Clicking Away

There’s been a lot of “clicking” in the Steamy Kitchen household – both keyboard and camera. I’ve been pretty quiet for the past 2 weeks, busy teaching myself how to photograph for print, which is WAY different than photographing for the blog. While I’ve always thought that my food photos were pretty damn awesome, photographing for hi-res 350 dpi top-quality cookbook is another matter. Slight imperfections on a blog is fine – at lo-res you really don’t notice much. Plus, it’s kinda nice to have those imperfections on a blog – it just adds to the charm and authentic-ness of a home-cooked meal. But blow that same photo up and print at hi-res, and that little speck of sesame seed that was out of place?


So, with a bit of new gear, I turned the spare bedroom into a mini-photo studio (sorry MiMi and Papa), a small table as my “set”, photography lights, piles of fabric, a stack of placemats and a gazillion dishes, cups and chopsticks.

Oh yes, and a nice spot for my Van Gogh Double Espresso Vodka on the rocks.

By the way, the first time I brought a bottle home of the vodka, Scott raised an eyebrow at the concept of “double espresso” and “vodka” trapped in a single bottle.As if my mood swinging PMS marathons once a month weren’t quite enough, now he’s gotta deal with the UPPER! OF! THE! DOUBLE! ESPRESSO! and then the ……….downer……….of.……….the……….vodka..

That roller coaster ride follows every single sip. He’s since hid the bottle from me and has replaced it with fancy schmancy Italian soda, which I actually really enjoy.

Anyways, since whatever I’ve been cooking for the photo shoot ends up on my dinner table, it’s been a challenge to get the absolute perfect shot while keeping the food looking fresh without being manipulated so that we can devour it for supper. Shellac, glycerin and hot glue aren’t just part of our family diet at the moment, and I’m quite sure it would cause massive bouts of constipation.

Wanna see some pics?

Thai Peanut Chicken Flatbread

Thai Peanut Chicken Flatbread

Egg Custard Dim Sum Tarts

Egg Custard Dim Sum Tarts

Sweet Chili Sambal

Sweet Chili Sambal


Being thankful

I think for the first time in a looong time, I felt a little over stretched. In addition to running his company, Scott’s been working late on a big database project, I’ve been up late writing, photographing, studying, prepping for cooking classes, working on getting a tv show, writing my weekly food column…and of course tending to my babies. It’s a lot for a family and I never want my kids to feel like they come second. For people who don’t know me well, they always marvel at the amount of projects that I am working on, “how do you do it all?!”

But the truth is sometimes I can’t do it all. Things that I’ve wanted to do on this blog – like publish food photography tips, create a better design, better recipe organization – were left to hitchhike their way back home (just temporarily though). There are buttons to mend, a kitchen to scrub, dry-cleaning to drop off and bills to pay. Which is why I have a few ads on the site now – sorry for all the blingy ads, but it does help pay for photography gear, props and ingredients…stuff that keeps the Steamy Kitchen steamy.

Despite collapsing on the couch last night like a heap of limp spaghetti, I still smiled real big. Because I’m doing EXACTLY what I love to do – cook, teach, feed and eat. And for that, I’m extremely thankful.


I am a very proud mama…

of my big boy Andrew

He got his Orange Belt! I’m so proud. I was crying so hard that my camera shook and the all the photos of him running to me were blurry.

—- a little note from Overstock —-

When you have the proper tools, cooking is easy! A quality cutlery set has all the knives you need to prepare a delicious meal, and a sturdy cookware set lets you feel confident while you’re making it. Then serve dinner in style. The right dinnerware and glassware sets combined with beautiful flatware help create the perfect atmosphere to eat a delicious meal.


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Comments 56

  1. Suji

    Aww… Orange belt. Watch what you tell Andrew next time. he could kick….lol.

    I just wanted to say Amen to this:

    “But the truth is sometimes I can’t do it all.”

    I still say pat yourself again for me. You are doing a furikakishly awesome job :).

    Last but not least, stop teasing us with the cook book ;). When is it coming.

  2. L.K.

    Jayden: The photos are outstanding!! What a tease you are! Don’t you know that we need recipes NOW for TCP Flatbread, ECDS Tarts, and CBSC Chicken. You do realize that all this talk about a cookbook is merely foreplay. You are driving us crazy! Keep on keeping on, proud mama. And buckets of luck to ya.

  3. Banzai


    Gratz to the boy on his orange belt (from a brown belt in GoJu Ryu).

