People at Work- Marie is a Horticulturist

Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild photo class went on a field trip to the Bidwell Training Center greenhouse where there are orchid “crops”. I learned how to use custom white balance in some strange light(thanks Jill) and  I asked our guide how she came to be doing the work she is doing.  She used to work in hazardous waste.  Her undergrad was something to do the with environment (sorry Marie, I didn’t write it down) and she always loved the forest and growing things.  She was inspired by a Ziggy comic panel which she still has of Ziggy on his knees in awe of a flower blooming.  (didn’t write down the punchline either but Marie, if you read this post Friday please comment and remind me)   Getting a Master’s Degree and being a horticulturist became the next step when work in hazardous waste started to disappear.  She knows a lot about orchids and was patient as our class tried to get beautiful shots of the elegant flowers in a different full spectrum light.  And thank you Marie for the informative tour and consenting to be part of the People at Work series.   Marie is an example of finding your passion and doing that work!

Marie told me that photographers place her between the rolling flower holders so I did the same.

Jozie’s Mother- Genoeffa Sciulli- Baked a Biscotti Cake

The unexpected gift of cake!   Her daughter Jozie brought it to me at Mama D’s retirement picnic down the hill in the park on Friday night.  Mrs. Sciulli taught me how to make this cake in her basement kitchen a couple of years ago.  It is like an Italian sponge cake, light and not too sweet, perfect with coffee. Just delicious.   Today she baked one and sent it to me.  So nice of her.  I came home, cut a piece with a serrated knife and photographed it in the living room before I ate it. Mrs. Sciulli calls it biscotti but it is not like biscotti we think of biscotti, a twice baked cookie., hard and ready to dunk. This cake is light and eggy and has a beautiful crumb. Thank you Mrs. Sciulli.  And Joz for bringing it to me. What a nice surprise! It is delicious.

City Sidewalk Stairs

In Pittsburgh there are lots of staircases winding up hillsides and slopes.  Paper streets are defined on existing on paper but not in reality but in Pittsburgh there are streets on maps that are actually stairs. Some are incredibly steep and long.  The other day I was at another red light in McKees Rocks and saw this sidewalk/steps. The bench ad for Pierogies Plus  is true as they are delicious. A book written by an architect librarian and archivist at CMU. Author Martin Aurand‘s book  The Spectator and the Topographical City describes the formation of the topography of Pittsburgh’s hills and valleys.

How a Green Thumb Starts

Maura put on her mom’s gardening gloves, picked up a trowel, dug in the dirt and transferred a shovelful from one part of the flowerbed to another.  I asked her, “What are you doing? and she held up the little spade to show me!

Laura and I Went to the Annex Cookery and Tin Front Café- Homestead, PA

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A full weekend of family and happy times. Laura drove in from Columbus and met me at Clarissa’s Boutique at 3:30, ( they close at 4 on Saturday) tried on and picked up her bridal veil and headpiece. I’d driven down from Uncle Frank’s and Aunt Linda’s in West Mifflin on the way to Carson Street and saw the Annex Cookery Store looking inviting. So after we got the veil, we drove back along the Monongahela River to Homestead to check out the Annex Cookery, a cool store that used to be almost behind our first house (1989) in Pittsburgh on Walnut Street years ago. The Tin Front Café (all veg, beautiful bread and local resources) with a wonderful back patio. Judith Tener gave us a nice tour of the cafe. A great place to meet friends and eat, then shop in the adjacent Annex Cookery. Laura and I bought a couple of Joseph Joseph kitchenware items (there is a whole line in the store) and made a wish list for more. Like the triangular olive dish with the holes leading to a circular bowl underneath where partygoers stash the olive pits they never know what to do with after they eat the olive! A square colander that would fit in a sink’s corner perfectly, and all these utensils where the spoon bowl or spatula head doesn’t touch the counter or stove top when it is at rest. They call it Elevate Slotted Spoon or Elevate Ladle- How smart is that? Those Joseph brothers have created a lot of colorful and useful kitchen ware. “Joseph Joseph is now internationally recognized for producing some of the most stylish and technically innovative products available.

I bought a Riviera Bag and it was hard to choose between sizes/colors but you know how I am about the Red White and Blue. Didn’t I just tell everyone don’t buy me anymore Red White and Blue items. Well, it looked like something the kids would think funny when I travel to visit. Of course, I’m not going to look like Julia Roberts carrying her Riviera Bag in Eat Pray Love but the bag is going to be able to hold knitting and whatever else I need to take to the Riviera, I mean Ohio.

And if you ever spent a rowdy evening raising a beer stein and cheering the Steelers underneath the Maidenform, Bali and or Warner’s assorted brassieres hanging at Chiodo’s Tavern (formerly at the end of the Homestead Highlevel Bridge) you can see the bar(without bras) in all its stunning beauty of wood and mirrors and glass right here! Now a Walgreen’s is in Chiodo’s location. 🙁

Get thee to Homestead and eat brunch or “Butternut bisque with coconut milk and basil $3.75 Four bean chili with cheddar and cilantro $3.95 Black bean hummus with sliced cucumber and warm pita $7.95 Spinach salad with apple, gorgonzola, walnuts and pickled beet $7.95 Hot tamale with black beans…” (menu sample taken from their website) Tin Front Café and shop in the unique store with wonderful kitchen and cookware and jazzy aprons and tableware at the Annex Cookery- There are write ups and reviews galore, raving about the renovations, the store AND the café. Click here for one by Patricia Lowry.

