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A Week At Squam Art Workshops…

Squam Art Workshop


Back from Squam Art Workshops where I had a wonderful time. Best students. Best cabin roomates. Best time. Took a whole day off. Oh yeah. And it was as good as marmalade on toasty bread. Here is what Squam is to me, in a few snapshots.

Squam Art Workshop


There were deep conversations. Lots of "ah!ha!" moments. Lots of light hearted moments. Lots of laughs. Some belly dancing. Lots of crafting. And sharing. Crying too. And more laughing because we would just want to smack ourselves silly otherwise, non?!

Squam Art Workshop


Squam June was about layers. Of clothes. Of your soul. For me, it was about letting my six year-old self come by. Because I really miss her. She was always fun, bold and smiling. She’s back. After five months without, I was starting to really miss her. But she’s back indeed. And so glad she had brought her rain boots to make splashes in puddles… And walk in the rain. One of my favorite thing to do.

Squam Art Workshop


Moments spent at the Playhouse. Listening to people’s moments. Sharing in their journey. Surrounding by the warmth of a fire or the glow of gazillion twinkle lights. In June. If you know my addiction to twinkle lights. You know that made me beam inside…

Squam Art Workshop - Jonatha Brooke


Listening to Jonatha Brooke is always a privilege. Her will to share her story through her songs, her words. I can guarantee there was not one dry eye in that room the night Jonatha performed. Squam is strangers sharing compassion and hugs. Squam is balm for your soul. Thank you ma belle, my heart is mended a little bit more thanks to you.

Squam Art Workshop


Squam is in the details. There are everywhere. Let me count the ways…

Squam Art Workshop


At Squam, the trees whisper wonderful uplifting things after an intense morning teaching.

Squam Art Workshop


Every where you turn, there is something someone created and is giving to others.

Squam Art Workshop


At Squam, the trees wear pom-poms. And you can’t help but smile. Big.

Squam Art Workshop


Squam Art Workshop

Squam Art Workshop


At Squam, trees wear pantone color garlands. Lots of them. Swishing around with the wind.

Squam Art Workshop


There is never enough heart garlands in a forest. Well, in my opinion anyway….

Squam Art Workshop


Little owls started popping everywhere. I named this one Elliott.

Squam Art Workshop - Jen Gray & Michelle Madden Smith


There is beauty everywhere at Squam. Jen and Michelle. Beautiful inside out. Thank you for making me smile. For letting me goof. For the hugs and the quiet moments.

Squam Art Workshop - Thea Coughlin


The beautiful Thea. I have never met one photographer who gives has much of herself with each portrait or project. Truly an inspiration.

Squam Art Workshop


Yeah…some of us have epiphanies on the docks at Squam.

Squam Art Workshop - Jen Gray


While some if us contemplate jumping in the cold water… And Jen did! Crazy girl…

Squam Art Workshop - Jonatha Brooke


Squam is taking a moment in time for yourself. And doing something to be shared. A moment to meditate. A moment to breathe.

Squam Art Workshop


Let’s leave it that…

Squam Art Workshop


And this. Squam is love. And spunk.

Squam Art Workshop


Squam is waiting for you… And I can’t wait to be back teaching cooking and food photography classes for the Fall session!

Food Photography Workshop In Charleston – A Recap.

Charleston - Our Dock

Thank you all for your words of comfort and virtual hugs. I came to you from a very vulnerable place and your words held me strong throughout some pretty dark hours. Some comfort came from learning that since he was an organ donor, my cousin’s heart is beating for someone else. This bit of news calms some of my anger.

Charleston - Our Dock

Looking at old family albums helped a lot. Also did diving head first into editing and reflecting over the workshop that Clare Barboza and I instructed together a couple of weekends ago. Each and everyone of these pictures made me smile and brought me back to a good place. The place Clare and I would call "the life we want to lead and the work we do to get there". Teaching workshops is one of the things we do to find ourselves in that good place. It’s about sharing information, connecting with people and helping them find the way to what makes them happy with photography.

