Monday, December 31, 2012

Tips for Picky Eaters and Survival Situations. Are Your Kids Ready?

Monday is the day I share a little on food storage and emergency preparation.

One of the things I'm frequently asked is how I get my kids to eat so many different foods,  especially whole grain and  food storage foods.  I didn't think we were doing anything unusual in our methods of feeding our kids, until the morning my 6 year old came walking into my bedroom with a head of roasted garlic from the fridge and was popping the whole pieces in his that was a totally normal thing for a 6 year old to do. Then I realized maybe we weren't as normal as some would hope. Of course, he wasn't putting the garlic cloves in his nostrils or armpits, so I figured we must be doing something right. 

  I'm a chef  so many assume it is because I just know how to cook and make food taste delicious that my kids aren't so picky. Truth be known, that may be only part of the magic.  We've had my kids eating pretty amazing and healthy varieties of foods from the time they could barely start eating. It wasn't just because I'm a "foodie" that my kids are good eaters. It is because we as parents lead by example. Does that mean they always eat everything I make? Nope. It does mean that I never give up. Did I have my share of carrot puree meltdowns? Yes. Yes I did. Then I tried to serve the puree to my kids and it was even worse.
"My kids won't eat beans...(or whatever...). How will they do when that is all there is to eat, like in a crisis or survival situation?"Research shows 15 exposures or more to a new food make is more likely to be accepted by young children, then just leaving it out of the diet completely. That is a big key. They may reject a certain food at first, but your job is to not give up. Find different ways to present it, and have fun. If your child doesn't like carrots but you know they will probably need to eat them sometime in their lifetime...don't panic. Make it a game. Don't make it a matter of emotional pressure. Find that magic consistency now, before you're in a crisis situation and when you do find that magic consistency, put that in your emergency food storage. 
 There are legitimate reasons for picky eating. 
There are 3 main reasons for children being selective eaters that are rooted in natural survival.
  •  Children almost always will prefer sweet foods over bitter, by nature.
  • Children  suffer from neophobia, the fear of trying new foods.
  • Gifted Children have a dislike of too many textures, flavors, or smells together.

Dislike of bitter foods is a natural mechanism put in place  to protect us from eating things that are potentially poisonous or dangerous. That natural aversion to bitter flavors stems from the the fact that most foods that, in nature, are poisonous,  like leaves or flowers have that bitter flavor.  Kale for instance is the worst ever...Okay, maybe I personally don't like the stuff. I'm personally really glad that aversion is there.  That bitter aversion saves lives because they'll spit out the offensive material. Sweeter foods like fruits  are rich in energy. Let's face it, kids need energy foods and it makes sense for that to be their natural attraction.

Neophobia is a defense. It is the natural fear of new foods. It usually appears around age two. That is the age that most societies stop breast feeding. At this point, kids don't depend on mother entirely for nutrition and they will, as a defense, avoid foods. They don't know if it is safe to eat. This however doesn't apply to marbles. They'll eat those and put them up their nose all day. Just saying.
My kid is just freaking brilliant. Do you have one of those kids who doesn't like anything mixed or touching on his plate? I know adults like that (Hi Evil Tara...tee hee). I was happy to find that they were just geniuses. 
 Gifted kids with sensual overexcitability can be particularly aware of certain textures and flavors. I was one of those kids myself. They may be overwhelmed by many tastes and textures together. Some of them can even distinguish different herbs and spices in a dish. My mother, thankfully nurtured this. Adding a few herbs at a time and helping me determine what that new flavor was early on became a game. This of course means, if you have a child like this, that they will be genius rock-star chefs and you should make sure they keep that up. On the other hand, don't overwhelm them. The creamy, crunchy, flavor intense dinner you had planned may not be just right for their little mouth just yet. It isn't you...but don't give up!
They may not intentionally be acting stubborn or picky. It is however, our job to broaden their food perspectives now, before they are faced with a stressful situation.  Here are some great tips to use now.
Make them more Sweet or Savory Vegetables
Adding a flavored sweet lemon juice, honey or vinegar to a vegetable can work miracles to change the flavor profile of the veggie. Often, adding that sweetener, if done naturally, will also increase the nutritional value of the food. Carmelized onions work magic to add depth and a lightly sweet flavor to dishes. Keeping that in mind, use finely chopped or minced pieces of the onion. Also, it is remarkable what a little grilling can do to a vegetable or fruit. Tossing a piece of pineapple on a grill pan with a little olive oil and then adding that to the vegetable mixture was magic around my house when the kids were small. It still is. After you find that magic flavor addition, add it to your food storage!

