"Place, with a trace of humanity" Photography/Photo of the Day/Pittsburgh

Archive for January, 2012

The Junk Food Cookbook and a Bonus Pack of Twinkies®

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Have you ever actually tasted a Twinkie®

 

 

Twinkies® have been in the news lately. They’ve been in existence since 1930. I saw one fried at Kennywood.  You might remember the reference the Twinkies Defense?  And now the company is filing for Chapter 11. With word of bankruptcy- the future of Twinkies unknown.

Would you believe that PBS has an Ode to Twinkies contest, haikus and all, to honor this American snack classic (from the label)?  You can click on the link and read some of them, no matter how you feel about Twinkies

Surely they could accommodate different forms- limerick, sonnet, a villanelle or sestina.

I’m not a Twinkies fan but that sure sounds unAmerican.

I’m fascinated by the snack cake phenomenon. Little Debbie, Tastycake, Drake’s Cakes and Moon Pies etc. and I am always looking for food to photograph.

The other night my friend R(who is the inspiration for this post today) was over for dinner and we were talking Twinkies®.  I showed her the recipe in my old 1979 Junk Food Cookbook.  We spoke of Urban legends.  Someone told us that a penny left in Coca-Cola for three weeks will disintegrate but a Twinkie® soaked in the same Coca-Cola the same time period, remains unchanged. Makes one want to experiment, though, just to test the hypothesis.

But Science Fair projects aside, I thought I’d purchase a pack of Twinkies and photograph them and include the wacky cookbook, too.

After school I went to the Bryant Street Market and the Hostess selection on the wire rack was slim.  One package of Snoballs, the pink rubbery marshmallow coating and coconut flakes over a half sphere of chocolate cake and white fluffy filling in the center, two wax coated paper sleeves of fruit pies and the  Bonus Packs of Twinkies with an extra cake.   Great!

Nutrition Information is an Oxymoron

440 calories from this package alone!  YIKES!

I thought it would be cool to post the homemade version out of the Junk Food Cookbook but then I read the front page and decided against it. Alas, I have zero permission from the publisher.  Copyright important to respect and no time to write to the publisher and get permission.

If you want to see a list of sightings in movies and TV shows there’s a list at this link

Interior of a Twinkie

 

Twinkie Twinkie Little Cake

How long do you take to bake?

Most of your ingredients

Sound like they are fake.

Perhaps if Hansel and Gretel had dropped

Twinkie crumbs, the birds wouldn’t have touched them

and they could have found their way out of the woods.

 


Like a Piece of Jigsaw Puzzle on Wet Pavement

Puddle reflection

… and Flat Ruthie is in Homer Alaska today so check out the snowy scenery here


Saturday Night at Teppanyaki Kyoto Restaurant

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Friday night we made a reservation at the Teppanyaki Kyota Restaurant for Saturday.  Tonight Steve and I  walked down the hill to the new Japanese Restaurant and it’s 34 degrees outside so the Hot Miso soup filled with onions was a welcome beginning.  I think I was hungry and chilled so didn’t get that photo!  Just ate it heartily.  Next we shared a House Salad with Mango Mint dressing and a Sapporo beer to accompany the meal.  Grilled Pork with Ginger and Onions and then Yaki Soba a Japanese Noodle Dish with Shrimp. After those dishes we ate a Yaki Onigiri (Grilled Rice Ball). The wife of the owner/chef explained how to put it between the seaweed leaves and eat it.  Pickled radish was on the side.  The cooking shown in the slideshow is Okonomi Yaki- a Japanese Pancake.

We finished with a square of Green Tea Cheesecake for dessert. Light and not too sweet.  And then a very chilly hike back up the hill to home.  Everything is cooked to order just for you. Perfectly. All fresh ingredients prepared with attention to detail.

And a word from the Chef off their Facebook page as he doesn’t want to turn customers away but also wants to make the customers in the restaurant happy-

I finally tell you that I decided the date to soft-open Teppanyaki Kyoto restaurant. It is January 15th. That is this coming SUNDAY. Only counter seats. Because of new style of restaurant in Pittsburgh, we take only reservation for beginning of a few months. Please CALL me to make a reservation. Phone nunber is 412 441 1610.

