02 December 2006

Photography | rain, one winter day 2

rain, one winter day, originally uploaded by Amber *.

Winter in Oregon. Life slows down to trickle in the newly frigid streets. Mornings are haunted with eerie fog which engulf silhouettes of bare trees. Trace your reflection thrown haphazard about great chains of puddles
that litter the pavement, which mirror melancholy skies.

Skin tight , hands and face weathered from Wind's chilly embrace.

13 August 2006

Poetry of Baking 1


At night, I wake up sweating
And feel poems baking in my heart
Like my grandmother's biscuits.
As I toss and turn, they brown and rise.
I test each one and add a pat of butter here,
Some honey there, a bit of jam.
I will savor them with my morning coffee.

-- Published in Writer's Journal 2004 . Raynette Eitel

07 August 2006

Vintage Photog : Baker and Staff 4

I found this while browsing flickr. I love this photograph, and I intend on asking john if he would have it copied for me, I would pay him of course, and then have the picture sent to me.

Baker and Staff, originally uploaded by mrwaterslide.
This is what he had put under the photo :
One day at the hotel I had all my work finished and I asked the chef if I could
leave early. It must have been about three o'clock. I got in my car and drove
madly down the interstate, and then turned off on a state road, heading towards
Lake of the Ozarks. Every time I came to an antique store or flea market I
pulled over, ran inside, and scanned the stock hurriedly. I found this photo at
my last stop of the day (it was almost five o'clock, when most everything
closes). It's marked $4.00 on the back, so I suppose that's what I paid for it
I would say that is a pretty cool find.

05 August 2006

Photography : stage of the knot rolls' makeup 2

stage of the knot rolls makeup, originally uploaded by Amber *.

22 July 2006

Foodie links/photog : Red Currant Mini Cakes 2

Wow. What a beautiful picture, I found this while browsing the flickr group I manage : Artisan Artistry , a group for photographs that feature handmade breads/confections/desserts. SO far there are 122 members.

Red Currant Mini Cakes, originally uploaded by La tartine gourmande. 
Here are the most recent group stats:

 Baking  Artisan Artistry. Get yours at flagrantdisregard.com/flickr

La Tartine Gourmande  has a tantalizing photo stream.
Visit the food blog for luscious Recipes ---
Red Currant Mini Cakes can be found here .
Flickr has over 4,500 groups which are food related. Yikes...foodie heaven or hell ? You be the judge...

19 July 2006

Photog : of a dried berry | Reverse Macro How To 4

By adding a traditional 35mm film lens in reverse, in front of my digital lens, I was able to capture the details of this dried berry. This was the natural coloring. I thought it was quite beautiful.

