The Silent Joys Of Everyday Life

Sunday morning I photographed the weeping cheery tree. In the afternoon I travelled to Vienna, Austria. Budapest, Hungary. Top of South Island, New Zealand. The British Virgin Islands. I loved visiting Virgin Gorda and Anegada-Davida, also known as “Drowned Island” (It’s highest elevation is only 28 feet above sea level.) and “Conch Island.”

Last week I was in Qatar. The week before I was in Japan.

I love Japanese food and often make it for Susan. My children (And grandchildren!) love Tamago-Yaki.

I have also made Shrimp Sushi.

And Miso Haddock.

But when I was in Qatar (All these trips, by the way, on my couch watching documentaries on Create TV! My new way of life: I wake up at 5:30. Get dressed. Walk Freddy. Sit on the couch. Watch TV. Sometimes read. But not often enough. I have been fairly unmotivated during the Covid-19 Quarantine.) visiting a few Persian restaurants I said to myself “Bruce, I think you have never made Persian food.” So that night I made Kotlet which is a Persian Meat Pattie (ground beef, lamb or turkey with grated potato, grated onion and turmeric). I served this with Persian rice and Baked Spring Rolls (Not Persian) stuffed with ground turkey, veggies, and chopped peanuts. Both the spring rolls and Kotlet I served with a spicy peanut soy sauce. Delicious!

I am sitting at my desk now–not on the couch watching TV. I look out the window at my garden and see a large root that needs to be cut and removed.

And I dream of the garden in bloom later this summer. I am working on having eyes to the future. My garden planted and thriving. Tomatoes. Peppers. Basil. Lettuce. Zinnias. Thriving in the same way I pray our world comes back to life.

Recently a Cardinal was at the feeder in the garden.

I am occasionally working on my cookbook.

Someone asked me for my Chicken Parm recipe when she saw the photo on Facebook. I said buy the cookbook when it is published.

Susan and I busy ourselves working on jigsaw puzzles, a new-found hobby as it has become for many people around the world. We have completed two puzzles, each taking three to four weeks.

We celebrate the silent joys of everyday life.

Dinner. This was a plate of Roasted Miso Chicken (Japanese, again), Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce.

A Robin’s nest and eggs in a wreath on our front door.

New wine glasses.

And what good are new wine glasses without bottles of wine!

We bake bread.

We give thanks every morning we are alive and together to see another sunrise, another day.

We laugh at the sign-of-the-times at a nearby restaurant.

We have a tree removed from our yard.

Seems like ages ago we sat outside and enjoyed a glass of wine on one of the few plesant days during the past six weeks of quarantine. We grilled a steak for dinner, too–the first of the year.

It was around this time (March 11) schools were closed and our volunteering in the 4th grade here in town came to an end. We miss these children.

And no one came over for Easter. Baseball season never started. The greenhouse didn’t open. No markers of time. It is difficult to remember what day of the week it is. Today is Monday. Yesterday was Sunday. I know this to be true. The Sunday New York Times arrived early in the morning. We work on the crossword together. What is 119 across; “Like the entire 290-page Georges Perec novel “A Void,” curiously enough?” Rituals get us through the day. Coffee and toast. Cleaning the house. Walking Freddy. If someone comes down the street we keep a wise social distance. When we go out to the grocery store we wear our masks. We try not to touch our faces. We wash our hands. Again and again.

Who knows. We might become vegetarians. We might. I don’t know. I don’t mind. We have a few wonderful vegetarian cookbooks. I have always wanted to make a Black Bean Burger. A few weeks ago I made a Beet Burger. Yum! And the Lentil Caciatore I made a few weeks ago was delicious.

But just a few days ago Susan asked me to make Italian Wedding Soup with tiny turkey meatballs. And I did. And it, too, was delicious.

Do you know that the tiniest birds make the most beautiful songs?

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spicy Moroccan Chickpea, Sweet Potato Stew

Not too long ago, Susan returned from the grocery store with what seemed like dozens of cans of Chick Peas. What, I thought, am I going to do with all these cans of chick peas? I often make Hummus but what else could I create. Salads? Soups?

