A recent shoot on location in a hot , humid and remote part of South Africa had me reflecting on a few professional and personal challenges to styling on location.
1. It’s not so easy.
It means packing as much as you can into 20kg allotted luggage allowance. Including chopping boards, knives, props, tool kit , manicure set ( for the hand model holding the sun ripened fruit) and then whatever space is left over for a few clothes and toiletries. It means lugging a whole lot of heavy stuff, a long way, in a small plane, with even smaller leg room.
2. You can’t control the weather. Or the client.
No sun means no sunrise shot of the dew glistening on the fruit in the early morning, despite getting up at 5 am 3 mornings in a row.
No sun means no beautiful dappled light through the trees , and no typical fire streaked African sky at sun set.
What it does mean is that there are many things beyond ones control when shooting outside of a studio or even a city. No basic amenities, running water and even toilets. No shopping mall with a vast and varied array of props for that last minute request from the client for an extra special item to make the shot “just perfect”
It means adjusting quickly and improvising where necessary to get the job done. And a few deep breaths.
See point 3.
3. Attitude is everything.
Life lesson número uno will serve you well when only getting a few hours sleep, facing unpredictable and changing circumstances , dealing with different personalities and surviving on very little coffee.
You can’t control the weather but you can control your response to the frustrations, delays and unreasonable requests.
Grit your teeth. Adjust your sails. Do what it takes. Smile and wave.
3. The grass isn’t greener on the other side and the view in the rear view mirror isn’t as rosy
Sometimes I miss my old life. My single life of jet setting, touring numerous continents, cooking and staying in glamorous locations, and of only being responsible for myself and answering to no one. Sometimes I read blogs, look over the fence at friends lives on facebook, and I want some of it , or some of it back.
Or so I thought.
Yes the opportunity to have a double bed to myself ( albeit for only 5hours a night) complete control of the air con and tv remote ( not that there was even time for the latter) and an escape from the often mind numbing routine of domestic life, can seem so attractive.
Change is as good as a holiday they say. Well it was no holiday but the change was awesome. I came home and held my nearest and dearest just a little tighter and longer than I normally would, and gave thanks for the incredible gifts I have been given and often forget or quickly take for granted.
5. You can never be too prepared.
We covered the basics, sun cream , hats, and long sleeved t shirts. We didn’t plan for snakes, spiders, scorpions or even cuts and scratches. A basic first aid kit, cooler box with ice packs for cold waters, flask for coffee, wet wipes, tissues, insect repellant during the day ( not just for mosquitoes at night) and acetone!
(Who would have thought the hand model would have nail polish on ? )
Have all made it onto the checklist for next time.
Next time ? You cry.
Oh yes indeed!
What’s the point of learning lessons if you can’t implement them.
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to be on a local radio program. The presenter is well known in South Africa, and it was such a privilege to chat and engage with her on air about food, Christmas and interesting foods around the world. Off air she asked about my blog and I confessed that I don’t write as often as I should and I seriously need to commit more time and energy to this wonderful platform.
Welllll the next thing we were back on air and she was airing my sad secret ! Yes you all know that I’m a lazy writer, it’s one thing to know something in your own little world. It’s quiet another to have it told to your whole city on radio.
The pressure is on.
I can take it. *squares shoulders and resolutely taps away at ipad*
One of the things discussed on the radio program was the origin of Christmas mince pies.
I love mince pies. And after doing a bit of research I discovered a whole lot of great trivia that makes me love them even more. I’m a total info junkie, usually of the useless facts and nobody cares variety. If you are like me you might enjoy the following.
If not just skip down the the recipe below
• Only stir the mincemeat mixture clockwise because stirring it counterclockwise is bad luck for the upcoming year.
• While eating the first mince pie of the season, it’s traditional to make a wish.
• Always eat mince pies in silence.
• Eating a mince pie each day of the 12 days of Christmas is good luck for the upcoming year. – this will be my excuse from now on.
