the temperature at which sweets happen

Month: February 2009

A Daring Baker’s First Adventure

A Daring Baker’s First Adventure

It has arrived: The posting date of my first Daring Baker’s Challenge!!! I hinted in my Valentine’s Day post about this cake, and even snuck in a hidden picture that was hardly what you would call visible. I will admit that I was not looking […]

Nonsense Cookies

Nonsense Cookies

I’m shocked, that after 31 posts, I have yet to blog one word about reading! Especially considering that it is my very favorite thing to do in this world! Prompted by the movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, I recently devoured several books regarding the scientific […]

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever

If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, the answer would be easy: strawberries (notice to the right – an email cupcake, with a strawberry no less).

If I could only eat two things for the rest of my life, I would add cream to that endless supply of strawberries.

And, if I could add one more thing to that list: crêpes.

Every summer growing up, as far back as I can remember, my family went strawberry picking. It is such a staple in our family tradition that this past Christmas, my amazingly talented sister, Pamela made my parents a Family Tree Quilt. Check out the bottom of the quilt; a crate of strawberries and each of our memories of being in the field embroidered.

I can think of no better word to describe picking fruit, than spiritual. Although you are among friends, it’s truly an individual process. Sifting through the patch within the immense field, inspecting each and every berry on the vine and weaving your way through the red and green labyrinth.

I was also fortunate enough one summer to pick peaches in an orchard in Alabama. In fact, if I were able to add a fourth thing to my list of infinite quantities of limited types of food, it would be peaches. When picking peaches, it is effortless imagining that the entire universe is contained easily in that one solitary tree; for that tree, within the orchard is all that can be witnessed in what appears to be an all encompassing scene.

Filling: Strawberries
Topping: Whipped Cream

1 Tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup flour
Dash of salt
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk

Pour all ingredients into bowl, or simplify things and throw them all in a 1 quart jar and fasten lid
Shake well
Allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes
Shake again
Recipe will yield about 8-10 crêpes

In a well buttered crêpe or round pan, pour a few tablespoons of mixture over med heat (my husband refused to use a round pan… but it makes no difference really)
Allow to cook for a few minutes, then flip over and repeat on opposite side

Remove crêpe and add a dab of butter, allow to melt
Fill crêpe with sliced, quartered or diced strawberries marinated in a bit of sugar, fold over both ends

Finalè: Top with whipped cream, and an additional strawberry for garnish

Fahrenheit 350° on Fire

Fahrenheit 350° on Fire

I’m thrilled to announce that my official website is live! (…but still in Beta Testing) You can reach it by clicking on the button to your right, titled: Fahrenheit 350° Kitchen, with the little image of the pink apron, or by following this link:! […]

TV Star

TV Star

If you follow Gabriel’s blog (which you definitely should) you already know that about a week ago I filmed my first TV cooking show! If you live in Oregon you’ll be able to watch me over and over and over about 50 times on Cable […]

Jour de Valentines Français

Jour de Valentines Français

I’ve been really excited to write this post, because let’s be honest, part of being a girl is bragging about the wonderfully romantic things your significant other does, and publicly… makes it even better! I love holidays (this you know) and I pretty much handle all the holidays in our home, except for Valentines day. That is Gabriel’s holiday.

I heard a lot of chatter this year pooh-poohing Valentine’s Day, most of it along the lines of, “You shouldn’t need a holiday to say I love you.” This really bothers me! Partly because that isn’t the point of the holiday, and partly because we set aside a day to celebrate a jolly fictitious bearded fat man on Christmas, an egg loving Giant Easter Bunny, drunken hordes on St. Patrick’s Day, and thus Valentine’s Day should be the one holiday that we revere above all others because of what it symbolizes! It’s just one extra day to reverence the immense magnitude and power of love.

This is what symbolizes Gabriel and I’s love, this is our love song:

Je t’aime Gabriel, mon amant!

Date: French Tour of Portland
Frosting: Two Lovebirds

Gabriel started the festivities the evening prior when he brought me home a bouquet of fresh purple daisies (daisies are my favorite, specifically Gerbera Daisies). We were up late on the 13th – I was making chocolates and Gabriel was working, so the next treat was to sleep in, after which I gave Gabriel his traditional box of chocolates and he presented me with a fresh bouquet of red roses and a box of French chocolates which announced his theme: A French Tour of Portland.

