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Monday, August 20, 2012

How to Throw a Food Fight | Ohio Photographer

Thinking of throwing a food fight? This is the post for you.
Having just thrown a food fight myself, I've collected a list of tips and tricks.

Good Foods to Throw
cooked spaghetti
cooked oatmeal
dry oatmeal
pudding (pistachio was great)
shredded lettuce/cabbage
chocolate sauce
whipped cream
cooked rice

I chose neutral-colored foods because they're cheap and they don't stain. If you want to get dirtier, here's a list of more suggestions.

Good Foods to Throw That Stain
marinara sauce
If you want colored popcorn, here's a good recipe.

Fighting Tips
Pie tins and plastic bowls aid in carrying/throwing food.
Water balloons and water guns filled with milk or kool-aid give you the advantage of distance.
Flour is the prettiest of all the throwing foods.
Set ground rules.
Take it slow with young kids. They may get overwhelmed quickly.
Call time outs.

Clean-up Tips
Cooking the spaghetti al dente is best, because fully cooked spaghetti sticks to floors like no other.
Have basins of water available for the participants to clean their feet off before walking anywhere else.
Don't use towels for clean-up. They don't do well in the washer or dryer. If you do use towels, rinse them off in a sink with a garbage disposal before putting them in the wash.
If you use a mop, be prepared to throw it away afterwards.
Putting painter's plastic down on the floor helps contain cleanup.
A food fight would be easiest to clean up if it's thrown outside, but make sure you stay on your own property--no public parks. 
Make sure to have a change of clothes available.
If using a cement floor, such as a garage or warehouse, buy one of those long squeegees to push all the thrown food to one side of the floor.
Try to remove all popcorn kernels before throwing begins, because they're harder to find in the cleanup.

Here are some of the fun photos captured at our food fight photo shoot. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Six Degrees of Bacon | Ohio Food Photographer

Setting up to do a promotional piece for Photo Kitchen, bacon seemed like the obvious choice. It's so popular right now, put bacon on ANYTHING and people will eat it. So I put it on paper. Yum. 

This post is mostly eye candy, but there is a recipe in here for you to try. It's for Candied Bacon. One of my clients Bleu and Fig, a catering company, introduced me to this wonderful idea. Give the people what they want: bacon on top of bacon. Simple sweet and salty candied strips of bacon.

Irresistible Candied Bacon
(warning: this recipe is simple, but time-consuming and requires much dishwashing.)

12 slices bacon, about 1/4-inch thick Center Cut bacon
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1//2 tsp finely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  You’ll want 4 rectangular baking dishes, such as  casserole dishes. Metal dishes will cook the bacon faster than glass dishes. Either is fine. Put all of the dry ingredients into a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.  Take each bacon slice and toss it into the bowl, making sure to coat the slice thoroughly. Lay the bacon slices flat into the dishes without overlapping. Sprinkle any sugar left in the bowl over the bacon.

Bake for 20 minutes. Check the bacon. If it is not golden brown and fairly crispy, resist the temptation to turn up the oven temperature, and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Check it again. When you remove the tray and transfer the bacon to a serving platter or individual plates, the bacon will "crisp" up a little more.

Let sit only 2 minutes after pulling it out of the oven. The sugar needs to solidify somewhat so it doesn't slip off the bacon. If you wait too long, it will stick. Transfer each piece onto a cooling rack. Let it sit on the plate another 4-5 minutes. Then you can eat it or transfer it to an air-tight container. Bacon can sit outside the refrigerator for up to one day. After that, refrigeration is best, but eat at room temperature.

Parchment paper may make the clean-up easier. Pouring hot water into the pans made the sugar melt and sped up the cleaning process.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mini Ground Cherry Pies | Food Stylist, Photographer, Blogger

When typing the title above, I accidentally typed Ground "Cheery" Pie, and considered keeping it, because these mini pies ARE cheery little things. I was introduced to ground cherries last year at the farmer's market. They were described as a cross between a tomatillo (because of their husk casings) and a grape. I wasn't sure what to do with them, until I found a recipe on Vegan Yum-Yum for these mini pies. I ate one mini pie myself, and gave the rest to my two favorite little girls who giggled when they saw them. I giggled some, too.

Since I have yet to perfect a pie crust recipe for myself, I used a store-bought pie dough and simply made the filling to put in them.

