Today ends a year I spent working on a 365 photography project. I actually learned a lot in a year of daily photography. I learned that I do not like to be bound to posting pictures every single day, even if it only takes two minutes. I learned that mobile app photography on my phone is infinitely satisfying, even though the quality of the pictures isn't always the best. I learned that no matter the advances in technology, I am inherently old school: I prefer to frame up a picture rather than crop it, I prefer to get the lighting right up front than try to figure it out in post production. I learned that it's hard to say what I want in 17 syllables, but that the brevity of words makes no impact on my ability to remember the thoughts behind the picture of that day.

Photography is so deeply personal. Food photography is hard, because the gusto I feel for the food is never as well translated on "film". I really believe that anything is beautiful if viewed the right way, and of course I say this because I am no food stylist. All of my rejections from Tastespotting confirm that I feel my sense of composition is better than it is (though to be fair, they have accepted some of my favorite photos). Fortunately for me, as long as something tastes great, I don't much care if the picture is the best ever.

This weekend was long and rewarding, my work centered around food for a friend's college graduation party. I love making food for others, and this was no exception. I made a lot of different things that I'd never made before, including gluten-free cookies, and have a new batch of recipes for my arsenal. So to celebrate a year of photography, here is what I made this weekend, with lots of links. Hope you enjoy!

Purple sage.

My sage didn't come back this year, so I had to borrow some from my neighbor. I'm rooting some, and will plan it next to a green variety that I picked up at the farmer's market last week. This sage was fried for a sweet potato and bean salad.

Rio Zape beans: soaked, unsoaked.

Rio Zape and Sweet Potato Salad with Fried Sage and Pine Nuts.Link
I haven't bought pine nuts in ages, and couldn't believe their 30$ a pound price tag, but fortunately there were just a few tablespoons topping this off. This salad was in Steve Sando and Vanessa Barrington's Heirloom Beans book. It was just another in a long list of excellent recipes I now love for life. Rio Zapes are the older brother of the humble pinto. They are just plain delicious. I have a half pound left, and I think I may try planting some.

Ina's Curried Cashew Chicken Salad.

This was really good. I actually improvised the dressing, blending a whole mango with a minced ramp, some lacto-fermented mustard, cayenne and the curry powder. One of the best things about cooking for others is that I don't eat meals and instead get to taste everything until I get the flavors right. This salad is missing it's raisins intentionally - and I have a little bit of dressing left. I think I'll crumble up some tofu, add some raisins, and have it for lunch.

Peter Reinhart's multi-grain bread, made into rolls.

Alton Brown's Gluten-Free "The Chewy" cookies.

These are the first gluten-free cookies I've made, and I loved them. They are made with brown rice flour, and have a good earthiness about them. They got a lot thinner than I suspected, but were still as chewy as their name suggests. I may try baking them from frozen next time I make them.

Crostatas: Rhubarb, Strawberry-Ginger, and Rhubarb-Strawberry-Ginger.

My kitchen got so warm that the pastry dough was unruly. These still turned out well, and this is still my favorite way to use up jam.

Quinoa with Tofu and Asparagus (sans tofu)

I pressure cooked some vegetable stock last week after reading this, and it worked out pretty well. I also roasted the asparagus instead of steaming it, since the oven was on and I used a full 2lbs of it. I also used ramps instead of garlic. Ah, Spring...

I made a double batch of gluten-free crackers, and this amazingly delicious Walnut-Lentil Pate that was left un-photographed (but check out the Bojon Gourmet and her lovely photos). There was also 5lbs of pork shoulder that I cooked down with some tomato jam, garlic, onions, and other miscellaneous spices - kind of like this - but maybe a little different. My friend served a jar of "Smokra", and I think I'm going to have to can up something similar this summer. It was amazingly good.