I am looking forward seeing you soon.

Do call and make a reservation. The food is delicious and Bryant Street is enhanced by the presence of another  excellent  restaurant!   We had a good time and a wonderful meal.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope


Hope (noun) A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

I took this photograph three days before Jack was born.  He’ll be five in March.  With gracious permission from my DIL to post this photograph of her expecting.  One time I showed photographs of her first pregnancy in a Black and White film class I took at Filmmakers and the teacher chided me for showing such a private image. They were quite beautiful. I thought the image embodied the first definition of hope.

Fellow bloggers Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope posts are listed in the comments section of this WordPress post


Midas Light on Pittsburgh’s Casino

I’ve never been inside. So much controversy about this place when it was to be built. I remember that.

Not into gambling. It would pain me to lose money I’d worked for. But when I was up on Mount Washington I saw this light on the casino, surrounded by a total gray scene and it struck me as worth capturing.


My Sister Gave Me This As a Joke But it Adds to the Kitchen Decor

I recently did a photographic session of a Jell-o salad mold.

No kidding.

I don’t think I have a future in food photography and come to think of it, there isn’ t anything of food value in Jell-o.  It was a challenge and I will post the results of that after the photograph is made public at a charity auction.

But I looked up as I sat at the kitchen table and chuckled when I saw The Jell-o Cookbook there on the shelf.  I reciprocated and sent her the Heinz Ketchup Cookbook.  I am sure she hasn’t made anything out of that cookbook either.

 

Laura gave me the RECIPES notebook and it is filled with clippings and family favorites


Murphy the Airedale Terrier’s Tenth Birthday

You’ve seen him many times on the blog.  His endearing personality and stuffed animal appearance make him a satisfying (and willing) subject to photograph. He wants to be in the pictures with the family.  I know some readers are not “dog people” but Murphy is an important member of the family and I know they will enjoy telling him he is “on the blog”!

The recent Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful, featured Murph under a shade tree in Hardy, VA and he was on earlier today, being patient as Anna and Maura put sock monkeys on his back.

I didn’t give him proper recognition for his TENTH birthday which is TODAY!  January 24th!!

My sister sent the hat and bone from NYC and I photographed him on Saturday with his birthday treat.

I said,” Whatcha doin’ Murph?” and he stopped gnawing and looked up at me, so tolerant of old Grandma and her camera lens, frequently pointed in his direction.

An early post before Midnight so it is ON the day, not belated. Happy Birthday Murphy.

 


Slow Shutter and the Pink Sock Monkeys

When Anna was a baby I made her a sock monkey out of a pair of Rockford Red Heel Socks, just as I had done for her father when he was little.  The sock monkey didn’t get much playtime and I didn’t make anymore for the other three grandchildren. At Christmas I noticed Anna using the sock monkey like a puppet with the other kids at breakfast. Everyone was laughing and she was enjoying playing with her(it is a girl and her name is Mrs. Sock Monkey)  She asked me if I could make her a pink sock monkey.  I said I didn’t know how I could because I didn’t know at the time you could buy PINK red heel socks.

Last weekend when I visited, the old sock monkey had not only a bed made from a Costco box, covered in  blanket but there was a small basket added as a bunk with a junior sized sock monkey wrapped up in a hand knitted dishrag  (the sock monkey was one of Murphy the Airedale’s former toys!- every dog needs a sock monkey).

And to Anna and Maura’s surprise, I showed up with two pairs of PINK red heel socks I found online.  Laura brought over her portable sewing machine and I sat at the kitchen table stitching up the legs and arms.  Anna helped stuff the limbs.  The girls were really excited to watch the socks turn into monkeys. I embroidered the eyes and nostrils with some variegated cotton yarn I had as a knitting project.

The next morning as they were waiting to go to church, I had them open the front door to get some available light for a photo of them with their monkeys. Strawberry and Blueberry are their names. Blueberry has blue eyes like Maura and that’s how they can tell them apart.  I used a 1/5 shutter speed -handheld -which is really not a good idea.  Too much camera shake.

