A Duo Of Salads And Cod With Lemon Caper Relish

January 29, 2013

Spinach Salad - Jerusalem
Very few of us can live on salad alone. Or soup. I know I can't. Although, after the indulgences of the holidays, we all felt a little need to detox. With my parents staying with me in Birmingham until last week, it was easy to find a balance of good-for-you meals mixed in with little indulgences here and there. Indeed, they had not until now tried white bbq sauce and not as much soul food but I fixed that pronto. Culinary moves that called for lighter but just as tasty meals in between.

As cliche as it may sound, if you feel nurtured on the inside, you show it to the ones you loved on the outside.

Halibut With Lemon Relish- Sprouted Kitchen
  Things have been busy and good. The blog qot a bit quiet and for good reason. After our holiday stint on the beach in Charleston, my parents came home to Birmingham with me. And I loved having them here. We cooked, went to the symphony, the movies. We ate out and in and tried to find balance between long days at work and short evenings at home. Or at least, it felt that way to me. Probably because the night still falls so early.

Halibut With Lemon Relish - Sprouted Kitchen
  There was nothing more heart warming than to see my mom set the table while my dad would cut the bread. Habits I grew up with that never seemed as important as they are now. With every year that passes, I realize how lucky I am that I get along so well with them for one and that they are still willing to put their own routine on hold to come visit for an extended period of time.

The difference this year compared to previous visits is that everything was a whirlwind (again...). A mix of driving back and forth, packing boxes, unpacking boxes. All this with super trooper pup Tippy somewhere in the car, who at 16 years old is decidedly the best dog ever. The minute we both got back in the house last week after we said goodbye to my parents, we both plopped down on our respective beds. I did not see that pup surface until dinner time. I pretty much did the same thing well, except for a big grocery trip to stock up on everything I needed to fix a few dinners and lunches.

I was starting to feel my energy levels getting low and decided to nip that in the bud with plenty of greens, seafood and nutritious grains. Among the recipes I made are three I want to keep on rotation this year. A spinach salad from the cookbook Jerusalem, chock full of dates, almonds and spices, a pan seared cod with a tangy lemon relish from The Sprouted Kitchen coobook. My go to meal last week was a quinoa salad that existed only in my head for a long while. A mix of sweet and savory with red and yellow quinoa, lots of herbs and topped by a barely set soft boiled egg.

Persimon Quinoa Salad

I hate to say but all meals this week will feature plenty of hot soups and liquids instead. I am hoping my mother did not pass on her bronchitis on to me as a farewell gift but sure looks that way. Already perusing my favorite coobooks for nutritious soups.

If you have a favorite(s), please share!

Pistachio - Cumin Crusted Rack of Lamb & A Roasted Cauliflower - Hazelnut Salad

January 14, 2013

Cauliflower Salad

I have had the images for this post up and ready for words for about a week now. It's not that I can't find the words to go along. It's just that I am ever near long enough the computer to sit down and write.

We had such a great time at the beach with my parents, my brother and his family that diving right back into work mode was a blessing and a curse at the same time. It's been busy around here but having my parents stay with me here in Birmingham for a couple of weeks shifted the rhythm even further.

It's good. It's all good. It's actually awesome to have them around and see the new house, the new job, the new town. They really get a handle on my new situation and all the questions they had are being answered. My photo schedule, the way we do things, the people I work with, the places I like to go to for dinner, a drink or to shop. Things are about as new to them as they are to me and we share discoveries and new finds everyday.

Radish Sprouts

It's really nice to come home after a long day and start cooking with my mom. Chopping, dicing, searing, etc... while sipping a glass of wine and watching the end of an old movie or listening to the radio. We have more quiet time for serious talks, or to simply catch up on news about the family at large.

It's been raining lots lately and we have been enjoying a few comforting and hearty meals. The kind to make you feel instantly better and warm inside after being caught by a heavy rain.

Stews, fish soups, long cooked dishes, and roasted veggie soups have permeated the air around for days now, filling me with a bit of nostalgia. The flavors and spices of my grandmother's stews and roasts come into to our conversation almost at every meal. Her cooking while being so intricately French provincial was so influenced by her life in Northern Africa and encounters with other army wives.

Roasted Garlic

It might be for this reason that I have absolutely loved every page turned in the new cookbook by Ottolenghi, Jerusalem, co-authored with Sami Tamimi. I hear my stomach growl at just about every recipe and my eyes pop out from every stunning picture. I find my family's cooking in so many of the recipes in the book.

I don't know if we are atypical or just reflect an era (military, moves, oversea travels, wars, etc...) but some of my most vivid food memories are as much of harissa, Berber couscous and papaya with lime juice as they are of cassoulet and Bouillabaisse.

In that regard, the book completely appeals to me. The way Ottolenghi and Tamimi look at culinary traditions and influences. Understanding that one dish may have the same root but different interpretations in neighboring cultures, civilizations or countries. They understood that cooking is honoring ones traditions as well as sharing common flavors, differences in interpretations. Food travels. It is not one to be of only one people and one culture. It is alive. It reflects peoples, generations and history. It is humanity.

Pecan Crusted Rack Of Lamb

I get that. Especially when sitting down at the dinner table around a plate of Pistachio Crusted Lamb and a side or Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad. (recipes after the jump). I get the sharing, the cultural influences, and the roots. The history that brought this plate and the chatter about it, in front of me. I happily grab my fork and ask my mother for one more story about my grandmother. About her own childhood. About mine with her.

