Clematis Status

Clematis Avant Garde. It is a is a unique, double flowered climber which blooms profusely with a multitude of two-tone, magenta and pink flowers over a long period.

Susan bought me a few new T-shirts and one seemed to match the flower colors perfectly. So, here we have a self-portrait taken Sunday, June 2, 2021.

Getting My Garden Ready

Here in Western Massachusetts, we are told by those in the know (How they know, I do not know.) to wait until Memorial Day to plant your garden. I rototilled my garden on Monday, May 17th and planted it on Wednesday, May 19th. I guess I have always been a rule-breaker.

Self-portrait. And below the garden planted.

The garden late last summer:

Italian Wedding Soup

With a twist. The sausage meatballs!

I read about it on the editor of Bon Appetit’s Instagram page.

It is uncomplicated and oh so delicious. Better the next day, too!

Quoting Bon Appetit:

“This recipe takes all the right shortcuts and none of the wrong ones. We doctor up sweet Italian sausage for the meatballs, opt for adding canned beans instead of boiling pasta in a separate pot, and still manage to make an uber-flavorful soup without having to call for boxed chicken stock. It’s one-pot, one-bowl magic.”

Ingredients

1lb. sweet Italian sausage

¾cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

8 garlic cloves, dividedKosher salt

1 medium head of fennel with fronds

2 medium onions

½tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup dry white wine

14-oz. piece Parmesan with rind

1 15-oz. can cannellini (white kidney) beans

1 small head of escarole

Directions

  1. Cut shallow slits in each sausage link, then remove sausage from casings; transfer sausage to a medium bowl. Add ½ cup panko, 2 Tbsp. oil, and 2 Tbsp. water. Peel and finely grate 1 garlic clove on a microplane into bowl. Season lightly with salt and mix with your hands until breadcrumbs are evenly distributed.

2. Portion meat into small meatballs about 1″ in diameter (oil your hands to help with rolling if mixture gets sticky) and transfer to a plate. (Note: I made marble-sized meatballs.)

3. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a Dutch oven over medium. Add meatballs, spacing evenly apart, and cook undisturbed until first side is dark brown, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, turn meatballs and cook until other side is also well browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer back to plate and set aside.

4. Remove pot from heat and prep the rest of the soup ingredients: First, remove fennel fronds from 1 head of fennel and save for garnishing the soup. Cut fennel head in half lengthwise. Cut a V-shaped notch in each half to remove the core. Place halves cut side down, then thinly slice crosswise.

5. Peel and trim 2 onions. Cut in half lengthwise and coarsely chop.

6. Smash 6 garlic cloves (keep remaining clove for the end) and peel.

7. Place Dutch oven back over medium heat and add fennel, onion, and smashed garlic; season with salt and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are golden brown and softened, 6–8 minutes.

8. Stir in ½ cup wine and scrape bottom to dissolve any remaining stuck-on browned bits.

9. Add 8 cups water (Note: I used homemade chicken stock.) ; season generously with salt. Slice down along Parmesan rind to remove and add to soup; set cheese aside.

10 .Bring to a simmer, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered until broth is golden and flavorful, 25–30 minutes. Season with more salt if needed.

11. Open 15-oz. can beans and pour into a strainer or small colander. Rinse beans and shake to remove excess water, then transfer to pot along with meatballs. Bring back to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth is slightly thickened from beans and meatballs are cooked and have released some of their flavor into the broth, 10–15 minutes.

12. While soup is simmering, separate leaves from 1 head of escarole and rinse to remove any dirt. Tear into small pieces, then stir into soup in batches to wilt. Remove soup from heat.

13. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium. Finely grate remaining 1 garlic clove into skillet. Add remaining ¼ cup panko. Season with salt and cook, stirring often, until panko is golden, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

14. Prepare your other garnishes: Finely grate about ½ cup cheese from reserved hunk of Parmesan (you might not need it all). Finely chop fennel fronds.

15. Taste soup and season with salt if needed. Ladle soup into bowls and top with chopped fronds, grated cheese, and toasted panko.

Here I am about to add the escarole.

famous people famous places

My new book, Famous People Famous Places, arrived in yesterday’s mail.

I am very pleased with the printing and very moved by the photographs.

Photographs of New York City/Times Square and Hoboken, New Jersey, 1980s.

I had two copies printed at BLURB. Self-published. Now I need to find a publisher.

Here are a few spreads:

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”

In church today we read and prayed:

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.

~Psalm 31: 9-12

Susan turned to me as if to say, “This sounds like you.”

My body is tired. I suffer with stenosis and sciatica. I am in physical therapy. And my spirit is strong.

But I have my moments.

Will I have the strength to hike with my son in Colorado?

Will I have the strength to work in my garden?

Will I have the strength to stand in the kitchen and cook for Susan (Pictured here: salmon, her favorite)?

 

Will I have the strength to walk and stand for new portrait sessions?

When we returned home from church I read Psalm 39:

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Okay. Not so dire as this. But I am at the age where I ask “What are you going to do with your time?”

I am going to get stronger. I am going to hike. I am going to garden. I am going to continue to cook. I am going to continue photographing people—-and birds and butterflies and streams and landscapes. In all that I do I am going to give praise to the Lord!

And the title verse in complete: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, 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.  Photography and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

I Am Ageless

My birthday was March 7. Reading from The Daily Word on March 8:

“I am ageless and free.

“Just as fall turns to winter and winter to spring in some areas of the world, I experience changes in my life that may affect the way I look or feel about myself and others.

“Yet there is no change in my age or physical appearance or life that can alter the underlying truth: Through the spirit of God within, I am ageless and free from limitations.

“I am a living expression of God’s love and life. Young or young in spirit, I welcome each moment as an opportunity to find new ways to express my divine nature. God’s love in me frees me from the limitations of the past and inspires me to live joyously now.

“Like new buds in the spring, I am born anew each day. I am ready to follow where Spirit leads. I am ageless and free.

“Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his.—Daniel 2:20”
A self-portrait from my birthday:
self portrait

Pan Roast of Cod*, Pears and Caramelized Fennel

I share with you one of the BEST fish meals I have ever eaten. Another great recipe from Gail Monaghan.

Chef and Writer Gail Monaghan wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal about Fennel.

*The store did not have Cod so I used Haddock. I also cut the recipe ingredients in about 1/3.

Marinate fish: In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Rub marinade into 4 pounds cod fillets, skins removed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.
 Prepare vegetables: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove stalks and outer layers from 3 large bulbs fennel, and cut bulbs lengthwise into 8 parts each (reserve fronds for garnish). In a large ovenproof skillet or flameproof roasting pan, toss cut fennel with 4 large red onions, cut into 8 wedges each, 1 head garlic, broken into cloves and peeled, 2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds and seeds removed, 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon whole fennel seeds and 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. (Two skillets or pans can be used if necessary.) Place in oven and cook 25 minutes. Add 3 fairly hard pears, peeled, cored and cut into 4 wedges each, salt and freshly ground black pepperto taste and 1/4 cup fish stock (vegetable stock or water can be substituted) to skillet and continue to roast until vegetables are tender and deeply caramelized, 20-30 minutes more. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil.Increase oven temperature to highest setting. Place a baking sheet in oven for 5 minutes. Place cod fillets on hot baking sheet and cook until juices from fish turn from clear to opaque, 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of fillets. Remove from oven and transfer fillets to a large platter and keep warm.

Remove foil and reheat vegetables in oven until very hot, about 5 minutes. To serve, place vegetables around fish and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon fennel pollen (optional). Garnish with 1/2 cup chopped mixture of fennel fronds, parsley and chives.