Currently viewing the tag: "photographs"

winona2 (1 of 1)A

A few weeks ago the lovely people at the Blue Heron Coffeehouse had a book signing and dinner to celebrate the release of The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening. I saw familiar faces I used to wait on in my barista days; I met new friends, and celebrated with old ones. If you’ve read through my book you know the Blue Heron is mentioned frequently, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance and encouragement of Larry and Colleen.  (Once again, thank you, thank you, for everything.)

I’ve been quiet here. The past few weeks have been filled with word searches, as I’ve been trying to articulate my thoughts on the whirlwind of activity in our country. One never knows what one’s in for when one starts thinking.* More soon. I’ll have a recipe for you in a few days.

Here are a few things, book related, and around the internets.

I had an interview with Rick Nelson from the Star Tribune you can read here.

I also had an interview with the National Post.

Laura’s post really resonated with me. (Psst. You can also pre-order her book here.)

Aran from Cannelle et Vanille has a gorgeous new video series, A Cook’s Remedy, on her website. Also, just check out her amazing photographs.

Haley Bonar, Tiny Desk Concert. Also digging The Secret Sisters.

Currently on my nightstand: Still reading this. And rereading this. Started this with my kids. This came in the mail today.

*CS Lewis, The Collected Letters, Vol. 2

 

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

My little brother Daniel, who is exactly 9 years younger than me (to the day), just got hitched. We are so happy to welcome his wife, Cassie, to our family. I didn’t photograph their wedding, but I did sneak around and got a few shots, anyway.

I have a couple more links to posts from my book, as well.
*Melissa from The FauxMartha made my Honey Bundt Cake.
*Billy from Wit & Vinegar made my Orange Pie.

minnesota state fair

I made it to the Minnesota State Fair this year; the first time in 19 years. My family had a great time at the great Minnesota Get Together – we ate a lot of great food, ran into old friends, and listened to good music.

minnesota state fair

minnesota state fair

minnesota state fair

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Portland
Part two of our Oregon trip in picture form: our adventures in Portland. We had a great time eating so much good food, checking out parks and gardens and downtown and quaint neighborhoods and hanging out with family and friends.

Highlights included getting lost in the amazingness of Powell’s City of Books, eating the best cream cheese Danish I ever had at Grand Central Bakery, quite a few ice cream stops at Salt & Straw, dinner at Pok Pok, day trip to Multnomah Falls, impromptu picnic lunch at the Rose Gardens, meeting up with old friends, and Uncle Buddy playing saxophone for us.
Blue Star Doughnuts

Revival Drum Shop

Ken Forkish Artisan Bread

Waterfall, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

portland CollageA

Portland, Oregon

Grand Central Bakery

Buddy Jay Jamican Jazz Band

PicMonkey Image

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sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a family session; I photographed this family a few years ago, and it was great to have another shoot with them.

A few links to spend your Sunday on:

A literary quiz to keep you on your toes.

I’ve been enjoying Hello Poetry. Both classic and contemporary poems, and you can search by words to find just the right poem.

This video on how to boil water correctly was pretty amusing.

Still sad about ATK, but I’ve always been a fan of Bridget and Julia.

I’m looking forward to this album. And this one.

This litfest in Ireland looked pretty epic. Maybe next year?

Emily Dickinson: gardener.

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

I finally got to meet baby Margot, and take a few pictures of her as well. This family has been dear friends for years and years, and it is such a joy to welcome their new little.

Some links for your Sunday reading and viewing:

I have always believed that trees are friends, and I can’t wait to read this book

I’m a big fan of Vivian Maier’s street photography, and this glimpse into her past is an interesting read

Top 10 kitchens in literature

You’ve mostly likely seen this, but it makes me laugh every time I watch it: Kylo Ren: Undercover Boss (also, outtakes)

Nigel Slater on the joy of cooking

Portlandia food sketches

How to write: a year in advice

That time Jane Austen drank too much wine

 

 

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer
This past week I got to tag along while my sister-in-law-to-be tried on wedding dresses, and sneaked a few shots during our time. We’re all terribly excited she’s going to be part of the family.