The snow in the night added some reflected light but the winter morning was fairly gray.  Murphy decided to come and see what was happening outside and Anna thought he would make a good horse for the monkeys. Murphy didn’t even mind.   He remained undisturbed even though Maura was squealing excitedly.  Then Anna wrote sock monkey on the condensation inside the storm door glass.   I love that all the fancy toys are ignored and the homemade bed out of box and a couple of pairs of socks, transformed into monkeys, delighted the girls.   I told Anna how Aunt Mary and I went to the Sock Monkey Museum in Rockford, Illinois.

Murphy isn't even paying attention to a couple of riders!

Maura watches Anna make the sock monkey wave!

I remember writing on windows. The condensation invites it!


Yes Sir, It’s National Pie Day!

 GUEST BLOGGER Rob Bard, Pie Judge

(-and good friend!  Our eldest sons went to school together when stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in 1986 -87)    

Here is what Rob says:

 
January 23rd is National Pie Day so I wanted to send some photos along to commemorate this historic day.  Here is the website for the American Pie Council regarding National Pie Day.  It also has links to the Crisco National Pie Championships and the American Pie Festival which is held in April in Orlando.  I will be judging again this year.  This will be my 5th year.
The Crisco National Pie Competition is being held this year April 27-29.  Friday is the Commercial Division of pies and those are your wholesalers, pies like you buy at the grocery, Walmart, etc.
 On Saturday is the Amateur Division and these are the best.  These pies are made by people like you and me.  They are made with love and they are truly your “homemade” pies.  I love judging that day.  With over 900 pies entered, judges are divided up and we sample just a certain type of pie.  There are 18 categories.  I try to always select the cherry pie, my favorite.  The most pies I have ever judged was 28 different cherry pies over 2 days.
 Sunday is the Professional Division and these are just that.  This category are those individuals that have “made a living” selling pies and the professional pastry chefs.
I have met some nice people along the way.  Pie has a way of bringing people together.
 Met Keegan Gerhard, Food Challenge, from Food Network.
Willard Scott
Gale Gand from the Food Network and owner of Tru restaurant in Chicago
For a little get together in the neighborhood I baked this pie
(and it was so pretty I had to take a photo).
This recipe (not me) was a winner in the competition one year.  It is called, US Rt 1, Maine to Key West, Blueberry/Key Lime Pie.  I can see why it was a winner.  Recipes for winning pies, and others, can be found on the American Pie Council website.
Did you notice the photo on my shirt?  That is a photo of my grandson, Owen.  It drew lots of attention at the competition.
I should mention that the motto of the American Pie Council is, In Crust, We Trust.
Eat More Pie!

Have a great day,
Rob
Thanks Rob for guest blogging today and sharing your photos. You might remember Rob took the photo of the wine glass on the patio table by the lake.
And he was part of my Gallery of Veterans post.  (I am still waiting for some friends to send their photos for that Gallery’s future posts.)
I think sour cherry pie might be my favorite pie, Rob.  Hope you will send an update on your judging experience this year.   xxoo Ruth E.  

Watching Her Sisters Make Their Mother’s Nut Roll Via SKYPE

Yes, that is a bowl of melted butter used to brush on the dough

Marlene was in Virginia. Her sisters- Linda, Theresa and Georgeann were in Pittsburgh.  I dropped by with the camera to document the occasion and made a slideshow of the beginning to end effort.  I think there were fifteen long metal pans waiting for dough.  They were rolling and filling and letting the dough rise to bake.  Southwestern PA is known for perpetuating nut roll tradition.  Not to be confused with nut horns or nut crescents.

The Pans Waiting for the Yeasty Dough

 

 

 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Simple

SIMPLE-    “Having or composed of only one thing, element, or part.”

Simple sentence.

Simple request.

Simple procedure.

Simple pleasure.

Simple syrup.

Simple recipe.

Simple machine.

Simple life.

” ‘Tis a gift to be simple.”

There’s even the magazine REAL SIMPLE.

A medicinal herb is a simple?

“Don’t act simple.”

