new year’s + resolutions for 2013

I know I said I was sort of done blogging for the time being. While that’s true, I really miss the blog-o-sphere. I enjoy the creative process, but I must admit that it is incredibly time-consuming. If I had more time, or thought my blog content was more relevant to my job hunt/career pursuit, then I would be more active.

That being said, I think blogging has tremendous benefits for both personal and professional growth. It’s a great way to enhance your writing and it can be a relatively easy way to pick up some technical skills and online marketing tricks, if you put in the effort. So, I want to get back into blogging in 2013! No set date yet. And I’ve got a few more goals I want to accomplish in the new year.

As 2012 comes to a close (thank god, it was not the best year for me) I thought I’d share my resolutions with you. Plus, I needed a place to write these down so I stay accountable!

My Resolutions for 2013:

  • Design a new website which includes a blog. – I’m learning how to design websites with WordPress, and I figured a new site would be the perfect first project. Look out for a new place for Modern Taste in 2013!
  • Return to blogging – New site + new blog! I’ve been trying to think of new topics I could blog about. I’m not sure a cooking blog is the best fit for me. While I love to cook, I honestly don’t have the time or patience to create these masterpieces I see online. Photography is also, not my thing. Not to mention the lack of a nice camera. I would ideally like to incorporate other aspects of my life into my blog, including running, beer, burritos, and beagles. Random, perhaps. I’m still thinking. If you have thoughts/suggestions on new topics, feel free to comment.
  • Train for a half marathon to go sub 1:30. – Gotta pick one still. Suggestions?
  • Get a dog. – This is where the beagle comes in.
  • Develop my technical skills. – Specifically: online marketing (seo), computer programming, and website design.
  • Learn Java and design an application for Android. – In par with my goal to develop my tech skills. Anyone done this? Suggestions?
  • Develop my palate for IPAs. – AKA drink more beer. In my opinion, this needs to be on everyone’s goal list. Drinking = socializing = we all need more of this.

picture of beer and burrito

That’s my list so far and hopefully it’ll grow. T-minus 12 hours till the new year!

Lauren

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beer before noon + phone camera blogging

When I first started this blog, I had hoped to be photographing solely with my camera phone (I had yet to purchase the phone, but it was the plan). I figured my old Sony and Cannon digital cameras would produce just as meager of a shot as a camera phone, and since my photography skills are limited to the single year I spent on journalism staff in 8th grade, I figured it would do. And heck, an entire blog done with a camera phone would be cool. At least if the pictures turned out.

As I procrastinated on buying my phone, my digital camera filled in the gaps and I learned (or so I think) some food photography skills…
1. Natural lighting is key
2. Hard lighting is not kosher I have found that the best time of day to take pictures of my food is between 8 am – 11 am, depending on the weather. A soft sunlit room is what you want for optimal food lighting.
3. Angle is everything I think some people like the overhead shot best; I prefer the straight ahead and a little above angle <–notice the extremely technical language
4. Props are awesome + add depth
5. Don’t forget the background Never mind when my kitchen outlets appeared in the backgrounds of my photos. I now have one table in the house I designate for photographing my food. Plain wall in the background + lighting works well. It could be better, but it will do.

Then, THEN I got my camera. Samsung Galaxy S3. Life changing this whole smart phone, Android world. The camera is awesome. Steady, great resolution. My current situation is finding a good app to edit the photos with.

Apps I’ve tried:
PicsArt: It was OK. The features were mostly silly. Like the “let’s change your photo to look like an oil painting” one. Maybe fun for more Instagraming, but not for a blog.

Photo Editor: This one was over my head. There were just too many features I had never seen and like I said, my photography skills are next to none, so I wanted something that I could understand. Also, I never figured out how to upload my photos easily with this app. It wanted me to save the files on my phone SIM first, then upload to a cloud network, then I have to transfer to WordPress. Oje.

I really want to try Snapseed: It looks awesome, and I’ve heard good things. Unfortunately not available for Android yet. It’s also costs $$.

Any one have better advice?

And now about my morning drinking? It’s not what you’re thinking.

Beer Oatmeal
A spin off a Danish recipe called Øllebrød. Feel free to experiment with your favorite brews. We had Shocktop handy, and paired with orange marmelade, MMM! I like it topped with milk, the creaminess balances the tang of the beer. Also, make a big batch and save the rest for the next day. The flavors enhance overnight.
1 cup steal cut oats
2 cups beer of your choice
1 cup water
cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, ginger (optional)

Bring oatmeal, beer, and water to a boil on the stove. Cook until oats are tender (~20 min). Top with milk, jam, honey, whatever taste good.

Just for fun, all the pics in this post were taken with my camera phone, although I did no editing.

Viking breakfast. All of the beer was consumed in the oatmeal, promise.

Starting the day off right.

Lauren

pumpkin [beer soaked] roasted rosemary sweet potatoes

Come on, doesn’t that sound like the best darn way to eat a sweet potato? And since pumpkin beer is in season, what better way to welcome fall than with a pumpkin beer in both hands? One for drinking and one for cooking. :)

Before I get to that recipe, I want to answer a question I get asked a lot. What is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato? I’m not sure what grocery stores are up to, but I always have trouble deciphering which are the sweet potatoes and which are the yams. Sometimes they’re orange, sometimes they’re white. Every store seems to stock them differently. I have been known to spend 10+ minutes trying to figure out which one is which. It’s not a problem.

Well, aside from the fact that they both grow in the ground, sweet potatoes and yams have pretty much nothing in common. They are entirely different plants, unrelated to one another. Sweet potatoes eaten in the U.S. are typically orange-fleshed (but there are many different varieties), and have a sweet flavor. Yams are bland, starchy vegetables better suited for background ingredients (like potatoes). The biggest outside difference is that sweet potatoes have a smooth skin, while the skin of yams is rough and somewhat shaggy. Unless you’ve studied different varieities of sweet potato, it’s hard to tell which is which by color. Sweet potatoes come in orange, yellow, white, and even purple fleshed colors. Yams come in a number of colors as well. I would recommend looking at the skin to see if it’s smooth (sweet potato) or shaggy (yam) the next time you find yourself in the potato aisle for ten minutes. Source

Pumpkin Beer Soaked Roasted Rosemary Sweet Potatoes
Serves 2
1 sweet potato, cubed
1 bottle room temp pumpkin brew (I used Punk’n)
1 T olive oil
1/2 T dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Place cubed sweet potato in a large bowl and pour beer over. Potatoes should be completely covered. Let soak for ~1 hour. Preheat oven to 400*F. In a baking dish/cookie sheet combine sweet potato + 2 T pumpkin beer, oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake for ~30-40 min until cooked through and slightly brown.


Using my Samsung Galaxy 3S camera…still getting used to it. Don’t mind the background nonsense.


With steamed salmon + harvest salad. I adore fall.


And we had RAIN last week! Fall can stay as long as she likes.

Lauren