Sunday, 26 February 2012

Should You Watermark Your Photographs?

Recently, on the UK Food Bloggers (UKFBA) website, there was a discussion on watermarking photos. It appears to have stemmed from a blog post written about Pinterest. For those of you who don't know, Pinterest is one of the newest social networking platforms where users can share photos. Through my, albeit limited, experience of the site, there is always a link back to the original source. So there is accreditation. I do, however, accept that there are instances where there is no credit given, and there is a very clear complaint process if this is the case.

The advantage of watermarking your images is very obvious. If someone else uses it, you name, URL, etc. are clearly visible as the original source. 

The disadvantage is that they are very often an eye sore on what might have been a great image. 

In my opinion, I think that watermarked images also look a tad arrogant. Especially when the image is not that great anyway. I certainly know that my photography is not that great. And maybe I'm coming from it from an amateur blogger point of view. I don't make any money from my blog or the photographs, so if someone "steals" it, then I'm more flattered than offended.

However, if I was a professional then I would have a very different opinion if someone used my images. Because then I'm losing money. In that case, I would totally agree that watermarking images makes sense. 

Copyright is big news at the moment, and rightly so. I think we bloggers have to be very careful. I freely admit that I have used images in the past that maybe I shouldn't have. Not so anymore. 

But let's be clear. If you don't want your images being wrongly used by other parties, don't use other peoples images with out giving any credit. It works both ways. 

On the UKFBA discussion that I mentioned earlier, someone disagreed with me. He thought that images should be watermarked, and pointed out that a photographer he knows now makes more money from seeking out people who have used his photos without a license than he does from commissions. (A sad state of affairs no matter what angle you look at it from). However, when I clicked through to this commenters blog, there were several images that did not appear to be his own - with no accreditation. A tad hypocritical. 

I fully expecting for some (most?) of you to disagree with me on this. This post is not intended to be disrespectful to anyone, and is simply my opinion. I am open to discussion.

What are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award



Well this was unexpected. And on the night of the Brit Awards, I almost feel like I'm a winner. 

Thanks to Sam from Pistachio and Rose. I've not even been blogging for 12 months and didn't think anyone took that much notice of me. So I do really appreciate it Sam. 

According to the rules of the award, I have to mention seven random things about myself. Hmm... where to start?

1. When I was in little (about 5 years old?) I had my one and only part in a school production. Joseph in The Nativity. I had one thing to do - walk across to the nativity scene and sit down. That was it. No words. Nothing. My costume was a potato sack which was really really itchy.

2. My first ever concert was Wet Wet Wet. Yes, I'm that cool.

3. My first cassette tape (à la 80's style) was Jive Bunny and The Mastermixers.

4. My first CD was Chicago.

5. I love books. Most of the time I'm a slow reader. I'm obsessed with collecting cookery books and I'll tend to get them from car boot sales and charity shops. Some of my favourite non-cook books are Moab Is My Washpot, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night, The Tao of Pooh, and The Tragedy Of Miss Geneva Flowers. I also like graphic novels. The last book I read was I Am Legend and I'm currently reading One Day.

6. Anyone who knows me on Twitter will recognise one of those books as the inspiration for my username.

7. I'll pretty much try any food at least once. Whether I think I'll like it or not. The only thing that has made me actual want to vomit is frog legs - but I think that's because the person who cooked them was a bit rubbish. I'd like to try them again.

Next up, here's 15 bloggers that I'm awarding The Versatile Blogger Award too:

















Add the award to you blog.
Thank the blogger who gave it to you.
Mention 7 random things about yourself.
List the rules.
Award to 15 bloggers.
Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Coq au Vin and Old Photos and Curry



A while ago, Mum was sorting out some old photos. I'm not sure why, but our family photos never got put into albums or anything. Maybe it was because we couldn't afford much when I was little, and just never bothered when we could.

For some reason, a few were left out in the kitchen. I assume they're waiting to be scanned into the computer. So I thought I'd share a few of me with you.


 


Aren't I just the cutest thing. Apparently I'm always wearing jumpers. Even the Boyfriend's mum commented on it recently. Jumpers are stylish. (Note how me and my brother are matching).




Now I understand why people weren't that surprised when I came out. And if you think I'm running in this one, you're wrong. I'm probably skipping.




Look, I'm slim!!! Believe it or not, once upon a time I use to be a little sporty. Swimming and football were sports. Talking of which...


 


Me after a game of football. I use to play centre back and was nicknamed Rhino because of the way I'd tackle. Not many got past me. 

I had an injury to my cruciate ligament when I was 17. Had an operation, but never really got back into playing much after that. Though I did play 5-a-side at when I was at Winchester. Wish I still played.

Nowadays, my passion lies with food. And this weekend saw me mostly in the kitchen cooking. 

I had some chillies left over from cooking a Green Prawn Curry last week and, rather than waste them, decided to make a curry paste. 

After a quick Google, and clicking on the first link, I found Jamie Oliver's recipes for curry pastes. I tripled the recipe and came out with this...





Korma curry paste.

I'm totally aware that it looks like a mess. But I used it and it tasted awesome. Fresh, well spiced.

Afterwards, I rolled the rest into a sausage shape, in cling film, and froze it. Then I can just cut off what I need and make a quick curry.

I love curry.

What was I blogging about again? oh yeah. Coq au vin. 

