21 August 2016

Egyptian-Style Pickled Aubergine, Turnips, & Tomatoes

Egyptian-Style Pickled Aubergine, Turnips, and Tomatoes
Yesterday, I didn’t start my computer and this is what happened... the earth continued to rotate. Oh yes it did.

Instead, I took Creative Health Action towards all things different and intimidating. I spent the day in the kitchen remembering how to make Egyptian mezzas with the fresh eggplant, tomatoes and turnips that were piling on the kitchen counter. Since my husband works the night shift, he left it to me to figure this out. I had to dig deep to find his Aunt Samira’s recipe for pickled eggplant. باذنجان مخلل (I think I spelled that correctly).

And then today, before I started my computer, I took a stab at photographing these drab looking veggies to make them look delicious and appealing. Not sure I made these look as delicious as they were to eat, but I tried and that is what matters. Thank you to my lovely niece, Lisa, who continues to plant all these vegetables for me. (Eggplant or aubergine, tomato, turnips). Your gardening skills are inspirational.

Creative Slump? I encourage you to try something new today. 
“To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do – away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since to not work is to not make mistakes.” From the book "Art & Fear" by David Bayle and Ted Orland 

Long thin aubergines fresh from the garden

Egyptian-style Pickled Aubergine باذنجان مخلل

8 thin, long aubergines
8 tomatoes, medium size
12 peeled garlic cloves, halved, fresh or marinated
3 Tbs cumin powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp red chili pepper
2 Tbs minced parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs white vinegar
2 Tbs lemon juice

Directions: 
~ Wash and put the aubergines in a saucepan and cover with water.
~ Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until skins are soft. Don't pierce the skins. Depending on the thickness of the plant, it takes about 10 or so minutes of boiling. Remove the aubergines from the water. Cool. Then trim off the stems.
~ Wash the tomatoes and pat dry with a towel. Score each tomato 3 times without cutting through the tomato.
~ Score each aubergine, making a deep slit on one side of the aubergine without cutting through the entire plant.
~ Make the filling: In a food processor, (or a mortar and pestle) Mince the garlic. Then blend the garlic with all the spices.
~ In a small bowl, add the garlic, parsley and whisk in the oil, vinegar and lemon juice.
~ Smear the filling into the tomatoes and the aubergines. I like to stuff them full. Press the sides together to close them up a bit. Put the vegetables in a small container.
~ Let the vegetables marinade in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours.


Fresh turnips from the garden. This is about 1 pound of turnips.

Egyptian-style Pickled Turnips

3 cups of water
1 cup white distilled vinegar
2 pounds of turnips, peeled and sliced into 1⁄2-inch thick wedges or into sticks
6 slices of a peeled beet
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1⁄3 cup of coarse ground kosher salt (I adjust this accordingly, more or less, depending on the strength of the salt)
1 bay leaf

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of water, the salt and the bay leaf, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow to cool until it reaches room temperature. Then, add the vinegar and the remaining 1 cup of water.

Cut the turnips into 1⁄2-inch wedges or into sticks. If you cut them into sticks, make them about the size of French fries. Place a few slices of beet into each jar (this is what will give the turnips their pink color), then divide the turnips and garlic slices among the jars. Pour the salted brine over the turnips, making sure they are completely covered, top off with water if necessary.

Heat your lids in boiling water to get the seal supple. Place the lids on the jars and let them sit at room temperature (in a cool place) for at least one week. Once done, they can be refrigerated until ready to serve. Pickles will keep for months when refrigerated.

14 August 2016

Creative Block? Try Something Different

Typically I'm too lazy to go outside to photograph the night sky.

I missed the Perseid meteor shower on Thursday night. So, last night, I decided to give night photography a try for the first time. These two shots were taken around 1:30 am. Though I did see (and catch) a few meteors, I didn't see any "showers." But, then again, I only lasted about 15 minutes (and about 10 shots) before I returned to bed.

The light on the horizon behind the barn is not the sunrise, it is the light noise from the Beulah coal plant, about 40 miles as the crow flies. Looking north and east.
Milky Way Western North Dakota
The Barn

My suffering of Creative Affective Disorder.

