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

MAKE TIME FOR YOUR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

mix_christmas_res

Food photography has become more and more important through the years. Food photography is considered as one of the most difficult genres of photography but has more commercial value than wedding or portrait photography.

Many people asked me why is so hard to take good food photos? I will answer that everything in life is hard. Good photos come with years of experience, equipment, a stylist, a vision, etc. Many of food bloggers don’t have time to loose on settings or money on expensive equipment. They just want to take better photos of what they do right now.

I will say MAKE TIME. Make time to understand your camera, make time to read about styling a plate and how to improve your photos. A good photo  can save a bad food and can attract more people to read your recipe.

It took me a few years to decide what type of photography I wanna do. I did portraits and travel photography. After having the baby I continued to shoot portraits and travel and I start shooting food. It looked so simple, but when I shoot the first photos I did not like the result.

So I start reading and watching videos, bought a book, and shoot as much as I could. I don’t have a studio room, so every time I shoot I improvise a studio on my terrace or in my living room. It takes me 1 hour to put the lights and 30 min to take everything down. My baby sleeps 1.5 h – 2 h, so I don’t have enough time for studio lights. So I start learning about natural light and shooting with different backgrounds.

It’s a lot of work and not all the time I am happy with the final photo, but is good for the learning process. I have a huge list of food photographers and food bloggers that I like. I am looking everyday at minimum 20 great food photos. I have a notebook and I write down ideas.

Don’t invest a lot of money in an expensive camera just to take photos of your food for the blog. Is a huge mistake and you will be sorry. Don’t compare yourself to a professional  food photographer. You will never gone win. The only one person to compare with you. Your photos 2 months ago before learning about food photography and now.

This is what I do. I look back at my work and try to see if my photos are better or not.

In February 2012, I decided I wanna become a food photographer. It’s a long process but I am happy I found something that I love. Here you have an example of my evolution over 2 years and 10 months. The fist photo is actually the first food photo that I took.

food photo

As you can see  with a lot of reading and practice I managed to improve my food photography a lot. (using props, styling,lights, story)

Another example is some home made cookies. The same recipe, different photos in different years:

food photo

Exactly 2 years between these photos. I love the second one. Gives me a cold feeling, a winter feeling .

Photography changes every day, so I need to be aware of the new trends. I want more from my photos and I MAKE TIME to make them look good. So MAKE TIME.

Good light and great photos!

White balance in Food Photography

White balance is a way to “measure” the temperature of light. The goal of a conventional photograph is to attain an ideal White Balance where the white color is as close to true, neutral white as possible and all of the colors in your image are in real life. The white balance that you shoot on is determined by the color temperature of your light source.  Depending on your result, you can have a yellowish photo to give a warm feeling or a blueish one to give a cold feeling. You are the one to decide about that. That doesn’t mean that your photo will be yellow. It means that your white is a little bit yellowish.

Cameras capture color based on what type of light is being used to light the scene. Every light source has a different color temperature output. This temperature then affects how the colors in the scene will look in our exposures and what the correct white balance setting should be.

You can get great neutral looking pictures with each source, but you can’t shoot them on the same white balance setting.

Most digital cameras have functions for Auto White Balance, a group of  preset White Balance (sunny, cloudy, shade, flash, fluorescent, etc…), and a Custom Preset that you can set yourself. You can leave the camera to work out the White Balance automatically, but not all the time will work correct. If you don’t know how to adjust it, check the manual.

The two most common light sources you will run into are Daylight and Tungsten light.

Light when it is high noon and clear outside is around 5,000-5,500 degrees K. Your flashes are calibrated to try and be at this temperature.

Tungsten lighting is around 3,200 degress K. This is the lighting you see frequently in your home or restaurants, it has an orange looking glow to it.

With every light source having its own color temperature, make sure that you are on the correct mode when shooting. If you are outside then it is going to be Daylight, Overcast, or Shade setting. If inside under a tungsten lamp, it will be tungsten setting. If inside with flash it will be daylight. Play around with the different modes to find what works best for your situation! When you change lighting environments don’t forget to change you White Balance mode!

wb

 

Christmas cooking tips

cooking tips

I start counting the days till Christmas. Yuppy!!! So close!

Christmas is a time of celebration and sharing quality time with family and friends.  Time spent in the kitchen preparing food for family and friends is one of the great pleasures in life, especially if you do it all together.

– Plan the  menus for all the meals  well in advance, including all drinks, breakfasts and snacks. If you wanna try something new, try it before so you don’t have a surprise. Try also to include some food from other country specific to Christmas. It will surprise everyone and will be something new. You can make it a Christmas tradition.

– Make a master-shopping list of everything you will need, including any new cooking equipment. Don’t leave it at the last days. It’s crowded and you will lose a lot of time and nerves.

– Delegate. This one is the best advice to give you.

–  Clean out the freezer well before Christmas. Sort the freezer out and make space for Christmas food to be stored together in one place.

–  Sharpen knives including the carving knife well in advance. Makes all the chopping, peeling and carving so much easier.

– Clean the oven. You will needed it ready to rumble.

– Choose dishes that can be served at room temperature. It will help you to enjoy the dinner and not reheat food in the kitchen.

– Serve family style with large platters in the middle of the table. It’s interactive and fun to share, and also, people eat as much as they need.

– Nominate a wine master so you don’t have to worry about what to open next or if everyone’s glasses are kept topped up.

– Make sure you have the table set and looking lovely before the guests arrive.

– Don’t forget to allow yourself time during or at the end of cooking to chill out a little, get ready or have a drink.