Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sunday Stills and more......

I have been planning to post on the blog, but is just not happening. I kind of anticipated this as summer has always been a very busy time of the year for me. This year specially...when I started the blog I did not anticipate starting a blog will open so many doors for me and maintaining a blog is a time consuming exercise. I just loooove this aspect of my life and I will probably never stop blogging, even though I struggle with time. My work pipe-line seems a bit under control now. Last week, I had a couple of people request a print of my image for their home....!! I think that was the happiest moment for me... selling my work as art....

We were out last week, on even though I had my camera, it was juts landscape and city scape, (I was a it bored, shooting landscape ).  I was yearning to get in one hand, camera on my neck, music..and my hair up in the most pathetic hairdo in the history of hair styles.

I get crazy ideas -  shooting an outdoor shot, with a bicycle. I really wish I had an assistant. I took almost two hours to tie the wooden box to the bike, so it could stay and balance all the fruit....well it did stay, but for about 5-6 minutes...after that the bike began to wobble... I did not want to loose all those fruits to 2 hours of styling and 5 minutes to shoot.  I probably would have had better shots if I had more time. Climbing on a ladder trying to shoot a wobbly bike...!! Thankfully all the fruits made it back to the kitchen. Well, there must be an easier way than to just hold your breath and hope!  I think the bike is kind of a cute idea that needs to be explored.

Well, I did take more than 50 images of berries styling them different ways...!! Sharing a few of my favorites. Hope you guys are having a great weekend!! Hoping to share a few recipes's on my mind, need to start working on it.

PS : the bike is really not a still life... oh well! Am sure you guys don't mind!


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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saturday Still Life

Last week I missed out on Stills…the weeks are churning fast and I cannot keep up. Skipping a few weeks here and there is allowed right ?

As I walked with my flipflop  into the house, I brought in blades of grass… the foyer was messy and smelled of freshly cut grass.  It was one of those days when you don't know what to do with yourself….you want to throw away the to-do list. There was no deadline hanging on my head…I could easily waste a day with nothingness. There was a time when I accounted for everything, never been a financial wiz kid …but certainly the house was always immaculate, awaiting a visit from the queen.  From the towels in the powder room to the spices, labeled and ironed. The running joke in my family was..don't stay  still for too long, you will be tucked away in storage, especially if you look messy.

Those days vaporized…I still prefer tidy to messy, but there is a beauty in mess. It shows life, the newspaper half folded on the coffee table, a cup of coffee…it shows the presence of someone, of family, of home. I think when I'm old and my days are numbered, I won't fret about the days the laundry was not folded or the spices not back in it's place…I will probably miss spending time being meaningful…sometimes nothingness is meaning full, have you tried it ?

Still life photography, beautiful photography
As I spent my day going through my old diary, old poems I wrote as a teen and young adult…my old sketches, my dad's camera which captured innumerable memories of the family…. I read the recipes written and sent in good old snail mail by Ditu, my dear sister…I looked at the old sand-hour glass we bought together from an antique store in Gaziabad…dad was there that day with us. I lazily ran my figures through all my treasures…gazing into the past. I don't even know why I was rummaging...

That evening, as I wrote in my diary, my account of the day…"nothing".  I call it the power of stillness and therapy for the soul.

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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Masala Dubba - Indian Spices : Nutmeg, Mace and Saffron

Spices are an integral part of Indian cuisine. Every Indian kitchen has it's own variation of spice box. The spice box is a reflection of the cuisine in that kitchen. A Bengali kitchen is not the same a Gujarati kitchen or a south Indian one. Each region has it's own unique flavors…be it the  Chettinad chicken  of Tamil Nadu or Kashundi of bengal, undhiyo of Gujrat,  Amristar Channa, tenga of Assam or Bisi-beley-bhath from Mysore. So many unique flavor profiles. Exploring spices, is a culinary journey and I don't think my blog post can ever do justice to it…it's not just a flavor enhancer, it's a slice of history. The spice trade is the first record of world trade and economic growth. I attempt to show case one of the most expensive and exotic spice - saffron and the other is nutmeg and mace : mystic and mysterious.
Usually I would stand by the school with my friends and me would chat …at least for a good half hour before I would decide to go home…! But today, as soon as the bell rang announcing the end of the school day, I leaped to the bicycle stand and was off home. "I want to show you something" Tripti screamed …"Not today" I peddled as fast as I could…

Bosky ( my pet dog) was waiting by the door…she wagged her tail and barked, announcing that there was something special going on at home. As I entered the house the aroma of saffron with cardamom hugged me and gave me a deep sense of comfort.  I embraced mom….the familiar scent of saffron from her sari ….It was a place I found refuge as a child, as a teenager and now as an adult. It's a hug full of reassurance that everything will be ok and even if no one will believe in me…there is this one person who will. Probably that is really the power of memories. From the corner of my eye I could see the basan  ladoo - huge big balls of chickpea flour roasted on a low flame with ghee….pinch of nutmeg. I sniffed …I knew it was for pooja…had to be offered to Ganapathy first before it could even reach my hands. The aroma of saffron was from the kheer (rice pudding), boiling the milk for a good hour…the aroma of milk with saffron…it's something!

