Guest Blogger

I’m sorry, say again, you can’t eat cheese???!!!

Gluten free eating was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to change about my diet (…oh, excuse me, that shouldn’t read past tense; I continue to eat gluten free and it continues to be a challenge). When I say ‘Oh, thank you, but no, I can’t eat cheese’ I get the common response “What??!!” followed by a series of loud gasps and hands over mouths, as if appalled. When I say “I’ll have the veggie burger please, I don’t eat red meat” I get a toned down response compared to that of cheese, but still, there’s a response and it’s usually part shock or part confusion.

Just like when I had to stop eating wheat, most people are confused about how to remove wheat, gluten or dairy products out of their diet, and it certainly was an overhaul of what I used to eat.
And to take this one step further, eating gluten free or vegetarian at home is one thing, while eating the way you want to at a restaurant is entirely another. Restaurants in Vancouver like The Foundation and Nuba , as well as Mo:Le and The Joint Pizzeria & Deli in Victoria, offer options that are gluten free (and many that are also vegan or vegetarian as well). Thankfully they’re all pretty darn tasty too.

The next question I usually get after telling people these things that I can’t/don’t eat, is what the heck do I eat?! Here’s a little insight into what I used to eat, and why I stopped, and what I eat now.

Dairy products – I used to eat dairy in almost every meal and snack: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and all the time. Then I unknowingly ate under cooked chicken from a chain restaurant (the one I was working at, no less, and shall remain unnamed) which destroyed the lactose digesting enzymes in my system. At least one year of sickness after every time I ate dairy, one trip to the doctor and a couple of tests, and dairy was out of my life. That was 13 years ago and I haven’t looked back.

What I eat instead: goat cheese (by the bucket full if I had my way), I switched to soy based products for a while, and then to rice after researching the issues with processed soy products. Up next: I’d like to make my own rice milk.

Red Meat – I consider myself, at this point in my life, half way to vegetarianism. About two months ago I cut red meat out of my diet, and white meat is already in process of getting the cut.

What I eat instead: I’m still trying out different ways to keep iron and B12 in my diet since not eating red meat…but I love chick peas, and I still eat eggs and fish, so I think I’m doing ok.

Wheat – Same as dairy, I grew up eating a lot of wheat: toast, sandwiches, bagels, pasta – wheat, wheat, everywhere. Then when I was mid-way through my University degree and I got 5 sinus infections in 1 year. After the third one, my doctor wanted (again!) to send me home with a prescription for Penicillin and I said forget it, and found myself a Naturopath. In the first ten minutes, she said “Do me a favour – stop eating wheat, and come back and see me in 2 weeks.” Solved that problem!

What I eat instead: honestly I hardly eat bread anymore, but when I do it’s rice and spelt mostly, sometimes kamut.

I’d love to hear if any readers here have food sensitivities, or are trying to find certain food alternatives and how it’s working for you!

Guest post by Jackie Connelly for Bakergirl Creations.


Prior to your holiday baking & hours spent in the kitchen preparing gorgeous looking and tasty treats and back by popular demand is:

Food & Beverage Photography 101: A Workshop for Food Bloggers! (and other creative types!)

A 2 hour, hands on workshop taught by Jackie Connelly and hosted by Campagnolo Restaurant designed to answer the food photography questions commonly asked by food bloggers.

Why is this a perfect workshop for food bloggers?

I continually get asked how to shoot better in restaurants with low lighting, or at home in natural light, and without spending wads of cash on equipment. That is exactly what this workshop is all about:  simple and affordable solutions that will improve your photographs.

Not a food blogger? But love shooting your kitchen creations and want to learn a few techniques? That’s ok – you’re more than welcome too!

To Register

Email Jackie ( with ‘Register me for Food Photo 101 Workshop‘ in the subject line. I will send you some info immediately, as well as a PayPal link to confirm your spot.

The Details

• Workshop: Saturday December 5th, noon-2pm at Campagnolo Restaurant 1020 Main Street

• Q&A with Jackie: following the workshop, from 2pm-3pm over lunch (cost of lunch not included)

• Guaranteed 1-on-1 time for everyone

• I will teach you step-by-step how to set-up your shots using some specific food & beverage examples, using your camera’s manual settings

• We will shoot in a variety of set-ups including natural light, restaurant lighting, and a commonly used softbox lighting setup

• I will be sending out some refresher notes before-hand, and will be giving you some workshop notes to take away from the session

• Cost is $45 (gst included) and there are only 10 spots available = the most personal attention from me during the workshop (this does not include the cost of your lunch). *As of November 23rd there are only 2 spots left!

