Monthly Archives: January 2011

Night Time Driving

Have you ever taken your camera for a drive at night? I definitely hadn’t until the instructor from my Night and Low Light Photography course challenged us to do so. It was an interesting experience as I felt like such a creeper having a camera on a tripod in the car. Thankfully I didn’t have my big telephoto lens on, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been! (Given the long exposure times used, the most you would see of someone is a ghost IF they stayed the same distance from you for the length of the exposure and your camera is facing them, but they don’t know that.)

Note: All of these photos are SOOC (Straight Out of the Camera). I can’t make these colours up!

Mr. Bean was driving (thankfully!), which made it easier for me to operate the camera while we travelled around town. No photography caused accidents for us! I couldn’t imagine trying to operate my camera and driving, especially on some of the bumpy roads we encountered! (Hear that city of Calgary? Some of your roads need to be repaved!)

The best place to do this is in a place with lots of different lights. We drove from the northwest of the city through downtown,  then south along one of the main drags and back up north along another main thoroughfare.

The trick with these type of photos is to use the smallest aperture, lowest ISO and longest shutter speed you can while not over exposing. Most of the time I used f/22 or higher, ISO 100 and 20 – 30 second exposure time.

It’s also interesting to take photos when you’re moving and stopping in the same exposure as you can see what was around you as well as the motion.

It’s also good to have a frame of reference, like the dash of the car, to show the motion of you driving past the lights. Or are the lights moving past you? I guess it all depends on your frame of reference. 😛

Another benefit of having Mr. Bean with me while taking the photos was his ideas on how to make lights look cool. I stack it all up to his amazing knowledge about physics and light. 🙂

The above photo was taken on an S curve. Neat, hey?

If your car isn’t changing direction enough, you can create that by moving your camera.

Unfortunately, driving your car in circles doesn’t create the most interesting looking photo…

Have you ever taken your camera for a drive?

*The photo of the sideview mirror is my submission for this week’s reflection themed Foto Friday.
Household6Diva FotoFriday

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Daniel Fast: Day 4

I’ve learned a lot about the purpose of fasting over the last few days. It’s to depend on God for sustenance instead of food. I’ve been doing a good job on focusing on food (as usual) but after talking about fasting with my counsellor, I feel that my understanding of the practise of fasting has been refocused.

We were talking about various fasts and I commented how I didn’t understand how Jesus went out to the desert for forty days and nights and didn’t eat or drink anything as aren’t people supposed to die of starvation or dehydration after a few days? Especially if they’re out in the desert? He then told me a story of a priest in China who was imprisoned. He was led by God to fast – eat or drink nothing – for 80 days. By the end of the time, pretty much everyone in the prison had come to Christ.  Wow. That’s really an example of the bread of life in action!

This kind of puts into perspective my first few days of this fast. I was SO HUNGRY the first day. And then the next day I had a “no food hangover” according to one of the people at CUPS. Wednesday (day 3), I just felt terrible – probably because I didn’t sleep very well due to dreams where I was being attacked. Plus, I assume that some toxins or something are being flushed out of me, so that contributes to the shoddy feelings.

I know that I needed to learn about how I need to focus on God for everything instead of finding solace and energy in food. This is especially important in the “project” I’ve been given to work on in the next three weeks. I mentioned how I wanted to find out what God wants me to do in the future during this fast, but after some contemplation, I think it’s more important that I validate my  inner child and give her the voice that I have denied her all these years. From then, I think I will be able to move forward with God’s help in a healthier manner as a whole person. In my attempts to deal with this in the past, I have turned to food for comfort and strength, but during this fast I want to turn to God instead of chocolate or sugar for my strength and healing.

Regardless of my desire to not focus on food so much, I did promise to share what I have eaten. I was fairly stressed out about what I would be able to eat during the fast, but I feel a lot more at peace with it now that I’ve come to the realization that I don’t need to depend on food, only God. But, a promise is a promise, so here we go:

Breakfasts: I cooked up four servings of oatmeal cooked with berries. I then added bananas or more berries, raisins, cinnamon and nuts.

