Tuesday, August 30, 2011


They appear in our childhood bedtime stories.
We give them names and personalities.
Although they don't quite "speak", we manage to make up stories about them.
Because they are so cute.
We like to think they are part of our family.
That they think just like us.
Their funny expressions and big eyes, just seem like they are saying something to us.
We talk to them because they are the best listener in the world.

These are their portraits.

f/7.1, 1/20, ISO 800

f/11, 1/400, ISO 400

f/7.1, 1/15, ISO 1600

f/5.6, 1/25, ISO 800

f/7.1, 1/25, ISO 1600

f/10, 1/30, ISO 1600

f/5, 1/15, ISO 1600

f/6.3, 1/8, ISO 1600

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pie Crust

Besides finding the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I am also looking for the perfect pie crust.

f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 1600

Yes, that's Crisco above.
Yes, I used Crisco in my pie crust.
It is the only way to make the crust flakey.
Don't be afraid of Crisco.

When I actually follow a recipe I usually get a good result. Not this Cook's Illustrated pie recipe.
Yes, I make mistakes. Sometimes.
Let's just say this crust got a little out of hand.

f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 1600

The reason I picked this recipe because its got many good reviews from foodies on the web. Also, this recipes calls for vodka.

Yes, vodka.

f/6.3, 1/40, ISO 1600

 I used "tree ripened peaches" (that's what the farm stand claims) for my pie.

f/6.3, 1/20, ISO 1600

When I mixed all the pie crust ingredients together, the texture was like when you add a gallon of water into silly putty. Gooey, sticky, and a pain in the butt. I refrigerated the pie crust disks and rolled them out the next day. It was still gooey, sticky, and a bigger pain in the butt. Big disaster!

f/6.3, 1/30, ISO 1600

Not only did the dough got stuck to my counter, but also all over my hands. Note to all: always roll the dough between parchment sheets. I used Saran wrap then tried to peel the crust away from it. After thirty minutes of struggle, I managed to get this silly-putty-like-crust into the pie pan. Not to mention I did not get images of any of this.

f/5, 1/40, ISO 1600

You see how gooey the crust is?

f/5, 1/80, ISO 1600

Forty minutes later, the pie actually turned out flaky and yummlious. Jake even commented on how good the crust is. My kitchen nightmare turned out to be one of the best pie recipe I used. Manual power (pastry blender) and instead of using the food processor might help a little. I think the dough will still be sticky no matter what because the amount of liquid added.

'Till next time, apple pie.

f/5, 1/80, ISO 1600

Cook's Illustrated Pie Crust (makes one 9-inch double crust)
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar 
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices 
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces 
1/4 cup cold vodka 
1/4 cup cold water 

1. Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Update (3/1/2012): I use a pastry blender to combine cold butter, shortening, and flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut butter and shortening into small pieces first before adding into flour. The food processor method always yields really sticky dough. The pastry blender method gives pea-size clumps.

f/5, 1/40, ISO 1600

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Over the Rainbow

On another stormy summer night, we lost power in the entire apartment community. While we were sitting out on the balcony, we noticed a rainbow right before us. Of course, I ran inside and got my camera.

This is the original picture. You might ask, what the rainbow? I don't see one.

f/6.3, 1/100, ISO 800

Do you see it now?

What about this?

Do you feel like you are in an ophthalmologist's office?


The rainbow was barely visible in the original pictures, but with some editing and playing with the contrast it showed up more. I tried different settings on my camera and nothing came out like a rainbow should look. In this case, I had to rely on editing. As you can tell, I had too much fun with the contrast editor.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Vegetable Gardening, Part V

Since the spider mites attack last month, spraying Neem Oil in the garden has been my weekly ritual. Despite this set back, I decided to give gardening another chance.

A week ago I put in pole beans and spinach seeds.

f/9, 1/125, ISO 400

These beans don't waste another minute of summer. They grew an inch in one day.

f/8, 1/200, ISO 400

On the other hand, the cherry tomato have been growing like crazy. I harvested at least five pounds of these babies.

f/10, 1/400, ISO 400

My favorite summer meals: roasted cherry tomato sauce and pasta.

f/5.6, 1/125, ISO 400

Then some stuffed sweet peppers.

f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 400

Lola could not agree more.

f/11, 1/400, ISO 400

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kentucky State Fair

I went to the ultimate summer festival today.
You got it, the Kentucky State Fair.
Every state fair has the best of all things together in one place, the best beef cattle, the largest pumpkin, the greasiest food, the best people watching view, the heaviest watermelon, and the most handsome turkey.

Moreover, the fair is where you learn about the state's culture and ways of life.

f/10, 1/320, ISO 400

And how crazy looking this goat may seem.
f/5, 1/20, ISO 1600

In every state fair, there is always that rooster who thinks he can make the loudest sound,

f/8, 1/15, ISO 1600

...and Daisy the curious cow.

f/7.1, 1/50, ISO 1600

The Ferris wheel would always be the best spot for a date, no matte which state fair.

f/10, 1/1000, ISO 400

I got my fair share of free food samples and goodies.
I learned about the Kentuckians through their agricultural bests.
But I must say, I miss the Wisconsin cream puffs and the 25 cents milk.

f/5.6, 1/13, ISO 1600

What's in your state fair?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Color Booster

I am not much of a photo editor kind of person. I think good photographs should come from a good photographer who knows the best settings and the end product would not need further editing. This is coming from some who just started taking pictures, my knowledge on photo editing is kind of limited. For 99% of my pictures, I use ViewNX 2 which is a program that came with my Nikon camera package. I adjusted the contrast, color booster, highlighter, and sharpness. Look what I ended up with.

f/5, 1/800, ISO 800

 I spy a bumble bee...

f/8, 1/1000, ISO 400

Va va voom yellow!

f/13, 1/200, ISO 400

What a difference small adjustments make. But I almost feel like some flowers look artificial, like the last one with yellow flowers.

What do you think? To edit or not to edit?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's a Colorful Sunday

I recently started working on weekends in the main Lexington hospital. Yes, Saturday and Sunday when the sun is up and smiling, and  I am inside doing some nutritional analysis. I love my new job, but I think it's the hospital atmosphere that sometimes gives me that lifeless feel after each work shift.

After work today we went to the Tomato Fest in UK Arboretum. It was not much of a fest, but we did get a festivals of the colors. I mean colors of the flowers festival. 

f/6.3, 1/640, ISO 400

The colors gave me a mood lift after my Sunday work.

f/5.3, 1/1600, ISO 400

So many colors that there was not one same shade of pink.

f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO 400

f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 400

The flowers were like tiny ballerinas, putting on a dance off. The brightest ones get the prize.

f/13, 1/250, ISO 400

Even Lola would agree so.

f/6.3, 1/250, ISO 400

It should be a colorful Sunday everyday.

f/6.3, 1/400, ISO 400

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Day in Lola's Life

A day in Lola's life includes but not limited the following:

Waiting patiently for a good belly massage

f/5.6, 1/13, ISO 1600

Begging for some yummy human food.

f/5.3, 1/200, ISO 1600

Then on to being a porch monkey for a couple hours.

f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO 800

Taking power naps.
 In the warm sun, of course.

f/10, 1/400, ISO 200

Then more begging.

"Is that cantaloupe? I like cantaloupe"

f/5.3, 1/30, ISO 1600, +0.3EV

Napping after a vigorous play date with her friend Miss Hedgehog

f/4.5, 1/20, ISO 1600

I can definitely see how it is hard being a dog :)

Pin It