Back to the Core through Traditions – Tomatoes

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Hello everyone! It has been a super long time since I’ve posted anything to the blog…not since May in fact. It was a sad time. My friend had just experienced a couple of losses in her family and I felt her sadness keenly. But just when I was coming to the end of that tunnel, we had a scare. Brian had a stroke. Three days in the hospital, followed by prescriptions and physical therapy. It was the first of June. I shall tell the rest of my story while sprinkling in photos of our tomato canning experience over the Labor Day weekend.

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We always take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend to can tomatoes and we always get them from Dagdagan Farms in Yakima, WA. We bought a total of 150 pounds of roma tomatoes.

He is doing quite well now. He is actually in better shape than he was before the stroke. We both took the episode as a warning sign and as a result he is making an effort to walk twice a day and ride his bicycle daily. However, about three weeks after his incident, I wound up with shingles.

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I taught Brian how to can during our first year of marriage in 1980 and he has been obsessed with it ever since. I’ve created a monster! We do whole canned tomatoes and roasted tomato sauce. There’s usually a few tomatoes left over to make some salsa.

The doctor figured it was brought on by the stress of dealing with Brian’s medical emergency. Perhaps…all I know is that it was a debilitating experience. After that, another issue cropped up. After a little weekend getaway trip to Northern California, I came back home with a serious ringing in my ears. A couple weeks later I began to develop dizzy spells…like the whole room spinning. It got so bad one day that I actually threw up! That’s when I decided it was time to see a doctor.

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Tomatoes getting a bath

She couldn’t find anything wrong in my ear but prescribed a steroid in case there was some swelling in the inner ear and sent me home. The medications did not help and it would take a few more weeks before our insurance would finally approve my seeing a specialist.

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Tomatoes briefly dunked in hot simmering water

My last dizzy spell was last Tuesday. Fingers crossed it doesn’t return. I had a hearing test on Friday, which confirmed my right ear has a slightly diminished capacity for hearing when compared to the left ear.

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Tomatoes in the ice bath

I have the long-awaited appointment with the specialist today. We will go over the hearing test results, go over all my symptoms again, receive an exam and God knows what else to determine whether or not I have an inner ear infection.

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Ah, now the skins peel right off. Easy peasy!

Given the length of time and that the dizziness seems to have subsided, I suspect that I probably did have an infection and that by now is healing up on its own. I was inclined to cancel the appointment but Brian said no!

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And so what does all of this have to do with canning tomatoes?

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Whole Roma tomatoes canned with a few basil leaves.

Well, nothing really…Except, after such a long time passed without my posting to my blog, I had come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m done with blogging. After all, I had been arguing with myself over this blog thing for some time. But then

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Bath canning the quarts of tomatoes for 20 minutes.

Brian wanted to to the canning that we always do over the Labor Day weekend every year.

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Lunch break!

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Ta-da! We would up with 32 quarts of whole tomatoes.

I had never photographed our canning tradition and decided this was the year.

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We also made our Roasted Tomato Sauce. Yielded 26 quarts of this.

After the weekend was over and I was looking over my images, I had an overwhelming desire to share them. And so, this tomato canning tradition has brought us both back to the core of who we are, what we do, and what we’re passionate about. Perhaps that is the real purpose behind traditions…bringing us back to our core, helping us to remember who we are, however humble. Perhaps that is worthy of a blog post after all.

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Here’s our recipe for the Roasted Tomato Sauce, which makes about 5 quarts:

15 cloves of garlic

8 lbs of ripe tomatoes, any variety

10 medium onions, quartered

1 cup fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, Italian flat parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and/or chives will all work)

¼ C olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper

3-4 T sugar, optional

 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel and chop 5 cloves of garlic. Leave the remaining cloves whole. In a large roasting pan, gently toss together the tomatoes, whole and chopped garlic, onions, herbs, oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Roast for 25 min. Gently stir. Roast for another 25 minutes. Stir again. Roast another 45 min. or until tomatoes are softened and broken down in a sauce with a golden brown crust on top.
  3. Remove from oven and taste for seasoning. If slightly bitter, add sugar and stir. Puree in a blender. Pour sauce into clean, sterile jars or freezer bags and refrigerate, can, or freeze.

PS – Since I’ve decided to keep blogging I will be doing a bit of a makeover. I’ve started by putting up a new header. What do you think? Not sure when the ‘new’ site will be finished, but in the meantime, I shall endeavor to show up and be counted here a little more often!

Cheers everyone!

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, Uncategorized | 48 Comments

Fragile Things

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Journal entry: May 27,2016

I sit in the little cafe…my first time here. It is filled with people I don’t know. Many are laughing and smiling in a group. A few others are like me, wanting to be alone in a crowd right now.

I woke up at five thirty this morning to the sound of rushing water from the front pond, sounding louder than usual.

Reaching for the phone I see the text “my mom just died”. Eyes close…a few deep breaths…eyes open. The message is the same “my mom just died.”

I wanted to call but didn’t want to intrude. She is most certainly making arrangements to travel. So, I send a text “so so sorry. sending all my love. what can I do for you?” This feels empty. I need to call..need to hear her voice. I won’t keep her long.

We talk for awhile. I can hear the shock in her voice. Not because she hasn’t suffered a personal loss before because she has. However in those cases she had the chance to say goodbye. But not this time…not this time.

Out of respect for her privacy, I will not mention my friend’s name. I will share some of what she spoke of this morning. Though her mother was elderly and frail, she was not suffering a terminal illness so naturally her death comes as a shock. As a result of this sudden death, my friend was unable to be with her mom when she passed.

Several times during the course of our conversation this morning, she said how grateful she was for the fact that she had just spoken to her mother the day before and they had a chance to say “I love you” to one another.

It is times like these when we are keenly reminded that though we can certainly make plans for tomorrow, all we really have is today…right now…this moment. Now is always the best time to give those close to us a super big hug…to tell them we love them with all our hearts. We can do this now. I can do this now.

Posted in Inspirational | 15 Comments

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto

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I get excited when garlic scapes make their appearance at the farmers market. They have such an exotic look and are a milder, sweeter, version of garlic cloves.

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Brian & I love all varieties of pesto and when I read Beth Kirby’s post about the dinner party she had to celebrate the birthday of her two adorable cats, in which a garlic scape pesto was featured in a pizza (for her human guests!) I was inspired to whip up one of my own. If you haven’t read her post, you should HERE. It is adorable and the photography is, of course, amazing!

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So I gathered up some garlic scapes, basil, pistachios, some Romano cheese, a bit of salt, and of course olive oil and went to town

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Of course a little taste testing is necessary.

 

Garlic Scape & Basil Pesto adapted from Beth Kirby’s recipe posted to her blog

1/4 cup grated Romano cheese (Beth calls for a tomme style or alpine cheese)

1/3 cup pistachios

2 cups basil, tightly packed

1/2 cup garlic scapes, coarsely chopped

Lemon juice from 1/2 of a lemon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients except olive oil and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse a few times to coarsely chop the ingredients. Add olive oil and pulse to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Pour into a bowl and stir in lemon juice. Cover until ready to serve. If  not using the same day, you may cover and refrigerate. You can also freeze into ice cube trays and use as an ingredient in soups or pasta.

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The first thing we did with the pesto is make up a couple of quick flatbread pizzas for lunch, using pre-packaged flatbread.

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Place garlic scapes on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

While the scapes are roasting, spread a generous amount of the pesto on the flatbreads. Sprinkle some feta cheese crumbles around. Take the scapes from the oven and arrange on the flatbread. Add some sliced cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with a bit more feta, then bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 minutes.

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Pull pizzas from the oven and sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese. If you like a bit of spice, also sprinkle some red pepper flakes.