David Bowie and Alan Rickman left us this week. Here’s some Sunday morning reading and viewing to celebrate both:

oh!youprettythings
David Bowie’s Formative Reading List
Chilly Gonzales: Pop Masterclass
David Bowie cookies
David Bowie: Invisible New Yorker
Seu Jorge Sings Changes
Musical Changes
All the Tributes
David Bowie Answers the Famous Proust Questionnaire
My Real Name is David Jones

afterallthistime?always
Empire Interview
Daniel Radcliffe remembers
Alan to Alan
Top 20 Movie Quotes
GIF Tribute
Snape Forever
The Last Interview
sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

I wrote this a few years back and revisited it recently; it was a good reminder to myself on what I want the focus of the Holiday season to really be.

The Holiday season has come and gone again. I sit quietly in my home, and although the fire is burning bright, I am chilled from too little sleep. I always feel so reflective in this time, so nostalgic. The ripping of paper, the ringing of laughter, the smell of peppermint and ginger fill my memory again. I am a child, reveling in Christmas cheer, and yet also I am a grown adult, making memories for my own children. Somehow this is all rolled into one big blur; an abstract painting of time and emotions. There is no picture, yet there are many pictures. Happy and sad, joyful and tearful, the silence of night and the clanging bells of morning are all on my canvas. I stare, taking time to ponder their meanings.

My parents did not grow up in normal, well-functioning homes. When my mother, rather reluctantly, tells us stories of her Christmas past, I always find myself amazed at the carelessness of my Grandparents. It’s hard for me to even write this, to recall that my Grandma was the dearest of Grandmothers, but not an attentive mother. All the cousins, those tiny dear little ones looking to the Heavens for Santa to come, were left to their own devices, alone on Christmas Eve, while their parents enjoyed Christmas parties somewhere else. The adults would arrive home too late to recall, and spend Christmas Day miserable and hung over, yet still filling their cups high, trying to drown out their own memories. When I think of this story past, I am reminded of wise words I jotted down years ago, “But then there are days when we feel like we’re auditioning for a starring role in the book of Ecclesiastes. Did any of it matter at all? Did we accomplish anything even remotely unique, or worthwhile, or useful? … [S]ome days are a drawn veil: we just can’t seem to access the meaning in any of it… [T]here are days now when we pan back on a chapter that’s ending, and the overwhelming feeling is, we had so little time. The years vanished. Take care what you hang a life on.”* That last line flitters through my mind frequently. Take care of what you hang a life on. If someone had whispered that to my Grandmother, and if she would have listened…

But these are not my memories. When I think back to my childhood, my holiday experience, there is a rush of sincere joy that fills me. We had an old, rugged Christmas tree that didn’t require water, but there was nothing like the thrill of my dad pulling the giant, torn box it was kept in out of the laundry room. He would mutter under his breath as he assembled it; it was miserable work and that darned thing wasn’t well made, but we were oblivious to his mumbling, dancing around the half-assembled tree, singing songs full of holly and cheer. Joy to the world! My sister and I would grab for the tree decorations, fighting over who got to hang the prettiest ornaments. My little brother would tackle our legs, knocking things out of our hands and singing out of key. We would chase him, yell at him, laugh with him. The smell of sugar cookies, ornately decorated by all of us just before, filled the room. Mom would start a simmering pot of hot chocolate, complete with tiny mini marshmallows. We would start the count down to Christmas Day. It was beautiful, all of it.

Then Christmas Eve would arrive, and the celebrations would begin. There were appetizers at Grandma’s – a table piled with food and more food. In one corner tiny meatballs soaked in a crock pot full of thick sauce, surrounded by bowls full of potato chips in every color. My Grandma’s stash of roasted salty nuts were scattered around the house, along with trays of black olives and carrot sticks. My sister and I always found spots by the cheese tray and filled our small faces full. After all the eating, we would start on gift opening. It was as if my Grandma had purchased a small toy store and moved it into her living room; there were so many boxes and bags we could barely see above them. We were sure we were dreaming. When it was time to leave we were a complete mess, wired on a sugar rush, ready for Christmas Day. My parents would drive us around the city to look at all the Christmas lights, and we would sing softly together. Silent night, Holy night. Our hearts willingly prepared room, and we were calm and bright.

