The most challenging thing about working on my cookbook so far has been the photography. I love taking and editing pictures, but I am the worst when it comes to staging them. My biggest issue is that I don’t plan on my props in advance, so when my food is finished, I’m frantically rifling through cabinets and drawers for dishes and linens. And then later when I’m about to publish a post, I realize that I used the same napkin and dish together the week before (here and here). Or even worse, that I staged two photos almost exactly the same way. (I’m way too embarrassed to link to those, but feel free to look through my archives and find them. It’s like a scavenger hunt, but the prize is my humiliation.)
When I collaborated on the big vegetarian Thanksgiving menu with Rikki Snyder, she tweeted a photo of some props with post-it notes on them to indicate which recipes she planned to use them with for the shoot. Genius! So I’m stealing her idea to help me eliminate the whole last minute scramble. And then to make sure I don’t use the same linens or plates too many times, I’m keeping track of that in a spreadsheet.
My other issue when it comes to staging is that I completely lack the ability to suspend disbelief. This is why I am no fun at movies. I’m always the one who’s all, “There’s no way you could get superpowers from radiation.” I even look at movie posters and think, “What are they standing there smiling for?” (I am the worst. See? No fun.) When we had to watch West Side Story in junior high, my brain just about exploded. Dancing, singing gangs?! So when I see a photo with a beautiful tarnished spoon, I wonder, “Are they really going to eat dessert with that dirty looking spoon?”
And when I see a jar of blueberry jam that’s overflowing onto a tea towel, I think, “That stain will never come off. That tea towel is ruined!”
And when there’s a mess of flour all over a table, I think, “Who’s going to clean that up?”
And when a piece of fruit is on a beat up piece of barn wood with paint flaking off, I think, “Those paint chips must be full of lead.”
The thing is, I love photos like that. Those are my favorite photos! But when it comes to creating scenes like that myself, I just can’t bring myself to do it. I am so practical that art just doesn’t come naturally to me. And when I try to artfully spill ingredients, I feel like it looks like I’ve tried to artfully spill ingredients. I want it to look effortless, but instead it looks effortful. And do you know what a pain it was to scoop up these chia seeds and get them back in the bag?!
This is a lot tougher to tackle than organizing my props in advance, but I’m working on it.
So what does this have to do with Mexican Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding? Nothing, really. But do you really want to read a 5 paragraph post about pudding? (Okay, maybe you don’t want to read a 5 paragraph post about my photo issues either. Fine! You win!) I’ve been making the Chia Seed Pudding recipe from Averie Cooks for a while now and while I love the texture of chia seeds in pudding, I know it’s a little off-putting for some people. Solution? Blend the heck out of the pudding! When you puree chia seed pudding, it’s smooth and creamy, just like traditional pudding. I also added cinnamon and cayenne because why not? It worked for my breakfast shake and it works really well in this pudding too.
Bonus: you can totally have this chia seed pudding for breakfast. Breakfast pudding! We’ll live like kings!
A rich, creamy dairy-free pudding made with chia seeds.
- 1/3 c. chia seeds
- 1 c. unsweetened almond (or other non-dairy) milk
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup (I used Grade B)
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- pinch of cayenne (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours. Transfer mixture to a high-powered blender and blend until completely smooth. If pudding is warm from blending, return to refrigerator until chilled. (Alternately, you can just stir the pudding and eat it without blending.)
This pudding is thick, almost like a mousse. If you've blended your pudding and decide you want it a little thinner, add some extra milk. Be sure to blend the pudding until completely smooth--if you don't, it will be gritty! A high-powered blender like the Vitamix works best. Any sweetener you like will work in this, and if 1 tablespoon isn't sweet enough, feel free to add more.