Serve Vegetables Raw, Dehydrated or Freeze Dried
It depends on the vegetable, but many are sweeter raw than cooked. It's a great way to get kids to eat green vegetables, like peaszucchini and green beans when they are served freeze dried. By the way, a huge amount of nutritional value is retained in the freeze drying as a natural preservation process and it also gives them a snack texture that is hard to beat.  Seriously...I actually will eat peas all day long freeze dried. I've seen kids completely reject zucchini until I served it dehydrated and thin sliced like a potato chip. The flavor was mild and lightly salted, they would eat them like crazy! They're still eating their veggies. Don't get caught up in a mind set that says there is only one way to serve it. 

Serve Foods in a Favorite Texture Form
So your kiddo doesn't like oatmeal, but they really like meatballs. Well...who says you can't add some oats and oat fiber to your meatballs? The texture issue is a key factor in breaking up the monotony and food fatigue in emergency foods. Most of these foods cooked are the same soft texture. If you have a child who likes crunch foods, be sure to store  and learn how to cook foods that are crunchy as well like  Homemade crackers.  
Link Foods to Your Child's Interests Now and Respect Their Tastes

This takes a little creativity, but it works well with younger kids. Give that food storage recipe a personal twist by naming it after their favorite dinosaur, hobby or activity. No. Do not go with the  favorite hobby or activity name being " nose-picking-oatmeal". I'm not saying name the split pea soup mix "T-Rex-turds" either.  Unless you have gross boys that like sick-o names like that.  I am saying to make it personal. Drop-dead-laugh on the ground funny is good as well. Once you've found some shelf-stable kid friendly meals like my Meals in a Jar that you've adapted to your family's tastes, give your child their favorite picks. It is okay, for instance, for them to help you make some specific shelf stable meals that they know are their favorites.  I have one boy who can't live without carrot cake breakfast pudding
If I had called it "6 grain cereal with carrots in it"...there's no way I could have ever persuaded him to try it once. 
Respect Your Child's Tastes 
Everyone has foods they like and dislike. If your children don't want to eat broccoli, then don't force it.  Encourage it. Love them anyway. Keep it light and fun.  Add it often to meals in small amounts as you certainly want to encourage your child to try a variety of foods. If your child has tried something many,  many times in several different dishes and applications and says he or she doesn't like it, then respect her decision to say "no" to eating it. I will never be a fan of raw celery sticks (I call them alien fingers). My mom didn't stop serving celery. She just served it differently. I love it chopped and cooked in stews.  Keep serving that food at meal time. Be diligent. You'll never regret teaching your child to appreciate meals that are whole grain with a long-term shelf life if those foods can save their life. It may be a simple emergency, like your family losing employment that forces you to eat more beans and stored food. Wouldn't it be nice, to start now with creative food storage recipes and meals so that in a time of family crisis that are already stressful, the meals are received with enthusiasm? 

There you go. Help your picky eaters.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Packing up Christmas (Bread of Life Section)

Sunday is the day I share a little of my soul. Enjoy.

Today, as the glow of the Christmas lights still linger in my heart and the warmth of the joy is still dancing on the fibers of my soul, I wanted to share a few thoughts. I started thinking how quickly Christmas as come this year...and how I don't want it to leave yet. Many of you have been with me as readers and friends during some of the most difficult and trying times of my life. I don't share a lot of my struggles here on the blog but I want to let you know that there have been challenges both seen and unseen that you've carried me through. 
I didn't realize how quickly those years of struggle have gone by, until I was looking at the older posts here and realizing how very small the boys were when we started this journey. Especially now, as Little Man is a teenager and Face is right on his heels. Time isn't stopping. Argh. Time is lame and cool simultaneously. I'm pretty sure I'm lame and cool simultaneously at moments so I should relate to that. Our time with our family and friends is precious and short. 

