Cook and Food Stylist for a Day

The Regional Telco Magazine is written and designed by WordSouth, A Content Marketing Company. It’s created on behalf of about 20 telecom companies across the country. It goes to 275,000 readers. That’s a lot of eyeballs. I’ve worked with WordSouth for about 8 years. Talented people and great friends. In each magazine, there’s a recipe. I mean a magazine isn’t a magazine without a recipe, right?

WordSouth found themselves in need of a cook and photographer for a couple of upcoming editions. My sister Shelly, Miller Photography, has worked for WordSouth before doing some cover and employee photos.  Although her clients are mainly business, sports teams, family photos, and senior photography (high school not people my age), she has experience in the food styling arena. That makes one of us.

Next, a cook. Someone to prepare the recipes. This is where I come in. I really don’t consider myself much of a cook.  Granted, I have a brand new renovated kitchen, but Hello Fresh has been more my speed since retirement. I can follow a recipe though. How hard can it be?

The tides turned a bit when one recipe turned into four. Shelly determined it would be more efficient to photograph several of the recipes at the same time. Something about setting up the lights and equipment. I understood trying to be more efficient, but then the recipes arrived. It just got scary.

First, meatloaf cupcakes with cauliflower frosting (I struggled to get over the cupcake part). Second, lava cakes. Ok, I can do lava cakes with whipped cream. Who doesn’t love chocolate?  Next, sausage and cherry stuffing. Cherries? Can I find a turkey in July? (Thanks grocery store for searching the back freezer.) Last, more stuffing. Thank goodness, it is stuffing in a 9 x 13 baking pan and no bird.

The preparation starts the night before. The stuffing recipes call for five cups of chopped onions (I need goggles), four cups of celery, nine cups of bread cubes (I bought too much bread), and 6 cups of crumbled cornbread (can I find that in the bread section), and a 14lb frozen turkey trying to defrost (sing this to the tune of 12 days of Christmas). Amid the chopping and crying, I received a text from WordSouth saying, “you can do half a recipe”. Dang, why didn’t I think of that?

It was a full day of cooking and photographing. The cauliflower frosting gave us some fits. Nothing a little time in the freezer didn’t fix (not me, the frosting). The lava cakes were scrumptious (yes, we ate them after the photos). I learned a food styling trick with the turkey. Broil it in the oven until it’s a pretty bronze, photograph it, and cook it later. The cherry stuffing was cooked thoroughly, and it was delicious. The last pan of dressing was set on a table decorated for fall (thank you to my sister Kathy for all her fall decor). We wrapped up the day with our hubbies sampling the odd mixture of dishes for dinner. We told them to pretend it’s Thanksgiving in July.

In the end, my renovated kitchen was a disaster and all dishes were dirty. Even so, it was a good day and a new adventure. Retirement does not mean boring. I also discovered that I continue to learn new things. Like how to broil a turkey (still frozen) making it appear delicious and toasty in a photo. And more importantly, will readers really be able to tell if I chopped 5 cups of onions? Didn’t think so.

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