Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Validation, and a Photoshop Tutorial


I literally did a happy dance in my dorm room, and laid off the studying I should be doing for finals just to write this post.  Yes, there's probably hundreds, if not thousands of other blogs like mine on the BlogHer publishing network, but for me it's like validation that I should keep blogging more and more. 

Anyway back to the meat (no pun intended) of the post-  Sometimes I have to employ some photo editing trickery to some of the food photos I shoot for this blog.  I often wonder if it's a dirty little secret other food bloggers do as well, but my guess is that they aren't reheating leftovers to shoot photographs with.

You see, the prime rib I made for Thanksgiving below (which will be featured in a post next week), was definitely leaning towards the gray-red area after sitting in the fridge, and the broccoli, which couldn't survive a reheating turned into a barf-tastic shade of yellow. 

Fear not however, if you find yourself in the same precarious situation, as I made a tutorial on how you can fix this problem!


To see the full tutorial, head on over to the photo blog

Monday, November 28, 2011

Nectarine Frangipane Tart + Pate Brisee

Bogged Down

Plowing through some old recipes/photos today- this post shot in July of this summer!  I think that I was overly paranoid that I somehow wouldn't be able to cook or photograph at all in college, and in a manic frenzy tried to do both as much as I could before I left for school.  Good thing I did though, because while thankfully I have small pockets of time to sometimes cook, those instances are become more and more rare!

why does it always have to be butter?

For instance, items on this week's agenda:

academically speaking:
-rotoract club meeting
-community council meeting
-put together budget for a collegiate quidditch program (hell yeah!)
-help organize a stress relief program for the apartments
-study for a stats final + do homework
-study for an econ final + do homework
-pull an all nighters since I have borderline grades on the above two classes
-business law essay
-work on a coms group project (2 meetings)
-work on a plan/list of goals to prepare for a meeting
-present said goals to a mentor
-plan a date to meet with the above mentor

personally speaking
-shop for Xmas gifts
-make a costco run for the apartment
-start planning a menu for a fat, family holiday brunch
-vacuum my room and clean the apartment
-start planning the menu for Christmas
-finish editing Thanksgiving photos
-fulfill my photography withdrawals and do a photoshoot
-continue consistently blogging

The good thing about keeping busy however is that time freaking flies by- I mean, it's almost December!


pretty pretty

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chocolate Blackout Cake

Finally "Home"

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!  As you are reading this post I'm probably cleaning the Armageddon that probably is my kitchen at this point, and frantically trying to pack up all the food for the arduous 15 minute drive to my grandma's house for dinner.  And no, I don't have a Thanksgiving related recipe to post on Thanksgiving because frankly I think that's f*cking horsesh!t- this blog follows what I actually want to cook, and there is no way in hell I'm going to roast a turkey the week before Thanksgiving just so I can blog about it before Thanksgiving actually happens. 

And while I'm ranting, I might as well make a quibble about that misconception of "I will never achieve good lighting on my photos."  Learning about lighting is difficult, yes, but don't be one of those people who think that it's impossible (though if you only have time to cook/shoot at night I'm at a loss in that area).  See below:

now what's behind this chair


These shenanigans are happening in a college dorm for pete's sake!  But basically, the same exact setup as at home.

And one important note- cloudy days are your best friends.  Why?  Because clouds act as nature's diffuser!  Clouds, well diffuse the harshness of sunlight and casts a soft, even light across your food!  So while summer sunlight may be nice, don't think that it's the only season when you can get good shots.  In fact, being the lazy ass that I am I wish everyday could be cloudy!

Now food composition however, that's a whole other story- an area that I have absolutely no skill or expertise at.


I say finally "home" in the sense that well, I'm sitting here in the room I grew up in petting my chihuahua and blissfully enjoying the things Little Saigon has to offer for the Thanksgiving weekend, but also I'm "home" in the sense that I finally feel at home at college.  I know, I've blogged about this to death, but I do really feel at ease when I walk into the apartment!  I think it's the combination of knowing I can keep up blogging now that I've found a good light setup, and the fact that I've been inspired to cook slightly more, including baking a chocolate birthday cake.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crabcake Salad

Happy Friendsgiving!