• All you are required to bring is your camera, it’s manual, a tripod, and your appetite!

• Danno, our trustee volunteer from a previous workshop, took some photos; you can see them all here

©2009 Danno

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I spent the first 20 years of my life on Vancouver Island, and also that I’ve never lived outside of British Columbia, but I love our weather (which is often criticized for including too much rain and not enough sunshine) and I especially love the Fall season. Sure, I wouldn’t mind if Summer lasted a few extra weeks (after all who doesn’t enjoy the sunshine?) but there’s something about cozying up with a warm sweater or blanket, a good book (or a favourite blog) and that perfect comfort food meal that rejuvenates me inside and out.


I recently had the opportunity to browse through a copy of Michael Smith’s The Best of Chef at Home: Essential Recipes for Today’s Kitchen sent to me and I must say that the general feel of the book, it’s recipes, and the photos fits my mood and our Fall season perfectly. To tie it into the general baking theme here at Bakergirl Creations, I’m going to focus on Chef Michael’s ‘Treats & Baked Goods’ chapter, and because when I first opened the book to thumb through it, the Old Fashioned Apple Pie on page 235 was where I started. Oh how I love home made apple pie!


Here is Michael’s recipe:

2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of white sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
2 sticks of frozen butter
12 tablespoons of ice water

6 or 8 large Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Whisk the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.

Using a standard box or potato grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour and toss lightly with your fingers until it’s thoroughly combined. Sprinkle in the ice water and stir wit your fingers, mixing and firmly kneading until the dough comes together in a ball.

Divide dough into 2 pieces; making sure that the one half is slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic wrap, flatten and chill for at least 30 minutes, or even overnight. Resting tenderizes the pastry, making it easier to roll.

Remove the pasty from the fridge and allow it to warm slight, just until it’s pliable. Lightly flour your hands, the rolling pin, your work surface and the dough.

Roll our the larger pastry piece into a circle large enough to slightly overlap the edges of a 9-inch glass deep-dish pie dish. As you roll, for ease of handling lightly flour the dough every time it’s diameter doubles, then flip it over and continue tolling. Transfer the dough to the pie dish by folding it into quarters, then unfolding it in the dish.

Preheat your over to 375degreed Fahrenheit (190degrees Celsius).

Toss the apple slices with the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the apple mixture to the bottom crust. Roll our the remaining smaller piece and carefully place it over the top of the piece.

Roll and crimp the edges of the dough together tightly sealing them. Poke a few vent holes into the top of the pie and place on the bottom rack of your over.

Bake for an hour or so, until the crust is golden and the juices are bubbling.

Click here to buy Chef Michael’s book from Amazon.

~ Guest post for Bakergirl Creations by Jackie Connelly

Jackie had written this post a few weeks back.  It is my mistake for not posting it before the end of the month so a few of these events have already passed.  However I still wanted to post because it raises awareness of these great events, and you can make a mental note for next year… I know I will!  My apologies to Jackie and any readers who may have tried out the event on Oct 1.  And if you can, drop in to Jackies’ Food Photography 101 seminar as part of Sustenance!

Without a doubt Fall is the season for foodie events. Whether they’re fundraisers for non-profits, cooking classes or appreciating food art, Vancouver has a lot to offer if you’re looking to get out and expand your foodie activities. Here’s a list to get you going:

RipeVancouver Farmers Markets is presenting RIPE: the 1st Annual Evening of Local Food and Libations at Performance Works on Granville Island October 1st beginning at 6pm. Led by MC Jamie Maw the evening includes local and seasonal food prepared by Chefs Robert Clark and Quang Dang of C Restaurant and served canapé style, tasting tables from local food producers, regional beer & wine, two live bands, door prizes & a silent auction. More info here; tickets here.

