Easter Egg Brownie Cookies + Hershey’s Eggies Vs. Cadbury Mini Eggs

Easter Brownie Cookies2 Easter Egg Brownie Cookies + Hersheys Eggies Vs. Cadbury Mini Eggs

It’s almost Easter (a.k.a. chocolate holiday extraordinaire), therefore I bring you chocolate on chocolate on CHOCOLATE!

I have had a major thing for mini eggs since the days of action-packed easter egg hunting in the living room. Forget those heinous malt-filled eggs, or god forbid the ones that were made of spongy white candy that takes up permanent residence in you molars and taste like nothing but sweet (do you know what they are??). But, boy, I would throw some serious little-kid elbow when I spotted a mini egg behind a dusty picture frame.

When I decided to make these cookies, I bought the ingredients, but something “happened”* to most of the bag of Cadbury mini eggs. What? No, I didn’t.

*picks at candy shell stuck between front teeth.

So I had to go buy more the next day, and ended up with Hershey’s Eggies. This gave me the unique and thrilling opportunity to sample them side-by-side! And now I can say with confidence, CADBURY ALL THE WAY. The chocolate is creamier and of better quality and the flavour is better for both the shell and the filling. I thought they were basically the same, so I was really taken aback by how much better Cadbury was! (I’m glad we aren’t talking about this in person, there’d be a lot of hand flapping and excited intonations, and I’d probably be embarrassed about it later.)

So, yeah. Thank goodness that urgent discovery is now officially documented on the interwebs.

Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Asparagus Summer Rolls3 Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Gah, I always get stressed when more than a few days go by without posting – I don’t like to lose momentum. Not only is blogging a good exercise in self-discipline and all that, it’s my only real creative outlet right now, and I like to make it a priority.

I wish I had exciting stories about what I’ve been up to in the last ten days, but if I may be honest… I’ve just been so tired.

We recently got notice that we needed to leave our apartment because the owner wants to move in. It’s never fun to be uprooted, but we had an exceptionally hard time finding a new place to live. We looked at dozens of places, and nothing felt right – any unit that allowed dogs was either insanely expensive (even by Vancouver standards) or dark, small and in the middle of nowhere, usually with an abundance of stairs (strollers with babies in them are not stair-friendly).

It got to the point that we were packing to leave, and had nowhere to go…

Thankfully we found something last week, and I’m actually excited about our next chapter. But I’m tired. Mentally, from being unsettled over the housing situation, and physically, because my 11-month-old has been in a cold –> teething –> cold cycle for the past 6 weeks which means he thinks 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. are all excellent times for snuggles.

Asparagus Chard Shrimp Summer Rolls1 Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I just was about to apologize for complaining and make a joke about my first world problems… but truth is, things aren’t always easy, especially as a new mom, and yes, I’m abundantly grateful that my “problems” are minuscule by the world’s standards, but they’re still challenges and I don’t think we should always put on our “Facebook facade” of everything-is-easy-and-perfect-in-my-life because then, how can we possibly relate to and support one another? Amiright?

Well, that got heavier than I intended for a Summer Rolls post. Whoops.

Ok, SUMMER ROLLS. They’re one of my favourite foods. All the textures, all the flavours. The peanut sauce, oh lordy, the peanut sauce. If there were a food I could swim in, this would be it.

Blueberry-Barley Muffins

Barley Blueberry Muffins4 Blueberry Barley Muffins
My name is Jennifer and I have a muffin problem.

When Adarsh (hubby/designer/business manager/taste-tester extraordinaire) gave Foodess a facelift last year, we carried on a long discussion about what we both envisioned for this space. For example, he agreed with my decision to really turn the focus to photography, opting for quality rather than quantity if necessary in terms of how many posts I could crank out.

We agreed on that, and all other points, except one: he specifically requested NO MORE MUFFINS.

Barley Blueberry Muffins1 Blueberry Barley Muffins

Okay, so maybe I went through a muffin-heavy phase. Or maybe he was just sick of eating them, hmm…

In any case, I just can’t stop. They’re perfect grab-and-go breakfast food, they freeze beautifully meaning I can have a few kinds at the ready, and little peanut bolts them down like they’re going out of style.

Because of my tiny double-fisting muffin-muncher, I make a concerted effort to incorporate healthier ingredients. Like the rolled barley flakes and whole wheat flour in these.

