A Free Cookbook for Readers and Some Tips for Taking Food Photos

The authors of Love, Christmas 2 have a special treat for readers. We’ve produced a cookbook, Favorite Holiday Recipes, which I’ve edited for the group. And it’s FREE.

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Each recipe is tied to one of the stories in Love, Christmas 2. And most are accompanied by mouth-watering pictures. Here’s one taken by my friend, cookbook writer Nancy Baggett:

And here’s her recipe for Cranberry Apple Crumble, which the hero of Love, Actually, by Traci E. Hall, makes for his and the heroine’s breakfast.

Makes about 6 servings

1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp packed light or dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose or unbleached white flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3 2/3 cups peeled and diced Stayman, Jonathan, Rome or other tart, flavorful apples
1 tsp lemon juice
2 2/3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) unsweetened cranberries, chopped
Ice cream for garnish, optional

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees Fahrenheit (190-degrees Celsius). Lightly grease a 7 ½ x 11-inch baking dish.

2. Stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using forks or fingertips, cut in butter until thoroughly incorporated. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice until well combined. Stir in cranberries. Reserve 1 1/4 cups oat mixture for topping. Add the remainder of oat mixture to the fruit, tossing until well mixed. Spread the mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle reserved oat mixture over top.

3. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and nicely browned on top and apples in the center are tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Nancy Baggett’s Kitchen Lane Blog: http://kitchenlane.com/

Nancy and I talked recently about food photography. The tips below may help you with pictures you might want to post on social media.

She says lighting is very important. Natural lighting is best, near a window or on an open porch or deck, but don’t do it when the light is too bright or you will wash out the photo. (If I can’t have natural light, I often shoot food on my kitchen counter, using the ceiling lights and the under-cabinet lights. Of course, this limits opportunities for adding props.)

Nancy likes to say, “We’re not selling tablecloths or cups and plates.” In other words, keep the focus on the food, and don’t have too much else going on in the shot. And have the food in front. You want the dish to look like someone will want to eat it, which is why food photos often feature a prop like a welcoming spoon or fork. Interestingly, small plates work best because viewers will not be able to see the scale.

You want the picture to look nice, not messy. Clean up your shot before you click the shutter. You can remove small imperfections in a bowl or plate with a toothpick or Q-tip. Note that many reflective surfaces will show fingerprints and smudges. Clean them up. But you don’t have to go for total perfection.

Nancy says that, “If the dish looks like dog food, think of some way to pep it up with a garnish.” But don’t pile on too much extraneous stuff.

Think about props. In the picture above, Nancy used an old-fashioned Pyrex baking dish to help set the mood. And the lines in the towel echo the lines in the rack under the dish. In addition, the ripple in the towel adds movement. Note that there are two bowls in the shot. She also might use two cups or glasses for a beverage. If you’d like to have a selection of props, you can browse for them at secondhand and thrift shops.

Look at your picture and decide where to crop it. You don’t want the whole expanse of your table or tablecloth. I try to take care of this by starting off with a close-up.

I hope you’ll pick up your free copy of our cookbook. And I hope Nancy’s tips will help you sharpen your own food photography skills.

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Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.
 View website

Rebecca York

About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her new romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  View website

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