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I will tell you that we ate this up like we had been starving to death! So good.

If you have garlic scapes available and have been wondering what to do with them, well here ya go! I’m thinking that the roasted scapes would also be fabulous in a quiche or tart. I can tell you that not all the scapes I roasted would fit on the flatbreads so we simply ate them on their own. Wow! Would make a create addition to a charcuterie plate.

Many thanks to Brian for popping into the kitchen while I was working and taking some fun photos of the process. The best life journey partner a gal could have!

Thanks so much for stopping by. Hope you are having a lovely week.

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Rhubarb Love

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Hello there! Hope you have all been enjoying whatever season you are in. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are enjoying a lovely Spring with warmer than usual temperatures. With that, the plants responded by exploding with growth and required me to abandon my blog for a bit to take care of things in the garden.

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I was given a rhubarb plant from my sister-in-law many years ago and I’ve lost count as to how many times I have divided it to place more plants here and there in the garden, and to give some away too.

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As a result I have 3 major clumps of rhubarb and they all exploded with incredible growth. So naturally I began experimenting with various rhubarb recipes.

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Two items I’ve made so far are a lovely soup (yes soup w/ rhubarb!) and a sorbet.

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Lemongrass Soup with Rhubarb and Radishes

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This soup was posted on Edible Seattle Magazine’s website. It was super easy to make and oh so light and delicious. Really tasted like Spring. You can get the recipe HERE

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Rhubarb Sorbet with Lemon Polenta Biscuits

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I made this sorbet as a dessert for a luncheon that wound up being cancelled. All Brian had to say to that was “Oh goody, more for us”!

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The Lemon Polenta biscuits that I made to go with the sorbet I found on the internet from a Chef (who’s name I’ve forgotten) from the UK. So beware, the recipe is in grams not ounces. Get your scales out! You can find the recipe HERE

Here’s my recipe for Rhubarb Sorbet

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup water

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in large saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Add rhubarb. Simmer until rhubarb is tender, about 10 min. Transfer mixture to processor and puree until smooth. Stir in the corn syrup. Refrigerate mixture until very cold. I like to let it sit overnight in the fridge.

Transfer rhubarb mixture to ice cream maker and process according to it’s instructions. Freeze.

That’s all I have for today. Just a brief post. I do have more to share with what we’ve been up to so will get on that next week.

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by. Have a lovely day my friends.

xo

Posted in food photography, food styling, Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Food Photography – Working with Studio Light

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY – WORKING WITH STUDIO LIGHT

Hello there! Today I’m actually over at Kim’s site sharing some of what I know about studio light. There are lots of photos posted and a shorter version of this video that I thought I would share in it’s entirety here. Hope you get a chance to stop by Kim’s site. In the meantime, enjoy the video!

 

Posted in food photography, Inspirational | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Cookbook Review – The Broad Fork

Cookbook Review – The Broad Fork

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As mentioned in a previous post, I would be selecting some recipes from this lovely book by Hugh Acheson, The Broad Fork, to cook from. Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to cook as many things in the book as I would have liked (travel, my first paid food photography gig, and power outages, and then finally the flu), I did cook a few things.

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Roasted Poblano and Pecan Guacamole. This was super delicious. I never would have thought to add pecans or a roasted chili in this. Brilliant! This was shared with several friends over at the Novelty Hill Winery (we’re wine club members) and it was a big hit with everyone!

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The texture was the thing that really sent a clear message that this wasn’t your everyday guacamole!

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Bok Choy, Curried Tomatoes, and Avocado. Brian and I are already big fans of pork tenderloin.

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The flavor is great and cooks up fast. The sides for the pork are really the stars here. The curried tomatoes w/ avocado were great flavor compliments to this entree.

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Sauteed Carrots with Pine Nuts, Malt Vinegar, and Golden Syrup. Actually the recipe called for Sorghum syrup, which I did not have so substituted the Golden.

