Archive for the ‘food’ Category
November 22, 2013 in food, interior styling
These images are from my recent work for The Observer that appeared in last Sunday’s publication. They are from Part 1 of a Christmas Celebrations feature in The Observer Food Monthly and sponsored by leading UK high street retailer John Lewis. I selected all the products featured in the shots from the John Lewis Oxford Street store and their extensive online shop and mixed them with bespoke touches and wrapped gifts that I had made beforehand. The images were taken by talented photographer Helen Cathcart who I worked with on location to create the shots.
There were two stories within the feature. The first was “Make & Bake” to showcase the great cook and bakeware at John Lewis. Chrissie Holden who assisted me on the shoot made the mince pies and biscuits so beautifully.
You can read the full Make & Bake article and see other images now over on The Guardian Online. If you want to know what any of the products featured are the click on the main image on that page and you can see the product names and prices.
It was followed by “Dressed to Impress” – ideas on how to style your festive table. I embellished mini napkin holders and wrapped glasses with fabric as candle holders and mixed with their own birch church candles. You can also read this full story on The Guardian Online’s website – have a look, I would love to know what you think.
The dark, rich and moody image above is one of may favourites from the shoot. The image below has plates and dishes piled high as if mid-process of setting the table, the one in the magazine was much more elaborate.
You can read the full John Lewis Cook Christmas feature here – with lots of images, ideas, tips, recipes and a competition to win a cookery class and a set of copper cookware!
Part 2 of this story will be in The Observer on Sunday December 8th so pick up a copy to read more.
I hope you enjoy looking at the images. Have a look at Helen’s fab food, travel and lifetsyle photography in her online portfolio here and Helen also has a food-related blog called Helly Belly.
There is no denying it is the beginning of the festive season and time to start preparing to eat, drink and be merry!
November 4, 2013 in food, interior styling
This little shoot was put together by myself and my friend Chrissie Holden. We first met at our children’s school summer fair two and half years ago. I had just finished lunch with my family and was chatting to my husband on a picnic table as the children had run off to play with their friends. A tall, bubbly mum wearing fab sunglasses asked if she could join us on the table with her family. We started chatting about the school and realised that her son and my daughter would both be starting reception together. She pointed to a banner hanging above the tea stall, appliquéd with fabric strawberries and tea cups and saucers on a natural linen and commented how much she loved it and had photographed it. I smiled and said “I made it!” and so our friendship began.
Chrissie assists me on commercial photo shoots when I need an extra pair of hands and having done this for a while , a natural progession was for us to create a little shoot together just for fun and to post on my blog. I took the pictures, made some of the plate props out of Das modeling clay and we styled it together. We visited a local prop house for extra vessels, plates and boards to add to our own personal selection and spent a few hours one day styling and photographing at Chrissie’s lovely home in between school runs.
Chrissie is a foodie, so it seemed natural to work with this talent of hers and create a food-related story. She also wrote the words below (which did make me blush a little!) especially for this post to give a little insight into the thoughts behind the images. And if you want to say hi then you can find Chrissie over on Instagram.
“Contemporary cookbooks have become photographic tomes in their own right. A paragon of styling, lighting, art direction and photography, some of them really are works of art. The wonders of nature and the alchemy of ingredients lovingly prepared then presented with care and attention to detail make for a very beautiful and engaging narrative.
Food styling and photography has since come on in leaps and bounds in the past two decades. There is the seminal work of Donna Hay, whose clean and crisp styling has been hugely influential. The moody and emotive work of Katie Quinn Davies on her ‘What Katie Ate’ blog and cookbook; and the phenomenal catalogue of work by Ditte Isager, whose earthy tones and calming greys make for incredible still lives, as seen in the NOMA cook book and Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘It’s all good’.”
“Lately I’ve been enjoying a very pure food aesthetic. It’s borne out of wanting to eat cleanly and a desire to live a less cluttered life. It also conforms to Sania and my mutual love of all things Scandi-nese. So, when Sania suggested we work on a food shoot together I was delighted. It is incredible to observe her eye in action and the way her brain works never ceases to amaze me. As regular readers of her blog, you will be no strangers to her creativity, flair and general styling wowness, but to see it in action is something special.