• Mince pies should have a star on top, depicting the Christmas star that led the Magi and Shepherds to baby Jesus.
Homemade Mincemeat with Apple & Cranberry
I adapted this recipe a few years ago and now hardly follow the recipe at all, adding extra bits each time I make it. This year I added crystallized ginger and replaced the apples with dried pears, it has been a huge success.
2 large Golden Delicious apples, peeled and grated
1 1/2 cups Apple Juice
1 cup (85 grams) dried apples, chopped
1 ½ cups ( 330g) mixed rains, sultanas and currants
3/4 cup (105 grams) dried cranberries
1 cup (200g) mixed candied peel
1/2 cup (105 grams) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) sherry
1/2 cup (120 ml) brandy or cognac
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mincemeat, stirring often, for about 25-30 minutes, or until the liquid is almost evaporated.
3. Transfer the mincemeat to a large bowl and let it cool completely.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator, at least overnight, or up to a month.
5. Note: If storing longer than a week, stir in a little rum or brandy (about 1/4 cup (60 ml)) every week.
Makes about 6 cups of Mincemeat.
Original recipe from Joy of Baking,
Read more: http://www.joyofbaking.com/HomemadeMincemeat.html#ixzz18f48CMHB
Pictures from my Christmas table of homemade fruit mince pies with sour cream pastry.
Thank you to Vanessa Lewis for the pictures
Such as “I won’t feed my child sweets and I won’t dress her only in pink” welllll, errr, um, I’m now eating my sugar coated pretty pink words aren’t I ?
Ah well, I’m a parent now, and it’s my prerogative to change my mind. So this year our Christmas table, tree, decorations , and pressies, as ALL sweet themed and pink!
Every year I choose a different theme for my Christmas celebrations; usually based on current trends but also on how I am feeling. Last year was such a baby blur I don’t think I posted the pictures, ( I might still dig them out so watch this space) the year before was a very simple but really colorful and bright setting and theme. I tend to go for less of a traditional look and because I am so crazy about DIY there are tons of crafts and hand made things.
From my time of living in the northern hemisphere I prefer real Christmas trees to fake, and in South Africa have always preferred using something local. One year was a beautiful Acacia thorn tree, another year a dried Aloe, and a wire christmas tree from the Rosebank market has been sprayed an array of Christmas colours over the years and served us well.
This year my giant paper tree is part inspiration, part necessity.
With a toddler in the house this year the tree hosted a few problems, I don’t have expensive or very precious ornaments but still didn’t fancy picking up baubles all day.
I hung a large piece of white paper in my lounge and had some fun with neon pink paint. I made the cardboard ornaments which I glued onto the tree, and bought the cute banner from in good company .
Voila ! My Christmas tree 2014.
I will post more details of the table and sweets later in the week.
I am slowly making my way through all my many , many images from past photoshoots, selecting pictures for my long overdue website. It is a very ardeous task on my old laptop. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say it is not an easy job and the length of time it is taking is really fustrating me. I was cheered a little when I came across these sweet pictures from a Mother’s Day article I wrote for a parenting magazine, Living & Loving, a few years ago.
French toast is a favourite in our family, not just on Mother’s Day. Recipes below
Happy Friday everyone
French Toast Fingers with cream cheese & berries
2 large free range eggs
45 ml cream cheese
15 ml milk
4 slices thick white bread
200g cream cheese
Berries & strawberry jam to serve
1.Whisk the eggs with the cream cheese and milk.
2.Cut the bread into 3 pieces to make fingers and dip into the egg mixture.
3.Fry in a non-stick frying pan until golden brown.
4.Serve with cream cheese, fresh berries and strawberry jam.
Wholewheat Crumpets with Peanut butter & Maple Syrup
1 cup ( 150g) wholewheat flour
15ml baking powder
30g caster sugar
1 egg, whisked with a pinch of salt
180ml milk , approx
Peanut butter, maple syrup and dried fruit
1.To make the crumpet batter combine all the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl , gradually add the egg and the milk and whisk together o form a smooth batter.
