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To let go…because you are used elsewhere with your gift.

February 12, 2013

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We had a Chinese new year celebration gala at Church this past weekend. My plates are pretty full because I had a lot of editing and deadline pile up, in fact when I arrive at Church that day I had not slept for 36 hours. The plan was simply, Timo my usual photobooth photographer will borrow the strobe kit and light stand, and he will photograph the family who would be posing in font Chinese looking chair and deco…I will try to stay for set up and then go home and finish up some work. The booth got scrape the day before because they had ran out of room, and Timo wasn’t able to inform me because he thought I would “surely want to have some rest” after one all nighter. Once I met up with him and find out, we were talking about it while he was blowing up balloon and me attempt to tape it on the stage. Within 15 mins, we decided and confirm with the extra locations, the type of light setting and who (him!) were going to man it and who is going to cover the activities on stage (me…because for some reason, I brought my camera and opt for the long lens instead of the usually 40mm) All we lack now is a backdrop.

For the next 10 mins after we taped the last balloon arch on the stage, we were running around Church trying to scrape up leftover material from the event or junk that people save in the closet. We had one single piece of disposable red table cloth, three cardboard random thingy with red gift wrapping paper cover..a box of different color tissue gift paper he had save under the stage during summer bible school. Next thing I knew, he was giving a improv how to make paper Chinese New Year Firecracker class to a group of helper who also finish laying out the table, and I was holding a piece of yellow table cloth, trying to make something out of it while I had no idea how, kept talking about random stuff to Kristen(don’s biggest fan) because of the high of the giant cup of coffee I just finish, the euphoria of putting something together and the lack of sleep. A voice came over me, basically saying, “Go, there are something else that I need you to do so I can use your gift and this and everything else, like always, will get taken care of.”

So, I left. I went to the car and got the strobe kit, find out that I actually brought an extra stand and set up a strobe light on stage for later use..I was fussing about because all I have was what I pack into my purse this morning planning to take some shot of my boys in their chinese dress. I had a long lens, a camera with a 65% power battery and a half full 4GB memory card. 20 mins later, I went into the just available room where they had just finish Sunday worship and found that there are 8 to 10 youth who had transported two big tall plastic boards over. They made a background using red and yellow disposable table cloth, someone made a fringe of seperater that was really Chinese looking. Freeman, hand folded a snake using plastic garbage bag and yellow tissues paper. Someone had ask/borrow/steal some 揮春 (red banner) an uncle was writing in the next room. Everything got put together…with that I just smile and set up the softbox and test out the setting on Timo’s camera.

I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I thought I was going to be bump because for every event that I cover (paid or no paid) I had the need to double check everything and make sure I had enough equipment. I was fear that I won’t have good photo because I am stuck at one focal length. I was worry that because the boys would have a hard time because if I am shooting candid then how are they going to get lunch?

The moment I saw the backdrop and the 8-10 youth that was surrounding it, I was at peace.

It was and it always had been taken care of. The one strobe lighting work, because I left an extra set of wireless trigger in. My battery lasted, there were enough memory for me to take candid of the whole day. And as if it was on cue, my husband got off work an hour early unplanned and show up just before we started the buffet and he and Ronald together took care of entertaining the two boys.

I had an amazing day, I got to spend it with people who love God as much and who are all wise in trusting God had prepare and had plan in using the gift that was given to us.

Pretty Princess cake with glitter!

May 23, 2010

Cake for 40-50 people.

Mango cake and 1234 chocolate cake, with mango butter cream.

All decor (gum paste flowers, glitter and fondant) are edible.

$125 for just plain chocolate cake.

$145 for mango cake.

Need two weeks notice before the big day!

Hot Stuff Chocolate Sponge Cake

May 18, 2010

I like the dense and moist texture of this sponge cake, it can be put into the fridge or sit for days under fondant. I added some orange zest and cayenne pepper to enrich the dark chocolate glaze I put on as frosting.

Hot stuff Chocolate Sponge Cake ( 8 inch cake)

1 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup good coco powder

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup whole milk (or whipped cream)

4 TBS unsalted butter (around half a stick)

3 large eggs at room temperature (if you are pressed for time, run it under warm tap water for 5 mins)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract (use pure vanilla extract it is so worth the money)

Zest of one orange

  • Position rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Using either butter or shortening grease the bottom and side of a 8 inches spring pan, then sift some flour on the greased pan and roll it over the sink to get rid of the excess flour.
  • Sift flour, coco powder, baking powder, salt and cayenne pepper together, set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, boil the milk on med-high heat, cut the butter in to 4 parts and add into the pan. When the butter had melted, whisk the liquid and turn the heat to minimum.
  • Beat the eggs at high-speed until blended, gradually add the sugar in while still beating. (I use a spoon to add the sugar in a steam.) Add in the Vanilla extract at last , after 5 minutes, when you are almost done, the volume should had tripled.
  • Sift 1/3 of the dry mixture in over the egg and gently fold it in. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions.
  • Add the hot milk and orange zest into the egg mixture and fold it in. Once mixed, scrape the batter into the pan.
  • Cake will take anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes, till the cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Leave the whole pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  • Run the back of a paring knife around the edge of the pan and release the spring, remove the bottom plate and leave it on the wire rack to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Glaze (for glazing top and sides of a 8 inches cake, around 1 1/3 cups)

6 oz of bittersweet chocolate (coarsely chopped)

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp of Vanilla extract or Orange liquor

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, remove from the head and add the chocolate into the pan. Stir until all the chocolate are melted, add in the Vanilla extract or Orange liquor.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it stand cool for 10 mins.