We decided to work with breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day, after all. We kept things simple, offering the ingredients to you in their purest forms. We kept the colour palette neutral, layering tactile linens and ceramics. This is what we came up with.”
Now… what’s for breakfast tomorrow?
September 29, 2013 in food
They grow in abundance in our garden in Croatia. There are several trees hanging with so many fruit that we eat them straight from the trees everyday, as soon as they become ripe. My children have fun looking for the oozing honey drop that says “I’m ripe, eat me quickly!” We always make the most of them while we’re there as they don’t travel home well, and they taste completely different to the supermarket ones here in London. So fresh, sweet and juicy.
A branch of them brought inside added a lush splash of colour in a corner of our holiday house. Placed on an old stool purchased in an antique market in Zadar and an old bucket used through the generations, it made a happy little scene.
I bought the homemade fig cake from a stall at the fruit and vegetable market in Zadar, where each little stall sells things they have grown themselves or made, like olive oil and local honey. I have brought it home with me to remind me of the delicious fruit. I’m saving it for the right occasion and think it would taste perfect with cheese and crackers after dinner, as an alternative to quince jelly.
I will have to make some fig jam while we’re there next year so we can bring home the taste of holiday once again.
August 8, 2013 in food, inspiring places
Going through my photographic archives I discovered these images that I took last year on holiday. One of the most wonderful things about our Summer time in Croatia is the fresh simple delicious food. This fish came direct from the local fishing boats to the village market the morning they were photographed. They were barbecued for our lunch accompanied with salads and fresh bread. What especially caught my eye was the beautiful silvery tone of their skin.
These shells with a pearlescent interior are known locally as Peter’s ears and can be found in the bay we swim in if you snorkel for long enough. I dived for them like treasure as a child, much like my children do now too, their silvery inside catching the light under the water.
Mussels can be bought in the village market if you are lucky and early enough and I just loved their deep, inky colour; another delicious lunch.
We are travelling to our little house on the bay this week to dive for treasures and swim in the deep blue sea.
I have been using Instagram over the last few months and will try to post a few photos while I’m away and when we have access to wifi in cafés. If you would like to see what I’m up to you can follow me at instagram.com/saniapell.
I’ll be back soon with lots of exciting news of what I’ve been up to over the last few months. It’s all been hush, hush but I will be able to tell all soon. x
July 29, 2013 in food, homemade
The photos of vegetables in Singapore in my last post reminded me of these photos that I took last year and have been meaning to post. It must be my printed textile background coming back to me, because one day I had the urge to experiment with natural colour and play with food and fabric. I popped to the supermarket and worked on the theory that if it stains clothes (mine occasionally but mainly my children’s!) then it may have a longer-lasting dye quality. So I bought beetroot, red onions, blackberries, red cabbage and pomegranate and I had lots of other possibilities in the cupboards at home to test out too.
I did some research and found it wasn’t really as simple or as easy as I had hoped to fix the natural colours permanently, chemical dyes are much easier for this, but I continued anyway. My method was to boil water, add the foodstuff, mix it around to colour the water in a concentrated enough way, sieve it and then add swatches of plain white linen to my homemade ‘dye’. I wet the fabric in clean water before adding the swatch to the dye and left them in soak for varying lengths of time until I liked the colour or it seemed to no longer be darkening. To fix them I added a mixture, in an experimental sense, of vinegar for vegetables and/or salt for berries. I then washed them in cold water first and then hot. The results are below:
1- Blackberry, 2- Blackberry and red onion peel, 3- Blackberry and red cabbage, 4- Blackberry and red cabbage, 5- Beetroot (pickled), 6- Beetroot and tea, 7- Spinach, 8- Red onion peel, 9- Pomegranate, 10- Red cabbage, 11- Red cabbage and a pinch of turmeric, 12- Red cabbage and turmeric, 13- Red cabbage, turmeric and vinegar, 14- Red cabbage, tiny amount of turmeric and vinegar, 15- Red cabbage with vinegar, 16- Tea, 17- Coffee, 18- Paprika, 19- Red wine, 20- Red wine and tea, 21- Turmeric, 22- Turmeric with wine, 23- Turmeric with wine and tea, 24- Turmeric small amount
I don’t think there would be much possibility in colouring large enough quantities of fabric in a colourfast way to make cushions or throws, but I love the colours I made with this experiment and mixed a few together to give new combinations.
