Friday, July 30, 2010

Garden Variety

Last weekend my boyfriend Wendel and I attended an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night that was produced by a theatre company that tours around the South Bay every year called, "Shakespeare by the Sea."  It was a great way to spend a Saturday evening.  In my opinion, an outdoor performance like this isn't complete without a tasty dinner.  I always wanted to have a picnic under the stars but wanted to make something relatively easy and transportable.  For an appetizer, I chose a homemade edamame pea spread with toasted pita wedges (recipe will follow on the next post).  Our main dish was homemade steak sandwiches on sourdough bread with roasted tomatoes, arugula, muenster cheese and dijon mustard.  I picked a light side dish that I found while perusing through the August issue of Bon Appetit magazine.  Check out the recipe below.  Super easy to make and super delish!  It's even better with home-grown tomatoes.

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. coarse kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried crushed red pepper
2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Small wedge of Parmesan cheese

Kitchen Notes:  *I added a handful of cherry tomatoes for extra flavor and used a different peeler than the recipe recommended b/c I don't like the large ribbons.

Whisk oil, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2/ teaspoon black pepper and crushed red pepper in small bowl to blend.  Set dressing aside.  Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16 inch thick).  Place ribbons in large bowl.  Add basil and nuts, then dressing; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Using vegetable peeler, shave strips from Parmeson wedge over salad.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crunch N' Munch

One of my favorite types of breakfast food is granola.  What I don't love about granola is all the sugar, fat and processed junk that gets added to it when I buy it from the grocery store.  Hence, homemade granola.  Mind you, this is only one of a zillion granola recipes that can be found online.  I particularly like this version because it includes extras like wheat germ and flax seeds.

Also of note, I thought the amount of molasses and canola oil was a bit excessive so I cut out about 2/3 of it.  And secondly, I ran out of cinnamon so I actually substituted 2 t. of pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon and ginger.

Homemade Granola

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 flax seed
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 t. ginger
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup chopped walnuts
5 T. blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
A couple handfuls of your favorite dried fruit like cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, etc.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Mix dry ingredients in one bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a second bowl.

** In this recipe, I only ended up using a little more than 1/3 of the wet ingredient mixture so use your discretion.

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix to combine.   Spread mixture over two baking pans and place in middle rack of oven.  Bake, stirring every 20 minutes for even cooking, until dry and lightly browned for about 45 minutes.  Cool in pan and transfer to airtight container.  Can be stored for up to 1 month.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Le Tour

© Brent Humphreys

Now that the hype of the World Cup is over, it's time to focus on the creme de la creme of bike racing, the Tour De France.  Celebrating its 97th year, the Tour tests the world's greatest cyclists for 3 weeks of grueling ascents through the Alps and Pyrenees ending triumphantly in the City of Light.

Scores of photographers have captured the event since its inception and the latest to do so is award-winning photographer Brent Humphreys.  If you're in Los Angeles be sure to stop by the Clark Oshin Gallery to check out a collection of his images from the Tour.  The images will be displayed until August 30.  If you're not a local you can check out his website.

It's a nice change of pace for those of you familiar with other cycling photographers like Graham Watson.  You get a sense of the cycling culture and the fans who line the course and camp out, sometimes a week in advance, to see a glimpse of the racers.

And for those of you placing bets, I'm rooting for Andy Schleck.  Cadel Evans was my top pick but a fractured elbow all but took him out of contention.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farm City

Last week I was browsing the new non-fiction section in the public library and a book about urban farming caught my eye.  At first glance, I thought it was going to be a how-to book about planting your very own vegetable garden on a roof top or balcony.  Instead, it's a story about writer Novella Carpenter's experience creating a fabulous garden on an abandoned patch of land behind her Oakland, CA apartment.  Not only does she grow heirloom tomatoes and melons, but she's even taking a liking to raising her own chickens, turkeys other fowl as she fondly calls, "meat-birds."

Anyway, it's a really great book - not only about the toils of creating an urban oasis, but an interesting and often humorous account of the neighborhood and its people.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

June's Top 3

Spending 12 hours in a studio for a photo shoot on the weekend definitely frees up some time to browse the web.  During my browsing I thought it might be interesting to create a monthly column about photographers whose work I admire. 

This month I'm sharing some images of the following photographers:

Olivia Bee - she's only 16 years old and has already shot for Converse!

