The Conversation

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Before we begin this new experiment, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for stopping by last week and many, many thanks to those who shared your thoughts about blogging in general and what your blog means to you. It was enlightening and I learned so much. I have a new respect for the blogging platform. Now, instead of shutting down my blog, which I was really close to doing, I’m excited to continue…with all of you.

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As mentioned last week I have an idea for a weekly post that I’d like to try. Many of you know I participated in a weekend long workshop with Mark Nepo. For those who don’t know him, he is a writer and a poet who shares his journey of spiritual inquiry. At the workshop he would share stories or poems, many his, others not…and then he would pose what he called “table questions” and then open it up for conversation with the group.

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It was an uplifting and enlightening experience and I was wondering if it is possible to do something like that in a blog platform. What do you think? Perhaps we could take this one small step together, starting with this short story by Mark Nepo

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The Oldest Conversation

I wonder, will anyone recognize us without our anger or our fear?

And if we stand here, softly in the open, will we be watered or just mowed down?

Wait. Now that you’re here, tell me about the moon and how deer dream of running water and how dogs are simply dogs.

Teach me – before we’re tossed back in – the Sanskrit of your eyes.

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What I get out of this story is that if we shed our anger and/or fear to reveal who we are born to be, will we be nutured or shunned? I think that is the question we all ask ourselves and maybe that is why we sometimes hold our anger or our fear close to us like a protective blanket. I also like his asking for us to wait and tell him about the moon and how deer dream of running water and how dogs are simply dogs. Each of us know what we know, but we have the opportunity to be enlightened by learning what others know based on their experience if we listen. Try and see through their eyes.

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Table Questions – comment only if you are comfortable doing so. There are no wrong responses.

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Tell about a time when you put down an anger or a fear. How did it feel? How were you received by others?

Have you ever been privileged to hear someone else’s truth? What opened in you from that experience?

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Thank you all again for being here today.

A note about the photographs – they were taken over the weekend at Greenlake Park in Seattle, WA. It is a lovely park with a large lake in the center. There is a 3 mile paved path around the lake, but also places in the grass and at the water’s edge to sit and enjoy. I take a lot of pictures like these but rarely share them. I mean, they aren’t incredible works of art  or anything, but to me they reveal a certain quiet and introspective part of my character that I’ve been hesitant to share. So here I am, putting down my fear for the day.

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Hello there!

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How are you? What have you been up to? I know I know. I’ve been a little quiet here on the blog lately. The thing is, much like everyone else I suspect, I’ve had a lot on my plate. The pace does seem to pick up in the summertime with gardening and friends to see and places to go.

In addition to the usual summertime activities extra blessings have come my way recently. I was recently interviewed by Kim Klassen which allowed the opportunity to connect with new people. Quite by accident I found out that Mark Nepo, an author I adore, was in town to host a weekend workshop and I was lucky enough to get in. Wow, what an experience. Mark is so wise, so kind, so humble. He is the real deal. My heart and mind are still spinning with all that we discussed that weekend. I had also been placed on a wait list to attend an all day food styling / photography workshop on August 1st with Aran Goyoaga from Cannelle et Vanille fame and just found out a few days ago that someone had dropped out so I am in! Can’t wait.

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But these are not the only reasons I haven’t blogged in a little while. You see, it seems about every 5 months or so I ask myself “why do I have a blog?” I mean, I don’t have a business and I’m not selling anything so what’s the point? I don’t have a lot of followers, though that really doesn’t bother me. Truth be told I don’t follow a whole lot of blogs myself. It seems so many of the artists I want to follow are on Instagram these days, which is convenient because that means we are all in one place and I don’t have to hop from blog to blog to see what my people are up to.

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So, with Instagram changing the way we share with our fellow artists, friends, and family, I’m asking – why blog? Do you have a non-business related blog? How long have you had it? Do you post regularly? Are you thinking of shutting it down, or would you feel lost without it? I’d love to hear.

As I look at my own blog I think maybe I’ll try a new kind of post on a weekly basis and see how that feels, and I hope, if you are comfortable, you will give me some feedback. I will still do my monthly cookbook review but starting next week I’m going to try out something new. Stay tuned!

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Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to visit and read through my ramblings!

I hope your day fills you with joy.

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , | 38 Comments

Cookbook Review – Extra Virgin

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Last month I worked through this cookbook by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos. You may recognize Debi’s name as she is an actress who made her debut in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”. She and her husband Gabriele (raised in Tuscany) are the producers and cohosts of the Cooking Channel’s primetime show “Extra Virgin”. I was drawn to the simplicity of the recipes and was not disappointed. Their salads were quite lovely. I made two, starting with this one

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Butter Lettuce & Pomegranate Seed Salad. It is dressed with a simple shallot vinaigrette. Delicious. When the first peaches made their arrival in the farmers market we made

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Peach & Fennel Salad. Oh man, what a combo! Really great. It also includes thinly sliced bresaola (a cured beef), which I never had before. I was going to substitute Prosciutto but when I saw my local market had the bresaola I went for it. Wow…super tasty. I could see thin strips of this wrapped around cantaloupe cubes. Will have to give that a try. This made a great starter to one of our meals

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Grilled Apricots with goat cheese ricotta. No one needs a recipe for this brilliant concoction. Just grill the halved apricots, place a small scoop of ricotta in the middle, then top with your favorite chopped herb, drizzle a little olive oil and a wee bit of salt. Simply magic. So, of course an Italian cookbook would not be complete without some pasta dishes. I just had to try this one

 

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Baked Pasta In Eggplant. This looks way more complicated than it is. The filling is pasta and a seasoned ground pork, all layered in a baking dish that has been completely lined with eggplant slices. There’s a bit of a wow factor that you experience with you pull out your first slice! The other pasta dish I tried was this

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Pesto Lasagna. This did taste delicious but I gotta say it threw me for a loop because it wasn’t thick like lasagnas I’m used to. The layers are just lasagna noodles, besciamella sauce, pesto, and parmesan cheese. So, it has a flat appearance. Because we love eggplant we had to give this a try

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Now, we usually eat our eggplant in Thai dishes, so it is cubed and cooked in a curry. This was the first time I made Eggplant Parmesan. It was absolutely delicious, however the prep was so messy that I probably won’t make it again. The eggplant is sliced, turned in flour and deep fried. I have grease splatter all of that page in the cookbook! Finally, I thought I’d give one of their desserts a try

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Lemon Brule Tart. Actually this was supposed to be made in one large tart pan, but in a recent clean-up, organizing frenzy I found my individual tart pans so thought I’d use them for this. Really good, but would probably be easier in the one large tart pan. I will make this again!

There are so many good recipes and ideas that really don’t require a recipe that I would highly recommend the book.

So, in the month of July I will be cooking from this book

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Bowl & Spoon by Sara Forte from Sprouted Kitchen fame. So many wonderful ideas in this book. Can’t wait to get started!

Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you have been enjoying some wonderful meals in your neck of the woods.

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Sparking Joy

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Hello! How are you? Summer is finally here in the Pacific Northwest and that means a lot of time spent outside, not just gardening, but also enjoying our meals al fresco.

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For me, this is also a time to cleaning and tidying. Recently I picked up the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Her approach is inspiring. Basically she suggests you hold each item in your hand and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and remove it from your life.

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So, I’ve gone through every item of clothing, eliminating 3 garbage bags full and donated them. The rest were neatly hung or folded. I’m now working on kitchen gadgets & appliances. Since Brian & I both love to cook, you can only imagine the stash! Seriously, who else has cannoli forms? A ravioli cutter? 23 tart pans of various sizes? It’s crazy!

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As I go through this process I am also thinking about the other things in my life…the tasks, the chores… are they sparking joy?

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Of course there are tasks and chores that I really must do. So then the question becomes, how can I approach these things with a joyful spirit?

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These are the things I am pondering as I go through all our stuff. As the space in our house becomes more clear, perhaps the space in my mind will find a clearing as well.

I hope whatever season you are in that it is sparking a bit of joy in your life.

Cheers!

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | 8 Comments

Fava Bean Soup, our way

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Hi there! The above photo is the result of our own recipe for Fava Bean soup. In yesterday’s post I had mentioned that there was one recipe in Mimi Thorisson’s book A Kitchen In France that I could not make work for me. It was her Fava Bean soup. Following her recipe, mine turned out an unappetizing pale green. She had used a potato as a thickener, which I found caused a paste-like texture and starchy taste. Overall the soup was bland in flavor also. If any of you have ever worked with Fava Beans before, then you how much work is involved and can understand my disappointment

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First you have to remove the beans from their pods

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Then you have to blanch the beans, cool them, then remove the outer skin. After all of that, you finally have something you can add to your soup. After my first failure Brian & I came up with our own recipe, which tasted really great. First off, we increased the amount of Fava Beans Mimi called for (she had 4 lbs of pods, we had 6). Then, I replaced the potato in her recipe for dry white rice grains as the thickener. I also added 2 leeks and some spinach leaves, and finally some Herbs de Provence. So here you go my friends, our Fava Bean Soup recipe!

