Recipe: Whole-wheat crepes
It wasn’t my picture I wanted, plastered across a magazine spread, my very likeness rinsing leafy greens and clumsily hacking at an unrelenting onion in an unsatisfactory attempt to look as though I’m possessed of knife skills. I only wanted to write about doing these things, to illustrate with words my kitchen affinities.
And write I did, but images and words, these things go hand in hand when splayed out in the glossies, and those editors and design directors, well, they know what they want. So a photographer (the veritable and trained kind, not a hack like me) was dispatched to the house for my latest story to take photos of me and my pots and my parsley, along with various other specially selected food items.
Now food makes for a glorious photography subject: the colors, the textures, the suggestion of scent and flavor (not to mention that it doesn’t wiggle, unless it’s Jell-O, and who’s photographing gelatinous mass anyhow? Nor does it change its expression by the time the shutter engages, the way kids are forever doing, darn it).
But me as glorious – or glamorous, or even the tiniest bit willing – photography subject? Not so much. When it came up in conversation how I’d be spending my Friday evening, the response was, invariably, “How fun!” “Fun” being an obvious euphemism for awkward, for nerve-inducing, because having to look contemplative or amused while preparing food seemed rather akin to getting fitted for a retainer or cradling a bundle of dynamite.
Other than the infrequent family photo and that one passport photo that I kind of liked, I’ve never been the preening object of the camera’s affection. I let Brian take my picture with the kids when we’re on vacation so that, just in case I die an early death, they’ll know I was there; there will be something for the Today show to put up on the screen again and again in the event of an untimely, sensational demise (is this tempting fate too much? Ok, now I’m scared. But I do frighten easily).
This was the first time my kitchen had seen the likes of light kits and synched flashes, so I tried to glean some food photography tips while I tucked my spatula under delicate crêpe edges and attempted to simultaneously heed the photographer’s direction to keep my chin lifted. The experience brought up a whole host of questions previously unknown to my kitchen that were more vain than the practical: What do I wear? What ensemble would match my kitchen and complement the likes of lemons and Pecorino Romano? Do I need a tan? To accessorize or not to accessorize? (Yes, for the record, this constitutes over-thinking.)
Here’s what I learned (other than the fact that the whole thing did turn out to be kind of fun):
- Get as much light into the room as possible – Even with the addition of all his fancy-pants pro lighting, the photographer still had me turn on the light over my range.
- Use a tripod – You’ll have better control and get more angles (I actually have a tripod, and now I need to get on with using the thing).
- Repeat, then do it again – I poured milk into a liquid measure and back into the gallon jug at least a dozen times while the photographer took different shots (we were going for blur). Ditto for picking up an egg from a bowl. “Pick it up, ok, put it back.” Click. “Pick it up…put it back…” I thought I had a bad habit of taking zillions of photos of a single plate of pasta, but the pro put my numbers to shame.
- Photographers really do say “Work it” – Luckily, he was only joking.
I made these for the photo shoot. This recipe is from a friend of mine who hails from Paris and who’s devoted to biologique (organic) and using whole grains. This is the easiest crêpe recipe I’ve ever used, and I love that you can take it the direction of savory or sweet. (We devoured this last batch with sliced strawberries, bananas, plain yogurt and a drizzle of honey. We also tried them with a spread of the aforementioned kumquat marmalade, slices of banana and plain yogurt – oh, delish!)
2 cups milk (I used fat-free, no problem)
1 cup water
2 cups whole wheat flour (go the white whole wheat route, if you like)
1-2 tsp vanilla (use if you’re stuffing them with fruit or otherwise sweet toppings)
1 tbsp honey (optional)
Mix all ingredients in blender. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat (or if you have a crêpe pan, just go for it – you probably know the drill). When pan is hot, add a swipe of butter. Bake crêpes by swirling ¼ cup of batter into the pan while simultaneously lifting the pan from the heat and swirling it so that the batter covers the surface. Cook until edges just lift and the bottom is golden brown but the top of the crêpe is still soft. Eat them plain or fill the center with all kinds of good things, then fold the crêpe into thirds.