Mini Ground Cherry Pies
Makes six

Pie crust of your choosing
2 cups Ground Cherries, de-husked and washed
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp flour

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Spray cupcake tins, or use cupcake liners and then spray the liners. Place a small circle of dough in the bottom of each up. Press the dough to form the bottom and sides of the crust.
Fill each cup to the top, slightly overflowing, with ground cherries. Sprinkle equal amounts of the sugar/flour mixture into each cup, over the cherries.
Cut remaining dough into flat circles with the top of a glass or a cookie cutter, then place on top of each mini pie for the top crust. You can smoosh down the edges to connect to the bottom crust.
I always top my pie with a tiny bit of butter and some sprinkled cinnamon.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool a bit before transferring, so they are a little more solid. 

The final product is a somewhat indefinable taste. Not cherry, not grape, not tomato...just a sweet, mild, fruity flavor. Can't imagine anyone could have a complaint about them. Besides, the cuteness factor wins everyone over.

FOOD FIGHT PHOTO SHOOT | What to do in Columbus Ohio on 8/11/12

I'm so excited for the next Bite-Sized Photo Shoots coming up on August 11th, 2012. The theme? FOOD FIGHT!

This shoot is so perfect for family Christmas cards, a treat for your hard-working employees, friends just looking for something fun to do, a silly engagement session, a great birthday gift, you name it. Get out of the habit of stiff, posed portraits and come have some fun with us instead.  

Wasted food is not usually my thing. Quite the contrary. I stress over a blueberry that fell on the floor (and usually wash it off and eat it.) I eat leftovers I hate because I can't bear to throw them out. I have even eaten off of a discarded plate at a restaurant before. I really did. It was Cheesecake Factory when I was 19 years old, a stranger at the table next to mine left an entire piece of cheesecake behind. I ate it.

As you can see, this food fight theme is an environmental stretch for me, but photographically, I LOVE food props, and messes, and people having fun, being silly, interacting and enjoying the simple things in life. I've dreamed of doing a food fight photo shoot for years, ever since I saw the movie Hook, with the amazing food fight scene.

I've been doing some research on the best foods for a food fight. I found a great list at Apartment Therapy, which included popcorn, oatmeal, pudding, nacho cheese, flour, eggs, and cabbage (no, not a whole head. Ouch.).

Spaghetti, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and applesauce, and milk (to go in water guns) are also on my list, but my plan is to go to GFS Food Service and find the cheapest, messiest options available. Any suggestions? I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pita Pizzas | The Perfect Lazy Dinner

I've been making this simple twist on a Greek classic for over 10 years. Everyone I've shared it with has fallen in love, so now it's your turn. My very first job in high school was at a small family-owned deli around the corner from my house. While most of my friends were busy hating their jobs, I loved mine so much I stayed for 7 years. What can I say, I fell in love with food.

After going vegetarian, I was getting pretty bored of my grilled cheese options. We had a wonderfully convenient sandwich oven at this deli, and typically we'd throw a pita in it for a minute or two before topping it with standard gyro toppings-sliced lamb, feta, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and tzatziki sauce. Well, I wanted my cheese to be melted, so I topped my pita before throwing it in the oven. A pretty simple adjustment, but it made a world of difference. So the next time, I decided instead of rolling the pita up into a wrap, I'd leave it flat and top it like a pizza. 

Lazy Pita Pizzas
(serves 4)
4 large pitas (not pocket pitas)
8 oz. feta (I like a lot of cheese)
8 slices cheddar cheese
8 slices of tomato
a few handfuls of lettuce
gyro sauce (recipe below)

gyro sauce:
6 oz sour cream
chopped up garlic (I use jarred garlic)
salt and pepper to taste

optional topping variations:
chopped lamb meat
red onion
kalamata olives
mild banana pepper rings

Mix up the gyro sauce a day ahead, if possible. Lay pitas flat on a cookie sheet or pizza stone. They can even be frozen if you forgot to take them out of the freezer in time, just cook them a little longer. Spread a liberal amount of the gyro sauce on the top of each pita. Sprinkle feta over it, then lay cheddar slices on top of the feta. Place in the oven at 400 degrees for 7-12 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and bubbling a little. Take out of the oven, cut each pita into 4ths and top with lettuce and tomato.

This is a great family meal, because each individual can choose their own toppings. I've made these into Italian pizzas, Mexican pizzas, and Reuben pizzas. Best part is, you can keep the pitas in the freezer for whenever you want them and there's no pizza dough to wrestle with.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grilled Cheese Croutons | Best Food Photography in Columbus

This is a fun, quick spin on a typical lunch. Grilled cheese and tomato soup is boring, you say? Not anymore. You'd think it'd taste exactly the same, but it doesn't. I've never really liked dipping my sandwich into soup, but this I LOVED. It helps that the soup was homemade, too.

