Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 155

Yes, it’s delicious!

Welcome to the 155th round up of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

Yes, you took the cake!! Those were some amazing posts that all of you put together on this week’s theme of Cake! I knew that there would be some creativity at work and you definitely came through! There was some awesome variety of cakes, some with great memories! Also, there were some different cakes, ranging from soap cakes to suet cakes…and some great pancakes!

Thank you all for the great posts that you put together, as they were a blast to read!

Here’s some really good carrot cake…

Delicious Carrot Cake

This carrot cake was a raw carrot cake, at a restaurant that specialized in raw food. It was absolutely delicious!

The following were this week’s participants in the challenge with links to their posts:

  1. Sarah kicks things off with a touch of class in By Sarah, where she shares a photo of her wedding cake…looks delicious!!
  2. Danny’s post in Danny James Photography features an amazing moment at a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kyoto.
  3. Shelley’s post in Quaint Revival is not just for the birds! These birds are singing for a reason…
  4. Nicole has another gorgeous photo in her post in Une Photo, Un Poéme, and that birthday cake looks amazing!
  5. In a delicious post in pensivity101 we even get the recipe for the wonderful looking cheesecake that hubby couldn’t enjoy…
  6. In ladyleemanila‘s post there are lots of great cakes to enjoy! We should be able to share across the web!
  7. Gwen brings us the story of the lamb Easter cake in Field Notes from Over the Hill; a sad ending to the cake…delicious it was!
  8. In another great post in Don’t Hold Your Breath, we get to encounter the king of cakes in Porto! Looks amazing!
  9. Maria shares a wonderful photo of a wedding cake in KameraPromenader; that looks like a delicious combination!
  10. The Crazy Nerds post is crazy cool! That is an interesting cake that might just whet someone’s appetite!
  11. Stella has some stunning cakes in her post in Giggles & Tales, which must have been delicious!
  12. Jase brings some soul cakes week in Proscenium; those look ready to eat and very tasty!
  13. The wonderful post in A Day in the Life is definitely nostalgic, as olden days of baking are remembered.
  14. In this week’s contribution from Heart2Heart, we get a view of an amazing harvest festival cake!
  15. Debbie’s post in Travel with Intent brings us the most delectable cake, donuts!
  16. In an awesome post in Another LQQK, Teressa takes us to a charity auction, which featured some stunning cakes!
  17. Sandy shares a stunning photo in her post in Out of My Write Mind, which reminds us how good it is to be young and enjoy cake!
  18. In another great post in Alive and Trekking we learn about some of the best cake shops in Amsterdam…add them to my list!
  19. Debbie takes us to a rather literary tea party in her post in Twenty Four; I bet the cakes were amazing!
  20. Ken finds the most interesting sign in his post in Pictures without Film; the choice is simple! Awesome cake as well!
  21. Woolly definitely takes the cake in his post in Woolly Muses; birthday cake photos should be part and parcel of every photographer’s collection!
  22. Susan captured a great bit of enjoyment in her post in Musin’ with Susan; the girl really enjoyed her cake!
  23. David’s post in David Meredith’s Photoblog has the bird going gaga over suet cake! Great shot!!
  24. This week’s post in One letter UP – diary 2.0 has two types of cakes…one that you don’t want to eat!
  25. In this week’s post in Land of Images we get wild berries and seeds! Yes, this cake is for the birds!
  26. Donna takes us back down memory lane in her post in Wind Kisses, as we get to play pat-a-cake!
  27. In a great post in Life Amazing, we not only get to see fantastic cakes, but get the full directions to make banana fudge cake!
  28. In a rather cool post, sgeoil quotes George Carlin (always a good thing) and presents some pancakes!
  29. This week Geriatri’X’ Fotogallery definitely takes the cake! That butterfly cake looks stunning!

Please let all of these great bloggers know your thoughts about their posts!

Monday’s Food – Tomatoes

The golden apple

You say tomato, I say tom-ah-to!  This ubiquitoes ingredient in dishes ranging from salads to pizza, is well known to all of us, but were you aware that this plant is in the same family as the deadly nightshade?

Let’s take a a bit of an exploration and check out this interesting plant and some of its history.

Tomatoes-089-Sprinkled
Delicious tomatoes!

First of all, even though in culinary circles it is treated as a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit of the berry variety.  There are around 7,500 tomato varieties grown for various purposes having been selected with varying fruit types, and for optimum growth in differing growing conditions.

