Sunday, November 11, 2007

Perfecting the Arts of Chicken & Food Photography

One of my favorite bloggers has a small site dedicated to furthering one's skill at food photography. I have been reading her suggestions and taking them to heart. It is challenging, however, when one gets a new camera, to figure out where everything is located, how everything works and what are the great and unique special features. I thought to stave this off by buying another Canon, but this one really is almost nothing like my last one. And for some reason I refuse to both read the instruction manual or bring it along with me on my travels. I liken this to a man's refusal to ask for directions when hopelessly lost and driving around Beverlywood in circles. We will find our way eventually, and no one is in a hurry. Customizing the white balance for a particular location will make these shots look better? I will figure out where the controls for the white balance are eventually, and who cares if the lighting in some of my shots is orange. I am not in a hurry, and this is all for the sheer joy of it. If this was my full time job, I would call it a job not a blog. So, I am plodding along, with the furthering of my digital photography expertise advancing slowly. Very slowly.

My mother Mary is visiting, and she is an amazing cook. I know everyone says their mother is a great cook, and everyone means it. But my mother really is a great cook. It's her art form. She has even constructed a cookbook of her most infamous and well loved recipes from years gone by. Oxtails, French onion soup, carrot cake (the brown kind, not the orange kind) with cream cheese frosting, sun dried tomato & goat cheese kreatopetes, Chez Panisse's brined Thanksgiving turkey, three different kinds of watercress salad, pork in lime cream sauce, pasta primavera, peach melba, Yorkshire pudding and eggs mornay. Etc. Everything is made from scratch and her attention to the details of a recipe would impress chemists the world over. Luckily for me, part of her mission in life is to cook for others wherever and whenever she is, and this weekend she was at my house.

On the menu this weekend was chicken stuffed with Lucy & Ethel's homemade pesto, creamy polenta and roasted mushrooms stuffed with feta and bacon.

Her capable hands stuff one massive portion of the homemade pesto (made at Sue's using home grown basil, hand grated parmesan, 2 quarts of olive oil and then packaged into pint size zip locks bags and distributed among several lucky offspring) into and under the skin of one 4.5 lb organic free range chicken.

The smell....the smelll...the sssssmmmmmmmeeeeeeelllllllll.......

Creamy polenta (cornmeal) on the stove. On our way home from shopping and drinking on the westside we stopped into a Von's for a few items and they did not have polenta. Wth? It's the WESTSIDE. Isn't every grocery store on the westside a gourmet mecca? I have some seriously misinformed misconceptions about life on the westside. There was no polenta, and it was too close to nap time to visit one of my favorite grocery stores on the eastside, so we settled for cornmeal. Add fontina and asiago to anything and it is worthy of consumption, in my opinion.

I tossed together some leafy greens and watercress (natch) with dried cranberries, pine nuts and bleu cheese crumbles, with some balsamic vinaigrette (NOT vingarette, just saying).

And, we supped.

This is what we drank, a Carver Sutro 2004 Petit Syrah, courtesy of was delicious!

But wait!!!! What about the mushrooms? After extended naps and wine tasting at Rosso, we felt it was too late for appetizers AND mains, so we (she) made the mushrooms for breakfast Sunday morning.

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