Sometimes .. when you're a food blogger who's learned enough
to know what you don't know ..
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it's time to register for a food photography class(!)
You gather together with a group of like-minded foodies from all across the country.
Some who don't really cook but want to someday .. who've gone to culinary school .. who cook for their local co-op .. who only cook on weekends .. who cook for therapy .. who cook for fun. Some who don't write but want to someday .. who write only when time allows .. who write to earn a living .. who write for therapy .. who write for fun.
And for two days you listen and learn .. and practice .. and style messy tacos .. and drizzle syrup on perfectly adorned (and sometimes tippy!) stacks of pancakes .. and practice napkin fluffing .. and encourage each other .. and before you know it .. something pretty wonderful
If someone had told me years ago that I was going to start a food blog and keep after it week after week .. recipe after recipe .. story after story. That the learning curve would include cooking .. photography .. Lightroom/Photoshop .. WordPress .. website performance .. troubleshooting .. marketing .. and writing.
That it would be tremendous work .. and all-consuming at times .. and although it was one of the most challenging things I've taken on it would prove one of the most rewarding
I'm not sure I'd have believed them.
But somehow I've managed to do just that
In December of 2012 .. my soon-to-be husband and I had known each other just a short time. He sat at my kitchen table with a box from Amazon that'd arrived on my doorstep that morning. “Sweetie .. will you please unbox my new camera and give me a quick one-two on how to use it”
He smiled ..
I proceeded to take a lot of out-of-focus photos in truly awful lighting. One afternoon .. at the point of frustration .. I even took the camera in to see if maybe it was broken. “Your camera works just fine” said the funny (and cocky) young hipster photographer guy. “You know .. I'm known for being able to hold the camera incredibly still”
He demonstrated .. he was right
I went home to practice some more
At another point I realized my pictures were incredibly dark and oh my goodness .. how come they all have a funny pinkish hue?
I took myself to night-school to really learn how to use my camera .. along with the basics of photography. “You'll get it .. I promise” said the nice man teaching the class “You know .. I've been a photographer for fifty years. Learn the basics and take pictures of something every .. single .. day”
He demonstrated .. he was right
I went home to practice some more
At another point I realized that I'd mastered many of photography's basics .. could cook .. could build, support and optimize a website. But something .. something was still missing.
What were the secrets of people who'd taken their blog to the next level? What was their workflow .. their set-up .. where did they go for inspiration .. what equipment did they use .. where did source props? Most important ..
How in the world did they do it all?
(Hint .. they have help)
I came away overflowing with information and inspiration. “When I'm styling a dish I approach it like so ..” She positioned (and repositioned) the blueberry.
“Watch the light .. not with your camera .. but first with your eye” She turned the dish just a smidge. “Don't worry so much about props. Focus instead on the food .. it's beautiful all by itself” She swirled the whipped cream. “Most of all? Don't ever forget to have fun”
She demonstrated .. she was right
I've gone home to practice some more
As we drove home that beautiful fall evening .. I couldn't help but smile
Beyond the knowledge .. the camera equipment .. the props .. and the table that's found a permanent home in front of my favorite window. This little cooking blog has had such an impact on not only the vibe around our house .. but most importantly
on our lives
We've always shared a love for cooking .. and it gives us a great excuse to indulge and try new recipes. There are always interesting things to be found in the fridge .. cooking magazines on the coffee table .. and recipe clippings from friends on my desk. The excitement when you know you've hit on something good
“This one .. oh my gosh .. this one is post worthy!”
I think of the afternoons we've spent scouring antique and thrift stores for cool and interesting props. Recipes we've re-created from incredible meals eaten at restaurants.
I think of the hours spent as a couple prepping and styling the latest dish for the site. The project recipes we've taken on. The meals made for people we love .. our life as a married couple
documented throughout the archives.
I think of all of the people who've supported The Veggies over the years
My parents who grow incredible things in their garden .. my father from whose workshop came the most beautiful background boards made from walnut and cherry. My brother and sister-in-law who are a treasure trove of great recipes (when in doubt .. add more heat!)
I'm so very thankful for all of the people who follow along .. friends .. acquaintances .. the women at my husband's favorite coffee shop. I'm always amazed when someone from a few lifetimes ago sends a note that says “Do you remember me? I check in from time-to-time.”
I'm thankful for my husband. For his constant encouragement .. and his uncanny ability to find humor in the face of a large grocery bill(!)
And it's weekends like this that also remind me .. how very thankful I am for all of the pretty incredible people I've gotten to
meet along the way
The photos for the post were taken during the class .. the recipe one of my favorites.
I'd argue that everyone needs a smoothie bowl as part of their morning arsenal.
When I'm in smoothie mode .. here's what's running through my mind. I want it to be filling .. energizing .. and nutritious. I like a smoothie that's full of nutrients .. smooth .. rich .. and luxe in texture. Flavor is incredibly important .. and because many greens can trend towards bitter .. balancing them with other ingredients is important.
This is a classic berry smoothie .. trust me you won't taste the spinach or green juice. The mint is refreshing and the banana helps with creamy texture.
~ Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
- 1 cup ice
- 6-8 strawberries, hulled and halved
- ⅓ cup mixed berries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup baby spinach leaves
- ½ banana
- ¼ cup mint leaves, packed
- ¼ cup green juice (ex: Naked Juice Green Machine) or nut milk of choice
- ⅛ - ¼ cup protein powder (optional) .. My favorite protein powder comes from Dana James
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- berries, granola, nuts, toasted coconut
- In your blender add all of the ingredients (except the toppings) and blend until smooth (adding ice if you'd prefer it to be thicker and additional green juice if it seems to thick)
- Stir in the chia seeds and let stand for 10 minutes or so to thicken
- Serve with toppings of choice (some ideas above)
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. (One thing to keep in mind when reaching for a leftover smoothie .. the chia seeds will soak up quite a bit of moisture .. so you'll want to add a bit of liquid)
% Protein: 10
% Carbs: 70
% Fat: 30
** The nutritional data calculated without protein powder