About 161.8 million tonnes of tomatoes were produced in the world in 2012. China, the largest producer, accounted for about one quarter of the global output, followed by India and the United States. For one variety, plum or processing tomatoes, California accounts for 90% of U.S. production and 35% of world production.

History

The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. Native versions were small, like cherry tomatoes, and most likely yellow rather than red. A member of the deadly nightshade family, tomatoes were erroneously thought to be poisonous by Europeans who were suspicious of their bright, shiny fruit.  The leaves are in fact poisonous, although the fruit is not.

Mesoamerica

Aztecs and other peoples in Mesoamerica used the fruit in their cooking. The exact date of domestication is unknown: by 500 BC, it was already being cultivated in southern Mexico and probably other areas.  The Pueblo people are thought to have believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of tomato seeds were blessed with powers of divination.  The large, lumpy variety of tomato, a mutation from a smoother, smaller fruit, originated in Mesoamerica, and may be the direct ancestor of some modern cultivated tomatoes.

Spanish distribution

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés may have been the first to transfer the small yellow tomato to Europe after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City, in 1521, although Christopher Columbus may have taken them back as early as 1493. The earliest discussion of the tomato in European literature appeared in a herbal written in 1544 by Pietro Andrea Mattioli, an Italian physician and botanist, who suggested that a new type of eggplant had been brought to Italy that was blood red or golden color when mature and could be divided into segments and eaten like an eggplant—that is, cooked and seasoned with salt, black pepper, and oil. It was not until ten years later that tomatoes were named in print by Mattioli as pomi d’oro, or “golden apple”.

After the Spanish colonization of the Americas, the Spanish distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean. They also took it to the Philippines, from where it spread to southeast Asia and then the entire Asian continent. The Spanish also brought the tomato to Europe. It grew easily in Mediterranean climates, and cultivation began in the 1540s. It was probably eaten shortly after it was introduced, and was certainly being used as food by the early 17th century in Spain.

Italy

The recorded history of tomatoes in Italy dates back to 31 October 1548 when the house steward of Cosimo de’ Medici, the grand duke of Tuscany, wrote to the Medici private secretary informing him that the basket of tomatoes sent from the grand duke’s Florentine estate at Torre del Gallo “had arrived safely.” Tomatoes were grown mainly as ornamentals early on after their arrival in Italy. For example, the Florentine aristocrat Giovanvettorio Soderini wrote how they “were to be sought only for their beauty” and were grown only in gardens or flower beds. The tomato’s ability to mutate and create new and different varieties helped contribute to its success and spread throughout Italy. However, even in areas where the climate supported growing tomatoes, their proximity of growing to the ground suggested low status. They were not adopted as a staple of the peasant population because they were not as filling as other fruits already available. Additionally, both toxic and inedible varieties discouraged many people from attempting to consume or prepare them.  In certain areas of Italy, such as Florence, the fruit was used solely as a tabletop decoration before it was incorporated into the local cuisine in the late 17th or early 18th century. The earliest discovered cookbook with tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the author had apparently obtained these recipes from Spanish sources.

Unique varieties were developed over the next several hundred years for uses such as dried tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, pizza tomatoes, and tomatoes for long term storage. These varieties are usually known for their place of origin as much as by a variety name. For example, Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio is the “hanging tomato of Vesuvius”. Five different varieties have traditionally been used to make these “hanging” tomatoes. They are Fiaschella, Lampadina, Patanara, Principe Borghese, and Re Umberto. Other tomatoes that originated in Italy include San Marzano, Borgo Cellano, Christopher Columbus, Costoluto Genovese, and Italian Pear. These tomatoes are characterized by relatively intense flavor compared to varieties typically grown elsewhere.

Consumption

The tomato is now grown and eaten around the world. It is used in diverse ways, including raw in salads, and processed into ketchup or tomato soup. Unripe green tomatoes can also be breaded and fried, used to make salsa, or pickled. Tomato juice is sold as a drink, and is used in cocktails such as the Bloody Mary.

Tomatoes are acidic, making them especially easy to preserve in home canning whole, in pieces, as tomato sauce or paste. The fruit is also preserved by drying, often in the sun, and sold either in bags or in jars with oil.

Although tomatoes originated in the Americas, they have become extensively used in Mediterranean cuisine. They are a key ingredient in pizza, and are commonly used in pasta sauces. They are also used in gazpacho (Spanish cuisine) and pa amb tomàquet (Catalan cuisine).

Though it is botanically a berry, a subset of fruit, the tomato is a vegetable for culinary purposes, because of its savory flavor (see below).