I found many soup recipes online and was inspired by this one, “20-Minute Moroccan Chickpea Soup.” I note my changes and additions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced (I used a Vidalia Onion.)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (My addition.)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I used 2.)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (I used 8 cups Homemade Chicken Stock. 4 didn’t seems like enough.)
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained (I used 1 can.)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (I don’t like fire-roasted. I used regular diced tomatoes.)
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped into bit-size pieces (My addition.)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste (I used paste from a tube.)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used 1 tablespoon. We love cumin!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (I used at least 1/4+ teaspoon!)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups roughly-chopped kale leaves or baby spinach (I used 7+ ounces Collard Greens—we love them!)
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (My addition. I had this in fridge as I roasted a chicken the night before–and then made the stock.)
  • chopped fresh cilantro and fresh lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onioncelery and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent.  (To save time, mince the garlic while the onion is cooking.)  Then add garlic and saute for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.  Add in the stock, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato paste, sweet potato, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes, and bring to a simmer.  (While the soup is coming to a simmer, chop the kale/collard greens and cilantro, and slice the lemon wedges.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low, and stir in the chopped kale/collard greens.  Continue simmering for 3 minutes until the kale has slightly softened. Note: The collard green take 20-30 minutes to cook!
  3. Taste and season with your desired amount of salt and pepper.  (I used a generous pinch of each.)
  4. Serve warm, garnished with fresh cilantro and served with a fresh lemon wedge.

~~~

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

Spicy Shrimp Vegetable Tomato Soup

Last January, Susan said, “Bruce, Will you make soup for us every day during this month?” And, I did. I am making soup every day this January, too, more because we’ve been sick since New Year’s Eve. UGH! On Friday night, I made a Shrimp and Vegetable Spicy Tomato Soup. Delicious! And for lunch on Saturday I used the leftover tomato soup to make a Tomato Wild Rice Soup. Also delicious.

See recipe below. Note: the recipe called for fennel, which I love (Remember my Kale, Kielbasa, Fennel, White Bean and Tortellini Soup?), but the store didn’t have any. I consulted my smartphone and learned that celery is a good substitute for fennel. Plus. I added Star Anise.

The Star Anise really helped to spice up the soup as did the Bloody May mix 🙂

Here’s the Tomato and Rice Soup:

On Sunday I made a Mushroom Barley Soup:

OH! And earlier in the week, I made a Fish Chowder. YUM!

All recipes based on ones from The Soup Bowl, a great cookbook!

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

Portrait Of A Young Woman

Lauren. Grand Niece. Scholar Athlete.

Christmas Eve. 2019/

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

Good Advice for The New Year

Begin here. Begin now. Be here now.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

Portrait Of A Young Woman

My grand niece.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

About October

I began the month with great expectations. Read the Bible daily. Practice yoga daily. Write daily. This I didn’t accomplish.

But Susan and I did begin a new season of volunteering in the Bridges Together Program .

Here are two of our students–4th graders.

I made some delicious food.

Here is a meatloaf with mushroom gravy.

Blueberry Scones.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones.

A Berry Galette.

Fig Chutney, which was so good served with chicken and oven-roasted Gen Tso’s cauliflower.

And since we have both fighting colds this past week, chicken soup.

Susan made a wonderful white chocolate cake. YUM!

One night we went out for dinner at 99 Restaurant and I had a sweet potato crusted haddock. I tried to replicate it at home with cod. Not as good, but still special.

Our garden continued to bring us great joy.

As did our Freddy. And Susan continued to sponsor the Nepali children in soccer.

I also had the opportunity to photograph my friend Beth and her family. I photographed her family last winter and I photographed her wedding a number of years ago.

 

And my friend Hajer.

And here is your humble author and friend. A self-portrait with my better half from October 3. She is my rock and inspiration. She is helping me get through some medical issues; this week I am having the first of two or three operations to remove kidney stones. Earlier in the month I thought I might have one as I have had them before; my back hurt and there was some blood in my urine. A CT Scan and Cystoscopy this month revealed two large stones and numerous small ones.

