Category Archives: Tool

5 Fun Fall Foodie Gifts

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

1.  Platinum harvest mini loaf pan from Nordic Ware–How cute are these with fall designs like leaves and pumpkins?

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

2.  For Mid-Autumn Festival, September 19: Godiva Mid-Autumn Festival Gift Box–The chocolates in this assortment sound divine–apricot and peach ganache with a hint of ginger–I’m there!

3.  Stonewall Kitchen Apple Cider Doughnut Mix from Sur la table–I’ve always wanted to try apple cider doughnuts. It would be fun to make my own!

4. Owl Cookie Jar with frosted buttercream cookies in the shape of leaves and pumpkins from Cheryl’s–I love owls, and this jar is so cute! I like Cheryl’s buttercream cookies, and she even has maple buttercream for fall.

5.  Spiced pecan pumpkin pancake and waffle mix from Williams Sonoma–What better way to enjoy a cozy Sunday morning?

7 Etsy Foodie Shops

I compiled this list of 7 cool shops on Etsy that have food-related goods.

1.  Cutting boards in the shape of your favorite state from AHeirloom.  Yeah, that’s mine.

New York-shaped cutting board from AHeirlooms.  Photo used with permission.

New York-shaped cutting board from AHeirlooms–photo used with permission

2.  AJ Sweetsoaps, my favorite Etsy shop, with soaps that look real enough to eat! Look just as good and a lot less calories!

Banana cream pie soap from AJ Sweetsoaps.  Photo used with permission.

Banana cream pie soap from AJ Sweetsoaps–photo used with permission

3.  Get your grandma’s recipe in her handwriting on a kitchen towel at Small Home Design.

photo used with permission

Grandma’s recipe on a tea towel from SmallHomeDesign–photo used with permission

4.  Custom kitchen canister labels from Kreative Corner.

Custom canister labels from Kreative Corner.  Photo used with permission.

Custom canister labels from Kreative Corner–photo used with permission

5.  Funny pin-up recipe cards from Istria Design.

Pin-up recipe card from Istria Design.  Photo used with permission.

Pin-up recipe card from Istria Design–photo used with permission

6.  Personalized recipe on a bamboo cutting board from Marcellas Engravables.

Custom engraved cutting board from Marcells Engraveables.  Photo used with permission.

Custom engraved cutting board from Marcellas Engravables–photo used with permission

7.  Heidi Schweigert’s illustrations at the redcruiser shop on Etsy–These cards, calendars, prints, tea towels and journals give you an easy way to get your veggies.

Greeting card from redcruiser.  Photo used with permission.

Greeting card from redcruiser–photo used with permission

Cast Iron Skillet

There’s an article on the versatility of cast iron skillets in the March 2013 issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.  They can be used for frying or baking and in so many other ways.  I, for one, love using a cast iron skillet.  I think it’s the best for cooking meat and scrambled eggs, as well as skillet cornbread and cookies.  I still have yet to cook this buttermilk skillet cake.  The Rachael Ray article has recipes as well, and I’d like to try the trout with lemon, butter and herbs.  I’m looking to eat more fish, and I love trout.  I got a set of cast iron skillets from Cracker Barrel.

Inhale Your Food

Give the perfect gift, which your recipient will appreciate come January, the biggest diet time of the year.  Le Whaf lets you inhale the flavor of foods without the calories!

Two for Tuesday: Kitchen Gadgets

Hamilton Beach’s soft serve ice cream maker for one.  Yes, when I saw this product, I had to get it because I love homemade ice cream and want a product that rations how much of it I eat.  I tried to make homemade ice cream using this product, but it remained liquid.  I made frozen yogurt with Greek yogurt and that was creamy and good. 


Hamilton Beach soft serve ice cream maker


Dressing-2-Go is a small container to hold salad dressing or a sauce to accompany your lunch.  It’s soft and flexible silicone.  I think this is a great idea because I’m always worried dressing will leak out of any kind of container I put it in.  Plus, I want something small so I have just the right amount.




