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Light and Cheese Crackers with Scallions, Jalapenos and Olives

An Early Birthday Present: Light and Cheese Crackers with Scallions, Jalapenos and Olives

I’m going to divulge a deep and dirty secret about being a food blogger. We live and die by daylight. Artificial overhead light ruins the look of food and the right light is tricky.

So, when the fall/winter light disappears by 3 p.m. in our north-facing apartment, it’s difficult to take photos. Although, I do foolish things to still keep shooting. I’ve taken photos in the dark with the camera on a tripod – which can help. And I’ve tripped over our cats to get to the tripod, in the dark because I have to shut off all of the lights in the room to get the last glimpse of sunlight before twilight, without any incandescent light to confuse the camera.

“Ow, ow, ow.” Silly cats and coffee table.

And because I’ve been picking up a lot of food writing jobs with deadlines that don’t necessarily coincide with weather, it’s been getting ridiculous to keep up with the daylight.

So, a couple of weeks ago I said to Jedd: “I would love studio lights so that I can take photos past three o’clock in the afternoon.”

The next day he was home from work and watched me frantically cook and photograph a dish for a client before dusk, and then he got…weird.

He shifted in his seat. He doubled down on the computer. When I came near him he shifted the screen away from me.

I figured that either he was: a) having an affair; or b) researching lights for me to shoot at night.

Then he was stuck at home for a couple of days this week while his vehicle was getting fixed, and he looked more and more uncomfortable as I ran around cats and the coffee table with a hot pan in my hand, running to my 1 ½ by 2-foot table by the window before it became totally overcast one day. Then a couple of nights ago I made dinner and opened a bottle of wine when he blurted out: “I can’t stand it! I have an early birthday present for you!”

And he gave me two daylight balanced lights. And his mother (who’s a professional photographer) came up for dinner and she brought me a reflector to help with the light the next night.

It really is the small things that are great.

Here they are setting up the table for me, and checking the white balance.

White Balance

I’m still getting the hang of it, because I’ve only had the-set up for less than 48 hours. But, I do think it’s an awfully sweet early birthday present.

Oh, and here’s a fun recipe for “What’s in the Fridge Cheddar Crackers” – which was the first thing I photographed with my new lights.

Cheddar Crackers with Olives, Scallions and Jalapenos
4 oz (½ a bag) of Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup of parmesan, shredded
¾ cup unbleached flour
4 tablespoons of melted butter
2 tablespoons of green olives, diced
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of pickled jalapenos, diced
2 tablespoons of water (You may need to add more, so keep a small glass of water nearby.)

Using your hands, mix together the cheddar, ½ of the parmesan, the flour, melted butter, olives, jalapenos, scallion and water. Once all of the ingredients are incorporated, roll the mixture out into a log on waxed paper. Wrap in wax paper and freeze for an hour. (Or up to a month if you are making the dough ahead of time.) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the dough into ½ inch pieces and lay on a greased cookie sheet or a non-stick cookie sheet. Top with the reserved parmesan. Bake for 8 minutes, turning pan halfway through. The crackers are done when they’re golden brown and the house smells amazing.

Makes 24-30 crackers.

Photos by Launie Kettler

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