So, another reason that I decided to get my rear-end out of bed in the wee hours this morning is because I have been suffering from creative depression blues. Have you ever hit a plateau, whether it is in weight loss or business or whatever, and you wonder "Why bother?" And then the "why bother" attitude wraps you into a vicious mental circle that keeps dragging you down, down, and down?

Well, the last few months, I have been neck deep in a creative bog. And, like many of you, I am my worst enemy. I was stuck. I was depressed. But, I know it is up to me to help myself and exert the change to feel better and balanced. 

One way, I have found, to climb out of a slump is to try something different. It can be to drive a different route, try a different food, or attempt a different creative craft. 
Doesn't take much, just a tiny bit of effort.
Willpower, my friend. Willpower is the key to make that change.
Perseid meteor  Western North Dakota
The perseid meteor shower
What could I do that is different? I decided to try my hand at night photography. Not because I fancy myself to become a star photographer. No, it was something I had never tried before and it intimidated me.

My night sky pictures are nothing special if I were to compare them to other night pictures. (And, we all know where comparison will lead, so don't go there.) But, what has got me all charged up this morning is my sheer willpower to get out of my comfy bed, set up my camera, and stand patiently in the dark with my camera. This morning, I'm super tired, but oh so satisfied. Little tiny steps.



Willpower. 

It's what charges the spark in your creative plug. I hope I can pass that charge on to you today.

SaveSave

31 July 2016

North Dakota Mounted Shooters

The North Dakota Mounted Shooter Association demonstrated their talents at the Horsefest in Taylor. I've always wanted to do this...maybe someday.

Hueske-DJH_8688 Hueske-DJH_8690 Hueske-DJH_8716
You can find more photos of the North Dakota Mounted Shooters here: 
North Dakota Mounted Shooters

04 May 2016

Horses in Fog

In my dream, many white princes surrounded me with light.
Horses in Fog
Two White Horses

Horses in Fog
Two white horses nose to nose

Horses in Fog
Process 1 : Photoshop and Nik Effects




Horses in Fog
Process 2 : Nik Analog Effects

Horses in Fog
Process 3 : Nik Silver Effects

Horses in Fog
Process 1 : Nik Effects

Horses in Fog
White horse in prairie pasture
Horses in Fog
Process 2 : Nik Silver Effects

14 February 2016

Silver Forks Lined in a Row

A few weeks ago, I purchased a second-hand Rokinon 14mm F2.8 lens. It is a beautiful lens with clear, sharp images. 
Today, I decided to try it out on a project that I'm working on for Don Giannatti's Project P52. Each week, Don gives us an assignment to shoot. This week, the assignment was "forks" and "change."

I found several sets of vintage silver forks in the cellar a few months ago. My mother had bought a big box of silver flatware at an auction sale years ago. 
With props in hand, I started to sketch out ideas for "change." In the middle of ideas popping and sketching, I decided an interesting "change" would be a switch from my go-to Tokina 100mm lens to the Roninon 14mm lens. 
I think it made for some interesting shots.


SPOTLIGHT VERSION 1
All the forks are lined up on a black-top table. I experimented with small and large aperture settings. I liked the f18 setting and manually blurred the foreground with lens blur in Photoshop. With a few more enhancements in Photoshop, I added a layer of NikEffects bleach
SPOTLIGHT VERSION 2
Same process but opened a larger spot light over the focal point.

SPOTLIGHT VERSION 3
All the photographs were with natural light and long exposures.
Photoshop enhancement, NikEffects film effect and finally, layering a spot of light over the fork.
LINEUP ROW 1
My first test shots. I laid out the forks, but didn't polish or fix them. As much as I like the rustic and worn look of the forks, I eventually polished them and fixed the tines.
Photoshop darkening the edges and contrast adjustment, then NikEffects vintage filter.

LINEUP ROW FLIPPED
Flip the image in Photoshop, then added NikEffects Analog vintage camera

LINEUP ROW 2
Photoshop enhancement in contrast, then added NikEffect Supercross pop.
BTS: The foreground fork was centimeters away from the lens.