Reverse Macro of a dried berry, originally uploaded by Amber *.
To Create your own reverse macro:
  1. Select a digital camera with at least 4mps. One with a larger lens opening than a standard "point & shoot" camera - when I mention point & shoot I am talking about the cameras with very small (dime - nickel sized) lens holes. I didn't have an DSLR with standard 35mm equivalent to use (my camera has a 28mm equivalent which worked great). The bigger lens hole will enable you to capture the light given off from the 35mm lens. To make this kind of shot, a built in flash is worthless, because the added length of both lenses creates a tunneling effect. It also helps to have a zoom power greater than 3, my camera has 10 optical zoom and 8 digital.
  2. Find a telephoto 35mm lens (you can experiment with different sizes and ranges), I used a [55mm - 117mm ] Pentax telephoto. It should have a lens lip or hood of at least 1/4 inch (this is found at the protruding end) or wider. This lip will allow you to hold the two lenses comfortably in one hand, but also position your lens close to the 35mm lens, and at the same time create a light barrier. A smoother, slide roll type barrel extender works better here too -- as this enables you to use light touches to adjust the magnification (i.e zoom) of the 35mm lens.
  3. Find a place to photograph your macro. It should be flooded with natural light (fluorescent lights or ambient light will not produce good results) a good time of day is in the early morning, or around 4 p.m, on a bright day. There should not be any object to create and caste shadows.
  4. Find your subject. This technique allows you to magnify the finest details --- like dust particles or tiny ridges, so find something that isn't necessarily interesting on it's own --- but would be neat in magnification.
  5. Position your subject. A box below your subject will prop it up so you aren't lurching over your subject. Try to position it in full light.
  6. Getting Ready For the Shot. Get situated in a comfortable stance, as this will take several shots and lots of adjusting to get it right. Position your hand around the bottom of your digital camera lens so that it is cradled in your hand. Make sure only half of your hand (i.e pinky and ring fingers) is touching that lens, as the rest of your hand (i.e middle, pointer and thumb) will be holding the 35mm telephoto lens steady in front of your digital lens. A safe spacing between the two is 1/4 "- 1/2 inch. DO NOT let your lenses touch each other --- as this will lead to scratching!! Position the lenses and then position the camera and lenses in front of your subject.
  7. Focus, focus , focus. The trick is to learn to focus your digital to pick up on the finer adjustments of the 35mm telephoto lens. I zoomed in with my digital half way, then I would move the telephoto to magnify more and more, all the while gently focusing with the telephoto. You will need to shift around your subject to create better shots. Try different distances and zoom.
  8. Practice, practice, practice. Get a feel for your camera and the two lenses working in sync. Try a variety of subjects and light strengths --- this will take a lot of shots and trial and error, so have your memory card handy.

14 July 2006

Photography : black eyed & water logged 0

I captured this on the way home from class. It was wet and raining. The light was perfect and I was able to capture the refection of the sky's blue grey color, off of the water collected on the center of this black eyed susan.

black eyed & water logged, originally uploaded by Amber *. 

11 July 2006

Photog : Windows -The soul of Dough 0

There is no gluten structure in this dough --- lots of holes and the dough breaks away when pulled because it needs further mixing to develop the gluten.

The Window: A meshing of gluten strands!
Tight like a drum --- the gluten strands have become meshed and the dough is done mixing. If you tap this "window" --- it will hold up and bounce back without tearing.

A Window - meshing of gluten strands!

07 July 2006

Glimpses 0

Here is a collage of pictures over the recent year, I took. If you click it and are a flickr member, you can follow the notes made on the collage and be taken to each individual picture page.

Glimpses, originally uploaded by Amber *.
I am sorry that I have been away from the blogosphere since spring...I have lot's of things happening right now. I moved away from the Portland area and that has taken up a lot of my time, with the packing and everything. But it was quite liberating too --- as I was able to sort through things I had packed away which I had been hanging onto, sentimentally since I was 17 years old...Needless to say if you browse a goodwill in Portland you may purchase one of mine or my families' former possessions. It is amazing what one can accumulate over 10 years, whether it be paperwork or just odds and ends. I also was able to locate my old letters written by old friends that I miss...Hopefully our paths will cross again someday soon.
I promise I will be keeping up with my food blog once I settle in --- Until then, fare thee well!

14 March 2006

My Recipe : Curried Asparagus 8

This is a tasty side dish. It has gotten raves from my friends and family. It may seem a bit salty at first glance but take into consideration the liquid added washes the flavor out a bit , so there needs to be enough salt to bring out the curry flavors. Enjoy!

