The white plastic chair is dusty from living outside in the desert.
The homemade sandbag that holds my reflector stand is fluorescent orange, so bright that it almost hurts to look at it.
My set is made out of my roommate’s 3 foot empty planter and an old chalkboard that I found at a thrift store resting on top. Sometimes I set my food on the old chalkboard for a simple black background, and sometimes I lay weathered wood slats on top of the chalkboard that my parents foraged from the side of the road for me.
Either way, both backgrounds make for interesting pictures, as long as the food looks good.
Once the food is made, the dishes chosen, the props setup, and the position of the “set” is determined (depending on where the sun is), it’s time to shoot.
I stand on the white plastic chair to get a top shot, I crouch down to get up close and personal with the food I created, I shoot from every angle possible, changing the settings on my camera with each click until I find that perfect balance between light and time.
I shoot until I’m confident that I have at least have 3 good shots (which usually takes at least 60 frames). While I’m shooting, I feel just like this hot babe (but with a camera instead of a gun).
After the shoot, comes the best part: We get to eat the set.
The food is already plated, the utensils and napkins at arms reach.
The white plastic chair transforms from ladder to a place to rest my ass for lunch.
We dig in.
On the day of this particular shoot, I had a moment of pure ecstasy.
There’s something about the combination of ginger and tomatoes with big chunks of mushrooms, mixed with garlic minty quinoa that just works.
I sat on that white plastic chair, eating from my makeshift set, closed my eyes and soaked in a simple moment, when everything was right in the world.
Ginger Coriander Mushroom Gravy Over Minty Garlic Quinoa – Whole Food Plant Based
This is my vegan version of Aushak (or Ashak), an Afghan dish traditionally made of meaty tomato sauce over pasta dumplings. Enjoy this recipe- it’s a good one, regardless of where you eat it.
1 cup onion, diced (140g)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaping tablespoon peeled and diced ginger (12g)
1/4 cup tomato paste (65g)
6 cups mushrooms, sliced (440g)
1 cup cilantro, chopped (35g)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups water (355ml)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (350g) (click that link for my perfect quinoa recipe)
1 teaspoon olive oil (5ml)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, chopped (use green and white parts)
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped (6g)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (1.5g)
10 turns fresh black pepper
Make the sauce
- Heat a medium sized pot for a minute or two until the bottom of the pot is quite warm. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook for 7 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently and adding a tablespoon of water at a time as needed (i.e. when the mixture starts to stick to the bottom of the pot).
- Add the tomato paste and stir until the tomato paste isn’t a blob.
- Add the mushrooms, cilantro, sea salt and the 1 1/2 cups of water and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently so that the mushrooms don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. The mixture should be thick like a goulash and not liquidy like a soup.
Prepare the Quinoa
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet and saute the garlic, green onions and mint for two minutes on medium / low heat.
- Add the quinoa, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Place a portion of the quinoa on a plate and top with the gravy.
- Garnish with fresh mint and red pepper flakes.
Are you grooving to my jam? Sign up here for my Saturday emails and free Whole Food Plant-Based recipe ebook. Pucker up!