Romaine Mini Skirt
Bouquet Garni Boutineer
Romaine Mini Skirt
Bouquet Garni Boutineer
You guys- You lovely, lovely people out there, reading and baking your hearts out- I think we need to talk. We’ve been seeing each other for a couple of years now, and suffice to say that things are getting pretty serious. This isn’t a phrase that should be tossed around lightly, so trust that it’s coming from a sincere place: I love you. Honestly, those comments everyone made on my 1000th post were enough to fuel my next 1000 without pausing to come up for air. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the the bigger picture when you’re caked in wet flour and scraping burnt pie filling off the bottom of the oven, but that genuine enthusiasm and encouragement makes it more than worthwhile. It makes me want to wake up every morning and slog through the dozens of disasters, just to come up with one stellar recipe to share in this space. If there was ever one goal I had with this blog, it was to make a positive impact. Whatever that meant, however deeply felt, I just wanted to make someone, somewhere, a little bit happier. Ironic that that someone turned out to be me.
Enough sappy lovey stuff, right? Right. Now, what everyone’s been waiting for… The winners! All were chosen via the mighty, infallible Random Number Generator. If your name is on this list, expect an email with details about your winnings to arrive shortly.
Congrats! While these lucky commenters now have the means to pre-order Vegan À La Mode, it’s with bittersweet feelings that I must announce the retirement of the original À La Mode ebook. You’ll be able to find most of these recipes in the printed version, but revised, improved, and with shiny new accompanying photos. If you can’t wait another two months for the official release, this is your last week to check out this sneak preview of what’s to come.
I would hate to leave anyone empty-handed, so if you didn’t get lucky and want to hold out for the all-inclusive print book, I still have one more trick up my sleeve: New desktop wallpapers!
Don’t you just love misty spring showers? Click on either photo to view full size. To use it as your new wallpaper, simply right click, select “Set as Desktop Background,” and choose the “Stretch” option to properly fill your screen.
Rumor has it that the May/June 2012 issue of VegNews has already been spotted in the wild, so I can’t wait a moment longer to share my photographic contributions. This particular volume has been dubbed the “media issue,” addressing the explosion of veganism in the public eye, but for me, as always, it was all about the food.
Beverly Lynn Bennett shares a fool-proof method for Chocolate Chia Pudding so delicious, you’ll renounce all things tapioca with one spoonful. Okay, so there’s room enough for both treats in a vegan’s life, but this healthy snack is a delightful (and healthier) change of pace. For everyone who became addicted to the stuff at Vegan Vida Con, here’s the magic formula to reinvent this wonder seed in a more chocolaty format.
Another simple yet sublime offering, Allison Rivers Samson pulls out another stunning replica of a typically non-vegan classic, this time being Caesar Salad. I’ll admit, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at the idea of another leafy green salad, but this one packs in the flavor like none other. For such a basic combination of romaine, croutons, and vinaigrette, this Caesar really knocks it out of the park. I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that I chomped my way through the whole recipe’s worth after this shoot was done.
It seems as though those printing presses never stop rolling over there, which is a good thing! That means it’s almost time to embark yet again on the next set of tempting VegNews recipes, and I can’t wait to share another visual feast when they finally make it on paper, too.
English Muffin Coin Purse
This is the first part of a photo series I’ve devised for my conceptual photography class. Expect the second half in another 7 – 8 weeks, come final exams and the last call for submissions!
A new pair of months means a new VegNews, and for the March/April issue, it also means a new My Sweet Vegan column! After what felt like an inordinately long break, it’s time to break out the sugar and salt shaker, because I’m bringing the sweet and and the salty together for two easy, palate-pleasing candies.
Potato Chip Chocolate Truffles may steal the show, their intense, dark chocolate centers covered in crunchy shards of crushed potato chips, but Buttery Popcorn Brittle is not far behind in the lineup. Like kettle corn in one thick plank, it’s a new way to enjoy that classic theater snack with less muss and fuss. Both could be whipped up on a whim, and let me tell you, they make for excellent gifts… If you can bear to part with either treat.
In addition, I had the pleasure of shooting more savory delights by the lovely and talented Allison Samson. Bringing Cheesy Twice-Baked Potatoes to the party this time around, these rich spuds are not to be missed. Stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes and smothered in gooey “cheese” sauce, it may be tough to go back to plain baked potatoes after trying these tempting tubers.
Have you gotten your issue yet? Of course, it’s packed full of other recipes, too, so there are plenty of equally attractive dishes to choose from. What do you plan on making first?