Green Asparagus by Gunnar Magnusson
You Will Need:
  • a nice bunch of Asparagus (1-2 #s)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 of a stick of butter
  • a good curry powder (look for these ingredients : coriander seed, chili, cumin seed, fennel seeds, cinnamon, poppy seeds, star anise seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, white pepper and peanut -- You can buy this mixture at an Asian market, regular grocers tend to have a diluted curry powder lacking depth)
  • balsamic vinegar (a splash about 1-2 TB)
  • porcini mushroom flavored oil (a bout 1/4 TB
  • rubbed sage (about 1/4 - 1/2 tsp)
  • onion salt (1/2 tsp)
  • garlic salt (1/2 tsp)
  • kosher salt (1 tbs)
  • water (enough to cover asparagus)
Heat your pan on medium high and allow the butter to melt completely. After washing & breaking the fibrous bottoms off your asparagus stalks -- add them to the melted butter. Add 1 tablespoon of curry to the pan, mix into the butter to form a paste. Sprinkle balsamic vinegar over the whole pan. Drizzle your asparagus with the porccini oil. Dust with rubbed sage. Sprinkle salt , onion and garlic salt (a few shakes , as water will be added later). Stir briskly. Add 1 tsp more of the curry. Add enough water to barely cover the stalks. Cover and allow to simmer.

When done the asparagus will take on the yellow color of the curry, and they will appear slightly wrinkled/wilted.

26 February 2006

Photography : On the rails along the Columbia 3

I took this on the way home, traveling I-84. We pulled over and I got out with no fleece to take as many shots as I could in 2 minutes...brrr. It was very cold and the wind was a frigid guest.

on the rails along the columbia, originally uploaded by Amber *.
I am back home. I have some better shots in my photo stream of this sunset. I took some from my car window --- had I charged my camera battery I might have gotten more. Oh well.

I haven't a culinary gem to pull out of my chef hat at this moment --- but more will follow I promise.

I did the math recently as I looked at my feedburner stats since April 2004 --- I have over 130 readers by rss aggregation! Plus like 15 by email.

Wow! Thanks for reading! I wasn't trying to create a pretentious food blog, nor was I claiming to be some culinary wizard. I wanted to write my thoughts and I admit I haven't been the most regular poster. Balancing your life when your a blogger and single is one thing --- but when you have a family to take care of with a young child and are going to school full time it is a lot harder to be consistent when blogging...atleast for me.

It has been a struggle, as I have suffered a writing ship wreck --- I am surely caught in The doldrums:
Early sailors named this belt of calm the doldrums because of the low spirits they found themselves in after days of no wind. To find oneself becalmed in this region in a hot and muggy climate could mean death in the era when wind was the only motive force.
Writer's block. No creative thoughts, like a blank stare into a calm sea. Frustrating, as there is no change ...Just a sour awareness you are not creating anything new.

08 February 2006

I turn 26 today. 0

Hand made trufflesThese are a few examples of the chocolates our resident chocolatier has introduced into the curriculum...How beautifully tempered -- notice the glossy sheen? That is a sign of well tempered chocolate. I will introduce more on the subject of chocolate at a latter date...

Hand made truffles

Yikes. Happy Birthday to me! It feels strange to be 26 years old.
Reflecting on my life , it reminds me of a song.....

"Oh,to live on sugar mountain

With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.

It's so noisy at the fair
But all your friends are there
And the candy floss you had
And your mother and your dad.

Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.

There's a girl just down the aisle,
Oh, to turn and see her smile.
You can hear the words she wrote
As you read the hidden note.

Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.

Now you're underneath the stairs
And you're givin' back some glares
To the people who you met
And it's your first cigarette.

Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.

Now you say you're leavin' home
'cause you want to be alone.
Ain't it funny how you feel
When you're findin' out it's real?

Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon.

Oh, to live on sugar mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on sugar mountain
Though you're thinking that you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon."

--- Neil Young "Sugar Mountain" ; Decade EP

05 February 2006

Recipe : Gulab Jamun | Indian Sweets 2

Gulab Jamun. An Indian treat

gu·lab ja·mun
(plural gu·lab ja·muns)

Indian dessert: Deep-fried dough served in a sugar syrup flavored with rose water.

[ Hindi translation = [gulāb] ="rose water" + [ jāmun]= "fruit"]

Indian sweets are generally based on thickened milk (khoya) and rice flour ---" Chaval ka atta" (in Hindi) or "arisi mavu" (in Tamilamil) . This combo has many uses : Crispness can be obtained if added to deep fried vegetables .

