I have a treat for you! My talented photographer friend, Jen Schmidt and I got together and made food and photography happen!
I’ll tell you all about it, but first a tangent: Remember how the phrase, “Back to School” elicited feelings of excitement, fear, longing? Oh nostalgia.
Hitting the halls with new mechanical pencils, trendy folders and binders, differentiating clothing and accessories was a yearly ritual that was welcomed and dreaded at the same time. What was everyone going to look like on the first day of school? How had summer changed everyone? The pint-sized kidlets in town carried around binders half their size on Monday with stylish backpacks and cute pedicures with teeny flowers on teeny toes.
It’s been many many summers since I hit the halls and I’m constantly amazed by how much my peers from school have grown. I went to a very small high school in a very small town, graduating with 82 people who were all up in each other’s biz. There was no hiding, no point in pretending; the spread of information through some sort of magically loud ether made sure of that. When I’m back in my hometown, I pleasantly run into friends from school at the local grocery store or the beach and catch up on recent events.
Jen Schmidt, owner of Jen Schmidt Photography, and I grew up together in our magically loud tiny town and has become a fabulously talented photographer and wonderful human being. She has been a helpful mentor as I’ve prodded her with numerous questions about cameras and proper food photography equipment. A couple of weeks ago, she suggested we get together to make dinner and snap some photos.
EEEEK! What a wonderful idea! We did just that and she was kind enough to let me attach her fancy macro lens to my camera so that I could fiddle around and scratch the surface of real photography. She educated me on some photo fundamentals and I fed her. We determined we’d make a habit of this. Me cooking, Jen the photographer, me the student, us snapping…then feasting.
One of the recipes I made is a massaged kale salad with fresh blueberries, blue cheese crumbles, candied walnuts and homemade creamy blueberry vinaigrette. Jen had suggested a kale salad with fruit and nuts, because she tried one she enjoyed at a wedding shoot recently. This is the first time I have made a fruity vinaigrette and I was so thrilled by the way it turned out, I’m ready to hit Fruity Vinaigrette World full force. Jen made a sweet raspberry mint iced tea which was refreshing and hit the spot! I’ll give you her recipe in a later post.
As we live and endure small bouts of mechanical-pencil-nostalgia from the magically loud small town in which we grew up, we find beauty and do with it what we will. Find Jen on Facebook and visit her website. This talented lady knows beauty as you can see in her photos and I’m looking forward to showing you more of her photos soon!
Massaged Kale Salad with Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette
For the massaged kale salad
- 1 leaves head kale stems removed and discarded, chopped
- tablespoon Juice of half a lemon about a
- ¼ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 cup rosemary candied walnuts recipe below
- ½ cup Blue cheese crumbles
- Blueberry vinaigrette recipe below
For the Creamy Blueberry Vinaigrette
- 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries makes about half cup of syrup
- 2 tablespoons – 3 honey
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the Rosemary Candied Walnuts:
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of cinnamon
- Dash of ground ginger
Prepare the blueberry vinaigrette first.
In a saucepan, heat the blueberries and honey over medium heat, covered until blueberry juices are seeping out and bubbly.
Mash blueberries with a fork to help get juices out and cook an additional 5 minutes but don’t allow the mixture to boil over.
Remove from heat and strain blueberry syrup using a fine wire strainer.
Discard the blueberry pulp and place blueberry syrup in refrigerator to cool.
Once cool, combine blueberry syrup with all other ingredients for the vinaigrette and mix vigorously with a whisk until smooth and creamy (or place everything in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy). Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Prepare the salad.
Place the chopped kale leaves in a salad bowl and drizzle the lemon juice over the leaves. Massage leaves with your hands about 2 minutes and let sit about 10 minutes in order to allow leaves to soften. Add all other salad ingredients to salad bowl and set aside.
Prepare the Rosemary Candied Walnuts.
Using a small skillet, heat the grapeseed oil, honey and rosemary over medium low heat.
Add the walnuts and stir to coat.
Sprinkle a touch of cinnamon, ground ginger and salt over the walnuts and allow nuts to continue to toast another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring consistently.
Don’t allow nuts to sit without stirring because the honey will burn onto the nuts quickly when unattended. The nuts are ready when they are soft yet toasty, warm all the way through and have a nice sweet glaze on the outside.
Sprinkle the walnuts over the salad and drizzle blueberry vinaigrette over everything to taste. Toss with your hands or salad tongs to ensure everything is evenly coated. Enjoy!