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The Happy New Year (!) Staycation

01 Jan
Dangers of "Staycations"

Dangers of “Staycations”

I was talking to my sister a day or two back on my birthday – she had called from the car, beach-bound, somewhere on the island of Kauai, and I was sitting on the sofa still contemplating what to make for dinner (and playing with a stupid game on my ipad, see above). “So what are you doing for your 29th (yes! 😉 ) birthday? For New Year’s?” “Oh…not much planned…but that’s ok.” And it is. I don’t think I have traveled so much in one year in my life. It felt like I was getting on a plane practically every second week. I have to admit…I don’t know if this year will be different, although at the moment, there are no travels planned, either for work or privately.

“Oh, you’re having a ‘Staycation'” she said.

“A what?”

“A Staycation.” I guess I am.

It feels almost a bit strange to hang out at home for a couple weeks, although we’ve been keeping busy while relaxing…cooking, gym, movies (can recommend: Argo, Pitch Perfect, Lincoln, Life of Pi – all great movies), museums, “spa” day later this week. Two interesting (?) dinner parties planned soon – the mexican bunny rabbit dinner and the to-be-filmed-by-professional-filmographer “Ashkenazi vs. Sephardi cook-off.” But I guess I will leave those for other blog entries.

With all the relaxing, of course I am busy playing around with all kinds of new apps on my ipad. And always on the look-out for new interesting ones. So, Larry and Ruth Nathan, go ahead and download “Snapseed” for your ipad. It’s great fun. Maybe you can already try it out with some of the photos from your dinner the other night. In essence, it’s just another photo editing app, but I think it might replace Photogene for me. Like the others, it has typical things like filters and frames you can apply, and of course you can crop and change saturation and color balance. But it also allows you to focus in on certain areas of a photo, sharpen and blur these areas, darken or lighten them. Which makes for some photo editing drama.

I know I am fairly lazy when it comes to food photography, and what I really should do is take a course to learn more about it, at least if the plan is to continue to write a food blog. (Which it is…unless this magically turns into another kind of blog). My problem is that while I want to take photos of the finished product, I’m also concentrated on eating it and getting it eaten while it is still hot. So usually right before sitting down to eat there is some scrambling to get the food photographed, cursing at the terrible terrible lighting in my kitchen and dining room, propping up lettuce leaves and such…and then generally giving up and hoping it all works out.

Which is more or less what happened last night, but have a look at the before and after – I’m no pro, not by a long shot, but I did have fun trying out snapseed and playing with all the functions to try to get things looking a bit better at least. Inspired by my parents’ dinner party on the 30th, I went and bought a lobster yesterday afternoon and did a simple but tasty lobster and fennel risotto.

The Fish Store (Before)

The Fish Store (Before)

The guy at the store selling me the lobster looked at me like I was nuts…snapping away.

The Fish Counter (After)

The Fish Counter (After)

I was lucky to get a lobster, actually. I finished running around 1:15, then went to the sauna for 15 minutes and showered and dressed…thinking I had all the time in the world to go buy one. At 2, all the stores around Marienplatz CLOSED. Literally as I walked in I was shooed out. Luckily, the fish market I frequent at the Viktualienmarkt was willing to sell me one as they were closing up shop.

About to crack the lobster (before)

About to crack the lobster (before)

Thankfully, I didn’t have to kill this one – he was ready – cooked and chilled already – when I bought him. It’s always a trauma for me to stick them in the boiling water. All I had to do to get it ready for the risotto was remove all the meat. Which was the usual messy process, but the cats enjoyed watching.

The lobster to be cracked...after some tweaking

The lobster to be cracked…after some tweaking

I know I have some work to do on figuring out where to put dark shadows and blur…this is not much better, but I am still getting the hang of things.

The Risotto, before

The Risotto, before

Ok, this one…I *know* is better below. Major improvement, I think. Would be better still if the focus were on the risotto but I had some sort of object – fork, spoon, wineglass, in the background – to relax the eye, offset the focus. Like this it is just “food porn” I suppose. Well, practice makes perfect. Will work on it. And maybe get some tips from my sister.

The Risotto, after, aren't you hungry now?

The Risotto, after, aren’t you hungry now?

Wishing you a very very happy, healthy and successful 2013.

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