Used as a thickener in South Indian cuisine --- dishes such as kolambu, gotsu and rasa vangi which are then served with plain rice. IA thick batter can be made with urad dal for dosas and idlis. In Northern Indian cuisine it is used mainly in a pudding
called phirni .

If your path takes you to East, Middle or West India --- it is the base of various pancakes, dumplings, fried snacks and sweets.

Rice flour is also used in painting 'kolam's' or alpanas, (mandalas)
attractive designs fused with flowers on the thresh hold of traditional homes..

OR chickpea flour. --- a.k.a
Gram flour, made from chickpeas (chana dal), is used as a binding agent for Koftas (meatballs or vegetable balls), or as a batter for fritters and as the base savory snacks like Dhokla (steamed dumplings), Bonda (spiced potato curry balls dipped in a batter of besan and deep fried), or Sev (fine, fried strands or sweets like ladoos.

Besan is used in many beauty related recipes : homemade masks , face scrub and toner,It is mainly mixed with malai (cream) and drops of rose water, or plain water.

Cardamom, almond, raisin, saffron, jaggery, rose-water and a hint of camphor are some of the commonly used flavorings used to scent Indian sweets. Bengali confections are favored all over India, especially sweets which use cottage cheese (paneer) or khoya as a base ingredient.

Popular sweets are Rasogullas and Gulab jamuns, these cottage cheese and khoya balls are soaked in scented sugar syrup. Favorite Indian delicacies include Jalebi (airy and light
'curlicues' of deep fried flour, soaked in syrup). Halwa (semolina pudding), Sohan halwa are very rich, chewy, nutty candies.
I discovered my love of all food Indian, through an old friend roommate. She had been heavily influenced by her father's stint in the South Pacific, adding his pastry chefs' flair and her mother's Asian roots , which acted as a gateway for the intermingling of Asian and Indian cuisines. She favored Vegetarian dishes best. So with the meeting of this friend and as our friendship flourished, I naturally developed a love affair with Dahl and curries .

This recipe was given to me from an an aging Indian woman who frequented our neighborhood. She was very happy to pass the legacy of her food filled past , however small , as she was saddened by the lack in interest from her grand-children.

Gulab Jamun

  • 4 oz. dried milk
  • 2 level tablespoons plain flour
  • pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • 4-5 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 lb sugar
  • 2 cardamoms
  • rose water for flavoring
  • 8 oz vegetable fat for frying
Mix the dried milk, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl. Add fresh milk to make a soft dough; make thin 2 in long rolls.

Heat the fat, then cool and put over a slow fire. Put as many of the rolls as the pan will hold comfortably. Cook over a very slow fire till the jamuns are pale gold and have doubled in size.

While the jamuns are frying - add the sugar and 1/2 pint of water in a sauce pan and make a thick syrup. Add the cardamoms, either coarsely ground or whole, to the syrup.

Drain the jamuns and add the syrup, let stand for 5 minutes over low heat, then take off of the fire - add 1 tablespoon of rosewater and cool.

This should make 2 dozen jamuns. Serve hot or cold.


You can learn more about Indian Confections here. There is also a wikipedia entry on Gulab Jamun . It is a small paragraph --- if you have info on the history of Gulab Jamune You you might want to contribute to building of the wikipedia page.

25 January 2006

Oregon Hazelnuts + Recipe : Praline Paste 18

copyrighted. All rights reservedHazelnuts. Have you seen the groves of trees while in Oregon? . Drive toward Wilsonville, Oregon and you will see them. Interspersed between suburban sprawl and small businesses, the further you proceed --- slowly the vast quilt of these orchards starts to fully engulf the land. Hashed out in a herringbone pattern, these are stubby trees with intricate canopies. They spread their branches enveloping the crops of nuts in an umbrella of leaves

The Willamette Valley is responsible for %99 of U.S hazelnut production. A great site to find out more about Hazelnuts, including tasty formulas (recipes) and other links, is Oregon's Hazelnut Industry website.

