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Category Archives: Food

I don’t typically post a yearly wrap-up but, Scott Thomas’ latest photo assignment, “Best Photos of 2011” had me looking back today. Hmmmm, was a pretty lean year for posting… I must do better in 2012!ūüôā

To make it easier, I approached this task with the desire to select the best photo for each month starting with November 2010 through October 2011. Three months proved more difficult and I allowed myself to select more than one image.

Here we go!ūüėÄ

Back in November 2010, fresh from a trip to Disney, I had posted a series of photos from Hollywood Studios. The giant scrabble board complete with green army man was my favorite:

“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (Oversized Scrabble Board with Green Army Man, Pixar Place, Disney’s Hollywood Studios) Nikon D300, 34mm, F/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 200, ‘Poster Edges’ CS3 Photo Filter

In late December, we were hit with the first of many Nor’easters. Even so, the abundance of¬†heavy, wet snow couldn’t put a¬†damper on our holiday spirit!


“Frosty” (Snow-covered Holiday Wreath) Nikon D300, 82mm, F/5, 1/60s, +0.7EV, IS0 200

I couldn’t pick a favorite from January. Both images hail from our October Disney trip since by then,¬†I simply had HAD it with winter! (Molten Mickey post is here).

“Coquettish” (Lesser Flamingo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/7.1, 1/200s, -0.3EV, ISO 400, Nik Color Efex Pro Bi-color Filter

“Molten Mickey” (Turn-style Gates at Disney’s Hollywood Studios) Nikon D300, 52mm, F/7.1, 1/200s, ISO 250, Nik Color Efex Pro Detail Stylizer & Bi-Color Filters

February brought some fun with my 105mm macro lens and 3-ring extension tube set. I wanted to see just how ‘up close and personal’ I could really get!

“Missing You” (Dianthus Stamen & Petals) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro w/3-ring Extension Tube Set, F/11, 1/30s, -1.0EV, ISO 640

The macro fun continued well into March

“C is for Carousel” (Stargazer Lily Stamens, Lilium Oriental Stargazer) Nikon D30, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/8s, ISO 1000

After a visit to the doctor in February got me back into a fitness routine, I was in serious need of¬†motivation to ‘stick with it’. I found exactly that in April!ūüôā

“Motivation” (Marc Jacobs Swimsuit) Nikon D300, 36mm, F/4.2, 1/20s, ISO 640

Critters are often featured in my photos and this adorable little chipmunk stole my heart in May:

“Home is Where you Make it” (Eastern Chipmunk in Birdhouse) Nikon D300, 200mm, F/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 640, Built-in Front Curtain i-TTL Fill Flash, -1.0 EV

June turned out to be all about flowers. I couldn’t decide between these three beauties:

“Yamaboushi” (White Kousa Dogwood, Cornus kousa) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 320, Built-in i-TTL Fill Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, +1.0 EV

“Love” (Dicentra spectabilis, Pink Bleeding Heart) Nikon D300, 260mm, F/5, 1/640s, -1.0EV, ISO 200

“Hope” (Pink Herbaceous Peony) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/4.5, 1/320s, -0.3EV, Built-in Front Curtain i-TTL Fill Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

As a die-hard foodie, I love to cook and sometimes, I actually remember to take a photograph of my creations! We chomped on these delights all throughout July:

“Summer Cubed” (Watermelon, Mozzerella & Procuitto Bites) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/30s, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

Feeling very proud of myself for not only sticking to my fitness committment but also exceeding my expectations despite breaking my left foot, I decided to show off the results of my hard work in August!

“Good Form’ (Female Fitness Portrait) Nikon D300, 28mm, F/4.5, 1/10s, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Fill Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV, Nik Silver Efex Pro ‘Silhouette II’ Filter

Another entry for August… when I wasn’t sweating on the elliptical, I¬†made sure¬†to enjoy the summer sunshine and was rewarded with a unique photo of a bee in flight:

“Flight of the Bee” (Carpenter Bee in Flight) Nikon D300, 280mm (VR 200-400mm F/4G w/1.4x teleconverter), F/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 640

I got all ‘artsy’ in September¬†with a series of¬†cucumber tendrills…

“Undulation” (Abstract Cucumber Tendrils) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/4, 1/320s, -1.0EV, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV

…and finally was able to say a proper Au voir to summer in October.

“And the Sun Sets on Summer” (Rudbeckia ‘Gloriosa’ aka Black-eyed Susan) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/7.1, 1/125s, ISO 400, Nik Color Efex Pro ‘Photo Stylizer’ Filter

So, that’s it folks…a small photographic slice of 2010.

Yes, it was a VERY good year!ūüėÄ

We attended the most wonderful seminar at the EpCoT International Food & Wine Festival called ‘Taste, Shake and Indulge Like the French’. Billed as a ‘spirited tasting of the No. 1 French liqueur, Grand Marnier’, the seminar did not disappoint!

Before the seminar, I only thought of Grand Marnier as a mixer¬†for¬†cocktails or as a¬†flavoring in some familair dishes (Cr√™pes Suzette, Duck a l’orange, etc.). After the seminar, I gained a greater appreciation for the orange-flavored spirit and even, learned how to make a yummy and refreshing cocktail!

“Get Smashed” (Grand Smash Cocktail, Grand Marnier Liqueur) Nikon Coolpix S50c, 6.3mm, F/3.3, 1/30s, ISO 200, ‘Vignette Blur’ Filter

I present to you, the Grand Smash.

