I am but a humble self-taught photographer. Everything I know about photography I've learned through trial and error. A year and a half's worth, in fact. Every time I set out to shoot a new dish or dessert, I learn something new. Food photography has grown into something I really enjoy. It's challenging and difficult, true, but there is such a sense of satisfaction when a photo turns out just right.
Yet, there is always more to learn.
One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to take a photography course. This summer I did just that. While I knew so much about a few topics, in others I knew virtually nothing. It was definitely a growing experience for me as a photographer.
When I take my camera out of the quiet of the kitchen, there is a moment (or two) of real panic. Photography intimidates me. Portraits and landscapes strike an honest fear deep within my heart. Since I am most familiar with still life photography, I get a bit unnerved when things begin to move out in the real world. People walk around. Trees sway in the wind. Vehicles are constantly stealing the limelight. It makes getting the shot I want nearly impossible. I have so much respect for all the professional photographers out there.
In the kitchen, I'm the boss. I manhandle the cookies. I govern the fruit with an iron fist. Not a stray crumb will leap out of place. Not on my watch. I direct the light, shadows, and composition. Food photography makes me feel in control. It is my comfort zone.
But, just as staying in comfort zones is all and well, it's important to step out of them just as often as you stay in. This is what the photography course was all about for me. I left my comfort zone completely and tried out new subjects (people! Nature!) and new techniques (like HDR). Whether it has made me a better photographer, I'll never know, but I am certain it has made me a much more informed one. And, really, that's all I can hope to ask for.
Note: I will be vacationing in Portland and the Oregon coast over the next week. I may be a bit scarce in the coming days, but you can bet I'll be back with many new stories and recipes to share with you before you know it! I can never stray from pastries for too long. See you soon!
I first made this Plum Clafouti a year ago, at the request of a roommate. In the next few weeks, I couldn't help but make it a twice more. This Plum Clafouti is delicious. Before the plums go into the clafouti, they are lightly sauteed in butter and sugar, rendering them soft and utterly divine. Cream and eggs are combined and poured over the plums, which sets into a thick custard during baking. This clafouti is best served warm, but I gobbled it up just as quickly when it was cold (and for breakfast, no less). This is a summer dessert—light, with more than enough fruit to make you forget about the butter and cream.
Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande
1 pound plums, cut in half with stones removed (I used 6 medium sized plums)
2 tablespoons sugar + 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
Preheat oven to 410 degrees F (210 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9-inch baking dish.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter and sprinkle on 2 tablespoons sugar. Place halved plums face down into the butter and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
In a small bowl, mix together milk and cornstarch until well combined. Whisk milk mixture into egg mixture.
Place plums face up in prepared baking dish. Pour the liquids over the plums. Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Keep refrigerated in a covered container.