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Travel Photography | Washington, DC

After spending a few days in New York City, Boyfriend and I headed down to Washington DC via bus to meet up with M, my post-college roommate, travel partner and marathon running partner.

A few years ago, M got the hare-brained idea to run a marathon and insisted I do it with her.  We chose the California International Marathon as our first event and despite apparently telling people that I was never going to do that again, we signed up again the following year for the Dallas Marathon.   By now, we are absolute pros at our drink-wine-and-don’t-train-marathon-training-program and took it to the streets of DC for the Marine Corps Marathon, which due to it’s popularity is as difficult to get into as it is to run it.

The race itself was absolutely outstanding, though it did have some lonely moments.  There’s an absolutely surreal bit of it that goes on the freeway overpass to Virginia: it’s very exposed, sun baked, and eerie, as if you’re in a zombie apocalypse movie all of the sudden.   The experience overall was phenomenal and awe inspiring.  It was hard not to cry at the starting line as jets flew over, dropping marines with American Flags and parachutes into the crowd as the anthem played.  It was encouraging to run along side Wounded Warriors as they pushed themselves on hand bikes with no gears up the hills of the 26.2 mile course.  It was invigorating to hear words of encouragement from Marines stationed every 200 yards in the last few miles.  “Keep your head up! Run with purpose!  Never give up!” they called.  It was thrilling to know that you were in the last tenth of a mile when the row of marines waiting to high five you for your efforts at the finish line showed up and then, as you cross the line, another row of Marines, waiting to shake your hand, hang your medal on your head and thank you for supporting them.

You think the laundry list of things to see in New York City is overwhelming?  DC is worse.  I wish we’d had two weeks there to really take in all the sights and museums available to you.  Here’s what we did, but this is by no means the extensive list.

STAY: Fred and Kadija’s Cozy Rowhouse on Airbnb is absolutely perfect for exploring DC from.  It’s extremely close to the NOMA metro stop and made it so insanely easy to get out on foot every day and check stuff out. The house is adequately stocked with almost everything you would need, was clean, comfortable and perfect for a group.  You won’t need a car if you stay here!

EAT:

  • Indigo is just around the corner from the Rowhouse.  Order menu items a la carte to share or scarf down by yourself.  It’s BYOB, casual and amazing.  Apparently, it’s the only authentic home-style Punjabi (North Indian) food that you’ll find in DC.
  • Our meal at Tash was one of the most memorable of our trip.  The grilled flatbread rivaled my own and was perfectly accompanied by heaping mounds of Baba Ganoush.  M’s meal, the Gheymeh Lamb Shank, was rich and cooked with precision.
  • Thank god for Teds Bulletin.  I spend four and a half hours of every marathon thinking about nothing but breakfast.  After a serious people-moving snafu occurred after the marathon (apparently moving 100,000 people via public transportation is not that easy), we were a bit concerned that it was so late we wouldn’t be able to find breakfast.  Teds Bulletin came to the rescue and not only did I have the most perfect post marathon breakfast of all time but our amazing waiter treated us to free homemade pop tart treats after we told him what we had just accomplished.

DRINK:

  • Little Miss Whiskey’s is awash with concert posters and a dark, but chill vibe.  The bartenders were great conversationalists and chatted with us for quite some time about our adventures.  The beer selection is varied and filled with local gems and the whiskey knowledge and selection is what you would expect given the name.
  • Beirgarten Haus serves authentic German beer and food in a eerily accurate setting.  It took me back to Oktoberfest.  The draft selection of German brews is extensive and the pretzel bread is not to be missed.
  • The Hawk n’ Dove is practically a historical monument in DC.  It was recently rennovated out of it’s “dive bar” status and while the locals may notice and dislike the changes, we were so comfortable here that we returned more than once to imbibe at the deep dark comfortable bar.

EXPLORE:

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Tahoe Food Photographer | Jimmy’s Restaurant in The Landings Resort and Spa

Last week I had the pleasure of joining my friend and Tahoe South guru Georgette Riley for dinner at Jimmy’s Restaurant at the recently opened The Landing Resort and Spa.   I was particularly excited about this venture for a number of reasons: first off, we had a small sampling of tastings that blew our mind the week before at Girls’ Drinking Club and secondly, because I’m super excited to be shooting a wedding there in June organized by the best wedding planner in Northern CA and one of the most hysterical fabulous women I’ve ever met, Tamara J Events.

