in food, photography

Hostess in Training 1.6.2016

This week I made one of my husband’s favorite desserts, miniature clementine cakes. I got the whole idea of baking these the first time from the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. From Kristin Wiig singing “Space Oddity” to Ben Stiller outrunning a volcano, the movie is so surreal and yet so believable at the same time that it really makes you think about how amazing life is. I would like to think we live in a world where those things could happen, a world where clementine cake could win the good graces of an Afghan Warlord.

Which is why I bake this cake. I took the recipe straight from the blog The Woks of Life except I substitute Pamela’s gluten free pancake mix for the flour. The only reason I started doing this was because at the time, my husband was trying to isolate an allergy and we started cutting out gluten. They were so delicious that I just always make them this way. And I tend to keep Pamela’s pancake mix in the pantry because it is just really good.


The second element of today’s training was to try out a new technique of food photography that was inspired by A Brown Table. It was just so unique and such a huge departure from the normal bright, nearly over-exposed photos that are normally associated with baking. What do you think?

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Baking + Photos

Part of the perfect home is the perfect hostess. Like many women finding their balance between career and domesticity, I have unrealistic dreams about throwing glamorous parties with beautiful centerpieces, calligraphy name cards, and photogenic dishes. I figure with these ambitions, I should start honing my baking skills.

The ultimate goal of course it to bake something so beautiful that there is a collective “Oooh” across the dining room and everyone can’t help themselves but get their phones out and take a photo.

In this post – a terribly photogenic but downright inedible lemon ricotta cake, the moistest chocolate cupcakes in the world with delicate matcha green tea buttercream, and some pretty decent yet unimpressive lemon bars.

No you didn’t misread. I did something stupid which is that I took a random recipe off of pinterest without doing any research on the blogger nor did I read any reviews on the recipe. Now the photos are gorgeous, just as they were the first time I saw it on pinterest. But I might as well have been eating sawdust. Now, to be fair, I made a very cavalier substitution of coconut flour for almond flour because I didn’t have enough almond flour left in the house – oops. Anyway, here are the beautiful photos but BEWARE DO NOT MAKE.

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Time for the Showroom

Does anybody remember Expo? Home Depot’s high-end kitchen and bath showrooms? How about the Great Indoors? What ever happened to those? After a recent google search, I discovered that in 2009, Home Depot closed 34 of their Expo stores, including the one in the Houston area. And the Great Indoors that I remember visiting as a child is also a thing of the past.

I did not let this deter me from finding the experience that I was looking for. After some research, I found a few showrooms in the area. None as epic or grand as the Expo, but my needs were minimal. All I wanted was to sit in an oversized bathtub that was in a row of other oversized bathtubs, or at least have the option to. So I found a few candidates and ended up choosing Ferguson. All the online browsing and Pinteresting in the world is not the same as seeing and feeling something in person.


Upon entering the showroom I was ecstatic that this place was not letting me down. There were plenty of bathtubs, sinks, plumbing fixtures, and enough rain showerheads to last a lifetime. I was in heaven. They even had the Numi – the super smart and fancy Japanese style toilet by Kohler ( I would recommend watching this video. How do they make a toilet seem so elegant?).

The other side of seeing things for yourself is that you might discover that some things that you wanted just won’t work. For example, I had to see it to believe that my master bathroom floorplan was not conducive to a free standing bathtub. My husband already knew this and already warned me, but I wouldn’t accept it until I visited the showroom. Sad but true. But again, this was a necessary step in my home-building process.


The highlight of my visit was the sighting of the Jenn-Air Obsidian in the wild (pictured here). Isn’t it BEAUTIFUL. After seeing it in a magazine from 2013, I thought it was only a thing of legend. But I finally got to see it in person and it was every bit as exquisite as I thought it would be. If you haven’t heard of Obsidian, it is the first fridge that has a black interior. With a dual evaporator system, this ten thousand dollar fridge is both functional and gorgeous.


Perhaps secondary to the Obsidian was the GE Profile Series 30 in French Door Oven. In the flesh. Inspired by restaurant ovens, these doors are connected and swing open and closed together, making it easy to maneuver with one hand and also making food easily reachable with hopefully fewer forearm burns. Setting you back about $4000, this dream is slightly more attainable.

I’m also in the search for pendant lights, and though I did not find any that my husband and I could agree on, my trip was definitely worth it. Next showroom I am going to try is Morrison, stay tuned!

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