I can think of just two words that rhymes with simple …one cute, the other not-

Shot this single egg just a half hour ago in Mark and Erika’s kitchen. Everyone has gone to bed.   The snow didn’t start ’til the last hour of the drive out here.  Erika’s Aunt Georgeann picked me up at school and we came out together which made the 200 miles go by much more quickly.

Appliance repairman scheduled for 7 AM and I’m making the pancakes for breakfast before the swim meet. Sounds like a full day.  More complex than simple but it will be simply wonderful!

Egg

To see other bloggers responses the the Weekly Photo Challenge: Simple click here and click on anyone’s name in the comment section of the post and their entry will come up.


Shadyside in the Snow

We lived in this neighborhood for two years in a little rental behind what was the Balcony Restaurant and Jazz Club.  You could hear the dumpster trucks come in the early morning and the beer bottles clash in the alley.  Today on the way home from school I stopped by the Food Museum where the fruit in the window is like  a Flemish painting in the Metropolitan. Better known as the Shadyside Market. An elegant place. They were really nice to me although they knew I was checking the price tags before I made my selections.   I knew I could buy bacon, eggs, and bread and not break the bank. The plan was to use a box of spaghetti in the pantry, the parmesan in the fridge and make spaghetti carbonara accompanied by a spinach salad with oranges and red onion. (had Spinach Salad on my mind, thanks to Chicago John from Bartolini’s Kitchen blog)

With the snow falling I knew that our big markets would be swamped as everyone rushes there to get the last roll of toilet paper or empty the shelves to stock their larder when they hear of an impending snowstorm.  So no food photos of the great meal I was inspired to cook in the winter weather,  But the neighborhood of Shadyside.   Sometimes I cringe when I realize I would let 7 year old Laura walk around the block ALONE to Rite-Aid to buy the paper. What was I thinking?  Prantl’s Bakery makes the Burnt Almond Torte everyone loves. Well, most people. 

Famous for their Burnt Almond Torte. Pamela's is nice for breakfast, too.


What is He Thinking?

What Is He Trying to Say?

 

Murphy the Airedale. Again.  I was sifting through files and saw him looking at me.  This was shot at Thanksgiving time in Hardy, Virginia.  The day we were attempting the Christmas card photo with the kids all in red.

 


City Alley in Afternoon Light

Bloomfield Neighborhood on a January Afternoon


Vanilla Buttercream on a Six Layer Cake in Winter

You might remember the  vanilla buttercream white cake on the front porch in late summer. The one I posted for Marlene’s birthday. (looks good in summer light- click here )

I made this cake by baking 1 cup of batter in 3- 8″ baking pans at a time. (350 degrees)

Did that twice to make six layers.  Vanilla buttercream icing.

The insides of the cake will be revealed another time.  I used the 1-2-3-4 cake recipe

1 cup unsalted butter, room temp

2 cups sugar

3 cups of cake flour (with 2 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt)

4 eggs

1 cup of milk + 1/2 cup warm water

I used the Cake Bible method of mixing all dry ingredients with the butter and then adding the vanilla, egg and milk mixture to the dry mixture. Apologies to  Rose Levy Beranbaum  as she describes it so well in her cookbook but I gave Laura that volume and so it is in Columbus now. Laura and I did Face Time and she showed me the cookbook in her hands but when she read the recipes in the back for the wedding cake proportions and the breakdown for a smaller cake, I just decided to go with my grandmother’s and mother’s old 1-2-3-4 recipe.  I couldn’t refer to the other recipes as I mixed and baked.  I will have to borrow that cookbook back and commit it to memory, too.


Spinach and White Bean Soup

Snow came to Pittsburgh. Low temps. There was even more snow in Ohio so I stayed in Pittsburgh.  Driving didn’t make sense.  Fortunately, the new oven and stove were motivational.  I baked oatmeal cookies and made this soup, and Sunday made Aunt Rhea’s BBQ recipe, and baked a 6 layer cake. It ‘s sitting on a cake stand in the dining room waiting for me to photograph it. Tomorrow. No specific recipe just the regular start of simply sautéed onion, garlic and carrots and celery. Added water and salt and pepper.  Let it simmer on the stove.  I used the immersion blender just a bit to thicken the broth but left chunks of carrots so it wasn’t purée.  (Easy to overdo with that device).  Then I added a can of drained cannellini beans and some baby spinach to finish the soup. I am sure there are fancier recipes or more detailed but I knew I wanted a non-tomato one  and what ingredients I had on hand so just  made it. Our neighbor had given a gift at Christmas – a cylinder of delicious Manchego cheese and I warmed some Pane Italiano from Breadworks Bakery.  No school Monday so I look forward to reheating the soup for lunch!

