Hello friends! So today we definitely have something out of the norm for you, but the cool thing is, it’s going to become a new norm. Whit and I are very excited to announce this next little adventure within the venture of running our own photography business. As a married couple who loves food, cooking, and photos, we first thought, “Let’s start doing some food blogging!” The idea was that we could try tasty new recipes every week and provide little reviews with some photos of the process and/or final product – eventually making our way to creating our own recipes. Then we started thinking, “Let’s take this a step further!”

See, it’s really simple how we view things like cooking. In our household, foundations are built and strengthened in the kitchen. When couples and/or families spend time working and creating together, great habits are born. And, really, what better place for that to happen than right within your own home? We’ve found that nothing is quite as fun and relaxing as spending time in the kitchen bringing delicious recipes to life, especially as a young married couple. We share the responsibility for our nourishment, but in a way that is exciting, educational, and rooted in teamwork. We really believe that by cooking and trying new things together, we are improving the quality of our relationship. We crank up the radio with our favorite tunes, sometimes employ a bottle of wine, and follow all of it up with plenty of dancing and high-fives. The best part? We are working together and having fun! We are strengthening our bond in numerous ways and doing something that keeps us connected. From improving our communication with one another to better identifying one another’s strengths, it’s no secret that having fun projects to take on together really bodes well for any relationship, and this is a great way for couples to do just that.

As this project continues to evolve, we may eventually look into including some videos as well. However, for now, we will settle with doing a new recipe every one to two weeks and providing everyone with the results through photos and a writeup of the process. All of the recipes we will include are from scratch, simple to follow, and fun for couples to do together! So that said, let’s get it going!

For our first foray into this little world of making food for the blog, we went with a simple loaf of rustic bread and strawberry jam. Since neither the bread nor jam were difficult to make, from the time of baking and cooking, it was about 30 minutes total from start to finish. However, the dough did take around 15 minutes to prep and we let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Items needed:

Rustic Bread:
6 1/2 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoon Instant Yeast
1 tablespoon Salt
3 cups lukewarm Water (100 degrees)
Parchment paper
Baking stone
Broiling pan

Strawberry Jam:
2 pounds of fresh strawberries, hulled
4 cups White sugar *NOTE* We use 3 cups to cut down on sweetness
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Deep saucepan/stockpot

Bread:

1. We used our KitchenAid stand mixer, however, you can do this with a large bowl and your wood spoon/hands, but it will be quite sticky, so just keep that in mind. First mix in your salt and yeast, then pour in your flour. You will want to stir this mixture until your dough is devoid of any dry spots. Once fully mixed, cover your bowl with a towel, but do not seal it airtight. Leave it sitting at room temperature for 2.5-5 hours total. This will allow your dough to rise.

2. After the dough has risen, you will either bake right away or store the dough for later use. We elected to place our dough in an airtight container to store overnight in the fridge for baking the next day. This dough can be stored for up to two weeks as well! Once it came time to bake, we cut off a large chunk of dough. The original recipe calls for a piece about the size of a grapefruit. Ours was certainly larger, which called for just a little more bake time. After cutting your chunk, you will turn the dough in your hands, making a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Then take your parchment paper and sit it with the dough on top of it on a flat surface to sit before baking. If you’ve chilled your dough overnight, let it rest for about 1.5 hours. If you haven’t chilled it, let it rest for around 40 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 450 with baking stone on middle rack and broiler pan on bottom. You will want your baking stone in the oven before starting to preheat. Once preheating is done, let the baking stone continue to warm for 20 another minutes.

4. After your dough has rested and your oven is ready, lightly dust the dough with flour. It doesn’t need a lot, so don’t overdo it! Then take a serrated knife and cut three slits along the top. After you’ve done that, go ahead and prep one cup of warm water, this will be used for the broiling pan. Once you have everything ready to go, slide your loaf along with the parchment paper on top of the baking stone. Quickly dump the cup of water into the broiling pan and close the oven quickly. This is where it’s helpful to have a teammate to work with! *wink wink* Bake for 24-30 minutes until bread is nice and browned. Remove from oven and let it cool completely. Then it’s ready to go for consumption!

Jam:

1. Begin by hulling your strawberries. With two people, this will not take much time at all!
2. Once your strawberries are ready to go, you will mash them in a bowl, or use a food processor to finely chop/blend them down. We elected to use a processor to speed this process up and it worked so well. Everything was chopped perfectly!
3. In a deep saucepan or stockpot, dump in your strawberries along with your sugar and lemon juice. Again, we elected to use three cups of sugar because four is just a little too sweet for our liking. Three proved to be perfect!
4. Place the pan on the stove at low heat and stir the mixture until the sugar has dissolved.
5. Turn up heat and bring full contents to a rolling boil and stir it frequently. You will want the mixture to get to 220 degrees F, then you will remove it from the heat.
6. Place pan in fridge and let cool, stirring occasionally. The jam will begin to thicken up and be ready to serve.

