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Chicken Soup

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Special thanks to photographer, Paul Saraceno for collaborating on these images!

Chicken soup is the most comforting soup, is it not? I usually buy my whole chickens at Whole Foods. They are frequently on sale for $1.99/pound and so a whole chicken costs me less than 5 bucks and I can get several delicious meals out of it. When they are on sale, I usually buy 3 chickens at a time and put 2 of them in my freezer to roast or make more soup out of later.  The third bird can be used immediately to make soup (see recipe below). You can also choose to roast the chicken for dinner and use the carcass and leftover meat the next day to make the soup.

Chicken Soup:

First, you will need to make the chicken stock using the whole chicken or leftover carcass. Then you will add the final ingredients to the stock to make this hearty soup.

To make the Stock:

1 whole chicken or leftover chicken carcass (with some meat still on)

water, to cover

2 carrots, chopped in half inch rounds

2 stalks of celery, chopped on bias into 2 inch pieces

2 bay leaves

a handful of fresh herbs (choose 2 or more of thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, bay leaves, savory etc)

1 onion, chopped into large pieces

Coarse sea salt and black pepper

 

How to Make Chicken Stock: Place the whole bird into a stock pot and cover the carcass with water.  Add in all other ingredients and bring the stock to a boil. Let this simmer for about 25 minutes. Remove the bird from the pot and place on a parchment lined tray to let cool.  Meanwhile, using a fine mesh sieve, drain your stock into a bowl and discard the veggies in the compost (by this time they are soggy and lack virtually any flavour - after all that simmering their delicious flavour has been imparted to the stock). Remove the meat from the carcass using your hands and set this meat aside.

To Make the Soup:

homemade chicken stock

2 carrots, chopped in whatever bite sized shape you prefer, diced, cut on bias etc

2 stalks of celery, diced or sliced, you name it

1 potato, cubed (any size but keep in mind that smaller cubes will cook faster)

* consider adding a different starch if you wish, egg noodles, rice, orzo, barley etc

coarse sea salt and black pepper, to taste (be careful to not under or over-season!)

chicken meat

 

Finally, make the soup (!): Pour the stock back into your rinsed pot. Add your diced veggies and bring your soup to a boil, then back to a simmer. Add your leftover chicken meat only at the end of the cooking to prevent it from becoming overcooked, tough and chewy. If you want to add more veggies to your soup, you can toss in some peas or kale at the end. Serve your soup with fresh baked bread and butter for a hearty, comforting meal.

 

Waterfresh Farm Shoot for Edible Boston Magazine

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Who knew you could get local, pesticide-free, fresh tomatoes throughout the winter?! We took a trip to visit Waterfresh Farm in Hopkinton, MA to meet the owners and photograph the lettuce, tomatoes, and herbs they grow year round in their hydroponic greenhouses for the winter issue of Edible Boston. Hydroponics (hydro meaning water and ponics meaning labour) is the method of growing plants in nutrient rich liquid instead of in soil. Phil Todaro and Jeff Barton, co-owners of Waterfresh Farm, were lab partners in 7th grade and decided to go into the hydroponics business together several decades later, shortly before the boom of the local food movement. Not only do they sell their produce to grocery stores in and around the Boston area, but they have a beautiful market stocked with an array of breads, cheeses and other gourmet ingredients and prepared foods.

We cleared out their old office to make use of the natural light that shone perfectly through the window and created the following images to highlight the beauty of their produce and market goods.

Photography by Adam Detour

Behind the Scenes Photography by Erika Cole

Best of Boston Issue 2012

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I had the privilege of styling the cover and food section for Boston Magazine's best of issue for 2012. It's a great resource that highlights the best markets and restaurants Boston has to offer.  Of all the items I got to try, Toscanini's ice cream was my favourite!