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

I wasn’t nervous co-teaching with Clare as much as I was hosting our first duo workshop in my town. Clare and I jive. There is only support and care. Genuine interest and zero drama. We work through things at different or similar paces, depending, but always with the understanding of the greater picture. In this case, the workshop, the attendees, the info dispersed and the well being of everyone. Debriefing over Prosecco each night was also a genius idea…eheheh

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Over the course of the few days we had planned, the attendees participated in 5 different themed photo shoots, visited the Charleston farmers market and had dinner at Lana for on-location shoots. It was intense, and yet we made sure to have plenty of downtime to enjoy the beach house, the waves and the gorgeous weather all the while editing and sharing tips over wine and cheese each evening .

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

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We tried to create vignettes and photo opps at every turn of the house, providing the attendees with lots of props and surfaces from both our studios and finds that Clare had scored along the road trip from Seattle to Charleston. We might have packed more than our husbands would have liked to carry up and down the stairs but at least we had plenty to play with for 3 days!

Sangria Bar

Ice Cream Bar

Props

Props & Surfaces

I love Charleston. I love everything about it. The people. The places. The artisans, artists and farmers. I also love everything that is bizarre and antiquated about this town. I love how forward and backward it can be at times. Thus, my worry that the attendees would only see certain facets of Charleston and miss the good details. I needn’t worry. We had an amazing group of smart, talented and beautiful women join us on this workshop. I fell in love with each and everyone of them for their generosity and wit. I left the workshop exhausted but completely inspired.

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Charleston Food Photography Workshop May 2012

Kuddos to our super awesome assistant and kitchen manager Laura who kept us well fed and organized. Could not have done it without her! It was pretty much non stop action in the kitchen. I can’t believe she’s moving at the end of the month!!

Charleston - Our Dock

I am really glad that Clare, her husband Joe and their pup Nina stayed a couple of days after the workshop. Our husbands developed a similar friendship to ours while we were at the beach house workshopping. We knew they would. They are awesome guys…!

Puppies!

I was curious to see how our pups would bond and no surprise there either. They loved each other. Bailey and Nina had a great puppy romance. Full of love bites, nips, runs and even sharing a bed a couple of times. Tippy, the older dog was pretty much unphased but give a dozen years, I am sure he would have fought Bailey for a spot next to Nina…

Charleston - Our Dock

We took those extra days with them to chill by the dock, process the whole weekend, plan even more fun for next year (stay tuned!) and walk around downtown. The old streets, old stones. Our favorite spots.

Charleston - Downtown

Gave us the chance to discover new and fun places to go back to like Black Tap Coffee Shop. A new favorite of mine.

Charleston - Black Tap Coffee Shop

Charleston - Black Tap Coffee Shop

Charleston - Black Tap Coffee Shop

A much needed rest and recovery. A time to focus on the details as well as the broad strokes. 

 Charleston - Downtown

I leave you with some images from Charleston taken after the workshop was over.  This is the town as I see now. Fall is different. And magical too which is why I am thrilled that Clare and I will be teaching two more workshops here in November. Can’t wait!

Charleston - Downtown

Charleston - Downtown

Charleston - Downtown

Charleston - Downtown

Charleston - Downtown

Charleston - Downtown

Here are some of the posts written by the attendees about the workshop. Thank you ladies, it was an honor!

Claire McCormack Photography: Farmers Market Snapshots

Lorie at Savory Nest.

Angela at Angie’s Southern Kitchen.

Shannon at No8Photography.

Paige at Simple Expressions.

Kay at The Church Cook: Day 1Day 2Day 3

Save The Date: A Three Day Food Styling & Photography Workshop in Seattle, Washington

3 Day Workshop Seattle


I am really excited to announce another multi-day workshop that I will teaching with two of my favorite people

Save the date for an amazing three day workshop in Seattle, Washington! Here are the details:

Join photographers Clare Barboza, Helene Dujardin and chef & cookbook author Becky Selengut for a 3 day workshop full of photography, styling, and delicious food in Seattle, Washington!

When: August 10th, 11th, and 12th 2012

Where: Clare Barboza’s studio, as well as other locations out and about in Seattle.

What: This is a 3-day hands-on workshop. Over the course of three days, students will learn about natural light, composition, exposure, utilizing props, and food styling from the perspectives of both the photographer and the chef. They will practice their photography skills in a studio setting, in the busy kitchen of Poppy Restaurant, as well as an outdoor setting.
Additionally, Clare and Helene will share their processes with post-production and workflow in both Photoshop and Lightroom.
There will be delicious food prepared by Becky each day, and a dinner party for the entire group on the third night.

