Jackie Connelly




A few weeks ago I attended a food photography workshop presented by Jackie Connelly, guest blogger here at Bakergirl Creations.  My digital camera is a Canon SD750, a seven megapixel compact model.  It’s handy and simple to use.  But I have to be honest, as I was getting ready to head out the door to the class I was stressed out thinking to myself that I so didn’t belong there.

Shyly I entered into the back of Campangolo Restaurant on Main Street.  Unsure of what to expect and hugely self-aware of my lack of training and knowledge of even basic functions on my camera, I decided I needed to suck it up and do the best with what I had.  Even though Jackie has been writing photography overviews on this site for a few months now, we had never met, so this class was also our first introduction.  Funny how that can work out eh?  She was relaxed and knowledgeable.  She shared real tangible suggestions for the participants.  Regardless of your skill level, or equipment prowess she tried her best to support and encourage.

I enjoyed the opportunity to just play.  Because I really just take photos of the food we eat, I am usually just rushing through the set up and picture so I can eat moderately warm food.  I use the basic indoor/foliage macro settings on the camera.  It doesn’t really allow for any adjustments for exposure to any specificity.  Depth of field doesn’t exist, or so it seems.  And the camera, as best as we all could tell automatically chooses a focus, so that really is out of my control.  But I got to play with light source, using reflectors to fill in light, or adjust.  I got to “play” with the food, stage it, arrange it.  Shoot from the side, from the top.    I got to watch how others set up their shots.  Suggestions were made and support was given.

Using "Indoor Light" Setting

Using "Autowhite Balance" Setting

Using "Auto White Balance" Setting

An example of the playing are the two shots above.  Nothing changed but one setting.  Yes they could have a better focus and they could have more DOP. But even learning about a simple function that makes the picture even a little more interesting and lively was a nice perk of the experience.

Strawberry Ice Cream in Natural Light

Another shot that I had fun playing with was this strawberry “ice cream”.  I say it with quotation marks because it really was a combination of lard, corn syrup food colouring and icing sugar…how crazy but at the same time, cool is that?  Jackie’s recipe for this can be found here.  The light for this was entirely natural.  I was pretty happy with it, but could have tried in some way to have warmed it up I am sure.  I loved the textures of the shot.  The rough scoop marks on the ice cream, the smooth class. The tiled and wood background, there is clear definition.

I played around with different angles, light sources.  I played with exposure, got to know my tri-pod better and truly just got more familiar with my camera.  Looking back at some of my first blog posts and pictures I took (with the same point and shoot that I have now) I was pretty pleased with the development and approach I am starting to use.  For a walk down memory lane, check out some of my not so “hot  shots”:

Almond Roca
Pantry Chili

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

…kind of makes me want to go back, make the recipe exactly as is, and then re-shoot…looking forward to keep working on it now as I start to know a little bit more of what to look for!

Jackie is having another workshop in January.  The details for it and how to sign up can be found on her site.  If you are interested to see some pretty phenomenal shots by a much more advanced photographer take a look at Oana‘s post re: the class and be sure to click through to her photo link.

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Cookies, cookies, cookies! A few weeks back, I attended a cookie exchange, hosted by non-other than the lovely Ms. Jackie Connelly. A sunny (albeit, blustery) Sunday afternoon, armed with two dozen cookies, and a bottle of wine, I spent the afternoon with some fantastic foodies.

Cookie exchanges are a fantastic way to expand your horizons. Sometimes we, and by we, I really should really say, I get into ruts in the kitchen. I tend to default to the tried and true. As a kid, my mom made THE best chocolate chip cookies. Undoubtedly there was always cookie dough in the freezer to thaw and have cookies at your finger tips. That tends to be my go-to cookie.

A cookie exchange means you can stay within your comfort zone, if you really want, but sample the wonderful selection brought to the table from all the other participants. You could always make your usual, but why not try something new? There are so many options out there, it can almost become overwhelming. Narrow it down, do you want chocolate? Chewy? Traditional? Maybe you don’t even want a cookie, but perhaps a truffle…be daring!  For a handful of great recipes from this cookie exchange, you can find them on Jackie’s site.

In my adult life, access to cookies was/is not as important. I prefer savoury to sweet. But, it is the holidays, there are guests, and little home-baked packages to be dropped off…and so, into the kitchen we all head.

As usual, I started with a base recipe, tweaked it, and made it my own. I was inspired to put a little wasabi salt on the chocolate as it set to counter the sweetness of the chocolate, and compliment the buttery-ness of the shortbread. It’s all about exploration right? And in this case, I thought it paid off!


Ingredients

3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp instant coffee
1 Tbsp hot water
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
500 grams bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
Wasabi salt to top, optional

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the instant coffee and water, combine until all crystals are dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and 1 cup of sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and roll shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough 1/2-inch thick and cut with a 2-inch snowflake-shaped cutter. Place the snowflakes on an ungreased sheet pan – place in fridge to chill – this will help the cookie retain its crisp edges.. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Melt chopped chocolate over a water bath. Once nice and smooth (achieved with a whisk), dip each cookie into the melted chocolate, place on a cookie rack to set. Once the chocolate has cooled, but not fully set, add a small sprinkle of wasabi salt.

However you choose to celebrate, may you enjoy the beauty, warmth and tradition of this holiday season…hopefully with a little sweetness in hand! ~ bakergirl

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Shortbread Hearts Recipe.


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 (info@jackieconnelly.com) 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.

Fall

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!

©jackieconnelly_apples

Here is Michael’s recipe:

Pastry
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

Filling
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 info@ffcf.bc.ca 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!

Cheers,

Jackie

http://www.jackieconnelly.com/blog


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.


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