Monthly Archives: November 2012

November Week 1: Mexican – Tacos al Pastor and Arroz rojo

November is all about trying dishes from other regions/cultures!  Since even within one culture there is a huge range of foods, I decided to focus on either popular food or “street food” to narrow it down and learn a bit about the street vendor market in other cultures.

Week 1: Mexican
Week 2: French
Week 3: Korean
Week 4: Indian
Week 5: North Africa/Middle East

My choice for a Mexican dish was Tacos al Pastor and Arroz rojo!  Tacos seems to be a popular street food in areas of Mexico, so it was an easy choice.  I modified the recipe from epicurious to fit my available ingredients, though I have since found guajillo chile in the market.  I also didn’t top the finished tacos with more pineapple, since I wanted a spicier taco, rather than a sweeter one.  The meat was cooked and put in the corn tortillas then topped with chopped onion, cilantro and goat cheese.  The results?

Pork cooking on the stove!

Arroz con rojo

Tacos al pastor and arroz rojo

Delicious!  I want to eat these every week.  The meat was really the star, which is odd coming from someone who doesn’t often make meat dishes.  I only had those three corn tortillas, but the meat and fixings were awesome on tortilla chips as well.  That also added a nice crunch, but I could eat them either way.

The rice was from Food Network and it was ok.  It was a bit bland, so next time I would add more spice to it.

Next week: French crepes!


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October Week 5 and Summary: Nature

Ah, here’s where I take the majority of my pictures!  I generally take more pictures of plants and animals, but here are a few cloud pictures too!  The cloud picture captured from an airplane was taken with the Olympus, the others were taken with the Sony.

Sunlight coming from behind clouds

I’m just a little black rain cloud…

I believe this might be a petunia.

Taken from an airplane on the way to Wisconsin

These were rather fun to take, especially the three cloud pictures.  This whole month was mostly about trying my hand at taking pictures of things that I don’t normally pay attention to.  There were several other things I took pictures of, but these were some of the more interesting ones.

November:  International Eats!

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October Week 4: Unusual Perspectives

Rather than focusing on a particular subject this week, I am playing with angles and perspectives.  These were all taken with the Olympus.

I am not sure where I was going, I was on a lot of planes recently…

From an airplane!

More of a macro-esque shot, but these were kind of adorable

Macaroons from a creperie in PA!

A lot of time, the top of the flower is the focus of the picture.  I decided to check out what was going on under the petals.

Rose and bud bottom

This last photo is the lights of the city as we were landing.

Coming in for landing at night

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October Week 3: Architecture

While I don’t often take time to admire architecture, I was able to visit a lovely downtown area that had some interesting features.  These were taken with the Olympus.

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, WI

Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, WI

Stained glass in Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman in La Crosse, WI

Carlisle, PA

For all of these, I was just figuring out the new camera.  Some of the pictures look a bit washed out, though I was taking some of these through windows and such which didn’t help the colors.  Here’s to learning new equipment.

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October Week 2: People

I rarely photograph people, they tend to move too much.  Plants are much easier to work around, though animals can move around some too.  On a trip Helen, I got the chance to take some pictures of people for once.  These were all taken with my Sony.  No real motivation or artistry, just playing around.

Winning smiles!

I wish I was as photogenic.


It would seem that she’s all tuckered out from the trip.

And an old picture from around the first year of owning my Sony.  I played a little in the Sony image software with it back then.

Yeah, it’s a foot

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October Week 1: Macro

I enjoy playing with macro photography.  I’m not as crazy about it as some might be, but I do like taking closeup pictures of small things or features of larger things.  Oftentimes this ends up being feature pictures of plants and animals.  I have a lot of pictures of plants and animals so I am going to try to take pictures of other things this month.  So we begin with CANDY!

Maple Cream Truffle

Raspberry Truffle

Cookies n’ cream or maybe cookie dough?

