Spirit-Filled Life

Early every morning
I walk around our backyard
admiring the plants
and Freddy walks with me.
I find inspiration
in the beauty of the hydrangeas.
The clematis.
The dill.
The eggplant.
The jalapenos.
The tomatoes.
The lettuce.
The basil and cilantro.
The parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
The butterfly bush.
The blue thistle.
The zinnias.
The Russian Sage.
The coral bells.
The coneflowers.
Such beauty and
Abundance.
Thank You God.

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Mother and Daughter

From a recent session.

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Happy Independence Day!

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.

Happy Independence Day!

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.

 

Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter

What is so special and delicious about last night’s dinner (pictured here) is not the baked beans, nor the grilled bison burger on a roll slathered with Tahini Butter, nor the freshly made dill pickles from yours truly, but it is the Steamed Sweet Potato with Tahini Butter and Toasted Sesame Seeds—a recipe from the NYTimes magazine. YUM!

A few weeks ago, Susan handed me the magazine section and said “This sweet potato recipe looks delicious. Would you make it for me? For us?”

And I did and I can’t wait to make it again.

Quoting Samin Nosrat (writing in The New York Times Magazine):

Carla Lalli Music, a food writer and editor, is vehemently opposed to roasting sweet potatoes. “I don’t understand why people are constantly roasting them,” she says. “Roasting just makes them more fibrous and leathery, and they never, ever really get crispy.” Instead, she posits that steaming performs a kind of alchemy on sweet potatoes that roasting never does — the moist heat fluffs them into absorbent clouds. And to make up for the inherent blandness of the cooking method, she slathers them with a rich tahini butter spiked with soy sauce, which immediately melts into a mouth-smacking sauce. Her simple recipe ends with a shower of golden sesame seeds and a torrent of lime juice. Try it — every bite will surprise you with crunch, salt, umami and acidity to counterbalance the sweetness of the pillowy potatoes.”

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes of any color (about 4 medium), washed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
  • ¼ cup well-stirred tahini
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated or pounded smooth with a pinch of salt
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Preparation

  1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket or footed colander. Place sweet potatoes in the steamer. Cover, reduce heat to medium and steam until potatoes are completely tender, 35 to 40 minutes. (Use a skewer or paring knife to check for doneness; the potatoes should be soft all the way through.)
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk butter, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic until smooth. It might seem as if the butter and liquids will never fully combine, but they will — just keep stirring! Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lime juice as needed.
  3. Set a small pan over medium heat. Toast the sesame seeds, swirling the pan continuously, until seeds are golden. They’ll give off some oil and start to clump together, so if needed, stir with a wooden spoon to keep them moving so that they toast evenly. They’ll turn a nice deep-golden shade just as they dry off a bit, about 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl to prevent them from overcooking.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are tender, use tongs to transfer them to a large plate or platter. When they are just cool enough to handle, split potatoes in half lengthwise, and season with flaky salt. Spread tahini butter generously onto the flesh, and top with sesame seeds. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

 

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Sunday Sunrise

“You have to want to see joy, God in the moment.”
~Ann Voskamp, “1000 Gifts

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Gifts

Yesterday I pruned the hydrangea plants

On Saturday the heather plants bloomed

Today I photographed the flowers in the living room

 

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.