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.

slicedonionsgarlic

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.

browningchicken

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.

kale2

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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Something New

For the past few weeks, our Find Your Eye lessons have had us exploring our photographic inspirations and becoming familiar with our favorite subjects. This time, the assignment was to photograph a new subject – something different from our norm.

I take most of my photographs outdoors, of subjects as I find them, such as landscapes, trees, wildflowers, birds, old ruined buildings, and so on. So for this challenge, I decided that I would try still-life photography, deliberate setups that I would create in my own home and capture with available, natural light.

This seemed like the perfect plan, since with the predicted arrival of Hurricane Irene over the weekend, it didn’t seem a propitious time for an outdoor excursion, and I was happy to have a plan that didn’t require leaving home. Friday after work, I headed for the supermarket to stock up on bottled water, TP, and canned tuna . . . and fresh fruit and flowers for my photos-to-be.

Irene's rain

To set the mood . . .

Sunday morning dawned – or rather didn’t. I hadn’t reckoned on how dark it would be with the sky solidly overcast and rain coming down. I was actually dreading this whole session, to be honest, because it seemed so contrived and felt very awkward. But after some procrastination, I gathered together some odds and ends and headed upstairs to turn my bedroom into a temporary studio.

I thought I’d have trouble taking the required 100 photos of my new subject, but that wasn’t a problem. Once I got started, I had a blast arranging little vignettes and photographing them from various angles, then moving things around to try other ideas. I spent a couple of pretty intense hours taking almost 200 photos, and I never even got to the flowers. By that time I was hot, tired, and hungry, so I gathered everything up and went downstairs to refresh myself by consuming some of my props.

Here are three of my favorites from this photo shoot.

Sunday Morning

Pair + Pear

Lemon Lime

In the end, I loved this assignment, and I love some of the images I got. To my eye (ohmygosh, I do have one, don’t I?) they seem quite characteristic of the images I “find” when I’m out taking my normal sort of photos.

What do you think?

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