Thomas S. Monson said, "...our opportunities to love and give of ourselves are indeed limitless, but they are also perishable. Today there are hearts to gladden, kind words to say, deeds to be done, and souls to be saved."

One who had keen insight into the Christmas spirit wrote:
I am the Christmas Spirit—
I enter the home of poverty, causing palefaced children to open their eyes wide, in pleased wonder.
I cause the miser’s clutched hand to relax and thus paint a bright spot on his soul.
I cause the aged to renew their youth and to laugh in the old glad way.
I keep romance alive in the heart of childhood, and brighten sleep with dreams woven of magic.
I cause eager feet to climb dark stairways with filled baskets, leaving behind hearts amazed at the goodness of the world.
I cause the prodigal to pause a moment on his wild, wasteful way and send to anxious love some little token that releases glad tears—tears which wash away the hard lines of sorrow.
I enter dark prison cells, reminding scarred manhood of what might have been and pointing forward to good days yet to be.
I come softly into the still, white home of pain, and lips that are too weak to speak just tremble in silent, eloquent gratitude.
In a thousand ways, I cause the weary world to look up into the face of God, and for a little moment forget the things that are small and wretched.
I am the Christmas Spirit. (source here)

The Christmas Spirit is indeed the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit of Christ. I want it to stay in my heart and in my home long after the tree is taken down and the lights are packed away in dusty boxes to be stowed away in the attic. I don't want to do that with my Savior. I don't want to put him away in a room that I only open on special occasions. "Come let us adore him" should be every single day and moment of my life. So, today I decided, I'm not packing up Christmas. I'll put away the tree, but I don't want to ever put away my God.  I don't want to stop spreading good cheer, or gifts, or love. I don't want to stop smiling at the people I meet and bringing joy. That, I think, is the point. Think today, as I am, about ways you can bring that love with you, even after the season ends. Love isn't a shoe to be put on and taken off, it is a mantle to wear for the rest of your life. Keep that love alive. Share joy. Carry on in your efforts to be a true example of the believers. Then, and only then, can you open each day like it is Christmas. Like it is a box full of love...

Life, like love in your heart, is a gift. Open it every single day.
There it is.

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

CTB Delicious Homemade Buttermilk Eggnog Mix

Cheers from CTB (Chef Tess Bakeresse)! It is getting close to New Year's Eve and for us that means eggnog. Nog! My darling little freaks of nature   the "boys-ohs" will beg for it every single time I stop at a grocery store or convenience store.  They love the thick sweet spiced milky drink.  Everyone has their own version of this luscious creamy delight. Before we get into the nog though...I have to give you some Christmas updates.

 We moved into our new house. That was an adventure. When I say new house, I mean new-to-us. In all reality, we moved into the Brady Bunch house from 1973. Seriously. I'm so exited about the stove...among other things.

There wasn't a zombie Apocalypse 
(hooray for that, I was out of ammo and fresh brains)... Ace barely survived Christmas morning.

 I got the traditional mother's gift. In pink...and fuzzy. I'm a sucker for foot-garb.

The Test Kitchen is back. 
I got a lot of much needed sleep (I'm also a sucker for sleep-garb) while Ace organized the test kitchen and affixed many shelves and stuff to the office. Bless his ever-screw-affixin'-heart. I'm very happy to report that I'm now back in business and yes, it will take me a while to catch up on the e-mail! That being said, thank you all for the well wishes and love. It has been such a wonderful adventure!
 Tara is Gone and Chicklet is Visiting.
Evil Tara has been my go-to girl when it comes to updating the facebook pages and I'm so thankful for her help the last few weeks as I've been offline!  In case you missed the news, Evil Tara (AKA  my darling friend and awesome marketing director here at CTB) is traveling to Paris this week (no doubt eating amazing chocolates,cheeses, and croissants)...and I made sure she had some good meals to go with her in her luggage (as if she really needs more food in Paris). I swear, it was the only way I could make it to France this year!  In case you missed it this is the link: How to make mylar packed just add water meals for camping and travel.
Evil Tara's dog Chicklet is here taking over the kingdom. 
 All hail!  She's been getting way too much attention from my son Face, who insists that the little princess doesn't need to get her feet cold on the patio. He'll sit there until his own little rump is numb. Bless his heart. 
Oh hey, we also got a really cool vintage Coke machine for Christmas. What do you think? Why are you reading this tiny print anyway?

