AsparagusI bought these bundles of asparagus at the farmers’ market during my photography workshop last weekend.  Like ramps, fiddleheads, and green garlic, they’re the ultimate harbinger of spring.  I was so excited to bring them home and feed them to the kids. And then I had to overcook them.  Dammit, I hate it when I do that – I should know better and distraction is not an excuse.  But they went over reasonably well, so I can just imagine their potential. 

EMMA: “More please!”

ME: “You haven’t had any yet.”

ME: “OK, let’s do this again: asparagus.  What does it look like?”

LAUREN: “It looks like a really short tree if you cut the stem off.”

SAM: “A tree!”

ME: “Would you like to hold it?”

LAUREN: “It feels like it’s braided.”

ME: “What does it smell like?”

LAUREN: “Nothing.”

ME: “What does it taste like?”

EMMA: “Smelled it!”

LAUREN: “I ate the top of it.”

EMMA: “Candy.”

ME: “Would you guys like a little bit of salt on it?”

EMMA: “More please.”

LAUREN: “Yeah, I totally want some! A little more salt.”

ME: “What do you think?”

SAM: “Don’t like it.”

LAUREN: “I need a lot more salt.”

ME: “Do you know that eating asparagus makes your pee smell funny?”

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ME: “The ends might get woody and tough, you don’t have to eat that part.”

LAUREN: “I love it with a lot of salt.”

SAM: “I tasted the salt!”

[salt spills everywhere]

ME: “OK, that’s why I can’t have the salt near you because Emma will do that.”

EMMA: “More salt!”

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MarshmallowsThis past weekend I had the privilege of breaking out of jail, I mean, taking a class, with a group of adults with whom I have something in common: we all share a passion for photographing food.

For three whole days, while Rodney stayed at home and chased after 3 kids 5 and under, I got to style and photograph my way through a 3-day workshop at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in NYC. 

We learned many of the industry’s most helpful (and often scary) tips and tricks to make food look so good you want to bury your face in it.  Until you realize that the ice cream is really Crisco and powdered sugar, and the freshly-poured black coffee is food coloring and soap bubbles.  Thankfully the emphasis on fake food was minimized, and we spent the majority of our time making our natural, 100% edible food look beautiful (e.g. the raspberry marshmallows you see pictured).

It was a strange feeling to be in that room for three days, surrounded by people who were just as excited to photograph a turnip as I was. Like overzealous paparazzi, we huddled together to snap pictures of grapes, angling our cameras to capture them in the best possible light.  By the end of the workshop I felt like a pro, throwing around terms like ISOs and F-stops (not F-words, apparently I save those for when the kids are within earshot, and no, they don’t let me forget it.)

It was a weekend to remember, and I wanted to throw a shout out to our teachers: James Peterson, Jamie Tiampo and Jennifer Jung.  They made the class fun and challenging, and I hope to cross paths with them again. 


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BentoI don’t know why I don’t bring my lunch to work more often. 

I hate buying lunch, the hassle, the expense, the poor quality.  I hate it even more than I hate the picture of me and Rodney that sits on my desk.  I used the red eye remover to zap one of his eyes and accidentally made it bigger and darker.  Now it looks like he’s got a cyborg eye and it stares at me while I do my work. I want to flip it over every time someone stops by my desk and says “oh, that’s your husband?”  I feel the need to say that while yes it is, he doesn’t have a cyborg eye.  You’d think that after 6 years I’d change it, but then again, something about my desk wouldn’t feel right.

The irony of my lunchtime situation is that it would take less time to pack up some good leftovers than it would to go through the whole process of leaving the building, standing in line, ordering, and returning to my desk.  With horrible food, like this little getup that cost me nearly $10 from our local deli.

Tuna salad on limp lettuce that’s one microbe away from giving me a nasty case of dysentery.  Not an exaggeration. My husband loves to get chicken and tuna salads from NYC delis, and I can count on two hands the number of times it’s made him sick.  And stay away from those yogurt parfaits.  And the fresh orange juice.  Actually, in your average NYC deli, stay away from anything that’s not hermetically sealed.  Most of the time you’ll be fine, but once in a while you’ll get nailed and you’ll only have yourself to blame.


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SeabeansOnce in a while the 52-week challenge introduces us to something that none of us have tried.  Like sea beans.  I bought them on impulse when I saw them at the store, having never heard of them, but intrigued by their bright green color.  After doing some quick research I found out that despite their name, they actually don’t come from the sea, but are carried there by freshwater streams. 

ME: “What is this called again?  I can’t remember. “

LAUREN: “Sea beans!”

ME: “What does it look like?”

LAUREN: “It looks like sea plants growing out of the water.”

SAM: “This one looks like a shark.”

SAM: “If you bend it down it looks like a rainbow.”

LAUREN: “A spiky rainbow.”

ME: “If you shake them do they make a noise?”

LAUREN: “It makes a slop-slop.  But if you do it too hard it breaks.”

ME: “What does it smell like?”

LAUREN: “Mine smells like beautiful flowers.”

ME: “Mine smells like salami.”

LAUREN: “That’s because you just ate salami.  You have slimy salami hands.”

ME: “What does it taste like?”

LAUREN: “Hmmmm.”

ME: “I’m going to go for a leaf.  WHOA.  That does NOT taste like I thought it was going to taste.”

LAUREN: “I thought it was going to taste like lettuce but it tastes like plants that have sea salt on them.”

ME: “It tastes like seawater.”

LAUREN: “Don’t eat the bottom, it doesn’t taste very good.”

ME: “So what do you guys think?  Are you into it?”

LAUREN: “Not really.”

SAM: [Spitting it out] “Yuck.”

ME: “I agree.  I do not like that AT all.  Nasty.  Sorry.  Didn’t say that.”

LAUREN: “Right.”


mashedpotatoesThis happens to all of us.  Well maybe April Bloomfield doesn’t have this problem, but the rest of us do.  Meals gone wrong.  You start out with the best intentions, you painstakingly source your ingredients, you envision your dining companions bowing down to your culinary genius.  And then you blow it.  Undercook the fish, oversalt the sauce.  You sneak away to wring your hands in grief, cursing the day you ever picked up a chef knife and wondering if a better use for it would be to trim your toenails. 

I’ve had some terrific screw ups.  Like the time a guest ran an hour late and I thought I could leave my potatoes in the oven at a low temp while we waited.  This trick works for most foods, not fried potatoes.  When we sat down for dinner, the potatoes had turned into deliciously salted goose-fried rocks. 

Another time I had 16 guests over for Thanksgiving dinner and as I started to carve the turkey, whoops(!) still raw.  I clearly hadn’t shoved the probe in deep enough into that poor fellow’s hindquarters.  

I’ll never forget the evening that my friend, still a novice cook at that point, had a bunch of us over for a dinner party.  She’d put some lamb shanks into the oven, and had gone off to shower and get ready, loving this whole dinner party thing.  What a breeze.  My heart went out to her when she pulled the shanks out of the oven, crisped to a dark shade of black.  Her kitchen suddenly became a triage unit, with three cooks working frantically to save what was left of our meal.


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