"Capturing Life"

Archive for June, 2012

Families, Golf, and Food

What 3 things go together better than families, golf and food?  Well, probably lots of things but those are topics for other blog posts.  This week I’ll share a few musing thoughts and photo’s from all 3 of the aforementioned topics.

She loves me, she loves me not.

     

Let’s begin with Families.  Not my own family this time, but the adorable young family I got to photograph last week.  There are times that I am pulled back in my thoughts to the days when my boys were young with the adventure, activity, and energy they had.  Spending time last week with this family was one of those times.  Their little guy was not really interested in having his picture taken and he wasn’t really willing to comply with all the “big” people trying to get him to comply.  We tried coaxing, tricking, tickling, and ordering this adorable little one to sit for us, mostly to no avail.  I was really enjoying the moments and laughing (on the inside) at the whole thing.  It reminded me of one Christmas when Ric and I tried to get just one decent picture of our two older boys for our Christmas card.  It took an hour and a half to just get one photo that worked!  Yep, kids try your patience at times but they sure do produce some fun memories.  (the past is usually more pleasantly remembered the further you get from it)

 

Then, on Friday of last week,  I spent my day photographing a local benefit golf tournament.  The Stanwood Camano Incident Response golf tournament hosted 30 teams of golfers who were generous with their time and donations to golf in this tournament.  It was fun in spite of the Pacific Northwest rain that fell for the majority of the time they played.  I was pleased to find that I’m also not the only “hacker” on the golf course and that my golf balls are not the only ones with a magnetism to water. I might have to blow the dust off my set of clubs and head to the driving range to see if I can get my golf swing back in fairway shape.

    

The most unique golf cart I’ve ever seen.

My friend, Cindi, agreed to come along and be my assistant and we had a great time together.  I must admit, though, that by the time the last team of golfers came through, we were more than ready to be done.  I’m praying already that next year the sun decides to put in an appearance for at least part of the time.  On the up side, the overcast skies did provide nice even light for the photos of each of the golf teams.  I’m just glad I remembered those umbrellas in  my car otherwise it would not have been such fun for us!

It just so happened that the theme for the 52 week challenge was “Sense of Depth”. This find at the golf tournament fit nicely with the theme.

This week life returns to it’s normal “dull roar” and I continue to plod my way into my 52 week challenge.  It’s been a little bit of a challenge just to get my mind back in to thinking creatively.  A good kind of challenge, but a challenge nonetheless.

And now, for the food portion of this post.  Tonight’s dinner was quite tasty, if I do say so myself (which I obviously do!) but it was followed by an even more tasty dessert.  I am going to be instructing a mini-cooking class this coming Saturday at Karen’s Kitchen here on Camano Island and the topic will be “Cupcakes”.  Of course, I can’t provide instruction for things I am not familiar with so my family has become my taste testers.  I really have to twist their arms to participate but, alas, they all agreed.  I think they’re pretty happy they did!  Here are the recipes for both dinner AND dessert.  Note that the first recipe is a Weight Watchers recipe and that the second one is the furthest thing from Weight Watchers.  It’s all about balance in life, right?  Enjoy!

Balsamic Chicken & Mushrooms served on brown rice with a side of zucchini and asparagus

Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms
(recipe from Weight Watchers)

2    tsp  vegetable oil
3   Tbsp  Balsamic vinegar
2   tsp  Dijon mustard
1   large  garlic clove — crushed
1 lb    boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 cups  mushrooms — sliced
1/3 cup  chicken broth
1/4   tsp  dried thyme — crumbled

In nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp. of oil.  In a med. bowl, mix 2T. of
vinegar, the mustard and garlic.  Add chicken and turn to coat.  Transfer
chicken and marinade to skillet.  Saute’ chicken until cooked through,
about 3 min. on each side.  Transfer chicken to a platter and keep warm.

Heat remaining tsp. of oil in skillet.  Saute mushrooms for 1 min.  Add
broth, thyme and remaining T. of vinegar.  Cook, stirring occasionally,
until mushrooms are deep brown, about 2 min. longer.

Serve chicken  topped with mushrooms (serve over brown rice)

DC Vanilla Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Swirls, Chocolate Ganache and Buttercream Frosting

(adapted from Georgetown Cupcake via “Live With Kelly”)

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

4 tbsp. butter, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup milk, room temperature

1/4 cup peanut butter, melted in microwave

Preheat oven to 350*.  Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners; set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vanilla; set aside

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add in the egg, mixing until fully incorporated.