Next to our home is an apartment complex named: The French Chateau. Naturally, our tour started there. At which point I gave Gabriel another traditional gift, Hot Hearts.

We then headed over to La Provence, and enjoyed a delectable breakfast. La Provence is an excellent eatery on the SW side, specializing in baked goods and desserts, but a restaurant as well, which serves breakfast all day long.

They present a delightful atmosphere, great service, and delicious menu selections. Gabriel chose the Salmon Hash (salmon and hash browns adorned with two over easy eggs), and I opted for the Eggs Neptune (smoked salmon and poached eggs on a croissant with hollandaise sauce).

In Lake Oswego we had a romantic walk along the bay, and had lunch outside at St. Honoré (the patron saint of bakers) Boulangerie overlooking the lake, and shared a steaming cup of hot cocoa.

We also enjoyed a St. Valentine. and Tarte Aux Citron, also shared, of course.

In North Portland we found a quaint little Asian French Bakery, we just peeked in, and then attempted to get a treat at Cafè du Berry, but unfortunately they were closed and booked for dinner for the evening, although the chef let me know I was dressed perfectly for Valentine’s Day.

Following these two stops, we headed downtown to visit the French Quarter which sells the most beautiful linens and pillows. After that, we walked a few blocks to Versailles, a French furniture store with the most exquisite furnishings! When we lived downtown we would often walk by a popular park and see groups of people playing a game with metal balls. We learned in Versailles, that game is called Boules, and in learning this struck up a conversation with the owner of the furniture store. He recommended for us to have dinner at a restaurant on the SE side, Chez Machin.

It turned out to be perfect, or should I say more appropriately, quelle coïncidence! When we walked into the picturesque French house, the entire restaurant was covered in tiny sparkling lights, each table had one solitary fresh blooming red rose, and in the corner, sitting at a small two person table, was a young man singing French love songs and playing the guitar. It was the consummate experience.

Naturally, dinner was amazing! We started our meal with the Plateau of Frommage, seasonal fruit with baguettes, brie and blackberry sauce, followed with a shared cup of salmon chowder. For the main course, Gabriel opted for linguine with mussels, and I enjoyed a savory crepe with tomatoes, avocados, chicken, and brie.

Finalè: Fresh Red Roses and Purple Daisies, Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Scratch Made Chocolates, Chocolate Ice Cream Cake with Peanut Butter Ice Cream, French Chocolates and a French film: Le fils de l’épicier.

When we arrived home, Gabriel made a bed of blankets and pillows in the living room and we watched a French Film, The Grocer’s Son whilst eating cake, strawberries and chocolates. And of course, gave the furries their Valentine’s Gifts – a new squeaky ball and a stuffed hot dog!

I don’t think Gabriel will ever truly understand how much this romantic day meant to me. It was a beautiful representation of his love for me, and I will fondly remember it forever.

Candy Fondant Step Two

Candy Fondant Step Two

My very first “real” job, real as defined as having taxes withheld, was at See’s Candies, and I worked there for 6 years. Okay… Okay! I lie, my first job was at Kienows, a small local grocery store stocking the shelves and helping patrons out […]

Happy Birthday Melinda!

Happy Birthday Melinda!

I treated my dear friend Melinda Lloydling and her family to a Birthday dinner, and as I’ve mentioned before I always try to do my best to celebrate any and all special occasions. Although this month has been a little rough, remember before when I […]

Candy Fondant Step One

Candy Fondant Step One

I think I was about 17 when I caught wind that my mother was taking my older sister Tina to visit my Grandmother in Boise to learn how to make chocolates.

choc·o·lates (chô’kə-lĭts, chôk’lĭts, chŏk’-s)

  1. flavored cream fondant, caramel, nuts, or other savory items dipped in fermented, roasted, shelled, and ground cacao seeds then melted
  2. delicious confectionery recipe passed down through the Ouderkirk genealogical family line
  3. scratchmade love candy given to Gabriel by his gorgeous wife on Valentines day

Unfortunately, I learned that I was not invited. Who was invited, other than my mother and sister? my 6 old niece aptly named Catherine (my favorite name)! I thought that was ridiculous! I rarely got to see my Grandmother, and Tina spent her summers growing up on the family farm! Plus, it was time I got to learn how to make those chocolates! So, I finagled a way to secure an invitation: I offered to babysit. After all, how were they going to concentrate on making chocolates when a little child was running around? I knew however, that the the allure of Boise antique shops would be to much to resist, and I would have Bammieroo all to myself.

