As I mentioned yesterday, there are only a few weeks left until the release of our very first book. Wow. It’s hard to believe that all the hard work is finally coming together, and we will have a finished product to share with you. I can hardly wait! Yesterday I showed you a sneak peak of the cover . . . and today, I’m going to show you a few “behind the scenes” tricks and tips that help us make the magic for you, every day, in our little corner of the world here on Cookies for England.
First of all, a food blogger must have a colossal, state-of-the-art kitchen, right? She probably has a maid and kitchen staff that keep up after everything and wash the slightest dirty dish with the snap of a finger.
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Oh, sorry. I was waiting for the punch-line. I thought for sure you were telling a joke. Ha. Seriously, though– I am just a normal, everyday person. I wash my own dishes, wipe my own counters, and make my own messes (well, the kiddos help me a little with that one, but good enough 😉 I change diapers, pay bills, and try to make my grocery budget stretch, just like everybody else. And as for my “huge kitchen”? Haha. Well, I’d say my kitchen is about the size of a nice VW Bug. Yep. It’s tiny– almost a galley, really. What can I say– houses are expensive in the DC area, and I’m poor. haha 😉 But where there’s a will, there’s a way, and I make it work. Now I’m going to show you a picture of my garden . . . get ready. It’s amazing. You might need a guided tour to get all the way through it . . . are you ready?
Yeah. Haha. I know. It’s no Palace of Versailles, but it works for me. Wherever I have a sunny window, I have little sprouts growing. Here are some little lemon trees that I grew from seed. They are 2 years old, if you can believe that. I have some thyme sprouts in there, too– and, yep– that cup is totally the top of a baby bottle. Hey– I do what works. The “Le Creuset” line you see there is totally original to me (*cough, cough), which basically means that I kept the sticker from a real $$$$$ Le Creuset piece and put it on my cheapie Walmart recipe box. But I feel like those recipes, many handwritten by my mom and grandma, as well as many good friends, are just as valuable. Hey– they deserve a cool Le Creuset sticker. It’s my little world, here. I can put stickers on stuff if I want to.
So, if your kitchen is smaller than the average state tax refund, how do you create beautiful food photos???? I demand an ANSWER!!!!
So glad you asked. Here’s a basic setup of what I do every day . . .
Here you see my largest counter space in the entire kitchen– a little square about 2’x2′, and I fully utilize this space, from prepping meals to taking photos. Yes, I have to shift things around constantly, and I have to make a single basket of props work for everything to conserve space (notice the second blue napkin, in the left of the photo, because I was trying them both to see which one I liked better), but that’s where creativity comes in. When I first started taking food photographs, I relied completely on natural light. Later, I transitioned into having an Home Automation setup with automatically dimming lights – but more on that later. I soon realized that either (1) I had to make supper at 2:00 in the afternoon to get a decent photograph, which meant we were microwaving a perfectly good meal, later on, instead of eating it fresh, which was stupid, or (2) I got a dark, grainy, “yellow” picture from the kitchen lights when I took a picture when we actually ate the meal. Eeewww. I was so depressed. But the more I researched, the more I felt like I could create a decent photo studio, inside, without spending an arm and a leg, and that’s exactly what I did. The setup you see there cost me about $20– from my homemade scrim (the big white thing on the right) to my foam whiteboard background and a recycled palette “table” that is really about the size of a large calendar. Yep. A little creativity goes a long way. From that teensy, cheapie little setup, above, came this image for my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe . . .
Almost unreal, isn’t it? It’s like that nerdy kid you knew in high school– when you see his handsome, rich, grown up self at the reunion you’re like, SAY WHAT???? See? A little creativity goes a long way.
It’s that same creativity that I hope to bring you in our book, slated for release April 29, just in time for Mother’s Day. And after going back and forth endlessly, this was the title I chose:
Sunny Days & Sweet Tea: Hosting a Carefree Southern Brunch
Yes. I want you to hear that title and just picture yourself relaxing on a gracious front porch, enjoying a light breeze and a cup of ice-cold Sweet Tea. Southern entertaining is all about balancing comfort and show– and blending these two elements until they sing together, in perfect harmony. Although I was born up North, I have lived a large part of my life in the South, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the place and the gracious, beautiful food that is showcased here.
The book is going to read just like the title sounds– it will be like you and I are sitting down, together, on the front porch, having a nice, relaxing chat. The book isn’t overly complicated, because, honestly, I am not overly complicated, myself. It’s easy to follow, with plenty of instructions and pictures to show you how to throw a perfect Southern brunch. I have included a full menu, but it is easily customizable to your own tastes and preferences. The best part is that I have outlined how to make all of the dishes ahead of time, so that on the day you decide to host your event, you can get all the nerve-wracking work done ahead of time– saving the party time for enjoying your guests, not freaking out in the kitchen wondering if your frittata is done. 🙂
I admit– I am really enjoying showing you a few steps of how we put this book together. Tomorrow, I will show you a little more about what the book will look like . . . and you will get a sneak preview of the final cover, in all its glory. I admit it– I’m kinda’ excited. 🙂 Check back tomorrow! I just can’t wait to show you.
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