VEGAN ASPARAGUS TART (V+, GF, Gr, P) AND THOUGHTS ON FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY 1

VEGAN ASPARAGUS TART (V+, GF, Gr, P) AND THOUGHTS ON FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY 1

So here it is. My blogiversary. It's gone so quickly and - it might sound cliché but - it feels like only yesterday when I pressed the publish button and sent this vegan carrot cake out into the blogosphere.

I know that blogiversaries are supposed to be a time of joy, but as the the date drew nearer, I felt quite ambivalent about it all or, dare I say it, even slightly downcast. I'm a pretty upbeat, positive sorta person, but I couldn't help but feel a sense of overwhelming disappointment. All this work that I put into the blog and I had nothing to show for it. No thousands of instagram followers (What did I read the other week? Someone got 72,000 in their first year?!), no million blog hits a week (Yes, someone else mentioned that staggering figure on social media just a few days ago. Amazing stuff, right?) and nothing exciting on twitter either (I don't even get that platform, do you?). So I turned to my husband and asked him if I should just call it a day and stop blogging.

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'Of course not! There's no way you're gonna give up. Don't even think about it. I LOVE your blog.' To which my 5-year-old added: 'You're the best cook ever and I want you to open a restaurant.' Which promptly just made me cry of course.

But really, all the drama served me right. Comparing myself to others is a source of unhappiness and I promise I won't ever do it again. Because actually when I sat down and looked at my first few blog posts, I suddenly realise that I did have something to show for all my hard work. Most importantly there's been an evolution in my cooking and my understanding of flavour combinations. I've become bolder and more confident in my use of ingredients and my recipes have reflected that without losing their simplicity and authenticity. And ultimately cooking healthy, beautiful, nourishing and delicious real food was what this blog was supposed to be about.

I also realised that as my second year of nutrition studies is coming to a close, the knowledge that I have of biochemistry and nutrition is so, so much greater than it was even a year ago. I continue to feel this strong passion to share what I know about food and its impact on the body in the hope that someone out there might find it helpful. And I know in my heart that someone out there does get inspiration from this space full of healthy recipes...

Now for my growth in food photography... that's a funny one. See I kinda knew it was important to take great pictures in order to make a blog successful (whatever that may mean). So before starting The Little Plantation I bought the cheapest second-hand DSLR I could find and, being the go-getter that I am, I, well, just went for it. All guns blazing. Full steam ahead. BUT... without a clear direction :(.

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Sure, there were some accidentally good pictures, some car crashes ones and lots of so-so pictures in between, but you know, nothing genuinely rang true. I mean trying lots of different things was an important and helpful process, but attempting to emulate what other big, professional, experienced bloggers were doing i.e. moody, dark, very staged and very styled gorgeous food photography, wasn't the way forward for me. It never felt natural and genuine because it was so far removed from who I am and how I live my life. In reality I'm drawn to light, bright and simple things that celebrate femininity and motherhood and that embrace the ultimate mother figure: Mother Earth. And I feel that's coming through much more clearly in my last few pictures :) 

Though I know I've still got a long way to go, I also believe that since the start of 2015 I've finally found my food photography path :) and these 4 bloggers, without knowing it, really helped me to find my 'style'. I'm mentioning them here as a little 'thank you' because their inspiration means a lot to me :) and because their blogs are awesome and you should check them out:)

1. Christina Soong from The Hungry Australian. She created this blog post and I can't tell you how happy those pictures made me feel. Seeing them was like an 'aha' moment for me. Of course they were 'staged' and 'styled' and deeply thought through and probably meticulously put together. But it didn't feel like that way to me. Instead it felt like family, joy and simple, good food were at the heart of what she was trying to convey.

2. Sonia Dahlgren from Dagmar's Kitchen. Like Christina, I am certain a lot of thought and consideration go into her pictures, yet they feel natural and comforting and oh so homely and inviting. There is no pretentiousness or unnecessary tricks involved in what she does. Her attention to detail is incredible, yet she too let's whole, natural and real food do the talking. And for that she will always have an instagram follower in me.

