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.

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.

Showers Bring May Flowers

The daylily

Still

Wet with this morning’s rain

Behind me

Garlic growing

Like a weed

In my garden

Both to bloom

In June

 

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.

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.