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Archive for February, 2009

fake

I think I went a little overboard with the editing of this photo. But I actually kind of like it. It looks….fake, for sure…but it looks almost…comic booky. Or there’s a silverish tint to it. I don’t know; I can’t quite put my finger on it. But I like it, I know that much.

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So for my birthday last October, my amazing husband got me a Nikon D80.  I’ve always loved photography; I think I get that from my dad. I through my childhood, I remember he had this really cool Canon camera that was completely off limits to us kids — and was only brought on when the situation was worthy enough. Once I got older, he wold try to teach me things about aperture and exposure and ISO and light meters. But he might as well have been speaking Latin. I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand all that “photog” talk. For my college graduation, my parents bought me a Canon Rebel SLR (aka a 35mm film camera). And I loved using it…on auto mode. But it was also discouraging in the sense that whatever photo I took was final. No previewing, no editing. FINAL.  And not knowing any of the cool settings, I almost felt like it was a waste of film and money experimenting with the settings. And then by the time I actually did get around to developing the photos, I wouldn’t remember which photos were in taken in which settings.

And that’s the beauty of a digital SLR for the amateur photographer: you can actually learn the different settings hands-on and see the differences right there on the screen in front of you. On the day I took the above photo, I felt like experimenting with depths of field. I’ll post other comparisons a little bit later on. This one, while most of the photos I took are of Pepper in focus, I decided to get creative and focus on some of the wild grass in the foreground, thus making Pepper blurry. 

If you are the type that shoots on auto-mode, AND you have a digital, flip it to A mode (if you have Nikon) or Av mode (for Canon), and practice this depth of field. (A is for aperture, you know.) I guarantee it’s loads of fun!

Another fun tool on photographs: photo editing software. I use Adobe Lightroom (it’s gobs cheaper than Photoshop).

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and yet another one of my favorite soups from my childhood. i think my mom got this recipe from one of those cookbooks that schools sell as a fundraising, so i know i am not giving proper credit to someone out there. i apologize! i don’t know who you are, but i love you…because this recipe is amazing! the perfect way to warm your insides (other than a shot of whiskey!) on a cold winter evening. you can serve this with bread, but i normally don’t just because of the carbs in the potatoes: it’s not exactly a bread-dipping soup.

 

ingredients:

4 c. potatoes, peeled and sliced
¼ c. chopped onion
2½ c. water
1 tsp. salt
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ tsp. dry mustard
1½ tsp. soy sauce
2 c. milk
1 tsp. fresh parsley
1 to 2 c. shredded cheddar (the original recipe calls for 12oz. velveeta, but i don’t like to buy processed foods)
2 c. milk

 

instructions:

1)  in a dutch oven pot, add the first four ingredients (potatoes through salt). Bring to a boil; simmer for 15 minutes.

2)  while simmering, melt butter in a medium saucepan; add flour and stir with a whisk until blended.  add pepper, mustard, soy sauce, 2 cups milk, and parsley; whisk to combine, until flour lumps are dissolved into the milk. cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and thick.

3)  add milk mixture to potato mixture.  add cheese and remaining 2 cups milk; stir until smooth. simmer for about 5 minutes.

 

yields: 6-8 servings.  freeze leftovers in an airtight container.

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apricot brie dip

 

i first had this dip at my friend Rachel‘s house. with the first bit i took of this, i instantly knew what heaven must be like. it’s one of those foods you crave just thinking about it. even people (including men!) who have either never had brie before or don’t typically like brie like this dip. it looks and tastes classy, but is oh-so-simple to make.

(a Pampered Chef recipe)

 

ingredients:

1 brie round (with rind)

½ c. apricot jam

¼ c. pecans, chopped

1-2 jalepeños, seeds and veins removed, and finely diced

 

instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

1)  cut brie in half side to side. place one half on a pizza stone or baking dish, cut side up.

2)  in a small bowl, combine apricot jam and peppers.  spoon half of jam mixture on top of cut side of brie. top with half of the chopped nuts.

3)  top with other half of brie round, cut side up.  top with remaining jam then remaining pecans.

4)  bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes.

 

serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers, and/or pita chips.  if you are cooking this on a pizza stone, put the brie in the middle and arrange the baguette slices around the outside of it, then spray with a little bit of olive and bake according to directions.

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So I’ve talked about how my husband is not a huge fan of vegetables. For the most part, he is a good sport about eating them, even if they aren’t as mushy as he’d prefer. I mostly think he does this to spare the heartache of listening to me give him a lecture on the nutritional benefits of veggies. However, as much as he loves me, there are certain vegetables he absolutely positively will not touch,  no matter how mushy they are or how much cheese I put on them.  Cauliflower is one of these.  This past Christmas, a friend gave me a cookbook written by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, Jessica Seinfeld. It’s called Deceptively Delicious.  The main trick she does is steam and puree certain veggies and then use the puree to sneak into dishes:  like pureed beets into pancakes, pureed sweet potatoes or butternut squash into spaghetti sauce, or cauliflower into soup.  Last week I received a cauliflower head in my CSA box.  Not wanting it to go to waste (and not wanting to eat the whole thing myself), I decided to copy Mrs. Seinfeld’s cauliflower trick.  So in this soup you get double the benefits.  Only after hubby ate a couple of bite of the soup did I tell him the secret ingredient; he said he couldn’t even taste it, and that he loved, loved, loved the soup. Success!

 

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloved, minced or pressed
4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
4 red potatoes, diced
2 broccoli crowns, chopped
broccoli rabe (optional; I had it in my CSA box, so I threw it in here to get rid of it)
1 cauliflower floret, stems removed, and chopped
3 T.  olive oil (or butter)
3 T. flour
2 c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
salt
pepper
tabasco sauce (or paprika)

Instructions:

1)  In a stockpot over medium heat, “caramelize” your onions for about 10 minutes.  Add garlic; cook another 5 minutes.

2)  Pour in broth; bring to a boil.  Add potatoes to pot; boil over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

3)  Add broccoli and cauliflower; return to a boil.  Turn down to medium heat; steam 10-15 minutes, or until veggies are tender.  Turn down to a low simmer. 

4)  Using a slotted spoon, scoop broccoli and cauliflower into a blender or food processor.  (I left a few little chunks of broccoli in the soup cuz I like it a bit chunky.)  And it’s ok if you get little pieces of onions and potatoes in the processor.  However, if you would like for your entire soup to be creamy, place all the soup into the fodd processor or blender.  (You can even use an immersion blender, if that strikes your fancy.)  Process until smooth.

          a)  if you processed only the broccoli and cauliflower, leave the puree in the blender until after the next step (step 5)

          b)  if you processed the whole soup, you can return it to the stockpot and leave it, covered, on a low simmer.

5)  In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add in flour; stir quickly with a gravy whisk (or regular whisk) to combine.

6)  Add milk to flour mixture; whisk until lumps dissolve.  Pour in pureed broccoli and cauliflower to milk mixture; stir to combine.  Pour into stockpot with rest of soup.  Add extra milk if you desire it to be thinner.  Heat through, then remove from heat.  Stir in cheese until melted.

7)  Season to taste using the salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce (or paprika).

Yields 4-5 one-cup servings.

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Sheep

My little one loves her some sheep. If she could, she would herd them all day long.  And even after being so tired she can’t run around them any longer, she would be more than happy to pin them in a corner and stare them still…all day long.  Our little border collie, who bounced from shelter to shelter until we rescued her, has found her life’s calling: sheep.

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