The long and short of all this is I AM reading the Bible, practicing yoga, praying, writing every day for now on. Thank You Susan for your continued inspiration. I love you. Keep smiling.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome October

I love October!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” wrote L.M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables.

Me, too!!!

Picture-perfect evidence of God’s majesty surround us.

Magnificent autumn leaves invite us to see the beauty that envelops us.

At Mittineague Park, the park down the street from where we live.

Or at Blair Lake on the outskirts of the Berkshires.

Of course, there are all those pumpkins!

Sometimes, we receive a surprise snow storm in October.

October light helps me create beautiful portraits, too.

Here are a few dinner and deserts I have made in October (Lentil Soup, Beef Stew, Butternut Squash with Scallops, North African Meatballs, Apple Pie and Cherry Cobler):

Yes, my friends, I made pasta and pizza, too. And fish–like these Panko Coconut Crusted Scallops:

October brings cooler nights; sweater and sweatshirt weather (Pictured here yours truly and my beloved wife, Susan.).

Our dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle loves playing amongst the autumn leaves.

A few final thoughts. One of my favorite poems, “Kicking Leaves,” by Donald Hall begins:

Kicking the leaves, October, as we walk home together

from the game, in Ann Arbor,

on a day the color of soot, rain in the air;

I kick at the leaves of maples,

reds of seventy different shades, yellows

like old paper; and poplar leaves, fragile and pale;

and elm leaves, flags of a doomed race.

I kick at the leaves, making a sound I remember

as the leaves swirl upward from my boot,

and flutter; and I remember

Octobers walking to school in Connecticut,

wearing corduroy trousers that swished

with a sound like leaves; and a Sunday buying

a cup of cider at a roadside stand

on a dirt road in New Hampshire………

Read more here.

One last thought. Music. A favorite album/CD of ours is “When October Goes, Autumn Love Songs.” Music by Christine Lavin, John Gorka, Patty Larkin, Cheryl Wheeler and others. You can get your copy here.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

 

 

 

The Last Day of Summer

Today, Sunday, September 22, is the last day of summer. I am not sorry to say goodbye to summer. Oh, there were many great times. The time Susan, Freddy and I went to Art in the Orchard.

And a trip to Lost Acres Vineyard and Lost Acres Orchard last week for the town’s annual Farm Day. Afterwards (We really made a day of it!) we stopped at Black Rabbit Farm for a beer and food for dinner.

Susan and Freddy at Lost Acres Vineyard.

The field at Black Rabbit Farm. We let Freddy off leash and he had such a blast running around as we enjoyed out beer.

The garden looked beautiful throughout the summer, especially the zinnias, but my tomato and eggplant harvest was a great disappointment.

Early in the summer the clematis plants on the arbor brought great beauty and joy to us.

One of my favorite butterfly photos (It is so hard to choose a favorite! I photographed them every day—even today!) is this one from July:

A highlight, for me, was practicing yoga every morning near the arbor.

Of course, Freddy brings us great joy every day. He’s such a good boy!

One day when I was playing catch with Freddy with a small black ball and it rolled through the garden. It took me a long time to find it and as I was looking for it I found a butterfly I had never seen before, a Black and Blue Swallowtail, I believe. I wondered, for a brief second or two, if the black ball had magically turned into a butterfly.

Susan made many delicious deserts, like this Berry Cake:

Some of my food favorites from the summer include Cucumber Gazpacho, Tomato Soup, Grilled Scallops with White Beans and Spinach, and Shrimp and Rice:

I was thankful to be asked to photograph a mom, Bana, and her baby, Rosey, every month for 12 months.

Here is a photo from July that I just love because it illustrates the beauty Susan and I have created in our home. Plus, it shows two of my favorite photos.

Probably the highlight of our summer was winning the Western Mass News / Big Y Backyard BBQ. Susan had been trying and trying and trying to win and one Friday night we got a phone call from a reporter and he said “Susan, you just won the Backyard BBQ.” We invited 20+ plus people over—neighbors and friends. We had such a wonderful time and the people from Big Y and Western Mass News were awesome! Big Y supplied the food and did the cooking!

And now I give thanks for the times Susan and I spend in our backyard enjoying a glass of wine or cocktail before dinner.

There were a number of family get-togethers, too. A visit from our son and his girlfriend, a BBQ at our niece and nephews house (I always enjoy the opportunity to photograph their daughter, Lauren), and our grandson’s 4th birthday party!

I would be remiss not to say something about Susan. My wife. My best friend. My guide. My inspiration. Every day I give thanks that she is in my life. She is an amazing person.

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.

 

 

Beauty

I went looking for beauty and I found it in my garden.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. 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.