1¬Ĺ oz. Grand Marnier¬ģ
4 chunks fresh lemon (¬Ĺ lemon)
6-8 mint leaves
Muddle mint leaves and lemon wedges in a tall mixing glass. Add Grand Marnier¬ģ and ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice in a rocks glass and garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
Tasting notes: “Combine Grand Marnier‚Äôs richness and complexity with the exciting flavors of lemon and fresh mint and you have a simple formula for an amazing drink. This blend of liquid refreshment tastes delicious no¬†matter what the season.”
I couldn’t agree more.ūüôā

Gertrude Noyes (aka, Nancy’s mom) made the most wonderful blueberry cake. Nothing fancy, mind you, but¬†rather a fairly simple cake, dotted with sweet blueberries¬†throughout and dusted with cinnamon sugar. Yummmmm.ūüôā

“Gert’s Blueberry Cake” (Blueberry Cake) Nikon D300, 70mm, F/5.6, 1/50s, -0.7EV, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV

This delicious treat would¬†usually arrive as a surprise on a Saturday or Sunday morning, still warm from the oven, the aroma of cinnamon filling the air. Didn’t matter if we’d already¬†had our breakfast or not. Resistance was futile.ūüėČ

Blueberry Anticipation

Years ago, I was fortunate to acquire the recipe from Nancy which I tucked neatly into my recipe binder. Starting in early August, blueberry memories began wafting into my brain and when I saw quarts of wild blueberries (the best kind) at a local farmstand, I knew I hadto make that cake! Therefore, on a bright Saturday morning, I gathered the ingredients and, following the recipe to the letter, happily anticipated the tasty results.

“Yes, Please” (Blueberry Cake Square) Nikon D300, 50mm, F/5.6, 1/15s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, Nik Color Efex Pro ‘Vignette Blur’ Filter

Hot from the oven, the cake looked and smelled divine. I put a pot on for tea while the cake cooled just a bit and impatiently waited for the moment when I could cut into my blueberry masterpiece. A good deep inhale of that cinnamon aroma and then, finally, that first bite.

Wait for it…wait for it…wait…damn. How could this be? Instead of the expected gastric euphoria,¬†both hubby and I were, well, sadly disappointed. It wasn’t that the cake was bad, but it certainly wasn’t Gert’s. Something was missing.ūüė¶

A¬†couple of¬†days later, I yelled over the fence, “Hey, Nancy! When your mom made her (famous) blueberry cake, did¬†she use lard?”¬†

“No, she always used shortening.”

“No butter?”

“Nope. Never.”

“Huh. Well, I made the cake and it tasted… flat. And, it wasn’t as moist as hers. Did I over-bake it?”

“Hmmm, I doubt it. What did you use for milk?”

And, just like that, it hit me. You see, back in the day, milk was milk. There wasn’t 2%, 1% or skim, no lactose-free or soy or almond. When a recipe called for milk, it meant wholemilk. An item that is not regularly found in my icebox. Mystery solved.ūüôā

“Spread” (Blueberry Cake Buffet) Nikon D300, 45mm, F/5.6, 1/50s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

With new confidence in hand (and¬†enough blueberries remaining), it was back to the kitchen to try again. In addition to using whole milk,¬†I also made a few more tweaks to the recipe (we bakers just can’t resist can we?ūüėČ ).

For example, I like to grease and sugar my cake pans as it adds just a little extra sweetness that flour can not deliver. I also like to layer flavors, so instead of using¬†plain white sugar and plain table salt, I substituted vanilla sugar and vanilla salt. I also used two kinds of vanilla extract since each adds their own bit of ‘something’ to the finished product.

When the timer went off, anticipation along with a bit of nervousness, swelled within me. I prepared the tea, gathered the plates, utensils and napkins, cut and served the slices and then waited for hubby to take the first bite. 

“Have a Bite” (Blueberry Cake) Nikon D300, 70mm, F/5.6, 1/100s, -0.7EV, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser


“It’s delicious.”

Woo hoo!ūüėÄ

Happily, Nancy concurred and it was a delightful Saturday morning, sipping tea and noshing on a (now) treasured family recipe, shared amongst good friends and remembering a cherub-faced Gert whom, I hope, I made proud.

Folks, it doesn’t get any¬†better than that.ūüôā

But in a good way!ūüôā

Two summers ago, we tried an intriguing antipasto plate at a Boston test kitchen made up of ingredients one might not think would go well together: watermelon slices, mozzarella, prosciutto and sunflower seeds topped off with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of (some sort of) vinegar and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and salt. When all the components were eaten together, the combination was both magical and addictive.  

"Summer Cubed" (Watermelon, Mozzarella & Prosciutto Bites) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/30s, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser

“Summer Cubed” (Watermelon, Mozzarella & Prosciutto Bites) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/30s, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

After¬†dinner, I could not get the flavors of that starter out of my mind and set out to recreate the experience, BUT as one fantastic mouthful. It took quite a few attempts (but I admit,¬†even the ‘tries’ were yummyūüôā ) to get not only the ingredients (type, size and quantity)¬†correct but also, to have them assembled in the¬†perfect order to enhance and compliment each and every one.

"Amuse-bouche" (Watermelon, Mozzarella & Prosciutto Bite) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/60s, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong 'Puffer' Diffuser

“Amuse-bouche” (Watermelon, Mozzarella & Prosciutto Bite) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/4.5, 1/60s, ISO 1000, Built-in i-TTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser

These little bites have become one of our absolute favorite¬†go-to items for a quick and elegant snack/appetizer/salad/lunch/side/tapas etc., and with summertime watermelon season now in full swing, something that graces our table several times a week. (Plus, they are finger food…no utensils required).

Is there a recipe for these gems? Sadly, not yet.ūüė¶ Like many of my ‘creations’, it merely exists as a scribbling on a scrap of¬†paper lest I forget an ingredient or the order (and yes,¬†both have¬†happened).

Looks like I just might have to consider¬†writing that¬†cook book…ūüėČ

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