Homemade Halloween: Making “Twix” Bars

October 22nd, 2014 · 41 Comments · Candy, Photography, Recipes, San Francisco

Homemade Twix bars stack
 

With Halloween coming up next week. I'm finishing all my preparations, which mostly involve putting together Isabelle's costume and moving all the pumpkins in the house back to their designated places, after she's moved them all again for the twentieth time. Apparently pumpkins are way more fun than her regular toys - who knew?

I've stocked up on candy for trick or treaters, but I couldn't resist going into kitchen to make some sweets from scratch. This year, it's a homemade rendition of one of my favorite candies from childhood - the Twix bar.

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{Review} Lumoid: A New Way To Try Out Photography Gear

April 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments · Photography

 
 
Marshmallow creme macarons with peeps
Peeps-inspired marshmallow creme macarons, taken with Canon 5D Mark III

Time for some camera talk. I've been shooting with a Canon Rebel for most of my food blogging career; last year I decided to go the micro four-thirds route and have been taking pictures with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 and the Panaleica 25mm f/1.4 . It's been a fun challenge; the two cameras are totally different animals so it's really like driving two completely different cars. Although there are many advantages to dSLRs, there's a freedom to having a super lightweight camera that performs quite capably with a fantastic lens.

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Snapshots from Hong Kong

February 2nd, 2011 · 20 Comments · Personal, Photography, Sweet Spots, Travel

HKShangrila

Hello dear readers! Apologies for the long absence – and thank you for all of your kind notes! My trip to Hong Kong was very cold – record cold temperatures, I believe, and filled with family and lots of food. Hot food, preferably, to keep warm. It was difficult not to make this a 100 photo-long post, but I hope the following ones give you a taste of my visit overseas.

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Food and Light: Best Workshop Ever

July 2nd, 2010 · 21 Comments · Events, Photography, Travel

Blueberries

I've been playing hooky from work and blogging the last few days to enjoy bucketfuls of sunshine, outrageously good food, and the company of some of the most talented bloggers around.

The Food and Light Photography Workshop, organized by Jen of use real butter in collaboration with Helen of Tartelette and Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple, was hands down the best photography workshop I went to. It really didn't feel like class…more like summer vacation with some great friends.

Although food bloggers are a wonderfully friendly and giving lot, Jen, Helen, Todd, and Diane stand head and shoulders above the rest. I have never met more generous people, so ready to share their knowledge and experience with others. And they are also FUN…see the dinner Jen threw for several of us out-of-town bloggers the night before the workshop (Yes, the workshop also sort of felt like a overachievers' convention).

When I talked to Jen about the workshop, she told me that her goal was to create a class that offered more than the average photography class: a class that gave real, practical advice to photographers on how to take photos, and would give them the tools to let them continue improving their skills on their own after the class.

I think she and the other instructors succeeded fabulously; from the moment the workshop started we could tell how much preparation had gone into organizing everything, and how passionate the instructors were about photography and food. We had lectures that covered the gamut of concerns that many a food blogger has: photography basics, equipment, lighting, and styling.

The lectures were broken up by hands on sessions where we could practice shooting different food items, implementing things we had just learned, and getting instant feedback from the instructors. I really thought this was what set this workshop apart and made it so useful and rewarding. There's no substitute for learning by doing, and having an experienced professional to give you a personal critique was pretty much worth the value of the workshop. I know all the participants appreciated that all four of the instructors were willing to open themselves up and answer endless barrages of questions!

Below, a few shots I took during class. The rest of the class shots are at this flickr group  – you can see how quickly people starting picking tips and tricks from class!

Carrots

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Cupcakes

Bread 

Finally, all the workshop participants were asked to submit their favorite images taken during class to be judged by their fellow classmates and the instructors. We were asked to vote for images in categories such as Best Overall, Most Improved, and Most Original. I'm so thrilled that the class chose this image I shot below as Best Styling :

Cherries 

I call it Little Red Corvette. Thanks again to Jen et al. for awarding prizes and swag bags to the participants – I have never been to a workshop where you got so much free stuff!

Thanks again to Jen, Helen, Diane, and Todd for such a great experience. And another thank you to Lisa, who kindly let me stay with her at her family friend's home and was a blast as a traveling companion. Couldn't think of a better way to start off the summer!

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What Else Has Been Baking in the Oven

November 4th, 2007 · 21 Comments · Photography, Sweet Spots

Eebcover

I thought I would take a moment to update my dear readers on what other food-related events have transpired recently in my life. First off, my second article has been published in Edible East Bay! You may remember that I toured Charles Chocolates’ new factory and store a while back; now the full story plus photos I snapped of the production line are in the Fall 2007 issue of Edible East Bay.

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This issue is filled with fascinating articles, from a history of cattle ranching in the East Bay to a profile of a local beekeeper and artisan honey maker, to a tour of Hangar One, an innovative vodka distillery on the little island of Alameda. Incidentally, Hangar One is where I went this weekend and where I took the top photo: they make the striking Buddha’s Hand citron vodka that Alice Medrich recommends for her Citron Vodka chocolates in her new book, and they also make an absolutely divine dessert wine:

Meenao_3   

Just be careful when pronouncing that name aloud in polite company!

If you aren’t near a copy of this issue of Edible East Bay, they will soon post up electronic versions of the articles on their website. You can also read my earlier profile of Charles Chocolates.