2.Drop spoonfuls of mixture into a hot non stick frying pan, when bubbles appear on the surface turn the crumpet and brown the other side.
3.Serve warm with a spoonful of peanut butter, and drizzled with maple syrup.
Chicken Sausages & Cherry Tomato Kebabs
8 chicken sausages
200g cherry tomatoes
30 ml olive oil
Kebab or ice cream sticks
1.Cut sausages in half and skewer onto a kebab or ice cream stick alternating with a bayleaf and cherry tomato.
2.Season with herbal salt or veggie seasoning and drizzle with olive oil.
3.Grill for 10 -1 2 minutes until the sausage is cooked through.
•Macon, chicken rashers or pork chipolata sausages can also be used.
•Use halumi cheese for a vegetarian option instead of the sausages
•Make a glaze with a couple of teaspoons whole grain mustard and honey and baste the kebabs whilst grilling
•Larger kebabs can also be made by adding button mushrooms.
•Serve with grilled sweetcorn
Museli & Banana Smoothie
Makes 1 cup
1 small banana, peeled
½ cup muesli
2 teaspoons honey ( optional )
½ cup milk
½ cup apple juice
1.Whiz all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth.
2.Pour into glasses and serve
Styling & Recipes: Taryne Jakobi
as always with much love and thanks to Vanessa Lewis for the Photography
Article first appeared in Living & Loving Magazine, May 2011
I wonder if Sally Fields ever regrets gushing these words at her Oscar acceptance speech In 1984 for Best Actress in Places in the Heart ? I can’t recall the movie, but I do recall the speech. Well I thought I did, until I Googled it on YouTube and saw that she actually said, “I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
Despite the different context, ( I am most certainly not an Academy Award winning actress, although my dear hubby would agree I have certainly put on a few private performances worthy of a nomination of best leading lady ) I can relate to Sally Field’s almost cringingly real exclamations.
A movie or story of my life would most definitely include the byline, “she doubted too much” The dreadful word doubt, seems to feature so much in what I do. My tortured thinking goes something like this…
I doubt anyone actually reads my blog, ( for this reason I don’t have Google analytics installed, just in case my fears are confirmed) I doubt my posts are useful, I doubt my words are inspiring, I doubt anyone is interested in things I find interesting, and mostly I doubt , as Sally Field put it, anyone respects my work.
Then last week I did my first Friday Favourites post, and the response I got made me feel like I had actually won an Oscar! Wonderful words of praise and acknowledgment.
I was SO taken aback; especially when a dear, sweet unassuming lady paid me the compliment of saying, “I love what you do, you have a unique voice, I enjoy following your work.” I had no planned reply or acceptance speech, so simply said, “thank you.” And again, “thank you, that means a lot to me” and I meant it, and at the risk of gushing like Sally, let me say again,
Thank you! To all of you who read these posts, I know they are few and far between, but thank you , it means a lot to me, it really, really does !
Autumn is here, and the cool wind we felt in Johannesburg today carried with it a big hint of colder weather to follow.
As I sit typing the delicious smells of a slow cooked stew are reaching me from my kitchen. I am a big fan of slow cookers and adapted the Lamb Bredie recipe below for some stewing beef I had in my freezer. I’m ahead of the “cold snap” we are forecast for this weekend, and stew is one my husbands favourite meals, so its sure to be a Friday hit in our household.
These pictures and recipes were done last year for the Autumn Issue ( April 2012 ) of Food & Home Magazine. I can’t recall why I didn’t do a blog post about them as it was one of my favourite shoots from last year . I love the simple styling and minimial props, just the dark background with the autumn colours in the food and few select props. No fussiness and not over styled, clean, sharp in focus photography and really really good recipes! Just a few of my favourite food styling things.
I hope you will give the recipes a try.
Happy Friday everyone!
