Picture Joy with Pajamas & Pancakes

For kids, birthdays are filled with fantastic JOY and oodles of enthusiastic anticipation. Days and days before the momentous occasion harks the question “Is today my birthday?” Well, FINALLY! The day is here! Our youngest daughter turned 6. It was a day of pajamas and pancakes; cereal and donuts; yogurt parfaits and sugar-ladened cupcakes. 20 or so little kids, dressed in their pjs, playing on our outdoor playset and jumping in the bouncy house.

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Never mind the late nights sculpting pancake shaped cupcake toppers, or the frantic frenzy of frying up 8 pounds of bacon the morning of the party. Or, the panicked feeling that the bouncy house may not arrive in time for the party. What would we do with all these kids?!  I always think I have these things all planned out… then the night before, I begin to freak out. But just like past festive gatherings… it all turns out just fine. I mean, in the words from my husband, “Come on, these are 6 year olds. They just want to run around, laugh and scream”. We’ve got that covered!

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Much to my amazement, we had representation from several food groups:  carbs – pancakes, cereal and donuts; dairy – milk, yogurt; fruit – orange juice, berry fruit salad;  protein – LOTS of bacon (which disappeared VERY quickly) and of course for the grown ups… strong pots of coffee. Not sure that counts as a food group… but it’s a must in my book.  Everyone was happy, caffeinated and sufficiently full. We were left with many smiling, tired children. Success!

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Note: I simply could not take credit for this wonderful theme. It was easy, fun and who doesn’t want to spend their day in pajamas? You can check out the many great ideas here.

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What’s my Focus?

On a recent critique of the photos I had taken of my youngest daughter, a photographer mentioned that my choice of light was good but that I needed to focus on my subject more. He proceeded to point out in several of my photos where I had done a nice job of focusing on my daughter by simply blurring out the background. Huh? Upon closer examination, I see his point. In the pictures where my subject is the only thing in focus, her image just “pops” out at you. The blurred background offers no distraction to my main subject. In food photography, thumbing through other people’s work, I noticed that many shots have a short depth of field. Meaning, that the food item is the only item in focus while all else behind it is blurred out. It makes for an “artsy” feel and gastronomically draws the viewer into the dish. So I decided to take some classes to officially learn the fundamentals of my camera and how to gain the effect I want on purpose rather than by accident or luck – mind you… neither of those hurt to have! I shoot with a Sony α100 digital camera. Why Sony and not Cannon or Nikon? Frankly it’s because my brother-in-law had given me his old Minolta with various lenses and Minolta lenses fit Sony camera bodies. I LOVE my camera and I imagine Sony must be on their umpteenth version by now. (Note to self: add to my wish list the Sony a33). As luck would have it, the store I purchased my camera from offers a curriculum of photography classes free with purchase.  The classes are basic and practical. In them, I learned how to adjust the depth of field, what ISO and Aperture means, and what all those funny little A, P, M and so on settings are on my camera.  They taught me how to set my camera on continuous shooting and gave me recommendations for shooting in low or bright light.  I learned what light flares are! I must say that coming away from the classes, I have a greater appreciation for my camera, lenses and simply the art of photography!  Armed with my new found knowledge of the basic principles, now all that’s left is to practice, practice, practice! Which I’m more than happy to do! 🙂

I had to add this one! My 9 y/o arranged the food and shot this pic herself. It's her masterpiece!

Gotta get my Goetta on…

 

Glier's Goetta

Some say its similar to scrapple, others call it “Cincinnati’s Caviar” and many just call it plain GOETTA.  Pronounced gétt-aa, ged-da or get-uh, when first described to me as ground pork or sausage combined with oats as an extender and a unique blend of spices, I thought “good gracious, how could this possibly be any good?”  And then a homegrown Queen City native convinced me to try it… I was hooked.  It is often served at breakfast in place of the typical breakfast meats (bacon, sausage, etc.).  Me?  I like it with eggs and fresh sliced tomatoes, sometimes sauteed green bell peppers and onions.  Add gravy and I’m in heaven.  I’ve heard that it’s also scrumptious served with fresh apple butter.  Judging by the ingredients, I doubt it has a high heart healthy rating… just like anything that tastes good!  🙂  The most popular and my personal favorite is from Glier’s.   In the summer Cincinnati holds a festival in its honor where vendors sport their latest creative creations using goetta as an ingredient.  No mealtime offering goes untouched, from goetta pancakes and apple fritters to goetta philly sandwiches and goetta meatballs.  I will admit, I don’t care for all these combinations, but some are surprisingly good.

In our house, we just cook it the traditional way:  sliced and fried golden brown on either side, served with scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon. Yummy!  My eldest daughter has been begging for goetta for the last week.  I relented, fried some up and snapped a few quick pictures of one of our favorite treats.

80mm ISO100 f/5.6