Day 1:
Lunch: Cashew and sweet potato soup with avocado adapted from the Clean Start cookbook.

Dinner: Version of Karina’s Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – I didn’t add as much spice, or the squash, but I also added some sweet potato, collard greens (from this organic produce box thing we got from a Groupon), and chopped up onion. It was REALLY good!

Day 2:
Lunch: Leftover Shepherd’s Pie
Dinner: Version of Karina’s Quinoa and Sweet Potato stuffed cabbage rolls – these were okay. Since I couldn’t use any sweetener to balance out the sour and bitterness of the cabbage, sauce and collard greens I added, the flavours weren’t balanced, so it wasn’t as good as I would have hoped. I think something also gave me a headache, so that might have affected my opinion.

Day 3:
Lunch: Leftover cashew soup and cabbage rolls.
Dinner: Hummus with homemade crackers and veggies and steamed kale. I didn’t add any tahini to the hummus (as I didn’t think it was worth it to buy a whole jar for only needing a bit), and I used sunflower seeds instead of sesame seeds and added a bit of almond flour to thicken it up for the crackers.

 

One of the hardest things in making a bunch of food I don’t normally eat is the vast quantity of food I make. Normally that would be okay as we’ll eat leftovers for lunch, but when you have something like the cabbage rolls that neither Mr. Bean nor I liked, what do you do with the leftovers? I don’t want to waste food but I don’t want to have to eat it either! Lucky for me, Mr. Bean is willing to take one for the team and do something with the cabbage rolls that includes cheese and bacon, so I won’t have to throw them out. Yay!

What do you think about getting sustenance from God instead of food?

Thank you to everyone who sent me suggestions for recipes that I would be able to eat over the course of the fast. I’m going to look through them and pick some of my favourites when I do my meal planning tomorrow!

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Health(ier) Peanut (Not Quite) Brittle

January 26th (Tomorrow) is apparently National Peanut Brittle Day. Who knew? This month’s Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free, hosted by the lovely Lauren of Celiac Teen, is “Follow the Calendar.”  Since I’m a rebel, I decided to try making this a bit early so I could submit it for Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. (I actually made it on the weekend so I wouldn’t have to cheat on my Daniel Fast but that’s just how I roll.)

I wanted to make a peanut brittle that didn’t have any corn syrup and wasn’t just white sugar, so I based the recipe on Spunky Coconut’s Spiced Almond Brittle, which used agave nectar. Mine was only brittle when it was straight out the freezer as I didn’t use a candy thermometer and I added baking soda at the beginning, so I was unsure on how hard I should boil it. That’s what happens when you don’t follow the recipe 100%.

Health(ier) Peanut Brittle

1 c. agave nectar
1/3 c. coconut oil
1 1/2 c. roasted, unsalted peanuts
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda (optional)

  1. Measure agave nectar and coconut oil into a small to medium sized pot. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add peanuts.
  3. Not so brittle way: bring to a simmer (lot of little bubbles) and stir continually for 20 minutes.
    Brittle way: keep boiling/simmering until you’ve reached hard crack temperature. (around 290 – 300F)*
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salt and baking soda. If you add the baking soda, it will be very frothy.
  5. Pour onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Put into freezer for two hours to cool.
  7. Once cool, break into pieces. If you made the not-so-brittle version, store in the fridge or else you’ll have very sticky peanut toffee!
  8. Enjoy!

Which do you like better: brittle or toffee?

*Note: Since I’m not an expert on sugar and since we’re using agave nectar instead of sugar, the hard crack temperature might be different. If you try this, please let me know how it turns out!

I submitted this recipe to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. As usual, the recipes look amazing, so check it out!

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Daniel Fast

Have you ever done a fast? I haven’t. The prospect of not eating or only eating a minimal amount doesn’t really appeal to me. Somewhat ironically I’m starting the Daniel fast today. It’s based on one of the three-week fasts Daniel from the Old Testament did while in Babylon.

