Tropical Pattern

Food Palette: Tropical Sunshine

Here, in middle Tennessee, the earth is bright green, the air is fragrant with magnolias, and the temperature is in the 90s. And so, Summer is in full bloom. The sunshine this time of year, too, seems to be fuller. It changes ever so slightly from the lilting, angled light of Spring, to the dauntless pure rays of Summer. I wanted to find a color palette that captured that special sunshine. To do so, I turned to the fruits of the tropics.

Mango Salad

A fruit salad with mango, mandarins, coconut and pomegranate seeds was the perfect inspiration. Topped with a bit of honeyed ginger, it has just the right balance of simmer and sparkle.

Tropical Mango Palette

The resulting palette is bright and lush, but not overbearing. Just breezy enough for lazy Summer days. Enjoy!

Mango Mojito overhead

Welcome Summer with Mangoes and Goat Cheese

Memorial Day weekend is here, and with it comes the brightest and boldest of seasons. There’s something about the sunshine this time of year that makes colors more saturated and alive. I want to absorb that feeling; to eat it and drink it. So I set out to capture the season’s vivacity in two new recipes.

To stay grounded in the season, I took two warm-weather staples – chips and cheese dip and Mojitos – and recast them with vibrant ingredients. First, the appetizer.

Goat Cheese Pomegranate detail

Seed Crackers with Goat Cheese, Apricot Thyme Jam and Pomegranate Seeds

This is almost too easy to call a recipe! But it’s so good that I just had to share. 😉


  • 30+ seed crackers (I like Mary’s Gone Crackers brand)
  • 1 log goat cheese
  • 1 jar apricot jam
  • 1 t fresh, minced thyme
  • Pomegranate seeds


  • Spread goat cheese on crackers, followed by a dollop of jam.
  • Sprinkle minced thyme.
  • Top with 3-4 pomegranate seeds.
  • Enjoy!

Goat Cheese Pomegranate Snack

For a refreshing Summer drink, I looked to the Mojito. There are myriad fruit Mojito recipes out there, but the bright, sunny taste of mango fit my definition of “summer in a drink” best. I tried a few variations, and ended up with a simplified version that can be whipped up relatively quickly in a pinch. Just remember to keep extra simple syrup and mangoes on hand!

Mango Mojito

Simple Mango Mojito


  • 2.5 oz of white rum (mango rum would be even better!)
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 oz of simple syrup (or to taste)
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Soda water
  • 1/4 a mango, cubed
  • Ice cubes


  • Muddle mint leaves with 2-3 mango cubes.
  • Shake rum, syrup and soda water and ice cubes in a shaker.
  • In an empty glass, add mint leaves and non-muddled mango cubes (Note: you may also freeze the mango cubes to act as ice cubes. Freezing them also ensures you always have some on hand!)
  • Pour rum mixture over fruit.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and extra mint leaves, if desired.

Hope you enjoy these little tastes of sunshine as much as I did. Happy Summer – and cheers!


Mango Mojito detail


Food Palette: Daring and Airy – Beets and Persimmons

I’ve written before here how I’m constantly inspired by the color around me, especially food and plants. As Spring approaches, that may seem obvious! But for me, inspiration is not limited to Spring colors. Every season has its own unique palette to explore.

Lately, I’ve been quite taken with wintry beets. One root, both earthy and nearly neon, it is grounded and bold at the same time. Its color is unparalleled – a shining red bastion of the edible plant world. Is there another vegetable so forward with bold saturation?


I had some fun arranging these sassy beets into a pattern with persimmons, blueberries and pomegranates. The tableau lends itself to a warm, analogous selection of colors, with just a hint of daring. That’s thanks to the persimmons. Their light, orange airiness keep the palette from getting too dramatic. The result: a transitional, bolstering color palette, perfect for the cusp of a change in seasons.


Strongbow cider table

Cider & Black: A photographic toast to times around the table

Raise a glass! After all, the title Cider & Black is inspired by the drink of the same name. A modest, agrarian drink made with simple ingredients, but not necessarily made simply. It took some time to develop to the right state. It’s a drink that yields a balanced flavor with just a splash of tart-like whimsy, held high to share with friends old and new.

Cider & Black the blog is about celebrations around the table. It’s about being present in the moment, being inspired by the colors and complexities we encounter, and being grateful for people to share it with. With the table as the centerpiece, the celebration never ends.

I was first inspired to start this journey last summer, when I signed up for my first CSA in middle Tennessee. The variety of the weekly bounty I received was invigorating. The sheer quantity taught me how to put vegetables (and by extension, healthy foods) first, and also ensured I always had enough to share. The quirky kohlrabis and joi chois, among other characters, broadened the palate of my Hoosier upbringing. Farm-eating changed my relationship with food. It changed how and what I cooked for myself and my family, and even how I experienced the passing of the seasons.

Time seemed to slow, and I found myself reaching for my camera more and more to document the state of my table. States of solitude, contemplation, creation, fellowship, work and joy.

Orange food pattern

Oranges patterned with parsley, leaves and wild berries from our backyard.

On this blog I’ll work to translate those states into visual stories from the table. Be they stories of color, texture, seasons, recipes, or even travels. Which brings me back to the name Cider & Black.

There’s another, more personal meaning in this blog’s title. Kir Breton is something I first encountered while living in Rennes, France during college. The traditional drink in the Bretagne region is cider, so Cider & Black, or cidre noir, was never in short supply. And France is where my journey with photography really began. So in a way, Cider & Black and photography will always be inextricably linked for me.

white tea rennes

White oolong tea and momentos from my time in France.

I’ve changed since then, and now call Nashville home with my husband and sweet daughter. But my passion for local tastes and photography has only grown. I’m always open to creative opportunities, flavor pairings, or info about the newest tastes in TN (or France or anywhere else you’d recommend getting my passport stamped!) I’d love to hear from you. So welcome to Cider & Black, and cheers!

Persimmon Sea Green

Food Palette: Winter Persimmons

I’ve always been fascinated by this illusion: place one color next to another, and watch it take on new meaning and intensity. Color inspiration can come from anywhere – textiles, everyday objects, nature, and of course, food. For my post series Food Palettes, I explore how the color of food can be both appetizing and creatively stimulating.

This week I spied some particularly lovely persimmons at my local grocery. Such a beautiful and underrated fruit! There’s an almost velvety texture to their tight skin that’s very regal and old-world. When I look at them I can imagine dining with nobility in centuries of yore!


Today’s palette takes inspiration from the proud persimmon and the subdued light of winter.

Persimmon Seagreen Palette