July 2013 in Instagram Photos

I love NYC in the summer. It’s packed with taco eating, cocktail drinking, full rainbows over Queens, and thunderstorms that make the NYC skyline look epic.

There is also Mr. Sunday, rooftop film screenings almost any night of the week (I personally love Lavender Lake’s), trivia nights, ferry rides, farmers markets, vintage French carnivals, beer gardens, popup pools, baseball games, Governor’s Island, open studios, outdoor markets, Coney Island, art fairs, Celebrate Brooklyn, flea markets, popup parties, Rockaway beach, Rockaway Taco, picnics in the parks, and so on and so on.

Since July is wrapping up I’m going to share some of my favorite Instagram photos from this month. Oh, and here I am on Instagram.

If you are a New Yorker I highly recommend subscribing to the Nonsense NYC newsletter. These folks send out a newsletter every Friday with a list of unique events happening the following week. For example on last week’s list there was a popup dance party taking place on the top floor of a parking garage in Chinatown. The space was transformed with installations and projections. The list has some tamer events like street festivals and art shows on it as well.

Goodbye July, it’s been real. Hello August.

NYC Summer
NYC Summers via vkrees' InstagramNYC Summers via vkrees' InstagramNYC Summers via vkrees' InstagramNYC Summers via vkrees' InstagramNYC Summers via vkrees' InstagramNYC Summers via vkrees' instagramNYC Summers via vkrees' instagram

NYC Summers via vkrees' instagram

NYC Summers via vkrees' instagram

NYC Summers via vkrees' instagram
NYC summers via vkrees' iPhone

NYC Summers via vkrees' instagram


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Moody Flowers

I recently did some mood shots for H.Bloom flowers and thought I’d share a few of my favorite photos. We titled the mood board Silver Autumn and ideas came easily from those two words of inspiration. A big thanks to the clients over at H.Bloom flowers for giving me some creative freedom in this shoot. It made the project extremely rewarding.

Flowers by Vanessa of V.K.Rees PhotographyH.Bloom Flowers by Vanessa Rees
H.Bloom mood shot by Vanessa ReesFlower Mood Shot by Vanessa Rees
H.Bloom Flowers by Vanessa Rees

Till next time! xo




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Green Tomato Salsa With Fresh Corn & Roasted Peppers

Hello and happy July!

So, I love food photography but sometimes I feel like it takes itself way too seriously. This post is a reminder to myself that I started this blog to experiment and have fun. So here is something a little different (or weird)! Also the salsa is delicious. =)

Salsa by Vanessa and Rachel Rees


My sister Rachel came up with this salsa recipe. Here is what she has to say about it:

“This time of year the garden really kicks into high-gear and I start making salsa. Making salsa, for me, is all about finding a nice balance of color,texture, and heat and acid levels. Of course, it is all a matter of personal preference. I find that building a salsa using a staged approach will give you the opportunity to modify the ratios to your taste.

This is a fun way to use green tomatoes. I also like this salsa because of the heat that the peppers bring in contrast to the sweet brightness of the corn. It’s super tasty with chips or grilled in tortilla with avocado. ” -Rachel

Salsa by Vanessa and Rachel Rees


  • 2 lbs green tomatoes, rinsed and quartered
  • 4 small garlic cloves, skin removed
  • 1 medium shallot, quartered
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon or lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 small jalapeno or habanero peppers, roasted (skin and seeds removed)
  • 3 medium carrots, skin removed and grated
  • 3 ears of sweet yellow corn, kernels shaved from the husk
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

To roast the peppers, set the oven on broil. Place the peppers in an oven safe dish. Drizzle a light coat of canola oil on the peppers, just enough to make a light sheen on the peppers. Place the dish in the oven (middle rack works well), broil the peppers for 5 mins or until the skin bubbles slightly and a little brown. Flip the peppers on the other side, and repeat. Once broiled on both sides, remove the peppers from the oven. Set aside to cool.

Combine the tomatoes, garlic, shallot, cilantro, and the lemon/lime juice in the food processor. Using the pulse function on the food processor, combine the ingredients until the mixture takes on the desired constancy.

Now it’s time to add the heat–I recommend doing this one pepper at a time. I remove the skin and seeds to help control the heat (habaneros can pack a punch!). After the peppers are roasted, the skin should pull away very easily. Likewise, seeds can be removed easily by pulling off the stem of the pepper. The seeds can then be easily scooped out. You can always rinse the pepper under water to remove the seeds.

Place one pepper in the food processor, pulse until combined. Taste. Add more pepper(s) until you reached the desired heat level. Remember the heat can build quickly – take your time here.

Once you have the desired heat level, transfer the mixture from the food processor to a large bowl. Fold in the carrots and corn, and add a pinch of sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. Let the salsa sit for 10-15 minutes, taste again. Season to taste (you can always add more lemon/lime juice or peppers to increase acid or heat levels).


Salsa by Vanessa and Rachel Rees

Till next time!