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Cookbook Review – A Kitchen In France

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In the month of May I cooked through this book by Mimi Thorisson. First off, the book is gorgeous. Filled with lovely images and the stories in it are entertaining as well. There were so many recipes I wanted to try, but the month came to an end quickly and only had a chance to work with 5 of them. Well actually I tried 6, but one didn’t work out so well. More on that later. Here are 2 or 3 pictures of the 5 recipes that work well and loved so well that I would do them again. First off was the Roast Asparagus with Chervil

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Boy was this delicious! I loved that the asparagus are in bundles of 4 or 5 held together with prosciutto – the perfect serving size. This recipe presented itself at just the right time too with asparagus season in full swing. Next up was Chou Farci

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This is probably one of the most beautiful dishes in the book. Savoy cabbage is used here for its lovely veiny texture. Easier to make than it looks. Basically you blanche and cool the cabbage leaves, then line a souffle dish, putting the most beautiful leave, texture side down on the bottom. Then a pork sausage, tomato filling that has been sautéed with herbs, onion, and carrot goes into the prepared dish and then topped with a final leaf. Then the whole thing is baked

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Brian & I really loved this take on the usual stuffed cabbage rolls – easier to prepare as well. Will definitely be doing it again. Because our local Rainier cherries had just come into season, I decided to try her Cherry Clafoutis

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Because Rainier cherries are more blonde than the Bings, this didn’t have the deep red cherry look of the one in the book, but it was delicious. We even enjoyed it for breakfast a couple of times! Seduced by the picture in the book I had to try her Chocolate Meringue Swirls with Chocolate Sauce and Creme Chantilly

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This was unbelievably great on so many levels! So easy to make and they just look fabulous!

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Finally I finished out the month with the Artichoke Souffle

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I absolutely love artichokes. Even the way they look intrigue me.

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In the book, Mimi discarded the leaves right away to get to the hearts. We however wanted to enjoy the leaves in a aioli dipping sauce Brian made so I went the extra step of trimming the pointy end of the leaves off before cooking them.

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All the ingredients had a lovely texture and it was fun to finally be able to use my little individual casserole dishes for this

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Here’s the final result, which puffed up nicely. However, Brian & I found it a bit bland. I’m thinking when I do this recipe again I will use a sharper cheese (recipe calls for Guyere) and maybe include some sautéed leek (leeks make everything more flavorful I think).

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there was one recipe that I could not make work for me, which was her Fava Bean Soup. The color was so much more pale than the picture in the book, and not much flavor. This was sad because there is quite a bit of work involved to prepare fava beans. So Brian & I talked about how we would go about it, so what did I do? I went back to the Farmer’s Market, bought more fava beans and made my own version – which turned out awesome! Will be posting about that tomorrow and sharing the recipe.

In the meantime, for the month of June I will be cooking out of this book

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Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar. So excited about this one because it is filled with recipes calling for ingredients that are just becoming available in the market. Will report back next month!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Bon Appetite!

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Be Still 52 – Looking Back

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Top Row left to right: First assignment – Stillness, Backlight, Cookies & Milk

Middle row L to R: Like a Painting, Like a Painting (not), Butter & Eggs

Bottom row L to R: Citrus, Spoon, Breakfast

With only two weeks left of this year-long course (hard to believe!) Kim asked each of us to look back on our year and reflect on how far we have come. The above contact represents just a sampling of the images I made for class this year. I’ve chosen them because of what I’ve learned from them and what I’ve discovered about my photography in the process. Not wanting to bore you all going over each and every image, I’ll pick out 5 to discuss. First up would be the image for our very first assignment…

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This image very well represents  the type of photography I was doing last year. Flowers as the subject, natural light, shallow depth of field and a texture layer added. I was rather hooked on texture layers then, though rarely use them today. I still think there is a time and a place for them. Next, we had an assignment to create side light with the prompt of butter and eggs…

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I had just started working with studio light. My reasons were the fact that often in our climate, good natural light is a little hard to come by and also, with running a business from home, often by the time I had a moment to do some photography, the light was gone. I decided if I could get comfortable with studio light, then I could take pictures whenever I wanted! Then we had a lesson prompt “like a painting”, which I did literally, then actually went off the beaten path with this image…

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Studio light again. This image was also one of the first where I started exploring dark, moody lighting. I still like this image, though if I were going to do it again today, I might go even a little darker and do a better job of the linen placement. The next image was for the lesson prompt “breakfast”…

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Studio light again. This was where I found myself really digging food photography. Of all the still life work I’ve done over the last year, it is those that feature food that I like the best and had the most fun with. There will definitely be more of this in my future. Finally, the last picture is not in the above contact sheet only because it is a recent lesson prompt “tea (or coffee) and coins…

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I think this image represents my photography right now. Dark & moody lighting, tightly cropped, and textural. Also studio lighting here. At this moment I find myself rather comfortable working with the lights and because of that I’ve been able to shoot more, regardless of the time of day. Of course I still love taking advantage of natural light, and I think there’s room in this world for both God’s Light (natural), and Goddess Light (the light we carry with us.)