 Evil Queen Chicklet, with her delicate little paws, has also not had to even walk around the yard.  She is getting very spoiled here at the Petersen Dog Resort. " Faster my cute little-boy-minion! " Now, I realize she can walk around just fine. I'm having a hard time convincing my son otherwise.  Our yard is now a full half-acre. What shall we do with that much space?!I will be hard-pressed to separate the two pals when Evil Queen Chicklet does have to leave.

Now on to the Nog.  My main idea for this mix came when a gal asked me if I had a good recipe for eggnog she could make for her son who was overseas with the military. It broke my heart to tell her, "no I don't." I've been feverishly perfecting this recipe since that time. I don't think it will make it to her son in time for Christmas, since it is already passed, but hopefully it will bless a few lives in the future.
As a random side note, So far, we haven't given Chicklet any eggnog. I'm told that little doggies get the doggie toots when they drink milk? Is there any truth to that? I don't know. I don't want to find out. I'm happy not knowing if the dog will get violent silent...never-mind.  In the meantime, we've been making a lot of eggnog for the humans.  This is a basic shelf-stable mix that is just add water and one that is wonderful hot or cold. I'm personally partial to a hot cup of  spiced eggnog with a piece of 6 grain cranberry oatmeal bread.  Yes, this instead of hot cocoa (Did I just say that out loud? I swear if you dare tell my love Chocolate that I've been kissing a mug of nog, I'll deny it...)

I use whole egg and creamy buttermilk powders because they are pasteurized and shelf stable. I love the use of the sour cream powder as well for added richness.  The ultra-gel works as a thickener in the mixture to add some body (and is what is used in instant pudding mixes).  This mix is good up to 3 years when stored in an oxygen free environment. 

CTB Delicious Homemade Buttermilk Eggnog Mix

2 cups  instant non-fat dry milk
1/2 cup buttermilk powder
2 cups sugar or sugar free alternative like granular erythritol
1/2 cup  powdered whole egg
1 cup ultra gel (optional)
1/2 cup powdered sour cream
1T  vanilla powder

1 T LorAnn Rum Bakery Emulsion
1/2 tsp salt
1T Chef Tess Wise Woman of the East Spice blend chef-tess-spices
1 tsp Orange Brandy (grand-marnier-type) flavored oil
1 tsp fresh nutmeg, fine ground

To make the mix: 
Combine all dry ingredients. Slowly drizzle the baker's emulsion and brandy oil into the dry mix and whisk well until well combined.
I'm partial to fresh ground nutmeg. My kiddos sometimes can be found carrying them in their pant pockets...because they're as weird as their mother. Officially. 
To make the eggnog:
Combine 1/2 cup of the eggnog mix with 1 cup warm water (or more, depending on how thick/thin you like your eggnog). Chill for 2 hours for cold egg nog or serve hot for those who like to kiss mugs of hot nog. 

There you go. Make some delicious homemade buttermilk eggnog mix! 

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, December 21, 2012

Our Winter Visitor (Random Thought)

Today is the day our new winter visitor makes her appearance. darling friend Evil Tara  is going to Europe for three weeks (Christmas in Paris!!) and guess who gets to come and stay with us? Yup...Chicklet the wonder-dog. 

If she survives:

  •  my boys snuggling her endlessly
  • the gleeful chasing of  quail in our backyard (they have serious attitude)
  •  the onslaught of doggie treats (yes...we may have purchased a few pounds)
  • the annual New Year's Eve Party cheese tray (be afraid)
  • my singing (Okay, I sing like a Diva...I don't know if that is good or not.)
  • our goldfish Nancy's singing (She also drinks like a fish)
  • Ace's snoring...(even I can't take much of that sound.)

