Design a wooden vessel or utensil to be used in some manner for Thanksgiving dinner.
When I got this assignment, I immediately thought this is going to be challenging. But when I went to class on Monday and we had a fun lecture on product design and the process, it helped ease some of the tension I was feeling. It allowed me to be more thoughtful instead of fearful.

We did an exercise in class where we broke into groups of 4-5 people and jotted down as many ideas as we could on a post-it. That was really helpful because it got me thinking creatively about the assignment.

Brainstorming: Generate lots of ideas superfast

I think I am going to research a wooden vessel or utensil. I went on line and looked up different vessels and utensils. I got some graphic ideas on how I want things to look.

Idea Exploration
Sketches of Ideas of wooden utensils
utensil wooden.jpg

No sets so this rules out the utensils i.e. Spoon, Fork and Spatula
1. One item looks wimpy by itself
2. I kinda like the Sustainable Rolling Pin idea
3. The only thing is I buy readymade crust

utensil rack.jpg

Ideas I really like
I think I like the idea of the Sustainable Utensil Holder Rack
1. The Functionality is dual purpose
2. Eco-Shaker Style

Process Sketches Cutting/Serving Boards

We had another fun lecture where we were able to design the interior of kitchen prep area! This was really great to work with students from different disciplines and come up with a quick design.

I am so excited! We are going to The Bachelor Farmer and tour kitchens!

Womp! I left my camera so I don't have any pics, but I did take mental notes.

I love the entryway with its different flooring, and the bar area with its painted painters tape. It looks like the artwork was done by a local artist. During the tour, I found out that they did not distress any of the finishes. It was all natural wear and tear. The reason for the different woods in the entryway was due to the wood being replaced because it had rotted.

In the kitchen, the Chef showed us a serving utensil that was handmade by a local artist. It was a serving board, but it looked like a cutting board. I immediately thought this would be what I want to make because I am leaning towards making a utensil out of reclaimed wood ... I want do something sustainable. So, now I think I have narrowed it down. I am going to make a cutting board that has dual functions ... it can be used as a cutting board as well as a serving tray.

Off to Lowes I go! I went to Lowes to buy wood, so I brought in my sample cabinetry wood to show the kind I was looking for. The gentleman told me I had good wood that would work well together. He said that I just needed to sand it and glue it together and then I would have a great base. I ask what type of glue would be best and he suggested Gorilla Wood Glue. He also said to use clamps after I glue the wooden pieces together. I bought a bottle of Gorilla Wood Glue and I told him I could find clamps at my woodshop on campus. So I took all of my sample cabinet woods and I repurposed them in the woodshop.

I spoke with experts at Rapson Hall and they agreed that the woods would work well together. They warned me to limit myself to only gluing three wooden pieces together so that I would not have issues of joining too many pieces. They suggested that I sand the wood to remove stain and comeback to see them when that was completed.

Before Sanding and After Sanding Cherry Wood Cabinet Samples


I went back to see them after I had sanded 6 samples of cabinet cherry wood. It took such a long time and my hands were hurting ... they warned me it would take some time. I used a 120-grit sanding paper. Of course, I over sanded the wood as well as sanded all the sides. I had no idea I was only supposed to sand the top and back of the woods as it would be used for the cutting/serving board surface. Now all my woods were uneven and off. They now had to introduce me to a new tool ... the cutting saw.

Cutting Saw
This was a scary process because the saw was mechanical and it moved pretty fast. I got the hang of it, but it was not until I was done using it. I was now ready to learn how to use the clampers.

I applied the Gorilla Wood Glue ... it had to be consistently disbursed. I set the clampers where they were not too tight ... I let them set for 1 hour.




When I came back, my shop guide was getting off work so he introduced me to Patrick. I told him that I wanted to add an inset to my cutting board/server, so he showed me how to use the in-graver/burner. It was a difficult, time consuming process. We did a sample on a piece of scrape wood and after seeing how it looked, I decided that I was going to do away with the inset. I did not like the look of it on the scale of my cutting board/server.

Burner that burns the inset


Iterative process: Now back to my sketches to see my other ideas ... to see which direction I will go. I like the look of the cutting board with a handle so I am going add handles to my cutting board.