How much: $1250, which includes 3 days of instruction, lunch each day, and a dinner party with wine pairings from sommelier April Pogue on Sunday night.

How to register: Tickets will go on sale on Monday, March 26 at 8am PST/11am Eastern.
Space is limited to 10 attendees.

Not One But Two Three Days – Four Nights Food Photography Workshops in Charleston, South Carolina!

I have to say, so far the year has kicked in high gear right from the start with great projects after great projects. Work wise, the calendar looks like a well packed tin of sardines. Fun wise, I am making sure there are plenty of fun projects to sustain creativity and inspiration throughout the year. That means teaching workshops…and more workshops…!

When Clare and I put together our May workshop a couple of month ago, we were overwhelmed by the positive response from readers who asked us to add more dates. We have been working hard to get our schedules together and we are thrilled to say that we are doing not one but TWO more workshops together in November 2012. And each is a little different than the other. Read along…you will see…

Workshop November 1st - 5th


Nothing is more soothing than the beach in November. It is the perfect foil to let your mind run wild and allow your creative self to take over.

Imagine spending 3 days and 4 nights in a gorgeous house located across the street from the beach in The Isle of Palms, enjoying great food and wine, learning all about food photography and styling from Clare and Helene, and taking lots and lots of photos. Over the course of the workshop, you will learn about exposure, utilizing natural light, composition, choosing props, camera angle, styling, and how to tell a story through photographs.

We will venture at the farmers market and local artisans to procure the best ingredients for our shoot. We’ll take a little play/work time to the beach and chill, relax and learn at the same time. We are also thrilled to have a couple of guest speakers join us for an afternoon, such as an art director and magazine editor who will share the ins and outs of their specific field, their experiences and much more.

When: Thursday, November 1st through Monday, November 5th, 2012

Fee: $1500 (includes accommodations for 4 nights, all meals, transportation to/from Charleston International airport and on all field trips, and 3 days workshop instruction from Clare and Helene. Please note that bedrooms are shared. See house plans here. )

To register, check out the schedules and more details: click here.

BUT…as I mentioned above, we have made plans for a second workshop in November, also in Charleston!
This one is slightly different and all the same fun and geared towards giving you the tools you need to progress on your photo journey.

Workshop November 8th-12th


Clare and I asked my dear friend Tami Hardeman who is a professional food stylist in Atlanta, GA to come join us as an instructor. So instead of two passionate food photography gals, you get three…!

We are thrilled to add her skills and expertise to the workshop but also her sassy and creative personality.

We will be together for 3 days and 4 nights in a gorgeous house located across the street from the beach in The Isle of Palms, learning all about food photography and styling from Clare and Helene and Tami. Over the course of the workshop, you will learn about utilizing natural light, composition, tips and techniques of food styling, and how to tell a story through photographs.

When: Thursday, November 8th through Monday, November 12th, 2012

Fee: $1850 (includes accommodations for 4 nights, all meals, transportation to/from Charleston International airport and on all field trips, and 3 days workshop instruction from Clare and Helene and Tami. Please note that bedrooms are shared. See house plans here. )

To register, check out the schedules and more details: click here.

We are really happy to be able to offer you two weekends of food, photography and styling in a calming and inspiring environment. Looking forward to it!

A Three Day – Food Photography Workshop…In Charleston, South Carolina!

THE WORKSHOP IS OFFICIALLY SOLD OUT. WE ARE NOT ADDING MORE SPOTS BUT THERE IS A WAITING LIST AVAILABLE.

When I was in Seattle last month, Clare Barboza and I started comparing notes about the workshops and classes we were doing. Nothing strange there. We have become close friends over the last few months and have worked together on a couple of projects well enough to know our outlook, philosophy and ethics about photography and work just gel. It’s very comforting to find like-minded spirit you want to work with repeatedly, support and cheer along.

Anyway, in one big breath I said "Hey! I have an idea! We should create a workshop together. In Charleston!"… and within five minutes we had the dates penciled down and were online finding the perfect location. We wanted to make it a thorough learning experience where people would learn from both of us since we have similar views and complete different approaches at times. But also a retreat, by the ocean, with plenty of photography field trips in gorgeous Charleston.

And so…here it is!