One of the glorious things about apartment living is having a kitchen and being able to cook a meal when campus dining's pre-packaged food become too overwhelming.  What's also nifty is being able to host a 20 person Friendsgiving dinner... Damn right we did!

shot glasses condiment cups for candle holders


because you need something healthy on the table

Plates, utensils, cups, candles, tablecloths, and platters all came from the dear old local Dollar Tree.  We practically did a covert mission trying to sneak the dining tables and chairs from other apartments into ours to form a humongous dining table.  We all used meal credits to load up on pints of ice cream for dessert.  Entertainment came in the form of a couple rounds of catchphrase and picking Secret Santas...  For me it's just funny how differently you have to do certain things now that you're in college.

dessert (not including chocolate chip banana bread, 2 cakes,
pudding, and a communal 4 pints of ice cream)

going clockwise from bottom: turkey & cranberry sauce, crabcake salad, roasted yams, pillsbury crescent roll

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Classic Chocolate Pudding

From Days Gone By, Part 4

Part 1-Vanilla Pudding
Part 2- The Summer Sandwich
Part 3- Mac & Cheese

What?! Two consecutive recipe posts in the span of a few days?  That's right folks I'm being consistent for once!

pudding weather

It's muggy and cloudy  here right now... my favorite kind of weather.  The kind of weather where you feel obligated to stay inside in your pj's and slippers, and watch tv with a cup of hot chocolate while laying off all the work you have to do... And for me, that means remembering happy memories of my childhood. *cue nostalgic music*

Growing up in an ethnic family, my version of "childhood" was a lot different from the "childhoods" of many of my friends at middle school.  It was always both entertaining and interesting to note the differences: my parents never knew what the term "you're grounded" meant, we opened presents on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, and going to McDonalds was a rare meal that we treated like a formal sit down dinner instead of a weekly occurrence.

the food at our birthday parties: egg rolls, pork, rice, and other vietnamese fare

For me, the biggest cultural difference I saw was in the food.  For dinner every single night it was the same Vietnamese format: bowls of rice with steamed vegetables, a stewed or sauteed protein (usually pork, such as "thit kho"- braised pork belly with eggs), and some form of soup (like "canh chua"- a sour soup).   Once a week we would have pho from the restaurant or some other dish we would request that my mom would bring home.  

Not to say that we were deprived from the cuisine America had to 'offer'.  McDonalds was like a rare luxury treat, and pizza caused my cousins and I to jump around crying tears of happiness until the pizza man came.  If we were really lucky, we would order a huge family meal for KFC, including all of the sides (the mac and cheese was my favorite).  My sister and I would stupidly wonder between each other, "Wow, is this what Americans eat for dinner everyday?" 

 evolution: shrimp tempura and pizza, cause we were cultured, yo!

My parents also had the classically funny, odd Asian couple view on American food.  They worked their asses off at the restaurant, but when they wanted to wind down their idea of a grand old time was going to Hometown Buffet, for what they called "white people food", and in particular bread pudding.  No, I don't think they meant to be politically incorrect, that's just what they called it.

 reminds me of cooking at home

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spicy Garlic & Black Pepper Kale Chips

In a Limbo

I think I underestimated the entire college experience.  After coming from a high school that kept me constantly busy and up until 2 AM every night, I thought I could handle whatever would be thrown at me.  Little did I know that college would keep me ten times as busy.  Every minute of free time you spend using it as... well free time you could be working on something else due in the future.  Every Monday I wake up, eat, study, go to class, study, go to a meeting, eat, study, and go to sleep in the early morning, repeating the process until in a blink of an eye its already Friday.  

But I also underestimated how much I would love it though, and I wouldn't change any of it.  It's cheesy, but my life has changed so much for the better ever since I made that ever so slightly more difficult choice of going away for school, instead of sticking with the familiar comforts of home.

organic kale
If there's a set of completely overdone recipes on food blogs it would have to be:
-"perfect" chocolate chip cookies
-red velvet cake
-kale chips

And I'm here today to continue that trend...
infused olive oil

Definitely only use one clove of garlic, and use a moderate amount of a very soft-tasting sea salt.  These buggers are so delicate and thin that they don't need that much salt or seasoning at all.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Toronto Part 6: Soma Chocolatier + Gelato

SOMA chocolatemaker- Distillery District

You didn't think I was done with this, did you?

Toronto Part 1: Cora's 

Toronto Part 2: Shopsy's

Toronto Part 3: Big Smoke Burger

Toronto Part 4: Aunties and Uncles

Toronto Part 5: Mill Street Brewery

After lunch at Mill St., we couldn't help but notice the line snaking out of Soma, and the hoards of people happily licking spoonfuls of gelato.