Hi guys! Hope your Thanksgiving was full of fantastic food, lots of laughter, and good memories! Ours was great, and relaxing, but now it’s time to do our Christmas shopping! Have you guys started yet? Every year I swear I’m going to get my shopping done early, and every year I still end up ordering those last minute gifts on Amazon! Thank God for Amazon! Am I right?! I get so much stuff from there, for my blog, my photography, and my life! I thought you might like to see some of the tools and gadgets I love and use in my kitchen and for my photography. Maybe this Holiday Gift Guide will help you get your shopping done early, and maybe it will help you with your own wish list! 😉 I’ve included links to each item, or you can just click the image to see it on Amazon. Happy Shopping!
Welcome to my 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies and Photographers!
- Number one on this list has to be one of the first kitchen tools I ever purchased (a LONG time ago!) , and one that I never want to be without. It’s an immersion blender, and I use it all the time! This is a newer version of mine (and it’s available in a lot of colors – I love red!) It’s so helpful for blending soups, sauces, dressings, and even pureeing veggies. It’s great because you can use it in a pot while it’s on the stove – you don’t have to transfer things to a blender or food processor, and risk getting burned, or wait for it to cool.
So far on the blog, I used it to make my Summer Celebration Tortilla Soup , Hearty Broccoli Soup , Classic Chili (Veganized) and The Best Vegan Gravy Ever! (I didn’t post a picture of the blender with the gravy, but I used it in the instructions).
- Next up is an Instant Pot. I have the 6 Qt. one and it is awesome!! I use it mostly to make soup, (and lots of Chili) and I love it because you can saute your onions and garlic first, right there in the Instant Pot, and then add the rest of your ingredients and use it as a pressure cooker.
Pressure cooking really helps the flavors come together. Do you ever notice that some dishes taste better the next day? Pressure cooking gives you that effect immediately. I also use this pot for making rice, cooking beans, and steaming veggies. I love that this is a slow cooker as well, and someday, I promise to use the yogurt function! Yes, you can make yogurt in an Instant Pot!
- Number 3 on my list is something that I use on almost a daily basis… my cast iron skillet!
I admit, for years, I was afraid to cook in cast iron. Instead I opted for non-stick skillets, until I found out how unhealthy they are. Then I found out how to properly care for your cast iron, to make it non-stick. They really aren’t hard to care for, and they distribute heat really well. I love that you can also put them in the oven for things like cinnamon rolls, and they just look really great in pictures too! I definitely recommend getting one with a lid. It comes in handy!
- Speaking of Lodge, I have several of their pieces and I highly recommend all of them. However, of all of the pieces I have, this one gets the most attention (and for obvious reasons! It’s just adorable and it makes you want to BAKE!! )
People always ask me about this pan, so I would definitely put this one on your list for yourself or for someone else. It’s a showstopper! Here’s the link!
- As you can tell from looking at my pictures, I may have a thing for red kitchen pieces! So one day when I was reading one of my favorite food blogs (Pinch of Yum – not vegan, but a fantastic blog by fantastic folks), and she was using one of the Red Lodge Dutch Ovens, I knew I had to have one! I bought it because it looks great, and I knew I could use it for a lot of dishes,and I fell in LOVE with it because you can fit so much in there. (I bought the 6 Qt. size and it’s perfect)
It keeps hot food warm on the table, and the enamel coating prevents sticking. It’s become of of my favorite pieces and I highly recommend it. Oh, and in case red isn’t your thing, they also have these awesome pots in a variety of beautiful colors! Check them out!
- One tool that I use every.single.day. in my kitchen and for the blog is my blender!
I know you can spend a lot more on a Blendtec or Vitamix blender, but for now, I’m pretty happy with my Ninja. I make smoothies for family every day and it does a great job. I used it for about a year before the blades needed a little sharpening and that was using it every day, blending frozen fruit and ice! Here’s the link for a Ninja Blender. BTW – my kids love the smoothie cups that come with it!
- This is the knife sharpener I mentioned above. My husband has sharpened my kitchen knives several times with it, and even the blades on my blender. It’s a handy little gadget and makes a great stocking stuffer. My husband also sharpens his pocket knives with it. It suctions to the counter top, so it doesn’t slip when you’re using it.
- I bought this gorgeous, simple and elegant Emile Henry Baking dish last May, and I’m still just completely in love with it. You can bake in it AND set it on your table to serve out of and it still looks great.
Being a food photographer, I’m very picky about the way my dishes look, and I really wanted something beautiful, but beyond that, it had to handle heat. Surprisingly, a lot of (non-glass) baking dishes are only heat rated up to 350*. This one is rated to go up to 515*!
- In a lot of my posts, you’ll see these cute little Mason Jar glasses with handles.
I adore these and use them all the time! Here’s a link in case you want to pick some up for yourself or as a gift!