Bohemian Beach Bridal Fashion Shoot

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To create a bohemian feel for this shoot at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA, I designed 3 distinct bouquets. I wanted one to be simple, natural and effortless, another to be soft and pretty and the third to be rich and full of texture and whimsy. Check out these beautiful images shot by Shannon Grant. Hair and Makeup: Kacie Corbelle | Wardrobe Styling: Abby Bielagus | Model: Kim Sargeant

Boston Magazine Food Shoot

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Given my penchant for salty treats, I couldn't help but enjoy food styling this compilation of savory snacks published in Boston Magazine's March issue.   Who doesn't love a bowl of gourmet popcorn, some fresh made potato chips, and a couple of delectable roast beef sandwiches from "Roast Beast" and Barbara Lynch's "The Butcher Shop"?! Photography by Sam Kaplan

a wine country wedding

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Under a sun-drenched sky in Napa Valley, this New Year's Eve wedding unfolded with golden mustard plants in bloom.  Taking a cue from Will and Erika's love of natural colors, the flowers invoke a muted, warm feeling and convey an understated elegance.  Given the stunning natural backdrop, simplicity was the aim.  Even though it was winter, the long Napa Valley growing season enabled the use of local flowers and plants for the wedding.  A gorgeous couple, and a gorgeous day! napa valley | yountville, CA

photography: montana dennis

Fruit Frenzy

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The joy of sampling new food reached unparalleled heights in Colombia (South America that is, not Columbia, New York!).  This tropical nation grows some of the most captivating, exotic and delicious fruit I've ever tasted.  The vibrant colors and fleshy insides of these fruits are simply divine.  A photo session with these new found delights was a no-brainer. Photography: Ana Maria Cardenas

 

Yarn for Thought

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One of my favourite items in this world is yarn. The mere sight of yarn bundled in their skeins sends my brain into a complete frenzy.  Yarn looks and feels so delicious, that it almost seems as if it should be eaten.  Being in a yarn store for me is like being in a time capsule. What feels like 30 minutes ends up in reality being 6 hours.  It's a complicated process choosing yarn and the right pattern.  To protect my creative process (and the sanity of others), I usually prefer to go alone.  There can't be a time crunch or anyone present trying to correct my indecisive nature (which does need to be corrected at times). This is just one of those times and places where I need to be free to let ideas ruminate and simmer.  Sometimes my brain is so overstimulated by the colours and textures that I ended up dumping back all my selections and leaving the store with nothing. Some might think this is a giant waste of 6 hours, but I leave feeling strangely peaceful and energized at the same time.  You can't force the creative process or be driven by productivity. Who knows how or when some of those ruminating thoughts will materialize into a brilliant idea!

The above two photos belong in a much bigger series of photographs taken in Colombia, SA during a two week trip last February.  More details to come about this project!

Photography: Ana Maria Cardenas

boston ballet fundraiser in beacon hill

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I love the challenge of designing arrangements to transform empty spaces just as much as I love designing for pre-existing backdrops. For this Boston Ballet fundraiser in the beautiful and historic neighbourhood of Beacon Hill, I chose different pops of colour to add whimsy and playfulness that complemented the uniqueness of each room.

Ana Maria Cardenas Photography | Beacon Hill, MA

SoCal Wedding

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I met Jason and Veronica in Boston and they invited me to California to design and create their wedding flowers.  I always love to do weddings in other cities, especially Los Angeles.  The LA flower markets are some of the best in the world and the challenge of traveling, selecting the flowers, processing them, keeping them cool, delivering and setting up in a new venue is always a thrill.  The couple wanted rich, deep reds for their 1.1.11 wedding. It had been unseasonably rainy and cold in LA but they were blessed with the most magnificent day in weeks.

playful and vibrant

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This wedding was a blast to do - the bride, a lifelong friend of mine, gave me full reign to design her wedding flowers.  She sent me a color swatch in the mail and turned me loose! I wanted to create a playful and vibrant look to all the designs to reflect the couple's sense of humor and fun-loving nature.

photos by HRM photography | London, On Canada

rustic elegance

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Known as the ultimate party planner and hostess in her circle of friends, Amy had no idea what her husband had masterfully planned for her 40th birthday celebration: an intimate dinner party for 13 consisting of a tasting menu from Blonde on the Run Catering with wines paired for each course.  Amy loves blue and purple hues (as evidenced by her home decor) so I immediately knew I wanted vanda orchids to be the focal flower.

Ana Maria Cardenas Photography | Boston, MA

 

In the entryway, I created pomander balls made from blue thistles to hang from the sconces and a large manzanita tree to welcome the guests and create an exciting space to mingle before the birthday girl arrived.



The majority of the festivities were in the dining room where heartfelt toasts were made to the birthday girl from each guest in between courses. The orchid chandelier, napkin flowers, mix of centerpieces and candles made for a cozy, intimate setting, especially when the sun went down!

Here's a peek at the scrumptious menu planned by Blonde on the Run.