Sea Blue Lens


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Adventures in…the Kitchen

Late last fall, as I was beginning to think about some sort of weekly photographic project for 2017, I heard that Kim Manley Ort was going to host a Facebook group for people who would like to work through her new book, Adventures in Seeing, beginning January 1 — one chapter a week. Since there are 45 chapters, or “adventures,” that would take me through most of the year. Perfect! Count me in.

This week’s adventure was about awakening our senses, and Kim suggested food as a multi-sensory photographic subject. Now, food photography is not at all my “thing.” In fact, cooking is really not my thing. Cooking in my apartment kitchen, where I have about 2 1/2 square feet of work surface, is more struggle than adventure.

However. . . .

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember when I was taking Kim Klassen’s Be Still 52 class a couple of years ago, and how I struggled with many of her assignments. Probably the most important thing I learned from that experience is that the more I resisted, the more I said, “I don’t like it,” or “I don’t wanna,” or “I can’t,” the more I got from the lesson once I buckled down and just did it.

So, even though Kim Manley Ort said we didn’t have to do food, I decided I would anyway…just because I really didn’t want to.

It started with a bunch of kale I got at the farmer’s market on Saturday. I know I’m way behind the trend, but I’ve actually never cooked kale before. I know it’s supposed to be nutritious, and it was very pretty, so I bought some on impulse. I also had some chicken in my freezer. Could I do something with those two things? Google turned up a recipe that sounded simple enough, and I already had most of the ingredients on hand. A quick stop at the store after my fitness class provided the rest.

Onions

I love the look, the feel, and the rustle-y sound of the papery skin of ordinary yellow onions.

lemons

A lemon gets chosen for its intensely yellow color. Later, back at home, I get to cooking.

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The scent of sliced onions and garlic is eye-wateringly pungent.

spices

Simple spices…smoked paprika, kosher sea salt, fresh-ground pepper. Can you smell them? Taste them? Maybe not yet.

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Now I can smell them! Hear the chicken sizzling away as it browns! The paprika adds some welcome color, as does the golden olive oil and butter. My beautiful red-enameled cast iron pot makes me happy every time I use it, despite the heaviness of it and the – ouch! – burned fingers that remind me that I need to use a potholder to take the lid off.

simmering

Broth, wine, rosemary and thyme added and simmering fragrantly. As the smell of cooking wafts upward, my daughter comes downstairs to see what I’m making.

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The bubbles and rising steam let me know it will soon be time to add the rice.

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I love jasmine rice almost more for the smell of it while it cooks than for its delicious flavor.

Kale1

Time to prep the kale.

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The dark green, ruffled kale was so pretty that I almost would have preferred to put it in a vase, but I began to cut it up as instructed. Before long I put down the scissors and enjoyed tearing the crisp leaves with my fingers.

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In five minutes, the kale that filled the pot to the top had wilted down and been stirred into the chicken and broth. The rice is done, too! Time to pour the wine and…

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Enjoy!

Update: Here’s a link to the recipe I used, Google’s Braised Chicken and Kale. Yes, that’s really what it was called. You can tell I’m really not a food blogger or I’d have included the link in the first place!


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Be Still Weeks 40 and 41: Make and Take

It’s another Be Still twofer! For week 40, we were supposed to photograph making something that we would then include in a still life that we would photograph during week 41. I swear I’m not trying to be difficult, but once again I had a hard time with this assignment. I don’t do crafts. I don’t sew anymore. I can knit but haven’t in ages. I thought of something garden related — planting a dish garden, maybe? — but it’s still winter here and there aren’t any plants available yet.

I don’t cook much, either, but it was the only thing I could think of that I could photograph while making, and then photograph again when finished. And that’s the reason the two weeks are run together here, because the perishable nature of food meant the “making” project had to be followed immediately by the final still life “taking” project.

In honor of the first day of spring, and also to cheer myself up because we have snow predicted for the second day of spring, I decided to make strawberry shortcake. That’s usually an Easter tradition in my family, but Easter is late this year and I can’t wait!

Part 1, Making

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Part 2, Taking

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Part 3, Partaking!

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DSC_8788Yum!

It’s probably not necessary to explain which part I enjoyed the most! Actually, though, I really did enjoy setting up the tabletop still lifes. That shot from overhead is my favorite of the project. I think it captures that happy, springlike mood I wanted. It really does cheer me up to look at it.

Cleaning up afterwards was no chore at all!