Ideas of different placements of handles

I like the dynamic look but it takes away cutting/serving surface~

If mounted on the sides, will allow for more surface for cutting/serving adding to functionality~

I like the look but takes away from dual functions of being a cutting/serving board and makes it one dimensional, just a cutting board~

Okay! I want to add the handles to the side to allow for more room on the top surface. I have to measure to figure out where I need to line the dots to drill holes.



I took the time to measure, which took me forever. Finally, once I had the marks even and ready to drill, I found out that it would not work because of the way my handles were made. So now I have to refine my idea of having the handles on the side. I now have to figure out what will work best for the dimensions of my cutting/serving board to get the most function out of it.

I think I will add two handles on the top ... 1" away from the left and right ends of the board. This will allow for it to be a cutting/serving board. I now have to go and figure out where to mark the top of the board so that I can drill my handles evenly to the board.

Okay, now it is time to figure out how to drill the holes. I went to get Patrick to show me how to use the power tools.

Power Tools Tutorial

My turn ... I used the clapper to hold the wood while I drilled


Oh, no! I put the holes on the top where my handles are supposed to be and I wanted this to be the top of my cutting/serving board. The holes for the screws are supposed to be on the bottom. Oh well, I have to keep going because if I switch the holes it will show and that would not look good.



I screwed in all the screws and one is not tight enough. I went back to the woodshop to ask Patrick what could be the problem. He tried screwing it in manually and he had no luck. So he took the screw out and looked at the hole I drilled. He realized that I needed to drill a bit more. I drilled a tad bit more and it worked. Now all my screws were tight. My cutting/serving board is ready to be oiled.


Overall, I am satisfied with my cutting/serving board. It is repurposed cherry wood that I sanded for hours; cut/re-cut; glued together; sanded again; and eventually affixed handles to. I had to soak it in oil for 24 hours.
I like the fact that it is a sustainable design ... that was a labor of love. It goes back to what the Chef at The Bachelor Farmer was saying ... that handmade kitchen utensils add a personable touch and a certain charm. I find my cutting/serving board very charming and it will be a nice touch on the table for Thanksgiving. Doubling as my cutting board and serving tray!!!

To cut, serve and protect your foods. This beautiful board is made from cabinet sample cherry wood, fitted with nickel handles and given a simple, easy to maintain olive oil treatment. This board's grain will be slightly different, but is lovely. Use it for everything you would normally use a cutting board for... and then some.
• Repurposed cabinet sample cherry wood
• Nickel handles
• 12" x 8"
• Made in the USA by Tawana~

Cleaning Advice: Use a damp cloth. Please do not soak for extended periods. Re-treat by rubbing the board with olive oil or a food-safe oil of your choice.

Sustainable Cutting/Serving Board~

Note: Caution ... I learned today during my critic that Mineral Oil will preserve the wood; so I would advise to maintain the beauty of this cutting/serving board with Mineral Oil treatments every so often as olive/vegetable oil can go rancid.
Revisions: I will be re-soaking the cutting/serving board in mineral oil to preserve its beauty!

The Plate as a Canvas

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Wow ... this was a very interesting lecture! It brought me back to color class and design thinking which was very nostalgic for me. My first thought is that this will be a piece of cake, no pond intended. Literally, I will be applying all that I have learned into plating a dessert. How hard could it be ... right. Wrong. After lecture, I immediately starting thinking about a color palette as I thought it would be a great place to start. So this is what I jotted down.
I was so excited for lab because I cannot bake, so I wanted to actually bake the cake and get it right. Easy breezy ... right. Just follow the instructions. There is plenty of help in lab so I can't miss this up (you would think). Wrong! One of my cakes rose and the other was flat. It was the same cake batter, so how could this happen?

All Mixed Up
In The Oven
Results: This Cake Rose~
Results: This Cake was Flat~
In lab, Chef Diane demonstrated how to plate her famous Honey Spice Cake. It was amazing to see her in action. She made it look super easy and beautiful! Okay, so I took some pics of all her cool creations.

Chef Diane's Master Piece
Chef Diane's Master Piece
Neat White Chocolate Garnish

Attempting to Plate



My Turn .... I went at it and boy was it hard. I had such a difficult time trying to make things look interesting and yummy.

