Friday, July 29, 2011


In my revived determination to make my dream life happen, I'm going to write a new list of things I really, really want to do and I'm actually going to do them.  No excuses.

example of a "bad" picture
1. Actually take good pictures of the food I make.  No more of this "I'm so hungry I don't care if the picture is good. " I want to set up, find good lighting, and style these pictures.  No more skimping on this.  I'm tired of being excited about a blog post until I see the ho-hum pictures I took to accompany my writing.

2.  Make more gorgeous food (so I can take pictures of it, of course! And, you know, eat it).  I am often sooo inspired by pictures in Food and Wine and other foodie magazines. I yearn to make these recipes and never get around to it.  No more of this either.  I have to eat something, why not make it something delicious and beautiful?

a beautiful picture of a delicious-looking zucchini galette made by my friend, Sarah
aka what I wish my food photos looked like
3.  Along these same lines: learn to make more of my own food. Specifically, learn to can, make jam, make cheese, bake bread.

4.  Dress the part.  Even as I write this, I'm wearing pajamas.  Granted, I love my red and black buffalo check shorts, but I feel markedly happier and more confident when I get dressed.  Throwing on any old tee and shorts doesn't count.  I mean compiling an outfit, a cohesive look.  If I can't style myself, how am I going to style pictures?

5.  Convert my antique store/estate sale finds into something fabulous.  Sometimes I get paralyzed by the possibilities.  Or maybe I feel like if I screw up turning one burlap sack into a pillow, I'll never find another one with which to try again.  There will be more burlap sacks.  And, hey, even if there weren't, even if this were the very last one ever, what good is it doing me tucked away in a corner of my bedroom?

 a sugar sack that I have yet to transform
also a perfect example of a bad picture
p.s. yes, I realize this sack is not made of burlap
6.  Stop being afraid to bring my camera with me when I go places.  Or don't bring it and then "forget" to take pictures.  I am always so nervous that I will get in trouble for taking pictures, but what is the worst that could happen? Somebody tells me to stop? I need to act like a true photographer (even though I'm about as far from it as could be) and just take pictures already.

First step towards reclaiming my life? Dan and I made cheese!  If you know me at all, you know that I am a cheese-aholic.  If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it just might have to be cheese.  I have been wanting to make cheese for a long time now and I was inspired by reading Barbara Kingsolver's chapter in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about cheesemaking with Ricki Carroll of the New England Cheese Making Supply Company.  When Dan and I stopped by the home brewing store (he brews with his friend Chris), I was so excited to see this kit:

Our cheese-making kit
If I hadn't read about Ricki in a Barbara Kingsolver book, I never would have bought this kit.  It looks like it is marketed for 9-year old girls who want to make friendship bracelets (not to knock friendship bracelets - stay tuned for more on this).  But there's something about bright pink and purple doesn't really scream "quality cheese" to me.  However, Ricki Carroll is at the forefront of cheese-making in our nation.  She has been inspiring American cheese-makers since 1978 and wrote one of the first books on the subject, Home Cheese Making.  What to do next? Make some cheese of course!

mozzarella's optimum stretching temperature is 135 degrees

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, what's up with that picture?  I mean, it's terrible.  I'm sorry I'm making you look at it.  But to be completely honest and much to my chagrin, it's the best cheese-making picture I took. And it's terrible.  I mean, is it even in focus? Anyway, Dan and I made both mozzarella and ricotta.  We then used the mozzarella in a roasted vegetable and orzo dish and an heirloom tomato, basil and mozzarella salad (all of the vegetables were locally grown).  

We used both the ricotta and mozzarella on grilled pizzas.  For crust we actually used whole wheat naan from Whole Foods and a whole wheat pre-made crust from Trader Joe's.  I wanted to make the crust from scratch, but making the cheese from scratch was enough for me at this point.  One thing at a time, people.  We topped the pizzas with varying combinations of pepperoni, a natural spicy italian sausage, homemade pesto, zucchini (I was inpsired by Sarah's galette, pictured above), new potatoes, and red onion (all locally grown). 

I feel like I'm back on track to making my life what I want it to be.  I, honestly, feel happier already - like I have taken control.  Cheese-making turned out to be just what the doctor ordered (minus that whole cholesterol thing).  Now, I just have to keep at it!  Dan and I are hoping to develop our cheese-making skills to the point where we can make hard cheeses someday.  And of course my other goal is to take good pictures of it, too.


  1. Kristen,
    I love this! I am a sometime cheesemaker also. Try the ricotta recipe at Smitten Kitchen; it's delicious. If you want some serious cheesemaking supplies, try a trip to Caprine Supply in De Soto, KS. CCR

  2. Hi Claire,

    I'm glad you like it! I remember the ricotta that you brought to the lake house--so delicious. I think that was better than what Dan and I made, so I want to try the Smitten Kitchen recipe soon. We'll have to check out the cheesemaking store in De Soto too!

  3. Hey lady! I read this food blog called Eat, Live, Run and the gal who writes it recently did a post on how to set up a home photography studio (cheaply) specifically for photographing food: Good luck! xo

  4. Thanks RL- Can't wait to check that out!!