Asparagus And Potato Salad

As Susan was heading out the door on her way to buy Shetland Salmon and Shrimp, she called out to me and said  “Bruce, while I am gone why don’t you make a potato salad to have with our salmon?”

I found a recipe online and adapted it to my liking.

Ingredients

  •  7-10 small potatoes (We buy these at our local grocery store; brand name is The Little Potato Company.)
  • 1 bunch of asparagus
  • 2 Tbs minced red onion
  • 2 Tbs minced parsley
  • 1 large handful of walnuts, chopped
  • 3-4 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  •  6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  •  1/2 cup roasted sweet red peppers, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut off tough ends of asparagus and then slice asparagus into one inch pieces.
  2. Slice potatoes in quarters and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a slow boil and cook for 12 to 15 minutes – until almost fork tender. Add asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic and black pepper. Add onion, parsley, walnuts, tomatoes, and peppers.
  4. Drain the potatoes and asparagus when ready, add to a bowl, add the vinaigrette to the warm potatoes and asparagus. Toss to coat the potatoes.

We served this with Grilled Shetland Salmon. The Shrimp Cocktail we had while watching The Belmont Stakes.

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.

Gardening Is About Patience

Yesterday, Susan bought me a basket
A box really, a cardboard box basket filled with herbs
Four white plastic pots, basil in one
Rosemary in another, oregano in one
Thyme in another, waiting to be
Planted in late May in my garden

Walking Freddy down our street
I see a man cut down a pine tree
He calls out to Dot and Jack
Also walking down the street
“Merry Christmas” I wonder why
He cut down the tree
I don’t stop to ask
He’s a smoker and I am not
And he’s not wearing a mask

Earlier in the day
Outside near the garden
Yet to be planted
Susan cut my hair
Short and if my head was flat
It might be used as a putting green
That is if you played golf

Walking into the kitchen
Susan said those are beautiful
Speaking of the shrimp spring rolls
And they were and they were
Delicious as was the shrimp stir-fry

I am in a place I love
With a woman I love
With a dog I love
With art and books I love
A few weeks ago we read
Shakespeare’s Sonnets
“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see
“So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

 

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.

Curried Apple, Squash, Sweet Potato Soup

I have always enjoyed the cookbook, “Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home,” so when Susan and I were at the town library recently and she pointed out to me a new cookbook, “Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates,” I said we had the check this out. And we did and I made this delicious curried, apple, squash, sweet potato soup!

Ingredients
Soup
2 cups chopped onions
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped butternut squash* (I oven-roasted this before adding to soup.)
2 cups peeled, cored and coarsely chopped apples
2 cups peeled and coarsely chopped sweet potatoes* (I oven-roasted this before adding to soup.)
4 cups water
* About 3 pounds of butternut squash and just less than 2 pounds of sweet potatoes will yield the right amount for this recipe.
Topping
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
10 ounces fresh spinach or mustard greens, rinsed and chopped
 
Directions
In a large nonreactive soup pot (it needs to be big), sauté the onions in the butter or oil until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  In a small dry skillet, toast the cumin and coriander seeds on low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until aromatic and lightly browned.  Cool for a few minutes and grind to a powder (I used a coffee grinder). Add the ground spices, salt, squash, apples, sweet potato, and water to the onions.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes, until all of the ingredients are thoroughly cooked and tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, sauté the garlic in the oil for about 1 minute on medium heat, stirring constantly, until soft and just golden. Add the greens and sauté on high heat until the water evaporates and the greens wilt.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
Purée the soup in small batches in a blender until smooth, adding about 1/4 cup of water if the soup is thicker than you’d like.  When ready to serve, gently reheat, ladle into shallow bowls, and top each serving with some of the sautéed greens.
I served the soup with this homemade bread with sage.


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.

Quiche–A Thanksgiving Tradition

Thanksgiving prepations for Susan and me begin a few weeks before the holiday.

We put our tree up early so our grandchildren can see it on Thanksgiving as we don’t see them on Christmas.

Here I am doing some menu-planning for the week.

And here is Sock Monkey guarding the grandchildren’s presents.

The grandchildren come over for breakfast, along with our daughter and son-and-law. We give them their Christmas gifts—clothes that they can wear on Christmas day. I have to give credit where credit is due; Susan buys all the Christmas gifts. She often consults with me about style and size.