The next morning we would wake up with a start, bouncing off the walls with excitement, racing out to that old tree to see what was under it. And there, somehow, the presents had miraculously doubled, no tripled; my dad having spent much of November and December working overtime so he could watch his children’s faces light up at the sight of so many toys and goodies. After all the paper had been thoughtlessly torn, and the house was completely covered in every kind of wrapping, we would then spend the day together, enjoying our new gifts; enjoying each other. We nibbled on leftover cookies and bars, we sipped hot apple cider. We were content, glad to be in good company. There would be dinner later with family and friends, but those quiet hours together on Christmas were the real beauty of the Holiday.
sarah kieffer
When I compare my Christmas story with my parents’ version, I am always reminded of the power of choice. My mom and dad did not have the happiest memories, but instead of allowing them to dictate their future, they shaped their own way. They made the choice to not follow footsteps in careless wandering, but instead ventured off the path of bitterness and alcoholism, and from scratch made something beautiful and sustainable for their family. They took a right turn into wholeness and healing, beauty and giving. Of course, not everything was picture perfect that day – there was fighting and arguing among us kids, and some passive-aggressive behavior among the adults, but in my mind, those things are overshadowed by the beauty that my parents helped paint for us.

So now, as I study that painting in my mind, intent on those complex lines and shapes, I change my focus. Yes, there are imperfections and flaws, patterns and colors that don’t seem to make sense, but standing back I see the whole. I will now pick up my brush and add to it; colors and strokes to add form and direction that is clear and purposeful. They may seem messy now, and are wet from being freshly painted, but I hope when my daughter and son stand here, looking, they see the beauty and meaning that our family fought and worked for.  We will take care what we hang our life on.

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow;
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
From ‘Ring Out Wild Bells‘ Alfred Tennyson

*’Take care what you hang a life on’ is from a letter Linford Detweiler sent out years ago to his devoted fan base. Mr. Detweiler plays and sings in the lovely band Over The Rhine.

cookbooks
Are cookbooks still useful? Here’s some food for thought this week in the Guardian.

Food writer Prue Leith insists that “when we come to cook … the cookbook stays on the coffee table. Now the look of the book dictates the sale. In my day you could still buy a good cookbook in paperback with no pictures at all. I doubt if that would sell today. But those books were much used: they lived in the kitchen and got splattered with custard and gravy. Today, if we cook, we Google it. New cookbooks lie on the coffee table and we drool over Tuscan landscapes and rustic bread ovens. Before ordering in a pizza.”

Yotam Ottolenghi and Tim Hayward take up the argument and conclude that cookbooks are still relevant. “I believe many people do still cook from their cookbooks. They may not cook from all of them – many, no doubt, complete their job after an initial speedy flick-through, which is also fine by me – but there are certain books, illustrated and beautiful that we will always go back to, no matter how many more shiny spines are there alongside them on the bookshelves.” -Ottolenghi

“it seems bonkers to take a moral stance on how they should be enjoyed. For me, making a modern, illustrated food book means making an object that balances utility with entertainment in a way that appeals to a new and different kind of audience.” -Tim Hayward

In the comment section of The Guardian, some one brought up Daniel Pennack’s 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader, suggesting that #6 could apply quite easily to recipes and food writing. I have to admit I agree.

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book
4. The right to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to “Bovary-ism,” a textually transmitted disease*
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right dip in*
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to be silent

*#6 – Bovary-ism: the right to mistake a book for real life
#8 – I’ve also seen this translated as ‘the right to sample and steal (“grappiller”)

“For me, a successful cookbook is one that is pored over at bedtime as much as it’s used in the kitchen. I don’t think one necessarily negates the other.” -Anna Valentine

Your thoughts? And what cookbooks are you cooking and baking from?

glassesA
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.” – MFK Fisher

Some links:

Pretty clever junk food masterpieces

Love this version of Radiohead’s Creep

Food 52’s weekend reading lists are great

Such beautiful desserts!

Fascinated and freaked out by The Really Big One

I want to visit Japan

I’m totally enamored with Renee Kemps’ photographs

Purchase my cookbook!

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound

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