Easy dinner: Greek pasta

Greek pasta
serves 4

1 box whole wheat penne (13 oz - give or take)
1 12 oz jar artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 t dried oregano
pepper to taste
4 oz crumbled feta cheese

Cook penne.

While penne cooks, saute garlic in olive oil until golden, 1-2 minutes.

Mix all ingredients except the feta with the drained pasta.

Top with feta and serve.

Photo by GothPhil


Almost millionaires

The following story is 100% true. Cross my heart and all that.

Last February, Kurt and I were visiting Florida and staying at a hotel in Atlantic Beach. This is a few months after the Tiger Woods drama broke, and he was scheduled to give his first press conference the following day at PGA headquarters just down the coast in Ponte Vedra.

Since he had been in rehab and hadn't been seen for a while, this was a Big Deal. Even the tabloids hadn't been able to snag a picture of him, and the rumor was the first shot would go for big money, possibly even a million dollars.

So we're in Atlantic Beach, enjoying our stay, and Kurt decides to go grab lunch down the street. He returned with more than lunch. He had a story.

Now, unlike me, Kurt is not one to have stories that require sitting down and paying rapt attention while he relates every detail. That's my job.

So when he had me sit down so he could relate every detail, I knew it was big.

On the way home from the restaurant, Kurt saw ... wait for it ...


I know! I KNOW! Seriously!

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: Are you sure?!?!

Kurt: I'm sure. He's a distinct looking guy.

Me: But are you sure-sure?

Kurt: I'm sure.

Me: Wait. He'll be 20 minutes south tomorrow for the press conference. Whoa. It probably was him.

Kurt: Probably?

Me: Ok, ok, it was him.

(giant pause)

(lightbulb goes off in my head)

(dollar signs flash before my eyes)

Me: So ... you got a picture right?

Kurt: Um ...

Me: Seriously, that's a million dollar shot. Even if it's all cell-phoney and grainy.

Kurt: Well ...

Me: Tell me you got the shot.

Kurt: He saw me looking at him. And he glared at me. Hard. Like 'Don't mess with me' hard. And before I knew it, he got in a Mercedes and was gone.

Me: Noooooooooooooo!

As you can imagine, we have revisited this moment many times (last night among them - which is why it's in my head). We think of what might have been. The grainy photo of a scowling Tiger, our check from the National Enquirer for a cool million, the fab beach house we could have bought.

Granted, a bodyguard probably would have jumped Kurt and beat him up, but getting pummeled for $1 million isn't the worst trade ever (says the girl who isn't getting pummeled).

The moral of the story? The old cliche: Shoot first. Ask questions later.

Photo by Degilbo


Beautiful insanity

Mark Visser surfing Jaws (huge surf break off Maui) at night.

Mark Visser Rides JAWS at Night! from Fortrus Sports on Vimeo.


Feline ESP


In my last post, I mentioned how our cats thwart my every effort to get a good picture of them.

Nelson must read the blog because today, in another effort to prove me wrong, he decided to model for me.

He sat. He posed. He defied my every expectation.

He delighted in making a liar of me.

I'm tempted to try some sort of reverse psychology on him in the future, but I don't think I have a chance.

Feline ESP wins every time.


Ernie knows best

Dog on the move
I'm trying to do the Daily Shoot assignments as much as possible this year.

Today's assignment is 'Motion' and after an embarrassing attempt with the neighborhood fountain, I decided to focus on the pets. The cats were out since, well, they're cats. They move on their own terms and have some kind of feline ESP that makes them do the exact opposite of what I want.

Ernie, on the other hand, is loyal, obedient (mostly), and above all, eager to please. He is the Anti-Cat.

My brilliant (?) idea was to put Ernie in a sit-stay down the hall, set up in the living room, and capture him running toward me when I called for him to come.

Ernie did his part. He sat. He ran. His ears flopped, and he looked suitably dogly.

Mommy, on the other hand, managed to flub the focus several times, forgot to up the ISO, and generally kept causing the poor little dog to repeat his big moment because of one snafu or another.

To reward Ernie for his patience, I took him into the kitchen for a treat. While he ate, I made sure everything was in place. I was certain the next set of shots would work out.

What I forgot was the Ernie Factor.

Having realized that there were treats in the kitchen ("Oh boy! Oh boy!"), the little man didn't want to play our sit-stay-run game anymore. Instead, he ignored my every command and sniffed endlessly around the spot where the magic bite of kibble had appeared.

After minutes of commanding and begging and finally nudging, I got him back by the door in his sit-stay.

I assumed my position in the living room and yelled for him to come.

I heard pawsteps down the hall, followed by nails clicking on the kitchen tile, and then obsessive sniffing.

"Ernie!", I yelled impatiently. "Come to Mommy!"

He peered at me around the corner and, realizing I was serious, slowly sauntered toward me ... through a wonderful patch of bright sunshine.

Just in time, I snapped a shot and caught him rounding the corner (looking not the least bit contrite, I might add).

Voila! Mission accomplished.

I may have found my new art director.


Waffles = happiness

A day that begins with waffles is destined to end well. It can be no other way.

My favorite waffle recipe is slightly sweet with a hint of vanilla and (the best part!) incredibly easy. We like it with berries and cream or (my favorite) fried chicken and honey butter. They're even good reheated in the toaster and topped with peanut butter.

Easy waffles
(makes 8 waffles)

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 T baking powder
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups milk (lowfat is fine)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 t vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Cook in preheated waffle maker until lightly browned.


Quiche me, you fool!

I love quiche. It's light, there's pie crust, you can flavor it up any way you want, and the leftovers are delicious straight from the fridge. Plus, it manages to be both easy and elegant. What more could you want?

Here's my recipe for quiche with turkey bacon and Swiss. Feel free to substitute other meats, sauteed veggies, herbs, and cheeses. You really can't go wrong.

Bacon-Swiss Quiche

1 unbaked pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
5 strips turkey bacon, cooked crisp (3:30 in the microwave on a stack of paper towels will accomplish this)
1.5 cups grated Swiss cheese
1.5 cups milk (1% works fine)
4 eggs
2 T flour
salt and black pepper
a pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Mix the milk, eggs, and flour until well blended. Season with salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Line the bottom of the pie crust with the cheese. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top. Gently pour in egg mixture. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until center is set. Serve warm or at room temperature.