Over the last few years of honing my cooking skills, I've noticed how even the smallest of changes can make a big difference. This includes how things are cut. When you make a potato salad and dice the celery and onions really small, it tastes different than when they're rough chopped. We make fun of kids for having their sandwiches cut diagonally instead of straight in half, yet it does change the experience they have eating it. The same principle applies here.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Serves 4 Adults

1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes (with green chiles)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1 tblsp dried basil
dash of ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
12 slices of sharp cheddar
12 slices of white bread
spreadable butter for grilling

         Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
         Strain the chopped canned tomatoes, reserving the juices, and spread onto a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, to taste, drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil and roast until caramelized, about 15 minutes.
         Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the celery, carrot, onion and garlic, cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the roasted chopped canned tomatoes, reserved tomato juices, vegetable broth, bay leaf, basil, cayenne and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add cream, if using. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until smooth.
        The simple explanation for the croutons is this:
Make a double-decker grilled cheese. Cut the crusts off then cut into 4x4's. Place in the soup and eat!
        The long explanation goes like this:
Before eating (or reheating) soup, begin making the grilled cheese croutons.
For each serving, you'll use 3 pieces of bread and 3 pieces of cheese. Butter one side of 3 pieces of bread. Place first slice butter-side down in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove, then lay two pieces of cheese over it then place the other piece of bread butter-side up. When first side is browned and the cheese is starting to melt, flip the sandwich over with a spatula. Then add another piece of cheese on the top and the last slice of bread butter-side up. Once the other side is browned, flip again. When the grilled cheese is done, cut off the crusts, then cut into 4 sections each way, so it creates little cubes. Place onto the hot soup and eat!

Some tasty variations:
Havarti and Thyme on Multigrain with Creamy Potato Soup
Goat Cheese on Sourdough with Creamy Fennel Soup

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Eye Candy for a Food Photographer | Fine Art in Columbus, Ohio

When I decided to redo my kitchen, I knew I wanted a collage wall. I've seen them all over Pinterest, and have been drooling over them for months. With the help of a cutting board, a flowery platter, old disks from a food chopper, recipes and cutouts from my mother and grandmother, and 7 Photo Kitchen prints, I had my collage wall. The varying shapes, sizes, textures and colors really pop together. All of the  photos you see here, and many many more, can be purchased from our online store.

Not sure what size to print photos for your wall? Simply take white copy paper and tape it to your wall and combine more pieces until the size looks right for from a distance. Then measure the combined pieces and choose a frame that size. As you can see, framed pieces don't always need a mat. Photos with a lot of detail can use the extra "breathing room" while photos with less detail can be framed right up to the edge. You can't really go wrong, it's all a matter of preference.

When creating a collage, measure the wall space you'd like the collage to remain inside, then lay all of the pieces on the floor within that same measured space.  This will help you get a sense of how they'll look best arranged together before putting them up on the wall. Once you choose the general composition, have one person hold the pieces up to the wall while the other person is judging distance and composition. Since I did mine by myself, I took a pencil and drew the general shapes and sizes onto the wall. This worked fine, too. You can remove pencil off of semi-gloss paint with a washrag, dishwashing soap and water. NOT AN ERASER, as I found out, um, after I tried it.

  1. Peach Cobbler $20
$12 5x7 Print
$8 Storebought frame

  1. Wheatberries $62
$20 8x12 Print
$42 Silver Curved Frame, Non-Glare Glass, White Mat

  1. Raspberries and Cream $56
$20 8x12 Print
$36 Silver Ornate Frame, Non-Glare Glass

  1. Sage $20
$12 5x7 Print
$8 Storebought Frame

  1. Apricots $45
$35 11x14 Print
$10 Storebought Frame

  1. Beeting Hearts $45
$35 11x14 Print
$10 Storebought Frame

  1. Buddha’s Hand $45
$35 11x14 Print
$10 Storebought Frame

In case you're wondering what my kitchen looked like before, here's a view into the past.
The green and teal served me well for 4 years, but it was time for a change. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Simple Cauliflower Cheese Soup | Food Photographer Columbus Ohio

The best meals are usually the simplest ones. This is a simple recipe for a quick, hearty meal. It's helped me through many a cold winter's day. Potatoes can be substituted for the cauliflower, just add a couple of extra cups of water and you're good to go. Though I don't have kids to test it on, I'd imagine as a child I would've been all over this. You could easily throw it in the blender to make an even creamier soup so the kids can't pick out the carrots and celery.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

