Thursday, June 21, 2012

Slow Roasted Walnut Almond Granola

I think you'll really like this one...change up the add-ins as you like!
First, preheat your oven to 350*F.
what you'll need my little hippies:

- 6 c. whole oats
- 1 c. chopped walnuts
- 1 c. chopped almonds

mix well in a large bowl, set aside and mix in a small bowl:
- 3/4 c. oil (canola, sunflower, soybean)
- 1 1/2 c. maple syrup
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. sea salt

I like to use an immersion blender to emulsify this before pouring it on the oat mixture.
If you don't have an immersion blender, get one.
nah...just kidding...altho, they rock, srsly.
Just whisk it like the dickens then super-duper quickly pour it over the oats/nuts.

note:  please use whatever maple syrup you like...I am not the maple syrup police.  The real stuff is, of course, superior.  But, if you like Mrs. Butterworth's, then sweetheart, you just rock that Mrs. Butterworth's!

Stir to coat all the dry mix.

 Then coat a cookie sheet with some non-stick spray and spread the mixture on.

Smooth it out as evenly as possible.

Into the oven it goes!  Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove and stir.

Bake again, 15 minutes.
Remove and stir.
Bake again....15 minutes.
yup, you got it, remove and stir.
I did this a total of 4 or 5 times until the granola was toasted and golden.

Let the whole thing cool off completely before adding your dried fruit.
I really like cranberries, but blueberries are incredibly good, too.
Store in an airtight container to keep it crisp and fresh!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All you ever wanted to know about making Chocolate Mice

I tried to be thorough and hold back from eating them all before the photos were taken.

what you'll need my wee vermin:

- maraschino cherries with stems
- Hershey's kisses
- sliced almonds
- quality semi-sweet chocolate
- vegetable shortening

remove the cherries from the jar and drain them on some paper toweling
unwrap just as many Hershey's kisses

get out some almond slices in pairs, they will become your ears!

To melt the chocolate, pour about a cup of chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable shortening (DON'T use butter or margarine, they have water in them and will seize your chocolate!) and microwave 1 minute.  Remove and stir, this should be adequate to melt the chocolate.  If not, cook in 10-15 second intervals, stirring in between until all lumps have smoothed out.
Dip your cherries!
Lay them onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with anything...wax paper, parchment, a silpat, etc.
Make sure the stems are sticking out the back, like a little mouse tookus.

Now, with the back of a spoon, shmear a tiny bit of melted chocolate on the back of a Hershey's kiss and place it on top of a pair of almond ears that you've paired up.

Gently lift the "head" and smoosh it onto your chocolate covered bodies.

Time to chill in the frig!

Lookit the cute lil mouse butts!

They would be great on top of a Black Forest cake, I'm thinkin".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fire in the Rocky Mountains

Just a quick post for all of you in Northern Colorado.
Thinking about those in the fire zone, hoping everyone gets out safely. 
I just took this photo at Lake Loveland.
The fire was 50 acres this morning and now they estimate it at 3,000.

How important is Photography?

Image is everything.
First impressions are the best impressions.
Don't take any wooden nickels...

no, wait.

In my not so humble opinionated opinion, photography is key.
For lots of venues...blogs, etsy offerings, ebay, foodgawker, pinterest.
Today, I'm posting about taking photos of items to be put up for sale.
If your photo is dynamic, people will connect, they will stop and take notice, they will click, they will buy!

Some tips for taking great product shots:

1. Focus, focus, focus!  Blurry shots are distracting and unattractive.
    If you are trying to sell an item, a blurry photo will shoot down most potential clients, it looks   unprofessional and unkempt.  So, if you snap a shot and its blurry, take the time and retake it.
2. Keep your photos uncluttered.  What do I mean by that?  Watch what is in your background.
    Is there anything distracting in the background that will detract from your subject?  For example, notice this photo.  Look at these 3 lovely ladies.  While they are smiling nicely, sitting in some pretty nice light, notice the background.  Some random dude sipping a water bottle.
Not kosher.  Sometimes, this cannot be helped, but in product shots, take notice!

For are taking a photo of a teapot that will be put up for sale on etsy and while the teapot is in focus without any blinding glare...your dirty dishes are stacked up in the background.
ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww...or one of the kids is walking through the frame.

NO ONE will click "buy" on that teapot.
My advice is to set up a little area in your home where you can have a plain background, such as a clean table pushed up against a plain, painted wall to take photos up against.
Problem solved.

3.  Watch the Lightroom presets, textures and Photoshop actions.
      For some shots, its fine, when used in moderation...sort of like alcohol.
But, when overused, you get sloshy and throw up.
Ok, maybe not, but come on people, lets not muck up your clean shots with some trendy preset just because you think it looks "artsy".  It may look artsy to you, but annoying to someone else.
When you are trying to sell an item, keep the shot clean, clear, sharp.
It will help show an accurate representation of the item for sale, your customers will thank you and they will click!

Hope this sheds some light on product photography, there are many more points Id like to cover.
So stay tuned for more opinionated rantings from your favorite nosher.


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