All photos by Jennifer of Seasons and Suppers
When Jennifer of Seasons and Suppers started following us on Twitter and I checked out her website, I knew instantaneously that I had to feature her work on Ruralist. You’ve seen the pictures already — drool-worthy, right?! Her food is a prime example of why Ruralist exists: there are amazing things outside of Ontario’s urban centres!
Before I give you links so you can run off and see how Jennifer’s masterpieces are made, here is a little bit of her story:
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live just outside of Bracebridge, Ontario (where I was born and grew up, as well). I have been married for almost 30 years and we have two kids – a son, now 25 (and soon to be married!) and a daughter, who just turned 18 and graduated high school. I have always been a working mom, working for a number of non-profit organizations over the years as an Executive Director.
How did you “get involved” with food and cooking?
I guess it’s fair to say I got involved with cooking out of necessity – first, because when I got married, I discovered my husband isn’t really much of a cook and then, once we had kids, I, of course, needed to cook good food for them, too. Putting food on the table 7 nights a week for many years is just about the best kind of experience you can get, I think.
What inspires your recipes?
The recipes that appear on my blog are pretty much what we’re eating in our house. I’m inspired by what looks good at the market or the grocery store. If it’s local strawberry season, I’m eating and cooking with strawberries! We are so lucky in Ontario to have a great selection of homegrown fruits and vegetables. The seasons are short, but when fresh and local is around, I’m living on it!
Beyond that, I pretty much cook what I feel like eating. If it’s minus 20 degrees, I’m craving soup and stews, and likewise, in the summer, it’s lighter and fresher or something that we can cook on the BBQ.
What are the most unexpectedly delicious dishes you’ve cooked or ingredients you’ve used?
Most often I’m surprised by the simple dishes I’ve cooked that are just drop-dead delicious. I think we often assume that “delicious” means lots of ingredients and/or time spent in the kitchen. But every time I cook my 20 minute homemade mushroom or tomato soup, I’m reminded how wrong that assumption is!
What tips would you give aspiring food photographers about photo styling?
I really struggled with food photography when I first started. Food is a tricky subject and photographing it in a way that makes people want to eat it is not nearly as easy as I thought it would be. It’s definitely a learning curve!
My first tip would be to find your own style. Some people like lots of props, while others focus just on the food. Do what feels most natural for you. Secondly, always use natural light. Find a good window and take your pictures there, even if it means cooking earlier in the day. Finally, learn to post-process your photos (lighten, sharpen, add contrast etc.). A good quality photo is as important as a good recipe!
What are your five favourite things about rural Ontario?
I know there are examples of these things all over Ontario, but I thought I’d highlight a few in my native Muskoka area:
1. Small town bakeries that have been around forever, like Don’s Bakery in Bala
2. Knowing the local farmers and being able to easily drive to their farm to “shop” (Brooklands Farm)
3. Rural General Stores, like the Robinson’s in Dorset or Silver Stream Farms in Port Sandfield
4. Historic resorts, like Windermere House
5. Small, independent butcher shops like Stephen’s in Port Carling
And now for the magic (recipe links organized according to photo collage, clockwise from top)!
Mmmmmm!! I’m still drooling…