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.

 

 

Honoring Mary Oliver

People who know me well, know I love the poetry of Mary Oliver. I am not sure when I first discovered her, but I am going to guess it was in December 1999 when The New Yorker published her poem “Winter At Herring Cove.” I clipped it out of the magazine and it finds a home in whatever Oliver book I am reading at the time. I usually read a poem by her everyday! I bought many of her books. Susan bought me one, “Dog Stories.” And her mom bought me one, “Blue Horses.” My writing has been influence by her—and others, Gary Snyder, for example, and the Bible. In remembrance of her:

Here are a few inspiring quotes from Mary Oliver, along with some photos of mine.

Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it.

There are so many stories, more beautiful than answers.

Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?

And again this morning as always I am stopped as the world comes back wet and beautiful.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life  I was a bride married to amazement.  I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees – to learn something by being nothing.

Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?

And this poem, “Wild Geese.”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And, “I Ask Percy How I Should Live Me Life:”

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

 

 

 

Curried Cauliflower with Dahl

I don’t often cook with cauliflower. It’s not that I don’t want to, I like eating cauliflower, but cauliflower seems to turn brown if you don’t use it the day you buy it.

However,  here are two cauliflower meals I have made and both were delicious:

Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate, Mint and Tahini

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Capers and Raisins

And I have often substituted it for broccoli in pasta dishes.

A few  days ago I saw orange and purple-colored cauliflowers at the grocery store and I actually had a hard time choosing between the two colors. But, the orange cauliflower called out to me as a big ball of sunshine in the produce aisle. When I got home, Susan said “You bought cauliflower! I love cauliflower. What are you going to make?”

Quoting from the book (beautiful and informative book):  Produce, A Fruit and Vegetable Lover’s Guide:

“Cauliflower is hardly the most glamorous of vegetables but, like its siblings, the cabbages, it has been enjoyed through the ages. The ancient Romans doted on it, and then it fell victim to the barbarian scourge, disappearing for centuries. The Renaissance brought a reflowering of many things, the cabbage flower but one. And if we needed evidence that it finally arrived, a bit of culinary flattery would do it—and eighteenth -century French chef created a dish, probably a puree, that would forever link cauliflower with Louis XV’s Madame du Barry.

“Mark Twain called it ‘nothing but cabbage with a college education’ and he was reasonably accurate. Cauliflower is simply a cabbage that has been trained to produce firm bunches of flowers, and some modern varieties have even been educated to shelter the curd (the technical name) from sunlight by wrapping leaves around it. Less precocious varieties have been tied to effect the necessary blanching that produces a pale, delicately flavored result.”

Okay. Enough history and science. There will be no quiz. Let’s get on with the recipe!

This is really a recipe of curried vegetables from a great cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups red lentils or yellow split peas (I used red lentils.)
4 or 5 cups water (I used my homemade chicken stock.)
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 fresh green chile, minced (I used a jalapeno, seeded, from my garden.)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon mild curry powder (I used 2 tablespoons.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used a heaping teaspoon!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 cups water
1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups florets)
2 green or red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
10 ounces fresh spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Directions:

Rinse the lentils or split peas. Lentils cook faster and absorb less water than split peas, so use 4 cups of water for lentils, 5 cups of water for split peas. In a covered saucepan, bring the water and lentils or peas to a boil. reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and chile in the oil for several minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, curry powder, cumin, and ginger and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the 2 cups of water. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. Add the bell peppers, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the vegetables simmer, rinse, stem, and coarsely chop the spinach. Pour the lentils or peas and their cooking liquid into a blender or food processor, and puree for 2 to 3 minutes to make a smooth dahl. (I didn’t do this as the lentils were very much broken down.) When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the spinach, the dahl and the lemon juice. Simmer just until the spinach has wilted. Add salt to taste, and serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings

 

Roasted Pasta Primavera

My wife and I were having lunch and she asked me “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Why not make some past primavera? And be sure to add some squash. My mom always stir-fried squash for me; sometimes with scrambled eggs.”

And I did. So delicious.

Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 1¼ lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh vegetables cut into strips or diced (I used corn, squash, zucchini, red and green pepper—all from a local farm. And Japanese Eggplant, Jalapeno Peppers, and tomatoes—all from my garden. And some spinach.)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta + Sauce
  • One package of fresh Rana linguine
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden brown.
Pasta + Sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until melted and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then gently stir in the vegetables and Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.

Watermelon Chaat

Cool salad for a hot summer’s day. So refreshing!

I found this recipe in the New York Times. The reporter writes:

“This recipe for watermelon chaat, a savory fruit salad dressed in toasted cumin and dried mango powder, comes from Malika Ameen, a cookbook author whose Pakistani-American family in Chicago makes infinite variations on fruit chaat in the summer. You could swap out the watermelon for a mix of what’s in season, whether it’s stone fruit, berries or cubed apple and pear. It’s an ideal dish to break the fast during Ramadan, full of flavor and hydrating, and quick to put together.”

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds watermelon, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¾ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon amchur powder (dried green mango) (I didn’t use this.)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (a generous pinch if you like heat)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 orange, clementine or mandarin, juiced to make approximately 1/3 cup juice
  • ½ teaspoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 3 to 4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced (I used Chocolate mint.)
  • 1 small cucumber, halved, seeded, thinly sliced (My addition.)
  • 5 pieces of dried mango, thinly sliced (My addition.)

