A few weeks ago, I was perusing Chapter’s cookbook section, as one often does when one is:
- looking for photography inspiration
- looking for recipe inspiration
- waiting forever for somebody to show up for your coffee date…
I do this with alarming frequency, which given my inability to leave Chapters without buying something, is probably not healthy for my budget…
This particular day, I was in the Chapters at South Granville and Broadway after finishing up a meeting in Kitsilano with a client (the lovely Louisa from Luli Designs, who doesn’t keep me waiting!). I’d already spent a small fortune in the fine arts bookstore across the street but couldn’t resist stopping for a chai latte and a browse. Plus, I wanted a little cookie photography inspiration, given that I make so many of them! I was under strict orders from the company boss (aka: me) to not buy anything.
The problem was, I stumbled upon The Happy Baker by Erin Bolger. Seriously… I had to mop drool up from the floor after flipping through it. And, once you cause water damage to a book, you’re obligated to buy it. The photography, by Jason Hervey, was beautiful and a change from the overexposed trend that we see a lot of in food photography right now (I wonder if tastespotting would accept his photos??). And I loved the tableau type photos at the start of every chapter – for some reason they reminded me of Douglas Coupland!
Now there’s a lot of cookbooks out there with amazing photography. A lot. If I bought every one of them, I wouldn’t be typing this right now. I’d be buried somewhere under a pile of books, unable to make it to my keyboard. What sold me on the book was, the simplicity of most of the recipes, the fact that a lot of them include sugar, butter and chocolate, and Erin’s writing.
The full title of the book is The Happy Baker – A Dater’s Guide To Emotional Baking. And interwoven with the recipes is the tale of Erin’s dating life. And it’s hilarious. If you’re single (as I am) or have been single at any point in your life, you will sooooo relate to this. It’s like Bridget Jones wrote a cookbook except, she’s Canadian, and she has rockin’ doodles of 80’s hair and umm… well Bridget didn’t really cook, did she? But you get the gist of it. It is without a doubt one of the most fun cookbooks I’ve ever bought.
I’ve made two recipes so far: Erin’s Go To Cookie and Match Made In Heaven Dark Chocolate Cookies. They were both great but the Go To Cookie was my favourite. A classic oatmeal chocolate chip cookie with… coconut!! I can’t wait to try some of the others that look a little more decadent than cookies.
And Now a Lesson in Copyright:
I’m a bit anal about copyright and asking permission. It’s the photographer in me. So I always try to get permission whenever I can. See, here’s the cool thing about asking permission – generally speaking, you get to talk to some really neat people that you’d never normally get to talk to. And usually, they’re thrilled that you took the time to ask. It’s all just good karma.
So when I knew I wanted to do a post about the book and include a recipe, I tracked down Erin from The Happy Baker website and sent her an email asking if I could use the Go To Cookie recipe. And to my delight, she replied the very next day and gave me the ok. Thanks Erin!
So without further ado, the recipe:
Summary: “It’s got a little bit of everything”
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, (softened)
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup quick cooking oats
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup coconut (I used shredded unsweetened)
- preheat oven to 375F
- in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
- add peanut butter, vanilla, and egg and mix well
- stir in flour, oatmeal, baking soda and salt
- stir in chocolate chips and coconut
- drop by tablespoonfuls on to a lined cookie sheet, two inches apart.
- flatten with fingers
- bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown
- cool on wire racks
recipe is courtesy of Erin Bolger’s cookbook The Happy Baker: A Dater’s Guide to Emotional Baking
Image 1: 50mm, f3.2, ISO400, 1/30th, no exposure compensation, shot in AV mode
As much as I do really like the overexposed look of food, which is the current trend, I really felt the need to try something different. I’ve been playing around a bit with instant film and love the hazy muted look of polaroids that give it that retro vibe. I tried to capture something similar here without having to resort to post processing and I’m somewhat happy with the result.
The shot is properly exposed, which means it will probably never be accepted by the food gallery sites. I shot it with natural light coming from about the 10 o’clock part of the photo. The only post processing I did was dodging the face of the cookie that’s in full view, something I could have avoided if I’d shot with a reflector. I think the dark surface helped with the overall vibe. I think I might try more of this, although it’ll be hard now that the nice weather is showing up!
Image 2: 50mm, f5.0, ISO200, 1/125, +1/3 exposure compensation, shot in AV mode
My first shot outdoors this year! And I’m so out of practice! I could have done a much better job, and I did manage to redeem myself later in the day, with another dish (coming soon). It was a hazy day, cloudy and overcast but very bright. It’s a type of light that can be great for photos but can also be really challenging. The composition could have been tighter and I think that’s what I’m most unhappy about. My aperture could have been higher – perhaps f8 or 9. Just need more outdoor practice!
***Tip: when you compose a shot with a 50mm on a small frame camera (like most consumer dslr cameras are), keep in mind that what looks really close together and snug to your naked eye, will probably look very spread out to the camera.