It’s Tea Time!

There is a certain romance around tea…

Worth a mention/nostalgia:  The whistle of a steaming kettle (one of my favorite sounds), measuring tea leaves into an empty teapot, tiny silver stirring spoons, a designated tea cupboard that smells like a dream when opened, sterling silver strainers that look as if they might walk over to you, the ever changing pattern of steam flitting up and away from your mug, the eclectic variety of tea cups and saucers, beautiful colors of tea leaves and spices, and last but certainly not least… the opportunity for good company and conversation…in other words, “nuthin like a good old fashioned tea party!”

One of my favorite kinds of tea hands down is Earl Grey.  I love the hint of bergamot oil which makes Earl Grey tea, well, Earl Grey tea!  Bergamot is citrus fruit, yellow in color and about the same size of an orange.   Apparently, this was the favorite tea of the British prime minister in the 1830’s, Charles Earl Grey 2nd.  …and so… It was named after him, hhhmmm… who woulda thought?!

I take mine with a bit of cream, sugar, a good book and/or good company.  I usually buy loose leaf tea because I enjoy the preparation of the “good cup-a-tea” process and for the freshness factor.  I suppose it is personal preference as to how strong you like your tea but here’s a little suggestion given to me by a lovely soul who works at one of my favorite tea shops; “One scoop for me, one scoop for you and one scoop for the pot!”    Suggested amount for 2 or 3 tea drinkers. Let steep for 3/4 minutes.  Enjoy!

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A Plentiful Supper

What a lovely day it was today in the pacific northwest.  I was so happy to be awakened by the warm rays of sun shining through my curtains.   I could truly smell spring in the air.  Finally!  It’s amazing what a bit of bright sunshine and a brisk morning walk with the pup and the daffodils can do for ones mood.  With that said , my inspirational troubles vanished and off to the market I went, in search of a small fowl.  For, this weeks assignment was to photograph to the theme of yellow/orange and and I had decided upon roasting a chicken with organic carrots and fingerling potatoes.

I stuffed the bird with half a head of garlic, 1 shallot and 1 lemon cut in half, then into the glass baking pan it went.  I also added a good amount of whole carrots and potatoes, 1 sweet white onion spread around and the other half of the garlic.  Top it off with some salt and pepper, a dusting of fresh thyme and a few hefty swigs of olive oil, then into the oven it all went!  With that roasting away and making the the house smell all kinds of amazing, I started to set up for my shoot.  A Q-flash camera right for a little fill light, a couple of white cards camera left for some bounce and the rest day light.   Dishes here, no, there… fork here, or perhaps there… you get the idea; it’s all about placement and styling until you reach the look you like.

About an hour and a half  of roasting at 425 F later,  I pulled a purdy chicken roast out of the oven and took it over to my set.  It took just a bit of shooting to get what I wanted since I had a good deal of time to think on it while it was baking away.   Then for a plentiful supper and a sunset!



Ahhh… The Power of Cheese

Okay, I’m going to repeat my self.. Ahhhh, the power of cheese.    A cliche title I know,  but it’s true!!  Cheese goes with so many things.  Atop a heaping plate of hot spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce, thinly shaved on fresh salad, sprinkled on a warm baked potato, sliced on an open face sandwich with cured meat, sweet cheese and fruit for dessert, or just on its own!

There is another major factor of cheese… it’s so rustically beautiful.   There is nothing perfect about the appearance of cheese and this is one thing that I love.   It is a little different every time it’s made.  Each wedge or crumble has a character of its own which for me is shown by color, texture, smell, oh… and taste!

So… when my professor gave us an assignment to shoot something with a blue theme, I instantly thought cheese!  I’m not quite sure why but I just decided to go with it.  I went to my local market and probably spent a good, ohhh, 45 minutes looking at different cheeses.   I’m sure you fellow photogs, stylists and perfectionists can relate.  Needless to say, shoppers passing by must have thought I was a little off my rocker with my constant picking up of different cheese wedges and eyeballing them closely only to put one down, pick up another one and do the same thing.  I ended up with four different kinds that I thought worked nicely together for my shoot: Vella Doy Jack, Maytag Blue, Pyrenees Montcayal Onetek and Taleggio.  Wow… I don’t speak cheese, so I’m not quite sure what they all mean or the exact origins of each but I can tell you one thing…. I had a great time with my shoot and afterward with a snack of cheese, honey and crackers!  It’s always a bonus when you get to eat your props!  ( That is, if they’re not sitting out too long… )

Hermit Mode

It’s a cold and rainy day here in the city.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the rain and the opportunities it brings to slow down and start a new project while drinking a cozy cup of steaming tea.  One of my favorite things to do on such a day is bake a batch of hot cookies which I then pop into my mouth right out of the oven.  Among my long list of cookie favorites are, oatmeal raisin, snicker-doodles and the classic chocolate chip.  You just can’t go wrong!

After a long but very productive day at school, I decided to go into hermit mode and let my baking side have a go.  After a quick inner debate about which kind to make I settled on chocolate chip, because… well, dark chocolate melting in my mouth just sounded divine.  Lucky for me, no cookie mishaps occurred.  They have been known to happen; such as my lovely kitty cat walking in the flour, then sneezing due to sniffing and making a floury mess, or me accidentally turning the oven a wee bit too high and crisping them just a liiiitle too much.  No worries this time, they came out great!   I enjoyed a couple of them with a cup of earl gray tea all the while being serenaded by the pitter patter of rain on the windows.  I have no idea where the recipe comes from; a very nice woman gave it to me while I was traveling in Europe for a spell.  It shall forever be a mystery, but that makes them all the more enjoyable.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cups butter (room temp)

1/2 cups shortening

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla ( I usually add 3 to 3 1/2 tsp)   😉

2 1/2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2-3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (if you want!)

– In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugars until light, beat in eggs and vanilla.

– In separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and soda; then add all to large bowl. Mix together and add chocolate chips.

– Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet.

– Bake at 350 for 8 – 10  minutes or until edges are golden brown

…..and… Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients