Stylin’ & Shootin’

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of (finally) attending Todd Porter & Diane Cu’s (whiteonricecouple.com) photography and food styling workshop. They are my favorite food stylists and photographers and I have been wanting to attend this for a very long time. I am so happy to say it completely exceeded my expectations.

I have been hesitant to write about the experience because it is almost too difficult to describe. It was this beautiful amalgamation of the most creative and generous instructors combined with an amazingly talented small group of artists, time and space to style and shoot as much as we wanted, delicious homemade meals and a prop room to die for. Then you top that off with boozy pops and sea salt iced coffee and you have yourself an incredible weekend workshop. Also, I had an added bonus because my talented and fabulous photographer friend, Cortney, come down from Olympia to attend with me.

The true joy of the workshop is the amount of heart and soul that Todd and Diane put in to it. Their passion for the work and the generosity in which they share their creativity was so refreshing and inspiring. I am proud of the work I did during the course of the weekend. I am also in awe of what the other students created. Below are a few of my favorite shots I took over two very rewarding days.

Macarons - It's a Party

Macarons – It’s a Party

 

The Cookie Stack

The Cookie Stack

 

Dark & Moody Herb Salt

Dark & Moody Herb Salt

 

Pears and my favorite color combination

Pears and my favorite color combination

 

A French Country Picnic

A French Country Picnic

 

Persimmons

Carrots

Carrots

 

Fresh Tomatoes & Basil (and I got it in one shot!)

Fresh Tomatoes & Basil (and I got it in one shot!)

 

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail Hour

Now for the speed round.  This was one of my favorite parts of the weekend.  Well this and the boozy pops.  Diane styled 13 sets and we had 40 seconds per scene to analyze the light, set our camera and shoot.  It was exhilarating and exhausting.

 

Now seriously, go make yourself a sea salt iced coffee.  You won’t regret it.

May Madness

…which obviously turned into June madness and a little July madness since I am just getting around to writing about Ollie’s birthday.

My sister and I are often accused of not having a birthDAY but a birthMONTH. I want to deny it, but it’s true. Why should you only get one day out of the whole year to celebrate your arrival on this earth? I have kept that tradition alive with my son Ollie, and this year it was a doozy. We had a party at his school with Hungry Caterpillar cupcakes; dinner and games at Chuck E. Cheese’s; a big house party with all his preschool friends and friends around the city plus all my friends (which turns out can fill a house, balconies and a large yard); and finally, a four-day vacation to Disneyland, California Adventure and a very silly, fun water park at our Howard Johnson’s (courtesy of Nana & Papa). He is one lucky boy and I am one exhausted Mama. Throw in a preschool graduation and the month was complete.

I am definitely grateful for all the inspiration I found to make cupcakes, cake and theme food. The Internet is a powerful tool, and in the hands of a mom set on making a birthday special: watch out!  I was also able to use natural food dyes this year for most of the cakes and cupcakes, and that made me very happy.

Ollie’s Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes were a big hit at the school. The kids recognized it right away and in true gender-specific form, the boys shouted that they wanted to eat the “head” and the girls explained that the head was for Ollie since it was his birthday.

"On Ollie's birthday he ate through 15 cupcakes."

“On Ollie’s birthday he ate through 15 cupcakes.”

All Gone

“That night he had a stomachache!”

Next up was a Toy Story party. We had theme food, a big cake, cupcakes and theme games.

Ollie's Story

 

However, the games quickly dissolved into a four-hour water fight with all the kids and most of the dads joining in; ending with two moms in my kitchen pumping out water balloons and “shipping them out” to the kids on the front.

We did manage to get the kids to put down the water shooters with the enticement of cake!  I tried something a bit new with Ollie’s cake this year and I was very pleased with the results.  A big thank you to my mom for cutting out all the stars and clouds by hand.  Having never used sugar sheets before, I had no idea you couldn’t use a cookie cutter on them.  Another midnight decorating adventure with my mother.  As well, a big thank you to Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe for the design inspiration.

The Cake!

PS – every kid gets to take a big bite out of the cake if they want.  A tradition started on his 3rd birthday when his Elmo cake was devoured by three 3-year-olds having the time of their lives!

We are eternally grateful

Happy Birthday my beautiful baby bug!!

 

You Say You Want a Revolution

Well, you know we all want to change the world. This is the hope of Jamie Oliver, his food “champions” and all of us who want to see a change to healthy, affordable, accessible, enjoyable and yes, easy to make meals.

Now, you all know I love Jamie, but after last week I definitely have a deeper appreciation of how much he and his team are striving to bring healthy food awareness to the world. My friend Jenny and I had a chance to take a cooking lesson during Jamie Oliver’s Big Rig tour in Los Angeles. While I knew that “the man” would not be there showing us proper knife skills, I was very excited to finally attend one of his Food Revolution events. On a Friday afternoon, we headed down the 110 to the 105 to an area we don’t tend to frequent – Compton. Pulling into the parking lot of the King-Drew Medical Center, the Big Rig was hard to miss. It is a huge trailer that is kitted out inside with four cooking stations, two wash stations and a large demo station. The instructors, or Champions as they are called, were all so friendly and enthusiastic that you couldn’t help getting caught up in the excitement.

Our meal was a basic risotto and a side of multi-colored cauliflower with a homemade vinaigrette. After a brief demonstration, we divided up in to small groups to get some hands-on cooking experience. My group consisted of Jenny, a mother, her seven year old son and an elderly gentleman. It seemed that almost everyone there, except Jenny and me, had attended several classes already and were signed up for the next week’s classes as well. It was really inspiring to talk to the mother who was taking these lessons because she and her husband had made a commitment to eat healthier for the sake of their son. We all got a chance to chop, stir, pour the broth and of course, clean up.

The lesson was fairly basic but having had a few risotto disasters in the past (mainly stodgy ones), I was happy to have a good refresher on just how simple and easy it can be. As well, someone in our group couldn’t have dairy so it was easy to pull a bit aside for him before the knob of butter and the generous helping of parmesan was added at the end. So there you go, vegan for Clive and cheese-filled for me!

A big thanks to all those who are volunteering their time to reach out to the community and help educate and improve health.

Viva la Revolución

Get involved in Jamie’s Food Revolution Day!

Or donate to his cause at www.jamieoliverfoodfoundation.org 

Big Love!

 

Click here for Jamie’s Risotto Bianco recipe