Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lights, Camera, Action!

I can cook. I also dabble in travel photography. But God love me, I am a terrible food photographer. I envy all of the bloggers out there who have mastered it. Please, please share your secrets with me. Perhaps I chose a poor first subject? I guess pumpkin turkey chili isn't the most glamourous subject, but it happened to be what was on the menu this evening.

Turkey-Pumpkin Chili-recipe courtesy of Whole Foods Market

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeƱos, ribs and seeds removed and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground white or dark meat turkey
1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounce) pumpkin
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 can (15 ounce) kidney beans, drained

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes until tender. Add turkey; cook until browned.

Add tomatoes with juice, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add kidney beans, cover; stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

  • After a long week of cooking and making a complete mess of the kitchen, there's nothing like cooking a meal that uses only one pot. I know it's the first few days of spring, but today was unseasonably chilly, so I grabbed my chance to make this soul-warming chili with an unusual twist: pureed pumpkin!
  • It was a pleasing meal, but both hubby and I thought it needed more seasoning. I added a little shredded parmesan before I served it.
  • Cute story about the green table the chili is displayed on. The table is actually a square piece cut from an old barn door. We spotted it while on vacation in Asheville, NC about five years ago. It wasn't being sold at a store, it was actually the very table we sat at during our last lunch before heading home. That afternoon, after 4 years of dating, I decided to pin the boyfriend down on when exactly we would move in together (and later get engaged.) The conversation went from timing of the move to what furniture we needed. We both agreed that we needed a kitchen table and also were impressed at the uniqueness of the one we were sitting at. We asked the waiter where they got it, and it turned out the owner made them! They sold it to us and shipped it to Washington, DC for a very reasonable price. Now, when we sit down for meals we are at the very table where we decided to spend our life together. Nice, huh?


Patsyk said...

One thing I have found (and I am still working on my food photography), is that you shouldn't use a flash. It washes out the colors too much. If you can use a tri-pod with no flash you'll get better results. I had my hubby make me a "white box" which has 2 bit lights shining into it to give me enough light w/o the flash, and I've been happier with my picutres since I started using it.

Mo said...

I am not good at food photography yet either. I think you did well.

For most of us readers, I think the pictures just help get an idea of the finished product. No need to be a pro. :) BTW, your chili looks delicious.

Mae Travels said...

You can judge my food photos for yourself at I use a small (purse-size) Olympus, and do some of the following:

I let it flash (there's never enough light), but I try to keep the camera at an oblique angle to the subject, to avoid washed-out spots.

I step back from the food and do not let it fill the frame -- I use the zoom. This way, the flash is a greater distance from the subject.

I crop the photos with iPhoto
before posting them.

I try to keep to subjects that are themselves distinct. Stew and soup are very hard to depict: they all look kind of mushy. Garnish!

I haven't been systematic about whether it's better to photograph a single portion on a plate or a serving platter, but this is an area I plan to work on.

Some of my photos are better than others -- sometimes I agree with Mo and figure it's just an example.

Unknown said...

I'd love to see a photo of the table. My daughter is a student in Asheville and also a potter for one of the local studios.

I just found your blog through Pinterest.