Photo of the Day: Ritz

Cute Cat Photo

 

Every single time I set up my camera and props to photograph food, Ritz jumps in the nearest window to “supervise”.  🙂

4th of July Fireworks in Boston

4th of July Fireworks in Boston

How was your 4th of July? I hope you had a great holiday! I worked during the day, then headed to a friend’s cookout. Late in the afternoon, I realized that I frequently pass by a perfect location to photograph Boston’s incredible 4th of July fireworks display. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to photograph it, so I ran home, grabbed my camera, and arrived just in time for the show. This is my favorite shot – I have a few others I’ll post on the blog soon, but wanted to share this one with you.

Updated on 7/10/2012:

A few more photos to share!

Boston 4th of July Fireworks

Boston 4th of July Fireworks

Boston 4th of July Fireworks

Boston 4th of July Fireworks

Summer Baked Tomatoes

Baked Tomatoes

 

More often than not, I am a highly unorganized grocery shopper. I pick up random fresh ingredients, having the best intentions of throwing something together once I get home. I had big plans for these tomatoes – an herb chicken and tomato crockpot recipe. But then I realized I wouldn’t be home from dinner for most of the week and, whoops, the chicken was still in the freezer! D’oh! So I found some inspiration from an Italian vegetable cookbook and baked these tomatoes into a delicious side dish. A little olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and thyme. Simple, simple, simple!

Baked Tomatoes

Have a Great Weekend!

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Beautiful flowers in the Boston Public Garden.

Sometimes it’s the small things…

One of my co-workers in my 9-5 job decided to post some inspirational sayings around the room…

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With all the photography work I’ve been doing lately, this quote seems well suited. I’m excited to see where all this goes. Much to my delight, I came home to this:

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Yay! My new business cards arrived early!!! Whoo-hoo! (It’s all about the small things.)

Hope you had a good day!

6/10/2012

Image taken with iPhone 4

Planting the Vegetable Garden…

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! After a few days filled with biking, cooking, and spending time with wonderful friends, I spent Monday helping Jeff plant his vegetable garden. He started a vegetable garden a few years ago, which has expanded in size each season. I helped him a bit last year with watering and harvesting, and thought it would be fun to help with planting this year. And I enlisted my “little sister” Maliha to help.

Maliha planting seeds

 

Jeff put us in charge of mixing lobster compost with the ground soil, and then showed us where the seeds would be planted. Maliha and I worked together, making labels for each seed, forming a two-inch deep ditch around each mound of soil, planting seeds in each mound, then filling each small ditch with water.

 

It was so awesome to have Maliha helping with the garden. She got to see many different kinds of seeds and marveled at how small the tomato and pepper plants are right now. Maliha asked Jeff all sorts of questions about the seeds, plants, and asked me if I could bring her a tomato or two once they ripen.

 

Jeff assembles a bean trellis

Bring her one? Heck no. She’ll be coming back to the farm to reap the rewards of the hard work she put in!! I think a dinner picnic at the farm will be happening this summer.

 

Bean seeds

Zucchini fritters

The herb chicken I made in the crock-pot for dinner was ready to go. Jeff was on his way over, and I needed a vegetable side dish to whip up in a pinch. Let’s face it – steamed vegetables can get boring really quickly. There’s only so many times a girl can eat steamed zucchini sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, and some Italian seasonings as a side dish. With two zucchinis in my refrigerator, I wanted to create something different with them.  So I found a recipe for zucchini fritters on Smitten Kitchen and modified it a bit to be gluten-free.

Out came my box grater, and naturally a mess resulted on tiny counter top. If you don’t already know, be aware –  zucchini is a very watery vegetable. Zucchini water ended up EVERYWHERE. (I’m not a neat cook.) But the shredded vegetable inside the box grater looked delicious!

As I’ve started reading more about cooking and baking gluten-free foods, I learned that gluten-free flours taste better when they are combined together. So instead of all-purpose flour, I mixed millet and amaranth flour together. The flours added a wonderful nutty taste to the fritters. The recipe I used had extra ingredients for toppings, but we really enjoyed them completely plain. I made another batch to bring to a cookout over the weekend, and they were a fantastic appetizer!