It was fun experimenting with food and fabric, especially knowing that it was all completely natural, and I was pleased with the gentle colour results I achieved.
And luckily I didn’t get any on my clothes!
August 30, 2012 in food, homemade
This natural, fresh lemonade was the drink of our holiday in Croatia this summer and is easy to make. I made a bottle every morning with help from my children who loved squeezing lemons and measuring and mixing, and it was enjoyed by us all. Lemonade is an ever-popular summer drink but I give mine a little twist, the addition of fresh mint, which gives it an extra refreshing taste. I always keep interesting bottles and jars when we’re there, to use as storage jars or as vases, making little displays of fresh herbs and sprigs picked from our garden. This bottle is a well known shape in Croatia and contained Amarena cherry syrup from Maraska, a famous old drinks company from the city of Zadar opposite our island.
To make 1l: Squeeze the juice of a lemon into a glass, add 2 – 3 tablespoons of sugar, a sprig of fresh mint and a dash of cold water. Mx it together, mashing the mint slightly with a spoon to release the flavour. Add some more water and mix to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a 1 litre glass bottle and top up with cold water then place in the fridge to cool.
Serve over ice, straining the mint if necessary, and enjoy.
June 30, 2012 in food, interior styling
A few Saturdays ago I had the pleasure of top interior design blog Remodelista, the sourcebook for contemporary living, as guests at my home for afternoon tea and a photo shoot. London Editor Christine asked if I could create a tablescape for them to feature, and with casual family summer lunches in mind I decided to create a look that was simple, colourful, informal and relaxed and based around growing vegetables and having raw ingredients on your kitchen table to make your own sandwiches as you sit. These are some of the photos from the afternoon, taken by talented photographer Rahel Weiss.
As it was a Saturday my children were at home and involved too and one of their favourites is egg and cress sandwiches. I chose a selection of eggs from my local Waitrose – quails’ eggs, lovely soft blue eggs and white eggs – which I grouped in pastel bowls. I hard boiled them all, so they could be peeled and sliced to make DIY egg sandwiches. The children grew watercress from seed the week before in pretty pastel egg cups. I sliced the farmhouse batch bread, buttered it and let the children peel the eggs and crumble and slice them onto the bread. They snipped and added the cress and sprinkled a few grains of sea salt on top and them devoured the crusty sandwiches with crumbs all around.
To decorate the table I painted terracotta pots from my local garden centre with emulsion paint in shades of grey, and used them as bowls to display radishes with their foliage still attached. I did the same went with organic carrots as they look so lush with the long stem and leaves still attached, adding to the display. I only have herbs growing in my little London garden at the moment so I bought growing lettuce still in soil in my local Sainsbury’s and replanted them in the painted terracotta pots, washing the leaves first and leaving scissors on the table nearby to snip the required amount off. The idea was you could harvest your own salad right there at the table. A painted wooden fruit box from my local market was used as a tray to contain some of the pots. It is one of the projects from my book The Homemade Home for Children.
Fizzy drinks were bought in old fashioned looking glass bottles, which I bought from Marks and Spencers. Striped straws add fun but in grey and white matched my kitchen decor. Fruit such as strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, and mint leaves too, were added to ice cubes creating a sweet little detail to our drinks.
I made the centrepiece simply with water-filled glass milk bottles (yes, we have a milkman!) with garden flowers and vegetables pushed down into the water, their foliage acting as greenery.
A Victoria sponge cake with whipped double cream spread over and strawberries generously piled on top is an easy pudding that looks and tastes delicious. The three little letter pebbles spell the word EAT and are from another project in my book.
A big thank you to Remodelista for popping by, (you can see the original post here), to Rahel Weiss for the great photos (see her folio here), to my friend Chrissie Holden for helping out and her culinary skills and to my children for gobbling it all up.
This informal lunchtime meal had a sprinkle of creativity, a dollop of fun and plenty of crumbs and was enjoyed by all.