Preparation

  1. Place cubed watermelon in a wide platter with sides or in a large baking or serving dish and spread into a single layer.
  2. In a small pan, toast whole cumin seeds on medium heat for 3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove and coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle. (You can also grind in a spice grinder, but be sure not to grind to a fine powder as the coarse grains of the spice add a wonderful texture.)
  3. Transfer cumin to a small bowl and add all remaining spices and salt. Add citrus juice, jalapeño and mint and mix well. Pour dressing over cubed watermelon and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for 1 to 6 hours. Serve chilled the same day.

 

ROOTS

I had my DNA analyzed.
I analyzed my DNA.
I had expectorated into a test tube
and sent it off to Ancestry months earlier.
I was hoping for a surprise.
I was hoping to learn 
I had ancestors
From a country I did not know
About. But there was
No surprise.
Italy.
Great Britain.
Scandinavia. 
Maybe there was a surprise.
I see Scotland.
So maybe, just maybe
The following story is true:
Mary Queen of Scots
 
It is rumored from whom
 
I am descended, it says here
 
Questa famiglia originaria della Scoizia
 
E nobilissima in molte citta,
 
Ed e divisa in molti rami
 
The Barone family, my family
 
Originated from Scotland
 
Mary’s son King James VI of Scotland
 
Became King James I of England
 
King James great grand daughter married
 
The King of Itlay
 
It is noble in many cities and
 
Is divided into many branches it
 
Had many fiefs and illustrious men in court
 
In the magistrature, in the army
 
And in the church it was
 
Conferred high chivalrous honors and
 
Was vested with the holy orders
 
Of Malta from the 15th Century
 
It includes, as branches, the Counts
 
Of Casola and the Marchesi di Liveri
 
The title was granted in 1710
 
To the celebrated literary figure Domenico
 
Director, San Carlo Opera, Naples
 
Praised even by Giambattista Vico
 
In an assembly of praise of him
 
Made by the Academitrician in 1735
 
The family is listed in the Registry of Neopolitan
 
Feudal families and numbered among
 
The patricians of the Republic of Marino
 
The Republic was represented in Lisbon
 
By the Court of Casola and Marchese di Liveri
 
By Napoleon Barone son of Marchese Pasquale
 
Who had as his grandmother Maria Filomarina
 
Of the Principality of Bocca
 
Title to Alfrede Domenico Barone
 
Held from 1869-1952 also as the Count
 
Of Casoli in the Registry of Nobility
 
Melchizadek descendant of Pasquale
 
And likewise Alfred my father
 
Or so the story goes there is
 
A castle and a title
 
Or at the very least a story
 
That belongs to me in Italy
 
I write to know

 

 

Earth Day 2018

Reading from today’s Daily Word:

Earth Blessing
I live in harmony with the earth.

In 2004 Wangari Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work in Kenya through the Green Belt Movement. In her acceptance lecture she said, “We are called to assist the earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own—indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.”

I am part of a beautiful web of life; intricately woven so that my actions impact the entire web. I am a good steward of the earth’s resources as I am a good steward of my own body. Centered in divine wisdom, I use what I need in ways that support the renewal of the earth. I experience a sense of peace living in harmony with the earth.

And there is this:

“I’m very conscious of the fact that you can’t do it alone. It’s teamwork. When you do it alone you run the risk that when you are no longer there nobody else will do it.”
― Wangari Maathai, The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience.

The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.—Genesis 1:12

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.

Roasted Chickpea and Fennel Ratatouille

This is a great recipe. My wife Susan found it for me and suggested that I make it.

If you have made Ratatouille on the stove-top, adding ingredients one at a time, you are going to love this. Rich and hearty. So delicious. And so easy to prepare!

The recipe is from Mark Bittman and he writes:

“This ratatouille with chickpeas and fennel is among the best I’ve ever made. It’s a recipe for what you might call A Vegan Day. Being a vegan is not my point, and anyway, it’s as easy to create an unhealthy full-time vegan diet as it is to eat brilliantly as a part-time vegan.

“When fruits and vegetables are at their best, they give you insight into how the vegan thing can work for you, if only for a day. And given a moderate degree of freshness, most conventional vegetables from ordinary supermarkets can be made to taste good when gardens go dormant.”

Ingredients

  • 1 pound eggplant (smaller is better), peeled if you like, and cut into large chunks
  • ¾ pound zucchini, cut into large chunks
  • 1 pound Roma (plum) tomatoes, cored and chopped, or 1 28-ounce can, drained
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and sliced (I didn’t have these so I used 3 seeded and sliced jalapeno peppers.)
  • 1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into large chunks
  • 5 garlic cloves, halved
  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or rosemary, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or parsley

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Combine all ingredients except oil, chickpeas and herbs in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with oil and toss to combine.
  2. Transfer to oven and roast, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender and some water has been released from the tomatoes to create a sauce, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Add chickpeas, stir and return to oven until beans heat through, 5 to 10 minutes. Add herbs and stir. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

 

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.