ISO 100, f/3.5 @ 1/125 second
Steam rising from a dish tells a powerful and immediately understood story: This food is hot, freshly prepared, and waiting for you to dig in right away. Few elements can elicit an appetite response as readily, even when the viewer is far removed from the scene itself. Let’s not forget what an elegant, dreamlike quality it can add to an image, thinking of it purely as an artistic element. No wonder why the above image garnered so many comments and questions! Capturing that natural steam, rather than Photoshopping it in after the fact, is so difficult that most professionals don’t even attempt it. It’s simply easier and yields more consistent results to hire a post-processing genius and paint in a smokey plume exactly as desired. However for the creative photographer up for a challenge, it’s completely possible and well worth experimenting with.
There are a few key elements for successfully photographing something as elusive as steam:
Perhaps the biggest secret of all, though, is that the food or drink doesn’t actually have to be hot or steaming. Yep, it’s true, I did cheat on the above photo. That coffee was about room temperature through and through. The trouble with faking it is the risk that your results won’t look as natural, but it’s a fun technique worth playing with at least once. Now, you’ll have to suspend your doubts for a moment and listen with an open mind, because that steam that seems to be rising from the coffee cup? … It came from a tampon, nuked in the microwave.
An unused, brand new tampon, of course! Soaked in water for a minute and then microwaved for 60 – 90 seconds until steaming, I hid it as well as possible just behind the mug and snapped away. As I circled in white above, you can see the tiny shadow that I couldn’t quite avoid, and then what it looked like on the set. (I placed the tampon in a jar lid so that it didn’t get the decorative paper wet.)
Adding steam separately like this gives you the advantage of working with food prepared in advance, and shooting multiple times without reheating and over-cooking the food itself. Plus, you won’t get any condensation on the rim of bowls or glasses. Just be sure to hide that tampon very well- It might be somewhat tricky to explain to the casual viewer.
Spelling out the setup here: I used a large softbox for the key light to the back-left of the set, a white board to bounce light back into the side, and then sunlight was the main light that came in through the window at the back-right corner. No mirrors were used to avoid strange circular highlights on the glass.
Trust me, it’s not nearly as tricky or complicated as it may seem at first! Have you successfully photographed steam? Do you think you’d try it now?
ISO 100, f/7.1 @ 1/8 second
Shot with only window light on a very sunny day; no mirrors, no nothing.
Created as a homework assignment to replicate an image of your choice as closely as possible. The creator of that image asked to remain unnamed and have the link to the original removed.
One week of silence passes by with such ease in real life, each day barely even registering before the sun begins to recede once again. In blog years, it feels interminable, as if I’ve been a bad blog parent and terribly neglected my poor baby. Fully immersed in book writing, it’s hard to stumble out of my cave and into the blinding daylight, back into the usual routine. In my absence, 2011 has come to pass, and now we can only work to get the most out of this new year. The cycle begins anew. Top 10 lists or “best of” countdowns are not my cup of tea, so let’s dive right in, shall we? After all, you can’t move forward if you keep looking back [-Or else be prepared to walk smack into a wall sooner or later.]
Kicking off 2012 on a high note, the January/February issue of VegNews has got to be one of my favorites yet. I may not have contributed a column, but things came together beautifully from a design standpoint, featuring my photos in the best way possible. Focused on a fresh and clean theme, with sights set on a dietary fresh start for those who many have overindulged over the holidays, it’s exactly my speed. Bright, clean… And of course, undeniably mouthwatering compositions. Each recipe was a winner by all accounts, but here are just a few choice shots.
Banh Mi, by Robin Robertson, is sure to please aficionados of this popular Vietnamese sandwich. Strikingly simple and fresh in flavor, it definitely has the edge on the competition, skillfully blending contrasting elements into a perfect harmony. “Spicy and sweet, soft and crunchy,” but let’s not forget simple in preparation and complex in flavor!
Raw Pad Thai, by Gena Hamshaw. My first time ever working with kelp noodles, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy they were to work with, and enjoyable to eat. A bit more toothsome than the typically wheat-based pasta, they do soften quite nicely after a few minutes of marinating in any acidic sauce. Though I feared it would be a nightmare to style this odd, translucent strands, they impressed me from start to finish.
Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart, by Beverly Lynn Bennett. A sure-fire hit with any audience, this dessert pulls out all the stops without any effort. Versatile to a fault, it’s a snap to dress it up with any accompanying flavor you fancy, too. Peanut butter, mint, or orange; Any pairing is pretty much fool-proof.
Based on the initial evidence, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is gonna be a good year.
Calling it a “whirlwind trip” doesn’t really do justice to the unbelievable circumstances I found myself in just this past weekend; if anything, we came storming through Europe more like a tornado, touching down only long enough to buzz about busy Christmas markets near Wiesbaden. Forcibly removing myself from piles of work waiting at home, it was a welcome respite from endless homework and writing assignments. There may or may not have been one ridiculous, borderline outrageous impulse-buy that made the following photos possible, but can I tell you? After working relentlessly all year, it was worth it to totally spoil myself for the holidays.
The following are some of my favorite shots, snapped in Wiesbaden, Luxembourg, and the nearby surrounding areas.