1 large cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 large, peeled carrots, sliced thin
4 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
4 cups water
4 cups half and half cream
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cheddar cheese soup
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheese, to sprinkle on top

1. In a large stock pot add water, cauliflower, onion, carrots, and celery. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until vegetables are tender.
2. Mash with a potato masher (including cooking water), and add butter and cream.
3. Gradually bring mixture to a simmer. Add condensed cheese soup and blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover with shredded cheese and serve while hot. Serves 8.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bite-Sized Photo Shoots: Hug-Your-Mom Day

If your mom is anything like my mom, she's always wishing she had more family photos but never wants to impose on us to actually do it. She thinks it'll be uncomfortable to force a family moment or that we won't want to spend the money.

Well, every once in a while you should indulge your mother. She's worked hard, she deserves it. For this Mother's Day, give your mom the gift of your faces together, in a photo, to remember forever. Even better? It's CHEAP and FAST! Spend a half hour mini session with us and then take your mom out for a nice meal.

And let's have fun with it! No stiff posed shots, just you and your family interacting and being yourselves. Give your mom a hug-on camera. I bet she'll put it on her fridge.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Booklovers in Love | A Librarian Wedding

What does a wedding for two librarian book lovers look like? Well, there are lots of paper hearts cut from old books, a good handful of owls, a beautiful barn, green apples, terrarium centerpieces, succulent bouquets, burlap chair sashes and old window panes, all put together by friends and family.

The best part? Children's book readings during the ceremony and an impromptu request by a little girl at the reception for storytime from the bride-who happily obliged.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Cracked Wheat Berries with Cinnamon and Ricotta | Columbus Ohio Food Photographer

A perk of being a food photographer, you ask? Having an excuse to sit on the couch with a lap full of cookbooks finding recipes to photograph is a perk I enjoy from time to time. This recipe is adapted from The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook by Lynn Alley.

I gathered many ideas from this cookbook; interesting ingredient combinations, unique use of spices and many breakfast cereal recipes such as this one. Since I do not own a slow cooker/dutch oven/crockpot at the moment, the recipes themselves aren't as useful to me. Yes, I could go spend $20 on one, but after trying this particular  recipe in the crockpot I borrowed from my sister, I've decided I'm fine with adapting slow cooker recipes for normal stove use instead.

You might think wheat berries is an odd choice for breakfast. Well, the popularity of grains has gone up significantly in the past year or so. I've seen restaurants with breakfast polenta, breakfast risotto, grits, oatmeal, quinoa and yes, wheat berries. They're all delicious, by the way. I've never been a huge oatmeal fan, but when you dress it up with fresh berries, cheeses, and spices, I'm all for it.

All you really need to take from this post is that you can use grains as the base, add spices and toppings and voila, breakfast is reborn. The original recipe didn't include any spices to be mixed into the wheat berries, only added on top. It was pretty bland, so I changed the recipe to include a good heap of spices. Also, the recipe said to cook on low overnight for 8 hours. At 6 hours I checked it and it looked done, but I decided to trust the recipe and let it cook another half hour before checking it again. It was starting to burn on the sides at 6 1/2 hours and was probably done at 5 1/2 hours. I'd say check it every half hour after 4 hours, at least the first time you make it. Once you know what to expect from your crockpot you can change the recipe to read the appropriate time for your equipment.

Cracked Wheat Berries with Cinnamon and Ricotta
(Modified from from The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker cookbook by Lynn Alley)

1 c hard wheat berries
4 c water
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c fresh ricotta cheese (For a homemade ricotta cheese recipe, click here. )
1 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp sugar (or brown sugar)

Pulse the wheat berries briefly in your blender or food processor, just enough to crack them into pieces, not powdered. (As you can imagine, this is very loud. Your cat might go tearing out of the room.)
Place the cracked wheat, water, salt in the slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low, about 4-6 hours. When done, mix in the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Dish up servings of cracked wheat, then top each with a scoop of ricotta, and sprinkle with ground cinnamon.

Other suggested toppings: Honey, Jam, Fresh Berries, Cocoa Powder, Sliced Banana, Fresh Cream, Shaved Chocolate


While in Yachats, Oregon, I had this wonderful Hot Quinoa topped with berries, syrup, cinnamon and butter at the Green Salmon cafe. My love affair with breakfast cereal began.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vegetarian Family Meals | Food Photographer Columbus Ohio

Casseroles, tacos and spaghetti are still great staples for feeding a family, but one week you'll be desperate for something different. Here are two great vegetarian dishes to feed you family--or in my case, my single self and three hungry, willing friends.