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Second, I’m happy to announce that Sarah Phillips of Baking 911, one of the most comprehensive and helpful baking sites available on the net, invited me to contribute to her monthly newsletter. Sarah is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and a fabulously accomplished baker: I am amazed at the amount of information on her site, from recipes to step by step tutorials for making just about anything in pastry. I’m very pleased to be part of Baking911, and for the November newsletter I’ve created a recipe for a chocolate caramel pie – a wonderful addition to the holiday table!

In order to view the newsletter, you will need to become a premium member of Baking911. Membership is $24 a year, but Sarah is currently running a promotion where membership will only cost $14 if you join before the end of the year. Read here to see all the benefits of becoming a premium member. Even if you don’t join Baking911, I hope you still find it a useful baking resource – I’ve found many of her articles helpful when researching a recipe or pastry technique.

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Finally, the capper to a really lovely weekend: I got to see the advertising cards for Pâtisserie Philippe – with my photography on them! You may remember me rhapsodizing about Philippe’s peerless pastry; I recently did a photo shoot for his holiday line and now the Thanksgiving advertising card is out!

Philippefall07_3

There’s just something about the tangible realness of a photo on smooth, substantial stock that’s completely different from an image on a computer screen. If you have MooCards, you know what I mean. I have to admit it was quite thrilling to see my photos hung in the store windows and on the beautifully produced cards. I was also very relieved when Philippe told me he thought the pictures looked "like (he) wanted to eat them," – so glad I’d done justice to his creations!

Philippefall07_2    

If you live anywhere near Pâtisserie Philippe, I urge you to pick up one of his desserts for Thanksgiving; I can personally assure you they are all fantastic. If you want a closer look, descriptions along with some more of my photos are on his holiday menu, and you’ll get a bonus peek at a shot I did of his Yule log!

You may have noticed the outrageously beautiful apple tart on the front of Philippe’s card; he gave me one to take home after the photo shoot and I ate about half of that! Check back later this week to see my humble take on this apple tart!

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Back from Vacation: Not-So-Good News and Good News

July 10th, 2007 · 10 Comments · Photography, Travel

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Interior of Dushanbe Teahouse, Boulder, Colorado

picture source   

Hello!

I’m back from Colorado, which was beautiful in a dry, stark, majestic mountains in the clouds sort of way, and Kansas, which was beautiful in a humid, lushly green, sipping lemonade by the lake as the sun sets sort of way. It’s good to get away from home once in a while and see what else is out there.

The above picture is of the Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder, Colorado, a gorgeous traditional Tajik teahouse, or choihona, given to Boulder by its sister of Dushanbe in Tajikstan. All of the parts of the teahouse, from the elaborately carved ceiling panels to the statues in the interior fountain, were made in Tajikstan and shipped over. It’s a stunning, one-of-a-kind place to have a cup of afternoon tea and imagine yourself in ancient Persia – the tea list is excellent, as well as the rest of the menu.

My return from the midwest was supposed to be good news for my sadly non-updated blog, but unfortunately, bad news awaited me: I came home to discover that my computer had decided to break down in my absence (perhaps reprimanding me for my lack of care? I dote lovingly over my kitchen equipment but rather much less so on my poor computer – I guess it got tired of the lack of attention) It is in the process of getting fixed, so some of the posts I had been planning to do on my return may not make it up until next week.

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In the meantime, I’ll share some good news that brightened my return: I found out that Schmap Travel Guides has included some of my food photos in the new edition of their Paris guide. For those of you who haven’t discovered their website, Schmap’s digital guides make trip planning an interactive, surprisingly fun experience. Each city guide is linked with a Google map that shows all of the city’s attractions, restaurants, hotels, and other items of interest so you can easily see where everything is located.

If you look to the right sidebar of this page, you’ll see a Schmap of Paris – you can move around, zoom in, and investigate the listings on the map. If something interests you, say the ice cream shop Berthillon, you can either click on "Photos" to see some images of the store or click "more…" to go the Schmap description of the place. Pretty ingenious, no?

It was a pleasant surprise when Schmap contacted me and asked if some of my photos of Paris could be used for their entries. I am sure it will come as no shock to any of you that all my photos are of food! If you are curious, here are the photos they selected:

Dalloyau – their service is impeccable, their opera cake to die for. Even though I only bought one slice of cake, they wrapped it up carefully and thanked me as politely as the customers buying boxes of macarons and petit fours.

Fauchon – the displays at their store on Place de la Madeleine are always nose-to-the-window fabulous.

Pierre Herme – of course a must visit for every lover of pastry in Paris!

Pierre Herme again – Schmap has currently misattributed this photo to another Paris icon, fashion house Hermès. Honestly, I think I’d rather be spending my money on some of Pierre’s macarons than one of those scarves…

Chez Michel – one of my favorite little bistros in Paris, just blocks away from the Gare du Nord. I had some divine foie gras there, as well as a lovely Paris-Brest.

The photos are all from my trip to Paris a couple of years ago…I was so thrilled to be there and wanted to document every pastry that I saw. The photos were also  how I met the wonderful Carol, who confessed to finding my pictures on Flickr and loving them – now I’m the one who goes to her site and envies her trips to France and the beautiful watercolors she produces! What a lot of magic Paris can produce!

And finally, I learned that the photo I submitted to the June 2007 edition of DMBLGIT won in a couple of categories: tying for second in Edibility and placing third overall!  Many thanks to Bea for hosting – if you go to her post you will see she made cute little bar graphs showing the performance of the top ten in each category – I’m pleased to note I actually did show up in all of the categories. I need to thank Helene for providing the inspiration for the St. Honoré cakes, otherwise I wouldn’t have had the photo to submit!

Back to the kitchen for me…hopefully by next week I’ll be able to share my creations again with you all!

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