Mystical shots from the treasure trove (Yellowstone)

Brrrr…it’s starting to get cold! But we will be warmer for Thanksgiving not only from eating too much hot food but also from being in San Diego. I hope to get out Friday morning for a photo shoot in La Jolla before my critique group meeting.

My writing pace has fallen off and my NaNo goal of 100,000 words is history. Even getting to 50,000 is highly at risk. But it’s not over ’til it’s over, you know?

I have been organizing my photos, getting them off my computer because my disk space is maxing out. In the process I have been feeling for what of past photos most excites me today. Well the answer for today, November 23 2015, is Yellowstone.

The mystical quality of Yellowstone National Park still amazes me. I have some shots I developed before and some ones I developed today.

This first batch is from my earlier work.

Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone
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Looking toward the Old Faithful Lodge

The softness in the colors and mist belies the volcanic action creating those effects!

Here is the batch I developed today using Lightroom to emphasize the mysterious quality of Yellowstone.

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This week I am looking forward to seeing friends and family and taking photos in La Jolla. What are you looking forward to this week?

Thanksgiving menu, the keepers and the never agains

I thought of this post as I was making this stuffed kabocha squash because my plan was NEVER AGAIN! Ugh, it was awful trying to cut off the top of the squash. It might has well have been a rock. I did get the cleaver in about a millimeter then called for my husband. He managed to get through it, not low enough, but I just cut through the inner meat until I found the seed cavern. I cut up the little bits of squash that I had to cut away on my excavation and threw them into the center, once I cleaned out the seeds. Then the recipe proceeded mostly as planned. This was from a recipe in Sunset Magazine 2010, the contest winners. I use it every year for one of the recipes I’ll explain in a moment. This was the first time I tried the squash. We decided to modify the sauce for the veggies massively, to make it sweeter, low fat, and to lose the Asian taste (soy sauce).

Stuffed Kabocha Squash
Stuffed Kabocha Squash

Unfortunately, it was SO GOOD!!!! that it is on the keeper list. Next year we’re going to try to cut through it with the electric carving knife, but I think that will wreck the carving knife. I want my husband to get a clean blade for the Sawzall.

This year I also tried making the fresh cranberry relish that has lemon zest instead of oranges and with chopped ginger. The recipe called for crystallized ginger, but my husband said to use fresh instead. Well, I used the same amount of fresh that the recipe had called for as crystallized, and when I tasted it, my mouth exploded. We added more cranberries (thankfully we bought the jumbo bag at Costco) and more sugar, and after it was chilled, it came out really tasty. Powerful, but tasty. I also made the regular kind with just an orange and sugar.

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

The cranberry duet is also a keeper.

My husband smoked the turkey. It was incredible.

Smoked turkey
Smoked turkey

Verdict: keeper.

He made a totally vegetarian stuffing, using those vegetarian sausages you can get at Costco now. He used the chorizo flavored one, another idea from the same magazine. Sorry the photo is blurry. I was too bleary eyed from cooking and cleaning all day to notice!

Fresh Cranberry Relish, on with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest
Fresh Cranberry Relish, one with oranges, one with ginger and lemon zest

And for the grand finale, (I already know I’m stuck making this every year…just kidding, I enjoy baking), sweet potato cheesecake with maple cream (not shown). This is why I open that old magazine every year. The fam has to have this.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake
Sweet Potato Cheesecake

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, what did you have, and did you enjoy it? Do you have any Never Agains? If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, does your country or household have any feast-oriented holidays? If so what do you like to eat and/or cook for that holiday?

Thanksgiving, recap

I wasn’t going to do this because after all, everyone in the U.S. who cooks the traditional fare, cooks basically the same thing on Thanksgiving. But I didn’t see too many other Thanksgiving feast food photos in my reader, so here they are.

Here is the table. After we discovered I had turned off the oven where my husband was baking the stuffing, and it had been off for half an hour, I decided to drink some of the sherry I used for my squash recipe. The wine glass is a gift from my friend and critique partner, so it’s a nice reminder of one of the people in my life for whom I am very thankful.

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All the way back in 2005, Sunset Magazine did a contest for Thanksgiving and put all the recipe winners in their September (I think) issue. I use that magazine every year to make this because my husband and mother in law love it. It’s not super sweet, which they prefer, and it’s quite fluffy and light (though not low-cal).

Sweet potato maple cream cheesecake with a graham cracker and pecan crust
Sweet potato maple cream cheesecake with a graham cracker and pecan crust

That magazine also has a recipe for stuffed kabocha squash. I noticed these squash at the store this year so I decided to go for it. I’m so glad I did. It was fantastic, tho’  the photo’s a tad blurry.

Kabocha squash stuffed with veggies and glazed with a sauce of Worcestershire, soy sauce, sherry, cumin, cayenne and butter and olive oil
Kabocha squash stuffed with veggies and glazed with a sauce of Worcestershire, soy sauce, sherry, cumin, cayenne and butter and olive oil

The turkey was my husband’s masterpiece. It finished a couple hours sooner than we expected, necessitating a bit of an acceleration in the kitchen as I had been using the long afternoon to write a new scene in my work in progress novel. The turkey stayed on the barbie for another hour, on low, gently smoking to a crispy-skinned exterior while retaining a succulent interior (due to being stuffed with quartered oranges):

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He also made the best cranberry-orange relish I’ve ever tasted, with the mushy part being pleasantly sweet from sugar and the best orange crop ever from one of our trees, and contrasting with lots of whole and nearly whole cranberries which burst upon the tongue with freshness and a tangy tartness.

