Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 7

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This might be the last “Foto Friday” since I need to keep trucking along if I want to get any closer to my finish line of accomplishments for this project. I think I’ve learned a lot about food photography, forced myself to be more thoughtful in taking pictures and setting up a shot, and I definitely have much greater respect for the amount of work it is!!

Today’s photos are of  kale salad with carrot-sesame dressing. I found this recipe for sesame carrot noodles from the blog “Clean Wellness” and whipped up a batch of just the dressing last week. I was planning to actually follow the whole recipe, but ended up tossing the dressing with a big bunch of kale, and it was delish. Like, I-ate-it-for-every-lunch-all-week-delicious. Granted–I have an unusual capacity for eating the same thing over and over without getting sick of it, but I’m already dreaming of a way to modify the recipe into a carrot sesame soup so I can justify (essentially) just eating the dressing for a meal.

Anyways–the point is–this dressing was amazing. You should definitely consider giving it a try.

I’ve also been on a bit of a coconut kick lately (helloooo, coconut butter!) so I thought, what could be better than adding some coconut into the dressing? I gave it a try today, and here you have it: my own modified, carrot-sesame dressing for a kale salad.

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Kale Salad with Carrot-Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale (washed, thinly sliced, and massaged)

2-3 carrots (washed and/or peeled and sliced)

scant 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 tbsp. sesame seeds (or tahini, which I probably what I would have used if I wasn’t out)

2 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tbsp. fresh ginger (tip: keep ginger root in the freezer, and just cut off as needed for recipes)

1/4 c. plus 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tbsp. water

1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes

1 tbsp. maple syrup

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Steps

1. Put all ingredients except for kale into a blender, and blend until smooth.

2. Toss dressing with kale.

3. Enjoy. : ) It’s that simple!

The dressing will make about 1 1/2 cups. Depending on how much dressing you like and how large your bunch of kale is, you might have leftover dressing. Not that anyone’s complaining about that. : )

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Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 6

Experimenting with low key food photos here. It was an impromptu project inspired by how beautiful the roasted golden beets looked as I chopped them.

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Work has gotten significantly more manageable in the past week, as the project to which I’ve devoted countless hours over the past year finally launched last Sunday. So I’m planning to be a bit more faithful to this blog now…

But without further ado, a veggie-packed wheat berry salad. This salad would make a great side dish with anything grilled (summer cookouts, anyone?) or as a lighter meal option with some crunchy  veggies on the side. I mainly followed this recipe from the Kitchn, with a few minor changes:

1. Subbed wheat berries for the barley.

2. Used kale instead of chard. I didn’t cook the kale, just mixed it in with the wheat berries while they were still hot. I find that if you shred kale thin enough and mix it with an acidic dressing (like the lemon juice in this salad) you can often get away without massaging or cooking it.

3. Added all the lemon juice straight to the mixed up veggies and wheat berries, and only added 1 tbsp. of olive oil (also directly to the salad).

4. I soaked a handful of dried cranberries in white wine vinegar, then added that whole mix to the salad. The extra acidity helps brighten the whole salad, and the sweetness from the cranberries is spot on with the beets and wheat berries.

5. This isn’t entirely relevant, but I used a French feta cheese, which tasted (to me) a lot less salty than the Greek kind I normally buy. So I salted very generously.

Overall, this salad is super delicious. It tasted great at room temp, and I’m sure it will make tasty cold lunches this week, too. You could easily omit the feta (or use a vegan cheese substitute) for a vegan salad option, or use brown rice or another gluten-free alternative to make it gluten-free.

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Food and Cooking, Photography, Uncategorized

Foto Friday No. 5

I’ll keep it simple here. Mainly because I’m already feeling like it’s time to climb into bed, but also because that’s what this soup is.

I had come home from the grocery store today planning on making up in advance some smoothies and kale salads to fuel the crazy week ahead. (To avoid a repeat of this past week, when I mostly ate cookies, apples, and cereal.) But I was in a mood where I just wanted to use up all the old food in the fridge, so I decided to tackle the crisper drawer-full of random CSA root veggies which we’ve been avoiding. Things like celeriac and rutabaga. Seriously. What do you do with these things??

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I, for one, whipped up this soup. I’ve put a recipe below, but t’s really more of  a guideline. I’m sure you could sub in parsnips or potatoes, or maybe even turnips for the rutabaga. Herbs are optional and customizable, and I’m definitely not one to be particular about apple varieties.

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This soup is slightly sweet, creamy and hearty, but not heavy. It’s simple, good, real food–completely unassuming. It’s pictured below with Wasa crackers, but some fresh bread would have been delicious.

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Celeriac, Rutabaga, and Apple Soup

makes approx. 4 servings

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 medium onion

2-3 cloves of garlic

1 celeriac

4 rutabagas

2 apples

4 cups of vegetable stock

1/2 tsp. dried Italian herbs

salt & pepper to taste

parsley for garnish, optional

Directions:

1. Heat a stock pot with a few glugs of  olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and sauté until golden. Add minced garlic, and stir in with onion for about 30 seconds. Make sure to not overcook at this point, or the garlic will burn which really ruins an entire dish. I speak from multiple experiences.

2. Add diced celeriac, apples, and rutabagas to the onions and garlic. Pour in vegetable stock, and add herbs and salt and pepper. Stir it all together, and cover the pot.

