BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


22 Comments

Veggin’ Out with VegNews

Months race by with a quickening pace, exaggerated by summer’s dwindling warmth and a sun that goes to bed just a little bit earlier each day. 2012 slips through my fingers just a little bit more each day, as fluid and irrepressible as water trickling out of a leaky faucet. Since this is more than a mere plumbing issue with an easy fix, it’s at least decent consolation that the runaway months frequently bring with them a new issue of VegNews to pour over and forget all about the usual over-scheduling woes. The September/October issue may be dominated by compelling recipes for all things cheesy and unbelievably dairy-free, but there’s so much more nestled into those crisp, glossy pages, too.

There’s always a need for something sweet to balance out all of those salty snacks, and Beverly Lynn Bennett‘s Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding fills in that requirement with ease. Lightly spiked with bourbon and redolent of warm, comforting spices, merely popping this dish in the oven does wonders to soften the blow of a fading summer season. Simple enough for the most novice baker to excel, it’s a recipe to hang on to for the coming holiday season. Plus, when served with the suggested sticky, gooey, Salted Caramel Sauce, it’s truly a dessert to remember.

Bringing in a healthy yet hearty option, Gena Hamshaw proves that raw food needn’t be contained to only the warmest of months in order to satisfy. Savory “Meatballs” made of mushrooms, sunflower seeds, and red beets top a generous mound of zucchini noodles, all smothered in a rich sun-dried tomato Marinara Sauce. A delicious departure from the standard fatty, heavy rendition of the concept, these uncooked balls pack incredible amounts umami into tiny little flavor bombs.

For an issue like this, the best part of the job is definitely “cleaning up” when each photo shoot is all wrapped up. Keep an eye out for your copy if you’re subscriber, or venture out to the local bookstore if you’re not, because this is one you’ll want to hang on to!


15 Comments

Summer Rain

Heat and humidity build over the course of a standard summer day, until it feels as though you’re being smothered with a damp towel every time you set foot outside. Relief comes only when the sky finally breaks open and beats the flames back with a soothing spray of warm raindrops. Thunder rumbles with the gentle vibrations of someone talking in low tones, easily lulling the listener to sleep at night. When morning comes, a few remaining water droplets remain, clinging dearly to leaves and grass. The air is the fresh and new again, until that familiar heaviness grows once more.

Click to view full size. If you’d like to save it as your new wallpaper, simply right click, select “Set as Desktop Background,” and choose the “Stretch” option to properly fill any computer screen.


39 Comments

Inedible



Tough as Nails

More than Elbow Grease

Roast Ducks

Fillet of Sole / Toe-fu
(All the credit for those titles goes to the subject herself!)

Cooking the Books

…And so ends another semester. Does it surprise anyone that my final project, even in a portrait photography class, ends up being about food? All of my lovely lovely models here deserve serious props- Thanks for being such good sports about cheerfully ruining your pans, books, and foot wear!


38 Comments

London Calling

Perhaps you’ve noticed, but things have been a bit more quiet than normal around here lately. Final exams have passed, and the photos are coming in fast and furious, but the number of forthcoming posts haven’t reflected that in the least. Truth be told, it’s because no one was home at BitterSweet head quarters. Maybe I failed to mention the fact that I was slipping away to London for a week? A quick jaunt across the pond, I hardly had time to get my feet beneath me before it was time to hop a plane back home again, but the brief break was entirely necessary. A few days to indulge a sense of adventure, explore a new corner of the world, and actually think about something other than food 24/7. It’s a truly refreshing change of pace! Thus, it may not have been a foodie’s dream getaway, but I still have plenty of photos and stories to share…

Continue reading


18 Comments

Winner, Winner, Chickpea Dinner!

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.

Doris
Megan
Mocha
Dawn
Adam
Athena

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.


28 Comments

Portraits and Paella

Cultivating an appreciation for portrait and people photography is one thing, and actually producing decent images on the subject is another entirely. It wouldn’t matter if not for the demands of various photography classes, most of which seem to be written with only one type of student in mind. Either everyone with a camera dreams of growing up to become a high school prom photographer, or some of these lessons are really missing the mark. Where is the passion for still life and commercial photography I find myself immersed in everywhere else? Sure, those basic lighting techniques taught with any sort of subject will prove handy once applied to other disciplines of the art form, but for now, courses entitled “People Photography” sound like one full semester of torture. Forced to face this glaringly weak point in my toolbox of skills, it’s turned out to be a learning experience in more ways than expected so far.

Just before winter break, the final project for a certain “Location Lighting” class demanded numerous shots of people and things in all different places, making for a mad dash around town with unwieldy light stands and giant reflectors in tow. Ultimately, I’m pretty sure it was one particular shot, taken within the comfort of my aunt and uncle’s home, that truly secured my grade.

The take-away lesson from this experience? Make the picture about food anyway! By adding this element of interest, and with the help of my very patient and tolerant Uncle Alberto, it was no longer the same frustrating process of trying to make a scene out of nothing. Now there was a story, and a subject I knew how to work with.

And let me tell you a bit about that subject: Paella. Vegan paella, packed full of fresh vegetables and vibrant yellow grains of rice, all infused with saffron. Redolent of onions and garlic, it’s a simple yet classic dish that must not be underestimated. Though there was a more traditional, seafood-filled version on the table alongside this one, I couldn’t help but notice that everyone seemed to have at least a scoop of the veggie version on their plates, too.

That would have been the end of this story, but then, for my birthday, a wonderful gift fell into my hands… My very own paella pan.

Thank goodness I already had a tried-and-true recipe to turn to, because I wanted to fire up that stove right away! My only alteration was to add a dash of smoked paprika, because I just can’t get enough of that stuff. The beauty of this dish is that it’s endlessly versatile, and pretty much any vegetables hanging out in the fridge will do just fine. Consider throwing in a drained and rinsed can of chickpeas for a bit more protein, too.

Uncle Alberto’s Vegan Paella

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
4 Cups Brussels Sprouts, Halved
4 Cups Other Assorted Raw Vegetables, such as Asparagus, Red Peppers, Zucchini, Mushrooms, and/or Artichoke Hearts
1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Medium Grain Rice
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 Teaspoons Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Large Pinch Saffron
2 Cups Frozen Peas

Lemon Wedges, to Serve

Saute Brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper until cooked with hints of browning. Lightly saute the other vegetables for about 5 minutes and season to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a paella pan or large skillet on the stove top, heat the remaining olive oil and cook the diced onion and garlic over low heat. Once translucent, add the paprika and saffron, and stir well. Add rice and saute for approximately 1 minute. Add Brussels sprouts, vegetables, and broth and bring mixture to a low boil. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, stir and cover. Cook for approx 20 minutes over low-med heat until the liquid has mostly been absorbed. Add frozen peas, stir into the rice, cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve in paella dish with lemon wedges.

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

Printable Recipe

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,860 other followers