Food Photography Workshop in Charleston, South Carolina!


Join food photographers, Clare Barboza and Helene Dujardin for a 3-day/4-night photography retreat in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina.

Imagine spending 3 days and 4 nights in a gorgeous house located across the street from the beach in The Isle of Palms, enjoying great food and wine, learning all about food photography and styling from Clare and Helene, and taking lots and lots of photos. Over the course of the workshop, you will learn about exposure, utilizing natural light, composition, choosing props, styling, and how to tell a story through photographs.

When: Thursday, May 3 through Monday, May 7, 2012

Fee: $1250 (includes accommodations for 4 nights, all meals, transportation to/from Charleston International airport and on all field trips, and 3 days workshop instruction from Clare and Helene. Please note that bedrooms are shared. See house plans here. )

To register: Click Here.

Workshop Schedule (subject to change):

Thursday, May 3rd:

Meet and greet at 5pm with cocktails and nibbles.

Attendees will be treated to a homemade dinner prepared by Clare and Helene (contribution of their better halves at the grill not excluded!). Please list any food allergies or restrictions at time of registration.

Enjoy the evening walking on the beach, checking out the music scene a block down from the house or get a good night of sleep in preparation of the coming days.

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Friday, May 4th:

Enjoy breakfast on the back deck before gathering with Clare and Helene for your first session of the day!

Session #1, The Nitty Gritty of Food Photography (basic camera function, exposure, light, depth of field)

Photo shoot

Lunch prepared by your hosts

Session #2, The Nitty Gritty of Composition and Food Styling (learn simple yet essential art guidelines, camera angles, etc.)

Photo shoot

Session #3, How to tell a story with images ( in preparation for field trip the next day)

Dinner at the beach house, served family style

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Saturday, May 5th:

A field trip to the Charleston farmers market, (bright and early!)

Photo shoot- photographing seasonal bounty and market finds, as well as cooking, styling, composing, shooting breakfast/ brunch.

Brunch

Session #4, Shooting on location

Dinner at award winning Lana Restaurant in downtown Charleston, prepared by the handsome and talented Executive Chef John Ondo (!)

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Sunday, May 6th:

Breakfast

Photo shoot- picnic on the beach (food preparation and styling, working outdoors, telling a story)

Downloading and choosing images

Critique and Review

Farewell dinner bash prepared family style.

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Monday, May 7th:

Breakfast

Clean up and departure

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Sponsors:
If you are a company interested in sponsoring part of the event, please get in touch with either Clare at clare@clarebarboza.com or Helene at helene@helenedujardin.com
Cucina Fresca
Seattle based Cucina Fresca will supply a hungry group of food photographers with the finest of their products from homemade sauce and pasta to gluten free options and delicious recipes!

Sponsor
Based in Charleston, SC, Rio Bertolini’s Fresh Pasta Co. produces fresh cut pasta, ravioli, gnocchi, lasagna, pizza dough, sauces and more with local and seasonal ingredients. Find them at Farmers Markets across South Carolina and Asheville.

Le Creuset
There is no need to introduce this household name…Le Creuset… Based in Charleston, SC, we are excited to say that they will provide us with cookware and giveaway items to satisfy attendees and readers alike.

Away In Seattle…

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


This week of cookbook styling and shooting is over. Grueling. Exhausting. Exhilarating. Soothing. A nice change of pace for me to prop and play with food. I loved every minute of it and enjoyed being in the moment but I admit, I can’t wait to get back behind the camera.

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


Working with Clare was just about the awesomest time I have had this summer. It was almost like sharing a brain. Of the good kind. The one without a misplaced ego. Clare called, asked me to style and I did just that. But the way we think and how we similarly sensitive and sensible to photography we are, made it a breathe to navigate the plate and the photograph.

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


Never the words "working together" have had as much meaning as they have this past week. Without spoken words or the feeling of stepping over, we worked together. Clare, Jeanne and I. About thirty five of the seventy five recipes that Jeanne included in her book had to be photographed. That’s thirty five recipes to be made every night for their beauty shot the next day.

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


Every night, Jeanne and I would do a perfectly orchestrated ballet of pans and whisks to bake the recipe for the next day of shooting where Clare would work her magic with the camera. Both Jeanne and I know our way around a pastry or a cake but baking for a shoot is slightly different and thankfully there was plenty of wine and good food to help us push through each night after a long day of shooting.