SustenanceFarm Folk City Folk presents The Sustenance Festival: Feasting on Arts & Culture at The Roundhouse in Yaletown starting Thursday October 1st and going until World Food Day on Friday October 16th. The Festival will offer a bounty of fun, learning, and agri-tainment, with over 20 food related art exhibits, 15 interactive pieces on display, and loads of events over two weeks. The Festival will also feature a special screening of the award-winning foodie film Tableland by local filmmaker Craig Noble, and a Pocket Market at The Roundhouse from 11am-5pm on Oct 16th, with all produce from Southlands Farm in Vancouver.

I will be hosting a workshop during The Sustenance Festival called Food Photography 101 on Wednesday October 7th at 6.30pm. We’ll shoot some food, talk about what you can shoot on your own at home, and you’ll get a take away with some basic techniques & resources for food & beverage photography. Any level is welcome, film or digital camera, laptop optional, tripod required. Register by email to or call 604-730-0450.

irishLong Table Series is based around the ridiculously long 40ft communal table in The Irish Heather GastroPub, where they host a series of dinners, each featuring a meal crafted by Executive Chef Lee Humphries and paired with a pint/bottle of beer for the bargain basement price of $12. Amazingly popular, these sell out fast and only a couple of dates remain. Check availability here.

social bitesSocial Bites is a newer event concept in town, but certainly not one to be missed. Register online as a ‘guest’ you will spend one evening sampling meals at several ‘hobby chef’s’ homes all in the same neighbourhood, and then voting on your favourite while enjoying dessert at the ‘hot spot’ afterwards. The next event is October 17th in Mt. Pleasant, and if you sign up I’ll be one of the hobby chefs cooking for you!

Happy event hopping!



Work couldn’t be any busier right now.  To say that cooking or baking has fallen to the wayside would be a gross understatement.  I don’t think I have cooked a propper meal is over a week and a half.  I have this weekend off, a sheer luxury when you work at a university.  My hopes are to get our house organized, make some sugar cookies and get some work done for work. So soon, soon there should be more goodies posted.

In the meantime, check out this great 3 minute clip, profiling Jackie Connelly, guest blogger here. It’s a great post and insight into Jackie’s world food photography!  Congratulations Jackie.

Food Photography 101 ~ Part 3: The Resources
By Jackie Connelly
August 31st, 2009
Written as Guest Blog Post for Bakergirl Creations

At this point we’ve made our way through the creative and technical tips in Part 1 and 2, now it’s time for Part 3 – the resources. If you have any resources to add to my working list below, please leave a comment with a link to your resource…the more the merrier!

  1. 1. Magazines. In Part 1 there were some links to a few of my favorite glossy, drool-worthy food & beverage magazines. In my opinion spending time deconstructing food shots you think are killer forces you step outside your bubble, which can be a very good thing. Here’s my drool-worthy list:
    1. Bon Appétit
    2. Donna Hay Magazine
    3. Dish
    4. Food & Travel
    5. Food & Wine
    6. Gourmet Magazine
    7. Gourmet Traveller
    8. Sunset Magazine
    9. Waitrose Food Illustrated

  1. 2. Blogs. There are so many food, food photography, and food & prop styling blogs out there it’s unbelievable. My feed reader is jammed with so many, I only wish I had time to read them all every day. Therefore, this would be a ridiculously long post if I included even a small selection of them…so this is what I suggest you do to build your own list of blogs you love:
    1. Google ‘food blog’, ‘food photography blog’, ‘best food blog’, whatever exactly you’re looking for. Check the blogroll/links section of each of your favourites for even more. Caution: this can become addicting and an excellent way to procrastinate.
    2. Build a varied list of blogs, for all aspects of food photography include prop styling, cooking & recipes, food photography you love, and those tips & tricks kind of blogs.
    3. Last but not least, start commenting on your favourite blogs, and even start a blog of your own! Free sites like WordPress will have your set up and blogging in minutes.

  1. 3. Classes. Online or offline, continuing to perfect your craft, be it hobby or professional, is a total necessity (in my opinion). Here are some exciting workshops and classes coming up around the globe:
    1. Workshops @ Adorama (US based)
    2. Want to learn from professional food stylists and a food photographer in San Diego at the end of September? Check this out.
    3. Marilyn Tausend seems to hold this same workshop in March, at least I’ve seen it listed for ’08 and ’09, cross your fingers for ’10 – travel and food photography in Mexico for 5 days sounds heavenly.
    4. Including shooting models, but also some fun sounding food experiences Red Leaf seems to have space left for their September 15-17, 2009 workshop.
    5. The International Conference on Food Styling & Photography, at Boston University. I’ve read the reviews; it was amazing. I’m all over this one for 2011, sadly there was nothing I could do to get away from my business this year, and it’s only held every 2 years.
    6. Food Styling Workshop through the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program in Los Angeles.
    7. Food Fanatics have some great videos on food styling techniques; these ladies are awesome!