I was right. They spent a few minutes at the house, but mostly the two of them were out and about picking up discarded, dirty, dusty duds.

They missed all the fun!! Catherine and I made a fun memory book of our time spent together with stickers, paints, and pictures, we watched a pirated DVD of the Titanic filmed from a theater with no sound that Bam picked up from a street vendor in NY, explored for hours outside on the acres and acres of land on the property, and flavored and dipped chocolates.

Catherine and Catherine

This blog entry will catalogue step one of candy making.

First, we will go over a couple must have things you need before you can get started. Most importantly is a heavy durable pan, ceramic, enamel, or waterless aluminum. Waterless aluminum is not your typical grocery store pan – a famous brand would be a Guardian Service pan, touted as being practically bullet proof. Regrettably you can no longer purchase these pans, but you can find beautiful enamel pans made by Le Creuset, or wonderful ceramic pans made by Calphalon, even at discount stores like Ross and TJMaxx. Also, the pan can be no smaller than 8″ in diameter, and 4″ deep. Second, it is in your best interest to have a stand mixer with a kneading hook, like a Bosch. I know that you can make candy without it, and I know that my Grandmother used to do it as well as countless other people, but I don’t know why you would want to. And you must have a lid – no exceptions! Lastly, a marble slab, or some concoction that you can pour boiling liquid onto.

Now you are ready!

In your pan mix 2 cups sugar with 1 cup of cream and 1 tablespoon Karo syrup with a wooden spoon.

Place on burner and turn heat to med-high. Cover with lid, or substitute lid with aluminum foil. Do not stir.

Allow mixture to boil and rise to the top of the pan. This will prevent crystallization of the sugar, and speed up the cooking process. Once mixture has reached the top of the pan, remove lid and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Continue to cook until mixture reaches hard ball stage. Don’t rely on a thermometer, this is old fashioned candy making, so leave modern appliances for the grunt work.

Once candy reaches the correct stage, pour onto well buttered marble slab to cool. The purpose for pouring the candy onto the slab is that you want to end the cooking process immediately. If it cools in the pan, it will continue to cook, and you will no longer have creamy candy fondant.

Allow the candy to cool until it comes up easily off the marble, and looks a bit wrinkly when contorted. Scoop candy into your mixer and turn on high. Or, if you choose to make the candy without a mixer, get out your wooden spoon and start weaving circle 8’s through your fondant.

While mixing, your candy is going to go through 3 distinct stages; my Grandmother called this ‘turning’. Depending on how long you cooked the candy, how long you let the candy cool, the temperature of your kitchen, the weather, the time of year, etc. etc. will determine how long this process takes. My best advice is to be patient. In the best of times it takes 10 minutes, but I have patiently screamed at my mixer, the candy, and my husband while waiting 2 hours at times. My mother always says, “Just wait,”; she always seems to be right.

The first stage is fairly close to the same consistency as when you poured the candy from the pan. It is smooth, buttery and resembles caramel in look and taste – but better. This is the longest stage. The next stage happens fairly quickly, and if you are reading or watching TV during your mixing you could miss it. If you have a 2 hour marathon mixing event I highly recommend watching TV or reading, and pulling up a chair, but do not leave your mixer unattended. It is a vigorous process, and needs one hand on the mixer at all times. The second stage is crumbly, and resembles pebbles in look only.

The last stage is smooth again, but your fondant has turned from translucent to a shade of white. It is creamy and sticks to itself, not the bowl, and is sweet and delicious!

Place all of your completed fondant into a bowl, or Tupperware to cure, just make sure it is wrapped up tight. At this stage your candy will turn rock hard. This process takes a minimum of 3 days, but can last afterward for months in your fridge. Keep in a separate drawer, or away from any smells which it could absorb.

Check back in a few days to see the next step in our candy making process.

If you make your candy today, your candy will be ready for the next stage on the 12th, and just in time to give to your sweetheart and WOW them on Valentine’s Day. If you have any questions about the process – please feel free to email me and I will promptly respond!

Food Munchers

Food Munchers

I’ve been inspired by my sister Pamela this February; hence the Valentine Sugar Cookies, and the pink frosted Cinnamon Roses, and now Delicious Chocolate Cookies. She has a beautiful fun blog, French Knots, and she’s dedicated February to Valentine posts – one for every day!!! […]