Tahoe South just hosted it’s first ever official Restaurant Week.  A number of local Tahoe South establishments ran specials all week long to entice folks out of their warm homes into the cold to take part.  In addition to Jimmy’s, Boyfriend and I ate at Basecamp Pizza where they were offering an $8 personal sized pizza of any of their gourmet favorites!   We love Basecamp for their service, staff and food and jumped at a chance for an extra special deal.

Jimmy’s is one of the first restaurant’s to open in Tahoe that I’m particularly excited about.  The Chef’s father is Greek and her blend of “Californian Greek” is on par and takes me right back to one of the best trips of my life.   At Jimmy’s, you can almost forget that you’re dining in Tahoe.  For a brief second, you are transported to a cosmopolitan city where food is locally sourced from local farmers and ranchers and everything is made fresh and impeccably presented.

I can’t even begin to count how many times I ate fried feta in Greece but Jimmy’s Kataifi (shredded Phyllo dough) Wrapped Feta was spot on.  We had the pleasure of tasting a number of plates of their extensive and varied menu, but the Seared Ahi and the Roasted Beets and Apple Salad also really stood out as exceptional dishes for me.

You should head over to the Tahoe South Blog to read Georgette’s write up on our evening and check out all my photos from the night!

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Dinner Tonight: Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

I am not a creative cook.  I do not generally throw things together in a pot at my whim and fancy like my boyfriend does; I am a recipe follower.  I look to magazines, blogs and cookbooks for inspiration.  Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Food and Wine are general staples in my mailbox.  Recipes from Smitten Kitchen, Eat, Live, Run and Thug Kitchen are frequently saved to my Chef Tap for reference at the grocery store.  When I was in college, I taught myself how to cook by reading and using recipes out of Cooking Light and 14 years later, not much has changed.

This recipe came from a new love of mine: Sunset Magazine.  Sunset Magazine is like a giant advertisement for a Pinterest worthy life where you have a house with huge windows and bay doors that open to a gorgeous patio overlooking a massive garden complete with chickens and go on glorious vacations all over the west coast and stay in hotels that I would never ever pay for.  This recipe for Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos caught my eye though as something rich and fancy but weeknight worthy due to very little prep work.  It was delicious and, as they said, decadent and quite wonderful.  It’s definitely guest worthy but wouldn’t travel well so it’s best served at home and not at a pot-luck.  Thanks to the shrimp inside, one pepper each totally filled us up and the roasted red pepper and fire roasted tomatoes give the sauce such a nice smoky flavor.

Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

(recipe from Sunset Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 medium poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil $
  • 1 onion, chopped $
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed with a pan
  • 1 pound medium (36 to 42 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, halved lengthwise $$
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature $
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco* (Mexican-style fresh cheese)
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whirl red peppers, tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp. salt together in a food processor until puréed. Pour into a wide 4-qt. shallow baking dish or 6 shallow 1-cup baking dishes. Set aside.
  2. Set poblanos over flames on a gas range (or set on a baking sheet and broil). Cook, turning often, until starting to turn black in spots, 8 minutes total. Let cool.
  3. Slit poblanos with one long cut down the center and a small perpendicular cut near the stem and remove seeds, leaving pepper and stem intact.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, and coriander. Cook until softened, 4 minutes. Add shrimp and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Cook until shrimp starts to turn pink, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Stir cream and jack cheeses into shrimp mixture. Spoon into poblanos, dividing evenly. Set chiles in dish with sauce. Bake until filling is oozing and hot, 40 minutes. Top with queso fresco and cilantro.
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Leftover Turkey Jumbalaya

There is nothing more daunting than an entire fridge filled with leftover mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing.  I don’t understand people who can eat the same meal day in and day out for a week in a row until they exhaust those Thanksgiving leftovers.  Mostly, all that stuff just sits in my fridge for a week while I open it up and crave other things until finally I give in and throw it all away.  Yes, I threw it away.

What I don’t throw away though is the leftover turkey.  You can re-purpose that delicious dead bird a million ways.  One night we had leftover turkey tacos with black beans and corn.   Turkey sandwiches of course are a standard.  You want a real way to turn that turkey into something you don’t recognize?  You don’t have to look any farther than New Orleans.