Cut the cool cake in half, level off the top of the cake if it had expand. Place the lower half of the cake on a cake board (or use a really thin paper plate..)

Fill the center of the cake with fillings of your choice (butter cream, whipped cream or jam), then place the top part back on. Place the whole cake on a wire rack. Line a large cookies sheet with wax paper.

Drizzle chocolate mixture on the center of the cake, then tilt the wire rack side to side to in order to let it drip to the side. Use a metal spatula to smooth the side. (save the wax paper in an air tight container in the freezer for later use)

Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes, or till the glaze is set.

I just decorate this with trimmed strawberries, but you can use whatever fruit you have on hand.

Food photography preset for lightroom

May 14, 2010

A new preset for still life color improvement is available over at the new photo site. This set is design to achieve the crisp clean fine dinning look.

Mango Mousse Cake

May 10, 2010

This Mango mousse cake use the same basic formula with the Chocolate mousse cake. I opted to use store brought lady finger ( or savoiardi biscuit) when I am press for time. There is a wonderful Italian own supermarket around my house that stock lady finger MADE IN Italy, but whenever the new shipment came in it will sell out in a couple of days. My second choice will be the savoiardi biscuit from super store, you can find them in the cookie section.

For this recipe, you can either use fresh alphonso mango when it is in season, which you can find in most Asian grocery store. When it is not available, I usually pick up a giant can of mango puree from the Indian section of super store, which by far is the closes to the fresh one. They are a bit more watery, so you will have to boil it in a sauce pan to reduce the liquid a bit.

You can follow the instruction on baking your own sponge cake from this post, or use store brought lady finger.

You will need:

7 inch springform pan

parchment paper to line the pan

3 mango, preferably ripened.

1/2 cup 3.5% vanilla yogurt

1 packet of Knox gelatin powder

4 TBs cold water (1/4 cup)

2 1/2 TBs icing sugar

3/4 cup Heavy cream (or whipping cream)

Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Cut mangoes in three part, as closed to the pit as possible, then by using a metal spoon, scoop out the flesh and set aside.

Mix the gelatin with the cold water, then microwave on high for 15-20 seconds.

Using a hand blender, puree the flesh of mango.

Mix the yogurt into the puree, then add the gelatin solution. Make sure everything is mix well.

Using a hand mixer, whipped the whipping cream with the powder sugar till soft peak formed.

Fold the whipped cream in batches with the yogurt mixture.

Layer the bottom of the spring form pan with lady finger, make sure they are not touching the side of the pan. The idea is to have mousse draped over and form a nice side when you release the spring.

Pour 1/3 to 1/2 of the mixture into the pan, just enough to cover the lady finger. (Sorry for the blurry photo but I was holding the camera while I try to pour the mixture in….)

Smooth out the top, and then tightly wrap around the pan with plastic wrap a couple times, refrigerate over night.

When you are ready to serve the cake, loosen the side by running a knife around the inside of the pan before release the cake, or you can wrap a hot tea towel around the spring pan. Both will ensure the side won’t stick to the pan and tearing the cake apart.

You can dress it up with CocoFlag or Carmel candy.

The Coco Flag:

1/3 of a bar of your favorite dark chocolate

1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 ts of your choice of liqueur or flavor syrup (optional)

Non-stick aluminum foil

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, use medium level power and at 45 second interval until soften. Stir with rubber spatula.

For the sake of your sanity, use non-stick aluminum foil. Place foil on a cool flat surface matted side up. Using the rubber spatula, start dabbing the chocolate on the foil.

Place the foil on a baking sheet and into the freezer. Chill for 4 hours or till set.

Working quickly, peel off the chocolate piece one by one and store in a air tight container. Freeze till you are just about to decorate your cake.

Caramel drizzle Candy:

3 tablespoons water

3/4 cup sugar

Non-stick aluminum foil

In a sauce pan, bring the water and sugar to boil. It is important to not stir the mixture, shake the pan from side to side instead. Watch carefully, and once the mixture started to bubble and turn into golden color, remove the pan from stove.

Lay the non-stick aluminum foil on a flat cool surface, then by using a spoon drizzle the caramel on the foil. You will need a couple of practice run before you get the hang of thing. Let it cool and peel off the piece.

Orange chocolate chip cookies ~ made by a 3 years old.

May 1, 2010

My son Aidan declared to me today that he will make cookies today, so I ask him what kind he would like to make. Chocolate Chip he said, and we will need flour and sugar. Apparently they had a cooking lesson in his pre-school class today.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are everyone all time favorite, this recipe is base on my ancient Betty Crocker’s cook book. I added the orange and nutmeg for extra flavor. This is super easy as my goal was to make sure my 3 years old can help me add and mix the batter, ideally had him drop cookie dough on the sheet (his favorite cartoon was on right when the dough was ready to be drop..) and wait by the oven and watch as the little ball turn into his favorite cookies

Orange Chocolate Chip Cookies (make 4 dozens)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup Margarine or butter (2 sticks)

1 Large egg

2  cups and 4 TB spoon all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 TBs of Orange zest (grated with cheese grater)

1 package of  (12 ounces) dark chocolate chips

Heat Oven to 375 degree.

Microwave the butter stick in a heat proof bowl on med in 10 seconds interval till it is soften.

Mix sugars, butter and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.

Add chocolate chips, grated orange zest and nutmeg.

Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper, then using 2 round spoons round the dough and drop it on the lined cookie sheet. They should be 2 inches apart from each other.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until the edge are light brown.

Cool the cookie sheets on wire rack for a couple of minute and then remove the cookie from the sheets and cool on wire rack.