Category Archives: Musings

The Art of Food Photography


Crock pot of chili

You can make the most delectable, delicious dish and have it look like DOG FOOD in a photo. This is why there are professional food photographers, and then the rest of us.

Throughout this blog, you’ll see plenty of examples of my food photos. Since I am not a pro, I can’t afford the equipment, and I can’t afford to hire a pro, you’ve been stuck with the best that I can do. I admit it, one or 2 of them actually have looked a little like food for a canine…  but some have been pretty darned good, if I say so myself!

Smokey Spiced Spanish Almonds

Smokey Spiced Spanish Almonds

With the advent of Instagram and online photo sites, it’s a lot easier these days to share our photos. Despite my many shortcomings in this area, I started up a SmugMug account to document some of the favorite pix, including food shots.

I invite you to explore them and enjoy them: the food album is at but you should feel free to browse through the rest, which includes trips to Tuscany and experiments with camera creativity.

I hope that YOU are not held back by feelings of photographic inadequacy! Truth is, I think that some of these “pro” photos stink!  So get out there and show your passions. Trust me, it feels great 😉

~ laura


Off-topic: What is going on with these drug commercials?

I know that this is a COMPLETE departure from talk of spices, recipes and organic foods. Forgive me.  But sometimes, I see something that is just so outrageous or silly that it makes me want to shout from the rooftops! Well, this blog is kind of my rooftop, so here goes:

We have all seen commercials for medications whose side effects sound much worse than the illness, right? I may have seen one that tops them all.

It was some kind of weight-loss medication. In the description of the “problem”, it showed a series of pleasantly plump people standing at buffets, with thought bubbles over their heads saying things like “Am I still hungry?” and “hmmm, have I had enough yet?”, implying that not only do they have no self-control when it comes to eating, they literally do not have any sense of whether they need to add another piece of fried chicken to the plate. Standing at that buffet is all just too damn confusing to know the right answers. Read the rest of this entry

How it’s made: Spiced Chocolate Bark (part 1)

Have you ever looked at something and wondered how it is made?

I do,  all the time.  Ridged rigatoni, a ball of twine, a violin– they’ve all captured my curiosity.

Chocolate bark is nowhere as complex as a violin, but it is still interesting to think about all of the steps required to get from this:

to this:

IMG_1662 Read the rest of this entry

Tips for Small Business Success: what I’ve learned so far

Depending on who you ask, Your Spice of Life will be celebrating with either iron or sugar, when we reach our 6 year anniversary in a few months.

I am very proud of what I have accomplished. Could it have been more — bigger, better, smoother, more profitable, more products, more stores? Of course. But the fact that it is still standing, in fact growing and appreciated by many, makes me happy.

Your Spice Banner 3

So rather than receiving gifts of iron or sugar, I have a small gift for you:  I’d like to share some observations from these last few years, when I went from a corporate-all-the-way, software training, pearls and pumps-wearing gal to a sole proprietor of quirky seasoning company in the Berkshires. Read the rest of this entry

Kitchen resolutions: Recycle, Repurpose, Renew

How about making some New Year’s resolutions that feel good and do good?

Like many of you, the kitchen is the center of my home.  So, I thought this would be the perfect place to focus some of my resolutions.

Let’s get a fresh start here, focusing on recycling, repurposing and renewing. The beauty is that it is fairly quick to do; you will be doing a good deed; and your meals will thank you afterwards.


I’m not talking about your glass and plastic, here. It’s your pantry that I’m interested in – those items that are months (years?) beyond their expiration dates, and need to go to that great compost pile in the sky. Read the rest of this entry

“Curse of the Thanksgiving Stuffing”

True story!

This ridiculous incident happened in 2005. 

It gets sadder AND funnier to me, the more time goes by.

Dear Stuffed Ones:

Since Tuesday morning,  I had slaved over an intricate stuffing recipe with about 17 ingredients in it, ranging from browned sausage, Granny Smith apples, sweet onion, toasted walnuts to homemade cornbread and more secret spices than KFC.  It filled three enormous pans when I was done, and I surveyed the results with great pride.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went and picked up my Dad, then drove the 3 pans of wonder-stuffing from Boston to upstate New York, to my sister’s. They were very carefully packed and safely strapped on the back seat seat.  My sister trucked them to my cousin’s on Thursday morning, while my Dad and I relaxed back at the hotel.

At this point, this stuffing had traveled more than most of you did for Thanksgiving. Read the rest of this entry

Do you judge a book by its cover?

It’s an old adage — “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Taking this literally,   unless you are a well-known author, the cover is often the only way that people will stop to look at your book.

The same is true of food products. If you are a new kid on the food block, your label may be the only thing that catches a customer’s attention. So it pays to spend a little time thinking about your labels.

CHAI - regular jar

Read the rest of this entry

Curse of the Thanksgiving Stuffing

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, I am busy cleaning the house, clearing my calendar, and planning my elaborate all-spiced menu of goodies. While deciding on what type of stuffing to make this year, I remembered this sad and true episode from my archive of family holidays… ahh, the memories!

~ Laura


Dear Stuffed Ones:

Since Tuesday morning,  I had slaved over an intricate stuffing recipe with about 17 ingredients in it, ranging from browned sausage, granny smith apples, sweet onion, toasted walnuts to homemade cornbread and more secret spices than KFC.  It filled three enormous pans when I was done, and I surveyed the results with great pride.

I drove this wonder-stuffing from Boston to New York, to my sister’s, on Wednesday afternoon, a gingerly packed and teetering Tower of Stuffing on the back seat.  I had to convince my Dad that, no, he couldn’t “just have a little taste” and he’d have to wait until Thursday. Read the rest of this entry

Guest Chef… for a cause!

Would you like to be a guest chef?” is a phrase I’ve been dying to hear! It finally happened a few weeks ago, when Janis Smythe,  the chair of Hillsdale’s “Green Solutions” Committee, contacted me.

Welcome to HillsdalePart of Green Solutions’ mission is to “serve as a model of energy efficiency that both builders and home owners can adopt to enjoy long term cost savings and cleaner air”, and they are very creative in how they put this mission into action.

One way is to bring in guest chefs to the Hillsdale Farmers Market, and have the chef demonstrate how to use the bounty of seasonal produce. Read the rest of this entry

Big Scissors: Fun at The Berry Farm

I have always wanted to cut a red ribbon with giant scissors… and I got my wish!

Here is how it happened:  I recently joined the Columbia County (NY) Chamber of Commerce.  One of the many benefits and perks is to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at your business, as your “coming out” to the community. That is great, but I don’t have a storefront of my own, so I thought the opportunity was lost.

Things have a way of working out for me, however, and this time was no different. Read the rest of this entry

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