She may never want to leave. 

That being said, thank you Evil Tara for making my boy's dreams come true. They really wanted a dog for Christmas and well...I can say that so far, they haven't stopped talking about how cool she is. 

Who's coming to visit you for the Holidays???

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

12 Days of Christmas!

Are your kids like mine? They can't wait to get to the final days of the advent calendar to welcome Christmas! Oh they unwrap each new day like it is the best thing in the universe to see what we'll be making or reading together. It's my favorite 12 days of the year!

What do you do to spread a little Christmas Cheer? Do you bake something evil  righteous?
Make Gingerbread?

Do you sing? What gifts do you bring?

Well, on the Chef Tess Facebook page we're celebrating the 12 days of Christmas! Come join us for the last few days and maybe get some delightful ideas for sharing some Spirit this year!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Mom's Classic Christmas Danish Rolls

The best part of doing my baking at home late at night, is finding unexpected little treasures left in my kitchen sink now and then. Case in point. December 7th. My son built an aircraft carrier and did an all-night water-tight exercise.  I somehow missed this adventure until I looked into the sink to wash a spoon. It is a good thing I didn't just slam the dough-wad into the sink. That would have been a great human tragedy. Not an epic tragedy mind-you, but a slight human tragedy. 

Another human tragedy would be not sharing my mother's recipe for Danish rolls here on the blog. We've enjoyed them my entire life and Christmas is probably the time I enjoy making them most. So, in the middle of relocating to a new house and figuring out where I put my camera...we made these.
They're an almond and chocolate filled breakfast delight. 
I'm not flying home to see mom and dad this year, so the pastries will have to do the job of bringing us together. 
My Mom's Traditional Danish pastry recipe
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1-1/4 cups cool water (not over 90 degrees)
4 cups pastry or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 egg
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup ground almonds (Note: you can use almonds you grind in a food processor or almond flour)
Sliced almonds (optional)
Sanding sugar (optional)

 Place yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar into cool water (be sure it is not hotter than 90 degrees which will be cool to your wrist).  Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until yeast begins to bubble.  Meanwhile in food processer place flour, salt, and sugar.  Pulse to mix together.  Place butter into flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles cornmeal.  Pour mixture into large bowl and make a well in it.  Beat egg and add to yeast mixture.  In the flour well add the yeast/egg mixture.  Mix until ingredients until they come together (do not over mix at this point).  Place plastic wrap on mixture and let rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Meanwhile make filling by mixing all of the filling ingredients together. 

 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Take dough out of the fridge and divide into 4 parts. Press each part into a long strip on greased cookie sheet and spread with filling and roll long edges to create well to keep filling in.  .
 I personally like to cut one inch strips down the side of the roll and criss-cross the dough over the filling.

. Sprinkle each pastry strip with sanding sugar and sliced almonds (optional). I also lightly "paint" a little egg over the pastry once it has raised. This aids in the browning when it bakes.
Let pastry rise for 15 minutes and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. 
There you go. Something warm for the holidays. It is a family classic around here.

Always  My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Monday, December 3, 2012

Personal Sized Meals in a Jar

Monday! It's Meal in a Jar day! Holiday happiness is upon us and wouldn't you know it...we still need to eat every single day. So, here's the latest video tutorial on how to make some personal sized meals in a jar using one basic pasta base. I take these when I travel and have them in my hotel rooms instead of eating out. They're great for work, play, school, college students, military or anyone! The tutorial on making them in lightweight mylar bags is found here: How to make homemade mylar packed meals. If you want more information on the 52 method meals in a jar, along with recipes, go to the 52 Jar Method Recipe Tab.

For the Noodle Base:
1 oz broken spaghetti or macaroni noodles (about 1/4 cup)
1T Dehydrated Carrot
2T Freeze Dried Bell Peppers
1/4 cup Freeze Dried Mushrooms
2 tsp Freeze Dried Onion
1/4 cup Freeze Dried Ground Beef or Sausage

Classic Italian Tomato Sauce
To each Noodle Base Jar add:
3T Tomato Powder
1 tsp Chef Tess Italian Seasoning
To prepare:Bring 1 1/3 cups water to a rolling boil. Remove and discard oxygen absorber (they are only good once). Pour contents of jar into boiling water and stir. Boil 8-10 minutes until noodles are tender. Serve hot.