Today, we will have a guest lecturer combining food and architecture. This will be really interesting. I found myself enjoying our lecture, but now I am feeling super overwhelmed. My hope is that in lab I will get a chance to play around with the ideas I have cycling around in my head. I want to see if they will be successful or not.

Parti Diagrams of Ideas

Plate shopping ... I thought this was going to be super fun because I love to shop. I had such a difficult time shopping for my plate. I had to take a step back, and decide to look on-line to narrow down the shape of the plate I wanted. I decided on square verses round. I know I want to do a round shaped cake, but when I went shopping I found all sorts of cute cookie cutters. I still went with a round shape. I plan to use geometric shapes to get a contemporary design coupled with fall colors.
Plate Exploration

I went out and found this really unique looking plate. It is rectangle shaped with texture. I am so excited to play around with it. Okay ... love the plate, but the texture makes it difficult to design. I now get what Chef Diane was saying with the plate she had during lab. I think I am going to stick with my plate even though it is difficult to work with. I am going to take on the challenge.

New Plate~

Plating is so difficult with the texture

Difficult to manipulate a textured plate when standing things up and using sauces

Food pairing. Okay, I have so many ideas ... I had way too much going on in my head. I spoke with Chef Diane and she said a good rule of thumb is to only do three different pairings. This helped so much as it helped me narrow things down a bit.


Results: Pudding never set ... I tried using soy milk.

Honey Whipped Cream ... Katie and I used the Kitchen Aid, so cool!
Added Food Coloring to get a streak in the honey whipped cream

Okay, so I tried making this lemon glaze and colored it with red food coloring. It turned out pink and my yellow was super bright. Colors did not represent Fall at all ... so I need some advice. I am going to talk with Chef Diane to see how I can get the fall colors I want.




Okay, I got the skinny on how to change the color of my honey whipped cream and lemon glaze without using food color. Chef Diane said blend some raspberries with confectioners powdered sugar and strain the mix and use the drippings for color.
Making my own food coloring

Not imaginative enough~

Experiments: Carmel Spirals
Result: could not figure out the right consistency to make the carmel. What a bust, I did at least 3 attempts: 1) with only sugar on medium heat, 2) bringing a 1/2 cup of sugar to a boil with 2 teaspoons of water and stirring lightly, 3) sugar and small amount of water and no stirring.
All unsuccessful ... time to try something else~

Apple Chips for Garnish
Bake for 1 hour at 225 degrees, Flip over and bake for 1 hour at 225 degrees

Food pairing. Okay, I have so many ideas ... I had way too much going on in my head. I spoke with Chef Diane and she said a good rule of thumb is to only do three different pairings. This helped so much as it helped me narrow things down a bit.

I think I have narrowed it down to Honey Spice Cake as the focal point; Honey Whipped Cream with raspberry push; fresh raspberries for a pop of color; Julienne Apples for height; sugar covered Walnuts for visual interest; and Apple Chips for garnish.

The push looks really sloppy on the textured plate~





La Belle Vie was an amazing opportunity which gave me so much inspiration!! It was an unforgettable dinning experience ... one of The Best I have had! The service was outstanding and the food was to LIVE for!!

Okay back to plating: The Minni-Apple Honey Spice Cake

* Color Palette: Brown, Winter White and Red for a pop of color to represent the Fall Season

* Shape and Form: Geometric Shapes (3 Circles of honey spice cake), and a White highly textured rectangle plate to explore the possibilities of shape, volume and form~

* Now for the fun part ... The Garnish: Juliane Apples Piled High for height, Honey Whipped Cream, Fresh Red Raspberries for a pop of color, and Candied Walnuts for Entourage
I took 1 red apple and sliced in Juliane format; I took 1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream; 4 tablespoons of Honey; a pinch of Confectioners Powdered Sugar; and 5 Red Raspberries frozen.

I wanted to keep the composition symmetrical so I started with the center and worked my way outward. This is what happened.
The Minni-Apple Honey Spice Cake


I feel like something is missing. I have a huge bag of apples. Okay, let me try making some apple chips.


I took an apple and sliced it thinly. I soaked the thin apple slices in 1 cup of cold water and 1 Squeezed lemon juice. This is to stop the apples from browning ... a trick I learned from Chef Diane.