Leftover Turkey Jumbalaya

  • 1-2 tbsn canola oil
  • 3-4 cups of leftover turkey, chopped or shredded
  • 1 package Cajun Style Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 c Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/2 cups white long grain rice
  • 2 bay leafs
  • 2 (I like 3 heaping but I’m not the faint of heart) tsp Cajun seasoning

Heat 1 tbsn canola oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and brown the sausage.  Remove from the pan.  Add additional 1 tbsn oil if you think necessary and saute the celery, onion and bell pepper until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic, saute one minute.   Add everything else, along with the browned sausage and leftover turkey, give it a good mix up, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.  Simmer for one hour or until liquid is evaporated and rice is cooked through.  Enjoy and exclaim, “Who dat!”

Life Essentials: Things I Can’t Live Without

My life has been crazy the last month and a half.  It was a somewhat-disaster.  I cried a lot.  I left my really important pieces of paper that I need to get on a plane in Tahoe when I went on a work trip and my mother had to fix the situation.  I moved and then the pipe in our old residency busted and now I anticipate a grand fight with the homeowner, who by the way, is the worst kind of desperate jerk-face.  It’s made me think a lot about why people can’t just be nice to each other.   It makes me happy that his house flooded because he so badly is so desperate to find any reason to keep every dollar of ours he can when I returned his house to him in better condition than he provided it to me.  Then I feel guilt for thinking this.  And then I tell myself to stop.  I shot a lot of gorgeous weddings that I can’t wait to share.  I ran a marathon that I can’t wait to tell you about.  I went on vacation and I haven’t even looked at the photos yet, much less thought about editing them.  Remember that time I photographed Dave Matthews Band?  Yeah, I haven’t even had time to look at those photos yet and that was three months ago.

Anyways, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about all the things that make my insanely busy life SO much better.

FYI, none of these companies give me free stuff or suggested this in any way.  I am personally in love with all of them and it’s a fairly random list.  If you are from one of these companies and want to give me free stuff, I would say, “oh hells yes” especially if you are Timbuk2 (pssst I could really use a new gym bag hint hint).

Messenger Bag Travel Style in Salzburg, Austria. Photo by Erik Moore.

So, without further adieu, I present:

SHIT THAT I THINK IS AWESOME

1.  Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert and Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Bag – It’s no secret that I’m Timbuk2 obsessed.  On my List of Travel Essentials, Timbuk2 scored 3 of the 8 spots.  However, I have since that list decided that I hate the Lowe Pro Slingshot, which originally wiggled it’s way into one of the spots.  Since creating that list, my favorite company Timbuk2 has broken into the camera bag world and I couldn’t be happier.  I found on a trip in 2012 that the Low Pro Slingshot was creating serious imbalances in my back muscles because I could only wear it on one shoulder.  Since I already own three or four different sizes of Timbuk2 Messenger Bags, the Snoop Camera Insert is the perfect remedy: pop it into the bag and voila, you have a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag.  When I travel, I flatten the insert and a messenger bag into my luggage and then I have it when I arrive at my destination.   Sometimes I have too much gear to fit it into a simple messenger bag.  For travel and weddings, I rely on the Snoop Camera Bag.  With side entry for easy gear organization and access, a padded internal laptop compartment, and padded Velcro panels for protection and separation, it’s just what I need when I have to haul it all.

Photo by Marion Daniels

2.  My Timberland Shoreham Knee High Boots – I scored so huge when I ordered these.  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what prompted it me to place the order on Amazon that fateful day last year (maybe it was that I hated my old winter boots), but this was the best $49.99 I ever spent.  You probably won’t find that sort of deal on Timberland Boots and I may never find it again, but they’ve won me over.  From all to weddings to travel, I wear these boots everywhere and they are so insanely comfortable that I rarely even notice 12 hours straight on my feet.   I will never order from another boot brand again.  $200 or $50, these things are worth every penny.