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I am thankful for my health, for my family, for my friends, for having enough to eat, for all the variety of life, and for being a writer. I am also thankful for a new habit I have of thinking about things I like and appreciate for a minute and a half, first thing upon waking every day. This new habit is better than coffee for setting up a joyful day. I recommend it.

I signed a pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving. I am also not going to shop today! So there! I’m going to do my favorite thing: write.

Thanks for visiting, and enjoy the day.

Here are a few people who blogged about Thanksgiving:

http://cookiedoughkatzen.com/2013/11/29/the-holiday-season/

http://followthatleader.com/2013/11/29/being-thankful/

http://chasetheredgrape.com/2013/11/29/crossfit-energise/

A Thanksgiving day poem and highlights of a foodie

Love is what it’s all about–
but food is a close second.

Nia Simone, November 28, 2013

I was asking an Australian friend if they have any holidays that are basically about food. Not really. Okay, so I have several Australian friends, many of whom I’ve met through blogging, so pipe up if you disagree! Of course, as you know, the food in Australia is amazing, so perhaps we don’t need a specific holiday centered on feasting there.

Australia is my other home, and this is becoming clear as one fellow blogger thought I was Australian.  I love Australia and my Australian friends. Today is an American holiday, though, and I’m going to celebrate it by starting this celebration of food off with home-grown and home cooked foods before moving on to some of my international culinary samples.

Home grown and home-cooked:

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Vegan Thai

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Getting closer
Lentil salad
Yummy ingredients
Yummy ingredients
Dinner time! (Very yummy)
Dinner time! (Very yummy)
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Vegan Thai with other veggies

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Greenwich Village Manhattan:

Turophilia (excessive love of cheese) Greenwich Village, sign outside the cheese shop
Turophilia (excessive love of cheese) Greenwich Village, sign outside the cheese shop
Day 6 GV Cheese store
A bit of cheese
Octopus, beer and a dolmata at Boukies, Greenwich Village
Octopus, beer and a dolmata at Boukies, Greenwich Village

Australia:

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Barramundi at Lorne
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Stuffed squid at a tapas bar in Melbourne, DeGraves Street
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Joe’s? I think, Sydney, by the river
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Smoked salmon at Joe’s in Sydney

San Francisco:

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Dessert at Piperade
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Appetizer at Piperade
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Piperade Restaurant

Paris:

Christian Constant Restaurant starters
Christian Constant Restaurant starters
Self portrait
I guess you could say wine was a big feature in Paris! This was dinner on the deck of our apartment.
Veal
Veal — Opera House
Deep fried Celeriac
Deep fried Celeriac — Opera House
Crepe de Frites Maison Robert
Crepe de Frites Maison Robert on Champs Elysees
Wine
Opera House
Rolls
Rolls, fresh, Opera House
Butter at opera
Butter, Opera House
Tomato jam mozzarella bonito and basil sorbet
Tomato jam mozzarella bonito and basil sorbet, Opera House
Green pea soup cold with cream and goat cheese on toast
Green pea soup cold with cream and goat cheese on toast, Opera House
Opera House, Grey Goose is the house vodka
Rue Cler Produce outside
Rue Cler Produce outside
Rue Cler Capuccino and Cafe Americain
Rue Cler Capuccino and Cafe Americain

Amsterdam:

A waffle at Keukenhof Gardens

Bread Netherlands where I bought it

Sekiwake

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Thai food

Thai food

Rijsstaafl
Rijsstaafl
Appetizers ready to go out to the deck
Appetizers ready to go out to the deck of the houseboat

Texas:

The Brush Fire
The Brush Fire
Torchy's Tacos, The Independent
Torchy’s Tacos, The Independent

More Manhattan:

Days 16 019 grilled camembert
Grilled camembert at The Eatery
Days 16 021 meat loaf ravioli mac and jack
Meat loaf ravioli mac and jack at The Eatery
Days 16 Lisas bagel
Lisa’s bagel
Days 16 018 sweet italian sausage risotto croquettes
Sweet italian sausage risotto croquettes
Days 20 21 050 A
At The Boathouse in Central Park
Days 20 21 052 A
The Boathouse, Central Park
Days 20 21 085 A
Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restaurant upper west side
Days 20 21 088 A
Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restaurant, upper west side
Day4 Hot Pretzel
Hot pretzel in Central Park
Flor de Mayo
Flor de Mayo, Peruvian restuarant, upper west side
Day 19 009
Deli, lower East side
Sesame seed crackers at The Eatery
Sesame seed crackers at The Eatery
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Shmears at a deli in the upper west side
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Shmears, continued, at a deli in the upper west side
Shmear, a deli in the upper west side
Yet more shmears at a deli in the upper west side
Pain au Chocolate at the Pushkin cafe across from the Museum of Modern Art
Pain au Chocolate at the Brasserie Pushkin across from the Museum of Modern Art
Dining Room at Brasserie Puskin NYC
Dining Room at Brasserie Puskin NYC

 

Blackbottom cheesecake from The Bake Shop
Blackbottom cheesecake from The Bake Shop
Grasshopper (mint chocolate chip) from The Bake Shop
Grasshopper (mint chocolate chip) from The Bake Shop