I owe myself some sort of recap on what I’ve been up to so far this wonderful January. Partly to convince myself that I have, in fact, done something, and party to set a level to base myself off (and obviously do more) for the rest of the year. Having been home in Scotland now for just over a month, I’ve had to adjust to a much different (and in particular slower) pace of life. We’re trying to move house, and so I’ve been involved with a lot of the cleanup, packing and moving boxes around that we all associate with moving. There’s a lot more to go, so I don’t want to get bored quite just yet.
I’ve done a fair amount of photography related things so far this year. More than I think I’ve done probably. I travelled down to Cambridge a week ago to see friends and photograph the BOP. Possibly the best sort of party ever, and it was a change shooting one with my 5D3 instead of my old 350D. Having a 35mm lens that actually is 35mm (and not 1.6 x 35) was a nice change, as was being more knowledgable about playing around with flash settings, knowing what to expect, what I wanted, and how to get that result. The photos are available here.
More along the photography lines, I’ve had a chance to read Syl Arena‘s wonderful book on Speedliting. Not only does it explain wonderfully how and why flash works the way it does, it goes into a suitable level of detail on how digital camera settings can be understood and work together. I knew most of this already, but reading it from his perspective, and seeing it all set out in front of me has only helped my understanding more. On a whim, I went out an purchased a short e-TTL cord so I can put my Speedlite off camera. I haven’t really had much of a chance to put it to use, there being few opportunities for portrait sessions etc, but I plan to soon. I also got hold of a EX580 Speedlite which I can use as a wireless master to trigger my existing flash to create far more wonderful and varied flash effects. I’ve got much more into reading photography blogs and forums as of late too. I think it’s especially great getting angles on products and techniques from totally different parts of the industry.
When left alone for a while, I have this wonderful tendency to migrate to the kitchen, cook some wonderful (and sometimes bizarre) dishes, and make A LOT of mess. I’ve had this opportunity this month quite a lot, and so I’ve managed to make some wonderful meals, using both old and new recipes, both from cookbooks and from free-styling. In the last week I’ve taken a little inspiration from Ottolenghi, chopping and changing some of his recipes to get some interesting dishes. These included a warm lentil, danish blue, and roasted tomato salad, Braised eggs with spinach, roast tomatoes, sweet potato and yoghurt, and some interesting mixes of sweet potato, apple, squash, garlic and chill all slow roasted.
On the meat side of things, I’ve almost perfected Tim Ferriss’ Hareiller Roast chicken, become a hero at grilling lamb chops and slow-roasted the hell (in the best way possible) out of a wonderfully balsamic lamb shoulder. I’ve got my take on Ferriss’ Osso Buko on the cards for this evening. Photos to follow. I’ve also made a few wonderful minestrone soups, using both a generic recipe, and one from Delia, both of which turned out nicely, though somewhat different. After Christmas lunch, and bread sauce making, I’ve started to apply a similar technique to making stock, using lots of cloves and nutmeg. It’s a particular somewhat warming (and vaguely spicy flavour) that I’ve grown to like. I tried applying this further (to roaring success) when making black refried beans. In the part of the recipe where one boils the hell out of the beans (mainly because I don’t have the time, nor the patience, to soak them overnight) I added some cinnamon bark, an onion stuck with cloves, and some nutmeg (in addition to all the wonderful other things). The result – amazing. I now consider myself some sort of demi-god in the refried (black) beans arena. Thankfully my father thinks so too.
Having the space, time and opportunity to cook so much recently has given me a great chance to learn more from others, to appreciate some new (and different) flavour pairings that I hadn’t quite thought of before, and realise that while some cuisines share very similar ingredients, the order and relative quantities of cooking with them can make all the difference.
Flavour pairing wise, I have this great affinity towards this thai hot sauce mixed with thyme on my morning eggs. It’s just wonderful.
Earlier this month I mentioned that I’d got Bowtiful running in a little more of an elegant way. With it’s wonderful webstore and twitter/facebook/etsy/folksy accounts, I have my fingers in all sorts of pies. But more on this another time.
I brought my ridiculously dangerous bright orange fixie back up to Scotland when I came back from Cambridge so I’ve now had the opportunity to tear around the streets having a great time. I’ve applied to some wonderful jobs, made/published/converted some brilliant eBooks that will be going up on the Kindle Store soon, and even read some books. Especially Ryan Holiday’s book, Trust Me, I’m Lying, which has thoroughly tainted my opinion of online media. Shame.