Cheeseburger Sauce
To each Noodle Base Jar add:
1/4 cup Cheese Sauce Powder
2T Instant Dry Milk
2T Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
To prepare:Put contents of mix in a 12 inch skillet (with a lid). Add 1 1/3 cups water. Bring to a boil and cover. Simmer 12-15 minutes until noodles are tender. Sauce will thicken a little more as it cools. Yield 1 1/2 cups prepared.

There you go! Make some delicious personal sized meals! They're fast, easy, and great for travel! By the way, if you like having these video tutorials, I'm asking if you'd please post them on your facebook, twitter, and pinterest...let's share the love. Honeyville will produce a lot more of these as long as there is a demand from my darlings out there. Xoxo!!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Kitchen Craftin' Gingerbread House Under Glass Tutorial

 Last week we made some gingerbread houses for centerpieces to use during some swanky upcoming Christmas events. Ya know. It is the pretty little house that any inch-high fairy would find passed the land of swirly whirly gum-drops and the proverbial "wintery Fairy-Land". Try not to scream, "Saaaanta! I know him!!"  Now, in order to keep swipers from swiping...we put our gingerbread fantasy-lands under glass!

How did we take this gorgeous beast and put it in the glass display?
 Ya know...without destroying all the delicate features of the house?

Well. The secret is making them by first measuring. Simple silly.  The second secret is making them lightweight and cheating a little. Yes. I cheated. These beauties are made with cardboard. They're a cross between a kitchen craft and a real gingerbread. This makes them light enough and strong enough to put in a container without falling apart.

We even used a hot glue gun to really give the strength we needed for the base.
My advanced pastry school instructors are probably not very happy with this. However, I'm a mom first right now...and I just didn't have a full day to devote to baking gingerbread, cutting, sugar melting, and waiting for royal icing to dry. wouldn't have been light enough to slip into the cookie jar. Really. 
Just make sure the base of the structure fits inside the container, then remove from the glass, decorate and return to the "under glass" area.  This one was done in a trifle bowl.
This also works for mini snow-globe-type gingerbread houses. Invert a regular mouth mason jar lid and ring that have been sealed together with hot-glue. This base gives the house enough lift to be seen as a snow globe inside of the jar.  Put your gingerbread or cardboard house inside the inner circle of the ring. Place the regular mouth mason jar lid on a wide-mouth lid. 
Make sure it will fit inside the wide mouth quart jar. This is one of the Ball old-fashioned wide mouth pint jars. They are a little fatter and shorter than the regular wide-mouth jars. 

Remove. Decorate. Return to the jar.

Other cheater ideas.
Yup. I have them too.
1. Use recycled stuff. The top roof is a recycled hamburger clam-shell. The base is a cardboard box and the structure for the fireplace is some strategically folded paper-towel cardboard.  

2. Use unexpected decorations and embellishments.
The "wood siding" for the house is actually some perfectly measured and snapped pieces of tomato-basil dry glued in place. This was dry enough to keep the structure from going soggy. I could have used gum pieces or something. This was just what I had around the house. If you see some light green on the side of the wrap-around porch and the balcony...that was spinach linguine.

The pillars on the wrap-around porch and the fence-posts are all made from candy sticks. My son called them candy cigarettes. I'm not sure I'd let my kids play with them for anything but making gingerbread. I used royal frosting for the final decorations but in general, the hot glue gun stayed in-use most of the project. I think this house will be here in 5 years if I keep it dry. Not that I'm going to do that...but it is really cool!
My son said, "We need to make these every single week!" So, you can bet that we will be doing more. 
Please note. The pile of candy and bags of goodies...well...that was for the project. However, for under 20$ and a full 6 hours of just being creative with my was a priceless investment.

We bonded over pretzel-logs, licorice siding, smarties shingles, and frosting ice-cycles. What could be more perfect?

There you go. Do some kitchen crafts with your kiddos!

Always My Very Best,
Your Friend Chef Tess