Food Photography for Your Blog

Food photography is a topic of interest to any food blogger who wants to make the photos on her blog look professional and stunning.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill Brady, professional food photographer, addresses everything food bloggers and those who aspire to a professional career in food photography need to know to take great food photos in his new book More Digital Food Photography from Course Technology PTR, a part of Cengage Learning.

used with permission

I met with Bill over lunch at Madison & Vine in Manhattan to discuss his book and career in food photography as well as his hints and tips for taking professional-quality food photography for food bloggers.  Bill says he doesn’t mind giving away the tricks of the trade.  Each photographer has his or her own eye, called the point-of-view, and would all have a different perspective when photographing the same scene.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Bill says the top two important areas in photography are light and composition.  When photographing food in a restaurant, he says, the best seat in the house is one near the window where you can get access to natural light.  “Food likes to be lit from behind,” he says.  Direct sunlight is not the best though.  “On an overcast day, the light is perfect,” he says. “Food likes diffused light not harsh light.  If you’re sitting outside or by a window, you have a better chance of getting a good picture.”  Bill’s biggest no-no is a flash.  “Artificial light makes the food look off color,” he says. He recommends purchasing a small diffusion panel–easy enough to fold up and carry in your purse–to use to reflect light off of.  Either that, or a white plate held in front of the subject as you photograph.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

Composition is the second area to focus on when photographing food.  Bill says to move the dish around to find what part of the food looks best.  He says if you’re photographing a roll, which he proceeds to do as an example, tear it to show its texture inside, put a pat of butter on a butter knife and lay it across the front of the bread plate to create more interest.  “What you’re doing is manipulating the surroundings,” he says.  Then decide what angle you will shoot from.  “If you want more drama, you shoot from below, looking up at the food.  If you shoot from overhead, it’s more graphic,” he says.  “You could focus on a particular area and something else becomes a background element.”  Bill adds, “Compositionally, the closer you get to the food, the better.”

I take a picture of my dish as I normally would, with a camera phone and flash.

Then I take one with natural light and a close up.  (We were seated in the middle of the restaurant, so the lighting was not the best.)

Bill recommends a point and shoot camera over a camera phone.  “A good digital SLR is not that expensive,” he says and will last you at least five years.

Bill shoots with a medium format camera.  It’s more expensive, he notes, but more professional in terms of the results you get.  He also likes shooting manually so he can control every aspect.  Starting his career in photography in 1994, he worked with a food photographer and learned the food photography business, which he began doing in 1999.  A trip to Italy solidified his interest in food photography.  “The food was amazing–the way they presented it,” Bill says.  So he shot food on his own and found his niche.  His first assignment was to photograph every category of food for Food Emporium.  In the last 13 years he has been photographing food, photography has seen many changes–most importantly, the transition from film to digital, and the ways in which that made taking photographs easier.

photo property of Bill Brady used with permission

I recommend checking out Bill’s very cool blog where he pairs his food photography with reader recipes.  Also, stay tuned for my review of his book as I start my adventure into food photography for my blog.

Foodie Seasonal Must-Have: Cookie Rack

I don’t know what I would do without my Wilton cookie racks.  They make cooling cookies so easy.  I have three tiers, so I don’t have to wait for one batch to cool before I bake another. 

Cool Tool

One of my favorite things this time of year is a messy summer fruit salad.  I got a lot of fruit–strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, bananas, peaches, dark cherries, Rainier cherries and black and red grapes–and decided to use the bounty to make a fruit salad.  This occasion called for a Christmas gift from last year–a cherry/olive pitter.  What a wonderful tool!  Use with a firm grip and quickly pit the cherry.  If you do it too slowly or without enough force, the pit won’t fly out. 

In this picture you can see the colorful fruit salad, including a perfectly pitted cherry: