Take a Tour of My Home: A Year Long Photography Project by Jesse Bluma



Take a Tour of My Home:  A Year Long Photography Project





Photography is a powerful medium.  Photos can tell us about significant values, it reflects a legacy and story of a time and space, it is visual communication, it is artistic, and complex.  My year long photography project encompasses some, if not all of these key characteristics of photography.  The year long project began with a desire to capture my home and its surroundings.  Over time, day-by-day, photo-by-photo, the allure, history, and nature of this setting was captured.  There was no deliberate decision or bias to convey certain subjects and not others through the pictures, rather the desire was to merely capture scenes, memorable images, and an overall account of the natural environment at The Point.  For example, the ocean, people, landscape, hiking trails, and animals.  

The Pointe is a quaint, seaside community.  It is nestled in the Orange Coast of California.  The town is situated beachside along the pristine Pacific Ocean, between magnificent cliffs and headlands.  Residents have nicknamed it the “California Riviera”.  The town was established during the 1920s along state route 1, between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Kite-flying, boat races, golf, and surfing drew crowds and residents to the promontory.  Actor James Cagney was drawn here to open a movie theater.  The Pointe is bold, panoramic, and truly alluring.  

 Cooking and entertaining is an opportunity to share with family and friends.  Growing up I learned the basics of good cooking, baking, entertaining, gardening, and entrepreneurship.  The Pointe in the location and Viven is Spanish for living life.  And living in this fabled locale serves as a delicious bakery and idea-factory.

A synthesis of the photos for the entire year long project led to a rediscovery of some of the areas of my neighborhood and a sharing of an appreciation with others for the power of nature.  As my distant relative Emerson observed, “Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece.  In good health, the air is a cordial of incredible virtue.  Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.” (“Nature”)

Photography can liberate and inspire others.  You do not have to be a professional photographer to start a photography project of your own.  I do have a lot of experience with cameras and photography, yet am not a master photographer.  It takes time, education, reading books (such as The Complete Practical Guide to Digital and Classic Photography by John Freeman), experience, and practice.  If you embark on your own project you will learn about a variety of views, topics, angles, lighting, and more.  The process and result of my year long project is a treasure.  Some of the photos reveal the beauty of The Point, others tell the evocative and moody story of the seasons, while other photos capture the gorgeous sunsets, vistas, and sunrays.  




See photos from my home by month:






















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A Chat with Curtis Stone over Boozy Christmas Pudding



A Chat with Curtis Stone over Boozy Christmas Pudding





Curtis demonstrated how to make his version of Christmas Pudding with his wife, Lindsay Price, in their kitchen.  Curtis has extensive culinary and international media experience, which is why you may know him.  

“Stone has appeared on a number of cooking programs in the UK, including Dinner in a Box, Good Good Live, and Saturday Kitchen.  He also hosted the first season of My Restaurant Rules in Australia.  Stone hosted Take Home Chef...which went on to become an international hit for TLC.”  

During the time period of Take Home Chef is when I met Curtis at a party in Hollywood Hills, California.  Quite the tall guy.

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere has a brilliant advantage over Christmastime in the Northern Hemisphere.  Fresh fruit.  Chrissy pudding, or Australian Christmas pudding, is a steamed dessert made with a variety of fruits. 

I asked Curtis if the pudding is available at his restaurant.  Maude, his restaurant in Los Angeles, California, is named in honor of grandmother and serves seasonal tasting plates.  Unfortunately, the pudding is not available at the restaurant.  Although the recipe is manageable for home cooks. 




Christmas Pudding with Brandy-Vanilla Custard Sauce by Curtis Stone


Equipment
You will need a pudding mould or 2 litre basin for this recipe.

Pudding
 1 1/2 cups Coles Brand Australian Currants
 3/4 cup Coles Brand Sultanas, finely chopped
 3/4 cup Coles Brand Pitted Prunes, finely chopped
 1/3 cup Candied Orange Peel, well drained from syrup, finely chopped (see recipe)
 3 teaspoons finely grated orange peel
 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
 2 teaspoons ground Coles Brand Ground Cinnamon
 2 teaspoons ground star anise (from 2-3 whole star anise)
 1 teaspoon Coles Brand Ground Nutmeg
 1/4 teaspoon Coles Brand Ground Cloves
 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
 3 cups fresh rye or white breadcrumbs
 2/3 cup (firmly packed) dark brown sugar
 1/2 cup Coles Brand Plain Flour
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 20g Coles Brand Unsalted Butter, at room temperature, plus 125g melted (1/2 cup), cooled slightly
 1/4 cup almonds, toasted, finely chopped
 1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husks removed, finely chopped
 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, toasted, finely chopped
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 3 large Coles Brand Free Range Eggs
 1/4 cup full cream milk

