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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

May the Force be With You

Character Cakes

So along with my exploring and practising in baking, I have been blessed with a lot of cute little boys in my family and my wonderful friends kids that love everything that has to do with Star Wars and any other Marvel characters.  Since I love to bake and try new ideas, I've got to practice making some fun cakes for the boys.  
Who dosen't want to own or at least appreciate the millenium falcon

Darth Vader's head on a plate 

Marvel Heads, actually not made for a boy but for my brother-in-law

Sorry to say, don't remember the name of this ship, definetly a star wars ship
fun to play with before flying one into your mouth

Chez Pannise

                                 Relating to Alice Waters

I just recently read the book "Alice Waters Chez Pannise," which is sort of a biography of Waters life and the restaurant she opened, Chez Pannise.  I really related to her with her sense of adventure and enthusiasm with food, especially in French cuisine.  She really inspires me to go for my dreams and to not take no for an answer.  I would love to eat at her restaurant one day and be surprised by what ever she feeds me, since it is a pre fix menu that changes everyday with season to season and whats available.  If you are interested in how restaurants get started, the struggles to make it work with passions and dreams, you would enjoy this book. Also, its just inspiring to see how someones hard work and determination will succeed in their goals. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Food That Takes You Back

                               Bread in it's Simplicity

I like the idea of food bringing people together.  The many amazing things that you can do with it, the natural way of where it comes from and how food is an art in itself.  I find an inner peace when I am in the kitchen making bread, seeing the yeast work on the sugars and causing the gluten strands to expand and the end becomes this beautiful product inside and out.  It is so amazing in texture and flavor compared to store bought, modified and chemically bound breads.  How the smell of fresh baked bread is intoxicating and can bring this warmth when you walk into the room.  It makes me think of the first day I woke up in Italy, when I spent a summer there,  my nose literally woke me up to the over powerful smell wafting up from the bakery downstairs through the green shutters in my room.  Slowly waking up from terrible jet lag, I slowly started taking in the stark white walls around me, a warm breeze coming in from the slates in the shutters that opened out to a porch.  Down below, I can hear the faint sound of a broom being swept slowly over soft cobble stones.  I will always remember this moment like it was yesterday and I hope that everyone that has a fresh baked product from my kitchen will have a similiar experience as me.  Something that takes them back to a moment they will never forget and it slows down there day enough to have that moment of peace, of intoxication. 



Strange to see how a good dinner and
feasting reconciles everybody.
Samuel Pepys

     Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.
Harriet Van Horne

The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

 Cheese- milk's leap towards immortality.-Clifton Fadiman

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Big Egg

The Eggstraordinary Wrap

My last couple days in Portland have been an adventure of trying as many places to eat before moving on to a new city, ready to explore.  One place that I read about, that locals claimed had amazing breakfast sandwiches, is "The Big Egg" cart in Historic Mississippi area.  I ventured there on a cold morning, after work in late January only to find that they closed for the month and would return in February to serve up their famous sandwiches.  So last weekend, on a gorgeous, sunny Saturday morning, I drove across the 30 hwy bridge to try this again. There were more people this time, enjoying the sunshine and getting a late breakfast at one of the many carts there.  When I got to the window, I told them it was my first time there and what do they recommend?  There are about 5 choices, one being a wrap, the others, sandwiches, with the choice of meat, vegan option also available.  They have a seasonal sandwich that looked amazing, but they said that the most popular was the wrap.  I decided to do as the locals do, go for the wrap. Yay! There is a 45 minute wait.  Well as I have seen with Oregonians, they don't mind waiting for good food, even from a food cart.  I was up for it, especially since it was such a beautiful day, I preceded to waited in anticapation.
Well, it was worth the wait. It was hot, tasty flavor, good texture, and not too much of anything standing out. Those who know me, know I don't like anything overpowering another flavor.  Usually it's the "too much bread" that tends to over powers anything else; texture, flavor and mouth feel.  This did not have any of that.  It is a little messy, but what's that phrase, "If it don't get all over the place, it don't belong in your face."  So true here. If you are ever in the Portland area, you should have breakfast with the Big Egg.  


Don't Expect too Much....

Do you ever experience an expectation that hightens when you hear about a new product or movie, everyone talks it up. The reviews come in with a lot of hype and you finally get a chance to experience what you have put on a pedestal and are expecting to be amazed!  When you finally get to participate in this amazing moment, you don't see what the big fuss is about.  In fact you are disappointed, maybe kick yourself for building your expectations up so high.  I have been a victim of this fall too many times and have learned to use this thinking, "have an open mind" take everything in as an opinion, think about all aspects of it.  What is it trying to sell?
I think of it as buying a car.  I can read all the reviews, hear everyones opinion of how they like it, but until I get behind the wheel and test drive it, I don't know if I will like it for myself.  Does it meet my needs? 
One thing I do when I hear about a new place to eat, I read the reviews from food critics, consumers, and talk to people I know that have tried it.  I try to see what they see it as, their view point.  Is it on the actual food appeal?  Or the atmosphere or the familiarity of the food to them?  Of course these are all great factors that play a part in the experience and how one enjoys their food, just not letting it overtake the actual product that you are trying to savore and the seller is trying to bring across.  

To diet or not to diet?

                               Food for Stomach

I have never been a fan of "dieting," I don't think anything good comes from starting a diet, it's hard to stick to and it just seems like so much work. How can you enjoy anything when you have to count calories all the time? 
I grew up with no sugar, very little processed food and not a lot of red meat, so I guess you can say I have an advantage of not having a palette for "bad food," thanks to my mom.  When I started going to college I slowly discovered processed food and coffee.  I couldn't drink coffee without lots of sugar and cream and I  lived off candy.  I still have a weakness for candy but now I drink my coffee black.  I have grown to appreciate more things like coffee, wine, beer, spirits and all forms of culinary food because I took an interest in them and improved my palate.  I did this, not to become a snob, although I'm sure I can come across that way some times, I discovered it taste better and is enjoyable when you pair certain things together.  It improves the flavor and makes the meal so much more enjoyable.  My motto is to "diet" like the French. They take the time to enjoy natural ingredients and food that takes time to prepare; slowly and a little at a time. They also walk a lot, and are less stressed than Americans because they don't take life as serious as we do and they take vacations regularly. But that's beside the point. 
When I was traveling through Europe, I acted like a true American, eating fast and rushing off to see the next thing.  When I sat down to eat, I would look around at all the tables where locals were sitting, eating a pairing like a fattening butter croissant and a glass of wine, soaking in the day.  I thought, why don't I just relax and enjoy this amazing food before me? 
I am still learning how to slow down and enjoy food, take in the flavors and textures, and through this, not needing huge American size portions. I am learning to be satisfied with less and enjoying more.