Reduce speed on mixer to low and pour in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/3 of the mix mixture, mixing until combined.  Continue adding remaining flour and milk, beating until just incorporated.

Spoon batter into cupcake tins using a large cookie scoop, filling each about 2/3 full.  Carefully drop 3 small mounds of melted peanut butter on top of each cupcake, then use a long wooden skewer and swirl peanut butter into the cupcake batter, being careful to not over mix.

Bake at 350* for approximately 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, dip them into the following:

Chocolate Ganache

1/4 cup milk

1 Tbsp. butter

2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix all 3 ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high until the chocolate begins to melt, about 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave and stir to melt chocolate chips.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter.  Take cupcakes one at a time and turn them upside down, dipping the tops into the Ganache, lifting them carefully up and “twirling” them slightly to set the chocolate.  Turn right side up and set them on the wax paper.   Allow about 10 minutes or so for the Ganache to get firm.

Using your favorite buttercream frosting, pipe a dallop of frosting onto the tops of each cupcake.  Melt a little bit more peanut butter and drizzle on top of the buttercream.

The buttercream got a little bit soft because I tried to rush the process. The cupcakes were still a little warm when I added the Ganache and then I didn’t give the Ganache enough time to really cool down. That’s okay; the taste was still DELISH!

These cupcakes were met with the sounds of taste tester delight in my house!

 

NOTE:  If you desire seeing a larger version of a photo, click on the photo and a larger size will open.

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A New Challenge

Everyone needs a  new challenge once in awhile.  I decided it is time for that new challenge in my photography so my 14 year old son, Adam, and I decided to begin a 52 week photography challenge.   We jumped on Flickr.com, set up a new group, named it Phototastic 52, and invited any of our friends who want to improve their photography to join us.

I remember pulling long blades of grass as a child, putting them between my hands and trying to blow and make “music”. Sometimes it worked; other times it didn’t.

Our first week produced some fun and inspiring photos from those who are venturing out on this journey.  It has the promise of being a great group of people both new and seasoned in photography. For our first week, Adam chose the theme “Musical Instruments”.  It was a great way to launch the group and we had some fantastic photo’s uploaded.  Climbing back into the creative saddle again felt a bit stiff and out of shape for me as it’s been a year since I completed my 365 project.  After 365 days of photography, I was ready for a break but that break has stretched long enough that, for me, I felt as if my creativity was beginning to wane.  Creativity has always been the area I felt was my greatest struggle so it’s time to get back out there and work at it again.

My violin came from my grandparents. It has many wonderful memories attached to it.   

I’ve had one of my Flickr friends suggest that I delve back into film photography as an added challenge.  I think I may just have to take him up on the challenge for some of the upcoming weeks.  With film there are no second chances.  You either get the shot or you don’t.  You can’t cheat by looking at an LCD screen to make sure you framed it correctly or had the correct exposure settings.  You just have to use what you know and trust that you did it right.  It’s always a “hold your breath” moment when you open the envelope that hold the developed photo’s; did they turn out as I envisioned, were my camera setting right, will I be pleased with them or will they hit the garbage?

So, as I move into this 52 week challenge, I plan to update my blog with tidbits I’m learning along the way, my thoughts about the varied aspects of the photography I encounter, and likely throw in a few “what we had for dinner” recipes as well.  I may even twist Adam’s arm and get him to “guest post” his perspective about this 52 week project as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of “what we had for dinner”, I thought I’d share a fantastic recipe from tonight’s dinner of Dolmades, grape leaves wrapped around meat and rice “bundles” that are delectable and almost worth the amount of work it takes to make them. If you decide to give them a try, allow a couple of hours for the process of putting them together and baking them.

Dolmades

Makes 24-30 (12 appetizer servings, 6 dinner servings)

1 pound ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, minced

Dried Oregano

Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried dill

2/3 cup rice, uncooked

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (16 ounce jar) grape leaves

4 eggs, beaten

3 lemons, juiced

1 cup water

In a bowl, mix the raw ground beef, onion, oregano, parsley, dill, rice, salt and pepper together.

