Taking food photos became a necessity for me when I started Jewels from The Roving Stove 3 1/2 years ago. I learned very quickly that it is much harder than it looks! I don’t like being lousy at things, so it became an obsession until I started getting the hang of it, and now it is one of my favorite hobbies. Ask my nephew – he automatically stops my family from digging-in, shouting “WAIT, Aunt Julie has to get her shot first!” I’ve come a long way baby, but there are still certain dishes I’ve yet to master photographing in an appetizing manner, so I decided this week I’d turn the tables, and ask you for advice. Are you a budding, avid, and/or professional food photographer?

lamb and vegetables with mashed potatoes

Jewels Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve learned that whenever possible, I should take food photos in natural light. I think about composition, and do my best to get the photo in focus (that usually means taking about 25 shots to get one great one). I have shaky hands, so I us a tripod at home, but balancing the camera on a glass of water or something stationary helps when I’m out and about. I also use the macro setting on my point and shoot camera, and a macro lens on my bigger fancy-schmancy one. However, I never seem to find the right angle to photograph a juicy grilled steak that should make your mouth water, and things like meat, ground poultry, and veggie casseroles always seem to come out looking a bit like – well excuse the expression, but it’s true – puke on a plate.


I thought it might be fun to have a little competition around this. Send in your best photo of the recipe below to guestblogforjewels at gmail dot com, and you could win a free month of Personal Chef Approach™ membership for yourself, or if you’re already a member, a one month gift certificate to give a friend! See how much fun it is to do the PCA™ socially – have few giggles together while you share the prep and cooking, then divvy up the meals between you to take home – it makes your cook date fly by!

No limit to the number of food photos you may enter

No limit to the number of food photos you may enter

There is no limit to the number of photos you enter, but they must be your own originals. Don’t forget to add your food photography tips in the body of the email, and send your entries to guestblogforjewels at gmail dot com. We will select 3-5 finalists, and publish a pole on the Facebook page for the public to choose the winner. Entering means you give your permission for us to use the photo, because the winning photo will make the recipe library! Deadline for your entries will be New Years Eve 2012. Voting for the top three contenders will open New Years Day 2013, and close at midnight on Sunday January 6th. The winner will be announced on Monday January 7th. Good luck!

Please excuse the photo below – now you can see why I am enlisting your help. Even my carnivore clients and members comment on how yummy this recipe actually is, so please don’t let the photo put you off. Bon appetit!

vegetarian casserole

Saucey & Savory Vegetable Crumble

When I think crumble, I usually think of apples and dessert, but I love turning a sweet concept into savory one and vice-a-versa. If you prefer, you could certainly turn this vegetarian dish into a meat or poultry one by substituting a pound of cooked ground turkey, chicken, beef, or pork for the cannellini beans.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes


Saucey & Savory Vegetable Crumble

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more if needed
  • 3 medium leeks thoroughly rinsed and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced
  • 2 large carrots sliced
  • 1 cup brown mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 pound asparagus coarse ends removed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup unbleached flour divided
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 13.75 ounces canned artichoke hearts
  • 15 ounces canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained


  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated


Saucey & Savory Vegetable Crumble

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. To make the filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil. Add the leeks, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and thyme; season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the artichoke hearts and cannellini beans. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish.
  4. Stir the remaining flour and the oats together in a medium bowl. Add the butter, rubbing with your fingertips just to combine with the flour and oats. Stir in the grated cheese. Sprinkle this crumble mixture over the vegetables. If not eating right away, cool, cover at this point.
  5. Bake the crumble until the topping is golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions

This is really a full meal all in one, but you could serve with a lovely green salad on the side.

Heat To Eat

Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake the crumble until the topping is golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately; or heat individual portions on microwave proof plates for 2-4 minutes in the microwave.

P.S. Which photo in my recipe library is your favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

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  • December 16, 2012
    6:24 am

    Thinking this is the casserole to make for me to enjoy over the holidays. I find I’m less and less into meat based meals and craving vegetables. So, a double batch is in order once the cheque hits the account this week and I do a major shop. Not to worry, I will cook some turkey to have on hand and if I get crazy, I could chop up a handful and add to this dish. Thank you Jewels for coming to my rescue!
    Now, as for taking snaps, I’m not good. I shake, can’t focus properly, that would be my eyes as well as the camera. Planning a trip to have my eyes tested early in the new year. Especially as I’ve found out that I now have coverage for the amount that the insurance doesn’t cover. Santa sent me that good news a week ago!