Buttermilk Hollandaise Sauce + Steak & Blue Cheese Bennys

Buttermilk Hollandaise Sauce by Foodess Buttermilk Hollandaise Sauce + Steak & Blue Cheese Bennys

I am a major lover of hollandaise. I think every poached egg or steamed stalk of asparagus deserves to be swathed in a tangy, luscious sauce.

If you’ve ever made it from scratch, however, you know that it is nothing more than pure butter whisked into a thick emulsion with rich egg yolks, with a cursory splash of lemon juice.

Buttermilk Hollandaise Sauce on Foodess Buttermilk Hollandaise Sauce + Steak & Blue Cheese Bennys

Let me just say that I almost never adapt recipes to lighten them up. My approach to food (as a dietitian-slash-butter-enthusiast) is based on enjoying quality, and everything in moderation. I’d rather revel in the real stuff in a smaller serving than have a bigger portion of a mediocre substitute. Mindfulness and drawing true pleasure from eating are important tenets of my foodie credo.

That said…

5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

In my early blogging days, I SCOURED the web for good resources specific to food photography. There wasn’t much out there. I mostly taught myself by studying the work of my favourite photographers. Six years later, I thought I’d share the learning! This is my first post in a long-ago promised Photo Friday series.

Since lighting, in my opinion, is the most important factor in successful food photography, I thought I’d start here!

Lighting111 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

1. Source it!

If you want the most beautiful food photos, hands-down natural light is the way to go. Put your surface (coffee table, napkin on the floor – whatever works for you) near a window, ideally one with indirect light (meaning the sun isn’t shining directly in). The North-facing panes in my photo studio area provide a perfect glow.

Lighting12 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

Make sure to turn off any nearby lamps or overhead lights, you only want the rays of the sun, no mixing in orange-y artificial bulbs, please.

2. Filter it!

If you don’t have a good source of indirect natural light, you can use even the sunniest window, but you’ll need to filter the light to soften it.

Many professionals own a scrim, which looks like this, to diffuse the light – but semi-sheer white curtains will do the job perfectly. You can alternatively hang a thin white bedsheet, or even a large white cotton or linen napkin (sticky-tack or push-pins are your friends).

Lighting31 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

Or for a longer-term, portable solution, make a DIY scrim – use a heavy duty stapler to mount a piece of translucent white fabric to a large old frame (thrift shops are a good source). You can even use a large piece of cardboard to make your own frame… just use an X-Acto knife to cut out a border from a big box. That’s what I did in my old space, when I had to soften the harsh rays of a sunny South-facing window.

3. Bounce it!

When you only have light coming in from one direction, you can get strong shadows on the opposite side of your subject. These shadows can add drama and artistic interest to a photo, but until you get the hang of the basics, I recommend “bouncing” the light to “fill” the shadows and maximize the light on whatever you’re shooting.

Lighting51 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

This simply means using a reflective surface to cast the light back onto your subject – I use a piece of white foam core board (or reflectors like these) leaned up against the low table I shoot on, but if leaning doesn’t work you can use clamps like these to keep the reflectors in place.

Unless, of course, you have a “helper” like I do to help you hold them up.  Actually, the reflector serves double duty as a (not very effective) chubby finger blocker…

Lighting41 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting Lighting21 5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

Thief!

4. Or…. buy a tent!

Many food bloggers are taking photos of what they made for dinner, which means natural light is not an option. In that case, I recommend a tent and light set-up like this.

71Hz0sWRAXL. SL1500  5 tips for flawless food photography lighting

I own one, and use it in a pinch. You can see the photos I’ve taken with my tent here and here. I don’t use it often, since I work from home and can plan my schedule to cook and take photos during the day, but I’m glad to have it. I’ve tried a hundred of the DIY versions out there and nothing gave me the results I wanted. If you only have the option to shoot after the sun goes down, I say drop the $100 on a real photography tent. If not the one I linked to, make sure you get one that’s 32″ or larger, or you won’t have room to set a nice scene.

5. Lastly, never ever ever ever ever use the camera’s flash aimed at your subject. Just don’t. It makes awful highlights, terrible shadows. The results will be tragic. You can aim an external flash off a reflector or a white wall to bounce it for a softer light with reasonable success, but I won’t get any deeper into that because it’s not a method I use.

That’s all! I plan to (eventually!) cover photography equipment, surfaces, props, styling, composition and the “Exposure Triangle” (how to use shutter speed, ISO and aperture). Let me know what you think about Photo Friday…