April 11, 2012 in food, vintage finds
I wanted to share a little post to celebrate Easter and Spring time. With a few days off from work and the school run I managed to take lots of new photos. I took these pictures on Easter Sunday when the dinner was in the oven and the children were playing quietly in the other room, I hope you like them. As a child I always decorated plain, hard-boiled eggs with my mum and brother at home on the day before Easter and since then have always associated eggs with Easter (and no, not just the chocolate variety!). These patterned eggs reminded me of those times.
As I prepared dinner I watched two tiny robins in my garden. They were busily flitting back and forth to feed their chicks in a nest in my hedge. This got me thinking in a different way and reminded me I had these beautiful quail eggs in my fridge. I had come across them in my local Waitrose and couldn’t resist buying them with their unique, natural patterns. They were so small I wondered if a thimble could be used as an egg cup. As an avid collector, I have several vintage thimble varieties and one fitted perfectly. And so my little photo story began. I grabbed my camera, a few props and spent half an hour trying different arrangements and taking photos.
I cooked one as a soft boiled egg, rested it in an up-turned, flat-bottomed thimble and sprinkled some salt on top. It just needs some mini toast soldiers to dunk in and a tiny spoon! The silver spoon in the photos was my British grandmother’s and is a treasured possession and favourite prop. The vintage thimbles I picked up over the years from my Croatian grandmother and flea markets. They almost look like mini salt shakers to go with the mini eggs.
The white bowl is by Brickett Davda whose gorgeous ceramics I love. Another collection I have slowly been feathering my nest with.
After taking the photos I cleared away and got back to feeding my own two little chicks.
I hope you had a lovely Easter. x
PS A couple of thank yous…
Thank you to Rona Wheeldon who interviewed me recently for Flowerona, a blog for all things floral. Read the interview here.
And thank you also to Ursula of children’s interior design blog Room To Bloom who posted the first review of my new book yesterday. Read the review here.
November 25, 2011 in diy craft projects, food, homemade
I first worked with Uli Schade on a story for Elle Decoration magazine and we just clicked straight away and went on to shoot some of my favourite photo stories. We got together again recently to shoot this little homemade edible gifts story. Food is a little bit of a departure for me but combining it with decoration as gifts and ideas for your table was fun, especially with Christmas not too far away.
When my graphic designer husband saw the photos he thought it was perfect to try something different to make the most of their high quality. He had been wanting to try out issuu.com for a while and suggested we try them as a little digital magazine booklet rather than a normal blog post. So we gave it a go, jotted down the recipes and some words and let him design it.
If you’re on iPhone/iPad and can’t see it click here
It’s a bit of fun but hopefully it will inspire you to try making some edible gifts for your friends and family this Christmas.
Who knows, if you like it we may do it again. What do you think? We would love to hear. And if you like it please share the link!
June 12, 2011 in flowers, food
I seem to be obsessed with miniature plants and flowers at the moment and I photographed these little wild strawberries that I’ve been growing in my garden. Like my Forget-me-nots, these mini strawberry plants also came from my parents’ garden a few years ago. They grow happily everywhere, little off shoots creeping onto other bits of soil, the runners creating new plants where ever they touch.
My children love the little plants and tiny flowers and watch them closely from when they begin to flower in April and change from charming little flowers to these sweet little strawberries by May and June. They watch and learn about plants, without realising, and then harvest the tiny crop, eating them straight from the plant. When the children were really small they used to run out into the garden every morning and see if any had ripened overnight and nibble them up before the snails got to them. They are still intrigued by the mininess, the novelty of such a small version to the larger ones everybody knows.
This little vintage vase was given to me by my mother and is an absolute favourite of mine, I love the way it mimicks a little strawberry, it has a certain charm but also a graphic quality. The wonky plate it’s sitting on is one that I made by rolling out a handful of white, air-drying Das clay on a chopping board and then cutting the shape out with a sharp knife. I left it to dry and then sanded down the edges with an emery board to a smooth finish. The typed card in the background was bought at a most wonderful book shop in Notting Hill, Lutyens & Rubinstein.
The wild has been tamed in my tiny London garden with tiny strawberries loved by tiny children.