One day not too long ago, Eric came to me and said, “I think we should upgrade our camera. I want to try to take pictures of lightening.”
Um. Okay. I guess?<<cough, cough NERD ALERT! cough, cough>>
He added quickly, “And you can use it for your blog too.”
Oh. Well, in that case….I’m listening.
I’ve been thinking about the camera upgrade for a while but found myself reluctant to take the plunge. I’m not sure I have the photographer gene in me. I mean, I do okay here on the bliggity-blog. As my short, stocky, slow-witted, bald friend Mr. Georgey C. would say “Not showing off, not falling behind.”
Photos are generally bright and clear. Food is identifiable. There are recipes that haven’t been blogged because the photos were not up to my (albeit perhaps lower than yours) standards, so I like to think I have some self-awareness in this area. Do I consider myself a photographer? No. Did I start this blog because I was really excited about taking pictures of my dinner? Honestly, that’s a big, fat negative.
Sigh. But photos are important. So I do try.
When a friend of ours recently offered to let us borrow his Nikon dSLR for a few days to try it out, I jumped at the chance. Try before I buy? Yes, please!
So he hauls this piece of equipment over to our house. The bag holding this stuff may or may not be too big for the overhead compartment. Please see an associate to check your camera bag. (Kidding, kidding…) He got about as far as turning it on before my head started to spin and panic set in.
Wait! What am I doing? It took me forever to locate the play button on the DVD remote, how am I supposed to work this thing? I can’t do this! Stop, stop! I wanna get off!
And so our friend left this very expensive and highly breakable piece of equipment in my care. Me. Accidental Dropper of Things. Eternal Mess Maker.
After tooling around (very carefully) with it for a while and getting nowhere, I had a brilliant idea – the manual! YES! I can read. The manual will help.
The manual did not help.
The manual assumes I have basic knowledge of photography terminology.
I do not.
F-stop means nothing to me. ::hangs head in shame::
The manual attempts to show the difference in the setting with tiny little black and white pictures that look exactly the same.
I can’t see the difference. ::hangs head in shame::
This thing is scary…
I know these things take practice, but how to practice when you don’t know where to begin? See, this is why I love writing about food way more than I love taking it’s picture. I learned to work a pencil and paper somewhere around the age of 5. At 10, I learned how to type with my fingers on the right keys. Nothing much has changed with these two items since then and they probably never will. I’ve been scribbling in notebooks and filling blank word docs for so many years, it’s comforting to know they will always be there. The latest and greatest digital camera will become obsolete. Words from the heart are forever.
Ahhh. Hello, old friends.
So maybe I’m no photog. Maybe I’ll have to send that fancy camera back across town to it’s owner without taking one decent picture with it. And that’s okay. Because I feel like my identity with this blog lies within the words. I hope that’s at least part of the reason why you keep coming back. It’s certainly why I do. 🙂 WORD NERDS! Holla!
Oh, who am I kidding. I want to take pretty pictures too!! Please help me. Oh my gosh, I feel like such a camera dummy. I am overwhelmed to the point of anxiety. If you started from the bottom up with your DSLR, what were some of the resources that helped you? How long did it take you to feel comfortable? I want to hear about your experience!
And now for something truly poetic. Lyrical even. Something that dances and sings on the tongue. Silky smooth, creamy, the butteriest of butternut squash soups. Simple and healthy to boot. And with a dollop of smokey roasted red pepper puree in each bowl, it’s downright literary.
Actually, it’s not a bunch of word fluff. It’s a bunch of delicious! I made this soup as the first course for my Project Food Blog luxury dinner party. Upon finishing, I was promptly removed from the competition. Hmpf. But that’s neither here nor there. 😉 This pureed soup is super simple to make, especially if you have a stick blender. With the natural sweetness of the squash, the warmth of the citrus zest and thyme and the toasty yumminess of the squash seeds, this is an easy dish that tastes like something special.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP WITH ROASTED RED RED PEPPER PUREE (Recipe Source: Gourmet, November 2003 via Epicurious.com)
Here’s a not so fantastic photo taken with my not so fantastic camera. 😉
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 1/4 cups chopped onions
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 2 1/2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces (reserve seeds)
- 5 1/2 cups (or more) vegetable broth (I used chicken broth. I just like the flavor better.)
- 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
- Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add squash and 5 1/2 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until squash is soft, about 40 minutes. Cool slightly.
- Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return puree to pot. Add 1 teaspoon thyme and orange peel. Thin soup with more broth if desired. Simmer 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving, thinning with more broth if desired.)
For the red pepper puree:
For the toasted squash seeds:
- Seeds from one 2.5 lb. butternut squash
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt, pepper and cumin to taste
Rinse the squash seeds to remove any excess fibers. Spread in a single layer on a paper towel to drain and dry completely. Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and ground cumin. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until golden brown and crunchy, 8 to 10 minutes.
One Year Ago: My favorite Beer Cheese Bread. Made this again just a couple weeks ago. Stuffed. My. Face.
Two Years Ago: My grandma’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was JUST thinking about these. Must make. Now. 🙂