Sunday, September 2, 2012

Education for Evelyne's Children

Hello Everyone,

Ive started a new job this past week fundraising for refugee children all over the world, its been a pretty challenging job, because I have to stand outside on the sidewalk and approach strangers, tell them about my cause and ask for donations.

It got me thinking that there are a lot of people in my life that could use some help and that I could use my fundraising skills to help them, Evelyne especially! I was also inspired by a new friend Gene-Manuel who needed some help, asked for it and received it! He's the one that turned me on to to use it as a fundraising platform.

I did my masters degree with Evelyne, and she is one of the sweetest and kindest souls I know. She sacrificed soo much to leave her family in Cameroon, West Africa to come study in the US for 2 years.
She recently informed me that she wouldnt be able to pay her four children's school fees for this coming fall. We both graduated school in May, and she has returned to her family and has been job searching ever since, even with her new credentials she has yet to find a position. I know how much she values education and want to make sure that her children have the bright future they deserve.

Please help out if you can by clicking here!!!

Spread the word and spread the love!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chocolate Macaroons

The macaroon marathon continues... This time I am talking about Chocolate Macaroon! So far they are one of my families favorites, I've made them twice so far! The chocolate macaroon recipe is very similar to the vanilla one, with the variations of adding cocoa power to the dry mix and a chocolate filling instead of vanilla butter cream. One of my favorite parts about making macaroons is the piping! It didnt take long before I got the hang of it. I choose to use a large plastic bag with the tip cut off instead of a fancier pastry bag because I think it works just as well and has minimal clean up, because you just throw the bag away afterwards! The tricky part is that you dont want the batter to ooze out unless you are piping so you have to be ready and pipe them all at once. I have both of my baking dishes prepped with parchment paper and then I squeeze and swirl out the batter to make the macaroon. I generally use two hands.  The batter is really sticky and unforgiving so its important to get it right the first time and while you practice your piping skills if they come out a little messy dont worry they will still taste good. Also make sure you have an even number since because the cookies are getting sandwiched together.

The filling for these guys is pretty easy I diverted from the recipe a bit and boiled cream and then added the chocolate in until I got a nice chocolate sauce. Once chilled a bit it spread nicely on the cookies!

The recipe for the vanilla macaroons and chocolate ones are below!

Adapted from Macaroons - The Ideal Bite-sized Treat book.

Vanilla Macaroon
3/4 cup ground almond flour
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 extra large egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp unsalted butter softened
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar sifted

Sift almond flour- which tends to be a bit clumpy with confectioners sugar- I have tried both sifting and not sifting both are fine

Seperate 2 egg whites and beat with electric mixer until it holds soft peaks. Gradually add in sugar and vanilla.

Using a spatula fold in the try mixture of almond flour and sugar into wet egg whites 1/3 at a time.
The batter should be shiny thick and ribbon like.

Prepare 2 baking sheets with parchment paper

To fill the pasty bag or large baggie I recommend propping it up in a bowl and then scooping it in with a spatula. Cut a small corner off of the baggie and work the batter down. Place your index finger and thumb together to form a circle and pipe out the batter in circles that size.

Bang the cookie sheets on the table or workspace a few time and let sit for 25-30 mins.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake cookies for 10 minutes.

Remove from parchment paper and let cool

For the filling
Make sure the butter is soft and beat until creamy, add in the vanilla and beat some more. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar until smooth and creamy.

Sandwich the cookies together once the cookies have cooled and enjoy!