    I couldn’t see any problem with the pix, they look great to me. πŸ™‚

  4. kate

    hey superwoman , u definitely have a lot going on. Hats off to you, there are a lot of us who don’t work as hard as you. I think u are doing a wonderful job, and u need a pat on your back for it. Its always a pleasure to visit your blog, looking forward to your book.

  5. Susan

    awww! that’s so sweet! i’m a sucker for those young martial artists. πŸ™‚

    good luck on that cookbook! i’m sure it’ll be fabulous.

  6. argus lou

    Awww, mama Steamy weeps for pride and joy! Congrats to Andrew. He deserves two big smiley face pancakes, make that 3 for good measure.

    All the best in the making of your cookbook, Mrs Steamy! I just feel proud ‘knowing’ you over the blogs.

  7. Cathie

    You always do a fantastic job with the photos -I can only aspire to be that good. I know what you mean about trying to photograph what you are going to eat for dinner, and keep it hot, fresh, and also do a presentation with it!! I don’t know how you do it. I’ve totally given up on photographing my dinners because the lighting is bad in the kitchen and I only have fantastic natural light at around 11:00am in my dining room!! I’m anxious to get the recipe for those little tarts!!

  8. caitlyn

    Congrats to Andrew! He is adorable.
    I think your photos looks awesome, and I hope they are good enough for the book. Hang in there…I hope you can manage to squeeze in a little relaxation time soon.

  9. Deborah

    I really don’t know how you do it – even if you say you sometimes can’t do it all!! I sometimes feel overwhelmed, and I don’t have kids, or a cookbook in the works!!

  10. Melinda

    It isn’t all luck. It is your talent, hard graft and the love of it all that you have succeeded.
    But I wish you buckets of luck for your first cookbook! Don’t get too tired, Jaden.

  11. Micha

    Ah, the trick the world plays on us…we all feel like we are overstretching ourselves when we reach to new heights. You are not alone in feeling like you are letting things slip and feeling bad about it, but, hey, we ALL do that from time to time. It’s just life. We love your blog and you for sharing everything with us!

  12. Diane

    I can’t wait for the cookbook! You sure are busy, but doing a great job at it, yep family comes first, and you can tell you love your family. I remember when my daughter did Tae Kwon Do and got her belts, such a proud moment!

  13. mai

    I think you’re accomplished alot already so u should be proud of yourself and take things as you can and not stress out too much πŸ˜‰

  14. Mansi

    Yeah, it’s challenging, but I bet you are having fun doing it!! don’t know when I’d be good enough to publish my cookbook:)D

    Good Luck Jaden!

  15. The Urban Eater

    The pics are great! Greg and I just spent all day yesterday doing food styling for RJ Photo, so we KNOW what you are going through. Having to make the food and photo it? Geesshhh!!! I’ll email you our food porn once we get it back.


  16. daphne

    It’s hard when you are in the process isn’t it. =( Hope things will slowly work out.

    AND LOOK AT ANDREW! WoOHOO! Must be a great moment. *smiles*

  17. Marissa

    Those photos already look incredible…I can’t wait until the book comes out. Of course, I know I have to πŸ™‚

  18. Grifola frondosa

    Hey, you’re doing a great job juggling and tap dancing and being a Mom.

    Let’s see:
    Cookbook – check
    TV show pilot in the works – check
    Professional photographer – check
    Cooking school instructor – check
    Zen Master to Karate expert -check

    So, quit goofin’ off already
    What about the movie deal?

    Keep up the good work.

    PS: Don’t worry about a couple of ads- Steamy Kitchen is a bargain at twice the price. πŸ˜‰

  19. Cynthia

    Please give my love and congratulations to Andrew.

    You are mighty talented my friend not just as what you do but to do it with such flair and style all the while balancing a family. You already how what a big fan I am of your work and your photographs offer me great inspiration. Congrats on completing the recipes. I’m sure the photographs are going to fabuluous. Hugs always.

  20. chunky


    good luck, not that you rrreally need it…your pics look awesome and i am one of the many looking forward to getting our hands on this cookbook. andrew is growing up so fast… my boy is almost 14 and i still think like he’s andrew’s age. hahaha! am sure you will do too when the time comes. now, that’s good luck to you.

  21. katy

    congrats to andrew AND you! i know it must be crazy now, but i’m sure you are learning so much about how to handle all of this, and it will get easier as time goes on!

    on a side note, i had those yellow custard cakes in china and they were amazing. can’t wait for your recipe — i made a similar version in pie-form but it just wasn’t the same!

    also, i made roasted butternut squash with the tspspices sage today — delicious! photo is on the way. πŸ™‚

  22. Amanda

    Awwww!Big Boy Andrew should definately get a new sticker for his bathroom letter for this! Congrats to him!