Nutrition

Tomatoes are now eaten freely throughout the world. They contain the carotene lycopene, one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. In some studies, lycopene, especially in cooked tomatoes, has been found to help prevent prostate cancer, but other research contradicts this claim.  Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays.  A study done by researchers at Manchester and Newcastle universities revealed that tomato can protect against sunburn and help keeping the skin looking youthful.  Natural genetic variation in tomatoes and their wild relatives has given a genetic plethora of genes that produce lycopene, carotene, anthocyanin, and other antioxidants. Tomato varieties are available with double the normal vitamin C (Doublerich), 40 times normal vitamin A (97L97), high levels of anthocyanin (resulting in blue tomatoes), and two to four times the normal amount of lycopene (numerous available cultivars with the high crimson gene).

Technical Details

This photo was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Studio lights were used so that exposure settings were 1/100 second at f/6.3 at 100 ISO.

Monday Food Moment – Chocolate Fondue

Let’s have dessert

One of the fun inventions of the Swiss is fondue, that do-it-yourself method of communal eating that can’t help but get everybody talking and generally enjoying themselves.

Chocolate-Fondue
Chocolate Fondue

The earliest known recipe for cheese fondue as we know it today comes from a 1699 book published in Zurich, under the name “Käss mit Wein zu kochen”, “to cook cheese with wine”.  It calls for grated or cut-up cheese to be melted with wine, and for bread to be dipped in it.

However, the name “cheese fondue”, until the late 19th century, referred to a preparation including eggs and cheese, as in la Chapelle’s 1735 Fonduë de Fromage, aux Truffes Fraiches it was something between scrambled eggs with cheese and a cheese soufflé. Brillat-Savarin wrote in 1834 that it is “nothing other than scrambled eggs with cheese”. Variations included cream (“à la genevoise”) and truffles (“à la piémontaise”) in addition to eggs, as well as what is now called “raclette” (“fondue valaisanne”).

The first known recipe for the modern cheese fondue under that name, with cheese and wine but no eggs, was published in 1875, and was already presented as a Swiss national dish.

Despite its modern associations with rustic mountain life, it was a town-dweller’s dish from the lowlands of western, French-speaking, Switzerland: rich cheese like Gruyère was a valuable export item which peasants could not afford to eat.

The introduction of cornstarch (“Maïzena”) to Switzerland in 1905 made it easier to make a smooth and stable emulsion of the wine and cheese, and probably contributed to the success of fondue.

In addition to cheese fondue, there are broth (“fondue chinoise”), oil (“fondue bourguignonne”) and chocolate fondue.  The chocolate fondue in this photo is something that I enjoyed a number of years ago at a restaurant that specializes in desserts (that is a good thing!).  It was delicious, particularly the home-made marshmallows!

Which fondue do you enjoy most?

Technical Details

This image was captured with a DroidX using the camera+ app.

Monday Food Moment – Citrus

No scurvy pirates!

This week’s food moment is something that changed the course of history: citrus!

Citrus-Kiwi_14E9570
Citrus and Kiwi fruit

Astute observers will notice that in the photo, one of these things is not like the other!  And you are correct that the Chinese Gooseberry, or Kiwifruit, doesn’t belong with the oranges, lemons and limes.  When I put this photo together in the studio, I was more interested in the overall aesthetic, which was served with the kiwi slices, than fruit correlation.

However, the most recent research indicates an origin in Australia, New Caledonia and New Guinea.  Some researchers believe that the origin is in the part of Southeast Asia bordered by Northeast India, Burma (Myanmar) and the Yunnan province of China, and it is in this region that some commercial species such as oranges, mandarins, and lemons originated. Citrus fruit has been cultivated in an ever-widening area since ancient times; the best-known examples are the oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes.

And the kiwifruit, where does it hail from?  Interestingly enough, kiwifruit is native to north-central and eastern China. Cultivation of the fuzzy kiwifruit spread from China in the early 20th century to New Zealand, where the first commercial plantings occurred. Although kiwifruit is a national fruit of China, until recently, China was not a major producing country of kiwifruit, as it was traditionally collected from the wild. The fruit became popular with American servicemen stationed in New Zealand during World War II and later exported to California using the names “Chinese gooseberry” and “melonette”. In 1962, New Zealand growers began calling it “kiwifruit” to give it more market appeal, and a California-based importer subsequently used that name when introducing the fruit to the American market.