Okay, I am going to stick an apple chip in the honey whippped cream to make it visually interesting.

All in all I had a ball. I really challenged myself. I used a highly textured plate which is really difficult to work with. I stop fighting with it and went with it. I trimmed my circle shaped spice cake to go with the textures of the plate. I also did away with sauces and the push technique because they looked super messy on this textured plate. I left the ends of the plate blank to let the texture of the plate speak for its self. I piled the Julianne Apples onto a circle and added a candied walnut as a kick stand to stabilize the Julianne Apples thus creating a sky scraper effect. I used Honey Whipped Cream to act as the city line along with the circle shaped Honey Spice Cake. I added Apple Chips on the Honey Whipped Cream for visual interest.


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The Design Process
When I first received assignment 2, I was baffled. I was not at all familiar with the term amuse bouche. I googled amuse bouche and found out that it is a French term, some chefs serve amuse bouche before the main course meal at no extra charge. I started to understand the assignment a bit more. I than had to grasp how I was going to transform at least one ingredient into a different texture. Oh yeah, by the way, it also had to be a Minnesota fruit or vegetable in season. I immediately thought I can learn even more about texture in lab, so not to worry because that would generate some ideas. So, I moved on to thinking about my featured Minnesota fruit or vegetable. I had to research what fruits and vegetables are in season. I found a pdf of a list with all the in-season fruits and vegetables. This helped me narrow things down a bit. I figured grapes and kale was a great place to start my journey!

Today, our class did flavor experimenting at Cooks of Crocus Hill. It was an amazing experience! I took some general notes. I bulleted things I really liked and thought were interesting. My goal was to see if I noticed the different textures and try to incorporate them into my dish. Tasting of sweets, sour and salty flavors.
My findings on the following:

What should I do for my Amuse Bouche -bite-size hors d'doeurve?
I am going to go to lab first and play around with food science before I decide on a dish.
We got to take samples of Sodium Alginate & Calcium Chloride home to experiment with food science. Hopefully this will help me decide on a texture for my Amuse Bouche!
Food Science.jpg
Orange Juice Pearls Colored in pale green
Line Drops.jpg
I think I want to try something with grapes ... what shall I make?
I am going to try a cold soup with things I already have in my kitchen!
I was thinking about grapes because they have beautiful coloring. I tried to make a white grape soup and add a yogurt blob ... unattractive, it tasted pretty good but it was not appealing. Great IDEA in my mind, but did not measure up! The texture was sort of bizarre.
I wanted to try to find away to refine this dish, and my family advised me to move on to a new dish! So back to the drawing board or shall I say the cutting board I go~
Discovery: Blob doesn't look appealing at all so I need to find a new texture! The orange juice pearls were supper cute but what could I use them in? I am going to take it one step at a time.
1) New Main Dish.
2) How about something I am not familiar with.
3) I got it! I am going to try Kale.
I am going to make Kale Chips with a Goat Cheese Mousse!
Kale Chips after baking for 20 minutes @ 275 degree.
Now it's time to make the Goat Cheese Mousse.
OOPS ... forgot to take a pic of my Goat Cheese Mousse. It turned out really well, so fluffy and light! I think I have a winner for my texture ingredient. CIMG5197.JPG
Yummy ... if you eat it right away.
I discovered if the Kale Chips sit too long they become really rubbery. I want texture, but not that kind. I tried refining this dish by using raw Kale and it was so tart. I could not take it. Next, I tried sweetening the raw kale with olive oils and sugar ... unsuccessful. Back to the cutting board I go!
How about Potato as my vegetable?
What about french fries with goat cheese mousse? Why not.
I baked some fries, seasoned them, and added my goat cheese mousse.
Yummy, but I think I can do better.
Okay, let me try a different potato. How abut Sweet Potato?
I am going to take it from the top.
I got it!I think I want to do something with Sweet Potato ... yum!
I am going to try to make Sweet Potato Cubes, my Goat Cheese Mousse and bacon. This should be savory, but sweet with just the right amount of texture.
Cube Sweet Potato Seasoned with honey, cinnamon, pink salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. I'll bake them @ 375 degree for about a half hour.
YUMMY! I am going to go with this dish~
I thought about making a Kale Slaw, Watermelon Cube, or Roasted Apples, but none of them made it to my cutting board. The slaw seemed as if it would be too difficult to pair with a texture. The Roasted Apples seem so unoriginal and as for the Watermelon Cube, I not sure if it is a Minnesota fall fruit. Over all, I think this was a tough challenge but I am happy with my final decision on the Sweet Potato with the Goat Cheese Mousse and bacon. I did have to refine the dish ... I had my family try it and they thought it was really good; but the way I had the bacon positioned it was hard for them to maneuver. The placement of the bacon was awkward, so I eliminated the bacon and had them try it. They said that the bacon was a great touch, so bring it back. I repositioned the bacon so it wasn't standing straight up and put it flat on the sweet potato. That seemed to work out so much better. It was a good catch and needed some refinement, but not as much as I thought!

