Archive | October, 2011

Galician Queimada

25 Oct

Well it makes sense I guess. The season of Hallowe’en is upon us. So at a recent family dinner when my mother suggested we do a Queimada, who were we to argue? After all it is not every day your mother encourages you to set fire to some high grade alcohol and summon the spirits from on high. Is it?

Reading the Conjuro

A Queimada is a Galician tradition from Spain, which involves burning a Galician version of aguardiente called Orujo to ward off evil spirits and bring in the good spirits of those who have gone before to share in the ritual as friends. It was not necessarily done at Hallowe’en but as the Gallegos are Celts after all, I’m sure they would approve. In fact there is a saying which goes along the lines of ‘any excuse is a good one for a Queimada’.

For best results, the alcohol is heated first before being poured into a a shallow clay bowl with oranges slices, coffee beans and cloves. A spoon with sugar is introduced into the bowl to gather some alcohol and then lit on fire and introduced once more into the alcohol to set the mixture alight.

From then on, all present at the table take turns to stir the Queimada while the Conjuro or spell is read aloud. This is your typical bubble, bubble, toil and trouble stuff…beginning with:

Owls, barn owls, toads and witches.

Demons, goblins and devils,

spirits of the misty vales.

Near the end, we arrive at the main point:

And when this beverage

goes down our throats,

we will be freed of the evil

of our soul and of any bewitchment.

Powerful stuff! Evil of our soul? Bewitchment? Ok perhaps a bit dramatic. But I can’t help but smile at the next part:

Forces of air, earth, sea and fire,

to you I make this call:

if it’s true that you have more power

than people,

here and now, make the spirits

of the friends who are outside,

take part with us in this Queimada.

That sounds harmless enough! Enjoyable even. Even if you are not inclined to believe in evil spirits, there is nothing to stop you from enjoying a Queimada. The resultant mixture, having burned off a great deal of the alcohol is sweet and smooth and delicious. Happy Hallowe’en!


Style me hungry

11 Oct

This weekend, I was lucky enough to take part in Clare Barboza and Becky Selengut’s food styling workshop in Seattle.

Clare is a Seattle-based documentary food photographer whose style I have been attracted to for a while now. She has a way of capturing the story behind the food that I really admire.  Becky Selengut is a chef, cookbook author, and teacher with a very quick wit who makes delicious food. The combination was fantastic and made for a fun and inspiring day of styling and photography.

We talked about colour, texture of props, and how to style food for camera using natural techniques. Then there was lots of time to explore and plan and execute your own shots. Clare has a fantastic studio with tons of natural light which gives me serious studio envy. She also has a fantastic ‘wall-o-props’ (check it here) which makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. So many possibilities!

I  really wanted to create a farmhouse atmosphere and found some great rustic, antique props to work with. Here is one of the shots I made, of some seriously yummy, sweet and savoury, butternut squash beignets, prepared by Becky. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them again.

Buttternut squash beignets with cinnamon and cardamon

Bring on the Recipes!

7 Oct

I met the lovely and creative Jasmine Bradley back in February when we both attended a food photography workshop with the amazing Clare Barboza in Seattle. It was then that I found out about Jasmine’s fantastic website Cook that Book, where she has turned her love of cookbooks into a useful resource for all of us by providing interesting and useful real world reviews of the cookbooks we all covet.

So when the chance came up, I was very honoured to have the opportunity  to work with Jasmine and contribute to her great site.  My first review will be of Donna Hay’s Seasons – a book I’ve spent a lot of time with in the last year – to the detriment of my waistline. Here are a few of the shots from my review.

Pumpkin, Spinach & Goat's Cheese Pie


Nectarine Tart

Please check out the full review here.

We’ve got some exciting books coming up so please check back soon.  Also, if you have a favourite new cookbook, please share!

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