There you go! It’s that simple, y’all. All in all, we really did enjoy trying these recipes. The bread was a tad yeasty, but by no means a deal breaker. It has a great consistency with a strong outer crust, which we love. It is certainly a little heavier as far as breads go. And the jam? The jam is right on the money! We couldn’t be any happier with how it came out. We will say that these two items together aren’t the best for pairing, but they’re more than great on their own and/or with other items. The bread is particularly good with some garlic butter and soup, or pasta!

We really enjoy you guys taking the time to read the blog and hopefully check these recipes out! As we do this more and more, we will be making much better choices and pairings. We want to share food and recipes that not only we love, but that you will love and enjoy cooking with your significant other!

Keep a look out for our next post. It’s going to be tasty! We will be sharing some delightful spice and maple with bacon cake donuts with all of you! It’s definitely not a recipe you want to miss out on.

Until next time, take care and talk soon!

-Aaron & Whit

A big thanks to “Mel’s Kitchen” for the bread recipe and to Katherine for the jam recipe! Please view both originals at the links below!

Mel’s Kitchen
Katherine

Good afternoon, friends! We have something a little different for you today than the usual content you’re used to from us. Just after the start of the new year, our good friend, Jordan, came by the house to hang with Whit and I for a couple hours. We enjoyed coffee, some great conversation, and then rounded things out with Jordan and I shooting some portraits. We didn’t go into this with anything specific in mind. We just knew that we wanted to spend some time creating and whatever we got, we got! I can definitely say I am really happy with some of the frames I walked away with. There really is nothing better than stripping things of expectations and just going into shooting without any grand pressure. It creates a certain element of freedom and there’s no self-imposed fear of failure because there’s virtually nothing to fail at; just shooting the breeze and shooting some photos.

I hope y’all enjoy what you see. Jordan is such a great person and I cannot thank her enough for taking her time to come and hang with Whit and I for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Take care and talk soon, friends!

-Aaron

Good morning friends. Just like that, 2015 is gone and we are already diving head first into 2016. We spent Saturday afternoon with Dane and Ida in their native Kansas City, MO, as they were home from Brooklyn, NY, for the holidays. We had an awesome time, too! We’ve been eager to meet them in person since booking their wedding a few weeks back. We were lucky that this all happened around the holidays because that put them close to us. Since we won’t arrive in New York for our move until late March, we wanted to make sure to get some time with them to shoot, so they have photos to choose from for save the dates. We will actually be getting together with them again once we are in NYC for part 2 of their engagements, the New York chapter. Haha. We can’t wait either.

The four of us met for lunch at Winstead’s near the Plaza. This is a special place for Dane and Ida and we love that they wanted to incorporate it. 1. The food is delicious and we love to eat food. 2. It’s just a cool environment for some photos, too.

We all knew we got along well just from our meetings on the phone, but finally getting actual face time in person was incredible. And, not a thing was different from those calls. It’s as if we were all old friends just playing catch up. I tell you what, there’s nothing better than when you hit it off with your couples like that. We’ve always said this, but we strive to build friendships with our couples and I’d say this one just built itself in the easiest and most organic fashion.

After we left Winstead’s, we hit the grounds of the Nelson Atkins art museum for some fun stuff. It was a cool, blustery day, but that didn’t stop us at all. Even with chill, it was quite beautiful. From there we went on to the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts where I made the most boneheaded move I’ve ever made on a shoot. With the couple riding along with us, I locked my keys in the trunk of our car. Yay! Thankfully, this happened as the sun was almost gone and as we were wrapping up. And double thankfully, we were only a block or so from a coffee shop, so Whit, Ida, and Dane all took off there to stay warm and snag some coffee. After 45 minutes and $150.00, and almost a broken tilt-shift lens (whole other story), we were back in business!

Whit snapped a few final frames at the coffee shop as I made my way there to pick the three up. It was an excellent day, really. Even with the whole keys in the trunk gaffe, nothing soured the mood or the day whatsoever. And, for real, we are so thankful to have awesome couples who were able to laugh about this situation with us. I felt like the biggest dummy, so their reassurances that I wasn’t felt pretty great.

We can’t wait to see these two again, and in New York, no less. We hope you guys enjoy the frames as much as we do. Congrats to Dane and Ida!

Take care and talk soon!

-Aaron