3.  The Black Rapid Women’s Camera Strap - this ergonomic women’s specific camera strap is lightweight and comfortable – key features when you’ve got 10 lbs hanging off your body for hours at a time.  The sling allows for quick, graceful and smooth access to your camera and although I am often forced to use the Black Rapid Double Strap when I have two cameras hanging off of me, the Women’s version is significantly less cumbersome and far more pleasant to wear all day.

4.  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – Years later, this book still reigns supreme as my most used cookbook.  Bread: it never gets old and I can’t live without it.

5.  My coffee maker.  Wax and wane all you want about your artisan slow drip coffee out of ridiculously overpriced beakers but I can’t live without my Zojirushi Thermal Carafe.  First of all, if my coffee isn’t ready and waiting for me when I get out of bed, I’m furious and secondly, if I can’t take my coffee and I do mean ALL my coffee, to bed with me then something is wrong here.  

6.  The Starbucks Double Walled Coffee Tumblers keep coffee so warm it’s a problem because I can drink coffee WAY later in the day than I should be because it NEVER GETS COLD.  It’s like MAGIC.  They put every other travel mug I’ve ever bought to shame so now I’m a believer.  If only they would stop serving shit coffee.

7.  My Amazon Prime Membership.   SO AWESOME I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE LIVE WITHOUT THIS.  Oh, wait, yes I do: they live in places where they have Target.  I don’t have that so instead I have Amazon Prime and thus, more time in my life.

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Stop Hunger Now: Grow the Cause

Right around this time last year, I was asked by World Foods to be part of their “Fusion Taste Team” with other California bloggers.  They sent us all an amazing basket of World Foods products and for two months I created recipes and blogged and shared them online in a nationwide contest.  It was the first time I’d ever been asked to participate in something like that and I have to say, it was an absolute blast.  To this day, there is always at least one or two World Foods Sauces in my pantry for quick, fresh and easy weeknight dinners.  Our favorites are the Rendang Curry Sauce and the Thai Galangal Lemon Grass Sauce, both of which you can pick up at Whole Foods.

 

 I was contacted by World Foods this week because they need help spreading the word about their Stop Hunger Now: Grow the Cause Campaign.  Wanting to give back to those in crisis, World Foods has partnered with Stop Hunger Now, a non-profit committed to bringing an end to hunger by providing food and life saving aid to the world’s most vulnerable and by creating a global commitment to mobilizing the resources to make this happen.

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How can you help?

 Head over to the World Foods Facebook page and hit the “like” button so that another $1 gets donated to Stop Hunger Now.

Stop Hunger Now‘s meal packing program of small meal packets cost 25 cents and 70% of their meals are provided in developmental programs such as schools and orphanages.  $1 from World Foods will feed four people.

Read about my experiences with all the World Foods Sauces here:
Jungle Curry with Tofu
Galangal Lemon Grass Stir Fry Sauce
Rendang Curry Sauce
Pad Thai Noodle Sauce
Xin Zhou Noodle Sauce
Green Curry Sauce
Cambodian Lemongrass Pineapple Stir Fry Sauce

Check out what my other California Fusion Taste Team Members are up to:

Darlene at My Burning Kitchen
Alex at Ma, What’s for Dinner
Mary at This Tasty Life

Follow the World Fusion Taste Team updates on Twitter @fusiontasteteam.
Follow on Pinterest at WorldFoods.
Follow on Facebook at WorldFoods Fusion of Flavours.

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Winterhill Olive Oil | Tahoe Product Photography

I discovered recently that I am not particularly into architectural and real estate photography.

I also discovered, however, that I love product photography.

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I was elated when the owner of Winterhill Farms approached me to do some product photography for them, partially because I discovered how wonderful product photography is in the process but also because I selfishly lust over their products.

Winterhill Farms specializes in the best certified extra virgin olive oils in the area and they are divine.  They are luscious and delicate, with a robust olive oil taste and come infused with things like garlic, jalapeno, basil or lemon if you so choose.

They are unbelievable.  Trust me.  

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Commercial product photography is pretty awesome for a variety of reasons, the best of which is that I can drink wine while I shoot in the comfort of my own home.  I set up a small studio in my office with three lights, a folding table, a huge 4 foot wide, 10 foot long piece of white cardboard that I convinced some visual merchandising reps for Bounty at our local Staples Store to give me instead of throwing in the trash (seriously), and a piece of plexiglass.  This was yet another experience where I discovered how valuable my expensive film degree at UT where I  learned lighting was.

