Monday, January 14, 2019

Foolin' Around

NO…. not THAT kind of foolin’ around!   Where’s your brain at (yes, that’s a preposition)?   Remember the Feeder is in his upper 70’s…   maybe memories of long ago, but never mind that… Uh, what were we talking about?? Oh, yeah

Lately, spurred by Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot (food photography blog), I have been paying more attention to my innumerable food shots.  Pretty much my history has been take the image, suck it into Lightroom (Photoshop “light”), maybe adjust the white balance a bit, crop it some, and BOOM! Put it in the blog.  Well, by watching her blog I am learning there is so much more to generating an appetizing image of "food"  instead of just taking a picture.  Lightroom has such capability and I have been only scratching the surface, kind of like drawing with crayons instead of painting with brushes.  So I’ve been experimenting with some of the techniques of post processing she uses (the whole world of lighting the original image is still out there, although B&H has benefited from my increased interest.

So I’ll give you a little peek behind the curtain…(isn’t this fascinating???)
Here is an original shot that I took of some Feeder made fried oysters alongside some on the half shell with house made (by moi) Mignonette sauce. Untouched, just straight out of the camera:

Not bad, documents the stuff, but really doesn’t grab you (me).   So I went to work with some of the tools I am learning and although this isn’t great, it does attract your eye a little bit better, but still could use some more pop.   A learning experience.

I had a little bit better session with a shot from the Ruddy Duck Seafood and Ale house where we went for lunch.
The original
Which was manipulated into

So, in the future I intend to spend more time on my own shots, and post processing them and also those not generated at the digs.  Next time you read a food magazine (which I almost sure you do), take a minute to look at the images of the food.  Are the shadows too long?  Like the angle? Too much extraneous stuff in the shot?  Is your eye drawn to the food? I kind of use the reverse of the old Playboy aphorism “I only read it for the articles”; and say “I only read it for the pictures!”

Speaking of food, have had a couple of outings at restaurants (besides the Ruddy Ale House).  One was at the venerable Linda’s for kind of a brunch.  Looking for low sodium menu items at that place is a chore among the rashers of bacon, corned beef hash, scrapple all of which taste so good because of liberal uses of SALT.   Anyway after a discussion of same with our server, I finally settled for a “Veggie Benedict” it had tomato, avocado, spinach with a poached egg, which sounded manageable.   Well, upon presentation, I was served

“Oh, I forgot about the sauce”.   Tasted like the ocean.  Can’t win

On another occasion I had an early lunch for a (80th!) birthday celebration of a friend, who ordered the Shepard’s Pie.

Pretty basic stuff.  I had their Chicken Souvlaki Pita, and sort of scraped the chicken off the Pita, and it proved a bit “Chewy”, but the Tzatziki sauce helped.  I so love this, eating what you must, rather than what you want.    

Oh, a entry on the sandwich menu caught my eye:
Exactly WHAT kind of Roll????

Hello Gia!
Holy smoke… hope that was an early “President’s Day” storm!   We (SOMD) were predicted to be kind of ground zero and for once they weren’t far off.. Saturday night into Sunday brought maybe four inches, and last night the second punch gave us at least that much more.  A wallop, but was kind of pretty this morning

And gave our “porch heron” a bright new suit

In the early morning there was lovely light

With the ground covered, we had plenty of customers at our feeders, especially the Suet Cakes from the woodpecker set
Red Bellied (never have understood the nomenclature)

And the more diminutive Downy

Who just happened to depart when I snapped the next picture..  Sometimes you just get lucky

Okay, a pleasant day, “stuck” inside and watching the pretty snow.  Another joy of being retired!

And we’re having MFO’s Storm Meat Loaf tonight, so no particular need to
And in the HOM (House of Moody) never a worry about observing

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Ho Ho Ho..time machine

Marching backward in time, let’s take a quick look at this year’s Christmas dinner.   Like this year’s Thanksgiving, we tried something “completely different”.  I think I mentioned we had a smallish chicken

from the “chicken lady” from the Farm at Glen Mary in nearby Park Hall, just down the road from us. They specialize in grass fed cattle, pastured pigs and poultry, with no antibiotics, all that stuff.  I decided to brine it in the stuff I showed you before

And a couple of days before Christmas into the pot it all went

So on Christmas morning, we began the day with a Feeder Frittata

Some Royal Rivera Pears and Earl Gray tea.

Along about two in the pm we decided to begin the process of preparing the chicken for dinner.
Out of its bath

Mise en Place ready

A light treatment of lemon juice

Some house grown fresh herbs applied

And popped into a 450° oven for ten minutes, then reducing it to 350

Until “an instant read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh reads 160” to which we cheated a bit, figuring residual cooking would take it over the top.

Nice looking bird!

It did leave kind of a mess in the kitchen (for the cleaning crew, i.e., us).

So how did the bird taste?  To be honest, I expected better results.  It was good, but not extraordinary.  The brining didn't seem to have much effect, it could have been that it cooked too long (although the thermapen belied that) I don’t know.  Flavor was good, but a bit chewy.  I will try again and pull it earlier.  It was my first experience with a pastured bird.  So nice to have a local option available.  Hope you get a chance to try their stuff.

Comings and goings
Actually, comings and comings.   Sources tell me that:

The venerable Doo Dah Deli will return to Leonardtown in the little complex (is that an oxymoron?) as Jessie’s and Smokey Joe’s on the Town.  They will look for a luncheon business only (Dunkin’ gets put in the lease that they can’t do breakfast)

The now shuttered old Kevin’s Café (migrated to the Willows) will become the Slice House, allegedly serving “authentic New York” … guess what?   Have you ever heard somebody advertising “serving unreliable imitation Chicago….”

There’s also a couple of new Asian places nearby, one in San Souci (think Bay Dawgz) and across the road next to Jerry’s and Little (pizza pizza) Caesars.  Have to go look a bit more closely but think like Mongolian BBQ.  Revolving doors for those places.

The Shopper’s Food Warehouse currently located in San Souci plaza will move out by the end of January to be replaced by a Weiss (presumably the one in the Hobby Lobby group).

Stay tuned and forever

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New One

Well, I can’t let today go by without wishing the reader kingdom a happy ushering in of the new year..

The Flutters had a nice holiday period, with visits from both MFO’s Sister from Wisconsin; and then FOJTE and wife, and they’ve just left today, leaving a warm feeling in our hearts, but also a heaviness.  So be it with remote families.  Everybody’s presence will keep us warm for a while.  The FOJTY had to work in KC, so they’ll journey out later in the year.

But we had a great New Year’s.  I owe you an accounting of the “Chicken Lady” fowl which formed our Christmas Dinner, so will submit a quick food report for New Years.. FOJTE is an accomplished cook, so we had a pretty aggressive dinner.  Began with appetizers from a couple of Mumm’s Napa recipes they received through their club membership

Plus shrimp in Tobacco Barn Remoulade, which resulted in a very nice selection
and produced a lovely starter plate

For Entrée, we had Rockfish en Papillote following a recipe from Stone Soup Cottage in STL.   A quick aside on Stone Soup, they were named restaurant of the year in St. Louis.  One of our gifts to the FOJ’s was a gift card for a dinner there.  TE called and sure enough they could get a reservation…. In February…
Anyway the Rockfish (from Kellams) turned out lovely

For wines we had a NV Pierre Peters Cuvée de Réserve Blanc de Blancs Champagne, and a 2011 Rudd Oakville Samantha’s Cabernet Sauvignon.   Which may not be the best classical pairing (fish with cab) but I still subscribe to the DWTHYL theory.  An MFO pumpkin pie finished the meal.

The “kids” stayed up to bring in the new year, but the parental units fell short. Before departing, FOJTE prepared a nice brunch of quiche, sliced pork tenderloin with Demi Glace, a nice green salad, a quick MFO pastry, and of course more Champagne.

But as with all good things, time, life, and airlines called, and the time came for them to depart.

So our last look at FOJTE was his always friendly wave and engaging smile. 

And so dear friends, we charge into 2019 and we’ll see what awaits and hope we will all celebrate another

But a new year does not relieve you of the obligation to
And don’t forget NMMJ in ‘19

Monday, December 24, 2018

Up on the Rooftop


Well, here it is Christmas eve.  I suppose I should wax eloquent on “’tis the season”, the meaning of the time of year, etc.  But, I’m going to postpone that kind of stuff till tomorrow.   MFO and I are joined this year by her sister, I suppose MFOS, and it will be a low key event.  FOJTE will be visiting over new year’s, so will be nice to see them.  FOJTY will be working his law enforcement duty, so they won’t be coming until later in the spring. 

Accordingly, we’re kind of scaling back.  People might remember in years past we have had our lovely large

with many presents.  This year we have “tree Junior” which kind of has a charm of its own

And, we’ll be missing FOJTE’s famous Lasagna Christmas Eve dinner in his lovely historic home in St. Charles, MO

But, he said, we won’t be bereft of food, not eating dried beans and tuna from a can (as a good friend says).
You might remember we tried a smoked turkey for Thanksgiving from Braunfel’s Smoke house in Texas (mixed reviews).   This year, keeping with a low work load plan for MFO, we’re doing a Chicken.  Not just any chicken mind you, this one is locally sourced from “The Chicken Lady” of The Farm at Glen Mary in nearby Park Hall, just down the road a bit. 

They are raising free range poultry with no antibiotics, etc.   So, we have this five pounder

 We are going to brine it with a commercial brine (yes, I could have made my own) we discovered a couple of thanksgivings ago at some friend’s house

That produced a very flavorful bird.   Has lots of “stuff” in it.  Begin brining tomorrow

Will most likely do a pretty much traditional roasting tomorrow (no flipping, oven up, oven down, etc).

And we’ve had other pretty good food lately as well.  I got a lesson from a local chef in searing salmon with a lemon caper sauce. 
from dusting the fish with flour

and finally producing the (caper) sauce

And final plating.

  it was very good!  nice little crunch outside, just opaque inside

Although I don’t get around much anymore (isn’t that a song?) I can do pretty well at cooking in the kitchen.   So last night I used Sea to Table shrimp to make a “Shrimp in a tomato cream sauce over Capellini” starting with mise en place (oddly minus the can of “no salt added” diced tomatoes)

And finished with a pretty nice dish

Another diversion I’ve been pursuing is improving the quality of my food photos.  I’ve found (with help from a friend) a food photography blog called The Bite Shot  which is pretty informative, covering lighting, food styling, equipment (which has cost me $$ - thank you B&H).   Anyway, I’ve been messing around with lighting, using flash, diffusion, etc.  Makes a difference (without, with light manipulation)

 and just pretty

I have stopped short of a new camera body, however, not quite ready to invest thousands yet.  My trusty Rebels work fine.

So on the eve of Christmas 2018, I wish a happy time tomorrow with loved ones who are here, far away, and only in our memories.  As somebody once said: “God Bless Us, everyone!”

And depending on your plans it might be fun to
And put the Mason Jars in the recycle bin…

Ho Ho Ho…