Strawberry and banana smoothie

smoothie

Welcome spring! I was waiting for you for a long time. This is one of my favorite smoothie, because has strawberries. Love them. Great taste, very healthy, smooth drink.

Ingredients:

– 1 banana

– 1 cup strawberries

– 100 ml water (rice milk, soya milk)

– mint leaves for decoration

Directions:

Place the strawberries and banana in the blender in this order. Process until smooth and then add the water. Leave it for 1 or 2 hours and then serve it. Decorate it with mint leaves.Enjoy!

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Black or white background in food photography

Mood in food photography (or really anything) would be set with different tools. Today I am gone show you how white or black background can change the feeling of an image, the mood.

Will backgrounds enhance the look of the food, or distract from it? You will be the judge of that. I always say that we are subjective when it comes to art. So, let me say that I start loving so much dark background. I am not saying that I hate white backgrounds, just that I love using more the dark ones. Gives me the mood that I really feel in that right moment.

With the same food is easy to  see the difference in the mood, or at least, try to see what you like best.

strawberries

When you take photos for a client, you need to consider what the client wants, but when you take photos for yourself, you can play around with backgrounds and choose the one you like more. Some food looks better on darker backgrounds, other on white. Some bloggers choose to take photos with a single background, other are playing around. If you are not decided on the background try different ones. Sometimes, you will be surprise about the result.

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smoothie

 

spinach dip

 

 

Good luck and good light, and, don’t forget to make time for your food photography.

Goulash

goulash

Goulash was, and still is, a very popular dish among herdsmen in Hungary. The word gulyás originally meant only “herdsman”, but over time the dish became gulyáshús (goulash meat –  a meat dish which was prepared by herdsmen). Today, gulyás refers both to the herdsmen, and to the soup.

The cooked and flavored meat was dried with the help of the sun and packed into bags produced from sheep’s stomachs, needing only water to make it into a meal. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country. They made it in a cast-iron kettle hung above open fire, out in the fields.

Originating from the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, goulash is also a popular meal in Central Europe,Scandinavia  and Southern Europe.

Even in Hungary every other housewife or chef has its own way of cooking it by adding or omitting some of the ingredients, or changing something in the preparation process, however they would all call their gulyás the most authentic.

Authentic gulyás is a beef dish cooked with onions, Hungarian paprika powder, tomatoes and some green pepper.

Potato and noodles (csipetke in Hungarian) are also added according to some recipes.

Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew, it’s somewhere in between. In the restaurants you will find it at soup.

This peasant dish got on the noblemen’s and town folk’s table only towards the end of the 19th century. In the second half of the 1800s it became very important to protect treasures of Hungarian culture, the language and the gastronomical delights, as part of the movement to emphasize Hungary’s national identity and independence from the Austrian Habsburg dynasty’s rule.

Restaurants started to put goulash on their menus too, and by the second half of the 20th century, the soup became the number one dish of Hungary that every tourist coming to the country must try.

My recipe won’t give you the perfect Hungarian goulash, but it will come very close. I was so surprised that I managed to make it so good. I was expecting a complete desaster, as I you all know I am not a good cook.

goulash

Ingredients:

– 700 g beef shin or shoulder, or any tender part of the beef cut into 2×2 cm cubes

– 5 tablespoons olive oil

– 2 medium onions, chopped

– 5 cloves of garlic

– 1 parsnip, diced

– 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika powder

– 1 glass white wine

– 500 g potatoes

– 1 glass tomato sauce

– 1 tablespoon mustard

– ground black pepper and salt according to taste

– 2 fresh green peppers

– 1 bay leaf

Directions:

Heat up the oil in a pot and braise the chopped onions with the mustard in it until they get a nice golden brown color. Sprinkle the braised onions with paprika powder while stirring them to prevent the paprika from burning. Add the beef cubes and and sauté them till they turn white and get a bit of brownish color as well.

The meat will probably let out its own juice, let the beef-cubes simmer in it while adding the grated or crushed and chopped garlic (grated garlic has stronger flavor),  some salt and ground black pepper, the bay leaf, pour water enough to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat for a while.

When the meat is half-cooked (approx. in 1,5 hour, but it can take longer depending on the type and quality of the beef) add the white wine, parsnip and the potatoes, and some more salt if necessary (vegetables tend to call for more salt). You’ll probably have to add some more (2-3 cups) water too.