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Another delicious item from the book. We paired this with a nice roasted chicken. I like that chopped carrot tops are used as a garnish instead of parsley. Making use of the entire vegetable.

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Stewed Wild Mushrooms, Asparagus, Leek, Spring Onion, and Creme Fraiche over Grits. The recipe called for morels but they are not available yet in our neck of the woods so I used a combination of black trumpets, maitake, and hedgehog mushrooms. The recipe also called for Ramps and again, not available yet so substituted a leek and spring onion.

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Super good comfort food here. The grits were made with white corn grits. Doing this again I think I would substitute yellow corn grits for more color.

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Chicken Paillard with Wild Mushrooms, Wild Mushroom Compound Butter, Lemon, and Parsley. This recipe also called for morels but I went with the mushroom combo mentioned above.

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Same thing with the compound butter. Really great and quick to pull together since I made the compound butter ahead of time. We’ve been using that butter on other things too!

And that’s all I had time for this month, but it was enough for me to say this is a great cookbook, especially if you like to grow some of your own vegetables. So many ideas in the book for what to do with your harvest.

I haven’t decided yet what I’ll cook through next month. I’ve been joyfully distracted with lovely Spring weather. I’ll come up with something. Stay tuned!

Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo

Posted in Cooking, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Food Photography – Working with Natural Light

Food Photography – Working with Natural Light

 

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Hello everyone! Just a quick announcement to let you know I’m over at Kim Klassen’s beautiful site again this month to discuss food photography and natural light.

 

There are these images on the site, as well as

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a video in which I talk a little bit about working with natural light, advantages and disadvantages, and a few tools you can use to control the light a bit. Hope to see you THERE!

ps – the link to the recipe for this chocolate bark is also on Kim’s site!

Cheers,

xo

Posted in Cooking, Educational, food photography, food styling, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Food Photography Whole & Parts Video

Food Photography Whole & Parts Video

Hello everybody! Just popping in to share this little video that made its debut on Kim Klassen‘s blog and now am sharing it hear just in case you missed it or perhaps are not following Kim’s site…which you should by the way!

Password: WholeParts 

Whole & Parts from Carol Hart on Vimeo.

I will be posting a new food photography post and video to Kim’s site this coming Thursday. Stay tuned!

xo

Posted in Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

My Interview on The Photo Argus

My Interview on Photo Argus

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A couple of weeks ago Tim Kok with The Photo Argus reached out from Flickr to ask if he could interview me for this beautiful site. I actually thought it was a bit of a hoax! Who would want to interview me? And for The Photo Argus no less! If you don’t know this site, I hope you will not only click the link below to read the interview, but take a bit of time to click through their site. It is full of inspiring interviews and images from other photographers. They also post tips and little tutorials. So worth the time.

I did respond to Tim and he did post the interview. I’m thrilled of course and it prompted me to look back on my photography to determine exactly when I was bit by the food photography bug. It was 2014 and I was involved in one of Kim Klassen’s year long classes. She had had a breakfast prompt and I worked on a blueberry muffin project. I was hooked. After that every prompt I decided to make it food focused. The picture above was a prompt for high key and back lit. It was not hugely popular with the group but I still enjoy it as I think it speaks to my desire to celebrate and bring out the details of food, embrace the texture, tell the story with contrast, and perhaps with a little drama.

The link is HERE.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

xo

Posted in Cooking, Educational, Inspirational, photography | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Spring Is Here!

Spring Is Here!

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New chive shoots coming up in their pots

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Hydrangea leaves opening

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Hellebores bowing their heads

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They are the first blossoms to appear in my garden in Springtime

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Black mondo grass embraces Japanese Spurge

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Viburnum Larreri ‘Nanum” blossoms. Quite fragrant

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The pots have been anxiously waiting for this moment

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And now it is time for me to get out there because Spring is here!

xo

Posted in Gardening, Inspirational, photography | 8 Comments