  23. Lysne

    Congratulations to Andrew. I have 2 kids in ATA, one is a 2nd degree black belt (10 year old) and the other is a blue belt (7 year old) oh, and my husband is a 1st degree. What a wonderful thing you are doing for him!

    And you _are_ amazing. It took me a long time to figure out I couldn’t do it all (and I’m still “learning” that). You do make what you do look easy, though. (and beautiful! I love those photos.)

    Good luck with the balance.

  24. Lysne

    Oops, pronoun trouble.

    I meant what a wonderful thing you are doing for Andrew by going through ATA. I am amazed at what my kids have learned and the self-confidence/esteem they have gained from tae kwon do.

    And people keep telling me it’ll get easier, too. I hope they are right!

  25. joanne

    Alright Andrew! Make your momma proud. Now don’t go through puberty and scare your mom, when you bring home a note from your overly developed 6th grade girlfriend telling you she wants to marry her middle school sweetie. That will send both daddy and momma towards the liquor cabinet.

  26. amyjo smith

    i am soooo loving your emotion filled blurry photos!! i’m a scrapper – and some of those are in my faves and in my scrapbooks (although – i confess, i am a digi scrapper – so sometimes the blur is used as background or a *stamp* but most of the time it’s the focal point) – and whatever shutterfly does to print their books…well, they just print what i send them and i’m the only one who has to approve – so i’ve got it easy ;o)

  27. Cenk

    Jaden – You are doing what you love, but most importantly, you are very good at it. I am sure the photos will turn out great (I m no expert but I think shooting tethered and having your computer screen professionally color-calibrated may help you save time). Wish you the best of luck! And congrats to Andrew!

  28. Suzana

    Oh, he looks so cute and happy! Jaden, best of lucks with the new projects – I’ll be sending you my positive thoughts. I’m sure it will be no less than perfect. πŸ˜‰

  29. JT

    Congratulations Andrew! Jaden, let me just tell you I envy the fact that you get to do exactly what you love and still keep a happy household. I hope to be able to be in a similar situation one day. I kind of need the family first. Oh and I should probably figure out what I want to do in life, but I’ve got plenty of time! :)BTW, I love egg custart dim sum tarts. I’m Chinese and my sister and I have been trying to replicate Chinese baked goods, but find a lot of recipes lacking. I think it’s intentional sabotage. Those Chinese bakers like to keep their secrets!

  30. Happy Cook

    If i could take photos like you, i would be overjoyed.
    My daughter used to do Karate. She did till she had blus belt and then stopped when she had to much school work in high school.
    Congrats to your son

  31. mimi

    Egg custards look great (I have a recipe I’ve been using which my family raved about), can’t wait for the cookbook!

    I have the same camera as you (but not the same lens) and I would recommend a tripod and a remote control shutter release (to decrease shaking).

  32. Bren

    Girl do your thaannng!! I’m not even mad at you… When it’s HIS plan, HE will provide strength, energy, courage, enough hours in the day and more than you can imagine!

    Rock on… and Andrew!!!



  33. Jaded

    You make everything look so easy Jaden! I can’t imagine working, cooking, taking care of the house & two kids. Keep up the great work.

    Oh and because I’m lazy and to add more work, can you post the recipe for your egg custards? My hubby loves those things and I’m getting kinda jealous that he’s buying them from a bakery. It’s like he’s cheating on me, but with food haha.

  34. Susie

    Wow…you’re really amazing! Doing all that would make anyone tired! Sounds like things are going great, though! Your photos are gorgeous as usual…except I just want to eat everytime I visit your blog! πŸ™‚ That Thai pizza looks delish! Congrats to your little Andrew!

  35. blondee47

    Jaden, I too, am learning to self teach myself photography and then how to use photoshop. Are u using a book and if so what title? BTW if my shots come half as good as urs i will be happy

  36. Toni

    Jaden…….Excuse me, but — You can’t do it all? You do more than 3 people put together!! Just raising a kid is a full time job! And then on top of that you do the most awesome food photography, and a TV show?? Hello?? Sit down, girl, and demand a shot of that vodka!

    And BTW, the shot of Andrew running towards you which came out blurry? It’s terrific. Blurry is good in this case. It has exactly the right tone/ mood. Love it! And congrats to him!

  37. Nate 2.0


    I feel fortunate that you dipped into the blogosphere before your meteoric rise into fame. Just don’t flame out. Keep it real.


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