Sunday, April 26, 2009

Light Tent

I believe photography is a major key to website success. Photographs are the key to triggering viewer’s attention, thus keeping them on your site. Once a site has great photographs and great writing they are set for success. The tools that help are light tents and great photographic equipment.

A light tent is basically a huge diffuser for light. Have you ever wondered how people get that floating effect? I’ve had so much fun with mine I decided to put a tutorial up on how to make it.


- A Large Square Box
- White Muslin Fabric
- Masking Tape
- Glue Stick
- Four Sheets White Bristol Board
- Ruler
- Tape Ruler
- Knife
- Scissors
- Sharpe
- Two Halogen Lights

The Process

1. Grab the box, tape ruler and Sharpe marker. Measure two inches from the side of the box marking multiple points. Once you’re finished connect the points with your ruler, creating a square two inches for the actual edge. Do this to all four sides leaving the top and bottom intact.
2. With your knife cut out the four inner squares you just made in step one. Once you’ve completed this cut off the top of the box but keep the bottom intact.
3. Now grab the Bristol board and make lines every two inches eight times. After completing this you should have eight rows length wise on the Bristol board. Proceed to cutting out the eight strips of board, depending on the size of your box you make have to repeat this.
4. Grab the glue stick and glue the strips of paper inside the box. Make sure the entire interior is covered, with no brown box exposed.
5. Get another piece of Bristol board and cut so the width is the same as the inside of the box.
6. Place the Bristol board inside of the box to where it curves at the bottom. Avoid creasing as it can show up in photos. If it’s not long enough you may have to glue two pieces of Bristol board together. Cut off any excess paper that is sticking out the top.
7. Cut the Muslin fabric where it will cover the sides, back and top of the box. If you make four separate cuts it will work out better.
8. Pull the fabric tight over the cut out holes and tape it down using the masking tape. Make sure the fabric is very tight avoiding unwanted shadows. Make sure you don’t cover the hole that is facing the background.

The light tent is now complete. If you don’t already own Halogen lights then you can purchase them at the hardware store. Once you have the two lights ready plug them in, be cautious because the lights get extremely warm. Position the box in the middle of the two with the two lights on the side pointing towards the background.

Camera Settings

Once the light box is complete, you’re far from getting fantastic photographs. So much of photography is the settings you choose. If you ever want constant results you should learn how to shoot in Manual mode, this takes a lot of practice though. Shooting on a tripod is highly recommended since shutter times may be long, so consider using the timer or a wireless remote. Another thing to think about is purchasing a speed flash.


1/10 sec., F8, Exp. +1.7, Iso 100, WB Incandescent, RAW

Class Ring

1/10 sec., F8, Exp. +1.7, Iso 100, WB Incandescent, RAW

Adobe Light Room 2

Editing Software

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Central Market

While walking through Grand Central Terminal in New York City, I stumbled upon Grand Central Market. The whole place is lively with crowds of vibrant people.

Grand Central Terminal officially opened on Sunday, February 2, 1913. One hundred and fifty thousand people showed up although construction was not yet entirely complete. The one hundred foot wide by six hundred and fifty foot long structure, rivaled the Eiffel Tower for the most dramatic engineering achievement of the nineteenth century. The most prominent feature was undoubtedly its enormous train shed. The terminal began restoration in 1996 and was finished on October 1, 1998.

The market is full of different vendors offering anything from truffle honey to Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. The venders include:

- Ceriello Fine Foods
- Corrado Bread & Pastry
- Dishes at Home
- Greenwich Produce
- Koglin German Hams
- Li-Lac Chocolates
- Murray’s Cheese
- Murray’s Real Salami
- Oren’s Daily Roast
- Penzey’s Spices
- Pescatore Seafood Company
- Wild Edibles
- Zaro’s Bread Basket

Although there were many things to buy, I only bought the truffle honey from Murray’s Cheese. As I mentioned before the honey was very fragrant and was a great match with prosciutto and blue Montagnolo. The atmosphere is laid back and prices are very reasonable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shatto Butter

Shatto Milk Company is a small dairy farm located north of the Kansas City metropolitan area. The Shatto family has been farming for more than one hundred years. Nearly sixty years ago they began a dairy farm. In June of 2003 the family began processing their own milk, right on the farm.

Shatto Milk Company is constantly striving to make a quality product. The company has adopted the motto, “Milk at its Finest,” which suits it rather well. All the milk sold comes from cows with no rbST (recombinant bovine somatotropin) or recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH).

The farm uses Holstein cows which generally produce more milk than cream. The entire milking herd consists of a slim one hundred and twenty cows. The cows are milked daily and generally produce six to seven gallons.

Shatto Milk Company uses glass bottles to package their milk products. The farm insists there are four reasons to use glass:

- Glass bottles keep the milk colder
- Environmentally friendly
- Glass imparts no foreign odor or flavor
- Glass bottles are notable in history for containing farm fresh milk

The Shatto Milk Company offers twenty six different products, from milk to butter to ice cream. All of these wonderful products are made in house. One can tell the milk is fresh. While pouring it has a creamy characteristic, unlike the cheap crap. The butter is natural tasting, none of those fake flavorings. This is where quality takes first place.

If you enjoy quality food products, then this is your cup of milk. In the near future I’m hoping to take a tour of the farm and further get to know Leroy Shatto.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

db bistro moderne

Db bistro moderne is the ideal casual bistro. The kitchen uses quality ingredients with solid cooking techniques. Daniel Boulud is the chef and owner of seven award winning restaurants and the Feast and Fêtes Catering Company. In Manhattan, New York Daniel Boulud’s restaurants are Daniel, Café Boulud, db bistro moderne and Bar Boulud.

