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archive for September 2010

fire in the belly

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Recipe: chinese stir-fried scallops

That cool down was a lie. It cooled down for all of one day and then it flipped back to summer. Nature is a fickle lover and so it is that I am waiting for and chasing and waiting for and chasing her fall colors. She flirts and teases and disappoints. Right when I think I have had enough, she flaunts a little more and entices me to chase again. And I can’t help it, because I am so in love with her.

autumn’s grandeur is a little diminished this season

sparkling sunlight through the aspens

Nature photographers and lay persons have very different standards for what a good leaf show is, or so we found out from all of the locals’ reports. The average leaf-peeper passes miles of forest taking it all in without commitment to any of the colors, the light, the trees, the landscape. It’s purely passive. They don’t crawl around looking, thinking, analyzing, choosing, gaining intimate knowledge of the surroundings. Jeremy has asked me if photography has ruined my enjoyment of the outdoors. Yes and no, but mostly no. It’s a heightened sense of what is there, much the way becoming a connoisseur of fine foods might enhance your appreciation for food. But in addition to that soaring joy of getting the shot when the light and the land and the planets align, I can actively back away from shooting and love the mountains and forests for what they are. Because ultimately, this is about love and passion – the fire in my belly.

i’d love this for a living room floor

in stand

aspens provide a nursery for young pines


You can find the rest from this trip on the photo blog.

My friend Shauna is always talking about joy in the belly because that’s what she and Danny bring to people. They are pretty amazing at it too. Me? I’m more about joy in the heart because I like FIRE in my belly. That’s right. Figuratively speaking, it is what drives me to do what I do. When Jeremy’s stomach is feeling unsettled, he seeks dairy to soothe it (uh, that would be disastrous for my lactose intolerant self). When my stomach is unhappy, I look for spicy foods to make me feel better. I’m the one who wakes up in the morning craving kimchi, jalapeno potato chips (Tim’s Cascade are Diane’s and my favorite brand), or salsa. So when I tried this recipe for Chinese stir-fried scallops, mine was of the fiery persuasion.

chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, scallops, ginger, garlic, cornstarch, sugar, chinese black bean paste

soak the scallops in the cooking wine and cornstarch

**Jump for more butter**

you get what you get…

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Recipe: apple tarte tatin

I really meant to check in over the weekend and slap a quick post up, but it was a matter of priorities. Sleep won. You’d think if the leaves weren’t stellar that the shooting schedule would ease up some. It did a little bit, but Colorado is a big state. We covered a lot of ground. We saw baby raccoons scrambling, birds of prey hunting, fake deer, real deer, real elk, happy hunting dogs wagging their tails, and angry tree squirrels.

i spent my weekend here

This trip turned out to be more recon than shooting, but I’ll share some photos later this week. For now, I’ve got a few trip shots (for fun) of food, my shooting pal Jason, and my friend Josh, who wanted to know what our shoots are like.

the smart phone as appendage

jason and i split a greek salad at secret stash in crested butte

and then we split this lovely beast (the woodward)

chicken dinner at slogar (crested butte)

woody’s rollin smoke bar-b-que and cookshack in marble

patio dining

pulled pork and beef brisket

It was a good trip despite the state of the colors/leaves. I think any time you avoid injury (okay, I did smash my face with Jason’s car door… ow!) or death, accidents, major arguments, food poisoning, and loss of or damage to equipment, it’s a good trip. Because really, it’s about what you make more than what you find. As Jason’s daughter’s favorite saying goes: You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Jason and I recited that ad nauseam (to one another) – partly as commentary on the conditions and partly to just annoy the hell out of each other. We do that. It’s fun. We probably drove poor Josh insane.

jason shortly before flipping me the bird – good times!

The lure of autumn is big for me. Not only am I keenly tuned in to the fall colors around Colorado, but I live for that cold snap when the chill in the early morning lingers long into the day. It happens when I no longer run for cover from the sun’s burning rays, but turn a smile into it. I smell the faint hint of smoke on the air from people lighting their fireplaces. In those spare moments when my mind jumps from one task to another, thoughts of fall fruits get squeezed into the gaps.

i like them apples

Back when it was summer, I got an issue of Fine Cooking in the mail and tucked it into my bag. It would make for great reading on my flight to Seattle. It did make me somewhat nervous though. I mean, on the cover were the words “The Cook’s Guide to Thanksgiving” which instills just a little bit of panic because Thanksgiving is the end of November and wasn’t it just March the other day?

butter makes great pastry

pulsing in the egg and water

I see glorious food porn all the time. It’s part of what I do. I’ve gotten to the point where it generally doesn’t phase me, but the recipe for Tarte Tatin in the Fine Cooking issue hijacked my brain for a good many days. I already had several recipes shot and lined up to share over the course of the next two months because my schedule is fraught with travel and commitments, and yet I had to make this last week before my road trip.

the dough is ready if it holds when pinched

roll the dough out after chilling

**Jump for more butter**

where’s the cake?

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Recipe: thai chicken coconut soup (tom kah kai)

People have been asking me all day who is baking the cake. They mean my birthday cake. Um… no one. I don’t have time for cake let alone a birthday because I’m hitting the road tomorrow and I have a to do list long enough to beat out a double roll of Charmin. Jeremy and I have birthdays fairly close together such that we agree to celebrate at a later, more convenient date. Probably in October. September is just insane for both of us. We’re cool with it.

pretty sure kaweah would have liked some cake

I do want to thank all of you for your sweet birthday tweets and Facebookings. It was a special day, because every day is special! So I’ll just share some of what made it all so nice:

not a full double rainbow, but i’ll take it!

grilled ono for dinner

new member of my apple family

The weather has turned from summer to autumn here. Today. Like a switch. I love it! In between all of the frantic work piling up, I spied fresh snow on the local mountains, I got to see my friend Kath, the UPS delivery dude arrived EARLY instead of the typical 5:00 pm (now THAT is a birthday present on a signature-required package), and the very best part of the day? Getting an impromptu ice cream cone with Jeremy. So you see, a very good day – birthday or no. Cake can wait and yeah, *I’ll* be the one baking it :)

Remember that little cold I caught in Seattle? There’s nothing like being sick to make you appreciate being healthy. I kicked that one pretty handily, but being well again seems to heighten my appreciation for the fall colors, the change in the weather, the crisp chill on the air. I’m giddy with excitement just thinking about snow. Okay, but back to being sick… As soon as I got home from Seattle, I bought an organic chicken and made some homemade chicken broth. I swear by it. My mom used to make it for me whenever I got sick as a kid and it made me feel so good. This time, I recovered quickly enough that I still had some chicken broth left and found myself in the mood for some spicy, tangy, luscious soup to jettison that last bit of crud in my chest.

homemade chicken broth, fish sauce, coconut milk

chicken, straw mushrooms, cilantro, lime, kaffir lime leaves, galanga, thai bird chiles, lemon grass

Yes yes yes. Tom kah kai – Thai chicken coconut soup. I was just about to type that it is one of my favorite soups, but I actually love all manner of soups – especially with the cooldown in the weather. As long as you can find the ingredients, it is ridiculously simple to prepare. Kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and lemon grass are probably the toughest ones to find. You can always make substitutions like ginger for galangal, but the difference is striking. Galangal is more floral, delicate.

pour the broth and coconut milk in with the aromatics

**Jump for more butter**