Related Posts with Thumbnails

Thursday, August 20, 2009

European Vacation

Finally after much waiting and planning I am off to Europe to visit France, Italy and Switzerland. My husband and I will be starting the first week of our vacation hiking the Mont Blanc Tour (MBT). The hike starts in Chamonix, France and will take us through the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Afterwards we will make our way to some of Europes classic cities including Paris, Rome and Venice.

I will have lots to post about upon my return from scenic hikes in the Alps, culinary delights and cultural experiences in some classic Eurpean cities. So find your way back to Vanilla Bean Cafe and Uber-Fit near the end of September for some photos and posts.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nikon D5000

As a food blogger there is nothing better than a great photo of the food you just prepared. I am always inspired by the countless amazing food photos on many of the food blogs I visit, they are inspiring and some a work of art. I have been happy with my camera, I am not taking magazine style photos or anything, but with the right lighting I can at least get something presentable.

But I was recently introduced to a whole new world of photography. While attending a friends wedding I became impressed by some friends dSLR cameras. Not only did they have great rapid firing power, but the image quality was incredible.

After seeing the photos those cameras produced and knowing that I was going on a trip to Europe, I could not resist buying myself a dSLR camera, not that it was in the budget. After much research (as much as one can do in a short period of time) I decided on the Nikon D5000. Some of the key features of this camera include:

12.9 megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor (effective pixels: 12.3 million)
2.7" tilt and swivel LCD monitor (230,000 dots)
Movie capture at up to 1280 x 720 (720p) 24 fps with mono sound
Live View with contrast-detect AF, face detection and subject tracking
Image sensor cleaning (sensor shake)
11 AF points (with 3D tracking)
IS0 200-3200 range (100-6400 expanded)
4 frames per second continuous shooting (buffer: 7 RAW, 25 JPEG fine, 100 JPEG Normal)
Expeed image processing engine
Extensive in-camera retouching including raw development and straightening
Connector for optional GPS unit (fits on hot shoe)
New battery with increased capacity
72 thumbnail and calendar view in playback

I figured if I was going to splurge on a camera of this calibre I should learn how to get the most out of it. Therefore I took Part 1 on how to use the Nikon D5000, which was a 3.5 hour course offered by Henry's on some of the functions the camera offers and when to use them.

Once I return from my trip I will take Part 2 which is more about the creative uses of the camera. With the courses and practice I hope to improve my food photos, as well as produce some stunning travel photos. But it is more complex than point and shoots and requires that I think about each situation to get the best shot possible (the lighting, the subject, the foreground, background, shutter speed, aperture, exposure, forced flash, metering etc…). It is overwhelming at times.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spicy Chicken Souvlaki Wrap

I love BBQ season tremendously, but if you do not change things up frequently you could spend the entire summer eating burgers and sausages and some busy weeks my husband and I have done just that. We have been training for an upcoming hike in the Alps and after work and training it is usually late and we are beat. Therefore we just throw some burgers (turkey, veggie, beef) on the BBQ and have that with fresh local tomatoes and cucumbers from the Parkdale Market.

We finally, or so we thought, had time to sit down and have a different meal. I was excited to BBQ some chicken souvlaki and found an amazing recipe over at Kalofagas. I mean if you want good Greek food, you should likely take the advice of a Greek foodie, right. I altered the recipe slightly.

Well do we not get all the ingredients and get ready to start cooking when we decide to head to a friend’s cottage for the weekend. We were planning on leaving the Saturday morning, but were feeling like being with friends and last minute decided to leave the Friday night.

We still hadn’t eaten’ so rather than nicely BBQ these chicken skewers and serve them with kalamata olives and warm pita bread, we made the quick and easy to go version. Luckily the sauce was already made and the chicken had been marinating for a few hours. So we cooked the chicken stove top, spread some tzaziki on a wrap, added the chicken, tomatoes and feta, wrapped it up in tin foil and we hit the road.

Although it was rushed it was worth being at the cottage that night to hang out with friends, play games and eat more food. So I will likely make this recipe again as the marinade for the chicken is outstanding, however next time I will grill the chicken and serve it as intended with some warm pita.

2-4 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
1/3 cup strained Greek yogurt or store bought tzaziki
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
couple of bay leaves crushed
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T Grainy Dijon mustard
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 T paprika
2 tsp. dry oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Tomatoe, diced
romaine letter, shredded
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Chop chicken into 1" cubes and set aside in a bowl.
Add all the ingredients from the greek yogurt to the salt and pepper, whisk and pour over the chicken. Mix together. Place plastic wrap over it and place in the fridge to marinate for 3 hours.

Either on a grill or over the stove cook the chicken until done, on med high heat only takes about 4-5 min per side. If using skewers make sure they have been soaked in water first for about 20 min so they do not burn.
Warm up your tortillas or pita for a few seconds in the mircrowave. Spread tzaziki on it, add chicken, chopped tomatoes, lettuce and feta cheese. Serve with a greek salad and olives.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sausage Penne for Camping

Above is all the ingredients you will require. This is perfect for car camping and likely a bit too much to carry for back country (but could alter it to work for that, such as using cured sausage).
We enjoyed this meal the night before our hike to Mt. Colden.

First if only one stove, boil some water for the pasta (I used my whisper light camping stove). Once boiled add 2 cups of pasta to the pot, remove it from the heat and let sit covered for 10-12min until el dente.

Then in another large cooking pot. Cook the jalapenos and garlic in 1T of oil for about 3min. Then add the cut up vegetables. I used mushrooms and zucchini (do not add tomatoes yet or they will get soggy). Cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the sausage (pre-cooked), the pasta (drained) and the tomatoes. Mix all together well. Place lid on and let simmer for 5-8min. Might need to stir occassionally so not to burn (those camping stoves can sometimes be tricky).

Voila Sausage & Penne

Spoon heaping full into plate.

Grate some cheese on top and add chili flakes if you have them. Enjoy!

This provided us with great energy for our next day hike to Mount Colden.