Custard Sauce
 1 cup Coles Brand Thickened Cream
 1/2 cup full cream milk
 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
 6 large Coles Brand Free Range Eggs- yolks only
 1/3 cup Coles Brand White Sugar
 2 tablespoons brandy
 Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Method

Step 1
To make the pudding: In a large bowl, mix the currants, sultanas, prunes, candied orange peel, fresh orange peel, lemon peel, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and cloves.  Stir in 1 cup of the rum.  Stand for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Stir the breadcrumbs, brown sugar, flour, and salt into the dried fruit mixture.  Cover and stand at room temperature for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Step 3

Generously coat a 2-litre pudding mold with a lid with 1 tablespoon of the room temperature butter.  Stir the almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, and baking powder into the soaked fruit mixture.  In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter, eggs, and milk to blend, and then stir this mixture into the fruit mixture.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pudding mold and smooth the top.  Cover the pudding mold with the lid.

Step 4

Place the pudding mold on a rack in a large pot.  If you don’t have a rack, invert a small wide bowl and place it in the pot, then set the pudding mold on the bowl.  Add enough boiling water to the pot to come halfway up the sides of the mold.  Cover the pot and simmer gently and steam the pudding over medium-low heat for about 2 hours, or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean, adding more boiling water to the pot if necessary.  Transfer the mold to a rack and cool 5 minutes.  Turn out the pudding onto a cake plate.

Step 5

Meanwhile, to make the custard sauce: In a heavy large saucepan, heat the cream and milk to a near simmer over medium-high heat.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the cream-milk mixture; add the vanilla bean.

Step 6

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.  Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture.  Return the mixture to the same saucepan and stir over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (do not allow the mixture to simmer or get hotter than 79°C).  Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl.  Cool slightly, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until cold or serve it warm.

Step 7

Mix the brandy into the sauce and season to taste with nutmeg.

Step 8

To serve: Following tradition, you can flambé the brandy, if desired.  To do this, be sure to place the warm pudding in a well-ventilated place and away from any flammable material.  Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons rum over the pudding or form an indentation in the center of the warm pudding and pour the brandy into the indentation. Using a long match, carefully ignite the brandy and allow the flames to burn off before serving.

Step 9

Serve the pudding warm with the custard sauce.







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Credits: facebook.com/ChefCurtisStone, wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtis_Stone, taste.com.au/recipes/34110/christmas+pudding+with+brandy+vanilla+custard+sauce

Take a Tour with Me at My California Home: December



Take a Tour with Me at My California Home:  December





The Pointe is a quaint, seaside community.  It is nestled in the Orange Coast of California.  The town is situated beachside along the pristine Pacific Ocean, between magnificent cliffs and headlands.  Residents have nicknamed it the “California Riviera”.  The town was established during the 1920s along state route 1, between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Kite-flying, boat races, golf, and surfing drew crowds and residents to the promontory.  Actor James Cagney was drawn here to open a movie theater.  The Pointe is bold, panoramic, and truly alluring.  

 Cooking and entertaining is an opportunity to share with family and friends.  Growing up I learned the basics of good cooking, baking, entertaining, gardening, and entrepreneurship.  The Pointe in the location and Viven is Spanish for living life.  And living in this fabled locale serves as a delicious bakery and idea-factory.




See photos from my home in November.

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. To a man laboring under calamity, the heat of his own fire hath sadness in it. Then, there is a kind of contempt of the landscape felt by him who has just lost by death a dear friend. The sky is less grand as it shuts down over less worth in the population.”

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”






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A Kitchen Chat with Chef Elizabeth Falkner: Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies



A Kitchen Chat with Chef Elizabeth Falkner





Chef Elizabeth Falkner, of Citizen Cake and Orson, held a live talk in her New York kitchen as she prepared cookies for Christmas.  Falkner chose the recipe for Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies from a viewer submission.  The recipe is simple enough to make in mass quantities during holiday time.  Something we all can appreciate.    