And what about the impact on history, you ask?  Oranges were historically used for their high content of vitamin C, which prevents scurvy. Scurvy is caused by vitamin C deficiency, and can be prevented by having 10 milligrams of vitamin C a day. An early sign of scurvy is fatigue. If ignored, later symptoms are bleeding and bruising easily. British sailors were given a ration of citrus fruits on long voyages to prevent the onset of scurvy, hence the British nickname of Limey.

Technical Details

This image was shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mk III and an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens attached.  I shot this as an exercise to learn more about using Speedlite flashes and controlling light for a class that I was taking at the time.  For your amusement, I have attached a photo of the setup that I created for this.

Annotated-citrus_14E9572
Citrus shoot setup.

Monday Food Moment – Heat!

Bring on the peppers!

The partaking of spicy foods is a culinary delight that has reached epic proportions in this day and age.  Let’s find out a little bit more about the fierce chili peppers that are so popular!

Mixed_Peppers_14E8572
Hot Stuff!

History

Pottery that tested positive for Capsicum sp. residues excavated at Chiapa de Corzo in southern Mexico dated from Middle to Late Preclassic periods (400 BCE to 300 CE).  Chili peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BCE. The most recent research shows that chili peppers were domesticated more than 6000 years ago in Mexico, in the region that extends across southern Puebla and northern Oaxaca to southeastern Veracruz, and were one of the first self-pollinating crops cultivated in Mexico, Central and parts of South America.

Peru is considered the country with the highest cultivated Capsicum diversity because it is a center of diversification where varieties of all five domesticates were introduced, grown, and consumed in pre-Columbian times. Bolivia is considered to be the country where the largest diversity of wild Capsicum peppers are consumed. Bolivian consumers distinguish two basic forms: ulupicas, species with small round fruits including C. eximiumC. cardenasiiC. eshbaughii, and C. caballeroi landraces; and arivivis with small elongated fruits including C. baccatumvar. baccatum and C. chacoense varieties.

Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter them (in the Caribbean), and called them “peppers” because they, like black and white pepper of the Piper genus known in Europe, have a spicy hot taste unlike other foodstuffs. Upon their introduction into Europe, chilies were grown as botanical curiosities in the gardens of Spanish and Portuguese monasteries. Christian monks experimented with the culinary potential of chili and discovered that their pungency offered a substitute for black peppercorns, which at the time were so costly that they were used as legal currency in some countries.

The spread of chili peppers to Asia was most likely a natural consequence of its introduction to Portuguese traders (Lisbon was a common port of call for Spanish ships sailing to and from the Americas) who, aware of its trade value, would have likely promoted its commerce in the Asian spice trade routes then dominated by Portuguese and Arab traders. It was introduced in India by the Portuguese towards the end of 15th century. Today chilies are an integral part of South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines.

There is a verifiable correlation between the chili pepper geographical dissemination and consumption in Asia and the presence of Portuguese traders, India and southeast Asia being obvious examples.

The chili pepper features heavily in the cuisine of the Goan region of India, which was the site of a Portuguese colony (e.g., vindaloo, an Indian interpretation of a Portuguese dish). Chili peppers journeyed from India, through Central Asia and Turkey, to Hungary, where they became the national spice in the form of paprika.

Lots of tasty dishes!!

How Hot Do You Like It?

A wide range of intensity is found in commonly used peppers:

Bell pepper 0 SHU
New Mexico green chile 0 – 70,000 SHU
Jalapeño 2,500-8,000 SHU
Bird’s eye chili 100,000-225,000 SHU
Habanero 100,000–350,000 SHU

Notable hot chili peppers

Some of the world’s hottest chili peppers are:

United States Carolina Reaper 2.2M SHU
Trinidad Trinidad moruga scorpion 2.0M SHU
India Bhut jolokia 1.58M SHU
Trinidad Trinidad Scorpion Butch T 1.463M SHU
United Kingdom Naga Viper 1.4M SHU
United Kingdom Infinity chili 1.2M SHU

Let’s whip up a dish of mean chili!!

WPC – Andy Warhol’s Dinnertime

Anyone for soup?

The current Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge theme is Dinnertime, which made me think of a series of images that I shot a number of years ago, as I had drawn inspiration from a rather iconic pop art work from the 1960s.

Chicken_Noodle_MG_4933
Chicken Noodle Soup

This can is one of a sizable series of images that I shot of a major portion of the range of soups that Campbell had for sale that year.  After studying the technique used by Andy Warhol in his iconic ‘Campbell Soup Cans’ work, I attempted to emulate the look and feel of his acrylic paintings by adjusting the lighting and ensuring that the angle, at which I pointed my lens at each soup can, matched too.

