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(yes, there is a recipe, in case you start to wonder…)

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about taking food photos in artificial light. Today, I was lucky enough to be working at home, and so most of my photography had the benefit of natural light. But that’s not normally the case, and I gather from what I’m reading that I’m not alone. Light – or lack of it – is a frustration for so many bloggers.

I’ll come back to that another day, but I was interested in a discussion on a photography forum (sorry, I wasn’t thinking at the time that I’d be writing anything about it, so I didn’t bookmark it) about whether good pictures are essential. While most posters agreed good pictures are a big attraction, it was easy to see that for others, it was the writing, or the recipes.

It made me think about what I value in my reading. While there are many blogs and websites I like to visit regularly, there are only a handful that I love enough to sign up to have every new post land in my inbox. So, I spent a few minutes thinking about what makes them so compelling (and whether there’s a lesson there in terms of my own content). And I’ve realised it’s different for each one. I’m always happy to see a post from No Meat Athlete, because as a runner, I always find the content interesting – and it’s not always just about running. Pictures aren’t what I value here. I really admire Gena at Choosing Raw; her writing is intelligent, thoughtful and often gently thought-provoking. I like the personal nature of what she shares (her Green Recovery series is amazing, harrowing, inspiring… go see for yourself, and be sure to read the comments on each article). Her recipes are great, and her pics too.

Another that I always like to see is the regular email from The Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter; nice shots, healthy ideas – it’s all about the recipe, here.

That’s just a quick sample – I won’t bore everyone with a detailed list of what I read – but thinking about this has made me realise that there’s no one thing I look for. Everyone has their strengths, and I hope that this 30-day challenge will help me figure out what my blogging will (should?) be.

Enough of the pontification (although I’d be interested to know what anyone reading this values in a blog. Leave a comment!). Let’s get onto the baking.

Today I made a batch of spiced nuts. I’m called them spiced, rather than spicy, as the flavors are pretty gentle. Still quite addictive, but next time I think I’d another teaspoon or two of spices (and if you like things hot, you definitely want to add some cayenne pepper or something similar).

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Spiced Nuts

1 tab spoon raw castor sugar (or just use castor sugar)

1 teas smoked paprika

1 teas ground cumin

1/2 teas onion powder

1 teas salt

1 teas herbamare

1 egg white

1 tab + 1 teas water

3 cups mixed raw nuts and seeds (I used cashews, blanched almonds and pepitas)

Preheat oven to 15C. Line a tray with baking paper.

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Stir the sugar and spices together in a bowl big enough to hold the nuts. Taste! Adjust if it’s not what you like. In another bowl, use a fork to beat the egg white with the water (just a little, it’s just to mix the two). Put the nuts in the bowl with egg white and stir thoroughly.

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Place nut mix in a strainer and allow to drain over a bowl for a few minutes (there may not be much to drain, you could even skip this step).

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Tip the nuts into the bowl with the spices and mix thoroughly. Tip onto the prepared tray, using a spatula to scrape the spicy residue from the bowl, too. Spread the nut mix out on the tray.

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Bake for 20 minutes. Use a spatula (or clean hands, depending on your heat tolerance) to break up and stir the nut mix. Bake for another 20 minutes and stir again. Depending on your oven, this may be long enough, but I found another 5 minutes was about right (ie a total cooking time of 45 minutes).

Allow to cool on tray.

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