3. Let the soup boil for about 20 minutes, or until your veggies are cooked through. You should be able to pierce them easily with a fork, but they shouldn’t be falling apart to mush.

4. Blend the soup either in a blender, or use an immersion blender if you have one. I reserved some of the veggies before blending, so I could add them on top of the pureed soup when serving. I like to have a little texture, and if you’re serving to other people, it’s always nice to know what you’re eating. 🙂 If however, you like to keep it as simple as possible, just blend away with everything all together. Taste it at this point, and add salt and pepper as needed.

5. Optional extras: I garnished with a  little parsley and cracked black pepper, but since the soup’s flavors are rather delicate, the parsley definitely stood out. If you’re not crazy about the flavor of parsley, you can sub another herb or omit altogether. If you’re not trying to keep the soup vegan, a swirl of cream or sprinkling of cheese would probably be great for finishing it off, too.

And there you have it. Super easy. Dicing up the veggies and apples will probably be the most time consuming part of the recipe, but even that goes pretty quick. Let me know if you give the soup a try!

 

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Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 4

Foto Friday is on Saturday again… but these photos were only possible by result of a late-Friday-night trip to the grocery store and a leisurely Saturday morning of cooking and prepping an make-shift photo studio.

Apparently April is national grilled cheese month (who knew??), and I’ve been wanting to get in on the grilled cheese fun all month. I came across some beautiful photos on Pinterest leading me to this recipe for roasted strawberry, chocolate, and Brie grilled cheese sandwiches. Um, yes!!

Unfortunately, this went as most Pinterest posts go, meaning the sandwiches were pretty disappointing in their outcome. I don’t know if it’s warm strawberries, or too dark of chocolate (I did use Lindt’s “supreme dark” bar), but something about this combination was a little off putting. However, it was incredibly fun to shoot, and I feel like I’m already seeing improvement in my photos.

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

chocolate brie strawberry grilled cheese

 

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Food and Cooking, Photography

Foto Friday No. 3

Well… maybe “Foto Friday” needs to be moved to Saturdays. But I’m embracing the imperfections and frustrations of the daily grind, so for now I don’t mind the misnomer.

Today’s pictures are of the vegan banana muffins I made for a spontaneous brunch I hosted this morning. From the inception of the idea of a brunch to sipping on coffee and mimosas this morning was less than 24 hours. And it was such a needed and fulfilling time!

Vegan Banana Muffins

Finding community where I’m currently living has been trying at times, partly due to this being the first place I’ve moved post-college (where community was practically built into the experience). There are also plenty of other reasons I’ve come up with for why it’s been difficult. Well, plenty of other reasons I blame. But I made a commitment not to leave this place before I come to terms with the things that make me dissatisfied with my life here. I don’t want to constantly move on from one experience to another, seeking greener pastures and always being disappointed when my too-perfect expectations are not met.

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Hospitality is a virtue I value and enjoy, and I’ve thankfully had many opportunities to practice it over the past few years. I love preparing food for others, creating a space within my home that will bring people together, and expressing my care and value of others by taking the time to cook for them. I’ve had neighbors and individual friends over for meals quite a bit, but have yet to host a dinner party. However, over the past few months I’ve been inspired to continue to branch out in developing my gift of hospitality, most recently by Shauna Neiquest‘s book Bread and Wine (her writing is absolutely an experience–I feel like I’m devouring every word and physically brought into each moment as I read. I highly recommend her!) and also one of my favorite food blogs, The Yellow Table. From the first time I found this blog and discovered Anna, the blogger, has many similar ideas about the power of food and the table, I have faithfully read every single post. I also highly recommend her blog–it is inspiring beyond just for recipes! And finally, through The Yellow Table, I heard about a project called If:Table, which is based off the idea from Acts 2:46 where it talks about the early church breaking bread together daily. The project encourages groups of 6 women to gather for 2 hours once a month for dinner and conversation over 4 questions (which are provided for you).

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These women’s amazing writings about the power of food and the table to create community have further fanned into flame my desire to have my home be a place where I welcome in friend and neighbor to feed body, mind, and soul. So, while showering yesterday morning, I decided to stop bemoaning about all the various reasons why community is so hard here, and do something about it! It felt surprisingly vulnerable to send out an invite, but for the chance to spend the morning lingering over a meal together having great conversation–totally worth it. Relationships and community require perseverance and effort and vulnerability. It’s been taking me quite a while to really learn that, but I’m coming around…with a little help from my friends.

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And finally, speaking of vulnerability and perseverance, photography is not something in which I feel skilled or talented. And after a couple scarring photography classes in college, where I was completely mortified to show my photos on critique days, I still don’t like putting my photos out there for others to see. I really didn’t want to work on photography as a hobby/skill to develop during my “Alternate Grad School Experience” because it would require me to face my insecurities. However, I decided to give it a try and started Foto Fridays a couple weeks ago…with the complete intention of taking iPhone photos, putting cool filters on them, and calling it a day. But I’ve realized that doesn’t really count, at least not for me. So as I made my muffins yesterday, I pulled out my DSLR and decided to force myself to start somewhere. Hopefully I’ll look back at this post in a couple months or a year and see some big improvements. 🙂

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