When the vegetables and the meat are almost done add the tomato sauce and the sliced green peppers. Let it cook on low heat for another few minutes. You can remove the lid of the pan if you want the soup to thicken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunflower seeds

sunflower seeds

The sunflower is one of my favorite flowers, and its plentiful seeds are packed with health benefits that can help you from head to toe. They’re easily available all year round, and just a scant handful of them can mean dramatic improvement in the way you feel.

Sweet, nutty sunflower seeds are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Sunflower kernels are actually employed in the extraction of edible oil at commercial scale all over the world. Besides being eaten as popular snacks, they are also used in the kitchen to prepare variety of recipes.

Sunflower seeds are about 6 mm to 10 mm in length and feature conical shape with smooth surface. Their black outer coat (hull) encloses single, gray-white edible-kernel inside. Each sunflower head may contain several hundreds of edible oil seeds.

Health benefits of sunflower seeds

  1.  They are high in energy; 100 g seeds hold about 584 calories. Nonetheless, they are one of the incredible sources of health benefiting nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins.
  2.  The seeds are rich in  fatty acids. They helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good-cholesterol” in the blood.
  3. They are also a very good source of proteins with fine quality amino acids such as tryptophan that are essential for growth, especially in children.
  4. They have anti-oxidants, which help remove harmful oxidant molecules from the body. They, also, help reduce blood sugar levels by limiting glycogen breakdown in the liver.
  5. The seeds are indeed a very rich source of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful lipid soluble antioxidant, required for maintaining the integrity of cell membrane of mucus membranes and skin by protecting it from harmful oxygen-free radicals.
  6. Sunflower kernels are one of the finest sources of B-complex group of vitamins. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
  7. Sunflowers are incredible sources of folic acid.  Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given in anticipant mothers during the peri-conceptional period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
  8. Niacin and pyridoxine are other B-complex vitamins found abundantly in the sunflower seeds.Niacin helps reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.
  9. The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sunflower seeds. Many of these minerals play a vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme secretion, hormone production, as well as in the regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.

Just a hand full of sunflower kernels a day provides much of the recommended level of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.

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Strawberry and chia seeds pudding

pudding

Yesterday, In Romania , we celebrated „Dragobete’s Day”, which is our Valentine’s Day. We had it even before we knew about  V Day, but most of the people living in the city did not do anything special. After all this V Day fuss started in our country, we also start celebrating our  „Dragobete’s Day”. We try to make it less commercial, but is a lost war.

I don’t celebrate V Day because I think that V day is everyday. You need to show and tell the loved ones everyday that you love them and care about them. Flowers and gifts will make you a better person maybe for one day. This is my philosophy and I don’t expect that everyone agrees with me.

pudding

So it was just a coincidence when I made this dessert. I wanted to put it on my blogg before any celebration, but a stupid cold kept me in bed for almost 1 week. Even now I am not 100%, but I have to keep moving. I have a small boy who doesn’t know what cold is.

So, I made this dessert in the morning, and knowing my son will watch some cartoons, I prepared my setup on the terrace. Morning light in the winter is different  from  morning light in the summer so I needed to move fast.  When I was almost done with my setup, my boy decided that what mom was doing is more interesting, and since he, also, has a camera, he will shoot the dessert like me.

I brought the camera and we start taking photos. Me with my setup and him with a bowl of strawberries. He was so funny trying to do what I was doing. Then he got bored and start eating strawberries.  He got bored again and then he climbed a chair next to my table and start saying „I want to eat dessert!” and keep touching the glasses. I was laughing so hard that I could not  say anything to him.

In the end, I managed to take a few photos and then I gave him the dessert, because I knew I don’t have any chance for other photos. He has a working camera with film and is very happy taking photos. I can’t wait for him to grow and  understand a little about  photography.

The setup for this photos was very simple. Large windows in front of the camera and on the left side.  Glasses on a wooden background with a wooden board in the back.

pudding

So before I leave you to your day, here is the recipe for this dessert:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons Chia seeds
  • 200 ml milk or soya milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A hand of strawberries

Directions:

Combine milk with vanilla and  chia seeds, Mix well until combined and the mixture begins to thicken. Store covered in the refrigerator overnight or for at least an hour. Stir well before serving and add a bit of water to the pudding if it becomes too thick.