3. Amber Rose from Bake, Love, Nourish. I could stare at her instagram feed for hours and still not have enough. She's been a huge influence and inspiration and by understanding why I like her instagram feed so much, I've better understood how I can translate my relationship with food through the media of photography.

4. Jo Anderson from The Luminous Kitchen. White is a prominent colour in Jo's photography and I'm sure that's partly why I'm so drawn to it. (Plus the cute little baby pictures help too :)). But it's more than that. It's the softness and simplicity that speak to me.


So, in short I feel I HAVE something to show for my all my hard work, this blog is here to stay and I'm super proud of this little is space. Therefore, I officially declare The Little Plantation a food-photography-angst free zone :). Sounds good, right? Now off to make some delicious plant-based food ;). Thanks for reading everyone.


P.S. Thanks everyone whose visited the blog, commented, liked and shared my posts on facebook, twitter and instagram, pinned my pics, send me an e-mail, made my food and recommended my blog to a friend. And despite the occasional tantrums, it has been a great experience because of YOU.

For this week's recipe, chosen by everyone on instagram...

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IMPORTANT: Please read the tips at the end of the recipe before making the tart :).

VEGAN ASPARAGUS TART (V+, GF, Gr, P)

Pre-prepartion Time:
nuts need to be soaked for several hours to make the raw, vegan sour cream filling
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4- 6

Ingredients for the crust:

2 cups/210g (organic) almond meal 
1 + 1/4 tablespoon (organic) ground flaxseed + 4 tablespoons of water
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of salt (I used this one)
1 tablespoon (organic) dried thyme
1 + 1/2 tablespoons of (organic) olive oil

Ingredients for the filling:
250g (organic) asparagus
a pinch of salt (I used this one)
a pinch or two of (organic) sugar (omit for a paleo version)
a dash of (organic) olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinagre (optional)

raw, vegan sour cream (find the recipe here)

Instructions:
Please check the recipe for the raw vegan sour cream. This needs to be prepared in advance!

Combine the ground flax seeds with water in a bowl and set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 375F/190C. Line a 35cm/12cm tart pan (I used this one) with non-stick parchment paper and grease the bottom part of the pan with olive oil and grease the sides with coconut oil (oil tends to slide down the sides and make the tart edges stick!). 

In a separate bowl combine the almond meal, salt, thyme and olive oil. Mix with a spoon. Then add the flax seed mixture. The dough should have a nice consistency and not be too wet.
Using your hands and fingers spread the dough into the prepared tart pan. Then make fork marks all over the tart crust (see picture)
 
Bake blind by cutting out another piece of non-stick parchment paper, covering the top/centre of the tart and filling it with marbles/dried pulses for about 10 minutes.

Then remove the pulses and parchment paper and bake the tart for another 10 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Remove the tart from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

As the tart crust is cooling, wash and cut the asparagus in pieces which will fit perfectly inside the tart (use the tips). Pan fry lightly in olive oil. Don't overdo it! The asparagus should be warm, but retain some of its crunch. Just before turning off the heat, sprinkle with salt, sugar and balsamic vinagre.

Fill the tart crust with a little bit of sour cream. Then top with the asparagus pieces and serve! 

Tip1: This tart tastes best on the day it is made and is not freezable due to the raw sour cream. Hence it's a lovely dish to serve when you have friends round. It does keep in the fridge for about 24-24 hours though :)
Tip2: The recipe for the tart crust can also be used to make a grain- and gluten-free pizza base. Just add your favourite toppings!
Tip3: There will be more raw, vegan sour cream than you need for this recipe. Use any left over sour cream as a dip (see another good reason to make this when friends come).
Tip4: The filling is just a suggestion. Please just use whatever is local and seasonal to you :)
Tip5: I used this tart case. I hope the picture will give you a better sense of its size.

Eat with... a lovely salad (how about this one or this one or this one)