Daniel Boulud was born March 25, 1955 in Saint-Pierre de Chandieu, France. At fifteen years old, Daniel Boulud earned his first professional recognition: He was a finalist in France’s competition for Best Culinary Apprentice. Boulud worked in France under Roger Vergé, Georges Blanc and Michel Guérard and later in Copenhagen.

The service is tremendous. Everyone knows the whole menu front to back and around again. Something that stuck out in my mind was the iced tea. Many flavors were available, which most restaurants don’t offer. For lunch we chose to do the two course menu. You either get to pick an appetizer and an entrée or an entrée and a dessert. I like this because not everyone wants the same exact thing.

The entire meal was exceptional from the perfectly cooked organic chicken to the sacred db burger. The db burger is basically food for the gods. Boulud’s $32.00 burger is stuffed with braised short ribs, foie gras and black truffle. The burger is served on a homemade toasted parmesan and poppy seed bun. If you’re a big spender, there’s the db burger royale with 10 grams of shaved truffles for $75.00 or the db burger double truffle with 20 grams of truffles for $150.00.

The burger was quite a challenge to eat, even for my large mouth. Normal people would probably use a fork but I dove in with my hands. All the different flavors are bold but together make a great combination.

The desserts were very creative. All had extraordinary flavors and the presentations were simple. The kitchen staff focused on flavor and left out the flair. My favorite dessert was the banana chocolate beignet with peanut ice cream. The bananas were slowly roasted and the ice cream was a perfect counterpart. It reminded me of Elvis’s banana and peanut butter sandwich.

After eating at Daniel, I had many expectations for db bistro. I also wanted to see how Daniel Boulud would go from both ends of the scale. Db bistro lived up to Boulud’s expectations and was overall just a meal.

Bacon Veiled Salmon

Baby Carrots, Turnips, Fingerling Potatoes, Riesling Veloute

Organic Chicken Breast «Grand-Mere»

Pomme Cocotte, Bacon, Button Mushrooms, Spinach

The Orignal db Burger

Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs Foie Gras and Black Truffle, Served on a Parmesan Bun, Pommes Frites

db Burger Condiments

Ketchup, Mustard, Mayonnaise

Chocolate Coffee Mille Feuille

Mocha Mousse, Chocolate Crémeux, Hazelnut Ice Cream

Meyer Lemon Tart

Poppy Seed Crust, Pomegranate Sorbet

Banana Chocolate Beignet

Slow Roasted Banana, Chocolate Shavings, Peanut Ice Cream


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Carnegie Delicatessen

Carnegie Deli is possibly the best deli in the United States. Everything is absolutely massive from the sacred pickles to the one pound pieces of cheese cake. The staff feels if you can finish your meal, they did something wrong.

Carnegie Deli was opened in 1937 adjacent to Carnegie Hall. The restaurant offers pastrami, corned beef and other sandwiches all of which are at least one pound. The delicatessen also offers traditional Jewish fare such as matzah ball soup, potato pancakes, chopped chicken liver and smoked salmon.

The atmosphere of the place is very weird. The seating is like nothing I’ve ever experienced while dining out before. It was elbow to elbow seating down long tables, almost like being in elementary school again. At first glance you’d think the servers were absolutely rude, but the delicatessen is trying to give the customer the feel of traditional New Yorkers. To top it all off, the walls are completely covered with autographed pictures of celebrities who have eaten there.

The corn beef was probably the best I’ve ever had. It was made perfectly and served with fresh sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a side of Thousand Island dressing. After the pickles, corn beef sandwich and French fries though, I sadly had no room for dessert. Maybe next time.



Corned Beef, Swiss Cheese and Sauerkraut

Chopped Liver

Lettuce, Tomato

Cholesterol Free French Fries

The Kitchen


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World

Recently I’ve been reading a lot. I believe reading literature is the key to success in life. The one who reads the most should have the greatest knowledge on that subject. The latest book I’ve read was Cod: A Biography of the Fish That changed the World. It’s written by Mark Kurlansky who has written many other books including, Salt: A World History.

Many don’t realize what their eating has dated back centuries, changing the world. Cod was a key success in developing many countries. One country we all know is America, which I live in. Cod used to be the poor man’s food but because of over fishing it’s now quite expensive. Something that was a major help in fishing was salting the fish, hence salt cod.

From early fishing records cod has been a popular catch. It’s rather easy once caught because it doesn’t fight back. Cod has been located all over the world from the Black sea, to Iceland, to Newfoundland (currently Canada). It played a huge role in traveling the sea because once salted it held for long periods of time. Cod was also what many slaves ate in the Caribbean and the Americas. This is way people from this region like the lesser quality piece of codfish.

No one ever thought cod could be overfished. Many people had the mindset there were infinite amounts of this species. Though once catches started declining this concept was shortly brought up. Shortly after, many countries started to put limits on how close you could fish to their shore. Finally in 1977 most countries had two hundred mile limit zones.

Overfishing is greatly due to the trawler. A trawler is a rather large ship that drags nets behind it. The boats catch everything in their paths, including fish fisherman didn’t want. This method also contributed to other species extinctions. Another problem was high demand. When you constantly fish, the population doesn’t have a chance to regenerate.

I wish there were books like Cod: A Biography of the Fish That changed the World on every ingredient. Then again not everything changed the world this dramatically. Everyone should read this book to further their knowledge on what really changed our world.