Last month I spent a solid, good two consecutive weeks being Chef Viviana, plumping myself and my family up with sugary carb foods like what I’m about to share today, and enjoying the start of a new year in a relatively relaxed environment, on the precipice of starting Marie Kondo’s decluttering KonMari method in my life – which, by the way, is going somewhat slowly, and my room currently looks like a tornado blew through it.
PHEW. What a mouthful. ANYWAY – I’ve been following Thida Bevington on Instagram for a while, and her feed is a dessert lover’s dream, to be honest. In January I decide THAT’S IT. Her Nutella knots were so aesthetically pleasing, I thought to myself, I need to exercise my creativity one way or another, why not through something my mouth can enjoy?
I tried the knots with Nutella first, but I find that it sort of…evaporates? in the baking process. I did a couple more batches afterwards with my signature walnut-almond and rum-soaked white raisins, which I enjoyed much more.
Enjoy the recipes below:
250g milk 60g butter 500g white flour 120g sugar 15g fast action dry yeast 1 egg 10g salt
3/4 to 1 cup golden raisins 1-2 cups walnuts, ground 1/2 cup almonds, ground 1/2 cup honey 1/3 cup rum, cognac, or whiskey water A blender, but if you don’t have one you can smash them up in a bag with a kitchen hammer
For the dough: 1. Warm the milk and butter to about body temperature, should feel lukewarm. 2. Place the flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (I use a stand mixer) and mix together. 3. Add milk and butter, egg, and salt and mix with a dough hook for 2 minute on low. 4. Increase speed and mix for another 5-6 mins, until well incorporated. 5. Lightly knead dough on a floured surface and form a ball. Place in a clean bowl and let rise in warm environment for 2 hours, it should double in size.
For the walnut mixture: 1. In a small bowl, soak your raisins in your choice of liquor (I use rum), while the dough is rising. I usually start this process before anything else, and you can even do it overnight. 2. Grind your walnut and almonds to a fine texture until you have about 4 cups worth. 3. Heat your honey in a small pot until it just start to bubble then add honey and raisins (with the liquor) to your nuts. 4. Add water by the tablespoon as needed if mixture is too dry.
How to put it all together: 1. On a well floured surface, roll out your dough into a big rectangle, something around the size of two baking pans, but make sure it’s not so thin it rips. 2. Spread half your nut mixture evenly on the middle third of your dough canvas, then fold over one third of your dough, and spread the remaining mixture on top of that, then fold the last third on top of that. 3. Gently roll out your dough until it is flatter, then cut it long ways into 8 strips. 4. Knot them up to your liking and in the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 355F. 5. Lightly beat 1 egg and egg wash your rolls before popping them in the oven for roughly 30-40 mins, or until they’re golden brown.
Please visit Thida’s Instagram for tutorials and visual step-by-steps of everything I’ve just written!
Without being too cryptic, I’ll say that I did things today that were cathartic and healing and I received messages and support that I needed to hear and I am grateful and thankful for the people in my life that continue to lift me up and make me feel valued.
That said, I gifted myself an early Christmas gift last month for Black Friday and bought Adobe Creative Cloud and thankfully have Photoshop back! I’ve been tinkering around in it (and Lightroom) but today I spent some time at Cranbrook and came home with a handful of great shots.
While I was there, a lady named Loretta walked up to me and started asking me questions about what I was taking a picture of and showed me some of her photography as well. We ended up spending well over an hour walking the grounds and I learned a lot of fascinating things about the architecture of the surrounding buildings.
We exchanged all kinds of stories and life experiences and funny enough, before I left the house I had stuck a few of my business cards in my pocket thinking “you never know who you’ll meet”. She was so interested in my creative pursuits, I ended up giving her one of my cards. Loretta, if you’re reading this, you are an incredible lady and I adore your vivaciousness and thirst for knowledge.
That said, here are a couple of the photos I took today. The second photo is the last one I took before Loretta took me on a whirlwind tour of the grounds.
I realized when I posted these photos on my Instagram accounts that my photography Instagram (@vivianapodinaphotography) still says I’m participating (PROCRASTINATING) in the r/WeeklyPhotos 52 week challenge. However, I haven’t looked at that challenge since March. The year isn’t over yet and I’d really like to catch up and finish the challenge with everyone else, so in an effort to have no more “zero-days”, I’m going to challenge myself to finish this challenge.
That said, I didn’t go into these photos with the intent of them coming out how they did at all. I was simply happy with another great makeup look and wanted to capture it in photos.
I added freckles to my face with an eyebrow pencil, a makeup trend and trick that I feel adds more dimension to an overall look, but especially so in photography. One of my favorite photo aesthetics is that of Claire Luxton, who uses her Photoshop skills to hyper-intensify gorgeous details like freckles and gem-colored eyes to bring out her subjects. I used her photography as reference and inspiration while editing, and brought out my faux freckles in this series.
I watched a few of her videos on Youtube to see how she edits and I combined a couple new tricks from her style of editing with my own. I’m very pleased with how these photos turned out and I think I might have to do some Twitch streams again in the future of my photo-editing because this was honestly so much fun.
I use myself as my subject matter for portraits about 95% of the time, but I’d really like to expand that and test myself and my skills in bringing out other people’s personalities and stories through my photography.
This zoom burst challenge really got me challenged. And I’m giving up on it. I know I’ve achieve it before – and you know what, I’ll include one of my favorite shots from that time at the end – but this time around? I cannot get it down. So I’m calling this one a wrap and moving on.
It’s not really an effect I try to achieve, like, ever, anyway.
And then, here’s an old selfie from 6 years ago! in Philadelphia, when Maria and experimented with our cameras one night. I think we got the zoom burst down that night.