One Step At A Time

Susan sent me this Mary Oliver poem yesterday. I thought I had read every poem by her. I was wrong. And this one really spoke to me.

“Praying”

It doesn’t have to be the blue iris, 

it could be weeds in a vacant lot,

or a few small stones;

just pay attention, then patch a few words together

and don’t try to make them elaborate,

this isn’t a contest

but a doorway into thanks,

and a silence in which another voice may speak.

I had my website redesigned well over one year ago by Diane Ensey with the thought I wanted to encourage my self to write more often and to find artful ways to combine words and photography. Oh, the photos keep coming. The words have not.

But this poem speaks volumes to me about just do it. Just get started. A beginning begins somewhere. So I have made a commitment to “patch a few words together.”

And somehow, for me, this relates to something else: walking.

I went for a walk yesterday. A long walk. A one hour walk. Oh, I have been walking every day but that’s short walks with Freddy, our dog. And that’s not so much walking as walk, stop, sniff, walk, stop, sniff, pee (Freddy, of course), walk, stop, pee again, walk, stop, poop.

Last summer I walked 4-5 miles everyday. Wait. Was that last summer? Or the summer before? Not sure. And who cares. The important fact is that I am back to walking. But I do need new walking sneakers; I came home yesterday with a big blister on the left heel. Ouch!

And this photo above? That’s what I saw on my walk. Thank you. One step at a time.

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

Today and Tranquility

A new Instagram friend wrote to me yesterday:

“There’s a certain tranquility in your photography. Art at its best.”

Often, it is the smallest things for which I am most grateful.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

Greek-Style Watermelon Salad

A new favorite! Perfect for summer picnics!

Quoting Mark Bittman, The New York Times/Cooking:

It’s not an immediately obvious combination – watermelon, cucumber, olives and feta – but one bite will leave you convinced that this savory-sweet summer salad is something truly special. The astringent punch of the olives and feta provides a sophisticated counterpoint to the watery mellowness of the melon and cucumber. With a hunk of bread, it’s a lovely light lunch; with practically any grilled meat or fish, it’s an ideal summer supper.

I served it with grilled wild salmon and grilled chicken breasts with Harissa.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 small red onion
  • cup pitted kalamata olives
  • cup crumbled feta (I used goat cheese.)
  • Some chopped parsley and mint
  • Olive oil and red-wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl combine 3 cups cubed watermelon; 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped; 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped; 1 small red onion, sliced; 1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives; 1/3 cup crumbled feta; and some chopped parsley and mint. Drizzle with olive oil and red-wine vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss and serve.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Israeli Couscous, Bean and Tomato Salad

Simply delicious.

Quoting Martha Rose Shulman writing in The New York Times/Cooking:

Finely chopped tomatoes seasoned with garlic, balsamic vinegar and basil serve as both dressing and vegetable in this main dish salad.

I’ve been making tomato concassée all summer and using it as a sauce for pasta and fish. I decided to use it as a stand-in for salad dressing in this hearty salad, a simple combination of cooked Israeli couscous and beans. I used canned pinto beans, and they were just fine. Chickpeas would also work. Use lots of basil in the mix. The red onion contributes some crunch. You can add a little celery if you want more texture. Make sure to use sweet, ripe, juicy tomatoes. I love the finishing touch of the feta, but it is optional.

Ingredients

  • ¾ pound ripe, sweet tomatoes, finely chopped (about 1 1/3 cups chopped)
  • 1 plump garlic clove, puréepureed with a little salt or put through a press (I minced the garlic.)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar (more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans (or other beans of your choice) (if using canned beans, drain and rinse)
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
  • ½ to ⅔ cup chopped red onion
  • cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Romaine lettuce leaves for serving
  • Feta cheese for topping (about 1/2 cup, optional) 

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, combine finely chopped tomatoes, garlic, salt, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Add beans and Israeli couscous and toss together. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes (or longer).
  2. Meanwhile, place chopped onion in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Soak 5 minutes, drain and rinse. Drain on paper towels and add to couscous and bean mixture. Add basil, chives, and pepper, and toss together.
  3. Line plates or a platter with lettuce leaves. Top with salad. Sprinkle feta over the top and serve.