On the bottom of the glass add pieces of strawberries and then add the mix on top. Ornate with strawberry and serve it cold or at room temperature. I put some more soya milk on top of the pudding to get a little bit of color.

If you think is not very sweet you can add maple syrup or raw honey. Leave it over night with the milk and chia seeds. Because I am using sweet fruits I don’t like to put honey or maple syrup, but this is my choice. Enjoy!

alex

 

My lens for Food Photography

One of the most common questions that I hear is “what is the best lens to use for food photography?” This is a tough one to answer, because like so many things in photography, it depends greatly on the photographer.

The art of food photography is like product or still life photography – with one major exception; the subject has a very short shelf life. Once the food is in the front of the camera, you only have about ten or fifteen minutes to get your shot or the food will start to fade and look lifeless. With ice cream you have even less time.

If the photographer knows what they are doing, they will select a camera lens because of a combination of factors that pertain the reason for the photograph and to the individual needs of a particular subject matter.

I am a Nikon user, so, all I am telling you in this post is my personal opinion based on my experience. I will not try to make you change your camera or lens. All I am going to do is tell you about the lens I use for my food photography.

Even I have 3 lens, for food photography I use only 2: Nikon 50mm f/1.8 and Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8. My third one is a tele photo : Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 which is amazing for other  types of photography.  So let’s begin:

Nikon 50mm f/1.8

I start using this lens after almost 2 years since I got it. It was a gift when I bought 24-70mm. I love it. Is a great lens and autofocus is fast and accurate. I used it when I want to  shoot with my camera  in my hand and I have  low light. I can keep ISO small and I will have less noise in my photo.

If I were starting out, I would probably pick the 50mm f/1.8G.

Prime lenses are the primary choice of the food photographer. The fixed glass produces a nicer image with less distortion than a telephoto or zoom lens.

honeydew melon smoothie

mix_christmas_res

 

 

Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

While the 24-70mm is not a macro lens, it has a 37 cm (14.5″) minimum focusing distance. That sounds like a long way, but at 70mm you can get pretty close to your subject. If you are shooting on a high resolution sensor (16 megapixels and above) you will be able to crop in quite a bit and so you will be able to get some good closed photos. Bear in mind, this is not a macro lens, but if you want to get in close to a subject, really nice and close, this lens can do that. The sharpness and clarity is amazing, and it is good to have this ability on this lens.

brussels sprouts

traditional wine making process

 

Another great lens for food photography is a macro lens : Nikon 105mm f/2.8.  It is expensive and is on my to buy list. It gives you a lot of details within the shallow depth of field you choose. And if I want to see all those crazy details up close, the 105mm certainly has the reach . The Nikon 105mm f/2.8G may not be as versatile and lightweight as the 50mm lenses, but it still gives amazing results. Just keep in mind that if you have a big dish to photograph, you will need some space around you, especially on a crop-factor camera!

If you purchase a macro lens with a longer focal length, you will find that it will not only take great up close images of your food, it can work well as portrait lens for taking pictures of the people who make the food!

Like all forms of photography, having expensive gear will not make you a great photographer. You will still need to know about styling, lighting, and composition to make beautiful food pictures.

So…. Keep shooting and Make Time For Your Food Photography!

 

Peanuts

peanutsDelicious, crunchy, and nutty peanuts are one of the popular oil seeds known to humankind since centuries. They pack a serious nutritional punch and offer a variety of health benefits.

Peanuts, Arachis hypogaea is a legume species, and native to South America, Mexico and Central America, also popularly known as groundnuts,monkey nuts, pig nuts.GAB_9085_resPeanuts grow in a very fascinating manner. They actually start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground. The flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut actually matures.

The veined brown shell or pod of the peanut contains two or three peanut kernels. Each oval-shaped kernel or seed is comprised of two off-white lobes that are covered by a brownish-red skin. Peanuts have a hardy, buttery and “nutty” taste.GAB_9075_res

Here are some of the most well-known health benefits of Peanuts:

  • Rich in energy – Peanuts contain vitamins, minerals, nutrients and anti-oxidants and thus are rich energy sources.
  • It lowers bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol in the body – Peanuts contain mono-unsaturated fatty acids especially oleic acid that prevents coronary diseases.
  • Are good for proper growth and development of body – Peanuts are rich in proteins
  • Fights Stomach Cancer.
  • Fights against Heart Diseases, Nerves Diseases, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Infections.
  • Reduces the Chances of Stroke.
  • Protects Skin.
  • Contain B complex, vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, pantothenic acid etc.
  • Contain Potassium, manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc, etc.GAB_9076_res

Detox after vacation

juice

 

I love a great vacation. Almost 2 weeks skiing in Austria at a 4 starts hotel is an amazing one. 245 cm of snow is more that I dreamed.