At some point in time, I will print a full set of 32 images, so that I can hang them as a single installation; I actually have a space in mind for this.

Now, open a can of Chicken Noodle Soup and feed your body and soul!  Enjoy!!

Technical Details

The images were shot using a Canon EOS 5D Mk II camera with an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L lens.  The lighting setup included 2 strobes with softboxes balanced to get a rather flat lighting feel without any harsh shadows.

Inspired by Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Dinnertime

Monday Food Fix – Pasta

Move over Marco Polo!

This week’s theme for the DailyPost Weekly Photo Challenge is Dinnertime, which ties in rather nicely with the Monday Food Fix.

How about some pasta for dinner?

Spaghetti_Rigati_14E9303
Basic Ingredients

History of Pasta

In the 1st century AD writings of Horace, lagana (Sing.: laganum) were fine sheets of fried dough and were an everyday foodstuff.  Writing in the 2nd century Athenaeus of Naucratis provides a recipe for lagana which he attributes to the 1st century Chrysippus of Tyana: sheets of dough made of wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavoured with spices and deep-fried in oil.  An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish called lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing, a possible ancestor of modern-day lasagna. However, the method of cooking these sheets of dough does not correspond to our modern definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product, which only had similar basic ingredients and perhaps the shape.  The first concrete information concerning pasta products in Italy dates from the 13th or 14th century.

Historians have noted several lexical milestones relevant to pasta, none of which changes these basic characteristics. For example, the works of the 2nd century AD Greek physician Galen mention itrion, homogeneous compounds made of flour and water.  The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium, a kind of boiled dough, was common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, A dictionary compiled by the 9th century Arab physician and lexicographer Isho bar Ali defines itriyya, the Arabic cognate, as string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking. The geographical text of Muhammad al-Idrisi, compiled for the Norman King of Sicily Roger II in 1154 mentions itriyya manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily:

West of Termini there is a delightful settlement called Trabia. Its ever-flowing streams propel a number of mills. Here there are huge buildings in the countryside where they make vast quantities of itriyya which is exported everywhere: to Calabria, to Muslim and Christian countries. Very many shiploads are sent.

Itriyya gives rise to trie in Italian, signifying long strips such as tagliatelle and trenette. One form of itriyya with a long history is laganum (plural lagana), which in Latin refers to a thin sheet of dough, and gives rise to Italian lasagna.

According to historians like Charles Perry, the Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the 5th century, the first written record of dry pasta. The dried pasta introduced was being produced in great quantities in Palermo at that time.

In North Africa, a food similar to pasta, known as couscous, has been eaten for centuries. However, it lacks the distinguishing malleable nature of pasta, couscous being more akin to droplets of dough. At first, dry pasta was a luxury item in Italy because of high labor costs; durum wheat semolina had to be kneaded for a long time.

There is a legend of Marco Polo importing pasta from China which originated with the Macaroni Journal, published by an association of food industries with the goal of promoting pasta in the United States. Rustichello da Pisa writes in his Travels that Marco Polo described a food similar to “lagana”. Jeffrey Steingarten asserts that Arabs introduced pasta in the Emirate of Sicily in the ninth century, mentioning also that traces of pasta have been found in ancient Greece and that Jane Grigson believed the Marco Polo story to have originated in the 1920s or 30s in an advertisement for a Canadian spaghetti company.

In Greek mythology, it is believed that the god Hephaestus invented a device that made strings of dough. This was the earliest reference to a pasta maker.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, dried pasta became popular for its easy storage. This allowed people to store pasta on ships when exploring the New World. A century later, pasta was present around the globe during the voyages of discovery.

The invention of the first tomato sauces dates from the late 18th century: the first written record of pasta with tomato sauce can be found in the 1790 cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. Before tomato sauce was introduced, pasta was eaten dry with the fingers; the liquid sauce demanded the use of a fork.

History of manufacturing

Pasta manufacturing machines were made since the 1600s across the coast of Sanremo. The extrusion press produced large amounts of uniform pastas. The consistency of shapes and texture of the pasta manufactured by the extrusion press is believed to be superior to handmade pasta. This technology spread to other areas including Genoa, Apulia, Brindisi, Bari, and Tuscany. By 1867, Buitoni Company in Sansepolcro, Tuscany in the upper Tiber Valley became one of the most successful and well-known pasta manufacturers in the world.

Technical Details

This image was shot with my Canon EOS 5D Mk II with an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens.  Studio lights were used to get the specific look that I was after.

Inspired by Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge – Dinnertime