It’s official. I’m obsessed with avocado toast. No longer can I be satisfied with mashing up some avocado, slathering it on my toast and taking a bite. Continue reading
Remember when we were told NOT to play with our food? Ha! Just try to stop me!
This cookie cutter thing is waaay too much fun. The great thing about Fuerte avocados is that when the skin is pulled away from the flesh, the richest green color is right there on the outside of the fruit. The richest nutrients are just underneath the skin, so there’s a healthy reason to peel your avocados rather than scoop them. And since the skin peels so easily, you can peel Continue reading
What says “love” to you on Valentine’s Day? A box of chocolates? A bouquet of roses? Or creamy and delicious California avocados? How about an Avocado Valentine!
I will admit that I love flowers and chocolate as much as the next girl…and a dinner out is fun too.
When you’re married to an Avocado Farmer, the month of February is the time to eat Fuerte avocados. The avocados themselves are beautiful…pear-shaped, sensuous.
The skin of a Fuerte is easy to peel …when the fruit is perfectly ripe, it peels right off to reveal a naked avocado!
This morning I decided to have a little fun with our breakfast…so I made The Farmer an avocado valentine!
Instead of slicing the avocado into wedges, I sliced an entire half through the center. The beautiful green and yellow colors were inspiring!
I used the smallest cookie cutters to create an Avocado Valentine!
Isn’t this fun? Of course, The Farmer likes his with pepper and salt!
I wanted one too…so I used the rest of the avocado half for my own toast, made with Ezekial flourless sprouted-grain bread.
Fuerte Avocados are in peak season during the month of February. You may not find them in stores, because the thinner peel makes them harder to ship to stores in bulk. There is nothing like the flavor of a perfectly ripe Fuerte avocado…if you haven’t tried them, you simply must. Look for Fuerte avocados in So. California Farmers Markets. Or you can order a fresh picked gift box of Fuerte avocados from California Avocados Direct.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! How are you celebrating today?
When I was a young child in school, my greatest joy was discovering something new to learn. Every day was exciting then, with new skills, new stories, and new ways of seeing the world. I would go to sleep at night anticipating that the lessons of the coming day would transform me from the familiar to a brand-new-me whose horizons now stretched farther than before.
In this spirit I took a leap and signed up for a weekend class in food styling and photography at MDR Photography. It was like going back to first grade! I have been using a point and shoot camera for years, and only recently purchased a DSLR. To learn a little about the more serious side of photography, I went to Lynda.com to watch some instructional videos about photography and exposure, just to make sure I wouldn’t be completely lost in the class.
Allison (Sushi Day) and her boyfriend Son live in the area, so they picked me up and took me out for dinner on Friday night after I arrived at the hotel. They were excited to take me to 26 Beach, a restaurant that has been in business for 29 years in Venice, Ca. The sushi burgers served at 26 Beach are legendary… Rachael of La Fuji Mama (and my Avocado Sister) practically swoons when she describes the wonderful offerings of this delightfully artistic eatery…and thanks to Allison and Son, I’ve been craving another of those scrumptious burgers ever since!
As for the food, check out this California Roll Burger! Snowcrab salad, avocado, picked ginger, nori & shoyu-wasabi-aioli with baby lettuce and tomato…all served on Angus beef burger and butter-grilled home baked bun!
On Saturday morning I met a Camp Blogaway acquaintance, Cynthia of What a Girl Eats, as we were both trying to find Christina Peters’ Photography Studio in Marina Del Rey. As we walked into the bright studio we were met with warm hellos and breakfast treats. Our food styling teacher, Denise Vivaldo launched right into her presentations with hilarious side stories and tales of her experiences in 30 years as a food stylist. Her Food Fanatics colleague, Tiffany Wu demonstrated how important it is to have an assistant who can anticipate the needs of the stylist and the desires of a client, providing “collateral food” for those just-in-case situations.
We learned how to style pancakes, a roasted chicken, salad, and sandwiches that first day. We began to appreciate the practical and logistical aspects of food styling as well as the tricks and tips of making food look wonderful for the camera. Denise shared insider business strategies that only a seasoned veteran would know. As a complete newbie I found the whole day fascinating!
Our homework that night was to come up with a project for the next day… a fabulous food layout that we would photograph. Denise mentioned that she was looking for color, so I decided to search for foods that would complement an avocado. (Big surprise, right?!) I had to explain to the class that a beautifully peeled “naked” avocado is something special to behold!
