Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Backlit Dead Flowers

The winter skies have past and the spring light has come with all it's glory. What I love about photography and shooting natural light is the connection you have to the planet. You notice the change in the seasons and you have a respect for what they give you. The winter skies with their blueish tones the summer with it's harsh shadows and bright sun that needs lots of filtering. 

The spring however is so exciting. It seems like overnight a switch is hit and everything is changing. The light coming up over the lake in the morning is brilliant. I find myself getting excited by the little bits of it here and there and the shadows it produces. As a natural light photographer you are always chasing light. Without it you have nothing. So it's value is priceless. There is an appreciation that can't be verbalized. You run with glee when it is right and you curse it when it is fleeting. 

The photo above was taken of some roses I had a little to long. As I have said before in my post in 2011 "Beauty in Decay" I think there is a real beauty in things that are in decay. The way the leaves fall when dried and withering, the way the flowers droop like an old man who is tired after a long day. To me the great joys in life are looking at the ordinary things in our life and appreciating them. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Olives East Window

It is a gorgeous morning in suburbia. The sun is shining bright and the easterly window in my studio had something great happening.  These olives were put in the refrigerator by mistake. When I went to get them they had lost their luster due to the fat getting cold. I decided to throw them into a saute pan and just give them a swirl in the heat to bring them back to life.
This photo was taken thereafter. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bring Back The Cocktail Hour

I love to go to the library and check out new cookbooks and kind of get to know them a little before I make a purchase. A few weeks ago I came home with a stack of great books. A few diy/design books, and a stack of cookbooks. There were two in the bunch I loved enough to buy, one was Design Sponge and the other Mix Shake Stir a book all about cocktails.

What makes this book a keeper? First of all the book was beautiful to look at which is key for me as a visual artist. Second of all the recipes were from Danny Meyer’s restaurants. I have never been to any of his places in NYC but I do have his Union Square CafĂ© book that I use often and love.

I have been thinking a lot about cocktails lately. For this I have pinterest to thank as well as Coryanne my virtual friend over at Housewife Bliss. Coryanne and I have not yet met in person but we talk back and forth on social media. She is a really fun gal, check out her blog.

You see Coryanne is always posting different cocktail ideas and talking about the cocktail hour. It always sounds intriguing.  My morning ritual is to go on pinterest and check the home page for any inspiring colors, photography, or recipes. I have noticed some very beautiful modern cocktail ideas that have inspired me. So when I came across Danny Meyer's book it gave me a reason to try some new cocktail recipes and got me thinking about the whole cocktail culture.

The 1950’s was where my mind was wandering when thinking of the cocktail hour.  The wife would meet her husband at the door with a stiff one after a hard day at the office. Usually you picture June Clever types with their string of pearls and cinched 18 inch waist.

In the 50's the cocktails that were in fashion were the Tom Collins, Manhattan, gimlet, and martini of course.

Times have changed quite a bit in the cocktail arena. As with the food trends, cocktails follow and there are some very clever and fresh cocktails out there that I am just dying to try.
The other night I greeted my husband with this beautiful blood orange margarita. No pearls and no June Cleaver dress.  I totally love the sweet salt sour thing that margaritas have going for them. 

With cocktails today the innovation is endless. Fresh squeezed juices, infusions, herbs, fruit garnishes are where it is at. A bar in NYC even uses rocks (from Italy of course) infused with vermouth for their signature martini.

So even though we don’t necessarily have the glamour going like they did in the 50’s we can create our own version of the cocktail hour. Invite a few friends and give yourself a reason to try some new cocktail recipes. I have to say it is a lot of fun and really doing it well is a lot like cooking. Using the best ingredients you can afford and putting them together in the right proportions, choosing the right glass and garnish. Voila your having a cocktail party!

