Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An interesting approach to food photography

Hamburger Spread, photograph used for Mc Call's Magazine, circa 1944
Credit: Nickolas Muray/Courtesy of the National Museum of American History Photographic History Collection

When I think of food photography, I generally think of appetizing close-ups of fresh produce or sizzling dishes with brightly colored ingredients that instantaneously make you drool. Today I read a thoughtful piece on NPR called "Color Sells: Nickolas Murray's Food Photography." It made me think just how much food photography and the art of food styling has changed over the years. Murray is credited as being one of the earliest adapters of the three-color carbro process, a photographic technique which enabled him to create images with color that were incredibly saturated and meant to make the food featured even more irresistible to the viewer. This particular style of food photography came of age in the 1940s and 1950s in publications such as Mc Call's, Vogue and many other fashion and lifestyle magazines.

The article debunked a mystery that I had been curious about for quite some time. Since I have always enjoyed perusing through cookbooks of yesteryear, I have more than once come across those that have featured this kind of photography. In fact, I remember coming across several of these at Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks when I lived in New York. To me, the photos always looked a bit contrived, too stiff and frankly unappetizing. The food in these types of photos seemed to a bit too waxy, but I can still relish (no pun intended here) the artistic quality of the shots. They are extremely stylized, with a hint of reverse photo-realism, in that some of the photos almost look like paintings. It's a look that I will always associate with a particular era, where jello molds were loved by all and maraschino cherries were the garnish of choice!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Jazz for Foodies

Did you know that April is Jazz Appreciation Month? Well, with the month coming to a close, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate with a couple of my favorite jazz tunes about food. There is something really wonderful about how vocalists like Diana Krall or Nancy Wilson can make food sound incredibly delicious, romantic and even a little sensual. Below are three of my favorite food-related tunes.

Do you have any favorite food related songs that you love? It doesn't have to be from the jazz genre. Would love to hear what you're listening to!

"Peel Me A Grape"- Diana Krall

"Frim Fram Sauce"- Nat King Cole

"Days of Wine and Roses"- Nancy Wilson
(just as a disclaimer, this is probably not the most interesting video clip, but at least you can listen to the song)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mary, Mary quite contrary, How does your garden grow?

So as a side project, my boyfriend, Phill and I are going to be planting a garden! I have to give him a big chunk of the credit for this idea, because he has been very enthusiastic about this since February, when it was still really blustery outside and the ground was completely frozen.

My previous experience with growing produce haven't been the most positive and have mostly consisted of bug-ridden strawberry plants and shriveled up tomato stems. You would think this would make me apprehensive about trying to grow fruits and veggies again, but if anything, I'm convinced that I will be able to fully redeem myself if we can just make our first garden together a success!

Where are we planting our little fruit and veggie patch, you ask?

My parents house. We asked them if we could use just a small section of grass on either the side of the house or behind it. After some negotiating (Dad was concerned the chicken wire/ screening we we'd have to use to deer and bunny-proof the garden would be an eye sore), they agreed to let us use an area of the yard located on the back right-side of their property.

Needless to say, I have never been this excited about top soil and seeds before! Yesterday evening Phill and I started planting a bunch of the seeds in tiny cups. We'll wait for these guys to sprout and then once they're big enough, we'll transplant them into the garden.

Tomorrow we're going to till the soil in the garden area- the first of many steps towards what will hopefully be a cornucopia of herbs, fruits and veg throughout the summer and fall.

Will keep you posted on how our little seedlings do! In the meantime, check out the photos below for a visual of the progress we've been making. Are you planting anything this Spring? Fruits, veggies, flowers? Let us know what and where!

Our seed babies- pictured here are zucchini, green pea and summer squash.

Some of the organic seed packets we've been using.

The site for our future garden- as demarcated by the white string!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ideas for New Products or Flavors?

Finally- it's Spring in Pittsburgh! Those of you living in warmer climates have no idea how wonderful it is not to have to wake up an hour earlier to shovel a driveway covered in a blanket of snow.

The trees are green again and the flowers are blooming- pretty inspirational weather, if you ask me. On that note, we're always thinking of new flavor combinations or product ideas for Cupoladua Oven. In the past, a couple of them have been:

-Green Tea Cupola Cookies
-Vanilla Cupola Cookies
-Chocolate Chip Cupola Cookies
-Cheddar Cupola Clouds
-Blue Cheese Cupola Clouds

So far, our best sellers right now are Chocolate Cashew Cupola Cookies and Parmesan Pink Peppercorn Cupola Clouds. My theory is that the Chocolate flavor is popular because just about everyone loves chocolate. I think the Parmesan Clouds are more popular because this cheese is more commonly known, compared to Smoked Gouda.

Which brings me to the question of the day- Do you have a new flavor for our Cupola Cookies or Clouds that you'd like to share with us? If you have any suggestions or think any of the potential flavors above sound scrumptious to you, let us know by posting your thoughts!