November 11, 2009

diana f+.

I love the story behind this camera. "Back in the 1960’s, a small firm in Hong Kong – the Great Wall Plastics Factory – created a dirt-cheap 120 camera called the “Diana.” Crafted entirely of plastic, each camera cost about a dollar. As a mainstream product, the Diana was pretty much a failure – and was discontinued in the 1970’s. But like any superstar cut down in their prime, the Diana’s posthumous appeal skyrocketed. As a cult artistic tool of avant-garde and lo-fi photographers, it was a rousing success! They loved its soft & dreamy images, super-saturated colors, unpredictable blurring, and random contrast. Diana shots are raw & gritty, with a character all their own. They simply cannot be duplicated by any other camera on Earth! In short order, the Diana rose to prominence as one of the most treasured and sought-after cult analog cameras from the late 70’s onward" (this quote and more here).
My imagination has been captured by the simple story and the beautiful images that this understated camera produces. I love the retro feel of it and the fact that it uses film in this ever increasing digital age.
Photography is a growing interest I have, something that is definitely recreational only. I already have a perfect digital camera that I love and am still learning to use in its entirety, but Diana has captured my attention and I've fallen in love. And now I've discovered a way to mesh these two cameras together: the adaptor. This little baby will let me use the lenses for the Diana on my digital camera. I feel like this is good for two reasons: 1. It allows for practice. I can learn how to use the different lenses on my digital without running through tons of film. 2. I can expand my creative horizons by using the Diana and my digital and creating hybrid photos that I might not have been able to achieve on either one without the help of the other. Let the experiments begin!

November 10, 2009


Sometimes when I'm cooking in the kitchen I like to experiment. But on most days when I'm in the kitchen say, roasting a chicken, I'll add a few (traditional) spices to create some delicious flavour, say, garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. But, sometimes I like to be a little more adventurous than that, maybe use cayenne pepper instead of black, and paprika instead of salt, with garlic and mustard powder. Former picky-eater Caleb has been very brave trying some of the foods that come out of my kitchen, and for that, I am forever grateful. I know our relationship is stronger because he will try anything I create in the kitchen and almost always smile and say "yum." The problem is, I'm worried that I might create something that is the opposite of 'yum' and instead the food twists your tongue in a knot and your stomach too.
Although I'm not afraid to try new things of my own creation in the kitchen, it is nice to have a support system encouraging your experiments on the way. And with that, I introduce you, dear reader, to my favourite new kitchen companion. Meet The Flavor Bible.
Compiled by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg it is an "essential guide to culinary creativity, based on the wisdom of America's most imaginative chefs." It has helped me create the Butternut Squash Soup below.
You can find virtually any ingredient you might want to cook with, and find a list of other ingredients that compliment the flavour as well as lists of specific combinations that are tried and true.
Take the following few examples:
chicken + avocado + bacon + garlic + mayonnaise + tarragon
chicken + cloves + rosemary + yogurt
(Already my chicken options got a lot more flavourful.)
mango + black pepper + lemon + mint + passion fruit
scallops + bacon + garlic + chanterelle mushrooms
scallops + bay leaf + vanilla
butternut squash + bacon + maple syrup + sage
For 380 pages the lists go on and on. It even includes tips on how different ingredients are best cooked, but there are no recipes - no religious cooking rules to follow. This book helps me enjoy the process of cooking as much as the end product, it's a platform for the imagination.

Butternut Squash Soup
I was almost impatient to start 'soup season' this Fall, and even though our apartment is almost always too hot, I started making soup early in October. Every time I make a soup it is a little different, depending on the ingredients in my pantry and how much time I have to spend on it. But here is an approximation of a soup I made a couple of weeks ago that had both of us smiling by the end of the bowl. The inspiration was from The Flavour Bible.

1 butternut squash
chicken stock (home made or low-sodium store bought)
maple syrup and/or brown sugar

I like to cut my squash in half, butter the exposed flesh and roast them in a 350°F oven for half an hour or more, until the inside is really soft. (To prepare the squash take the butt of a chef's knife and hit the stem until it pops off, then slice the squash in half, take a spoon and remove the seeds, you can then roast them separately if you want for a snack.)

Once the squash is soft all the way through (using a sharp knife, it should slide easily through the squash), remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

Using tongs or wearing an oven mitt in one hand, remove the skin of the squash with a knife.

Cut the squash into cubes.

Place in a medium-sized (3-4L) saucepan, add 4 cups chicken stock, sage, and bring to a boil. (Tip: To keep the sage from floating around everywhere, wrap it in cheesecloth and tie some twine around it and attach it to the handle of the saucepan for easy retrieval.)

Let boil for 20 minutes, or however long you feel the ingredients need to mingle.