It's always smart to do two recipes in the same week that require at least one of the same ingredients. In this case, it's brown rice. Cooking rice takes a bit of time, so if you only have to do it once and you can make two meals with it, then that's one less thing to think about.

Many people are either afraid of tofu or have tried it once and didn't like it. Tofu can be prepared in many, many ways, and not all of them will appeal to you. It comes in a different consistencies and can be used in anything from smoothies to faux egg salad to a dish like this. I've had bad tofu dishes and good ones. I find the easiest way to experiment with food is to try a bite of someone else's dish when you're at a restaurant. I'm not a big fan of mushrooms, but I have found many dishes that have changed my mind. I don't always like to be the guinea pig, so when my friends order a mushroom dish, I take a bite.

This tofu dish was a huge hit. The sauce of this dish is like something straight out of a fine dining Asian restaurant and the tofu was perfectly crisp and firm. The second time I made this dish, I adjusted the original recipe and what you see in the photo. The black pepper that was originally added to the sauce is better showcased if the tofu is rolled in it before being fried.

Black Pepper Tofu
Adapted from the book Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London's Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi

4 cups cooked brown rice
2 packages extra firm tofu (I like Trader Joe's tofu)
vegetable oil for frying (about 3 cups)
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 tblsp butter
4 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 fresh red chiles, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tblsp chopped fresh ginger
6 tblsp sweet soy sauce
1 tblsp sugar
2 1/2 tblsp coarsely crushed black peppercorns
2-3 green onions, diced, green part only

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan, wok or electric skillet to come 1/4 inch up the sides and heat. Mix together the cornstarch and black pepper. Cut the tofu into large cubes, about 1x1 inch. Toss tofu in the cornstarch and shake off the excess, then add to the hot oil. You'll need to fry the tofu in a few batches so they don't stew in the pan. Fry, turning them around as you go, until they are golden all over and have a thin crust. As they are cooked, transfer them onto paper towels to remove excess oil.

Remove the oil and any sediment from the pan, then put the butter inside and melt it. Add the shallots, chiles, garlic, and ginger. Saute on low to medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the ingredients have turned shiny and are totally soft. Net, add the soy sauce, green onions and sugar and stir. Serve hot, with steamed brown rice. Serves four.

Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice
From Whole Foods

4 cups cooked brown rice
2 carrots, shredded
2 bunches dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens or Swiss chard), tough stems removed, leaves very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 tblsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
fresh lemon, to taste

Put carrots, greens, onions, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper into a large, deep skillet and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with feta cheese and lemon juice and spoon over brown rice. Serve with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

The great thing about this recipe is it is so easily adapted to what you have on hand. Use any cooking greens you like, you could add tomatoes, turnips, radishes...just like a casserole, anything goes. Pull from what you have and presto, dinner.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raspberries 'n Cream | Columbus Ohio Food Photographer

Sometimes there's a photo I HAVE to get out of my head. I'll think about it for days, weeks, months, sometimes years (yes, years) until I finally it comes to life. This photo of raspberries and cream was imagined 11 months before it came to life--from the moment I bought the Globe Amaranth dried flowers from the farmers' market, I couldn't get this picture out of my head. The colors screamed raspberries and cream, and the red ones even look like raspberries.

I waited until I had the right props, found the best way to control the spilled cream, and had a free Sunday to put it altogether. There's a huge relief when finishing a project: Relief in seeing the idea through as opposed to abandoning it when a new idea comes along, and relief in watching it come together as I'd imagined it for so long. Have you ever had an idea like that?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Daikon Radish and Blue Cheese Wrap | Central Ohio Food Photographer

Daikon radishes are my favorite CSA/Farmer's Market find from last summer. I was so sure I wouldn't be able to find any at the grocery store when I started craving them this winter, but yet there they were, both at Whole Foods and Meijer. They're so refreshing in the dead of winter--a break from the hot, dense dishes I find myself making.

Daikon radishes are long, white radishes. They look a lot like carrots or parsnips. There's a very thin skin on the outside of them that I quickly and not too carefully peel off. They're really crisp and mild without much of a spicy bite to them, yet they  definitely belong in the radish category.