That evening I found the nearest Whole Foods store and searched for colorful food in the same way that I might coordinate accessories for a new outfit. Gorgeous large plump shrimp, already cooked, with plenty of pink color. Golden mango salsa with magenta red onion pieces and green cilantro. And I found a few treats to buy as well! (Ever tried Orange Ginger Almonds? Yum!)
Sunday morning we all gathered back at the studio and listened with awe as Christina revealed the mysteries of using DSLR cameras, and shared stories of her life as a commercial photographer. Her explanations were easy to follow and anticipated our questions…she even talked about using our IPhones for food photography! Most of all, it felt good to be learning something brand new…exploring something I don’t think about in my daily life, and becoming a “new me” who could consider food and photography from a completely new perspective.
Each of us styled our own project, trading ingredients and collaborating on the use of props from Christina’s immense collection. All the while Denise and her partner Cindie Flannigan were circulating among the class participants, giving suggestions, helping to brainstorm and adding an extra level of excitement to each of the projects. Denise suggested that I separate the components of the mango salsa and then rebuild the salsa in front of the avocado using tweezers.
When the styling was finished, Christina worked with each of us to photograph our masterpiece and demonstrated ways to enhance them using Lightbox and Photoshop. We were able to take turns photographing each others’ layouts too! It was a joy to work with a group who were so willing to share and collaborate.
The weekend was lots of fun and I can honestly say that I truly was transformed. I will never look at another food photograph in the same way… and I’ll work much harder on my own shots from now on! If you’d like to explore Denise’s vast knowledge of food styling, find her book on Amazon.com!
The most important lesson of the weekend? Don’t be afraid to try something new and outside of your comfort zone !One of the best parts of the weekend was meeting my classmates and learning about their lives and goals. In the words of the famous song, “Would you like to swing on a star? Carry moonbeams home in a jar? And be better off than you are?…” YOU could be swinging on a star! Go for it!
I know I am not alone when it comes to the lack of exercise. Once we have a job and children to raise, our time and energy are limited. We are constantly bombarded with messages about the need to get up and move. There are plenty of activities that look like fun, but let’s face it: if we’re not physically fit in the first place, we’re not going to be physically able to take part is most of them.
So that leaves some of us in a dilemma: do we spend our precious, limited time off working out in a gym (that we dislike), or walking a prescribed number of steps on a treadmill? Do we find a walking partner and get up at the bust of dawn to fulfill our obligation to move? Or do we pour ourselves another cup of coffee and turn on the Cooking Channel? How about a glass of wine and a few minutes of Facebook or Pinterest? I can see you nodding your heads.
I have tried committing to exercise programs that I dislike, knowing that they are good for me and knowing that I won’t keep them up. We already do so much in our lives out of necessity or obligation, even if they do not bring us joy. In the few spare hours that we have left, JOY is the thing we need. Creating joy (for me) involves discovering something new, feeling good about myself and what I’m accomplishing, feeling energized and stimulated, and having something worthwhile to show for the time I have spent. The challenge is to find activities for physical exercise that combine those prerequisites with movement.
I think I have finally found something that is better than a trainer, better than a class and better than a treadmill. A Camera! I recently purchased a DSLR with a hefty cross-body strap. I have had point-and-shoot cameras that work just fine, but they never motivated me to get out and hike. With the encouragement of Fuji Mama, Allergen-Free Baker and my son Daniel, as well as the help of Nancy at Nelson Photo Supplies in San Diego, I finally invested in a Canon T3i as an entry-level DSLR. I had no idea that the investment in the camera would also pay me dividends in the form of exercise and motivation!
I actually look forward to changing into tee shirt and walking pants (gym clothes?), lacing up my walking shoes, strapping on my trusty camera, and striking out for parts unknown. The long hikes around the ranch that used to seem like a penance when done just for exercise have become exciting treasure hunts now that I have my camera and way to share the new discoveries! Sometimes I post the photos on Facebook, and sometimes I plan stories to go with the photos to post here on MimiAvocado.com
After an invigorating hike up and down hills to get the perfect photo of wildflowers, snail trails, squirrel holes, songbirds, puffy clouds with trees and mountains… I deserve the time to write at my desk! I actually look forward to going out again, and scheme to carve out more time for “exercise” in my day. I’m eager to get out and see how the trees are changing from day to day, keep track of the seasonal wildflowers and notice evidence of wildlife too.
Now that I have the new camera, the prospect of spending a day hiking, walking a beach or exploring a park are much more attractive than they once were. I don’t want to sit in the house when there are so many exciting things to photograph! Who knew that the best piece of exercise equipment could be a camera? I’m glad I found out! And I don’t even mind getting up at dawn … sometimes!