Remove sage and take saucepan off the heat.

Using a hand-held blender, blend the squash and soup stock until a consistent texture. I like thick soup, but if you want your soup thinner, add more stock or water.

Add maple syrup (or brown sugar, or both) to taste.

Serve with small slices of bacon as garnish.

August 12, 2009


Last night Caleb and I played Monopoly. I found a complete Monopoly game at the Reuse Centre in Burlington a few months ago which I'm pretty sure is at least twenty years old, but still has enough of the pieces to be able to play a complete game. I love my Monopoly set. I wouldn't trade it for a newer version or an adaptation of it (you know, like Simpsons-opoly [at 3:30 on link] or the electronic version). It is just so very 'classic board game' and makes me think of family time, good-hearted competition, and laughter. Sitting down to the board with a Jones Soda as company we began the game that sometimes seems too too long.
Even though I love playing it, I never win at Monopoly. I don't know if it is that I can't strategize, I'm a fool with Monopoly money, or I just roll the dice poorly, but I always seem to lose. That is, until now.

Caleb has won every game of Monopoly we've ever played together, and I'm becoming quite a gracious loser. But last night when we started a game, I collected a few properties, was able to still keep some money to pay my taxes, community chest items, and jail bail - those things that usually catch me in the end. We stopped playing mid-way through because it was getting late, but I feel I might be on track for winning this one. Now, hopefully this mild gloating does not harken my downfall, but before we closed the game for the night something spectacular happened to me that might help me towards finally winning a game of Monopoly. When we play we put $100 in the centre of the board so if someone lands on the "free parking" spot they get the cash. But it is not just the $100 that end up there. We put into the pot all of our community chest and chance payments, our luxury taxes, and income taxes too. Caleb had landed on "free parking" a couple of times, and so did I. We each picked up a couple of hundred dollars in the process, a great incentive to buy more properties and play a little more ruthlessly. After a while though, no one had landed on the coveted square and the pot was growing to be quite large. A jackpot really. We both realized this and suddenly the game wasn't about the rest of the squares on the board, just that one. We would go through the motions on our turns until we headed down the stretch of the board with "free parking" at the end. "Come on dice!" we would shout while tossing the dice in hopes of landing on the spot. It was beckoning us. But, it was a little coy too. So often did we go around and just miss the square by one or two moves. And it just kept growing larger and larger. Caleb was in jail and needed to roll a ten. Miss. Rolled an 11 so paid the $50 (into the pot I might add) and moved just one beyond the jackpot square. I looked at him when it was my turn. "I'm so nervous," I told him. I don't know why, but I was really nervous that I wouldn't land on it. We had gone around the board so many times without landing on it, we just wanted the suspense to be over. One, two, three, four, five, six. Six on the dice was all I needed. It was late and we just wanted one of us to land on the coveted spot. Shaking the dice in my hand I tossed them onto the board and gasped in shock. SIX! I slowly bounced my little thimble the required number of spaces to "free parking" and reached over to the massive pile of money on the table. $1265 in total.
That climatic event is how last evening's game ended. The board is still set up on the table and tonight we might finish it. If not, I think I might be able to say that I have at least won one (half) game of Monopoly.

August 5, 2009

peeking through a pin-hole.

What I love most about traveling is the chance to experience a new culture. With that, new people. This summer I had an opportunity to travel to Kenya. After landing in Nairobi and making a 100km two-hour bus ride to Ndalani I knew I was in for a treat. I was part of a team that visited the Mully Children's Family where children rescued from a life of drugs, crime, and commercial sex are rehabilitated, educated, and integrated back into society. Out of all the great experiences I had while in Ndalani, one of the things I think I will remember best is the phrase "you are most welcome."
You are most welcome. It can be used in the same way most Canadians say "you're welcome" or "no problem!" but it can also be used as a greeting. I loved stepping off the bus and having Charles Mulli greet us saying "you are most welcome." The sincerity behind those four words was so great and you actually did feel like you were the most welcome. I want to try to integrate this greeting into my own vocabulary. And with it, the sincerity that lies behind it.
Spending time in Ndalani, Kenya was great because I was able to experience just a small portion of what Kenyan culture is. It was like peeking through a pinhole and catching just a glimpse of the greater image.

Tonight I made a pin-hole camera out of a mint-tin using these directions. I took one picture from the balcony of my apartment of the trees with the sun light shining on them. I'm going to save the rest of the film for another time and better photo opportunities. In the age of digital photography, using film is a little weird, and, it's making me a bit anxious because I do not know what my photo looks like. I'll post some of the photos once the roll is complete.

Well, since this is my first blog entry, I haven't decided yet if I want to have a catchy sign-off or not. But, I guess for now...

You are most welcome.
Related Posts with Thumbnails