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Simple Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce by Vanessa Rees of V.K.Rees

I have a pretty big family. When we gather together we end up with 8 – 12 people. It’s a lot of mouths to feed. Cooking with my family is one of my favorite things in life. We drink wine, play music, joke around, my parent’s dogs get in the way, my brother and sister bicker over proper cooking techniques, and of course we nibble at the food before it’s ready. =)

Recently the whole family met up in Richmond, VA for Mother’s day and my sister, Rachel, took on the responsibility of choosing what to make for dinner. She ended up deciding on spaghetti with some of the most delicious tomato sauce I’ve ever had. It was a crowd pleaser. I’m super excited to share Rachel’s recipe with you guys!

Oh, and if you missed the post in which I introduced my sister you can read it here. Rachel will be the creator of the recipes featured on this blog from now on. I will simply be photographing them.

Easy Tomato Sauce
Simple Tomato Sauce by V.K.Rees

Take it away Rachel…

“This simple tomato sauce has helped me out of a jam more than once. It has become my go-to on nights when I’ve found myself feeding a larger dinner party with a sparsely stocked pantry. I use to be hesitant about making a pasta sauce for a crowd, just seemed a like bit of a snoozer. But, here’s the thing, each time I’ve made this sauce, guests have asked me for recipe or even lobbied for a doggybag to take home. I guess its not a surprise. Warm bowls of pasta tossed with quality olive oil topped with a homemade sauce and fresh herbs is sublimely comforting. Plus, it highlights the herbs that are available in early and late spring (parsley and basil are great but, feel free to use whatever is on hand). And, with tomato season looming, this recipe is going to be super handy. Just swap out the canned tomatoes for fresh. This is as easy to make as it is to love and very flexible. Feel free to add more crushed pepper if you like the heat o0r more garlic, if you like. Add in the herbs you like, omit those you don’t. Of course, salt and pepper to taste.” -Rachel


Tomato Sauce by V.K.Rees

Simple Tomato Sauce with Fresh Herbs

Adapted from: In the Green Kitchen, Techniques to Learn by Heart, Alice Waters

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6-8 large cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 cans of diced or whole tomatoes, 28 ounces
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup of basil ribbons
  • Pasta, dried or fresh – your choice
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper

Place the olive oil and garlic in a heavy bottomed pot on a medium-low heat. Once the garlic is soft and aromatic (about 5 minutes), add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper and let the mixture simmer on low heat for 25 minutes. For a smoother sauce, break up whole tomatoes with a fork or immersion blender for desired consistency. Cook the al dente pasta according to the directions, reserving some of the pasta cooking water before draining. You can do this easily with a coffee mug or measuring cup. Transfer the drained pasta a large bowl, add just enough pasta water to create a light sheen on the noodles (a couple of tablespoons or so). Toss once more to add kosher salt and cracked pepper. Portion the pasta into bowls, ladle on the sauce, drizzle with quality olive oil, garnish with the fresh herbs and salt.

Depending on portion size, serves 6 – 8 adults.

Tomato Sauce by V.K.Rees

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Springtime White Bean Salad with Grilled Bread

Hello and happy spring!

I’d like to introduce the internet to my lovely sister Rachel- an amazing and very creative cook. Rachel and I have decided to combine our superpowers. From this point on she will be the creator of the recipes featured here and I will simply be photographing them. Welcome, Rach!

Rees Siblings

Sorry about the goofy iPhone photo… I need to bust out my DSLR next time I see my brother and sister. Rachel is the one on the left, my brother Joey is in the middle, and I’m on the right. =)

Rachel came up with an amazing spring salad. I’m so excited to share it with you guys. I ate it for dinner 3 nights in a row!

Springtime White Bean Salad with Grilled BreadSpringtime White Bean Salad with Grilled Bread

Take it away Rachel…

“My husband tends about 10 raised beds in our backyard . While mostly dormant in the winter months, it is bountiful as soon as spring breaks. Unless preserved, garden harvests and Farmers’ Market provisions should be used quickly to enjoy peak freshness and flavor. Salads can be a creative and playful way to do just that.

With the exception of the white beans, this is a raw salad and best enjoyed when in season. Here, in the Eastern Mid-Atlantic, all of the veggies in this salad are in available in the late spring. Don’t be tempted to make this dish in the winter months, you’ll be disappointed. When made in season, this is a delicious and satisfying-and it can be pulled together in a snap.” -Rachel

Springtime White Bean Salad with Grilled Bread


  • Vingairette (recipe follows)
  • 2 cans of white beans, cannellini or northern white, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium broccoli crowns, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Asparagus spears, ends trimmed or snapped away, thinly chopped on the diagonal (about 1 cup)
  • Parsley, flat or curly, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Green onions, tops and ends trimmed away, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Juice and zest from one large lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Rustic bread, rubbed with garlic and grilled
  • Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • A pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Using a mason jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the ingredients for the vinaigrette. With the lid on, shake vigorously until well-combined. Taste. Adjust the seasonings to your preference. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the white beans, fennel, broccoli, asparagus, parsley, garlic, green onions, the lemon juice and zest. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add about half of the vinaigrette. Toss again. Set the bowl aside.

When you are ready to serve, shake the vinaigrette before using, and add to the salad. Grill the bread to a golden color. To serve, arrange bread on a plate with a serving of the salad. Finish with a drizzle of oil olive. Enjoy.

Springtime White Bean Salad with Grilled Bread

Springtime White Bean Salad with Grilled Bread


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