For chocolate macaroons

Add 2 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa to the dry mix

all instructions are the same

3 1/2 oz of semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream until it boils then pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth. Chill for 10-15 mins in the fridge before filling the cookies

Sandwich the cookies together once the cookies have cooled and enjoy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Macaroon Adventure

I started baking macaroons with my brother about a month ago. My brother had bought a recipe book for macaroons, and then my mom got one for me too! We started at the beginning of the recipe book and have been baking our way through it! Macaroons are surprisingly easy! And once you get the knack of making the basic recipe they are really easy to modify. The main things you need are almond flour, confectioners sugar, eggs, granulated sugar, and food coloring and parchment paper. The fillings vary from jam to chocolate to butter cream - which is also really easy -as long as you follow the steps! Almond flour can be found at health food store and some grocery stores, or you can make your own, but I've been using the ready ground almond flour and its works really nicely. The most time consuming part of making macaroons are that they have to sit once you have placed them on the baking sheets for 30 minutes so they can form a dry skin which makes them smooth when you bake them. Also you can't forget to bang the cookie sheets on the counter to work out the air bubbles because you don't want them bursting and cracking the cookies. I've forgot a few times! So please enjoy the photos from Vanilla macaroons- the recipe and additional macaroon posts to come! The photo isnt the best and the cookies kinda blend into the plate but this was our first shot and the photos get better- just as the cookies have!

Monday, May 14, 2012

I'm home

Its been a whirlwind of a time coming back home, I need to get back to keeping you all updated. I am thinking of starting a blog with ty about macaroons since we have been making them practically every weekend. I just need to think of a good name for the new blog- I'm thinking of calling the food truck I'd like to eventually have called the "June Duck Truck" since names like the macarooner were already taken, and June Duck is my alias for this blog. I will post some photos and baking tale tomorrow. But for now time to sleep and dream of sweets as sugar plums dance in my head!

Friday, February 24, 2012

What did you do on your lunch break?

I don’t usually have much time to read the new paper, and the time I do have during my lunch breaks, I spend reading my book, studying French, Spanish or Italian verbs or shopping at the Russian Market. But today I had time to read the Cambodia Daily and shop for winter clothes at market for my upcoming trip to Beijing. The temperature difference is going to be a real shock! It’s a real unique experience being in the poorly ventilated sauna also know as the market trying on long pants and knock off puffy North Face jackets. Sweaty doesn’t even begin to describe it. However I find that if I go in with intention its easier to find what I need, otherwise one can easily get overwhelmed with the narrow lane of stalls packed with a smorgasbord of goods. Today the intention was winter clothes. I half accomplished the mission coming out with 2 pairs of jeans and 2 new dresses. I just cant resist the dresses, and at 5 dollars a pop they are a steal. I will delve into the markets again next week to find a jacket and some warm sweaters, and try to not come out with any more dresses.

Ok back to the newspaper. I was really filled with sadness reading numerous articles about people dying. Today I read about an Argentinian train crash and the further recovery of bodies from the Italian cruise ship. It really saddens me. But there was one hopeful article about children getting free corrective cleft palate surgery from the Smile Train. Apparently its fairly common in this region with 1 in 500 Cambodians being born with a cleft palate. Reading the stories of those served really put a smile on my face. The I was drawn into another story about worms. Since I’m deeply entrenched in all things agricultural, I read about the burgeoning worm production business Cambodia. Rural farmers are starting to raise worms to help with soil fertility and to produce fertilizer. When I shared the article with my coworker she taught me the khmer word for earthworm- phonetically pronounced “Chun Lin” I can honestly say that it is a word I haven’t learned in any other foreign language.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Working in the office

There is a cacophony of Khmer around me. Cell phones ringing and things being discussed, and now we are having a very interesting conversation about speaking with and without an accent and the cambodian and western perspectives on the matter.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What I saw today

On my bicycle ride back to work, I saw somethings that you might only see here. I feel like Phnom Penh is the only place where you would see a large pink and orange wedding tent taking up half of a major street while 4 cement trucks take up the other half, all the while cars, tuk tuks, motos and cyclists weave around these obstacles. Then there was a Lexus and a Range Rover driving down the street without license plates. In another part of town, I had to wait while a motorcade of unidentified diplomats in shiny cars passed by. Then there was the moto carrying 2 people and a handful of chicken upside down, one guy with a flat screen tv on the back of his moto a bunch of other girls on motos with their jackets on backwards to protect their hands and arms from getting tanned, all this, while its 88 degrees out with 60% humidity.