Blood Orange Margarita
from Blue Smoke Restaurant in NYC

1 lime wedge
coarse salt, preferred is Maldon, for rim of glass
2 oz tequilla, preferably Sauza Hornitos
1 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz orange liqueur, preferably GranGala
1/2 oz simple syrup*
3/4 oz Blood Orange puree**
1 lime wheel, garnish
1 blood orange wheel, garnish

Make simple syrup and blood orange puree. Take cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Take glass and rub rim with lime wedge. Put salt on small plate and turn glass upside down and gently rub until rim of glass is coated in salt. 

Pour all measured ingredients into shaker and shake. Using strainer strain over ice filled glass and garnish with lime and blood orange wheel. 

*simple syrup is made by putting equal quantities of sugar and water in a pan on the stove. Boil until sugar melts. I used 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water. 

**blood orange puree is 4 blood oranges, peeled, segmented, seeded, 1 Tbsp simple syrup, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice. Combine all in blender until smooth. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pain Perdu

This is the time of year that is very hard to deal with for me. If you live in the Midwest, like I have my whole entire life, I bet you can relate. In the month of March, even late February you get some hints that spring is near. Signs like hearing birds that you have not heard for many months, seeing  buds on trees and some sprouting through the earth.  You may get some 50-60 degree days here and there but it is back to the 30's the next day to remind you that you need to be patient. The days are getting brighter.

 A melancholy sets in as we go through a shedding of the layers of winter and head into spring with such great expectations. Expectations of cleaning the house, opening windows to warmer breezes, shooting (my camera that is)  on the screened in porch, sitting in the yard with the dogs. The voices of children playing and laughing. Feeling the sun hit your skin and maybe a bug or two.  All reminders that things have changed. A new season has begun.

I have been doing some spring cleaning on my computer and culling through old photos. Something I tend to avoid. 

Since I started this blogging adventure I have amassed quite a collection of photos. I thought the other day I needed to go through them and delete what no longer mattered and kind of do an inventory of where I was and where I am headed.

It is hard sometimes looking at old works. It can be humbling but necessary. While going through photos I saw some mistakes,  bad lighting and composition. However, concentrating on moving forward is where my energy is.  It is always good to look at yourself wide open. To me this is how we really can grow and change. So I trashed  a ton of photos that to me were not great. What this did however was free up valuable computer space for the photos I will be taking in the future that will be great. 

I found this photo of french toast that I love. It was the grayest of days when I was culling so this really brightened my mood. I took this photo on the screened in porch one day last summer. I had meant to do a blog post then but things fell through the cracks and it never made it. 

I remember the food and how it tasted when I look at the photo. When I am done shooting I sample what I shoot and to tell you the truth whatever I make tastes better then.  The syrup I had warmed in the buffalo china pitcher which I placed in a pan of boiling water on the stove top. The butter was from Ireland and nice and salty. I sprinkled cinnamon around the plate for some extra oomph. 
It was warm and chewy with a soft buttery texture mixed with a sweet maple syrup which was warm and sticky. 

We love french toast in our household. I make it often with a day old bread. Hence the french name "pain perdu". 

"French toast is a dish we have borrowed from the French, who call it pain perdu', or lost bread...It is known in England as the poor knights of Windsor, which is the same phrase used in many countries: fattiga riddare' in Sweden; 'arme ridder' in Danish; and armer ritter' in German. One theory about how the latter name came about goes as follows: In olden times, one of the symbols of distinction between the gentry and the common herd was that the former were expected to serve dessert at dinner. Knights, of course, were gentry. But not all of them were rich. Those who were not, in order to maintain their status, made do with armer ritter', often served with jam."
---Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne (p. 178)

Recipe French Toast

2 eggs
1 cup milk
pinch salt
few grinds of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon/sugar mixture
1/2-1 tsp vanilla
day old baguette, french

Mix all ingredients except bread. Dip bread into mixture very quickly. I use a kitchen tongs. Prepare in skillet on top of stove that is well greased with butter. Cook until golden brown.

Serve with fresh salted butter and the best maple syrup you can afford.

I love to warm the syrup up it adds and extra touch.

Serve with fresh fruit.