Tip

  • To cook Israeli couscous: Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the couscous. Toast the couscous, shaking the pan or stirring often, until it colors very lightly and smells aromatic and toasty, a bit like popcorn. Immediately add 2 quarts water and salt to taste (be generous, as if you are cooking pasta) and boil 10 minutes, until the couscous is al dente; it should not be mushy and there should still be plenty of water in the pot. Drain through a strainer and rinse with cold water. Tap the strainer against the sink to drain well, then return the couscous to the pot, cover the pot with a kitchen towel, and return the lid. Let sit for 10 minutes.

 

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Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Psalm 23 New International Version (NIV)

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Motherly Love

I love this photo.

Susan. My wife. My best friend.

She had just gotten a new cut and color at Frankenhair in Westfield, Massachusetts. A salon on School Street that has “been bringing hair back to life since 2014.”

Keep this in mind: back to life.

And for a minute let’s consider what we learned in college about Dr. Frankenstein and his creation, the “monster.”

I suggest as the doctor is the father of the monster, the creation, he too has the name Frankenstein. This is, in fact, what has happened in our culture; we have everything from “Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein” to “Son of Frankenstein” and many more, including, of course, Frankenhair.

But I digress. Let’s imagine that Frankenstein is representative of the bullied, the down-trodden, the lonely, the immigrant, the fatherless. I could go on, but I hope you get the picture.

So what is it about this photo and motherly love? First, I think the photo is funny and expresses Susan’s loving and perfect spirit. Second, she blesses everyone, male or female, the bullied and the immigrant, the fatherless and the needy, the down-trodden and the lonely.

She nurtures people. She encourages people. She believes in a person’s potential for good–and blesses them with motherly love bringing them back to life. Just as she has received a divine love , she gives love in return–sharing comfort and understanding.

She is blessed with the motherly love of God and she is an expression of this motherly love.

And she inspires me daily.

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

Moroccan Pot Roast

You will love the way your house fills with the aromas of coriander, ginger, cumin, cinnamon!

Ingredients

For the spice mix

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (to taste) crushed red pepper flakes (or if available, Marash or Aleppo pepper*)

For the beef

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (3-pound or 1.35 kg) beef chuck roast
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water
  • 1 cup (235 ml) pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup loosely-packed chopped fresh parsley

For serving (optional)
Couscous
Glazed carrots

Directions

1 Make the spice mix: In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, coriander, turmeric, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, paprika and pepper.

2 Heat the oven: Set an oven rack near the bottom of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (or 160°C).

3 Season and sear the meat, then add vegetables, spices: Sprinkle the roast all over with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven or other oven-safe pot with a lid, heat the oil. Add the beef and brown it on all sides, about 4 minutes per side.

Add the onion, carrots and bay leaves to the pot. Stir in the spice mix.

4 Braise the meat: Add the water and pomegranate juice to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in a 325°F (or 160°C) oven for 2 1/2 hours, turning once halfway through the cooking time.

When the meat is fork tender, remove it from the oven. (If it is not tender enough, leave it in a little longer.)

5 If serving with couscous and glazed carrots, prepare these when the pot roast is close to being done.

6 Finish the sauce: Transfer the meat to a platter and cover loosely with foil.

Set a strainer over a bowl and pour the sauce through. Press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and skim off the fat from the liquid. Add the lemon juice and taste. Add more salt and pepper, if you like.

 Serve the pot roast: Slice the meat and serve in shallow bowls on top of the couscous and carrots. Ladle the sauce over the meat and sprinkle with parsley.

Note: I did not strain the sauce. It did not need it. I served the carrots from the pot and made “Ancient Grains.”

Based on a recipe from Sally Vargas.

 

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The Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe–Baked, Not Fried!

Just look at this photo!!!

YUM!

A healthy version of General Tso’s Chicken.

Ingredients:

4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-sizes pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil baking dish. I used a 10 X 12.
  2. Place chicken in large bowl and mix with cornstarch.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, paprika, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour over chicken and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Pour this mixture into baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, and bake for another 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
  7. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions–if desired.

 

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Garden Gate

Today

We hear

The rain

Before we see it

Falling on the roof

Smashing against the windows

I see

Two make cardinals in the garden

And two female cardinals

A dove and two sparrows

In the far corner

I see a gate

A garden gate

Now supporting

The growing clematis

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

Day In A Life

Another gray day

Here

In Western Massachusetts

But beautiful

In its own way

Like a painting

Or drawing

Pretty as a picture

No lawn mowing

For me today

Reading

And cooking

 

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.