Only a few more days and they will be heading back to France. A few more days to revel in the memories and the times we are living in the present. I am grateful for the love and time they give me these few short weeks. It's been quite nice, indeed...

I hope you all have a wonderful week too!


Happy New Year 2013 & Reflections On The Year Gone By

January 3, 2013

New Year

I love reading other people's reflections and thoughts on their year gone by. With less time to read blogs and updates as often as before, end of the year recaps allow me to catch up on their milestones, wishes and achievements.

 In 2012, my inner wish for myself and others was: Live fully. Play hard. Leap and take chances. Tiny or big. Do what makes you truly happy. I did. It shaped the following 12 months and took me on a rollercoaster ride of the best kind. 

Here is a little recap of the year passed. What a year! Lots of great photo jobs, lots of wonderful collaborations. If anything, the last year is for me a deep acknowledgment of my strength and growth as an individual, photographer and wife.

Winter 2012

Winter 2012 started off kind of rough with the loss of my grandfather and uncle within a few weeks of each other. But having my parents visit shortly after helped not feel so far away from everyone while we were going through this time. It was also really fun to have my parents around while I was busy at work and they could see me in my element.
I shot a really fun book, Marmalades that winter as well as worked with some really different clients such as One Kings Lane for which I shot Heirloom Book Company Tastemaker Tag Sale. 
 I was giddy to have Lana Restaurant and Heirloom Book Co both ask for over a dozen of my photographs to go up as exhibits of fine art food photography in their respective establishments. 
And I was honored to be selected to have my photographs used as a backdrop for Donna Karan's Urban Zen Foundation event.

Spring 2012

Spring 2012 was definitely one of many preparations. I started gearing up to teach many food and lifestyle photo workshops during the Spring and Summer. 
I also shot two new color lines for Le Creuset and one more campaign for One Kings Lane. 
I started a very productive and fun collaboration for Food & Wine magazine and shot over 100 pictures for them throughout the year. One of my favorite freelancing gigs in 2012. 
I photographed my dear friend’s wedding and wished her goodbye as she moved away to start her new life. I co-taught an amazing workshop in my hometown of Charleston. 
A group of complete strangers coming to learn and share and becoming fast friends in the process is something I absolutely love to witness and be part of. 
At the end of Spring, it became clear to me that all the hard work and discipline of the last few months to establish my professional goals and stick to them as a photographer were now leaving me less time for blogging. I knew I was gearing us up for some big jobs ahead that would fulfill my love for photography and working with talented creatives. 
I just had no idea of the twist our life would take in the early days of summer.
Summer 2012

The workshop I taught at Squam in June unleashed the inner child in me big time. It also reinforced that I was on the right path with my choices, my friendships, my desires and wishes. 
“Be Bold In The Dreams You Wish For Yourself”. Be that child who dreams and feels lie nothing is off limit. If you do not ask the best of yourself, you will never work for it. If you do not ask for the best from the world, you will never see it is out there. I needed the nurturing of Squam. Too many airplanes. Too many jobs without rest in between. Too much up in the air that I did not know how to handle. At Squam, I opened it all up to the Universe. And everything started falling into place. 
I photographed a bunch of fun features for The Local Palate magazine. 
I headed off to Washington, D.C to teach a photo workshop at the USPCA annual conference for the second time. 
I co-taught a fun filled 3 day workshop in Seattle, WA and got to spend some quality time with generous and loving folks. 
I taught an intense and enriching workshop in Northern Ireland. Women from all over the world came to learn and share of themselves. We had an incredible time in an incredible setting at Belle Isle Castle and I can’t wait to do it again! Bill and I took extra days to visit his ancestral grounds in Scotland and road trip along the coast of Ireland and Northern Ireland prior to the workshop. Absolutely gorgeous. 
I traveled to Canada to shoot a cookbook for Le Cordon Bleu
Our couple grew stronger than ever this year and summer as we were faced with pretty big decisions. Questions and opportunities we had to keep for ourselves first and work on as a team. the hard work of the years passed was finally started to shape up for us on an emotional level.
I traveled to Birmingham, AL and secretly test shot for the biggest opportunity of my career, Senior photographer at Oxmoor House. And then started to plan the second biggest moment of our year: a move. Leaving family and friends to start a new life. 
 We are, at the moment, living in two different states doing the long distance thing until Bill can join me once his semester teaching at CofC here is over. Then we can be together and dive together into this new setting. That will be our biggest adjustment of 2013. All the logistics of getting our two lives merged into one again.

Fall 2012

In the Fall, I traveled again Canada to wrap up the cookbook shoot for Le Cordon Bleu.
I shot a massive project for Food &Wine magazine while editing book pictures and packing boxes.
I found a house for rent in Birmingham in between a plane back from Canada and one to New Hampshire.
I taught two more 3 day workshops in Charleston with fantastic women and forged inspiring and creative bonds with all of them.
I learned a ton about my own resilience and mental strength by moving and living by myself while Bill remained in Charleston. I grew. Lots. I am so looking forward to letting all the pieces of this new life fall in place. 

 It is Winter again. My family from France, parents, brother, sister-in-law and my two nieces came to the spend Christmas and New Year’s with us. We did not know when they booked their flights and we rented a house on the beach for all of us that I’d be in Alabama now but we all made it and had a fabulous time.

Whatever you wishes are for 2013 – go for them. Make them happen. The year is yours for the taking.


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