Our hotel  Thermal Badhotel Kirchler is situated near Hintertux Glacier where you can ski all year long. Has a pool, sauna, excellent service and amazing good food. But, too much food. Even with all the skiing and snowboarding, at the end they serve you too much food. And you eat, because is good and you can’t stop.

So, coming back home, it is time to detox. My detox juice is simple and very healthy, and you can make it in the morning.

Ingredients:

– fresh parsley

– 1 lemon

– 1/2 cucumber

– 500 ml water

Directions:

Put everything in the blender and mix it. Drink it in the morning or during the day. Do this detox for 2 weeks and then you can keep doing it once or twice a week. Lots of Vitamin C which will help you. I know that it helps me. Enjoy!

juice

Biscuits and flour games

Biscuits

Biscuits

 

I started this year with stories and photos and I will continue with another story. This is the story: Beautiful morning in the kitchen with a little boy almost 3 years old, flour everywhere, my hands full, his hands full, his clothes covered in flour, no time for photos, lots of fun and lots of cleaning in the end. But, one of the best days of my life.

Kids get bored so fast and you need to give them something to play all the time. This is what I did with my son that morning. I gave him everything, because I needed to finish what we started. So I end up with flour on the floor, on the chair, in my hair, in his hair, etc. So between making the biscuits and cooking them in the oven I didn’t have time to make them look good.

I have a “I love biscuits” stamp for over a year and I was dying to use it. That morning, I decided to use it,but all my fun went away when I saw I will not have time to play with it. So my biscuits look like they were in a war, my kitchen looked like it gone break done soon, but my kid was so happy so I would not care less.

I just hope that I saved the day with the photos. Sometimes a good photo can save a disaster in the kitchen.

Biscuits

Biscuits

 

 

Ingredients:

– 3 eggs

– 4 yolks

– 2 tablespoon sour cream

– 1 glass brown sugar

– 200 g butter

– 1 teaspoon ammonia (or baking powder)

– 1 cup crushed nuts

– flower

Directions:

Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the ammonia in a glass and add lemon juice on top. Mix butter with sugar till you have a cream. Add the eggs, yolks, sour cream, ammonia and the nuts. Start adding the flower till you get a hard dough. Put it in the fridge for 1 hour. Take it out.

Roll out dough to about a 1.25 cm thickness. Cut out biscuits with a lightly floured round cookie cutter. Place on prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with the whites and bake for about 10 -15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the biscuit comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack.  Serve them simple or make a cream and glue 2 biscuits together. Enjoy!

Cookies

Biscuits

 

 

 

Fish and memories

fish

This story is about family, about spending time together, about life being short and other good feelings. My dad used to love fishing and skiing. In the winter, he would go fishing on frozen lakes. It was so relaxing for him, and I will never understand how he could stay in -20 degrees Celsius, dressed with lots of clothes, and sometimes catch a few small fish. Only a fisherman will understand.

fish

Anyway, those photos I took last fall, when my dad came from fishing. He waited for me and my son to come to his house and look at the fish. He kept them alive in a bucket and wait for his nephew to see and, then, he explained to him how he got them and what he will do with them.

My son loved it. It was a great time for all of us. Alex (my son) will play with the fish and my dad will clean them for my mom to cook. I was watching them and had an amazing feeling.

fish

Before my mom got to cooked the fish, I had time to play with the fish in my own way. Enjoy the photos! Natural light , around 11 am (not a very good hour for photography ) in my dad yard.

I will always remember my dad and our time spend together. Last time I saw my dad before he died, he just cut a fish in pieces and my mom cooked fish for my son. Alex will go to my mom or dad and scream “fish”, till he got a plate of small fish,  crunchy with a garlic sauce.

fish

I have lots of memories with my dad, and all are so great. I am just sad that he couldn’t stay more with us so we can make more amazing memories. He will be so missed!

fish