Design Process

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Rice in Chicken Stock.jpg Design Concept for Rice or Orzo.pdf Please click on link to review details

Orzo Cheeseballs Bake with Seasoned Sour Cream.jpg
Orzo Cheeseballs Bake with Seasoned Sour Cream (Final Dish).pdf

Please click on link to review details and Pictures

Orzo Cheeseballs Bake with Seasoned Sour Cream
1. Orzo Pasta ½ cup (cook orzo)
2. Pinch of Salt and Pepper
3. 2 table spoons of Honey Yogurt
4. 1 egg
5. ½ cup of heavy cream
6. 3 Fresh Mini Peppers Chopped (Optional)
7. Green Onion Finely Chopped (Optional)
8. 2 Cups of Shredded Cheese (Your Choice of Cheese)
9. Mix all ingredients
10. Place in an Oiled Pyrex Pan Bake for 20 -25 minutes
11. Scoop with cookie scooper place on oiled cookie sheet, bake for 5 minutes or until golden brown
Garnish with Season Sour Cream
A. 1 Cup of Sour Cream
B. ½ Cup of Honey Yogurt
C. 1 tablespoon of Honey
D. 1 teaspoons of Season Italian Dressing
E. ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
F. 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
G. Green Onion finely chopped
H. Fresh Parsley Minced
I. Blend to smooth texture

Hot Rice Blueberry Yogurt Cereal Balls.JPG
Hot Rice Blueberry Yogurt Cereal Balls.pdf
Please click on link to review full details

Spin on Rice Pudding ... Hot Rice Cereal
Hot Rice Blueberry Yogurt Cereal Balls
1. Long grain rice ½ cup (cook rice)
2. 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
3. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4. 1 teaspoon of sugar
5. 2 teaspoons of blueberry yogurt
6. 1 egg
7. ½ cup of heavy cream
8. Mix all ingredients
9. Bake for 20 minutes
10. Scoop with cookie scooper, bake for 5 minutes
11. Garnish with bananas

Hot Rice Cereal Balls
• Ingredients worked well with each other taste very good
• Nice texture
• Concern is that it may not be innovative enough

Experimental Dish Cajun Cheese Rice Bake.jpg
Cajun Cheese Rice Bake.pdf
Please click on link to review full details

Cajun Cheese Rice Bake Ingredients
1. Long grain rice 1 cup (cook rice)
2. 1/4 teaspoon of Tony Chacheres's Creole Seasoning
3. 1/4 teaspoon of Tone's Pepper red crushed
4. Pinch of Salt and Pepper
5. 1 cup of Rachel Rays All Natural Chicken Stock
6. 1 egg
7. 1 diced tomato
8. Mix all ingredients
9. Bake for 25 minutes

Cajun Cheese Rice Bake
• Ingredients did not work well with each other, taste was too spicy
• Texture was mushy
• Concern is that I went off of the deep end trying to be innovative and the dish turned out awful
• May be I should have ideated longer

9/10/13 Ideation

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Inspirational Cooking Color Palette.jpg.

Rice, cheese, chicken broth for meat flavor

Colors: green, red, yellow vegetables

Questions to ask:
1. Can we use bullion cubes or do we have to make our own chicken broth from scratch?
2. Can we use soy sauce or do we have to make from scratch?