“In those days I, Daniel, was mourning three full weeks. I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.”

– Daniel 10: 2-3

This is my kind of fast as I can still eat actual food instead of starving myself! So what do I get to eat? The fast is basically a variation of a vegan diet: I cannot have meat or animal products (including eggs and dairy), no sweeteners, no processed food, no chemicals, no leavening agents and no solid fats. So what can I eat? I can eat fruits, vegetables, legumes and beans, nuts, healthy liquid fats, whole grains, spices (including salt and pepper) and water. Sounds pretty healthy, doesn’t it?

The reason for fasting to two fold: firstly, I wanted to try some sort of elimination diet or fast to see what I am allergic/intolerant to as my body is having issues as of late. My counsellor suggested the Daniel fast, so I looked into it. Given that it also has a spiritual component, I thought this would be a good idea as I am needing guidance from God as to what he wants me to do from this point on.

My goal is to find out what God wants me to do in my life and to find out what I am sensitive to, especially when I introduce things like dairy and eggs back into my diet. I know that I react to gluten, so I will not be testing for that (in case you’re wondering.)

I’m going to try to do the whole three weeks, but I am going to judge it a week at a time depending on how my body is feeling. I reckon, if what I’m eating (especially some beans and “health” foods that I don’t eat on a regular basis) makes me feel terrible, why continue.

I hope to share the meals that I have had (I’ve found some really interesting ones!) and how I’m feeling and reacting to what I am eating. It’s going to be challenging for me as I am definitely a meat and vegetables (+ baked goods) type of person. Please feel free to join me and follow along my adventures into veganism and fasting!

Have you ever tried a vegan or vegetarian diet? What recipes would you recommend?

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Elk Stew with Homemade Gluten Free Egg Noodles

About a year ago, Mr. Bean bought a whole bunch of elk meat from the farmer’s market. Given my resolution to use what I already had in my pantry, the elk stew meat was the perfect candidate. I didn’t want to have your normal meat stew with potatoes and vegetables (tried that with elk and I didn’t like it at all!), so I searched on Tasty Kitchen various types of stew. The recipe I picked was REALLY good and I will probably try to make it with other meat now that all the elk is gone!

Together with the fresh pasta, this recipe is very filling and very appropriate given the cold weather that doesn’t seem to want to go away! Pair it with a glass of nice red wine to make it extra special and tasty!

Elk (or Beef) Stew

Based on this recipe: Best Ever Slow Cooker Pot Roast

1+ lb. elk or beef stew meat, cubed
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
5 small carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
Handful of mushrooms, quartered
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp. brown sugar, heaping
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. italian seasonings
Dash red pepper flakes
Cornstarch

  1. In a large frying pan, brown meat in oil.
  2. Dump the rest of the ingredients except the cornstarch in the slow cooker. Mix until combined.
  3. Dump browned meat in slow cooker. Stir stew to evenly distribute the meat.
  4. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 5 – 6 hours.
  5. Turn slow cooker to high. Mix a few tablespoons of cornstarch with water. Pour rue into stew and stir. Let stew thicken. Repeat until desired consistency.
  6. While stew is thickening, if meat hasn’t already fallen apart, shred it with two forks.
  7. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with cheese if desired.
  8. Enjoy!

I served the stew with noodles made from scratch based on Carol of Simply Gluten Free’s Gluten Free Fresh Pasta. I did change a few things: I used a slightly different flour mixture of 2/3 c. brown rice flour, 1/3 c. sorghum flour, 1/3 c. millet flour and 2/3 c. tapioca starch. I also used guar gum instead of xanthan because I ran out. I would recommend staying with xanthan like Carol’s recipe recommends. If I were to do this again, I would also make my pasta thinner and smaller.

Have you ever tried game meat? What did you think?
Linked up to Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance and Gluten Free Wednesdays at the Gluten Free Homemaker.

The first photo made it onto Tastespotting.com! I’m so excited!

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