To me, food - and the preparation of it - is one of the best, easiest (and most enjoyable) ways to experience a specific country or region's culture.
And when I think about Mexican food, I definitely think about tortillas.
Steven and I had the fabulous opportunity to travel briefly through Sonora, Mexico with some friends of ours. This was an area we'd never been to and we had an absolute blast! My experience with Mexico has sadly been limited to "Resort" Mexico - for example, my husband and I honeymooned in Cabo San Lucas. But while lounging at pools and going parasailing can DEFINITELY be put on my list as things I like to do for fun, this trip was much more exciting for me because I was able to experience Mexican culture in a more authentic way.
Puerto Penasco is a small city in Sonora, Mexico just on the Sea of Cortes. It's a desert climate, but we arrived just hours after they'd received the biggest rainstorm in years. Most of the streets were completely flooded...so flooded, in fact, that we were nervous our rented car would make it! Luckily no car engines were ruined in the making of this blog post.
One of my favorite experiences from the trip was actually on our very last day. We'd packed up all of our things and were on our way out of town, when we decided to stop to find some breakfast and tortillas to bring home with us.
The little Tortilla stand we stopped at was very typical of the area - a small attachment onto the business owner's own home where they cooked and made Tortillas.
The woman there made us all breakfast burritos (which were delicious and beyond cheap!) and we sat outside and ate on a little picnic table. This was also my first experience with Central American street dogs - there are a lot of street dogs in Puerto Penasco, and lots of them were quite interested in our meal.
After we were finished eating, we were very graciously invited into their kitchen and were able to watch the women work as they made tortilla after tortilla!
This brief glimpse into this family's daily life was a one of a kind experience. I feel really blessed to be able to experience another culture in this up-close way - The thirty or so minutes we were able to spend in this local's home summed up everything that I love about traveling.
Mornings have been extra cuddly around these parts lately. Steven was not thrilled when I reached for my camera immediately after waking and snapped a few pictures, but I love soft winter morning light, and the feeling of sleepy cuddles these photos bring. These were shot on my Nikon F2 Film SLR with Fuji400H film.
What a troublesome little word to accompany an equally troublesome emotion. It’s something we all experience; we doubt the weatherman when he says it’s going to rain on Tuesday, or we doubt the extravagant tales of that one friend who everyone knows likes to embellish. Sometimes we doubt spiritual or moral ideas we grew up being told were truth.
Most of all, I think we doubt ourselves.
I experience feelings of self-doubt on a pretty regular basis. Are my dreams too ambitious? Am I kidding myself? Do I really have what it takes? Why can’t I just be happy with what I have? These questions find me often, and I’m fairly certain they find their way to most people who have ambitious goals and dreams. Ambition can be terrifying because it creates room for failure, and the last thing anyone wants to do is fail.
As you may know, I started up a photography business late in 2012. I was living in Germany, and the lack of competition there had my business flourishing quickly and unexpectedly. I returned to the US in early 2013 and quickly discovered that apparently every other person on the planet had a photography business of their own, and were willing to charge less and do more than I knew I could to support myself and my family. Feelings of self-doubt began to manifest, causing me to question my talents, my choices, my purpose.
At the end of a long week that didn’t go as planned, I picked up my Nikon F2 which had not been touched in some time, loaded it up with some film and decided, quite randomly, to go for a walk. It was below freezing outside with slick layer of ice coating most of the sidewalks, and the area just around my apartment building is not the most picturesque for photo taking to begin with. Still, I was curious to test out my new light meter and actually struggled to remember the last time I took photos simply because I genuinely wanted to.
I was freezing by the end of it, but I spent about an hour alone outside, just me and my camera. It wasn’t just fun - it was invigorating. Refreshing. Wonderful. I returned to my apartment feeling inspired and engaged.The pictures didn’t even turn out that well! It didn’t matter. The time helped me remember what I loved to do and why I loved to do it.
The blog world is heavily populated by entrepreneurs, which is part of the reason I love blogging so very much. Hopefully there are a few reading this who can relate. It doesn’t matter if you are a photographer, or a writer, a fashion or graphic designer, a florist, an artist. You are a creative, and you’ve chosen your field because you love to create! Paint. Sketch. Write. Design - it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re doing it for you and no one else.
When doubt finds you, do what you love and remember why you love it.
Those who follow me on Instagram are probably sick to death of this already, for which I apologize, but I'm excited to announce that this shoot I styled & photographed at the Midway Ice Castles a few weeks ago has been featured on Fab You Bliss. Pretty cool, right? Check out additional photos and learn more about the shoot on my Photo Blog if you're interested!
I used to be afraid to make steak. It seemed too fancy, too easy to screw up. I'd eaten enough dry, flavorless steak to think that it would be difficult to get right.
One day when I was feeling particularly brave, I proved myself WAY wrong. It is so, unbelievably easy to make a good restaurant-quality steak that is to-die-for good. And, believe me, it REALLY is to-die-for good. With great cuts of steak sometimes selling at my local Sprouts (my favorite place to buy meat and produce) for only about $4 to $5 a steak, and an unbelievably quick prep/cook time of about 10-15 minutes, there really was no excuse not to be cooking up a romantic meals that would totally knock my husband's socks off.
This method has been tried and tested by me about ten times. I promise, it works.
The secret is pan-roasting.
But Daryl, What's pan-roasting?
Pan roasting is the super-easy technique of searing a steak in a pan on the stove on both sides before finishing it off to cook in the oven. This gets you that irresistible dark brown crust that traps in all of the juices in its heavenly, just-pink-enough center.
Unbelievable Pan Roasted Steak - A Foolproof Recipe
by Daryl Schmidt - Unlost Blog February-11-2014
I promise you, it will blow your mind. The simple recipes always do.
1 per person Top Sirloin Steak
1 Liberal Drizzle Olive Oil
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
To Taste Cracked Black Pepper
1 Pat Butter
1. Drizzle your stakes with a liberal amount of olive oil. Rub oil all over the steaks with clean hands.
2. Sprinkle one side with cracked black pepper and kosher salt (I like to use sea salt,) to taste, on just one side.
3. Set your steaks to the side. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and heat up a heavy-bottomed pan on medium high heat on the stove.
4. Put a little bit of butter or olive oil in your pan. Add your steaks, seasoned side down. Leave the heat on high. There should be an immediate loud sizzling. Be careful of spitting oil and don't be afraid of the steaks - this is normal Do NOT move the steak around after it's been placed in the pan, this will keep the crust we want from forming. Sprinkle the unseasoned side with salt and pepper. Cook for about three minutes on medium high to high heat.
5. Cook for three more minutes on the other side.
6. Remove from heat and move to your heated oven (375 degrees) and roast the steaks in the oven for about 4-10 minutes. You will need to watch them here - if they are thinner steaks, four minutes will be about perfect for steaks cooked medium. Thicker steaks will need more time. Check back often. If I'm in doubt, I leave the steaks in for less time - they can always go back in the oven if they're too rare. See the "tips" section at the end of this post for more information about meat temps.
7. Pull the pan carefully from the oven, remove onto a plate and tent with foil. Let the meat rest for about five minutes. The meat needs to sit for a few minutes before cutting in order to trap the juices inside.
8. Top with a pat of butter. This will melt all over the steak and add to the flavor. If you're feeling really fancy, use a compound herb butter!
Believe it or not, these are the views from my parents home in the mountains of Tehachapi, California. I'm blown away by it every time we go to visit. I'd love to do a couples shoot up here some time, too bad it's three hours outside of everyone I know in Los Angeles, and a twenty minute drive up a mountain to get there!