Wednesday, January 26, 2011

i stand corrected

In my last post, "The Joy of Cross Referencing" I mistakenly conferred a bachelors degree in journalism from NYU on my mother, who apparently spent her time at NYU in the education department, while my dad hung out with her older sister, who actually was a journalism student.

After stating how my siblings and I understood the value of researching and fact checking, I relied upon supposition and heresay evidence to support my claim, which was of course proven false by my elderly (cough) eldest sister.

My bad. I guess I must have been absent the day they went over the research lesson. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

the joy of cross referencing

I have lots of cookbooks. Mostly because I'm a total sucker for both beautiful books and food photography, but also because I've styled quite a few kitchen photo shoots over the years, and cookbooks come in very handy as props. I don't use them in the traditional way much, even though I cook all the time.

this is not my kitchen, but I styled it for these folks

I use my cookbooks mostly as reference books. Not really that unusual, considering I'm the offspring of an editor and a teacher (both graduates of NYU's school of journalism). My siblings and I learned the value of research and fact checking from a young age.

And I think because of this background, my favorite cookbook is The Joy of Cooking. I've had my copy (the 1975 edition) since 1976, and I've never failed to learn something every time I open its worn cover and thumb through the grease-stained pages. Like using any reference book, I skim through the index looking for a particular subject or recipe, and in doing so, my finger passes by any number of other recipes and subjects which may or may not cause me to veer off course for a time to investigate something intriguing. I like this old-fashioned analog way of researching for just that reason. You don't often have that kind of experience when using a search engine. 

Joy is an encyclopedia of cooking in condensed form. My father (the editor) was not a fan. He liked his cookbooks simple and to the point. Short, easy recipes were always the preferable path to dinner for him, and referred to Joy as "The Joy of Cross Referencing". And he was right: nary a recipe in the book escapes that necessity to jump to another page for added information. 

Suppose, for instance, you'd like to make something as basic as a bean soup, using dried beans.  First, the recipe directs you to soak the dried beans, but not before you read the  article directly above it, titled "About Legume Soups", which tells you (in the first sentence) to "Please read About Dried Legumes" on page 286. Flipping to page 286, "About Dried Legumes" warns you not to "upstage them, because they have valuable, if incomplete, proteins". The next thing you know, you've moved on to page 519, and the article "About Water", because evidently just any old cooking water will not do. 
By the time you get back to the original bean soup recipe, you're ready to open a can of Campbell's Bean with Bacon soup and call it a day.

Though it may not seem like it, this is a great cookbook to open when you have a particular ingredient you have absolutely no idea how to cook.  

(click to enlarge if you dare)

Let's imagine you've just run over an unfortunate squirrel. You feel terrible that the poor creature lost his life, but even worse, you'd hate the idea that it was in vain. So you flip open Joy, and in moments you have a step-by-step guide showing you how to skin him and prepare a tasty meal. They suggest using the recipe for Brunswick Stew (page 427), seasoning the gravy with Walnut Catsup (page 848), and serving with Polenta (page 201), but not before you've read About Small Game (page 513).

Suddenly that can of Bean with Bacon soup looks very appetizing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

where do you think best?

For the last two weeks in December I avoided as many responsibilities as possible. I guess I needed a break from all the details and the multi-tasking and the planning and the money worries that filled my brain last year. Freelance work was on hiatus, so I put my brain on hold and tried to relax, and by the last day of my mental holiday, I thoroughly relished the rare experience of spending an entire day in my pajamas.

Now it's mid January already, and instantaneously the g-forces of all that deferred responsibility have slammed me back into my seat as 2011 shifts into high gear. All at once I have a million things to do, projects to complete and deadlines to meet, and thankfully, my freelance work has picked up (be careful what you wish for!). With all this energy flying around, I need solitude to organize my thoughts and make plans, and this is where I do it best:

At 5:45 am, the best place to think and ruminate on the day ahead is in the shower. Hot water running over my sleepy noggin and down my back washes all the sleep dust from my head, and for a few wonderful minutes my brain can wander aimlessly from one crazy idea to the next.

