Food Photography: Let There Be Light

The October food photography challenge is finished but I want to try a little experiment.

One of the food photography students suggested that this photo would benefit from a bit of ‘lightening up’. Now I don’t have fancy photo editing software. I use one of those free online ones, PicMonkey, plus a Google program that suits my purposes well enough. So I tried ‘lightening up’ the photo, and here’s what happened.

original photo untouched
original photo untouched
same photo lightened up
same photo lightened up

So the question is: Which one do you prefer? I know which one I prefer – how about you?

Food Photography October Challenge

The Food Photography course is still on, but now it’s a monthly challenge. For October, the challenge is the colour orange. Three photos concentrating on the colour orange. I chose oranges. Not very original, I know, but I had a load of oranges in the house. And a vine strapped with cording to the fence groaning with grapes.

3orangesCollage

I have learned that lighting is everything. I took shots on cloudy days, shots on sunny days, shots under artificial lighting, with tripod and without … turns out early morning sunlight (but not sunshine) works best. At least I think so. I like the colours, the depth of colour, the contrast. Some of my fellow students (very politely) suggested that the contrast was too much on the photo of grapes and oranges. I very politely told them it was my favourite. I like contrast. I like ying and yangs that beg to bark.

Anyway….here are my three photos of orange stitched into a collage.

Creamed Mushrooms on Toast with Asparagus

Creamed mushrooms on toast with asparagus
Creamed mushrooms on toast with asparagus

A bit of late summer lunch with mushrooms quickly fried over high heat so they take on a golden tint, chopped fresh thyme and lots of pepper, and a few asparagus spears tossed with Parmigiano-Reggiano parmesan butter. The bread is homemade sourdough wholewheat, white, and rye (60:30:10).

I also discovered today that a splash of dry apple cider works brilliantly to deglaze the pan.

What did you have for lunch today?

How to Cook Bacon Without Making a Mess

bakedBacon
Bake at 200C for 15-20 minutes, check after 12 minutes.

I love streaky bacon. I don’t particularly love cleaning up the mess on the cooker afterwards though. But there is an easy, mess-free way to do this. Pop your streaky bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet, and you’ll find that this same bacon hardly shoots a drop of fat anywhere. Yes, it will sizzle and it will bubble but it won’t go into fits and spurt all over the place. Here’s how you do it.

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Adjust one oven rack to the lower third of your oven. While the oven heats, line a baking sheet with foil so you have minimal clean-up of your pan afterwards.

Place each strip of bacon side-by-side, as close as you wish, but not overlapping. They cook together and stick if they touch.

When the oven comes up to temperature, pop the baking sheet with the bacon on to the rack (in the lower third of the oven) and bake for 15-20 minutes or so. The amount of time depends on how thick your bacon is, so start checking at about 12 minutes … and don’t walk away from it. It turns crispy and golden quite quickly at this point.

When the bacon is cooked to your liking, drain it on kitchen paper. Let the fat on the foil-lined baking sheet cool and solidify, and then toss it out. Or save it for use later.

What To Do With Leftover Ham

deviledHam

This week we enjoyed a lovely smoked ham that carried us through 3 meals. And then there’s this small knob of ham leftover sitting sadly in the fridge, staring back and begging for attention.

I made Deviled Ham for sandwiches. Threw the chopped knob of ham into a food processor with half an onion (also chopped) and some fresh parsley. Zip-zip-zip. Tipped it into a bowl, and added white pepper, a spoonful of Dijon mustard, and enough mayonnaise to bind the whole thing together. Lovely. Smoky sweet. Cheap as chips.

I love leftovers.

No Recipe Applesauce

Organic is not always pretty.

Organic is not always pretty. Late summer and organic equals freckled, spotted, worm-holed, wasp-stung, mouldy fruit and veg. That’s when it’s time to cut out the mucky bits of apples and make applesauce. I don’t use fruit that’s rotten or mouldy; we have enough from windfall and those still clinging to branches, so it’s unnecessary. I leave heavily damaged fruit to the wildlife and insects, most of whom seem drunk from the fermentation at this time of year.

foodMill_8sept14

Applesauce freezes well, so we have a good supply during the winter, a happy reminder of what summer tastes like. And best of all, applesauce requires NO recipe. If the apples are too starchy, I add water (small amounts at a time, ie., a spoonful) or old dry cider (which I freeze in ice cube trays). I have a foodmill, so I don’t bother peeling the apples. The peel adds a lovely warm colour to the applesauce. I cut out the mucky bits, core them, and then cube the apples into equal-size chunks. Toss the whole thing into a large stock pot (I make it in huge quantities at this time of the year), keep the heat at a low temperature, and stir when I remember to do so. Just don’t let the apples at the bottom of the pot stick and scorch. When the apples are cooked down and mushy, I spin the mass through the food mill, and chuck away the peel and remaining bits.

applesauce_8sept14

I sweeten after the apples are ‘milled’, adding as little as possible. I am cooking for a diabetic, so minimal added sugar. I use ‘half-sugar’ substitutes, if needed.

If you feel the need for a recipe, the No-Recipe recipe at Food52 is a good one to follow.

 

Autumn Transitional Food and Winding-Down the Garden

Autumn Transitional Food and Winding-Down the Garden

Sedrick-the-sourdough-start went to work this week and produced some excellent bread. My starter is now a couple of years old, and was blended with some San Francisco starter in March that gave it a lovely depth of flavour. Sedrick was originally quite tart, very lively, and often blew the sides out of sourdough loaves. The addition of the San Francisco blend has mellowed the flavour and calmed Sedrick down a bit, although it still gives a good oven-rise and an excellent flavour.

bread_6sept14

Good sausages from the butcher at the farmer’s market, a golden hued onion, and a burst of sudden colour in the trees calls for the reintroduction of heartier food. Comfort food. Comfort as we slip into another layer of clothing to ward off the chilly mornings. And my favourite recipe for bangers and onion gravy is Nigel Slater’s “non-recipe”. No ingredient list, just eloquent writing about this process of creating a good plate of food. Food that Peder eats without hardly spilling a word until he’s finished, and then he says, “Well, that was good.” He’s a man of few words. But good taste.

Nigel Slater’s recipe for Sausages and Onion Gravy is at http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/feb/12/nigel-slater-classic-sausage-mash

And speaking of Peder, he put up another two jars (massively huge jars) of pickles from his Danish asker plants. I suspect that’s the last of the cucumbers that those plant will produce. They’re taking on white powder mildew now, a sure sign that the plants are stressed and declaring their job done.

pickles_6sept14

The garden is turning autumn-ish. The flowers are still with us, but many are holding on to their petals like dying lovers. Every gust of wind sends a few more toward freedom. It’s seed collecting time in the garden, and I love that almost as much as I love deadheading spent flowers.

As you can see, we are still working our way through a good supply of tomatoes. The larger ones are finished but the cherry and plum tomatoes are still ripening. The yellow plum tomatoes disappointed; too meaty, no juice, prone to insect attack more than usual. I’ll not suggest those next year.

I’m looking forward to heartier meals now that autumn is here. Do you have favourite autumn meals you rely on at this transitional time of the year? Salad just don’t seem right anymore. I’d love to hear your suggestions!