Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year...New Soup!

So I did mention that this year I more healthy, now on Day 5, I am ready to begin (burger,, check..chilli, check...schoko muffins, tarts, check check)  Ready for some yummy and nutritional soup!

I love soup...ever since I moved to Germany about7 years ago.  I eat it more months out of the year than not here.  Takes a while for me to get tired of it but it certainly doesn't hurt to expand my soup repertoire once in a while.  Enter the sweet potato..why haven't I thought of this sooner? (Perhaps because I was inspired by a friend's soup recipe using sweet potato!  I'll have to try this sometime too!)  But for now I had to get by with what I had in my fridge:
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • Chopped garlic (about 1 clove or 1 spoonful of pre-chopped)
  • 1 parsnip (a key ingredient in most of my soups)
  • Parsley
  • Ground ginger
  • White pepper
  • Vegie or chicken bouillion
  • About a cup of Lentils
Peel and slice the sweet potato, carrot(s), and parsnip.  Saute chopped onion and garlic until translucent, then add chopped carrots, sweet potato and parsnip.  Allow to cook about 10 minutes, or until soft (allow to carmelize a bit, but careful not to burn!)  Add herbs and spices (you can experiment with this, I did!)   Add appropriate amount of water for amount of bouillon, bring to a boil and add cleaned lentils.  Simmer for 10 minutes, or longer.  Add some salt and freshly ground pepper, and voila...
Of course, in Germany, we always serve soup with bread (not pictured here)...Guten Appetit!
You can leave it chunky...

...or puree it

Got a favorite soup recipe of your own?  Share it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Practicing Photography in chilly London

 Happy 2012!  I'm back, with so many ideas for posts in 2012 I can hardly stand it!  I will start with my most recent photography lesson.  I've been practicing here and there for a while now.  I've always enjoyed it when I got lucky and managed to grab a great-to-good shot with my camera, never really having the patience to stop and try to be in control of my aperture settings in combo with shutter speeds, ISO, and all the other stuff one can play around with while the perfect shot is slipping away under your nose...but alas, those day are coming to a grateful (nonetheless challenging) end.  I recently snuck off to London for an instructional photography 'tour' with a small company called Hairy Goat as well as a Christmas Lights workshop that same afternoon...what a full, but fun day! 

I am only posting these photos as part of my own learning process, not because I think I achieved any extradordinary shots here, but this has been, and continues to be, a learning experience for me as I try to put to an end to the days of flying by the seat of my hosen (I was reminded often by my friend in London that 'Pants' are what you wear under your trousers:)  So here are some sample studies:

 Panning:  After countless attempts, this was the best I got with my nearly frozen hands at this point!  Doesn't make sense here to compare to any others since the settings were all about the same and the trick was 'simply' to move the camera in sync with my moving object, Corinna.  She did suggest in order to blur motion, to use a shutter speed of about 1/2 second (or slower).  So all of my panning shots were 1/2 sec, and ISO 100, f/29-f/36. 
Practicing 'pannig' with my morning instructor:  Corinna

Zoom bursts:  I thought this would come a little easier and would have stayed there all day determined to get one shot had it not been so cold, but this is all I got!  Daaaang, this was supposed to be a confidence-booster!  Oh well.  Maybe we should have set up the tripod for this one.  Anyway, it was fun and I really could have spent the rest of the day zooooma zoom zooming around town.

It's about time to wrap this up for now but I will continue analyzing some photos from this trip in another post.  As I begin to grasp more and more the individual settings, what takes me longer to process now is the relationships between these settings and the many variables involved each time and place you take the camera out. 

Couple shots from the Christmas Lights evening:

One interesting note was that the morning instructor advised using Aperture Priority settings (which has actually helped me learn and see the relationships between settings), but the afternoon instructor advised shooting entirely in manual and only in black & white for a while, while learning (reminds me of my graphic design days back in school...if something doesn't work in b/w it sure isn't going to work in color!).  Ok, I get that, but why not use the AP crutch?  Well, instructor #2 says because it washes out a lot of your contrasting highlights and shadows, hmmm.  One would be able to tell this more easily by looking at the histogram on your camera (which I never did on cameras, but have in photoshop so that made sense).  I just hope my subject isn't going anywhere for a while, because shooting in manual was taking me a looooooong time!

***Please, if anyone has comments, advice, or tips on anything I have mentioned above, or anything photography-related feel free to share! ***  Thanks!