A bowl of hot soup on a winter's evening is comfort food to me.


Peaceful, Deux

My sister, Aunt Mary, resting with her Great-Nephew or Grand-Nephew  Michael but I can tell you this…She is a GREAT aunt!! You can click on the terms and read the debate.

Michael rests with Aunt Mary. He is in Kindergarten now!


Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful

Murphy the Airedale

Photographed during a family visit to Hardy, Virginia. Labor Day Weekend 2006.  I like the green and warmth in this photo as it is white, cold and gray in Pittsburgh today.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peaceful   Click here to view fellow bloggers responses to the weekly photo challenge.  Their links are in the comments section. A wide variety of photographs.


Unretouched, But Who’d Believe It?

Sunlight in January.  Blue sky.  Although predictions for the tonight and morning are snowfall, we are not convinced.  Everything has been mild and though some wet, it has felt almost like Spring.

I caught the sunlight on this  garage as I pulled out of the school parking lot and it was just aglow with the sun.  It was a one shot chance from the car window.  I know it looks like I increased the saturation on the red.  But I didn’t. This is how it looked.

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Flat Ruthie is a VW Hood Ornament on Cardboard Me Travels 

It looked like a jewel to me.


Dan’s Classic All American DINER

Touts a jukebox and seats covered in red vinyl. 1881 South High Street Columbus OH

Urbanspoon gave it a 93 % positive rating.  Check it out here. Next time I visit I will photograph the interior.  Meatloaf and mashed potatoes or breakfast all day.

 

 


Woodcarver at Work in Croatia

People at Work series

 

I wonder what this job would  be like?   I wish I had purchased a wood carving but the one on display was so large.  This is from a summer visit to Croatia.  As I remember this village was in Istria but I can’t remember which one it was.


Flat Ruthie’s Chicken Soup for Stars

Flat Ruthie’s Chicken Soup for Stars.


Two Mannequins, Two Men

Walking along Carson Street on the South Side, a slight movement caught my eye.  I stopped. The man on the phone looked up.

I “asked” if I could take a picture with mime-like camera, he gave a nod yes, went back to his phone as I fumbled in my bag for my real camera, not my iPhone.  Had the settings wrong, took another one quick.  Got his attention and acted like I was typing, conveying I would email it as I hurried back to my car across the street.  I was thinking about the cookie jars in the second hand store across from the post office but I felt this was the shot of the day!

Southside Shop Window Like a Live Stage


20 Years Old + 3 Repairs- My Cookies Raw Inside!

Time for a new oven…..

And stove. (from Perla’s Appliance Plus Maytag Repairman statue post yesterday)

It was time! Past time.  It actually went kaput the day before the cookie bake off in December.  Fortunately  Erika’s Uncle and Aunt own the appliance store and they came right over to deliver on a SUNDAY!

This model certainly livens up the old kitchen. And matches the range hood.

I felt a little sad about discarding the one my parents had bought when we moved into this house in ’91.  But it wasn’t  reliable anymore.  Who knows how many meals I cooked for the kids on that one.  A lot!

This one looks “high end” to me. But it’s not. (Well, from afar it does to the untrained eye)

The stainless finish is an update from the white enamel and black top. Those burners seem so flimsy compared to these cast iron ones.

My sister had just given me an oven thermometer after her visit here in the fall. She knew something was wrong.  My signature cookies had to be pitched as the insides weren’t baked.

This is my justification for the splurge.  I think it will inspire me to cook more!

Not sure why all the blue reflection but took this with the iPhone as I made breakfast.  Seemed worthy of a post as it is what is happening in my life these days.  Now to learn more about a convection oven.

Made blueberry pancakes for breakfast on the detachable griddle/grill plate.

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