“My Grandmother's Sicilian Sesame Seed Cookies (recipe goes back over 100 years). 
2 1/2 c. flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/4 t. salt, 1/2 c butter, 3/4 c sugar, 1/4 c milk, 1 egg, 2 t vanilla. Make cookie dough by regular method.  Chill.  Roll into long rolls, about 1/2" in diameter.  Cut into 1" pieces.  Dip in egg wash and roll in sesame seeds.  Bake on greased sheet pan or parchment, 425° (Fahrenheit or 218.3° Celsius) for 7 minutes.  I love these because they're not real sweet and taste like home.”--  Sandina Clayton.

*Falkner utilized vanilla paste and 1/2 teaspoon salt.




I asked Chef Elizabeth Falkner, “If you made these cookies into sandwich cookies, what would you layer in between?”  

She liked the idea and recommended it may be fun to use sesame paste or black tahini mixed with powdered sugar and a little bit of sesame oil.  Another ingredient to sandwich between the cookies is green tea ice cream.




“Falkner is a huge fan of cooking competitions and has appeared on more than thirty television competition shows either as a competitor or a judge.  Most people remember her battles to the final in Food Network's, ‘Next Iron Chef-Super Chefs’, where she was the runner up.  She also appeared on ‘Iron Chef America’, ‘Food Network Challenge’, ‘Kitchen Inferno’, ‘All-Star Academy’, ‘Cutthroat Kitchen-Superstar Sabotage’, ‘Chopped Allstars’, as well the first season of Bravo’s, ‘Top Chef Masters’ and Cooking Channel’s, ‘Donut Showdown’, as a reoccurring judge.  Falkner is a multiple award winning chef and James Beard Nominee.  For more than twenty years, she wowed the San Francisco/Bay Area with her restaurants and patisserie, Citizen Cake and Orson.”






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Credits: elizabethfalkner.com and facebook.com/ChefElizabethFalkner/videos/1171901829506678

Mint, Lemon, and d'Anjou Pear Infused Water by Jesse Bluma



Mint, Lemon, and d'Anjou Pear Infused Water




When the weather is crisp, crackling, and arid this is the drink for you.  Mint, lemon, red pear, cinnamon, and ginger infuse nicely together this time of year.  The following recipe is something I prepare for myself and have served at holiday gatherings.  


Ingredients

5 sprigs of organic mint, plus more for garnish
1 organic d'Anjou (red) pear
1” of fresh peeled ginger root
1 cinnamon stick
3.7 Liters or approximately 1 gallon water in a jug or jar




Directions

Place drinking glasses in the refrigerator to chill.

Wash the mint, lemons, and d'Anjou pear.

Place the mint in the water jar.


Carefully slice one lemon in half on a cutting board.
Squeeze the lemon into a re-sealable bag.


Carefully cut the red pear lengthwise into matchsticks on a cutting board, avoiding the core and seeds.
Place the pear matchsticks into the re-sealable bag of lemon juice, allowing the pear slices to soak up lemon juice to prevent browning.


Peel the fresh ginger root with a spoon, holding the spoon concave side facing you, and draw it forward.
Carefully cut 1” of ginger from the root.
Place the 1” of ginger into the water jar.


Place the cinnamon stick in the water jar.

Remove the pear matchsticks from the re-sealable bag and place them in the water jar.

Pour the lemon juice from the re-sealable bag through a strainer into the water jar.

Refrigerate 2 to 4 hours or overnight to allow the ingredients to infuse.  The longer the time period, the more intense the flavor. 

Slice the second lemon for garnish.

Stir the water and serve in the chilled glasses and top with a slice of lemon and mint leaf.






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Image courtesy of [phasinphoto] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of [Ambro] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Take a Tour with Me at My California Home: November



Take a Tour with Me at My California Home:  November





The Pointe is a quaint, seaside community.  It is nestled in the Orange Coast of California.  The town is situated beachside along the pristine Pacific Ocean, between magnificent cliffs and headlands.  Residents have nicknamed it the “California Riviera”.  The town was established during the 1920s along state route 1, between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Kite-flying, boat races, golf, and surfing drew crowds and residents to the promontory.  Actor James Cagney was drawn here to open a movie theater.  The Pointe is bold, panoramic, and truly alluring.  

 Cooking and entertaining is an opportunity to share with family and friends.  Growing up I learned the basics of good cooking, baking, entertaining, gardening, and entrepreneurship.  The Pointe in the location and Viven is Spanish for living life.  And living in this fabled locale serves as a delicious bakery and idea-factory.




See photos from my home in October.