Being in this class not only taught me a lot about Still Life and processing images, it was also a great supportive community of super talented students, several of which I’m connected to beyond this course. Not sure where all of this is taking me, but I sure am enjoying the journey.

Many thanks to those who stopped by today and have been following and encouraging me along the way. Deeply grateful.

xo

Posted in Art, photography | Tagged | 14 Comments

For the Love of Rhubarb!

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Brian & I love rhubarb so this is one of our favorite times of the year, when our garden explodes with red stalks and large leaves. Even if we didn’t love to eat it, we would still love its contribution to the garden. It grows well in the shade and the leaves look fantastic!

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So a few days ago I set about harvesting rhubarb stalks to cook with.

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I was able to pull 3 bunches like this out of the garden (don’t you just love my fancy gardening outfit?!)

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Once the leaves were removed (you don’t want to eat those – they will make you sick) and the stalks cleaned, it was time for some chopping.

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I was inspired by Cathy Sly’s (the link is to her blog – which is awesome!)picture on IG for a rhubarb spritzer made with simple syrup and Pellegrino. So good. Thanks Cathy! I found a recipe for Rhubarb simple syrup HERE

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Then some rhubarb jam that would go into ice cream. This jam would also be good on a piece of toast!

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This came together pretty quick. Then came the ice cream.

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This was my first time making rhubarb ice cream. Delicious! Found the recipe HERE for both the jam and the ice cream.

Then some more chopping

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to make a rhubarb crisp (click HERE for recipe)

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Of course all of these items make a great stand-alone dessert, but I like to do what I call “composed” desserts, when there are a few things served at once and each item have at least one ingredient in common, like rhubarb!

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I still have more rhubarb in the fridge so will be soliciting ideas from you all as to what to do with it!

So, do you love rhubarb? What do you do with it?

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Kim Klassen ‘kk_moodswing’ preset applied to an iPhone picture that was processed with Brushstroke app.

Linking up with Kim’s Texture Tuesday. Hope you can pop by and check out everyone’s fabulous photography. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

xo

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Mini Gather at the DBG

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On the 2nd day of our “mini-gather”, Barbara Hurst, Terri Porter and I headed out to the Desert Botanical Garden. This place is a special treat for me as we do not have these types of plants here in Washington. The colors and shapes are amazing.

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Intriguing textures like the cactus above

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These insects were so busy with one another, they didn’t even notice me!

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The spiky thorns create such amazing patterns

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The contrast between the desert wildflowers and the cactus is mesmerizing

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I think I could stare into this cactus for hours!

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The cactus flowers blooming amid the thorns is a metaphor of life itself; the world can be a harsh, dangerous place, and yet beauty springs forth.

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After taking many, many pictures, we had a lovely lunch. And then, just like that, the day was done. Such fond memories. Many thanks again to Barbara Hurst and Terri Porter for our lovely time together.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Linking up w/ Kim Klassen’s Texture Tuesday today.

xo

Posted in Gardening, photography | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Cookbook Review – The Kinfolk Table

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In the month of April I tried some of the recipies in The Kinfolk Table by Nathan Williams. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to cook all the recipes I wanted, but the ones I did were superb. First was the Citrus Lentil Salad

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This was super easy to make and quite tasty. I substituted Blood Orange Olive Oil for the regular EVOO, just to put my signature on it. This is a light salad, perfect for the summer days to come. After that I made the Sweet Potato Biscuits

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I rolled out the dough a bit too thin so that’s why they are not as high as they should be (my bad), but that didn’t adversely affect the wonderful flavor. I am now a fan of sweet potato biscuits! Then there was a fun play with the Hummingbird Cake (you may remember an earlier post on this related to a new prop I had found)

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I can’t say YUM enough! Brian loved it so much he wants it for his birthday cake this year, which will take place tomorrow. The last recipe I had the chance to make was a very simple  Cucumber & Fennel Salad

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Another simple to make and light salad that would be perfect paired with a grilled salmon (which is what we did.)

The book’s tagline reads “recipes for small gatherings”, so quantities won’t overwhelm. The book is also beautiful and the portraits of those who presented recipes in the book are posed in ways I haven’t really seen before. Just wonderful. I would recommend this book highly.

For the month of May I will be exploring recipes from this book that I learned about on Kim Klassen’s website (shown here without its jacket)

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A Kitchen In France by Mimi Thorisson. The book is full of gorgeous photography – I think it would make a great coffee table book even if you never cooked a thing out of it. Recipes are intriguing and am looking forward to seeing how they work out. Will let you know next month. Until then, Bon Appetite!

Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

xo

Posted in Cooking, photography | Tagged , , | 9 Comments