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


We all hit a wall at some point but we worked through them together and pushed through. Always feeling like the other helped a little. I never felt anything but support and kindness. We made a team. "We’re number two! We’re number two!" Because it’s not about us. It’s not about being number one. It’s about coming together to give Jeanne's book the best photographs. I can’t wait for you to see the book next year when it comes out!

Seattle Cookbook Shoot


I stayed with Jeanne, I stayed with Clare. I met them both in their element. I felt home. I was able to get to know them in their crafts and their thought process. I am sad to leave two wonderful talented ladies. I am sad to leave friends. I am happy to get home and share this week with my husband. Hurricane Irene, please be nice…it’s been a long week….!

Red Currants

My little homage to Clare’s blog header

Oh What A Year!

dip12


Wow…A year. And what a year…Hard to sit down and reflect on the whirlwind that 2010 has been because my whole body, mind and soul are still twirling from everything that’s happened and is happening. Gratitude sinks in. A sense of accomplishment. Hopes fulfilled. Goals simmering. I hope it’s not too long. There is some photo talk, some cookbook talk, some love and friendship talk, some travel and food talk. I want to write it all down to make sure I did not just dream 2010, it was so incredibly wonderful.

Tulips


You guys have made this year special with your words, both online and off, sharing your thoughts with me as I came here each week to share some food and a few stories. With this post, I also wish to show the most important persons in my life, my parents and my husband that their patience and support, unconditional love pushed me harder. And the close friends who have shared many a "shoot meal" to help out!

dip13


I love reading everyone’s end of the year posts and I especially loved this quote from Matt Armendariz from Matt Bites: "I realized that everything I’ve ever done has led me to this point of my life, even when I hadn’t a clue. I realized the best is yet to come." He is so right! The hours I have spent working and honing my skills have given something that make me whole and thrilled to share with you. I am forever changed by the people I have met this year and the relationships I have fostered.

Chocolate Rice Pudding


The year started with a bang setting the tone for the rest of the year. Traveling, teaching, meeting, learning, working. I flew to Atlanta to meet my favorite peeps and delve into a Sugar Coma experience culminating by teaching a macarons workshop.

dip11


I came home to start photographing my first cookbook for Carrie of Deliciously Organic (available next week!). Not only did I learn a lot about books, publishing, logistics, etc…I also gained a close friend in Carrie and fell completely in love with her personality and the way she is in life as she is on paper. Honest, genuine and patient. We loved working so closely together that we are co-authoring a cookbook together in 2011. I can’t wait to get started!

Peaches


Right after, I flew to L.A to teach more macaron workshops as well as some on photography, all so cleverly and perfectly organized by three amazing ladies I miss everyday, Rachael, Jen and Gaby. Why is this country so wide? From L.A, I flew to Seattle to teach more workshops on macarons and photography this time organized by Viv, the hostess with the mostess (no seriously) and I was eccastic to be able to visit with my favorite peeps: Anita, Jeanne, Jen, Shauna, Danny and Lu. Dang that was a good time!

dip15


I came home right on time to pick up my parents at the airport and take my mom inside the airport bookstore to show her the first magazine cover I had styled (!) I wanted to show her that all the time and patience they invested in believing and supporting my endeavors was paying off. I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 weeks we spent together this Spring. I was thrilled to be busy working on several magazine shoots to show parents how my job goes on a daily basis whether for clients, charity or events that friends were organizing. Volunteer to go beyond what is asked of you. Always.

Kumquat Cakes


The summer was looking just about as busy and quite frankly I was just about to burst at the seam from gratitude having this much work and being able to contribute my fair share of experiences to the household. In late June I flew to Utah to speak at Evo 10 and finally met lots of bloggers I had know online for years. From small group gathering to big room lectures, I finally met in the flesh authors and photographers I had been admiring for years and from too far. They reinforced my belief that I was on the right track, that being authentic and vulnerable is the way to open yourself to incredible experiences. From Utah, it was on to Colorado and the Food&Light Photography Workshop. I wish I could have stayed longer and enjoy the beauty of my surroundings but there was more work calling back home.