“In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.  Yet it is certain that the power to produce this delight, does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both. It is necessary to use these pleasures with great temperance.”

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”






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Chocolate-Glazed Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts topped with Rainbow Sprinkles by Jesse Bluma



Chocolate-Glazed Baked Pumpkin 
Doughnuts topped with Rainbow Sprinkles





Fun on the outside.  Delicious on the inside.  
These doughnuts start with quality ingredients, then are baked, next glazed with chocolate, and finally sprinkled with rainbow sprinkles.  Enjoy these fewer calorie doughnuts with a tall glass of milk and a quenelle of vanilla bean frozen coconut milk.  Order several dozen doughnuts to make a sophisticated tablescape for your next party.







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Talking Turkey with Martha Stewart by Jesse Bluma



Talking Turkey with Martha Stewart





Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, held a live talk in her Bedford kitchen as she prepared for her own Thanksgiving party of 43.  Bedford, New York is steeped in history with the original American Indian tribe calling it home until the selling of the area to Puritans in 1680.  The town is situated north of New York city, approximately a one hour drive.  Bedford is one of a few hamlets in the region, neighboring Katonah and Beford Hills.  The area is characterized by historic buildings, village architecture, hiking trails, and equestrianism.  

Joining Martha Stewart in the kitchen was Thomas Joseph and Sarah Carey.  




Thomas Joseph's story is a good one to share for those interested in entering the world of cuisine.  He attended New York University and Johnson and Wales University.  His career includes being an assistant food stylist for “Rescue Chef”, working as a freelance food stylist for  the "Today" show, and is a T.V. Chef/Food Stylist for Martha Stewart.  




Sarah Carey is well established in the culinary world as the Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living, co-authoring cookbooks, and through her own radio show.

On Martha’s Thanksgiving Menu:  Roast Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing, Spatchcocked Turkey and Chestnut Stuffing, Parchment Turkey and Brioche and Butternut Squash Stuffing, Cornbread Turkeys, Cranberry-Pomegranate Gelatin.  She skillfully showed how to prepare each turkey with its own tray and variety of ingredients.  Martha suggested using fresh turkeys, as opposed to the frozen grocery store kind.  The idea of having a spatchcocked turkey, a turkey that is butchered by splitting it open and removing the backbone to flatten it out, is an excellent method to reduce cooking time.

I asked Martha for some suggestions to serve on Thanksgiving as appetizers and side dishes.  She recommended oysters on the half shell, cheese straws, leak and spinach timbales (a French term meaning a small, round portion of food that has been well minced or puréed), ROE caviar from California sturgeon, and apple sauce.  I like the idea of timbales best.  Martha also prepared a refreshing sounding cocktail, created with a sugar rim, cider, blood orange, lemon, bourbon, stirred, and garnished with a slice of tangelo. 







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Credit:  facebook.com/marthastewart

Chocolate-Glazed Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts topped with Sugar Pearls by Jesse Bluma



Chocolate-Glazed Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts 
topped with Sugar Pearls





Somewhere between the Lands of Guilt, Pleasure, and Health are doughnut lovers in search of another great treat.  Truth is -- these doughnuts were created for them.  First, the doughnuts start with quality ingredients, then baked, next glazed with chocolate, and finally sprinkled with sugar pearls.  Enjoy these fewer calorie, fewer in fat doughnuts with a tall glass of milk, a Manhattan cocktail, or your favorite brew for a holiday party.  Order several dozen doughnuts to make a sophisticated tablescape for your next event. 







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Take a Tour with Me at My California Home: October



Take a Tour with Me at My California Home:  October





The Pointe is a quaint, seaside community.  It is nestled in the Orange Coast of California.  The town is situated beachside along the pristine Pacific Ocean, between magnificent cliffs and headlands.  Residents have nicknamed it the “California Riviera”.  The town was established during the 1920s along state route 1, between Los Angeles and San Diego.  Kite-flying, boat races, golf, and surfing drew crowds and residents to the promontory.  Actor James Cagney was drawn here to open a movie theater.  The Pointe is bold, panoramic, and truly alluring.  

 Cooking and entertaining is an opportunity to share with family and friends.  Growing up I learned the basics of good cooking, baking, entertaining, gardening, and entrepreneurship.  The Pointe in the location and Viven is Spanish for living life.  And living in this fabled locale serves as a delicious bakery and idea-factory.




See photos from my home in September.

“The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, — master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty.  In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages." 

--Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”





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