Chef Linda's Confection Commentary

Tag: hummingbirds

There’s Healing in That Bird Feeder

Healing in bird feeders? Healing what, and what do bird feeders have to do with confection products? Do read through and choose your healing…


Birds & Healing

A recent Washington Post article entitled, “Why birds and their songs are good for our mental health” again supported the research that “contact and interaction with nature are associated with better body and brain health. Birds appear to be a specific source of these healing benefits.” Your mood will improve just reading the article.

Do read the May 26 Times opinion piece by Christian Cooper, the bird aficionado and science writer who gained notoriety three years ago while being aggressively confronted in Central Park. Here’s the remarkable update: “In 2021, National Geographic invited me to host a television show on birding, “Extraordinary Birder,” and I said yes. The result is that I now find myself living an absolute dream. I spend my time crisscrossing the continent in pursuit of iconic species, having close encounters with the rarest birds (it doesn’t get any closer than peering via endoscope inside the body of a Puerto Rican parrot, or iguaca, to check on its testicles) and having the privilege of telling the harrowing and inspiring stories of these birds’ conservation — and of the farmers, biologists and truly extraordinary birders dedicated to these efforts — in front of the camera to a mass audience.”

I have two hummingbird feeders and a songbird feeder on my patio. We literally feed and support dozens of birds that over-winter. For the past 4-5 years, I’ve actively participated in the extraordinary mating and birthing cycle of osprey in Loch Arkaig at Woodland Trust, the ancient Scottish Highlands. At this moment, the hatching of two osprey eggs is imminent. Here’s the link. The shared responsibility both osprey mates exercise in birthing and parenting is extraordinary. ORmeet the bald eaglets at the Cardinal Land Conservancy in Cincinnati, Ohio!

Bird songs are linked to alleviating negative emotions and improving mental well-being. How many times a day do we have the opportunity to simply listen to the songs offered all around us? Taking even a few minutes to observe bird interaction and conversation is uplifting. And it’s free.



Our Contribution to Healing

Essential Confection is a values-based organization. The decisions we make on topics like new product formulation, whom we choose as our restaurant partners and which organizations we advocate for must fit the values we state on our website.

Some are obvious: fidelity, honesty, professionalism. Others, perhaps not so much: diversity, elegance, ethics. Humility’s a big one. Appreciation and recognition are not about us so much as how we can support the people whose presence and work we respect, that we might all be better off for it.

While Essential Confection will always be committed to supporting the expansion of equitable food systems, we have another passion: animal care and well-being. Humans and animals are important partners for one another. It has been so throughout history.


Our Commitment

In the broader context of whom Essential Confection chooses to support, organizations such as The Humane Society of the United States and state humane society operations, such as in Oregon and Washington are at the top of our list. While wine tasting last weekend at The Great Oregon Wine Co  in the Willamette Valley, we noticed their commitment to do exactly that: support HSUS through wine sales of their Rascal chardonnay

So, a percentage of the revenue from Essential Northwest Cheesecake, Essential Tiramisu, Essential Douglas Fir Shortbread and all our dessert and confection products will, from this point forward, be dedicated to supporting those doing the important work of animal care and well-being.


There is joy and ease built into to simply observing the life around us. Is there healing in that bird feeder? You bet.

There’s an Endorphin in that Cloud of Meringue

Inner foliage, the jeweled fruit of panettone, a sup of bourbon and Marsala…

St Helens floats on the skyline with the look of a cake whose meringue has slipped off into billowy piles around its base. Hummingbirds dot the inner distance – playful-aggressive specks on the outer magnificence.

Sliding meringue. A disparaging experience, eliciting feelings of helplessness and disbelief, par for the course for a new pastry chef, I suppose. There’s no shoring it up when it has insufficient structure. Had forgotten to use a hard meringue (with a larger ratio of sugar to egg whites) to frost the Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte.  The oversight was a Baking 101 moment.

I used a soft meringue, of course, as the foundation for the Italian buttercream flavored with salted caramel sauce that graces the three chocolate layers. Fluffy, elegant, a thing of beauty.

salted caramel torteCarbon-torched peaks and edges, a wickedly fun finishing technique. Drizzles and puddles of salted caramel sauce and crushed toasted hazelnuts tossed with abandon on the snow-capped torte.

Dessert creation isn’t about perfection, although that quality is certainly inherent in a pastry chef’s personality. It’s not about speed, but speed arises naturally through rote… developing a feel for the product, its behavior, its viability. But, hit the sweet spot of knowledge and technique, and an endorphin kicks in that can only be likened to that delicious reaction to a beautiful landscape.

Even if the clouds have slid off the mountain.

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