dip14


In one week, I had cleared my head and met some of the most gracious people out there. It would be hard to top. Oh wait! Flying home to celebrate my grandfather’s 100th birthday was seriously THE event of 2010. Forget work, forget deadlines, pending contracts and bills. Forget it all. The man is my Superhero. I wish I could have taken him on the road trip I took shortly after his birthday, heading down to the Alps and my native Provence. I bet you he would have had 100 more stories to tell. It was an amazing trip but there was more work awaiting at home.

dip16


Pretty much the day after I landed back in SC, I started doing the photography for another cookbook, this time written by the talented Holly Herrick and all about tarts. I know! One of my favorite topics! It was a ton of work cooking, styling and photographing but again I was teaching myself and learning so much in the process that it made the experience that much more fulfilling. I was looking to a little break during the fall and was thrilled to go back to San Francisco to speak at BlogHer Food once again and give back some of what I had learned. I really re-discovered and fell in love with the city again. Not to mention spending quality time with dear friends again.

Pumpkin pie


I went home and started on my biggest project yet to date with Wiley Publishing and before I could realize I’d do the bulk of it during the holiday season, Thanksgiving rolled around, marking the start of what B. and I label "End Of The Year Craziness". Being able to spend time with both friends and family as much as we have been able to this year has been the key to keeping us grounded. And going. And energized. And peaceful. And grateful

So what’s in store for 2011? I am looking forward to having my friend Taylor here for a few days in January and then driving to Alabama together for the FoodBlog South conference. I’m looking forward to meeting creative people I have been following for years and seeing friends again. I’ll be meeting for the first time celebrated author Virginia Willis, whose cookbook I will be photographing in February. I am also working on finalizing plans and dates for other jobs, shooting more cookbooks, writing my own (I know! That part is crazy!)

dip17


See, there is much known and much unknown to 2011 but you know what? I am looking forward to it all. Blog, friends, family, work. They make me whole. I try to take everything as a possibility for growth, good or bad and the kind words, support and frienships you have extended to me this year have made me do this move (from Love Actually) a thousand times over.

cupcake


This year has been nothing short of feeling like Christmas mornings most days. So to you dear readers, I wish you a lots and more of these moments for 2011!

Happy New Year!

Ahhh The Weekend!

Candying Kumquats


Ah the weekend! I love this time of year when we are all gearing up for the holidays and getting crafty. I’ve been quite busy with work which really feels like play so I am far from complaining but I have had little time to put together a proper post. It’s been over a week since I candied, shot and ate the kumquats in the picture above…see what I mean!! Working on it today since I am off. Promise.

There will be kumquats, Kalamansi limes that I received from my friends Todd and Diane and tarts. At the present time I am filling Candy Cane and Eggnog macarons for a block party. It’s fun. And torture. I want to eat some before we go!!

Menu For Hope 2009


In the meantime, I want to thank all of you who have showed great interest and support in this year’s Menu For Hope initiative. I just want to add that if you emailed me with a "I wish to participate with x gift" but did not provide all the information needed, I can not complete your participation and give you a prize code which you need to obtain to be part of the raffle. Thank you for understanding.

We need you! So keep brainstorming and putting together awesome prizes for the raffle or promote the initiave on your blog! You can read a lot more about P4P here.

Homework…Derailed

Fresh Figs


Another day busy with baking and writing and photo homework…until a huge thunderstorm hit the neighborhood and we lost power from 5.30pm or so until 10pm. Others in the neighborhood got their power back on around 7pm but no one can figure out why our street stayed that long without it. It’s the summer, there’s a creek, there’s a dock, a couple of canoe, plenty of kids and animals, so plenty to do without power. We all gathered to grill out, share salads and juicy fruits as we usually do on saturdays so really it did not make that much difference. Except, I was working and had plenty in the oven and lost it all. There is pretty much nothing to do when you have macarons, cakes, tarts, etc…baking in the oven and power cuts off for almost 5 hours. I thought about using the grill but again, all were pretty much used already.

I called the electric company to inquire about the delay and the lady was real nice and really there was not much she could do. When she said at 7pm that most lines were fixed but it might take longer for ours here is the dialogue that ensued:
Me: "Oh no, that’s impossible…I really need power!"
Her: "do you have a baby? Is it an emergency"
Me: "It’s cake. It’s an emergency."
Long pause from the lady at the electric company.
Me: "It’s my work. Sorry if I sounded deranged"
Her (laughing): "That’s ok honey, we all have issues."

