Today, I am over on, The Creative Mama, with the latest installment of our Food Photography 101 series.  We’ve covered lighting, lenses and styling to this point.  Now we move onto my favorite part of food photography, telling the story of food through images.  Come on over, and learn who inspired me to move beyond photographing a beautifully styled plate to sharing more about the process of a recipe coming to life.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

 

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Berry Fool

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Hello?  Anyone out there?

It’s been awhile, right?  Thankfully, just like old friends, I’m sure we’ll be able to jump right in where we left off.

While I’ve missed this little space, life away from my laptop has been wonderfully full the last month…birthday celebrations, Easter, book projects, photography projects, putting in our garden, soccer, baseball and good family time.  It’s times like these, when life takes over, that I find myself with countless ideas and inspiration.  As much as it seems important to be connected to our world (fb, IG, internet, blogs etc.)  I also believe in the importance of disconnecting too.  Just like everything else, it’s about balance.  And isn’t that the ongoing challenge?

On to the pictures!

Here’s a little peak into what the last month has looked like and what we’ve been up to…

garden markers

 

We got our garden going during Spring Break, planting seeds for daisies, zinnias, sunflowers, French Breakfast radishes, arugula, salad mix, green onions, snap peas, beets, kohlrabi, asparagus bulb and rhubarb (for next year).  At this point everything is growing!  It’s been fun going out to the garden each day to see what is sprouting from the dirt.

To mark where we planted, we made garden markers out of old silverware, writing on the handles and sticking the tines of the fork into the ground.

Magazine posts

 

I had the privilege to shoot the cover for the Spring Issue of Edible Omaha that was released in April.  It is by far one of my favorite magazines.  If you aren’t familiar with them, check out Edible Communities.  Many major cities have a similar publication, highlighting local foods, farmers, chefs and food artisans.

Much to my delight, I was also in the spring issue of ‘Go Gluten Free’ magazine, sharing images for a popsicle recipe.

just run

just run2

Spring running season has meant 2 half marathons for me and a 5k for my middle boy.  He was a part of a boys running group this spring that culminated in a 5k with all the elementary schools in our community.  From the beginning, he told us he wanted to run it on his own, and he did just that.  As a parent (and runner, myself) I had tears and goosebumps watching him run so strong and cross the finish line.

A bitter cold kept me on the treadmill for much of the winter this year, making it a relief to finally get to spring races.  First up was Rock the Parkway in Kansas City.  It was half marathon #8 for me, and my dad came along to spectate the run.  While the warm, humid morning and rolling hills kept me from a PR that morning,  the bigger takeaway was the lesson in perseverance.  I had hoped for a nice PR in this race, and it just wasn’t meant to be.  Instead, I walked away knowing that when things get tough, and you don’t think you can take another step (or climb another hill) you have to dig in, take a deep breath and finish.  This lesson proved to be valuable as I headed into the Lincoln Half Marathon 2 weeks later, where I got the PR I was aiming for.  Next up…working toward that elusive sub-2!

kitchen scenes

In the midst of all this, I’m also shooting a cookbook project.  This has meant weeknights of recipe prepping, a messy kitchen and weekends of starting early and shooting through the day.  While the light in my kitchen is wonderful, it doesn’t really get good until after 11:00am.  Sometimes, you just have to go to the light if you want to make things happen a little earlier.  My oldest snapped this pic on one such morning of early shooting.

motivation

Does anyone else snap pics of things they love, while browsing on their phones?  These particular quotes (mostly found on Instagram) have been running through my mind lately.  Just like spring, I’ve been feeling an awakening to create and to continue to build a life working toward what I love, surrounded by the people I love.

So that’s what the last month has looked like, some of the highlights anyway.  I still have so much I’m looking forward to sharing, as we continue to move into spring and summer.  Our local farmers’ market opened last weekend, and we’ve been trying a new co-op that I’m loving, of course there will be more garden updates and CSA recipes to share too.

Thanks for hanging in there with me, continuing to visit this little space.  Have a great weekend!

After a whirlwind, wonderful weekend in New Orleans, I’m itching for spring more than ever.  I flew down Friday to photograph a cookbook, and was greeted by blooming wisteria and azaleas, green grass, gorgeous old oaks and warm sunshine.  It was exactly what this Midwestern girl needed.

Food Photography

While I can’t say too much about this current project, I can tell you that the book I photographed last summer, The Best Homemade Lunches on the Planet,  is on pre-sale now, and will be released in July.  My kids have been loving the recipes from this book, it has added to much variety to our lunch packing routine.

The Best Homemade Lunches on the Planet

For today, I’m over on The Creative Mama sharing my installment of our series, Food Photography 101.  Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing a little about how to take pictures of food and the tricks and tips I’ve picked up along the way.  Come on over!

Not once, but twice last week, I found myself in a conversation that centered around the art of lingering.