Homestead is happening!

A return visit to the Tin Front Cafe 6/15/11-  Joan and I ate a delicious lunch.  I had Grilled Cheddar and Apple sandwich with mixed greens on the side with a touch of balsamic dressing and lovely parings of sharp Italian cheese.  Joan had the spicy spinach quesadilla.  A couple of iced teas and a lot of fun.  Ellie brought out “Happy Beans” with our check- Chocolate covered coffee beans.

(And if you’re following Keep or Pitch there is a shot of the Yard Sale Leftovers at St. Raf’s Gym.)

My Sister’s NYC Kitchen- 20 for Dinner? No problem!

Think boat or galley! She lights the stove, strikes a wooden match.A writing book exercise-describe your first kitchen.Eat-in kitchen, heart of the home.People used to decorate with a theme.Trivets, salt & peppers to match,tea towels and canisters. A pantry.Formica counters, linoleum floors, upgradewith a roll of no-wax Congoleum.Ceramic tile squares. A single or a double sink.Now it’s granite and stainlessa glass doored fridge. Fancy lightsspotlight what’s cooking.Some people order take-out. Grab a bite, on the fly.

New York City Sidewalk Pickle Vendor

I walked by. Looked back. Took the shot.

My friend Joyce is really good at street photography.  I feel self-conscious and awkward a lot of the time.  I shot this man purchasing a pickle from one of the barrels.  I haven’t seen a pickle vendor on the street before although I did see someone deep fry a pickle at the Ohio State Fair.


The word is funny to me.
Don’t hear it much
about someone getting themselves
in a real pickle.
Barrels of pickles
lined up on a table
under a tent.
Sweet, sour, Kosher dill.
Bread and butter, gherkins,
hamburger sliced.
Pickled eggs in a jar on a bar
Pickled beets.
I made some once.

Santa Claus on April Fool’s Day

Taken at lunchtime on Friday April first.  You worry the homeowner might be ill or injured and can’t get out on the roof to take down Christmas.  A gray sky but a cheery Santa face. Reminds me of the Coca-Cola ads.    I’ve watched and wondered how long Santa will be up there.  I’ve had Christmas up a long time myself, inside the house.  But not into April. Ever. The front hallway always seems so bare when the garland comes down.  

Pierogies Season- 3 Images

You know these are Mrs. T's from the Giant Eagle freeze case, so now a reason to buy more, shoot and re-post!
Dough filled pockets-
not limited to a single culture.
Let’s count the ways-
ravioli, empanada,
spanikopita in phyllo,
pelmeni, samosa, burekas,
and a pasty. Does strudel count?
I’m sure
you can think of more.

Meatless Fridays in Pittsburgh.   It’s Lent.   Last week in the Post-Gazette there was a list of fish fries all over the city and outskirts but let’s talk Pierogies.   You drive by churches with signs out front  (pierógi, pyrogy or perogi ) or you can buy them at Pierogies Plus or at the Polish Deli in the  Strip.  When I first moved here I had never eaten one. I watched Marianne’s mother, Olga make them from scratch. The boys loved eating them. And in time I started eating them, too. Then I wanted to try to make them.  Marianne told me how to get the right potatoes and  a certain cheese.  I made them once for a Polish Christmas party at someone’s home.  Last fall I saw Arleen make them at Christmas, by hand, parboil them and freeze them for the holiday.(see below)   The whole concept of noodle/pasta dough filled with potatoes did not appeal to me but I was uninitiated.  They can be filled with sauerkraut and other fillings but potato and cheese are the most popular.   I am not sure how many I could eat in a sitting but the butter and onions really satisfy that urge for hearty meals with fat.  One time I shipped a couple of dozen to Florida when the family  lived there.  Something my mother never cooked when I was growing up.  At the baseball games they have Pierogi Races.  No kidding.  See below.

Arleen Makes Pierogies for Christmas
Pierogies Race at PNC Park during the baseball game. (Well, during a break!)

After the Hail Storm, Before Elton John

A real snarl.
Traffic- downtown Pittsburgh, in every direction! I was on my way to class, not the concert.

You know how I like to take photographs when I am stopped at a red light.  It was Wednesday night on my way to class.  I had just come through the hail storm from the South Side.  What could the traffic be? Rush hour for sure.  The storm. And I see a guy on a corner I NEED TICKETS.  Penguins? Nah.  Elton John Concert traffic on top of everyone’s commute home.  There is never a good way to get from Point A to Point B in Pittsburgh, especially if you are in a hurry!

Add to the List of Things Out of Your Control

Hailstorms. Stones pelt cars. Leave dents.
Severe Weather Watch turns into a Warning
but you’re out driving from work.
It looks like the world might end.
And traffic, bank lines. A snarl.
How to be patient. Wait.
A few lights cycle, you sit.
Why anyone honks is beyond me.