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ice and snow and fond memories

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Recipe: chinese shaved ice dessert (bao bing)

The Crazy Rain stopped earlier this week and now we seem to be back to our late summer pattern of cooler nights, warm days, and afternoon showers. This ping-pong cycling of temperatures has me donning pants, long-sleeve tops, and fuzzy socks in the mornings and shorts by noon. At night, we tuck Kaweah into her doggy bed with her doggy quilt to ward the cold away from her old bones. I thought we were well on our way to fall, but a trip to Boulder (the long way) dragged me through temperatures in the 80s. It’s never too chilly for me to enjoy a frozen dessert, but late summer is a great time for everyone to indulge in a nice cold treat.

i got this on amazon for $25 this summer (glass bowl not included)

When we had the rare snow day in southern Virginia, Kris and I would stay at home and watch cartoons, slide down the stairs riding in our sleeping bags, jump from untold heights pretending to be superheroes (Green Lantern – I was always Green Lantern), and go play in the snow. To warm up, Kris would always make tea. But we were kids and the tea was bitter, so we added (too much) sugar. The tea was also too hot, so Kris would scoop up some fresh clean snow in a mug and then pour the hot sweet tea over it. I started my love affair with tea slushies at an early age.

the ice disk

shaved ice

The paucity of snow days didn’t deter us from our slushie fix. My parents had an old school manual crank shaved ice machine. Now that I think of it, it was dangerous as hell – but that’s what the 70s were all about! We’d freeze the ice disk and then take turns grinding the ice into soft fluffy flakes, then douse it with artificially flavored and colored syrups. Again – the 70s.

water and brown sugar

dissolve over high heat

brown sugar syrup

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double blossom

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

Recipe: orange blossom iced tea

August 1 is my sister’s birthday and I usually buy flowers for her, or rather for me to remember her. I didn’t buy flowers this year as my night-blooming cereus was loaded with several large buds. Two of them bloomed tonight, which I thought was fitting and wonderful. These flowers tie me to my family. They are supposed to symbolize luck when they open – just for one night. The house is filled with this beautiful fragrance. By daybreak they will close up and wilt… something special. Doubly special.

the buds at 6:30 pm

blooming at 11:00 pm

I’ve been feeling tired lately, which in all likelihood is related to the fact that I haven’t been getting enough sleep. My to do list finally caught up to me and punched me in the face. My sister’s birthday kicked me in the gut. Sometimes the best thing I can do is to walk away from it – maybe mentally, maybe physically. So today’s recipe is a soothing one. It’s a nice escape from the heat and it smooths out the furrowing of the brow.

sugar, black tea, and orange blossom water

This was the other beverage offered at Uchenna, a delightful Ethiopian restaurant in Colorado Springs (the first beverage being the rose water lemonade). It’s the one that I ordered because I absolutely fell in love with the flavor of the orange blossom water. I used a loose assam tea and let it steep on the longer side (to make it stronger) because I like my glass filled to the brim with ice.

make the tea

let it steep


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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

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