Nuts are unfairly avoided due to misconceptions of being unhealthy and full of fat. This may be true for certain varieties of nuts, but Hazelnuts are a heart healthy choice. They contain %91 percent mono unsaturated fat and less than 4 percent saturated fat. Not to mention significant amounts of protein, fiber, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, folate and many other essential nutrients.

Today I will share a great way to introduce hazelnuts to your palate. Learn how to make this paste from scratch. Praline paste is usually a baking item you rarely see in supermarkets. It is mostly found in specialty shops such as cake decorating suppliers. However, I couldn't find it at The Decorette Shop , Portland Oregon's own cake specialty supplier. To purchase praline paste you are most likely going to run into prices ranging from $15 -20 per 2 lb container. It can be very expensive to purchase retail.

Praline Paste Formula:

Lightly Toast whole hazelnuts on a baking sheet.

In a stainless steel sauce pan, combine equal parts sugar
and water. Do not stir . The mixture will reduce --- allow
caramelize (you will see the sides start to color first).

Once the sugar reduction has caramelized, remove from heat.

sugar reduction & nuts are briskly stirred to coat nuts

The lightly toasted hazelnuts
added to the sugar
reduction.Nut carmel is cooled on marble slab
They are then stirred briskly,this should
be done very quickly as the sugar reduction
start to harden.

You want to coat the hazelnuts in the caramel.
The heat from the caramel will warm the nuts
and allow the hazelnuts essence to permeate
the caramel.

The nut caramel is then poured onto a greased
marble slab. The cooled caramel will be less reddish
brown in color.

art 067

Allow the caramel to cool. Once cool use a spatula to
once cool the nut carmel is spread and flipped over
spread and press the nut caramel in an even layer.

Flip the cooling layer
over. Allow to harden.

Once the nut caramel has hardened, use a rolling pin or some
other weighty tool to break up the hardened nut caramel.The nut brittle is broken up and processed in a FP until a fine paste
The pieces should be small enough to fit in your food processor.

Put nut caramel pieces into the food processor and pulse unit the pieces begin to smooth until a paste. Continue to process until desired smoothness.

Store in an airtight container. This paste is great to jazz up your pastry cream -- just add a small amount of praline paste to the cooled pastry cream before adding to
cream puffs.

22 January 2006

Photog: Finished paris brest 5

A Paris-Brest is a French dessert, made of choux pastry and a praline flavoured cream.

Finished paris brest, originally uploaded by Amber *.
The pastry was created in 1891 to commemorate the Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race. Its circular shape is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders on the Paris-Brest cycle race, partly because of its energy-giving high calorific value, and is now found in pâtisseries all over France.

07 January 2006

Baking Is?? 0

According to googlism.com the list below is what Baking & Pastry is, according to google --- a very interesting take on Baking. I have divided the results into subcategories. The list is compiled using the most popular phrases when the term "baking" or "pastry" is searched for on the internet.

bake 615 by Amber *

Scientific :
  • baking is math
  • baking is a great way to do mathematics since you need to combine ingredients in a certain order with a specific
  • baking is math estimated time to complete activity
  • baking is one of the most versatile of cooking techniques because it can achieve a variety of unique results
  • baking is a science
  • baking is an artisan style bakery serving desserts to the hotel
  • baking is excited to offer a new dessert that is guaranteed to heat up your sales
  • baking is the technique cooks and chefs use to pre cook a pastry
  • baking is also a cooking method which turns out goodies that are unbelievably tasty
  • baking is in the manipulation and the fermentation
  • baking is a very important unit operation in the food industry
  • baking is not an exact science
  • baking is possibly one of the oldest form of cooking
  • baking is more scientific than other cooking techniques and requires careful measuring
  • baking is a precise science and not something to which you can take a lackadaisical approach