The three best ways I've found to use them:
1. In a Simple Salad of shaved daikon radish, shaved cucumber, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar and olive oil, along the same trend as the one seen on Top Chef Texas with pickled vegetables.
2. In a fancier salad like this one with watercress, avocado and pomegranate
(Even I'll admit, this is a truly beautiful post.)
3. In the recipe I'm going to share with you here, one I made up all on my own, a blue cheese and vegetable wrap with daikon radish, cucumber and chicken.

Daikon Radish and Blue Cheese Wrap 
I eat large portions, so I say two wraps makes one serving.

2 small flour tortillas
4 MorningStar Farms Chik'n Nuggets, optional
        (just as good without any meat product, or with real chicken nuggets,
         boneless buffalo wings or grilled chicken strips)
handful of shaved daikon radish
handful of shaved cucumber
4 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
4 lettuce leaves

Use a simple peeler to shave the radish and cucumber. Microwave the tortillas for just a few seconds to make them pliable. Place heated chicken nuggets/chicken strips in the middle of each tortilla and divide the cheese, dressing, radish, cucumber and lettuce leaves between the two tortillas. Serve with a side of celery and blue cheese dressing for dipping.

This would make a great menu item for say, Whole World vegetarian restaurant here in Columbus. Often I find myself munching on cheese and crackers for lunch because I'm too lazy to fix anything. This was so super quick and easy, I ate this for lunch 4 days in a row and never got sick of it.

What were a few of my other favorite CSA/Farmer's Market finds last year? Napa Cabbage and Shishito Peppers were also at the top of the list. Maybe those recipes will make it to the blog this summer. What were your favorites?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Commercial Food Photographer | Best Lemon Curd Recipe Ever

Lemon curd: A dessert spread topping, made from a combination of egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest that's cooked on the stove. It's soft, smooth, tart and served cold. It's similar to a custard and is often served with scones or used in pastries and tarts.

My reason for making lemon curd? I had a bunch of Meyer lemons, so I went searching for a recipe to try out. I love lemons because they're so tart they help cut desserts I would normally find overly sweet, like cake, and since I'm repainting my kitchen from green to yellow, this seemed like the perfect time for an all-yellow post. The new kitchen color is highlighted in red below. By the way, it's really hard for a food photographer to not choose a color based on its food name. I overlooked  "Spun Honey, Lemon Twist, Butterscotch Cream, and Fruit Compote" to find the perfect color without any outside influences, which is "Chickory Chick". Beautiful color, but the name is tragic.

I made Lemon Curd twice. The initial recipe was a bit of a train wreck for me. I can't necessarily blame the recipe, it was my first attempt and it's possible I just did it wrong. I considered giving up on lemon curd, but I didn't want all my hard work to go to waste, so I found a different recipe and tried again.
The biggest differences between these two recipes are:
The order the ingredients are combined.
The second recipe called for butter while the first didn't.
For the second recipe I ditched the Meyer lemons for regular lemons instead.

The two attempts are shown next to each other at the bottom of this next photo string. The one on the left (in pink bowl) was the failure and the one on the right (in clear Tupperware) was the winner. The first batch wasn't clear and shiny and tasted powdery, bitter and perhaps a little burnt.

Lemon Curd

2 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
4 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup butter, cut up in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch (optional)

1. Place sugar in a medium-sized pan over a pot of simmering water in a double-boiler. Add cornstarch (if desired) to help the thickening process. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice.
2. Add eggs and egg yolks, continuing to whisk steadily. Whisk over medium to medium-high heat, 10 to 18 minutes, until mixture thickens. (If it’s not thickening, increase the heat, being careful to continue whisking.) It should be about the consistency of hollandaise sauce.
3. Add butter, whisking to blend. Cook, continuing to whisk, one to two more minutes. Remove pan from heat. Stir in lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl and place plastic wrap over it, pressing over the top to prevent a skin from forming.
4. Chill. The lemon curd will continue to thicken some as it cools. This recipe makes about 3 cups lemon curd. Store refrigerated for one to two weeks. After the lemon curd is thoroughly chilled, you can fold in whipped cream to lighten the texture and mellow the flavor, if you wish. I prefer it full-strength.

Tips: Use a large whisk. It helps avoid froth and bubbles from forming on the top.
Make sure not to remove the mixture from the heat until it's really thickening, when it'll stick to the spoon and become a little more difficult to whisk. It will thicken more in the fridge, but not like Jell-O would.

Lemon Curd is great on top of cornbread, biscuits or scones. Other ways to eat Lemon Curd?

Lemon Curd Trifle
Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Raspberries 
Lemon Curd Stuffed French Toast
Blueberry Lemon Curd and Quinoa Parfait 
Mini Lemon Tarts
Lemon Doughnuts
on top of pavlovas
on top of fresh berries and whipped cream
and last but not least, by the spoonful!

