Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Notice of Absence

Hi All,

First of all I apologise for the long silence. A lot has happened in between my last post in this blog till now. These unavoidable circumstances has lead me to take a halt on this project, hence the silence.

The good news is that the roller coaster wave is almost over, and I'm positive that this project will continue as planned. There's a lot of weeks that I have to make up for, and I will do my best to put the money where my mouth is.

I'll be back soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Japanese Omu Rice (slight variation)

My missus saved me this week! Thanks Hunny!
Here's why?
It was Sunday and I still have no idea what to shoot for this weekend. All I wanted to do was relax, after a week of intense work. I wanted to chill. I didn't give up on the planks and went to the hardware store to get them, only to find out that one dude just came slightly earlier than me and bought practically all the planks that I wanted. What are the chances, man?

Anyway, the good thing about it was that my now favorite grocer is near the hardware store and I headed there to get some parsley. The good news is that of all grocers in USJ/Subang Jaya area, they sell parsley! Just so happened that unfortunately they didn't sell it on Sunday, because they're out of stock! Probably another dudedette this time might've just wiped out all the parsley for a nice meal at home.

That didn't got me down, and instead I got some cool sprouts (just discovered that my grocer sells them!), and the usuals. I got home and cooked some nice grilled chicken. Turns out that my missus (and I) thought that it was so delicious, that I couldn't be bothered to photograph it, but rather just go ahead and eat 'em.

Now, I'm still down with my task for this weekend, to shot one dish. It was time for lunch on Sunday and my missus kicked me out of the kitchen this time, cos it was her turn to get the stove fired up. I wasn't hoping for anything, until she surprised me with this meal.

It's the Japanese Omu Rice (with her own variation). It smelled so appetizing even before I can taste it. The next thing on my mind was:

"Thank you Hunny, you saved me. Now I got a dish to photograph. :)"

I quickly brought the the dish out to get some natural light and just shoot it with ambient.

The nice touch with her Omu Rice was that the egg was fried in a griddle pan, hence the stripes. Very creative in my opinion. I love the fact that it's spicy (indeed) and has a peppery taste once it's in your taste buds. The live chili was the kicker. Normally live chili that I ate tastes like veggies, but not this one. This one has got the heat!

There you go. My missus' Japanese Omu Rice.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My New Vocabulary: Julienne Peeler

Image courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Inc

Today I discovered something new with regard to a kitchen utensil. It's called the Julienne Peeler. I was having dinner with my missus at a Hainan Restaurant near where we live and one of the fried rice we ordered had a very thin sliced stripped cucumber. I've seen thin strips of carrot and cucumber before, such as in California Handrolls, and some pita sandwiches. I've always wondered how can anyone slice the vegies that thin. At first I thought it was the works of a grater, but later on I found out that a grater couldn't do the work (after trying it at home).

Back to the story, I curiously asked the Hainan Restaurant owner how did they sliced the cucumber. Without asking any further, he answered while going in the kitchen area, "We use a special tool, mostly used in hotel  restaurants. This tool is not normally found in common shops, but they are available". Shortly after, he came back out and showed me a utensil that looks like peeler, but with an additional corrugated blade. I thank him for sharing the info, and he replied with a smile "You're welcome. You're not the first to ask."

As soon as I got home, I Googled and found out that special peeler is called a Julienne Peeler.

The julienne peeler is a hand held kitchen utensils which cut vegetables into even and thin strips, the style of which is known as julienne cut.

These thin strips of vegetables are usually used for dressing up dishes such as pasta and salads and may also be become a part of cooked dishes such as a stir-fry.

These julienne strips need to be even in size so that they cook in an even manner, without losing their physical appearance.

These are the two most important traits of delicious and presentable food, and are widely adopted by professional chefs worldwide.

Source quoted from:

Need a visual clue what a Julienner Peeler is? Check out this video below. I found it through . Now that I know what a Julienne Peeler is, I'm gonna go find them. The restaurant owner suggested Ace Hardware and the household shops at PJ Old Town. I'm gonna give my household supply shop near the office a try first. Enjoy the video!

I'm back on track, with pasta!

Here it is! My overdue menu for Sunday. Today was a good day. I found a supply shop near my office that sells home related products. They've got everything from Chef's knives, to glasses, and white plates. All at a reasonable price. I got myself a 12"x16" timber chopping board and that alone just made my day. Though I planned to cook our dinner tonight (the pasta menu),I didn't really plan to photograph the food. I was just thinking of eating the delicious looking pasta and couldn't be bothered to setup any lights for it. So, that's exactly what I did. I photographed this with ambient light in my tiny kitchen. Here it is, I don't know what to call it. It's wholewheat pasta with capsicum, onion grass, prawn, coriander and olive oil. All in the name of eating healthy. Delicious and fast to make too. :)

Note: Yes, the spaghetti is brown, simply because it's wholewheat pasta. Healthy one that is. Cheers!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The planks didn't work.

I have bad news. I attempted to remove the timber planks on the timber pallet and only managed to get two pieces of it removed. Not to mention one of them was chipped. My missus had warned me that probably it was better off to just buy some planks at the hardware store and put together my timber surface. But, no, I had to give it a go, because I thought, hey, I've got a free pallet, and why don't I just make it on my own, yes?