Lemon Blossom! This was one of my favorite flavors

These were taken with my Sony with some natural and some supplemental light.  I did some minor touch ups on the maple and the lemon blossom in picasa, otherwise they have been mostly unmanipulated.  I tried to keep the colors as natural as possible, but they didn’t quite turn out the way they actually were.  If I had experience with proper external flash units, the color may have been accurate but, as it was, I was just playing around.  They really are quite cute!

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October Monthly Challenge: Photography

I have had a few types of real cameras in my 27 years.  As a child, I was given a Kodak Cameo Motor 110 film camera for Christmas.  I don’t recall taking many pictures with it or even being very interested in photography.  I did like that it was really small and had an interesting flash that popped way up from the camera.  That camera broke within a couple of years and when I was a young teen I was given another cheapish film camera.  This one left even less of an impression on me and it also either broke or was lost/donated a few years later.

Buying a camera didn’t even occur to me until I was in my graduate program and signed up for a class that required the students submit a plant collection notebook.  In years past, and is still this way for many classes, this would be a series. of plant parts pressed and dried into a notebook or attached.  Some years ago, this teacher started allowing students to take pictures of the plants and created a notebook with the pictures of the various plant parts.  More recently, with the continued advancements in technology, he now allows students to take digital images and upload them into a Powerpoint slide show and submit this “virtual plant collection” for their project.  Seeing as I was not interested in pulling up plants, pressing, drying, hand labeling, and hauling this collection all over campus, I decided to purchase a digital camera.  Side note: I did end up having to make a physical plant collection for another class after making a digital plant collection for the first.

However, I wasn’t going to just run out to a random store and buy the first camera I saw.  I did visit stores and find a few cameras I found interesting.  Later I went online and compared options and reviews for many, many brands and models. After a few weeks I settled on a Sony DSC H7 which has served me very well.  I have taken a lot of pictures with this camera.  Some people say that I’m pretty decent.  Do I know what I am doing yet? Not so much.

A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine noticed that I had submitted some pictures into a photography contest put on by a professional plant science society and offered me “an old camera” that he had acquired some years ago and was practically new.  It sounded interesting and so he brought it by my office a couple of weeks later.  I didn’t expect him to walk through the door with an almost-new Minolta Autocord from the 1960s.  It is a beautiful camera that I haven’t spent as much time as I would like to on learning how to use it.

One less-than-awesome thing about my primary camera, the Sony, is that it is bulky.  It is hard to take on outdoor trips and is a real spacehog when flying.  For a couple of years I have been looking to buy a camera that is a bit smaller to take on adventures and have looked off and on for one.  While planning a monster trip for two conferences, with a vacation sandwiched in the middle, I wrote down to pack one of the work cameras.  They are a few cameras we use in demonstration events with decent zoom and picture quality.  Yeah, totally forgot to pack it.  I remembered the camera after driving for a couple of hours and decided that this may be the excuse I was looking for to finally buy a smaller camera for traveling.

I did something I never do.  I walked into a store and picked out a camera that looked good.  Well, I did have my smartphone and spent about a half an hour looking up reviews for it, but I didn’t research compact cameras for weeks before settling on one.

I am now the owner of an Olympus sz-12 that has a 24x zoom, two types of macro settings, built-in filters, programmable setting for certain factors (EV, ISO, and white balance) but not others (aperture and f-stop).  The only real criticisms were picture quality indoors and in low light, though I have never seen a camera that DID NOT have that criticism, and a potentially short battery life.

Some of the pictures that I will post for October will be taken with my Sony and some with the Olympus.  I’ll mention in the posts what I was trying to accomplish with each shot and what I had issues with.  I am not a great photographer, I don’t know much about the technical aspects of camera technology and I don’t use photoshop.  I use picasa and a Sony image program to do very minor edits images; adjusting darkness, removing dust from the image, nudging contrast, and cropping/straightening.  I take pictures for fun and to show others what I have seen.  I hope you enjoy the next few posts!

Self portrait

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