Lemon Curd makes a perfect gift, just spoon into any cute glass container like the one above. A little goes a long way, 4 tablespoons could be a serving--if you eat normal portions, which I don't. I ate about 3/4 cup in a sitting. I made this for a dinner party. One of my friends looked so sad when her bowl was empty that I spooned out seconds. There's no better testimonial than seconds.

You can purchase these images and more through our online shop.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Editorial Food Photographer | Happy Bloody Valentine's Day Beet Cupcakes

I've never been big on Valentine's Day, or any holiday for that matter, except perhaps Halloween, which is why my branding is all orange. This recipe is perfect for me--sweet on the outside, blood red on the inside. So whether you're celebrating the gooey-ness of Valentine's Day or hating the holiday and everything it stands for, these cupcakes can very well represent either feeling in a tasty treat.

Just as I'm not-that-into Valentine's Day, I'm also not-that-into beets. I have found ways to eat them that aren't so bad-fried, roasted in tiny tiny pieces, in dishes made by world-renowned chefs....Yet putting them into cakes and cupcakes is the easiest way to use them up AND make other people eat them.  

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Orange Icing (Adapted from 
Cake Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups grated beets
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tblsp lemon juice

Icing Ingredients (Adapted from

1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 package (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine flour, soda, salt, sugar and cocoa in a bowl; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs and oil. Beat in vanilla and continue beating until well blended. Slowly beat in dry ingredients until well mixed; stir in beets and lemon juice. Pour into paper-lined cupcake tins. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cupcakes bounce back when touched lightly with finger.
In medium mixer bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add sugar one cup at a time and milk. Mix well. Beat on high until smooth (only 30 seconds to 1 minute).
Frost cupcakes when cooled.

I like the orange icing to compliment the sweetness of the cupcakes. The lemon juice in the batter is meant to keep more of the red color from the beets, because when the cupcakes are baked, they turn into more of a brown color than a red color. You could always add red dye to fake the color, too.
Decorate with tiny hearts and red lips, or vampire teeth and drops of blood-your choice. Happy Bloody Valentine's Day to you all!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

5 Reasons You Should Have a Professional Portrait | Columbus Ohio Portrait Photographer

You may think your job does not require a professional portrait. Here are 5 reasons you're wrong. 

1. The Internet
More and more jobs are found online. Employers are finding employees and employees are finding employers. It doesn't matter which position you currently hold, both of you should have professional portraits. As the employer, don't you want to attract the best employees? As the employee, don't you want your employer to see a professional portrait to go along with the well-tailored LinkedIn profile you painstakingly slaved over for days?

Having a professional portrait plays a part in all of these scenarios. One single photo can say friendly, professional, strong, smart, confident, fun or kind. Whatever you want to say, your photo can say it. If they're meeting you online first, tell them who you are through your photo. No matter what, the picture makes the first impression, the words come second. Think of it the same way you would online dating. Really. First impressions are everything, right?

2. Professional Portrait says "Professional"
This rings true with ALL photos. Professional photos tell the viewer you're a professional. Believe me, people can tell the difference between professional, amateur and "I took this with my cell phone." If you don't care about the photos you show the world, it can be assumed you don't care about your brand, your job performance, your customers.... It's not always a conscious thought, but most "buying" decisions are made with a feeling, a gut instinct. A professional portrait might tip the scales just enough to your side without the other person even knowing why they made the decision to choose you. 

Look at this set of portraits pulled from a LinkedIn email. Twelve of them were taken by professional photographers who were hired to take a professional portrait.  The rest of them are snapshots. Can you pick out the professionals vs. the snapshots? Which one draws your eye first, and why?

3. The Person Behind the Profile
You're meeting a potential employer or client at a coffee shop for the first time. They'd like to have some idea of what you look like before walking in the door, so they look you up on LinkedIn before leaving the office.

Sure, they can get an idea of what you look like through a snapshot, but it won't be the best representation of you. What will they notice first? Is it the boyfriend you cut out of the frame whose arm still remains in the photo? Will they be wondering how recently you went to the beach, and how much vacation time you may be looking to take? Or more likely, they'll simply see an underexposed, on-camera flash photo of you that tells them nothing about how dedicated and hard-working you are at your job. (By the way, if you think a professional portrait won't be able to say this either, you haven't found the right photographer.)

4. An Edge
Whether you're a self-employed baker, the CEO of Bob Evans, or a barista at Starbucks, you need an edge over the competition.

