Monday, December 28, 2009

Love and Affection

My husband takes photographs and is great at it. I'd like to learn and so he's teaching me.

I don't want to create art with photos, to compete, mostly because I'd lose but also because I don't like the way competition feels when it's with someone you love (but I love the way it feels when it's with someone you don't). I want to document food. Until a few days ago, it was mostly produce from the CSA in the Mat-Su Valley I wanted to remember. I don't have the skill to write about produce in a way that isn't trite or laughable, so I'll leave it alone. But fresh produce is a brand of beautiful I wish I could capture.

When I bring food to an event I want it to be memorable. This is mostly because I'm vain, but also because I take pride in what I do because I value quality and nuance. We had a potluck at work on the Friday before Halloween and I brought devil's food cupcakes filled with (orange tinted) cream cheese frosting and iced with bittersweet ganache. I piped creme cheese frosting curly Qs across the top so they'd resemble Hostess treats. They were fantastic, but not very popular. My hypothesis is that they looked so professional that people thought they were store bought and so passed and ate my friend's obviously home made bars instead, but really, her offering was probably better (I was too full of cupcakes to try the bars so I wouldn't know).

The cupcakes aren't an isolated event. There was a rhubarb cake. And apple crisp and carmel sauce we brought to friends. And a heavily spiced custardy pumpkin pie we contributed to Thanksgiving.

We were invited to Christmas dinner and I wanted to bring something special. I wanted it to matter. I thumbed though cookbooks and chose truffles and an apple tart from James Peterson's Glorious French Food. They were both show stoppers. They made me want to learn to bake with gravitas, bake in a way that would make me unusual. So, looking for counsel, I typed baking into the Amazon search and the first thing that popped up was a new book called Baking by James Peterson. I bought the book the next day and started Pain au Chocolate (chocolate croissants) the day after that (which is today).

Tomorrow morning is the test. My husband will wake up to either delicious Pain au Chocolate, or a very crabby wife. We'll see.

The goal is to bake my way through James' new book and to learn how to take passible photos as I do it. I'm off this week (thanks to an incredibly generous holiday gift from the firm of a free week-and-a-half off) and have ambitious plans for my canister of flour.


  1. This is GREAT!!! I LOVE it! Can't wait to see what you bake!

  2. I can't wait to follow your baking. Everything you made for us in California was always such a treat! You are a great chef and I'm sure a great baker too.