Ginger Lemon Tea and The Best Photo Shoot Ever

Ginger Lemon Tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.

The Ginger Lemon Tea photo shoot was the best shoot ever…until it wasn’t.

Usually, I’m a hot mess but for once, Dave and I were super-prepared. I came to the studio with a ‘list of shots’ and Dave had pre-gamed his lighting set-ups. His first shot was 80% “there” which is always a good sign. In less than two hours we had four great shots. Four! I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s a lot for us.

We couldn’t have been more prepared for work; but there was no preparation in the food department. You know, food-food, like sandwiches or something. Yes, we had plenty of raw ginger root around, but I really wasn’t trying to snack on that.

But I was in luck. You see, this was a double shoot, so there was plenty of ginger root and popcorn. Yes! Sure, I’d made the popcorn six hours before and yes, it was a bit on the cold side, but how bad could it be?

Ginger Lemon Tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.


The popcorn was so cold that it wouldn’t absorb the butter; and it was so freaking chewy that while eating it, my jaw started to cramp up. Seriously, it was like eating a big bowl of greasy packing peanuts. But I was was so crazy-hungry that my dumb-ass kept eating it.

Grabbed a beer to wash it down, but unbeknownst to me, it had expired. Now, I don’t now if it was the expiration date or beer bacteria, but that bottle was skunkified. The aftertaste kicked me in the face like Bruce Lee.

But it was too late. No takebacks. My first pull of an ice cold beer is always glug, glug, glug, so… about half of a bottle of it-used-to-be-beer-but-has-now-turned-into-vinegar was in me. All I could do was wait for my impending stomach failure.

Ginger Lemon Tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.

Perhaps, a hot cup of ginger lemon tea could cure what ailed me?


Ginger root doesn’t cure food poisoning, people! No matter what I was in for a world of hurt.

Ginger Lemon Tea: the perfect Winter concotion. It cures and soothes simultaneously.

But if you have a cold, this is the tea for you. Ginger has many healing properties. It’s great for soothing sore throats and clearing nasal passages. Sometimes I like to have a glass of ginger water first thing in the morning. It energizes me and has a nice kick to it-unlike the Bruce Lee kind. That kick just puts a hurtin’ on ya.

Ginger Lemon Tea Recipe

Ginger Lemon Tea
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 2 inch piece of ginger root
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • honey, to taste
  1. Peel ginger root. If you don't get all of the skin, don't worry about it.
  2. Cut ginger into coins, about ¼ inch thick.
  3. Place ginger and lemon juice in a pot.
  4. Fill pot with 3½ cups of boiling water.
  5. Cover and let tea steep for about 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with honey or preferred sweetener.

To find out how this was photographed, check out Dave’s post – Ginger Lemon Tea: Behind the Scenes 


Perfect Baked Potato & My Bus Adventures

Perfect Baked Potato. An easy recipe for baked potatoes by Alton Brown |

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in the traffic-choked city of L.A. It’s a cool place, but it’s not perfect. For example, I don’t love trying to get on the 405, taking 45 minutes to get anywhere or screaming at idiots who think they own the road. Well, maybe I enjoy that last bit.

On occasion, I take the bus. How does that go? Well, we have a love-hate relationship, the bus and I.

I love that it’s cheap. I love that I can sit, relax and catch up on the latest from Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff. I love that I don’t have to pay for a wtf? $65 school parking permit. All I have to do is come up with a buck-fifty and enjoy the ride.


Cheap-ass ride = colorful cast of characters. Here are a few of my favorites/not-so-favorites:

The Smoker: This gent pulled a bunch of papers from his pocket. I figured he was just getting rid of junk; but then he took a bank receipt and used it to create a makeshift holder for the tiniest spliff I’ve ever seen. Waste not, want not…I guess. It was all I could do to suppress my laughter and was nothing but smiles for the rest of the ride.

The Pet Lover: This chatty-Cathy sat next to me and asked her mom to put her puppy on the phone.  She then proceeded to speak baby-talk to it for about 10 minutes. Hey man, I get it. Everyone loves their pets, but what’s with the baby-talk? On the phone? On the bus? Have you no shame? Apparently, not.

The Rastafarian: This guy sat down right next to me which was fine, until his stank wafted over. It was an incredibly offensive mix of chronic and ass. This one was partly my fault because if I know one thing it’s this, “Never sit at the back of the bus”. Sitting there is like asking for trouble….the extremely funky kind.

Perfect Baked Potato. An easy recipe for baked potatoes by Alton Brown |

I could go on, but I won’t. You’re busy and so am I. So let’s take a break and make a baked potato for lunch. Strike that. Let’s make the perfect baked potato.

It used to be when I wanted to make a “baked” potato, I would stab it with a fork a bunch of times, put it in a plastic bag, and throw it in the microwave. The result would be mediocre at best. The ends would be hard and overcooked, the skin would be soggy, and the inside would have that undercooked crunch which no one desires.

Enter Alton Brown, who puts the potato directly on the rack and then walks away for an hour. No foil, no mess and definitely no microwave. The outside is salted and crispy. The inside is light and fluffy. It’s fantastic!

Perfect Baked Potato Fixins |

Now, then…are you ready for a perfect baked potato? Excellent. Let’s go buy a 5 lb bag along with all the fixins. I’m gonna take the bus. Does anyone care to join me?

