Photography Update

I've stalled on new blog posts, as I've been concentrating on photography for the last little while. I did my very first official wedding photo shoot this past Saturday, and have been working on the post-processing of these photos for the past 2 days. I thought I'd update with a blog post.

If you'd like to check out some of my wedding photos, please go to My Flickr Photostream.

Many thanks to everyone to helped make this wedding photo shoot a success, including Sylvia and Andrew for lending me some of their photography accessories, Michelle T. for trusting me with her External Flash with only having met me once, and Malcolm for helping me reach this point with his support!


Recipe #9: Spicy Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

If you like the mulligatawny soup recipe that I posted a few weeks ago, then you will probably like this soup recipe as well. If you don't like coconut, you should still give this recipe a try, because curry paste will undo a lot of the coconut taste. The balance between the coconut milk and the red curry paste is absolutely wonderful! We've only made this soup once, but both Malcolm and I loved this soup and we'll definitely make it again! This was also the first time that I baked sweet potatoes (with peel) in the oven, and was surprised at how easy it was to pull off the peel after baking. Prep & Cook Time: 50-60 mins Ingredients: - 1 1/2 pounds orange-fleshed sweet potatoes - 1 tablespoon vegetable oil - 1 onion, chopped - 1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, thinly sliced - 1 tablespoon red curry paste - 1 (15 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk - 3 cups vegetable broth - 3 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice - 1 teaspoon sea salt - 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil - 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Place sweet potatoes directly on rack and bake until tender enough to easily pierce with a fork (~45 mins). Remove from oven and allow to cool.

  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan (medium heat). Add the onion and ginger; cook and stir until tender (3-5 minutes).

  3. Stir in the curry paste and heat for 1 minute. Then, whisk in the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for approx. 5 minutes.

  4. Remove the skins from the sweet potatoes and cut into bite size chunks. Add to the soup and cook for approx. 5 more minutes. Stir in lemon juice and mix.

  5. Ladle into bowls and, if desired, garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a little bit of cilantro.

Nutritional Info (per 1 cup of soup) Calories: 306 Total Fat: 20g Cholesterol: 0mg Recipe idea from http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/spicy-sweet-potato-and-coconut-soup/Detail.aspx


Recipe #8: Avocado & Tomato Sandwich (à la Heartwood)

A few weeks ago we went out to eat at the wonderful Heartwood Vegetarian Cuisine with some of our friends for a little reunion. We had been wanting to try this Cafe/Restaurant for a few weeks, after we were told about it by friends (thanks, Dave & Sunny). It is also great that they only use organic and local food for making their dishes. It is highly recommended!

While there, I ordered the Avocado & Tomato Sandwich, and I absolutely loved it. So much so, in fact, that I wanted to try to make it myself at home. So, the following is a mimic of the recipe from Heartwood.

- foccacia bread (baguette or other works too) - Cut in two
- lettuce
- ripe avocado
- tomato
- alfalfa sprouts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp umeboshi dressing (type of plum vinegar)

I didn't have any umeboshi dressing at the time, so I just mixed a little bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar (you could use red or white wine vinegar too) together, to taste.

1. Cut up lettuce, tomato, and avocado into slices, thickness as desired.
2. Mix together olive oil and umeboshi dressing; drizzle over foccacia bread slices.
3. Add lettuce, tomato, avocado, and finally, alfalfa sprouts onto both pieces of bread.
4. Enjoy!

You could also just layer all of the veggies onto one slice of the bread and then make it into an actual sandwich, but I like having the two pieces separately.



Vote for Hero Hill: Best Canadian Music Website

Our friends Shane Nadeau and Bryan Acker run a fantastic Canadian Music Website, HEROHILL Music Blog, where they share reviews of a large number of different genres of musicians, albums, songs, and so forth. Basically anything to do with music.

CBC Radio 3 is currently undergoing a search for the best Canadian Music Website, and Herohill is currently in the TOP 20. Very exciting!

Without further ado, I would like to ask and encourage you to vote for Herohill. Voting is just a click of a button - it takes 2 seconds (literally!). Every vote counts!


Searchlight 2011

Photography:: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

I have been wanting to start shooting in RAW format instead of JPEG (thanks to Andrew K. and a recent NSCAD Photography "teacher" for the heads up), but have been somewhat intimidated by the whole process. Because of this, I've had my settings on the DSLR to shooting in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously, for fear of not knowing how to process the RAWs and losing some photos. Thus, before making the switch to RAW for the majority of my pics, I've been playing around with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (a 'professional use' photo management and editing software) a little bit in order to get used to the "lay of the lands" on the program and to become more comfortable with using it.

Here are some "BEFORE" and "AFTER" processing examples using Lightroom on some of my pictures. Click to enlarge, to see the full effects.

