I have little restraint when it comes to food that I can convince myself is healthy. This includes dates, malt loaf and pistachio nuts. Oh and yoghurt-coated apricots. That’s just yoghurt and fruit, right? I recently realised I’ve been spending a small fortune on tiny jars of cashew nut butter, as I scoff down the calorie-dense paste by the spoonful, straight from the jar. I’ve toured round all the different nut butters, including the slightly bizarre apricot kernel butter, and decided that my top two are definitely almond and cashew. But the fact remains that to buy them is horrendously expensive. So I found a recipe and decided to have a bash at making some.
Making my own almond butter wouldn’t be financially viable without Scoop Away, which is an amazing wholefood shop where you literally scoop everything into bags, which is then priced by weight. When I first discovered the shop, I went a bit over the top, buying lots of random things that I had never seen before, such as yoghurt coated honeycomb, in industrial quantities. Even now I visit the shop weekly, and have to reign myself in when faced with the yoghurt- coated section. So I scooped what seemed like a reasonable amount of almonds into a bag, later realising that I had bought over double the quantity needed for the nut butter, having lost all sense of proportion when scooping.
Making almond butter is ludicrously simple. You need a powerful food processor to get the creamy consistency, and simply roast the nuts in the oven for a few minutes, then put them in the food processor and leave them to it. I was convinced that it wasn’t going to work at first, as I just had ground almonds whizzing round the processor bowl for the first ten minutes. But then, suddenly, the oil is released and the almond powder mushes together to form the butter. One of my favourite things to do with the butter (other than eat it straight from the jar) is to stuff pitted Medjool dates with a spoonful, then put them in the fridge to set. In my experience, it’s impossible to eat less than five of these in one sitting.
I sometimes like to remind myself that it is possible to take photos of things that aren’t food. For work, and for this blog, I take lots of photos of artfully arranged bowls of salad and carefully constructed burgers. Most of my time is spend thinking about food – what to cook and how to photograph it, mostly. So occasionally I feel the need to step out of my photography comfort zone just a bit, to push myself by having a go at taking pictures of things that I can’t eat afterwards.
I set off to visit my Mum in Devon and my Dad in Cornwall, armed with my main camera (I have two, but usually chicken out of taking my ‘proper’ one out on the road). But this time I decided to bite the bullet, thinking that there’s no point having a top quality camera if I don’t occasionally let it see outside the confines of my kitchen.
I had all the best intentions to focus on photographing landscapes: the gentle rolling hills of Devon and the rugged, windswept beaches of Cornwall provided ample inspiration. However, I still found myself gravitating to the smaller details in the landscape, such as the texture of moss on a wall. And yes, I sneaked a couple of food photographs in there too.
Landscape photography presented many challenges that I hadn’t anticipated. Just because you’ve got a wide-angle lens and some awe-inspiring landscapes at your disposal, doesn’t automatically mean that you can produce a good landscape photograph. Photographing wide vistas is a whole different skill, requiring a different sort of mindset entirely to the macro photography that I’m used to. The many different lighting conditions require lots of swift changes to the camera settings, and you need to use high f-stops to keep the sharpness throughout the landscape.
This trip consolidated for me the type of photography that I like the most. I am always drawn to the smaller details in a scene, picking out an interesting element rather than showing the whole view. Good photography, for me, demonstrates a new way of seeing the world, capturing a point of view that someone else might not have seen, thereby throwing a new light on the subject. What I want to communicate through my photographs is small, intricate details, rather than wide vistas. However, it was good to stretch my photography muscles a bit, but I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen.