Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Photography- pausing to see

I've always loved taking photos, and wish I did so more often. It's fun to mess around, especially since choosing which digital shots to print results in fewer and better actual photos than taking your chances with 35mm film. I've taken two photography classes at Squam, and admired some fancy cameras...
On occasion, a shot just works out really well, and the desired effect comes across beautifully...
Other times, someone or something gets in the way. I'm working on not getting too annoyed or frustrated, and every once in a while, it's kind of funny...
I used this flower from my garden as an accent in a recipe I prepared for this blog, and I was messing around with the background. Food styling doesn't come easily, but I can only laugh at my cat:
Thanks for respecting the copyright on these photos. Do you have a favorite camera to recommend? I'm looking for better manual settings than average digital cameras have. Maybe a new polaroid?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal (dairy free, lower cholesterol)

I’m beginning to post “through the spice rack” AGAIN recipes as I discover new uses for spices I’ve already blogged about. I was impressed with a recipe in Reader’s Digest by a blogger I follow,
I modified the recipe with several key ingredients, and since I did not see it listed on Heidi’s blog, here is how I prepared the apple cinnamon baked oatmeal:

Mix 2 cups oats (I used a 5-grain cereal that is sold near the oatmeal in the grocery store), 1 tsp baking powder,
 ½ cups toasted & chopped walnuts, 1/3 cup maple syrup, 1 tsp cinnamon (I omitted the ½ tsp salt called for in the original recipe).

In another bowl, I combined 2 cups almond milk, ¼ cup egg substitute and 2 tsp vanilla.

Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish, and place four cut up apples into the dish.  Sprinkle blueberries (I had 4 ounces) on top. Cover with oat mixture, then pour milk mixture over the oats. I jiggled the dish to check if the milk was evenly distributed around the pan.

I baked the dish at 350 because I was fixing dinner at the same time, but Heidi instructs 375 degrees with an 8x8 baking dish. The 40 minutes I had the dish in the over for worked out well.

The maple flavor was lovely with the cinnamon and vanilla. I will prepare this again as soon as the current batch runs out, and will see how it tastes with chocolate extract instead of vanilla! In future versions, I will also add some nutmeg, allspice, hazelnuts, pecans, coconut, etc.
Would I serve my modified version to guests? Probably not, unless they were on a health kick, too. I bet the original version with regular milk, egg, etc. tasted creamier. The plump blueberries turned mushy while baking (tasted great but didn't look glamorous enough to photograph the "after" version of the dish). Hence, an unrelated photo reminding me -and you- to slow down the hectic pace of life from time to time and breathe!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Frost alert (greens, no spices)

As my spice rack challenge as neared its goal, I've been pondering what and how to cook next. I've decided to bake more, which I've always preferred over cooking actual meals! The new challenge will be to bake goodies that freeze well so I can share them with others during the upcoming holidays, instead of continuing the weight gain trend of recent months (despite the attempt to modify recipes for increased health). 
A massive harvest of greens just took place due to dropping overnight temperatures.
We had pasta and salad, but did not use any spices, just ripe tomatoes and cucumbers also from the garden.
The arugula added enough zip to the salad! Tomorrow will be swiss chard day. Not sure about spices there, because I usually prepare it with garlic and a splash of oil- maybe pine nuts, too.
Cilantro goes so well with guacamole, but I'm going to see about other interesting uses...
Am I the only person who has whispered to a tomato plant "you are my favorite?" I'll be sure to plant Sun Gold again next year, they really did taste like sunshine.
These will ripen soon in a paper bag. Do you have a favorite cookie recipe that freezes well? Any recommendations or requests will go on the "to bake" list!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Herbes de Provence Roasted Potatoes

I had heard of Herbes de Provence before, but never owned any or cooked with them. I made every effort this year to not buy new spices for the (full!) new spice rack, but I did not hesitate when I came across some Herbes de Provence. Apparently, they are useful for many dishes, but I decided to try them with roasted potatoes to hopefully have a clear sense of their flavor.

I drizzled olive oil over the cut up taters, then sprinkled liberally with Herbes de Provence. I checked the dish every 15 minutes to stir and check for done-ness. I like my roasted potatoes very well done, and these could have stayed in even longer than 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

The flavor was very nice, and I look forward to experimenting more with H d P. I’ve been making stupendous roasted potatoes for years now with grey poupon mustard, olive oil, and rosemary, and I like that flavor combination so much that I will stick to it for future spuds. But I’m glad I tried this and will report back on new H d P dishes.
I wonder if they’d go well with squash! This is a photo of the partial results of a cooking class I took with various squash recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe for Herbes de Provence?