally achieved a taste and texture that everyone agreed were beyond comparison. While recognized in her community for her kindness and caring, Mook was best known for her amazing cheese straws.

Mook continued her pursuit of living and sharing until a brief illness and her passing in May 1, 1999. Mook’s life itself was a recipe for living and it is through her shared experiences and investment in others that her spirit endures. 


Beginning in 2001, Mook’s family began to explore the possibility of making her cheese straws available to the public. In concert with the Shoals Commercial Culinary Center, the Mills Family embarked on a two year journey using only ingredients Mook had mandated and aspiring to a singular test “would Mook approve?”

In 2003, Mook Mills Cheese Straws were presented to the public, and can now be found in supermarkets and finer grocers and specialty markets across the southeast.    

These cheese straws are incredibly delicious — some of the best we’ve ever had. Now that is saying something because I consider myself a bit of a cheese straw snob. Some are too buttery, many don’t offer that signature cayenne afterburn (which I can’t do without). These babies are made with margarine and have a nice crunchy snap to them. And don’t let me forget to tell you that they are made with extra sharp cheddar – a must for that super strong cheese flavor we love. 

Kellogg’s Recalls Several Products

17 Jan


Although the company claims investigations have not indicated that any of their products have been tainted by the recent salmonella outbreak, the Kellogg Co announced on Wednesday that they are pulling all of their Austin and Keebler branded peanut butter snacks from stores to protect consumers.

Kellogg’s recall follows a nationwide recall of peanut butter made in a Georgia plant was issued late Tuesday even as the number of people sickened by salmonella-contaminated peanut butter rose to 425 in 43 states since September.  The Food and Drug Administration is notifying some 30 companies that bought peanut butter or peanut paste from a Georgia facility to test their products, said representatives of Consumers Union and Food & Water Watch.

The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is the focus of the FDA’s investigations into the outbreak. PCA is one of several peanut paste suppliers used in its Austin and Keebler branded peanut butter sandwich crackers, Kellogg said.

Companies around the country are being encouraged to halt sales as the risk is significant. The peanut butter paste could be in a wide variety of products from cooking sauces to baked goods.

Kellogg said it is taking precautionary measures including putting a hold on any inventory in its control, removing products from retail store shelves, and encouraging customers and consumers to hold and not eat these products until regulatory officials complete their probe.

The products are Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.