- For years, my husband and I have tried all different kinds of purified water for our home. We had a whole house water filter, we had a water delivery service, we even tried an atmospheric water generator! The later didn’t really work that well because we have very little humidity in Southern California. Each one of these had one issue or another. Finally, we tried a Berkey water filter. We’ve had it for a few years now, and it works great! It’s more effective and more economical than the other options we’ve tried. We even bring it with us when we go camping! This link is for the Big Berkey, but they have lots of different sizes. We have a family of four and we drink a lot of water!
- This next item is something that we just purchased, right before Thanksgiving, and brought it with us on our annual Thanksgiving camping trip! It’s awesome and I LOVE it! It’s a portable ice maker! We bought it because we like to travel a lot in our Fifth-Wheel and when we’re out, we spend a lot of money on ice, and then you can’t control the quality of the water the ice is made out of. It’s also great for parties to though or anytime you need ice! It’s super cute on your counter or table too! Check it out here.
- Last, but certainly not least, is my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer! I use it a lot for baking!
It makes my life so much easier! I love making frosting in it, because it comes out as light as air and just melts in your mouth. You’d have to hold a hand mixer for a very long time to get the same results! I love that it comes with a paddle, a whisk, and a dough hook. You can also add a pasta maker and even a spiralizer (Please, Santa!) and do even more. It’s really a must have!
Now Let’s Talk Photography Gear!
As much as I love healthy, vegan food, which is A LOT, I love photography even more! Before I started the blog I photographed mostly landscapes, still life objects, flowers and cityscapes. I love to travel and do a lot of shooting when I do. I do some portrait and wedding work too. I have an Etsy Shop where I sell my fine art photography. When I decide to start sharing my vegan recipes online, I learned to shoot food. It came together pretty quickly with the help of a few tools. Here’s what I use for my food blog and beyond, photography wise.
- My current camera is the Canon 6D. I can’t say enough good things about this camera! It’s a great, entry level pro camera, that has great image quality and I’ve been really happy with it. One thing that is great about this camera is it’s high ISO capabilities, which means that you can shoot in darker conditions (inside), with higher shutter speeds without a tripod and not see too much grain in your photos. I am thinking about upgrading in the future to the new Canon 5D Mark IV, and the only reason is it has a more focus points. I shoot a lot outside on a tripod and would love more focus points. I ♥ my Canon 6D though and it’s like an old friend – or as my family sometimes says, our 5th family member! (I might be a little obsessed with photography!)
- I shoot 99% of all of my food photos in my little table top studio in my office, with artificial light. I know – you thought it was morning when I posted photos like these… but it wasn’t!
I usually work in the late afternoon/evening and I like nice, bright and consistent lighting. So I use two of these Lowell EGO lights, and they work great! They sit on my table and I cover them with thin, plain white tea towels to diffuse the light, and because they look like window coverings if they get in the shot. I use the reflectors that come with them to reflect light back into the shadows. I highly recommend two of these, as I started with one, and felt that it didn’t give off enough light for my taste. I get them at B&H Photo. I order A LOT of photography stuff from there, if I can’t get it from Amazon.
- I have two lenses that I use for my food photography, and the good news is that they are both fairly inexpensive, as far as lenses go. One is the “Nifty Fifty”, and it is this 50mm lens. I use it for all of my over head shots, and most of my other shots as well, unless I want to get REALLY close, and then I use the 100mm macro lens. When I’m not shooting food, the 50mm is great for portraits, and the 100mm is great for flowers, bugs, and anything you want to capture the fine details of (like wedding rings!).When I’m not shooting for the blog – when I’m out and about with my family or shooting landscapes like this –
- I shoot with the 24-70L lens most of the time. It’s so versatile and I love it! Here’s a link if you want to check it out. When I’m doing portraits I shoot with the 70-200L and it creates the most creamy, smooth backgrounds! It’s heavy, and I don’t love carrying it around, but I do because it is soooo worth it! Check it out here!
- Fun item here – I love this comfy tee from SoulShine Company on Etsy! They are a new little shop and they do mostly outdoor/adventure shirts and I got this camera tee from them! IT would definitely make a great gift for anyone who loves photography! Check it out here
Back to the food photography – if you are interested in learning how to shoot food, know someone who loves to shoot food, or if you are already doing it and your shots aren’t coming out the way you want them to, I highly recommend this book. It really helped me improve my food photography quickly.
I hope that this Holiday Gift Guide has been helpful for you, and that it will make your shopping a little easier this year! I personally use every item on this list and if you have any questions about anything you’ve seen here, feel free to email me, leave a comment or hit me up on social media! Make sure you stay tuned for some delicious Holiday recipes, coming up in the next couple of weeks! You can make sure you don’t miss anything by signing up for my mailing list (just below the post) or by connecting with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Pinterest. Remember to eat healthy during the holiday season, enjoy treats occasionally, and above all, try to stay calm and enjoy! Sending you all love and hugs and best wishes for a wonderful Holiday season! Talk to you soon, Angel
*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, you will be supporting my blog! The products won’t cost a penny more, but I will receive a small referral fee from Amazon for sending you over. Thanks in advance for your support! ♥