Lord Ganesha was seated in the sinhāsanada (lord's throne) surrounded by flowers grown in our garden each one planted by dad, carefully pruned and nurtured. He (Ganesha) looked so handsomemom would make him with clay (chikni mitti), it would take her two week to shape the clay, cure it and paint it…

The aroma of the saffron has deep connotation for me, it stands for festivity, hope, a new beginning, a sense of gratitude and  a spiritual connection to my dad who performed every pooja with a deep study…being a scientist, he would always explore the significance of rituals and chantings. 


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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Mini Mango-sage pudding with caramel art

I have a thing for mini desserts - I not only love eating it but I looove making them. I love these cute mini mango- sage pudding with caramel art. Silky smooth pudding with the texture from chia and crunch from the caramel.


If I had a choice, I would go back to culinary school and learn the art of baking and the science of sugar and chocolate sculpting. or probably go to art school, or photography, pottery…!! There is just so much to learn and do that one life is not enough. You can call it the jack of all trades syndrome… Well, a lot of people are good at multiple things and one lifetime is not enough to explore and learn one form of art. Life is a paradox, each of us have a unique blue print…and we have one life time to explore it.

I'm seriously thinking of a pottery class, maybe in fall. It has been on my bucket list forever and I have no good reason why I have not done it. I know it takes years to master the wheel ….,  am not thinking of the outcome, just the experience ! Let's see!

Did I tell you guys I had piano on my bucket list for ever, I would dream of my fingers dancing on the keyboard…!! Well, I did take lessons for two years, yes two….! I don't give up that easily. Well, I could play a few of my favorite songs, I was reading my notes like a kindergartner reads his first books.  I was not putting in that much effort, nor did I have the acumen, together it is not the best combination. Fast forward two years, it became more of a chore than a pleasure and I quit. Sometimes when you learn at your own pace, it's better. A formal classroom has never really worked for me.

So pottery might be one more of those romantic vision I have …I'm not sure till I try. And Why not ?

Coming back to sugar sculpting, it has been on my mind for a long time…(I can see myself taking a class in the future). I saw a few videos on the tube and I was totally hooked, it's not rocket science, but you need to have patience, and practice. Humidity and heat make it a bit challenging, you need to turn on the air if you are working with sugar. It's loads of fun and I'm going to definitely do more in the winter months when it is less challenging.

My sage plant is exploding with fragrant blooms… last year I remember making these gorgeous looking popsicles. This year I  boiled my half and half in sage  leaves to incorporate the aroma. I also used mango and cardamom. Together they created a very fragrant flavor profile- so delicate and feminine.The flavor of caramel is a bit strong and overpowering. Marries well together. I find pudding a bit boring, so I added chia - nice interesting texture. Mr  just loved it, teen wanted more sugar :) I tend to go easy on sugar as I do not like my desserts too sweet. In the United States they just add too much sugar to their desserts and probably my teen is no exception as her taste buds are expecting a sugar surge. So you can add more sugar to the recipe, if you love you desserts really sweet.


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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Sunday stills on a Saturday

These weekends are rolling in  at the speed of light. I remember planning my last Sunday still …and here I am again. I really wish I had thought of this earlier…I love this project. The possibilities are endless - it's like the whole world is my canvas. I hope I can look back in ten years and see my work grown and mature. We underestimate the power of a decade and often overestimate what can be achieved in an year.

This week I had so much going on that I took time off on Friday and teen and I decided to go around down town… just enjoy a walk. No agenda…!! After I finished with some work I had…we just walked and walked the mag mile. Now that school is out, planning to do more of it.

Last week I had a few  friends over, the highlight was not just catching up after a long time but the gift that one of them got me...  they probably they think I'm a freak but I was over excited about the home grown grapes leaves …best gift ever. I still have them in my refrigerator.

It was golden hour, when I shot this,  it had to be quick. I did not have time to style, I used the same styling I used here. Even though I would have liked to do something different, sometimes it is good to re-do your old images. Unfortunately I had no time to take behind the scene…there was nothing much to it either…

Yes..the can is tilted, I did not fix it..I thought it shows carless abandon… that someone had just placed the bunch there and forgotten.


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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Veggie Masala Burgers

Picnic season is here, perfect mini masala burgers ….they are tiny, delicious and easy to put together. Vegetable cutlet layered with spiced up paneer and a vegan option too ….yumminess !

Picnics… eating outdoors..  warm summer afternoons or preferably…starry summer nights. Gazing into the sky….walking bearfoot on dewy grass…picking flowers… !! I could live that life everyday of the year. And yes the ice cream trucks…. !! Ohhhh it's just a perfect picture of a perfect day. Come to think of it,  real pleasures of life don't need's often the small things that do not cost much, that gives us the most pleasure. To experience a sunset in silence, to wake up to birds chirruping…

I read a beautiful quote that a friend sent me.... I love to walk, but this is a different kind of walking.

Walking is great for you ....

walk away from arguments that lead nowhere but anger,
walk away from people who put you down,
walk away from anything that reduces your worth,
walk away from fears that stiffle your dreams,
walk away from people who don't mean well.

Take a step towards happiness.

I have put this on my vision board.... We don't realize how vulerable we are to negativity, till we walk away.  As adults we feel we are insulated to deal with a lot, not really. Life is too short to deal with drama. Except if you are chasing the dramatic light with your camera ...

It's strange once you walk away from negativity,  your door opens and floods with positivity. I think the strength lies in the self, we just don't see it, till we make room for it.


Veggie Masala Burgers (recipe) 

If only I can style a burger like professional stylists…I just don't have the patience. Burger styling is an art I don't posses lol!  But imagine…bitting into that juicy thing… !! 

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