korean jajangmyeon (black bean noodles) caulilini with bagna cauda fig bread pudding elk chorizo chile rellenos


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archive for October 2012

here comes the cake

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Recipe: chocolate bourbon cake

Ask any of the people who know me well or even a little bit and they’ll tell you that I am rarely silent. It’s just that I had a marathon session of photo processing to finish before the snow storm arrived. YES. There is a snow storm dumping snow in my yard as I type and I intend to ski the bajeezus out of it come daybreak. As some of you know, after Jason and I visited Yosemite, we photographed a wedding in Northern California. I don’t typically shoot weddings… I’m not a wedding photographer. But this nice young woman – a long-time use real butter reader – asked so sweetly and her wedding sounded so cool that it was hard to say no. I later learned it’s not just me! No one is really capable of saying no to Selina.


mother of the bride looks on while the bride’s maids adjust the wedding gown

bridal party



The wedding took place at Capay Organic Farm west of Sacramento and was catered by gourmet food trucks: RoliRoti and Volks Waffle. How fun is that?! Selina and Dean are incredibly nice people. More than that, they are super chill in that awesome geeky way. No bridezillas. No Drama. Their families and friends were delightful. Everyone was so supportive of these two that it made the job a true pleasure.

selina got many honks from passing cars

a token “peace out, suckers!” shot because selina had read my blog post that morning!

the lovely couple



I am actually the last person anyone should consider to shoot their wedding because I don’t even know the basic logistics of these events. Jason schooled me on how weddings typically go down. “What about the speeches?” he asked me, to which I replied, “Speeches?” Yeah, it was like that. I could not have done this without Jason’s help (thanks, man!). And a huge thanks to my friends at Pro Photo Rental for outfitting us with additional lenses and bodies so we could both work the double-slinging action.

flower girls waiting for their cue

selina smiles at her dad as he escorts her to the aisle

an intimate and gorgeous venue

checking out the ceremony



And yes, there were speeches. Both fathers spoke heartfelt words that brought tears to many eyes. As the sun dropped behind the mountains, the maid of honor lit Selina’s father’s speech with her smart phone so he could read it in the waning light of that special day. First he spoke in English, then he spoke in Chinese. Even though my Chinese sucks, I understood what he was saying. It was getting tough to focus the camera on the bride, because my vision was blurred with tears.

dean’s father jokingly unfurls his “speech”

selina dabs at her tears as her father speaks

toasting the happy couple



Congratulations, Selina and Dean. Thank you for allowing us to document your special day. Thank you for sharing yourselves with us and letting us into your circle. Also? I especially loved how you exited the altar to the Star Wars theme. Rock on.

may your road lead to every happiness together



Are you ready for some cake now? I hope so. And booze. This is a boozy cake! Please don’t ask me what liquid you should use to substitute for the bourbon, because then it won’t be a chocolate bourbon cake anymore. If you don’t like bourbon, don’t make this cake. Make some other cake. I wouldn’t make this for children either. It’s got a lot of bourbon in the cake AND the icing. Booyah.

flour, butter, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, sugar, bourbon, vanilla

melt the chocolate



**Jump for more butter**

business trip

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

I’m in California right now for a work trip with my shooting partner and buddy, Jason. We flew out a couple of days early since Jason had never been to Yosemite National Park. I thought we should remedy that. We even ran into my friend and mentor, Michael Frye, at the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining after we figured we wouldn’t be able to meet up! I love it when that happens.

Jason and I spent just over 24 hours seeing many of Yosemite’s popular attractions before heading back north to shoot a wedding this weekend on a farm near wine country. We also made a quick detour to Reno – a pilgrimage, you might say. So here’s our trip (thus far) in photos, some on iphone and others with the D700. Hope you are all having a great weekend!


the giant bunny at the sacramento airport is about to pounce on jason’s head

requisite stop at taqueria la estrella in manteca (carnitas taco and chile relleno)

made it to yosemite just before sunset

sunrise over half dome

“peace out, suckers!” at glacier point

fallen giant sequoia at mariposa grove

checking out the tree rings

“peace out, suckers!” at the grizzly giant (sequoia tree)

“peace out, suckers!” at el capitan

“peace out, suckers!” at olmstead point

“peace out, suckers!” at tuolumne meadows

self-portrait in my tent

“peace out, suckers!” at the whoa nellie deli/mobil gas station

we made a detour to the patagonia outlet in reno

“peace out, suckers!” at the patagonia outlet

lunch at in-n-out burger


seasons may change

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Recipe: custard apple pie

It seems like yesterday when we would have to wake up a few hours before sunrise to hit the trailhead and beat the sun and the heat and the afternoon thundershowers. The thing about hiking in autumn, before the snows come, is that we hike any time of day without the typical summer concerns. The bigger issue is running out of daylight if you start too late in the afternoon, or bringing enough layers should temperatures drop or rains fall. There are fewer people on the trails. The same applies to trail runs where I used to have a short window each morning as I couldn’t tolerate the heat of the day, but now it’s cool enough to run any time. Most of the aspens that were once an impenetrable wall of green or gold now stand bare and reveal views of valleys and mountains in the distance.


an almost glass-like surface on an alpine lake

passing through a slot between boulders



Soon it will be time to change to flannel sheets. I hold out as long as possible, because I know when it is cold enough for flannel sheets that it becomes a little harder to get out of bed in the morning. We have already begun placing Kaweah’s little flannel quilt over her at night – making a sort of puppy pie as she curls up in her bagel bed, the quilt as the top pie crust. I even say, “Puppy pie!” as I tuck her in and I know she likes it because the tip of her tail wags in anticipation.

And speaking of pies, I couldn’t resist the idea of making an apple pie the other day with all of those apples I bought from YA YA Farms. I like pie. I mean, I really like pie, which is why I don’t make a lot of pies. I like them too much.


they picked most of their apples before the hard frost

in the farm store



Traditional apple pie is great, but I’m also a lazy bum. If I can get away with making one pie crust instead of two pie crusts, I’ll do it. I have a recipe in a 20-year old notebook that I had jotted down from I don’t know where. Most likely the interwebs, which weren’t web pages back then, but forums like rec.food.cooking or rec.food.recipes – all text-based. Anyone remember those? It was an apple pie… a custard apple pie.

pie crust dough, apples, vanilla, sugar, flour, sour cream, cinnamon, eggs, butter

roll out the pie crust dough

crimp the edges



I used the Jonathan apples from the farm because they have a nice tartness to them while still maintaining their sugar. For me, sweet on its own is really boring. I like sweet with salty, or tart, or bitter, or spicy. It’s just more interesting that way. The recipe originally calls for three apples, but apples vary in size. I used four. Leftover apples are never a bad thing. Also, I used my deepest pie dish because shallow fruit pies… what’s the point?!

peel, core, and slice

layer the apple slices in the pie crust

extras for my assistant



**Jump for more butter**