Carefully separate the grape leaves.  Place each leaf on a cutting board, shiny side down, with its stem toward you.  Put a teaspoon of the stuffing near the bottom of the leave, fold the bottom and 2 sides to cover the filling, and roll tightly toward the tip of the leaf.

     

Place them in a baking dish

and cover with several of the remaining grape leaves.  Squeeze juice from the lemons and combine it with 2 cups chicken broth.  Pour over to cover completely, adding water if needed, and place in a preheated 350 degree oven to bake for 1 hour, or until the rice and leaves are tender and the juice absorbed.

Once the dolmades are done, uncover them.  They can be served warm or allowed to cool and served as an appetizer.

(recipe adapted from Cat Cora’s “Dolmades: Stuffed Vine Leaves” recipe on the foodnetwork.com website.)

 


Life

It’s been a while since I last posted.  In that time, I’ve had one of my son’s graduate from High School, photographed a beautiful young woman and her adorable baby girl, photographed a youth event, tried to learn salsa dancing (this is an ongoing effort), and in general have tried to keep my head above water!

Life has a way of speeding up and slowing down, both of which have the tendency to leave you breathless.  What follows are a few thoughts along the way plus an added bonus: a recipe for some very tasty appetizers that have made their appearance at some of the social events lately.

Haley

Haley is a beautiful young woman whom I have been able to watch grow from a spunky toddler into womanhood.  She recently brought an adorable baby girl into the world and what a fantastic mom she is proving to be.  I was so honored to be able to photograph them recently.

Youth Banquet

  

We have many small group bible studies called “Cell Groups” that host the youth of our church.  Annually there is a dinner and concert where all of the various cell groups come together for an evening and I’ve had the joy of photographing these banquets for the past several years.  I began the first year without much knowledge on how to handle the typically “bad” lighting you get in a gymnasium.  Over the years I’ve not only learned a lot about lighting, I’ve also moved up a bit in the quality of my camera and other equipment.  While I still have so much to learn about how to do a better job, I can see that I’ve come a long ways since those first photos of the first year.

         

Graduation Day

Two days later was graduation day.  It was a very busy Sunday.  In the morning, my 14 year old son, Adam, was baptized.

In the afternoon, my 18 year old son, Nathan, graduated from High School.  Yes, he would be the one in the front row with his stole tied as a necktie.  It was a wonderful time of memories, family, and friends all packed into a few hours of  celebration complete with a tasty buffet, visiting and dancing.

For this homeschool mom I can honestly say it’s a bit of a relief to have two who have graduated and be down to one child left to get through school.  It is a very bittersweet moment, though, to have this child, whom you have spent every moment of your life with, it seems, suddenly be off on a different road and one that you are not necessarily an integral part of.  I have every confidence that Nathan will make a difference in this world, if only to bring laughter to those he comes into contact with.  That, alone, would make a huge impact in the life of everyone he encounters.

Nathan and Grandma.

Through all the busyness of life these past several weeks, there have been a few things that have remained constant: the steady flow of activity, the need to keep everything on track for my family, the desire to spend some time escaping into my photography, and the need to produce lots of food for the many varied occasions.  What better way to end this post than by sharing one of the many recipes that has made it’s way from print to oven to hand over the course of this busy life.

Mini-Onion Quiches

1 package wonton wrappers
1 large Onion, peeled, sliced thin
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup light cream or skimmed evaporate milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using  mini-muffin pans, spray each pan with non-stick cooking spray then line 24 mini-muffin cups with wonton wrappers, gently pressing them down into the muffin cups and crimping the wrappers to help them fit better. 

In a saute’ pan on the stove, cook onions in 2 tablespoons butter until soft, transparent, and lightly browned.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. 

Divide onion evenly between lined muffin cups, placing a small amount in each cup.

Blend the cream, egg and plenty of freshly ground black pepper until smooth.  Pour over the onion in the cups.  Sprinkle each with Parmesan and a few pine nuts.  Bake at 400* for 10-15 min. until set and golden.  Cool completely.  These are excellent served at room temperature but can also be served warm if desired.  They also work perfectly for picnics as they travel well when packed in a sturdy container.  (note: you can also use filo dough, crescent roll dough, or pie dough to line the mini-muffin cups; I have found that the won-ton wrappers are the perfect size for these  and create a simple crust but the other options also work well)