“How was it?”
I decided to turn a room into a camera obscura for this photo (no Photoshop!). A camera obscura is created by letting a small amount of light into a pitch dark vessel through a pinhole. Such vessels include a camera, cardboard box, or in this case, a room with the window completely covered, save for a small hole cut out. The light that enters through the pinhole will project an inverted image of whatever is on the other side of the window (like a house and a tree…not very interesting, but what I had to work with), much like the human eye interprets the world.
While the brain automatically flips the images the eye registers so we see the world right side up, a pinhole and a wall don’t have a brain, so we get an inverted image in a camera obscura. After your eyes adjust, the image on the wall will become quite clear, but a camera with a very long exposure will do an even better job of seeing it and will bring out color and detail. Yay, science!
So what does this have to do with Mad Men? In the season three episode, ‘Seven Twenty Three’ there is a total eclipse of the sun (you’re welcome!) and it seems to make the characters a little madder. Betty buys a fainting couch, Don drugs himself with secobarbital and alcohol, then gets beaten and robbed by the teenage hitchhikers he picked up, Peggy makes some questionable decisions, and Don is forced to sign a contract with Sterling Cooper. One of the more innocuous scenes is Sally’s third grade class turning cardboard boxes into camera obscurae in order to look at the eclipse.
With the Space Race underway and the solar eclipse in this episode, I decided to photograph a space-themed dessert in the camera obscura: Vegan Moon Pies and Candied Starfruit. Two graham crackers sandwiched between marshmallow fluff and dipped in chocolate, then garnished with candied starfruit. It’s barely a recipe, but it produces some seriously delicious results. I used peanut butter cookies instead of graham crackers because peanut butter cookies are better than graham crackers.
Graham crackers or cookies
Vegan marshmallows or marshmallow fluff
- If graham crackers are not circle-shaped, cut them into circles.
- Make a sandwich with two crackers and marshmallow fluff. Pop in the freezer for a half hour to make for easier dipping.
- Melt chocolate chips, adding 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening per cup.
- Dip sandwiches in chocolate and let set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
- Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil around 230°F.
- Cut starfruit into thin slices. Add to the saucepan and let boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit in the syrup for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the starfruit to a parchment-lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon. Let cool.
- At this point, you can either dehydrate the slices with a dehydrator, or an oven at its lowest temperature (crack the oven door open, even). Let dehydrate until chewy and free of moisture. Mine took a couple of hours in a 170°F oven with the door cracked open.
Don’t look at the eclipse, Betty. Your eyes will melt.
And a final image inside the camera obscura. While Photoshop probably would have been much easier, it would have been way less fun and magical.