Sunday, February 24, 2008

Salad attempt

Quick follow-up to the last post about re-creating a salad I had on Friday night.

I attempted the salad for friends on Saturday night. It turned out ok, but I think I can do better. Here is what I did:

a. Cut up a small head of cauliflower into small florets. Diced 3 medium beets. Put them both in the oven at 425F for 25 minutes.
b. Cut up some walnuts and threw them in the oven for 15 minutes
c. Whipped up a simple sesame vinaigrette (1 part dark sesame oil, one part olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar).
d. Mixed a, b, and c in a bowl with 4 handfuls of baby spinach and 200g of crumbled danish blue cheese.

Result: a nice salad but it didn't really "come together". The flavors were there, and they were good, but they were separate flavors. It didn't meld. Additionally, the beets were undercooked and the cauliflower was a tad over cooked.

Next time I'll make the following changes;
1. Boil the beets (and perhaps the cauliflower) and the stick them in the oven of a couple of minutes to dry them off. This will give me more control over their doneness.
2. Take the time to source some good gorgonzola. The danish blue was ok, but a bit stronger and creamier than I wanted.
3. Heat the vinaigrette so it wilts the spinach a tad and adds warmth to the plate.

Thank-you Tara and friends for letting me experiment on you.

If any of you try this out, let me know how it goes. Or if you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

(Sorry, no photo - it's not being a good host to photograph the food while you have hungry guests waiting to eat it.)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Two new salads

Salad 1: Avocado Grapefruit Salad

This salad came by way of my coworker Ana*. It's an ultra simple recipe; it's so simple that you may feel you don't want to try it. I urge you to resist that feeling. The salad will surprise you.

If you don't' like avocado, this recipe isn't for you. If you don't think you like avocado, then try this and re-evaluate that thought.

1 ripe avocado, with shell and pit removed
1 ripe ruby red grapefruit, sectioned
1 pinch of salt

a. Mix avacado, grapefruit and salt
b. Eat

Salad 2: Roasted beet and cauliflower salad

I had an amazing salad last night at a little restaurant in Guelph. It shouldn't be too hard to reproduce as I could identity most of the ingredients. I'm going to try to re-create it this weekend and post the results, but in case I don't get a chance and you want to try it here are the ingredients:

a. beets, cubed (1cm3) and roasted
b. cauliflower, small florets only, also roasted
c. gorgonzola cheese
d. toasted walnuts
e. baby spinach
f. sesame vinaigrette

The salad was presented warm, with the spinach oh so very lightly wilted. It was truly amazing, the best salad I have had in a long long time.

The main course at the restaurant was interesting: I had a pizza topped with pulled pork, mango, tomato, onion and feta. The pizza wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. It took the whole pizza for my mouth to get used to the odd combination of moist pulled pork and the sweetish mango. It wasn't bad, but the best word I can use to describe it is interesting.

* I just found out recently that Ana makes the awesome jewelry I see her wearing. If you are looking for something to buy for your loved one (or yourself), you should check her out (shop, blog).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Frozen toes for nothing

Unless you don't listen to the news or read a newspaper or watch TV or visit other websites, you'll know that last night was the last full lunar eclipse that North America is going to see until 2010. I thought I'd celebrate this celestial event by taking some great photos.

I wasn't alone - my good friends George and Carolyn were up for it as well. So at 8:30 last night, we got all bundled up and headed to the great outdoors.

We drove north of the city to the Optimists Club. We hiked into a wide field and set up shop. Tripod, long lens, wireless shutter remote and patience - what more could you need, right?

I took photos and photos of the moon. I used all sorts of exposures and a wide range of apertures, hoping to get a nice crisp shot. It was cold, crispy cold out, but it didn't feel so bad with good friends around. Around 11:30 we packed up and headed to a Tims to warm up and shortly after that I was home.

I took a look at my photos after work today. I must say I'm pretty disappointed. They are all 'soft'; there isn't one that is crisp. All that time in the cold for nothing.

I don't know why none of my shots turned out. Perhaps I need to buy a lens of higher quality. Perhaps I left the shutter open too long, allowing the moon and earth to move a bit. Perhaps the lens had trouble focusing. I don't know.

Anyways - in case some of you were really excited about seeing a photo of the eclipse, here is the best one I could muster from last night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baby it's cold outside

The other day I was flipping through the blogs I read when I came across this article on Twilight Photos. I read it, and then read it again, and thought that it might be an interesting exercise.

For those who don't care to read an blog article about photography, the author makes the point that many people take photos of sunsets and then move on. But the best photographs near twilight happen 30-40 minutes after the sun has set.

So I checked Environment Canada for the sunset time (5:48pm) and left work today at 5:00. I headed over to Victoria Park and found myself a good spot to setup (I was near that square building facing due west). And then I waited. And waited.

I took about 60 photos, all of the same frame with varying degrees of light and exposure. At 6:30 I called it quits - 75 minutes in the same spot was long enough. I took a few other shots on the way to the bus terminal and hoped that I had a winner. I grabbed some groceries (had burgers tonight, yum!), shoveled the driveway again and looked at my photos. I think the author was right.

All that time and cold and this is the best of the 60 shots, taken 40 minutes after the sun had set.

On the way to the bus, I grabbed this shot of the clock tower. It took 2 minutes to set up and get the exposure right. If it weren't for the previous 75 minutes spent in the freezing cold, standing near a camera and tripod, trying to stay warm, I would say that I like this shot better than one above.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Wife went to the barn this morning so I thought I'd setup up at the dinning room table and play with my new flash. I found some old cake sprinkles in out cupboard and went to town.

It was a lot of fun...