  1. 4. Books.
    1. For those of you that live in or visit Vancouver, I highly recommend dropping by Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks if for nothing more than to continue the drool session from your glossy magazine perusal.
    2. Food Photography and Styling by John Carafoli is chock-a-block full of great tips.
    3. Food Styling for Photographers is a great book, giving tips from both the photo and styling side of things.
    4. Lou Manna has written Digital Food Photography which I own, and though I don’t shoot in the same visual style as he does, and therefore not a huge fan of the photos, there are some decent lessons to be found in it.
    5. Earlier I mentioned Selina Maitreya’s book How To Succeed in Commercial Photography if you’re on the road to becoming a commercial photographer, but I think it could apply even if you just want to develop a more holistic approach to your photography.

I welcome any questions, comments or otherwise, please feel free to email me at Good luck!

Food Photography 101 ~ Part 2: The Technical
By Jackie Connelly
August 22
Written as Guest Blog Post for Bakergirl Creations


Since breaking into the world of food photography, I’ve met a lot of people (both in the real world and the virtual one) who want to get better at shooting food. I’ve compiled this beginner’s list based on some of the questions I’ve been asked and what I consider helpful tips to growing as a food & beverage photographer.  In Part 1 I focused on the creative side of food photography, here Part 2 is based on the technical side, and Part 3 coming up next will be valuable resources.

1. Get a tripod! It’s incredibly difficult to get good shots of food, or any table top/still life object, without a tripod. Having a tripod allows you to arrange your set-up, take that first shot, and then tweak your food and props to your hearts content without adjusting your composition, unless of course you want to.

2. Know your camera…and it’s manual functions. I’m a professional photographer, so I own a DSLR. To be honest those little point and shoots confuse me; all the bizarre symbols for zoom in and out, and they’re so small I’d surely sit on it at some point. But whatever type of camera you have (or want to purchase) remember: it’s not the amount of money you spend or kind of camera you’re using that will make the photos better. Ok, when we start talking about $40,000 large format digital camera backs then yes, one could easily argue my point here, but if you’re just starting out, buy only what you can afford and learn how to use it and it’s manual functions well. A camera that focuses, chooses shutter speeds and apertures automatically will not allow you to have any creative control over your shots, so pay special attention to the manual options chapter in your cameras handbook.

3. Try different light sources. Daylight, strobe, continuous – there are options depending on what effect you are wanting to achieve and what your visual style is (more on this in Part 2). Lights are available for rent from the local photography equipment rental supplier in your area (rent something over the weekend and you usually get 2 days for the price of 1, as most places aren’t open on Sunday). Whether you dedicate yourself to working with one kind of light source for all your work, or not, the lighting has one purpose: to make the food look as appetizing as it does to the naked eye, if not more so. I shoot with daylight ~ natural light from the two 16’ tall windows in my studio, and from two daylight-balanced continous lights that I’ll often use as a fill light to the main natural light, and as the colour temperature is nearly the same they are ideal to use together. Reflectors are also a huge part of what I use – giant pieces of white foam core are inexpensive and last forever, plus you can cut them into whatever abstract shape you might need. Also try black for blocking light. And small mirrors can work like magic to direct light into a dark pocket of the dish.

4. Part food photographer, part food stylist. I work with a food stylist, whose job is to grocery shop, cook, plate and tweak the food once it’s on set. However, when you’re first starting out you may not have the opportunity to work with a food stylist, so you must learn some basics yourself. A brush of olive oil goes a long way to making seafood and meat look deliciously moist; Kitchen Bouquet or soy sauce mixed with a drop of dish soap becomes a browning agent to chicken or fish, and alone KB makes a great looking cup of coffee, without the colourful luminescence (similar to the colors that occur when oil and water mix) regular coffee can have. You’ll learn to always have a “hero” product that is used for the final shot, while a stand-in is what you use while you’re tweaking things on the set.

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