Here’s Matthew opening his gift.

We watch the Macy’s Parade and the Westminster Dog show before they leave for dinner at Mike’s moms and we head to Connecticut for dinner at our niece and nephews home. This is the real tradition—all of this along with breakfast. Here’s the menu:

Here’s Emily wearing her new winter jacket; I love this photo.

Before I forget, I want to tell you about the gratitude pumpkin. That’s right—a gratitude pumpkin. Not a real pumpkin but a pumpkin made of 8 strips of orange paper. On each strip you write one thing you are grateful for. Susan and I made them in our 4th grade Bridges Together class. Then stable it together to form a pumpkin. Voila!

My writing (hand-writing that is) is not so good. This is what I wrote:

  • I am thankful for our grandchildren
  •  I am thankful for my wife, Susan
  •  I am thankful for my brother and sisters
  •  I am thankful for my friends
  •  I am thankful for my son & daughter
  •  I am thankful for our dog, Freddy
  •  I am thankful for our beautiful home
  •  I am thankful for my health (Not so sure if I am thankful for the kidney stones. After one operation I am drinking so much water I feel like the main character in John Irving’s “The Water-Method Man.” Who knows what 2020 has in store for me.)

So what about the quiche?

I hardly ever make a crust for my quiche. Why bother? And crustless means less calories for those like me who are working to lose weight! A goal for 2020 for sure.

You can add almost anything to this quiche: onion, bacon, sausage, spinach, peppers. In this quiche I added leek, mushrooms, and tomato.

Preheat oven to 375F

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup half & half and 1 cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash, oven-roasted at 400 for 30 minutes
  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • pinch of nutmeg or allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Grease a 10″ pie plate.

Roast butternut squash for about 30 minutes and then set aside to cool.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add half & half and heavy cream, salt and pepper, and nutmeg, and beat thoroughly. Then add your vegetables and cheese.  Mix well. Pour the mixture into your prepared pie plate. I added a few sliced mushroom to half of this because our grandson loves mushrooms. Who knew!

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 35–45 minutes. Maybe 50 minutes if your prefer a crusty top!

Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

One last tradition. We always listen to Alice’s Restaurant on Thanksgiving Eve or Day!

So, what are some of our family traditions? Name at least three and I will send you a Christmas Card!

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 Cardinal Who Came To Say Namaste

“I bow to the divine in you”.

Seeing a cardinal in a dream or vision is usually a good omen. They are often connected with the number 12 because they are around 12-months out of the year and they often lay 12 eggs. They also carry symbolism for Christians because they are red as the blood of Christ and they also represent his birth.

The word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. Like a door’s hinge, the cardinal is the hinge on the doorway between Earth and Spirit. They carry messages back and forth.

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.

Thus, when my friend Anita Siecker wrote about cardinals on her Instagram feed I was greatly moved by her beautiful, poetic and inspiring words as I have photographed cardinals hundreds of times.

She writes: “My mom LOVED cardinals! She loved watching hummingbirds and all birds, but cardinals were extra special to her……..The cardinals, male and female, have come to mean a whole lot to my heart, and all of my family’s hearts, since we lost Mom and Daddy. When you make deposits into Heaven you long for it all the more! Seeing cardinals outside in every season, feeding then and watching them crowd around our bird feeders, and having them sit in our trees and on our fenceposts makes us smile. We remember my parents in happy, loving ways…….It is said “When a cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from Heaven.” Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but I do like to think that our loving Heavenly Father, who is able to do anything He wants to do, does want to comfort us.”

When Anita saw the photo above online she asked if she could order a print from me. I printed one for her and surprised her with another cardinal photo. It’s all about love. As my friend Ann Voskamp says “Be the gift.”

I was especially moved by what Anita wrote on her Instagram feed, along with my photos, now framed, and hanging in her home: “I enjoy Bruce’s photography everyday…….He lives in gorgeous Massachusetts. He loves to photograph nature and food, and does beautiful portraits! He’s also a gourmet chef and published writer…….just a few things I admire about him! Mostly I admire and appreciate his heart full of gratitude.”

Now that last sentence really got to me! I almost cried!

As I look out the window in the home office  Susan and I share and I see a cardinal in a tree, at the birdfeeder or in the birdbath, I do imagine, I believe, it is a loved one, coming to say “Namaste.”

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.