And while I'm on the subject of crazy ideas, you may have noticed I've started a few new projects. 
I've designed a new header and reorganized this blog by adding a new feature:
the daily photo, my a one year commitment to shoot a photo a day will now be located on its own page, which can be viewed by clicking on the photo in the sidebar. 

There are more things coming in the next day or so, including a new etsy shop and blog, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, where do you do your best thinking?

Friday, January 7, 2011

thematic photographic: wet

daily photo {no. 7}

January afternoons in Oregon are generally dark, cold, and wet.  It's sometimes a challenge for me to remain upbeat in the winter. When I arrive at work in the early morning dark, work all day in a windowless photo studio  and then drive home in the gathering gloom, I often don't see the sun for days.  When I get home I want to turn on every lamp in the house and light a hundred candles in an attempt to banish the darkness...which may or may not improve my mood, but I'm sure it makes the power company very happy.

Every Wednesday evening,  Carmi over at the blog Written Inc. posts a photographic theme, and invites everyone to join in. This week's theme is "wet". Hop on over to Thematic Photographic and check it out!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

daily photo {no. 6}

Another beautiful old weathered door.
Taken this afternoon in Northwest Portland. The weather was dreary and foggy and wet, but this door was a vibrant spot of color in the otherwise drab landscape.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

and visions of sugarplums are still dancing in her head...

the daily photo {no. 5}

Yes, my Christmas tree is still up.  
And I'm enjoying my last day off of the holidays...still in my pajamas at 4:30 in the afternoon. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

daily photo {no. 4}

I have a thing for doors and doorknobs. In more than a few places we've lived, the front door has been what sealed the deal for me. It's weird, I know. Doors, old ones in particular, can have such character. They speak volumes about old houses and the people who have inhabited them.  This door is the entrance to our teeny tiny downstairs bathroom. It's made from old growth Douglas fir, and it had been covered with many, many layers of paint until it was lovingly stripped down to it's beautiful clear grain by a friend and his dad who really appreciate the beauty of old wood.

I had originally intended to paint it, but I've since decided I love its honest, worn quality and all the scars.
I hope I look this good when I'm 101.

Monday, January 3, 2011

daily photo {no. 3}

(click on photo to see a large version)

Today was full cold sunshine topped off by an amazing blue sky...but down here on the ground, the garden looked pretty bleak.

It's a good thing my mood matched the sky and not the roses!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

daily photo {no. 1}


I'm not one who usually makes New Year's resolutions. It's because I have this stupid habit of overextending myself and setting ridiculous goals. Also, when I make resolutions to try and give things up, they don't stick.  So I've given up giving things up, and mostly try not to let my eternally optimistic self write checks that my real life self can't cash.
 (OK, you can stop rolling your eyes now, Dave...)

Since this year's first day starts with 1/1/11, (which seems to me like a particularly auspicious set of numbers to make a fresh start) I thought maybe I'd give the whole New Year's resolution thing another go.

{Resolution No. 1
I resolve to take at least one photograph every day
(that's 365 of them in 2011)
and post it here, no matter what.

{Resolution No. 2}
I resolve to stop being a lurker 
and come out and comment on every blog I read,
 even if only to say "Hi! It's just me: Petunia!", and wave.  
(they might end up wishing I would just go back to lurking)

{Resolution No. 3}
This one's for you, Dave:
I'm going to try and get rid of at least one thing a week
in an effort to declutter the house
and make a path in the storage room. 
(hmmm... if I take a picture of it, can that also cover
  Resolution No. 1?)

All right, there you have it. I'm sure I can think of many, many more worthwhile resolutions, like giving up wine promoting world peace, but I don't think I should overextend myself any more than I already have. (the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single photograph a day, apparently)  What about you? Got any resolutions you want to share?  

Happy New Year, one and all!