So, back to the drawing board tomorrow…It made me realize that I am somewhat naively more worried about losing power for hours than my computer crashing….oops (knock on wood, Helen, fast!!). No food got spoiled during the power outage as I have the weird habit to crank the fridge and freezer on very cold right when I see a serious lightning storm. I started doing that after we lost power for two days a few years back and it did help a great deal.

Red Currants


What did I end up doing instead for those terribly long hours (humor)? I played with the two crazy monkeys below and put together a little cheese and fruit tray with fresh figs and red currants and some cheese. Lucky us there was no need for electricity with the sun setting so late and all was not lost since the kids tried some new foods and basically had a heck of a free night before school starts!! Not too bad after all!

Hope you are enjoying the pictures because that’s all I got 🙁
For more puppy pictures, you can always click here.

Food And Photography – Guest Posting

Inspiration


Seeing my desserts through a lens, becoming the "director of photography" of my own baking ( and I say that in the lightest way possible, wink!)…I would have never thought I would enjoy it so much, live it so much and want to learn from professional food photographers. That’s why I have always refrained from answering readers' questions about food photography, (vast and subjective topic) but when Leemei from My Cooking Hut asked if I’d be interested to write about my experiences as a food blogger-photographer, I figured it was a sign I needed to sit down and do so.

We all blog differently, we all photograph differently and we all think about it differently, but in the end we all try to do something that is enjoyable and fulfilling for where we are at that moment in our life. Since some of you asked, I hope that you will take this guest post as it is: an account of my experiences and doings in "dessert photography" and not as a "photo 101". I leave that for the books and the pros, who will always be my source of inspiration.
Click for the photography guest post. Thank you Leemei for the opportunity!

Chocolate Cupcakes - Happy Thanksgiving!


That would be rude to leave you without a dessert and a recipe wouldn’t it? My photo subjects for the guest post were chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with cream cheese buttercream. No intense bubbling sugar or multi layer dessert. I know how to kick back and relax too!! Actually I live surrounded by cupcake fiends so once in a while, it feels good to let loose whilst in the middle of baking and photographing for the book. There is something really satisfying in a simple chocolate cupcake, whether it be unwrapping that mini cake or adding sprinkles to it. Something so essential and basic when you are solitary writing and baking, that it brings you back to reality in just a few bites. Especially when your little nephew asks "Auntie Helen, can you make me chocolate cupcakes with snow frosting and plenty of sprinkles on top?"….Ah the simple things are good….

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes about 18-20 depending on the size.

4 oz fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 cups hot brewed coffee
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
¾ cup canola oil
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat the inside of your cupcake wrappers with cooking spray. In a bowl, combine the chocolate and the hot coffee and let stand, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. With your electric mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until pale and thick (about 5 minutes). Slowly add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and the previously melted chocolate mixture to eggs/sugar mixture. Beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments and beat until smooth. Divide the batter among your cupcake liners and bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

For the cream cheese buttercream:
1 1/2 sticks (170 gr) butter at room temperature
4 oz (120gr) cream cheese, softened
3 egg whites
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 Tb water
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste or 1/2 vanilla bean split open and seeded.

In the bowl of stand mixer, whip the egg whites until they have soft peaks. In the meantime, combine 2 Tb water with the sugar to a boil in a heavy saucepan and bring the syrup to 250F. Slowly add the sugar syrup to the egg whites. If you use hand beaters, this is even easier and there is less hot syrup splatter on the side of your bowl and in the whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Continue to whip until the meringue is completely cooled. Slowly add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. The mass might curdle but no panic, continue to whip until it all comes together. Add the cream cheese, the same way, a little at a time until everything is smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, or paste or bean. Keep it in the fridge up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to a month.

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Sweet Work Part 2


The second part of my interview with Anita for the release of her book "Field Guide To Cookies" is up in the latest edition of Desserts Magazine! Watch out now….it’s a whole issue of just cookies! Perfect for this month of gift giving. No, I don’t get a cent for promoting the magazine, I just get excited when I see quality work and passion shared for food and baking in particular. Sharing….it’s all about sharing. Now…go get Anita’s book ok?!!!