  • baking is as much a science as an art
  • baking is one of my joys
  • baking is an intensely creative activity
  • baking is the art of turning various items into edible food
  • baking is important too
  • baking is the language we use to tell our families and friends we love them
  • baking is in morabito family's blood

  • baking is terrifying
  • baking is not for you
  • baking is funny not funny ha ha
  • baking is to cut out or cut back on the nuts that you use
  • baking is on the rise
  • baking is now the thing to do to impress friends
  • baking is easy enough for even the most culinary challenged men
  • baking is a fun skill but of somewhat limited usefulness


  • baking is the food of love
  • baking is poetry to businessman's soul
  • baking is a millenium dedication to the american flour milling industry and to those who bring us our daily bread

Pastry IS??

shaping danish - Pinwheels By Amber *
Scientific :
  • pastry is tacky to touch
  • pastry is judged by the evenness of the flakes when it is baked
  • pastry is the title given to baked articles of food made of paste or having paste as a necessary ingredient
  • pastry is kneaded
  • pastry is first mixed to develop the gluten until a smooth silky dough is formed
  • pastry is my life
  • pastry is one of the great delights of the french kitchen
  • pastry is as good as it gets
  • pastry is so good that it seems a shame to limit it use to a breakfast roll

  • pastry is bergin's idea of good time
  • pastry is very sticky
  • pastry is either flaky or tough
  • pastry is an elegant pastry that can be given as a chic & unique gift to anyone with a sweet tooth & impress them
  • pastry is always shrinking
  • pastry is not one of my strongest suits

  • pastry is a light
  • pastry is given the correct perspective
  • pastry is like feathers

04 January 2006

Recipe: Italian Turdilli 8

I have typically generalized on this blog, spoken not too specifically, mainly I have danced around the subject of my personal life. Well for those of you readers who know a little more about me then the words that glare at you from my blog pages, those that have emailed me or had fleeting cyber conversations...You are in for a treat.

Today I will share a small glimpse into that vault of memories from my childhood. A place I keep wrapped up --- to be reviewed when sorrows over shadow my life. I breathe in the smells of wheat farmed country sides, I eye the kitchen tools and ingredients that are all too familiar --- they create the foundation of food appreciation that I have today.

Of the many cultural influences in my life, there is one tributary branching off the meandering river I call my family heritage.

This tributary is peppered with Mediterranean accents. The migration of strong, willing inhabitants across a harsh sea. There is calling from the hills, to savor seasons! Making a life, if not harvests --- there is no discrimination from vine or fowl.

My maternal great-grandparents each made their own journey to America, they shuffled through Ellis Island. Into the dirty streets of New York. In search of a place that embodied the green rolling hills they had left behind.

They eventually settled, and indeed found their rolling hills. From the descriptions I have been given their farm was something of a foodies dream --- they made their own Italian cheeses,Prosciutto,salami & Italian meats and their own wines. There were great feasts to be had.

I grew up to appreciate little jewels of Italian heritage. One of my favorite sweets are Turdillis [pronounced TOR-DEE-LL-EEs]. We would get these at the annual Italian dance and festival. They are simple , but very suitable for any palate. The wine gives them a very pleasing contrast to the honey which they are rolled in. Enjoy!

  1. 1 cup oil
  2. 1 1/4 cup white wine
  3. 2 cups flour, or more depending on consistency..
  4. Pinch of salt
  5. dash of nutmeg & cinnamon
  6. 3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
  7. Plate of honey, heated for dipping
Bring oil and wine to boil, let stand for 5 minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl, add flour mixed with spices. Knead well, divide dough into thirds. Pin out (roll) to 1 1/2 inch thickness, you want long strips. Cut each strip into 2 inch pieces. Fry in deep hot oil. Cool and dip in hot honey.

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