If you didn't see it on Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr or Pinterest or wherever, here's a video I made.




I used the recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and in it she says "Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match". I think standing on the other side of the kitchen and throwing a match might be safer.

(Note: Don't throw lighted matches. It was a joke).




After the flames went out I was brave enough to approach the pan again.




Because the recipe isn't mine, I'm not going to post it. But I'll quickly run through what the basics are.

  • Brown some bacon and chicken (I used the thighs and drumsticks I had from de-boning a couple of chickens).
  • Pour in some cognac and (carefully, very carefully) set it alight.
  • Add some red or white wine (I used red), thyme, tomato paste, garlic, stock (that I'd made from the chicken carcasses after de-boning).
  • Separately sautée some mushrooms and onions.
  • Thicken the chicken sauce with a roux (although Julia used a beurre manié).
It was really, really good.

Julia says that, in France, coq au vin is traditionally only served with "parsley potatoes". I think that means boiled potatoes served with parsley - can you correct me if I'm wrong. But anyway, I served it with parsley mashed potatoes, which is your basic mash but with lots of parsley mixed through it.





Saturday, 18 February 2012

Video Blog: How To Fillet a Whole Chicken

So I've finally took the plunge and created my first ever vlog.

I hope this "how to" helps at least one person who watches the video. Whenever I saw a chef on TV filleting a chicken, they always seemed to do it too quickly. With me being a bit slower at doing it you'll be able to see what I'm doing. 

It does take a bit of practice. I'm not that good at it myself and still leave too much meat on the carcass. But, the size of the portions I get are still better value compared to buying them separately. 

Enjoy.




Star Wars music from here


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Beef Cobbler



I have a confession. I'm sat listening to Westlife as I'm writing this. Actually, that shouldn't have to be a confession. Just don't judge me.

I remember when they first appeared in the charts, when I was in secondary school. (Or highschool, now that we seem to have adopted that Americanism). I loved them straight away and have a lot of memories attached to their songs.

*Sighs*

Sorry, got sidetracked by nostalgia for a moment then.




Beef cobbler is one of my Dad's favourite meals. (Or "that stew with dumplings", as he calls it). 

It's not hard to imagine why it's called "cobbler" as it resembles cobbled streets a la Coronation Street. Not that I watch any soaps... No, really, I don't watch any of them. 

My cobbles seem to have sunken a little.




I find that I make this dish with whatever root vegetables I've got hand. But, it does tend to be many carrots and parsnips if I've planned it.

Also, any tough cut of beef or lamb would be fine. Personally, I absolutely adore ox cheeks, but please don't all go out and buy them or the price will rise.

(Who am I kidding? As if enough people read this to make that happen).




Beef Cobbler


You can really make this recipe your own. Mix up the root veg, add potatoes, use ale or red wine in the filling. Or use different herbs in the "cobbles", or even cheese.


Serves 4


For the filling


2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1tsp dried rosemary
1tsp dried thyme
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 parsnips, finely chopped
400g stewing beef, roughly diced
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp tomato purée
Beef stock


For the cobbles


400g self raising flour
200g shredded suet
1 tsp dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary (optional)
Cold water.


Preheat oven Gas 3 (170°C/325°)


In an oven proof pan, gently fry the onions, garlic, and herbs in the oil until the onions are softened. Add the carrots, parsnips, beef, and flour, and give it all a good stir to coat everything in the flour. Next, add the tomato puree and enough beef stock to just cover everything. Bring to a simmer, lid on, and cook in the oven for at least 4 hours or until the meat is really tender.


Meanwhile, make the cobbles by mixing the self raising flour with the suet and herbs (if using). Gradually, a couple of tablespoons at a time, add the water until it forms a dough (it might be a bit sticky, but that's ok). Portion the dough into eight equal balls and flatten them slightly.


When the filling is nearly ready, carefully place the cobbles on top and cook for 20-30 minutes.


Sunday, 5 February 2012

Foil Baked Salmon



Whenever my brother and nieces are staying with us for the weekends, I always try and make something easy for the dinners. Whether that's preparing something during the week, or a one dish meal.

(Especially since I've got so much uni work to do).

The trick is to find something that the nieces will like, too.

The eldest niece has always been fussy with her food. But, she's getting a lot better. As long as there is ketchup on the table.

She's even starting to show interest in curry. Despite claiming that she doesn't like "spices". I think she accepted my explanation that not all spices are hot, and that they all taste different.

My youngest niece will eat pretty much anything.




In this recipe, because you are locking all the moisture inside, it's not the end of the world if you overcook it slightly.

There are plenty of variations on this recipe. You can add:

Fennel.

Dill.

Lemon thyme.

Parsley.

Chilli.

Lemongrass.

It goes on...


I've kept this version quite simple. Nothing too powerful that the girls won't like it.

I've also used a side of salmon here. But, there's nothing stopping you doing it with individual fillets.


Foil Baked Salmon

Basil olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 lemon, finely sliced
1 side of salmon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven Gas 7 (220°C/425°F)


Line a baking tray with a large sheet of tin foil, leaving plenty to fold over later, and drizzle with some oil. Scatter the onions in a thin layer and place the salmon on top. Arrange the lemon on top of the salmon and drizzle with more oil and the white wine vinegar. Season with the salt and pepper, then fold the foil to form a parcel and crimp the edges together. 


Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.