If you're a business owner, making yourself a visible part of your business can set you apart from the rest. Think about how farmer's markets have grown in popularity over the last few years. Customers like to know who they're buying from. Giving them a view into who you are as a business owner is part of what they're looking for in the experience of shopping with a small business. Being transparent is good karma.

If you're part of a big company that doesn't provide head shots as a perk, you may want to have one taken on your own dime. What happens if you get laid off tomorrow? It might be nice to have a portrait ready to introduce you to your new job market. Maybe you work at Wasserstrom Restaurant Supply as a salesman. It's always nice to put a face to the name with personalized business cards that help your clients remember you.

If you're in food service, maybe you'd like to be considered for the manager position at another restaurant. Show them that your aspirations are serious and share your contagious smile with them before you even walk in the door. If you're a chef at a restaurant, making yourself known as the man behind the curtain will give customers more to talk about and make your name (and face) known throughout the community. If customers know who you are, they're more likely to follow you to your next venture.

5. Your Brand
Anymore, everyone is creating a brand for themselves. Few people have just one job and one title. These extra identities require a home base that brings them altogether. This home base could be your professional portrait. Keep your brand in good standing by putting your best face forward. Tell people who you are with one glance.

To hire Photo Kitchen for your next professional portrait, view our portfolio and pricing then contact us to schedule your session.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Columbus Ohio Food Photographer | iPhone Adventures at Loving Hut USA

I am now a happy resident of the iPhone world. It took me 5 years, but now that I'm here, I'll share my adventures of new-found freedom with you from the eyes of a food photographer. Why freedom? Well, for many years, I carried a point-and-shoot camera with me everywhere. I tried many incarnations of point-and-shoots, and hated them all. Either the battery life sucked, the noise level was too high, it was too bulky, etc, etc. Every time I used one, I'd hate it even more, and would eventually either stop carrying it, or stop using it.

But NOW I have freedom. My phone was always right next to me wherever I went before anyway, so why not have a camera in it? I'm not going to say iPhones replace cameras, especially not my nice, professional grade Canon cameras. No, what an iPhone lacks (and it does lack) in photo-taking, it makes up for in convenience. The convenience of always having it with me, of being able to upload photos no matter where I am, of doing post-editing adjustments on-the-fly, and the convenience of not having people stare at me when I pull a camera out of my bag.

While I've had my iPhone for a few weeks, this is my first play with food photography. Over time I will master food photography on the iPhone, but right now I'm just playing around. And really, when I'm out to lunch with friends, that's all I really want to do anyway.

Onto the food. My friend and I went a little outside our neighborhood to Reynoldsburg, a suburb of Columbus that isn't really known for food. From what my friend read, Loving Hut chooses to put their restaurants in areas that aren't known for vegetarian/vegan friendly food, because they want to create better options for the residents and introduce them to something that might be totally new. What a brilliant idea--every time I go on vacation or travel to an outskirt neighborhood, I'm reminded of how few options there are when it comes to non-chain restaurants and vegetarian-friendly restaurants. While Loving Hut is a chain, it certainly doesn't feel like one.

We decided to order together, so we could try as many things as possible. The prices were super reasonable, so I wasn't worried about over-ordering for the sake of money. I really did enjoy every dish we got, starting with smoothies and appetizers.

To view the whole menu in detail, check out the Reynoldsburg location menu. There weren't many things I DIDN'T want to order, so it was hard to narrow down. I enjoyed both drinks. My Pink Nectar was more of a juice, but with a nice, creamy texture, and my friend's was much thicker, with a really good (but indistinct) flavor. If you're allergic to nuts, it may be hard to eat here, as there are nuts throughout the whole menu and in most of what we ordered.

The Saigon Rolls were fresh and light, but I'll be honest and say I like Nida's rolls better. The soup was really creamy, they use a soy cream cheese base (brilliant!). It tasted like something I'd make at home-in a good way.

The Love Letter salad was a favorite for both of us. I loved the julienned veggies and apples (though a little messy to eat) and the avocado dressing was awesome. The Gyro Wrap had a great sauce on it with lots of dill. The veggie protein in the wrap was really tasty, even by itself. The Thai Curry was my other favorite. A great depth of flavor and textures, very creamy and a really substantial meal I'd love to eat again. I will be making another trip to Loving Hut soon to share the great find with more friends. Vegetarian or not, I think everyone has the potential to enjoy the food. I can imagine my meat-eating friends saying "But it doesn't TASTE vegan!"