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 In addition to olive oils, Winterhill Farms offers artisanal balsamic vinegars, chutneys, local jams and jellies, honeys, relish, and best of all, dark chocolates and truffles infused with orange or habanero (my favorite)!  If you are local to the northern CA area, Winterhill Farms offers hosted Olive Oil Parties as a delicious way to gather and taste their products.  Their olive oils can be purchased in Tahoe at my favorite place to drink Apres Wine Co and the Farmers Market at the American Legion every Tuesday (8 AM-2 PM) in the summer.

If you aren’t in Tahoe, you can order their products via mail order on their website, or in the Northern CA area, pick up Winterhill Olive Oil at my favorite vineyard, Holly’s Hill, of which I am both a wine club member and an emphatic and insistent fan, or at their storefront at 321 Main St in Placerville.

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  I have nothing but respect, admiration and love for people who are passionate about their product.  I have been a fan of Winterhill Olive Oil long before my professional relationship with them began and I will forever sing their accolades now that I have worked for them.  I strongly recommend you order their products; you will not regret it!

You can follow Winterhill Olive Oil on facebook via this link.

Read a great article about Winterhill on page 41 of Living Magazine.

Summer Grill Time

It’s been one of the warmer, drier springs that I’ve ever experienced in Tahoe and as a result, it already feels like summer is in full swing here.  To maximize the great weather, we’ve been grilling a ton to really enjoy the late warm nights.  I just ordered a big picnic table on Amazon so we can eat dinner in the backyard because there is nothing better than a bottle of wine in the backyard after work as the sun goes down, all while dinner is on the grill, especially if I spent the entire sun filled day inside a retail store.   I need to get down to Holly’s Hill one of these days soon and buy a case of their Grenache Rosé, which accompanies BBQs and summer so perfectly you’ll think you’re on vacation, for at least as long as the bottle lasts you, which in my case is not very long.

What have we been grilling?  Awesomeness.  That’s what.

Our New Obsessions

Grilled Romaine, Reno Tahoe Food Photography

Grilled Romaine

1.  You might think that a head of romaine is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard of putting on a grill, but I dare you to accuse it of ridiculousness after you’ve tried it yourself.   Recently, my friend Haley found an awesome website with a recipe for grilled romaine and it took me back to Nonna’s in Dallas, where we had a grilled romaine salad the night before the Dallas Marathon that knocked our socks off.  2 minutes on the grill and romaine is taken to a whole new level: warm, charred and unbelievably delicious.  It may be the easiest salad you’ve ever made.  Recipe via Thug Kitchen.

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Grilled whole wheat flatbread.

2.  Grilled flatbread: possibly better than grilled romaine.  We are constantly making homemade bread but rarely want to turn our oven on in Tahoe in the summer.  My new solution to this conundrum is to roll it out and grill it up.  The other night we grilled lemon and dill marinated chicken, a homemade tzatziki sauce, Greek salad and grilled bread.  You should be jealous.  Also, if you don’t already own this book, you should probably go ahead and get it.

Weeknight Dinners

Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

It’s been awhile since I talked about food.

Whenever I’m in charge of a weeknight dinner, 9/10 times I gravitate towards noodles of some sort.  They are, most importantly, my favorite form of gluten, in addition to being generally fast, easy and fresh.  Thankfully Food and Wine recently had an entire issue devoted to Mario Batali recipes.  Heaven!

The recipe actually called for an amazing looking noodle called malfaldine, which is a thin lasagna.  I couldn’t find any at our local grocery store so I opted for fusilli lunghi.  I think the malfaldine would have been better but these were still fun and a great texture combined with the long strips of broccolini.  I also tripled the garlic.  I firmly believe that no matter who wrote the recipe, they were wrong.  Even Mario Batali.  There should always be more garlic.

Recipe via Food & Wine.

Whipped delight

Woah.

Now, I’ve made some delicious cakes in my day, but to be punny, this one takes the cake.

It’s called the “Versatile Vanilla Cake” (recipe via Martha Stewart) and the icing was egg whites and sugar, brought to temperature over the stove and then whipped into a amazing meringue-like fury.

This is most definitely one recipe I’m saving to use again!