I had planned on getting so much done today after work, we had an early dismissal, which gave me an extra hour! You know how things never seem to go as you had planned, well today was no exception! I had to stop on the way home to do some grocery shopping, with the blogger meet up in Philly, my normal Saturday morning trip to Wegmans had to be reschedule and with my shortened work day it sounded like the perfect time. Everything was going so well, I actually hired someone to do the lawn, my allergies have been so bad and my time so short I bit the bullet and had our landscaper do the job, and let me tell you he does great work! So as I pulled up, and saw how great my lawn looked, my new front porch almost finished and my shopping done, I was feeling pretty good.
Then when I got inside I noticed a smell, not the normal smell mind you (we do have two very large dogs), but more of a garbage smell…..sigh, I forgot to put out the garbage after dinner, my fault! It was such a beautiful afternoon that I had the perfect excuse to open up the windows and let the afternoon breeze refresh the house. You know how you keep saying I’ll do that later, well after taking the trash out later was today, the can needed a good scrubbing and the cabinet that holds it had to be cleaned as well. I do try to keep my kitchen very clean, so I just used the time to get everything back in order.
Okay, I feel pretty good, I’ve gotten quite a bit accomplished and still have plenty of time to whip up my planned post…… But when you get an email from a friend that says let’s talk what do you do? You talk! Has anyone tried the Google Hangout’s yet? They are really pretty cool and much better than Skype! So we discussed a business venture we had been working on, and before you know it another hour had passed…..and I hadn’t made my blog post…..sigh, I hadn’t even made dinner! But that’s ok, I just went shopping and I had a half an hour!
A few months ago I had been contacted by Girard’s Dressings, we had worked together a few times last year and they wanted to send me some of their new dressings, they also invited me to become one of Girard’s Epicurean Experts, how cool is that! I know I’ve said this before, while I can make you just about any salad dressing you want, and even thought it’s not that time consuming, I don’t like making salad dressings! Just another little quirk I guess……so when someone offers to give me salad dressings and there as good as Girard’s I jump at the chance!
They have four new dressings and each variety has less sodium than before, and the White Balsamic Vinaigrette and Greek Feta Vinaigrette varieties contain no high fructose corn syrup. They also included a Light version of there ever popular Girard’s Champagne Salad Dressing, the last flavor and one of my favorites is the Olde Venice Italian!
They have even offered to give away a box of the new flavors to one of my readers, all you have to do is let me know in your comment, which dressing sounds the best to you and you will be entered in the give away! If you would like to see what else you can do with Girards Dressings, follow this link to see my Peach Mimosa Muffins!
So let’s get back to my story, I had a half an hour and needed something a little over the top, Lisa has been sick and I thought a healthy pretty meal would help cheer her up, so I grabbed the bottle of Olde Venice Italian, and some chicken breasts and started a quick marination. I had purchased a purple and an Orange Cauliflower at the market. Did you know that orange cauliflower contains 25 times the vitamin A, than white cauliflower? Purple color in cauliflower is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage and red wine, so it’s even that much better for you! I quickly prepped my cauliflower, tossed it with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and placed it in a 375 degree oven with a few carrots for a quick roasting. I love roasted cauliflower!
While that was cooking, I threw together a salad using Artisan Lettuce I had found at Wegmans, petite varieties of Red and Green Tango, and Oak and Gem Artisan Lettuce, I added a few crumbles of buttermilk bleu cheese (not quite as pungent), walnuts, our own grape tomatoes ( the last of the season), and a few slices of apple…..it was not only healthy but gorgeous!
Now my chicken was ready for the grill, and everything just came together perfectly, I had started some white rice in my rice maker to round out the meal. It was quick, it was healthy and it was delicious! The Girard’s Dressings made a great marinade and a great salad even better!
Ask Chef Dennis
Saturday at the Philadelphia Bloggers Meet up, we were fortunate enough to have a professional photographer share his insights with us on what does make a good image. His thoughts were that the most important factor was the camera, to buy the best camera you can afford, and then more importantly to read the manual and learn how to use it properly.
One of the biggest mistakes that everyone makes is not shooting in manual mode. I know it’s a hard leap to make but if your camera has that capability, you need to start using it right away. It give you control over your image and how you want it to look. You control the shutter speed, and the aperture, you decide on your depth of field, and how you want you picture to look. Once you try it, you’ll never go back!
The second biggest mistake is a two part one….first and foremost if your camera has the capability shoot in RAW, once again you get to decide how your image should look, not an engineer who wrote the program that turns it into a jpeg. Believe me shooting in RAW will improve your final image. But that takes us to the second part of the problem…..you need to use some type of photo software…….you really do. You don’t know how much it hurts me to see a really good image on one of my friends blogs, that would be so much better if it had only been color corrected. Lighting can really screw up a good picture, and if you don’t correct for the type of light you shot in, your colors will be dull, flat or just unnatural.
If your looking for photo editing tools, a good place to start is atAdobe.com
I have tried CS4 and it just seems to be a bit much work for what I need, PS Elements is an easier editor to use, with a much lower price tag. I have recently begun using Lightroom, and I do like the workflow aspect of it, it is a time saver. If you go to Adobe’s website you can try any of the software for free for 30 days. It’s a great way to see if you like it enough to buy it. Paint shop Pro is another option, but you have to pay for it, and I feel if your going to buy a program stick with the industry standard, it’s Number One for a reason. Go to Adobe an download the software for free, you have nothing to lose. If you do decide to buy lightroom or the new CS5 find a student or teacher to buy it for you, its the same program and a reduced price.
One of these programs may work fine for you, but remember you get what you pay for. Your camera may have come with its own photo editing software, check with your manufacturer to see if one is available.
Lighting is the next big hurdle, and while there are many options available for indoor lighting (and as winter sets in we do need it), Natural light will always be the best. Learn to use it properly, do you need to diffuse it if it’s too bright, or use a big white card or reflector to bounce it back in to cut down the shadows. So much to learn, so little time….sigh
This is one of the reasons I suggest Helen Dujardin’s book Plate to Pixels, get a copy from Amazon, its only $17.48, it may even save you from buying a new camera by teaching you how to use the one you have.
And although the pro at our meet up said he never uses one, my last bit of advice for today is Use a Tripod!! Trust me the difference will amaze you
I had a bit of an epiphany today, and I felt really stupid afterwards for it taking so long to sink in. Now I’m not telling you to feel stupid if you didn’t think of it, it really isn’t that apparent, or at least I think not.
How many of you have your posts automatically tweeted by Foodbuzz ? I do, it was always one more thing for me not to think about, and how nice it was of them to do it for me. But, Guess where all those hits go, when someone clicks on that tweet to read your post? Well of course it goes to your page, but it goes to your page with a foodbuzz header, and unless I’m wrong, your blog does not register the hit. Now granted this may only account for a small portion of your hits, but still they should be going to you.
Now if anyone knows for sure they don’t please let me know, this is one point I would like to be wrong about!
If any of you use facebook the same way, I’m guessing its the same thing. I’m a little ticked at facebook anyway, I was trying to friend people who are attending the foodbuzz festival and they suspended my right to friend people for 4 days, because they thought I was spamming them. They really are crazy, and the changes they made are not all good. Hello Google+
Well my friends I did have more to say, but its getting late and I need to get what little sleep I can before the alarm goes off at 4 am, so that’s it for this post. I do love hearing from you, things are finally winding down a bit so please send your questions to me, and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
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