A friend of mine found this post and I thought it was just gorgeous. I have personally always been fascinated with terrariums; tiny little worlds unto themselves. I hope I can find some time to make on of these for my tree this year and maybe, if I am really lucky, make a few to give as gifts.
This year, thanks to my generous mother, I was able to attend the (usually) annual family gathering/camping trip to a place up in the high sierras my Grandfather and Great Uncle found 50+ years ago called Jackass Meadows. Without fail, every time the name of where we camp comes up in conversation with someone new, I get a laugh and/or an odd look. I swear people, I am not making the name of this place up!
See, it’s right here! http://g.co/maps/zp2g2
The name is derived from the wild donkeys that inhabit the meadows below Florence Lake. I have actually caught glimpses of them (along with wild horses) on previous trips. No such luck this time.
I wanted to share some pics I took this trip. Along with learning about shooting in RAW format, I had two photographic techniques I wanted to play with this go-round, taking HDR (High Dynamic Range) images and panoramics. I am more pleased with my panoramic results then the HDRs. My DSLR is several generations old, so it can only take a 3-shoot HDRs. I’m not sure if that’s why I am not getting the depth in my pictures I was hoping for, or if its just my lack of advanced PS skills.
My favorite panoramic: (click for larger view)
I have to admit, I had never heard of the Sous-Vide technique before happening across this article today. For the uninitiated like myself, Sous-Vide “is a method of cooking that is intended to maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them for an extended period at relatively low temperatures. Food is cooked for a long time, sometimes well over 24 hours. Unlike cooking in a slow cooker, sous-vide cooking uses airtight plastic bags placed in hot water well below boiling point.”
I must say, I am rather intrigued. This has apparently been used by a number of top chefs across Europe for years as a way to prepare foods without the item loosing its original appearance by helping them to maintain color and texture. From what I’m seeing, things like steak cooked by this method still need a quick finish on the grill, but I think the idea of keeping all the juices inside the meat and having it be tender and full of its original flavors might make this worthy of a try.
Rather then invest in a Sous-vide machine, which apparently are quite pricy (staring at $450+), the Serious Eats blog has come up with a method using a beer cooler and some zip-lock bags to achieve the same results for a fraction of the cost.
Once you realize that a beer cooler is just as good at keeping hot things hot as it is at keeping cold things cold, then the rest is easy: Fill up your beer cooler with water just a couple degrees higher than the temperature you’d like to cook your food at (to account for temperature loss when you add cold food to it), seal your food in a plastic Ziplock bag, drop it in, and close your beer cooler until your food is cooked. It’s as simple as that.
I see the purchase of a beer cooler and some steaks in my future.
Who knew there was a wrong or right way to cut Basil? Professional chefs maybe, but not me. Basil is one of my favorite fresh herbs, but until recently I always just chopped it up into random pieces. After seeing this segment on Food Network’s Worst Cooks in America, I realized I wasn’t doing my herb or my dish any favors just hacking away.
Along with helping to preserve the precious oils that contain all of the actual flavor of the basil, this makes it just looks a heck of a lot nicer in your dish then a mix of random-sized bits and pieces. I have several recipes I will be sharing in the future that call for basil and I will be using this new-found technique to help improve the look and taste of each.