© Olivia Bee Photography

Sarah Wilmer
© Sarah Wilmer Photography

Richard Jung
© Richard Jung Photography


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Photo Remake

Every month a Seattle-based photographer and photo blogger named Lara Ferroni invites fans to participate in her "Photo Remake" Flickr challenge.  I've been checking out the site for a while, having participated in a few of the challenges.  This month's challenge invites participants to shoot our interpretation of a fruity, crumbly muffin that Lara shot.  It doesn't have to be exactly the same and she encourages folks to make it their own.  You just have to make sure you're showing the crumbly texture and the fruit inside.

I chose to shoot a glazed cranberry orange muffin.  I like the brightness and simplicity of Lara's shot but wanted to pair my muffin with some cooler tones so I used some robin's egg blue craft paper that I taped to a chair.  Since we're in the middle of "June gloom," I didn't have much light and the background turned out a lot darker which I actually really liked.

Anyway, here are the two shots for comparison.  If you're interested in Lara's photographer and/or her food  photography blog, check her out at:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Food Fanatic

A few months ago, I was invited to participate in a Weekend Food Styling Workshop led by two food stylists I've worked with and an LA food photographer.  Denise Vivaldo and Cindie Flannigan are industry veterans who've done everything from catered to the stars, consulted on cookbooks and styled commercial food shoots and tv shows.  Their partner in crime was local food photographer Matt Armendariz.  Food bloggers may be familiar with his ever popular blog called Matt Bites.

The workshop was a boot camp of sorts that focused on how foodies can make the most of their blogs by learning how to prepare and style food for the camera.  The first day focused on styling techniques and the second day was devoted to shooting our chosen recipe.  There were about a dozen participants with interesting backgrounds - the former Bon Appetit food editor, a few caterers, a photographer and even a food scientist.

I learned some great techniques and secrets to styling and it was great fun to peruse the photographer's amazing stash of props.  Matt had every color and kind of dish, pot, linen, napkin, spoon, cutting board and knick-knack you could imagine.  I was in heaven.

I decided to keep in simple and bake some scallion biscuits from a recipe I found in Gourmet Magazine.  Some of the other participants were a bit more ambitious and chose more complicated recipes like baked salmon, salads with edible flowers, sushi, etc.

I wanted to keep the image rustic as I imagined these biscuits would be served on an old farm table accompanied by thick slices of bacon and fried eggs.   Anyway, so here's the recipe along with a photo of what I shot on Day 2.  I've also included links to the stylists and photographer in case you're interested in their work or future classes.

Scallion Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Scant teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add scallions and 3/4 cup milk and stir with a fork just until a dough forms.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 6 to 8 times, then pat into an 8-inch square (1/2 inch thick). Cut into 16 (2-inch) squares and transfer to a buttered baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Brush with remaining tablespoon milk, then bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

 **I found that cutting the dough into 16 squares resulted in very small (and not particularly photogenic) rocks, so I cut them into about 8-10 larger biscuits.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


A week or so ago I had the pleasure of meeting an agent named Sarah Snider with National Geographic who represents the Magazine's assignment photographers. They have a separate division that now assigns documentary photographers to work on a range of editorial and even commercial projects. As an art buyer, one of our responsibilities is to review photographer's portfolios and find talent who might be appropriate for an upcoming project.

National Geographic has been one of my favorite magazines since I was a child so you can imagine my excitement when I booked the meeting. My parents subscribed to the Magazine for years and we still have copies stashed away in the attic nooks.

I saw several amazing books but was particularly moved by a photographer named Joel Sartore and a book he created called Rare. It's an up-close and personal collection of fascinating endangered species portraits. You'll be astounded by the array of plants and animals, many of which I never knew existed.

Check out the video and the link to the book on

Friday, June 11, 2010

Release 2.0

Yes, it's been a while since I blogged. I started a new job working as an art buyer at Deutsch back in December and it's been non-stop ever since. It's a pretty cool gig and I get the opportunity to work with a number of big clients like VW, PlayStation, Fresh & Easy, HTC, Anthem and California Milk. Throw in a concussion from a bike accident and well, you know, time flies.

Now that things are cooling down while the weather heats up, what better time to relaunch my blog with a new look and some fresh content. I'll still be focusing on things I like but my goal is to post more often and cover a wider range of topics.

So sit back, relax, grab yourself a cup of tea and enjoy what's to come.