Sunday, January 23, 2011

attempting to live up to my own standards

This past week I had to complete my first assignment for my photography class. It was a relatively straight forward exercise in demonstrating depth of field. We were specifically instructured to photograph in natural light. Not the easiest task at a time of year when I go to work in the dark and come in the dark.

So I dragged my camera gear to work with me and coaxed my coworker Erin to be my subject. Midweek we had the opportunity to sneak out on our lunch break for a quick session. I attempted what the assignment called for, but wasn't 100% happy with the result. I hoped for a reattempt but in typical fashion the weather did not cooperate for the remainder of the week.

Friday night arrived and I resigned that I would have to submit my first attempt photos. To add to my frustration I spent 90 minutes trying to compress the photos according to the instructions. I searched and searched online but only became more and more confused. So again I resigned to defeat, saved my photos to a portable drive and spent the night with a little pit of dread in my stomach. My inner nerd was not at all comfortable with completing an assignment that didn't satisfy my own standards and to make matters worse, not submitting it according to the instructions. Not much has changed in my inner psyche since grade school

Time for class arrived and not only was my teacher unfazed that I didn't submit my photos to him before class but I have got an 'atta girl' on my photos.

Flash to Sunday night when I attempted a Vegetable Dumpling Soup recipe that I was adapting from Simply Life. We are on a big of a pantry cleanout/grocery budget kick. I've been limiting our purchases of pantry staples until I dimish our current supplies. I tend to buy canned goods when they are onsale like we're stocking up for the apocolypse. They then tend to sit for months and months while I continue to buy more and more.

I was full of self-doubt about the recipe but it was received by Chris with rave reviews. Over and over. I am learning that I really can start to trust my instincts in the kitchen

Vegetable Dumpling Soup
Adapted from Simply Life

1 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
2 tbs. ketchup
2 cups chicken broth
A healthy pinch of red pepper flakes
1 tsp of thyme or to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
15.5 oz can of chickpeas
3/4 cup frozen green beans
1 tbsp corn starch dissolved in 1 tbsp water

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs. cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbs. butter
1/2 fat-free milk
1/3 cup frozen corn, thawed

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots and garlic and cook 5 minutes. Add celery and cook 3 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add bay leaves, ketchup, broth, chickpeas, green beans and seasonings. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat, add the corn starch mixture and simmer 10 minutes.

2. While soup is simmering, prepare the dumplings. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar and salt. Cut in butter and mix until butter pieces are about the size of peas. Add milk and corn and stir just until mixed together.

3. Return the soup to a boil Drop dumplings into soup by rounded tablespoons (the recipe will make about 8-10 dumplings). Cover, reduce heat and cook over medium-low for about 20 minutes (do not boil) until the dumplings are set on the top. Serve and enjoy!

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