 

Zucchini Fritters (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes about 10 fritters

1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, extra to taste

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup Millet flour

1/4 cup Amaranth flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons Olive oil (for frying)

 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Trim off the ends of the zucchini. Using a box grater or the shredding blade in a food processor, grate the zucchini.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini and salt together. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then wring out excess water from the zucchini. As the Smitten Kitchen recipe suggested, I pressed the zucchini against the sides of colander with a spoon. That didn’t seem to get all the water out, so I switched to towels. I couldn’t believe how much water drained out!

Place the shredded zucchini back into a bowl and mix in the egg and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the millet and amaranth flours, and the baking powder. Toss the mixture in with the zucchini and stir until everything is combined.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, drop small spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. Slightly flatten each spoonful with a spatula and cook 3-4 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Flip each fritter and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Place each fritter on a paper towel to drain, then transfer them onto a cookie sheet. Repeat this process with the remaining batter. Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Generation Fitness at Project Adventure

I recently had the pleasure of spending the morning with a group of Generation Fitness interns navigating a ropes course at Project Adventure in Beverly, MA. I had so much fun photographing these energetic folks! They participated in a bunch of health-related warm up games, navigated a course of tight ropes as two separate teams, and trusted their peers to hoist them 30-50 feet in the air! It was a day that had one central theme – teamwork. Here are a few of my favorite images from the day. Thanks for inviting me along!

 

Generation Fitness at Project Adventure

 

Putting together a map of the ropes course.

 

Celebrating accomplishments

Getting ready to fly...

 

Mama

This week brought a number of things… A first mother’s day for many close friends, a 10-year college reunion invitation, and a bittersweet anniversary – I lost my grandmother 10 years ago this week. My grandmother struggled towards the end of her life. She was weakened by several heart attacks and congestive heart failure. Mama fought to stay alive – she saw me get my first professional television production job in early 2002, and clung on just long enough to learn I graduated college. Once she learned that I received my degree, she started to slip away. Two days following graduation, she left this world.

I’m not one to think about anniversaries too often, especially sad ones like this. I choose to celebrate her life whenever I can and remember so many wonderful things we were able to share together. The smell of meatballs and gravy in her kitchen, exploring the pantry, and trying to figure out where those delicious smells originated from… Listening to my dad and uncle rave about her stuffed mushrooms, but being a stubborn and picky child and refusing to try one. But the smell… The scent of garlic, basil, and olive oil permeated throughout the house and took at least two days to disappear!

I never asked her how she made them. I never watched her make them. All I knew was that Mama’s stuffed mushrooms were a staple on my family’s holiday table – my dad and uncle would bicker for first dibs, my great-aunt wondered why hers never came out as good, and the rest of us hungry Italians patiently waited for the dish to be passed around the table. Except for me, of course, the former Ms. Picky Eater. But I could not let that tradition go after Mama died. It was too precious, and I wanted to carry it on in her memory. Before our first Thanksgiving without Mama, I called my great-aunt for the recipe.

Naturally, it was an ingredient list without measurements! How else would my Italian grandmother make something? I remember my great-aunt Lola saying, “Good luck with that! No one ever made them as good as Mama’s!”. Little by little, I tossed the stuffing ingredients into a bowl. A little bit of bread, a little olive oil, a bit of garlic, and a few other seasonings… Mix, taste, add more, repeat. This went on until the mixture smelled and tasted familiar. I spooned the mixture into the mushrooms, and baked them until my crappy basement apartment suddenly smelled like my grandmother’s kitchen. And my family loved them.

It’s 10 years later, and a lot has changed since then. Thankfully I’m no longer in that crappy basement apartment. But every holiday, my kitchen transforms into Mama’s – her stuffed mushroom recipe and family tradition lives on. I received the biggest complement last holiday season from my family – my uncle and mom said that my stuffed mushrooms were better than my grandmother’s. And then something she always said to me rang though my head, as it does in so many different situations: “My beauty-ful Alicia… You can do anything you want to do!”.

Mama & I November 1999

A post about Mama’s Stuffed Mushrooms will come either around Father’s Day, or during the holiday season!