Perfect Baked Potato Recipe

Perfect Baked Potato recipe from Food Network

Perfect Baked Potato
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 russet potato (or up to 4)
  • canola oil
  • kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Position racks in top and bottom thirds.
  3. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking.
  4. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil.
  5. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven.
  6. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
  7. Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft.
  8. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. Mind the steam.
  9. Enjoy with a pad of butter, dollop of sour cream, sprinkle of cheese or whatever your heart desires.


Check out Dave’s photography technique at Perfect Baked Potato Photo Shoot: Behind the Scenes.

Decadent Pumpkin Butter & My Problem with Vegetarians

Decadent Pumpkin Butter with tons of sugar-perfect for making brown butter pumpkin shortbread.

I try to get along with everybody.

I have no problems with those who attach ‘-arian’ to their preferred foods. I know that there are all kinds: pescatarians, meatatarians, flexitarians(you might have to google this one), etc..

A few of my friends are vegetarian and they bother me a bit. It’s not because they don’t eat meat. I mean…people should eat whatever the hell they wanna eat, right? If you tell me you’re a vegetarian, I understand you. Everything’s clear. What you’re saying is “I don’t eat things with a face”. I get it. Then my so called ‘vegetarian’ friends turn around, shove fried fish in their mouths and wonder why I have that wtf? look on my face. Um,  it’s because I’m thinking…wtf?

While sitting in class one day, I asked the girl behind me why this was so. You see, she also refers to herself as a vegetarian but eats fish. She also eats chicken enchiladas, but that’s a whole other issue altogether…and yes, I gave her my wtf? face.

This fish-eating girl refers to herself as a vegetarian because most people don’t know the meaning of the word ‘pescatarian’.

 pescatarian (noun): one whose diet includes fish, but no other meat

As per Merriam Webster, just in case you didn’t know.

Instead of trying to explain their dietary choices to people, pescatarians exclaim, “I’m a vegetarian.” and bypass the whole here’s-a-list-of-the-things-I-don’t-eat scene. I see. People are dumb ignorant and they don’t want to waste your time or theirs. Gotcha. So I guess my problem really isn’t with the pescatarians, but the idiots to whom they’re constantly explaining themselves. Oops, my bad. Well, at least I already knew the name for people who eat fish, but not meat. Can I have my trophy now, please?

Well, here’s a little something that both vegetarians and pescatarians can enjoy, unless they’re allergic to pumpkin or something: decadent pumpkin butter. It’s Fall and people are crazy about pumpkin butter. I must admit, I am one of those people. Decadent pumpkin butter is loaded with brown sugar. Also, it’s a staple in my house during this time of year. Why? Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk cookies, plain and simple.

Decadent Pumpkin Butter with tons of sugar-perfect for making brown butter pumpkin shortbread.

There are tons of recipes out there for healthy pumpkin butter. There’s even some you can make in you’re Crockpot; but I’m going in the opposite direction for this one. I learned to make my pumpkin butter on the stove. It’s a bit labor-intensive, but it produces the results that I desire.

You see, canned pumpkin puree is perfect for bread and muffins because of its water content, but not so much for cookies. In order to produce a crunchy pumpkin cookie with a chewy interior, you must reduce the water content of your puree. Trust. It’s easy to comprehend…unlike a vegetarian who eats chicken enchiladas. I’ll never understand that.


Decadent Pumpkin Butter Recipe

Decadent Pumpkin Butter
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Makes ~2¼ cups Pumpkin Butter || Note: This recipe can easily be halved.
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree, 29 ounces
  • 2 c brown sugar
  1. Mix pumpkin puree and brown sugar in a large pan set to medium high heat.
  2. Set your timer for 45 minutes.
  3. In the beginning stir every few minutes.
  4. At about halfway through, turn heat to medium low and stir more frequently.
  5. The pumpkin butter is ready when it has turned a deep orange-brown color and been reduced by about 40%.
  6. Let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Decadent Pumpkin Butter Photo Notes

by David

Mondo had little faith in my ability to bring out the beauty of this decadent pumpkin butter, but I was up to the challenge.  This stuff wasn’t going to win any beauty pageants, but with the right props and a little studio lighting, I had confidence I could get the job done.


Like the nerdy high school girl in the movies who takes off her glasses and suddenly becomes the hot chic, pumpkin butter transforms into something special when hit with the right light.  The key to this lighting is understanding that pumpkin butter is a reflective object with texture.  As such, you’re not really photographing the object, but instead, the reflections on the object.  To make these pretty reflections, I decided to go with a big light.


I love the look of a big light, but big light can be expensive.  If I had the dough, I would have had a team of grips set up a giant silk and blast a few cinema lights through it, but unfortunately, that wasn’t an option.  Instead, I went with a  monolight pointed into a wall 45 degrees behind the subject.  Once I had this going, I filled out the set with a 60″ Softlighter for on-axis fill and a white bounce card to reduce contrast.  With this setup, the pumpkin butter became three dimensional with bright specularity on the edges and soft fill light in the crevices.

Wrap Up

The final element came into play with Mondo’s choice of  color.  She threw down a natural wood block and made the most out of a 99 cent orange bowl we found at an estate sale.  It was the perfect choice that tied everything together.  With the color, props, and lighting nailed, I was able to get the final exposure in less than 10 shots.

Set Shot


Tech Notes

Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Tamron 17-50mm 2.8
Strobes: White Lightning x1600
Tripod: Manfrotto
ISO: 200
Focal Length: 50mm
Shutter: 125
Aperture: f/11