Well, to cut the story short, here's why two-hours of attempting to remove the planks only resulted into removing only two pieces of wood. Dang!:
  1. I didn't have the right tools. I had a wooden mallet and a hammer to take out the nails. The deep sunken nails wouldn't barge. Knowing this, I went off to get a wide chisel.
  2. The chisel worked, but the wooden planks are fragile. They started to break upon some force to separate them from the lateral piece of wood that binds all of them together.
  3. In short, the pallet makers did a really good job to make these pallets stand the physical abuse.
Therefore, I shall leave the pallet alone, send it to the recycling centre in USJ9 and get some real materials this coming week to build my own timber surface. Till then, I still owe myself two dishes for this weekend.

Not Cooking Tonight.
I've decided not to cook for the photo shoot tonight. I have a work submission tomorrow and it's not worth jeopardising my presentation tomorrow. I'm upset with the outcome of this week's task, but what can I do. Priorities first.

Here's What I've accomplished
Before (5.00pm):

After (7.00pm) What the...?:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's mid-week already. So, what's up?

Tomorrow's already Wednesday, and by the time I know it, it'll be the weekend. For this weekend, I'm going to finish up the planks project, and shoot the spaghetti shot. I've already got the ingredients, plates, wine glass, cutlery and napkin for the shot, so it shouldn't be anything difficult. It's just one shot right? Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Anyway, let's share something. I've done some googling on food photographers and right now I'm still reading up on these two famous food photographers. They are (in no particular order):
If any of these two photographers are holding a workshop down in Malaysia or anywhere in South East Asia, I'll do anything in my powers to attend them.
    Lou Manna

    Sorry I haven't read enough about Lou Manna to make up my own conclusion. However, here's an extracted from PDNonline on a little bit about Lou Manna. He's done some fabulous workshops in the United States. Original article here.
    Olympus Visionary Lou Manna has been photographing food for more than 30 years. He got his start as a food photographer at the New York Times, where he worked side-by-side with acclaimed food columnist Craig Claiborne. During his career, Manna has worked with star chefs such as Jacques Pepin and Emeril Lagasse, and his award-winning photographs have appeared in more than 30 cookbooks, including Jacques Torres’s Dessert Circus and Dr. Phil McGraw’s The Ultimate Weight Solution Cookbook. Manna is the author of Digital Food Photography, a book that teaches readers how to use digital technology to enhance food photography.
    Michael Ray

    Michael Ray was introduced to me by my partner Bob (Razali Hassan). I'm really inspired by his work, and the amount of dedication he puts into his work. You gotta dig/navigate into his foodportfolio site to find out some hidden links which showcases his precious notes on food photography. Tonnes of info that I haven't even finished reading them. It's just wow!

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    I did it! (Sort of...)

    I did it! I managed to photograph as planned. Well, at least the prawn sauce in the stone mortar. Here it is.

    Some of you might wonder, "What happened to your planks and the spaghetti shot?"
    Well, here's the story. I found an unused pallet near my studio on Saturday. I tried loading it into the car but I overestimated how "big" my car was. The pallet won't fit. I didn't bring a hand saw. It was around 5pm and started to rain. So, I headed back to get the handsaw. When I arrived home, it was raining cats and dogs and I thought that I'll do it the next morning.

    I took my time on Sunday, enjoying waking up late, taking my own sweet time, enjoying our lunch at the comfort of our home. I headed off to reattempt cutting the pallets into half, and transporting it home. Cutting the pallet into half was the easy bit, but I needed to dismantle the planks and reassemble it with smaller gaps. The rain came pouring again, and I had no shelter at home to work on the planks. So, that's the end of the plank story, for today.

    I shot the stone mortar quite late, around 10pm. By the time I finished, it was just not viable to shoot the spaghetti shot. Therefore, the spaghetti shot was postponed. I was slightly upset because I only got one shot instead of two, but I was also more happy that the prawn sauce in stone mortar turned out exactly like what I planned. It was easy, and didn't consume much of my time. I only took four test shots, prepped up the food, and shot the final shot.

    My four test shots.
    Test shot #1.
    Flat lighting. I'd like to tone down the highlights. 1/125s, f20, ISO 100.
    Test shot #2.
    Exposure to my liking. Shadows turned out like I visualised. Need fill light in the stone mortar where the ingredients will sit.
    Test shot #3.
    Just another test to increase the shadows for definition.
    Test shot #4. 
    Final exposure. All to my liking. Added fill light into bowl of the stone mortar.

    Here's my setup. 
    Some behind the scenes for your reference. Nothing fancy. Just one light, and a white cardboard as fill light reflector.

    These following images were taken by my luvly missus, while I was busy setting up. :)

    The other ingredients were easy to setup. On the other hand, I scratched my head to find out what am I going to use for the liquid goo in the shot? At first I wanted to use Mayonaise, but then my missus suggested a brilliant substitute, which is F&N condensed milk (Woops! Sorry, that's actually sweetened creamer. BTW, does anyone know why they don't make real condensed milk in Malaysia anymore?). Yes, the one we use to make "Teh Tarik". It's got the right colour and viscosity. There you go, my little secret.

    Lesson for this week:
    You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Begin with an end in mind.