BEFORE increasing sharpness (left) and after increasing sharpness (right). It made more of a difference than I would have thought.

BEFORE increasing sharpness and without additional vignette (left) and AFTER increasing sharpness and adding additional vignette (right). Made a big difference in this salamander altercation capture.

BEFORE spot removal (left) and AFTER spot removal (right). I hadn't cleaned my lens in a while, and didn't notice these specks of dirt on the lens until after I had already taken this picture. I thought that it would take a large amount of work to remove these dirt spots, but thanks to Lightroom, it took only a few seconds. Pretty awesome what some of these programs can do without consuming a lot of time.


Recipe #7: Falafel Pitas

We love pitas, and wanted to try to recreate the delicious Falafel pita we usually get at Extreme Pita downtown. We've made falafels a number of times now at home, and have used two different methods. The first method is a very simple one: Buy a package of "Falafel Mix Prepatation" at a convenience store (Malcolm bought ours at Al-Arz Lebanese and Middle Eastern Food Store, though I think it can be found in the International Section at Superstore and Sobeys as well). We also usually buy our pita bread at Al-Arz Food. The directions on the box are very straight forward: Mix the Falafel 'preparation' with water and let sit for one hour; form little falafel balls; fry in oil; eat. We've only tried this method once, and the falafels were quite delicious. That being said, there's nothing more satisfying than making your food from (almost) scratch. So, we've made the amost-from-scratch Falafels more often instead.

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes (approx.)


- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- Pepper, to taste (if desired)
- Oil (for frying)

1. Combine chickpeas, garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, and pepper in medium bowl. Mash chickpeas so that ingredients mix together.
2. Add flour and continue mashing. If you have a food processor, I would suggest to use it - we don't have one and mix and mash it all by hand, but the Falafel balls usually don't stick together as well when we form them because the ingredients aren't miniscule. Ideally, you will end up with a thick paste of chickpea mush.
3. Form the mixture into small balls, and slightly flatten them.
4. Fry the Falafel balls in approx. 2 inches of oil until golden brown (5-7 minutes each, turning once one side is brown).

Almost-From-Scratch-Falafels (left) and Prepared-Mix-Falafels (right). Both are worth a try.

We've only made Falafel pitas, though the Falafel balls themselves can be served as a main course, as an appetizer (usually with hummus and tahini), or they can even be made into burger patties (if formed differently) for Falafel burgers. Maybe that's what we'll try next.

Once you're ready to make the actual pitas, this is what we suggest to include in the pita:
- Falafel balls (2-3 per pita)
- Hummus
- Tahina/Tahini (sesame seed paste).
- Tomatoes, finely chopped
- Cucumbers, finely chopped,
- Onions, finely chopped (though there are already onions in the Falafels already)
- Lettuce, finely chopped

I also usually add tzatziki, though the guy at Extreme Pita has told me that it doesn't "fit" with the Falafel pita. I believe he denied me tzatziki once, even though I had asked for it! Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of the made-up pitas, but I'm sure you can picture it.

Now, obviously this isn't the most healthy meal possible due to the frying in the oil, but of course the ingredients are very healthy, so I like to think that it evens out a little bit. =)

Recipe #6: Lemon Quinoa with Asparagus and Feta

I found this recipe online yesterday, when I was looking for recipes where we could use the last of our asparagus that has been sitting in the fridge for a few days. I ran across this recipe, and thought it sounded pretty delicious. We tried it, and we both really liked it! I had to leave out the thyme and the real juice of a lemon (instead, I used the commercial lemon juice out of the squeeze bottle, and it seemed to work out okay). Also, I used half of the original recipe ingredients, which was plenty for the two of us plus some left-overs. In the ingredients below, I have cut down the ingredients to what we used, which was plenty for two people. Also, I decided to use 1/2 cup red quinoa, and 1/2 cup regular 'white' quinoa... because it seemed like fun. =)

Time: 35-45 minutes

- 2 cups water
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 shallot, minced (we just used white onion; had no shallots at the time)
- 1.5 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (didn't have this in the house)
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (used lemon juice out of squeeze bottle)

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until quinoa has absorbed all of the water (15-20 minutes). Set aside (covered).
2. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tbsp of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot and shimmering, stir in the shallot/onion. Sauté, stirring often, until the shallot/onion is light brown (5-7 minutes).
3. Add the asparagus and thyme (if you have it) and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is tender but still bright green (8-10 minutes). Add 2-3 tbsps of water halfway through cooking to steam the asparagus a little bit.

4. When the asparagus is finished, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the quinoa, the crumbled feta, and the lemon juice. Season to taste with pepper, if desired.

Recipe idea from http://www.cookthink.com/recipe/3824/Lemon_Quinoa_With_Asparagus_And_Feta