Beef Short Rib with Harvest Veggies Serves 4-6
1 Tblspn oil
1,5kg Beef short rib
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/butternut , peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 TBS cake flour
2 bottles 375mls Milk stout beer ( I used Castle)
3 cups beef stock
1 TBS tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Grated zest & juice of 1 orange
Heat the oil & Seal the meat in a deep, oven proof dish, set aside.
In the same pot add the carrot,parsnip, butternut and onion and cook over a medium heat until soft. Add tomato paste, garlic, spices, orange zest, salt and pepper and flour.
Add the stout, orange juice, sugar and the stock, and stir well until a sauce forms, add the meat, cover and cook over a low heat for 4- 6 hours until oxtail is tender, beef short rib should take 2 – 3 hours
To serve – Skim the fat, and thicken the sauce with a little extra flour if necessary, serve with samp or pearl barley
Light Lamb Bredie with Two Tone Carrots This light bredie contains no tomato, it is not as rich as traditional Bredies but still full of flavour!
Serves 4 – 6
1,5 kg lamb neck, trimmed of excess fat
2 tblspns seasoned flour ( flour to which salt , pepper and 1 tablespoon paprika have been added)
2 tblspns olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblspns coriander seeds, crushed
1 cup / 250 ml white wine ( optional)
2 cup / 500 ml lamb or beef stock
6 potatoes, peeled and halved
300g carrots, chopped
Toss the lamb neck in well seasoned flour ( I do this in a ziploc bag)
Heat the oil in thick bottom pot, brown meat, remove and set aside, sauté onion and garlic and add the coriander seeds.
Drain excess oil, return meat to the pot with the wine, stock and potatoes, and simmer for 2 hours covered until the meat is tender.
blanch the carrots and add to the meat, cook for a further 15 – 20 minutes
Serve with sweet potato mash or rice.
Pulled Pork on Apple Roasted Pumpkin Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, once everything is assembled this is the most simple and carefree recipe to make, and well worth the wait on the cooking time.
2 kg pork shoulder, rolled
½ cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup bbq sauce
1 cup orange juice
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dark brown sugar
15 ml wholegrain mustard
15ml Worchester sauce
15ml smoked hot paprika powder
15ml cumin seed, crushed
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 orange, rind and juice
2 bay leaves
30 ml dried thyme
For the veggies
1 /4 piece pumpkin, sliced
1 tin baby apples, or 2 red apples, cored and quartered
4 sprigs thyme
Sea salt & black pepper
Except for the pork place all the ingredients in a oven proof dish and whish to combine.
Place the pork in the centre of the dish and cover with a tight fitting lid
Roast at 150oc for 5 -6 hours until the meat shreds when pulled apart with a fork.
Place the veggies on a roasting tray , drizzle with oil, season, and roast at 180OC for 30-40minutes.
To serve, shred the pork with two forks, pulling the meat apart, toss with remaining sauce and serve over roasted veg with extra bread to mop up the sauce.
Chicken, Leek & Porchini Pies
30ml olive oil
4 medium sized leeks, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic crushed
50g wild mushrooms, soaked and chopped, reserve 150ml of the liquid stock
1 large roasted chicken (Season bird with salt & pepper, place in roasting dish with a stem of celery, roughly chopped up carrot and onion, cook for an hour at 190 degrees)
Season with salt and pepper
1 rolls prepared Puff pastry
1 egg yolk, beaten to glaze
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in frying pan over medium heat. Cook the leeks and garlic for 5 minutes, or until the leek is soft and translucent, add the mushrooms and fry for 2 minutes.
Remove the meat from the chicken and cut into small chunks/strips.
Make a white sauce with the butter, flour & milk. Add the mushrooms, leeks and chicken, season to taste. If too thick, add the reserved liquid from the mushrooms
Divide the filling among 6 pots. Cut the pastry into squares. Brush the rim of the pots/big ramekins with a little egg yolk, place the pastry on top, pinch together along the sides to seal. Brush the top with the remaining egg yolk. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.