Learning the Art of Lingering shed2

The first was a conversation with a food writer friend, that shared with me her experience of interviewing a man that told her about how he laid the foundation,  with his children, to linger at the table after dinner.  This intentional act laid the ground work for intimate conversations, laughter and growth that ultimately led to an idea for starting a family business.
Over this past weekend, I visited my parents.  We filled ourselves with family time, shed hunting, shopping and good food.  Over one of our meals, I found myself in a similar conversation with my dad about taking the time to linger, to slow down.  He told me that he had read somewhere recently how the quality of relationships between mothers and daughters fell into decline with the invention of the dishwasher.  Their time in the kitchen became less to do with the casual, intimate conversations that took place as they cleaned, and more to do with efficiency and moving on to the next task.
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My own childhood was effected with the addition of a dishwasher to our household.  Up until that point, my job each evening was to help my mom clear the table and then dry dishes while she washed.  As we went about our tasks this became a time to share, to discuss our days and other topics that came to mind.  The conveinence of the dishwasher changed everything.  The whole process moved much quicker, leaving little time for visiting.  After a couple years, our dishwasher met its demise.  For whatever reason, my parents chose not to replace it.  The absence of the dishwasher brought the return of our evening ritual.  As my brother got older, I shifted to washing, he took up the drying.  Those evenings of what once felt like a chore, are now some of the most treasured and vivid memories of my childhood.  Meaningful conversations, sharing the triviality of our days…along with a few really good soap sud fights.
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Learning the Art of Lingering
While I know that we won’t be giving up our dishwasher anytime soon, for us, these moments are still found in the kitchen, but more in the preparation of the meal, versus the cleanup. It is where I spend much of my time photographing, recipe testing, creating our meals, nourishing body and soul.  My children are easily drawn in, and ask what they might do to help.  As the meal preparation unfolds, so do our conversations, with the same ease and rhythm of a chopping knife.  It’s one of the best arguments I can think of for cooking at home…conversation, learning how to prepare food, togetherness, a well laid foundation.

I feel as though I should apologize for the quietness that has fallen upon this place the last few months.  While I just about physically cringe at the word, ‘busy’, that’s exactly what life has been.  Good busy and bad busy.  The kind that fills your cup, and drains it just as quickly.  I keep looking for things to eliminate each week, to make breathing room (both literally and figuratively), some weeks it’s easy…and others not so much.  What I have found is that being organized seems to help, especially when it comes to my kitchen.  Outside of that, I’m still trying to figure it all out.

How to Meal Prep

Confession:  I am a dismal failure when it comes to meal planning.  In concept it is wonderful and efficient for your  family as well as your budget.  No matter how many times I tried to be successful, it just hasn’t worked.   I craved flexibility.  While I confess to being pretty organized in most areas of our household, the kitchen is not one of them.  I’m a pretty ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ kind of girl when it comes to meals.  What all my failures at meal planning taught me is that we eat a lot of different variations of the same meals.  I keep things pretty simple with my cooking, as it seems to be what works best for us.  We have lots of mexican dishes, pizza, pasta, egg dishes, breakfasts for dinner, soups and one bowl suppers.  The running theme is that we have our main item and it’s built upon with whatever fresh fruits and veggies are in season.

How to Meal Prep

All of this insight led me to food prepping.  Each week, I make a rough outline of what I have on hand for meals.  This includes produce, staple items like beans, eggs, or grains as well as ingredients for any baked goods.  From there I fill in the holes by making a list of what needs to be picked up at the grocery store.  Usually, this is largely produce items.  From there I start the prepping…

  • Wash and drain beans…usually black, pinto and garbanzo
  • Wash and chop veggies for snacking, salads and packed lunches
  • Cook any pasta we might be eating that week…be sure to toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  • Bake a sweet treat or two, we especially love these, very simple bites.  For the cookies I will only bake a dozen, then scoop out the cookie dough onto baking sheet, freeze and bag to use for other weeks (I only do this every 2-3 weeks).
  • Make jam
  • Make a jar of green tea or herbal tea concentrate
  • Roast veggies for salads or side dishes
  • Wash and bag lettuce
  • Make any salad dressings, vinaigrettes, salsas, sauces or veggie dips

After all the food baked, washed, cooked, drained and laid out, then I set to labeling.  This may seem a bit over the top, but there is good reason behind it.  My boys are famous for opening the fridge and saying, ‘there’s nothing to eat in here!’  Once I would point out what was in the various fridge containers they were able to assemble whatever snack they were craving.  Now, with the label system, they can see exactly what their choices are and get what they need.

How to Meal Prep

While this may sound like a lot of work, it really isn’t that bad.  I think the most I’ve ever put into it is 90 minutes on a Sunday afternoon.  I start with items that will take longest first (roasted veggies, baked goods) and while they are in the oven, I work on everything else.  I pull the boys in to help too.  Not only does it get them in the kitchen, they are able to contribute their suggestions about our meals for the week.

You may be wondering, is all this work actually worth it?  The times I haven’t taken the time to prep for the week,  regretted it.  I just didn’t realize how much time that little bit of work on Sunday afternoon, was saving me during the week.

What’s the best part about meal prep?  You can completely customize it to your family and budget, and it’s flexible enough for busy families on the go.  I love that if we are headed out the door to a night of soccer games and activities I can throw a quick dinner in one of our lunch containers and take it on the road.  Less nights eating out is always good…for our bodies and our pocketbooks.

How to Meal Prep

Below are a few other tips that have been helpful to me in getting started.  I especially loved the post Tracy over on Shutterbean did on Meal Prep as part of her High Straightenance series.

Invest in some good containers.

I bought a few sets of these.  I like the glass because it’s clear, but also can go right to the microwave.

Start small.

I didn’t add any baked goods until I’d been at it for a couple of weeks.  This is supposed to be a helpful process, not an overwhelming one.

Bag your lettuce.

The first couple of weeks I tried to chop the lettuce for our salads.  It never lasted.  Now I wash it, wrap it in a paper towel and put it in a large ziploc bag. It lasts well over a week, if we don’t polish it off first.

Try it for a month.

It takes time to find your groove with this, and develop your own system.  Give yourself the chance to make it truly work for you.

Do you food/meal prep for your weeks?  I’m still working on perfecting my method, and would love to hear your tips!

 

 

 

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