For The Love Of Light

It’s been an odyssey. The book’s been out since July, but since we were on holidays around that time, Jen sent it off four weeks later when we got back. Unfortunately the book didn’t show up in the weeks to come. It eventually, and by eventually I mean like three months later, returned to her mailbox, for whatever reason. Apparently the German post office is not capable of handling international mail anymore, since hers is not the first package to be returned to its sender.

It's Here!

But well, it’s finally here. I’ve had the chance to skim through it at Astrid’s and at Claire’s, but it’s just so nice to hold your copy in your own hands. And my word, there’s so much talent in there. I feel like the worst in the band, but that’s all fine with me. I’m still in good company, and there’s so much talent in that book.

Oh, by the way, PolaPremium will open its doors tomorrow. I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

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A Waffle for Sølve

Sølve is a real hoot. When we met him last year we made so much fun of Flickr, I think he was even surprised that we’re capable of making fun of it in the first place.

He always said he wanted to take half a cup of coffee, and half a plate with whatnot on it. So I snapped some Polaroids in his honor, and this is my favorite, since it also reminds me of the beautiful day we had out and about Bergen. Taking lots of photos, enjoying the sun and the crisp air.

Tribute to Sølve II

We also learned that Sølve is rather fond of oil platforms. We saw one on the way, sitting quietly in a wharf, and he was this close to stopping and just staring at it. He went really slow on an open road just to gawk at it. Really an impressive sight though.

In other news, Jen Altman opened her holiday shop today. I just had to get me the Polaroid calendar.

The Infamous Flickr Mushroom Risotto

We’ve travelled around quite a lot over the last years. Okay, so basically Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway, but still. In most of those countries we met some really nice, if not awesome Flickr peeps, and most of them got a taste of what has got to be the simplest yet most delicious risotto. Given that we won’t travel that much over the next months (years?) I thought it would be about time to go public with it.

Last weekend, in Bergen, I cooked it once more (which makes Astrid and Sølve the people who had our risotto the most times), and it hit me that the world needs to know about it. It’s so freakishly simple, yet everyone else will praise your cooking skills when you make it. And that’s the kind of joy I don’t want to deprive you of.

I also read Molly’s column in “bon appetit”, and my word, her writing on cooking is awesome. So I kind of felt inspired to write this down. No way I’m gonna reach the level of her writing, but one can try.

It’s pretty amazing that something looking rather uninviting can taste so delicious, but I’m telling you, you’ll love it. If you like mushrooms, that is. I’ve cooked it like a billion times, and I tried to add several twists to the original recipe, some of which I’m going to reveal (if you promise not to tell anyone).

Most people liked it (or at least they pretended they did, either way, fine with me), and even though the hardest part of it really is cleaning the mushrooms. Everything else just magically falls into place.

We usually eat the risotto by itself. Me being a vegetarian pretty much makes it a main dish, but if you fancy, fix some Entrecôte meat to your liking. We usually add a nice salad or better yet, fried green asparagus. It’s heaven I tell you.

You’re going to need mushrooms, lots of them. Best suitable are the brown ones as seen in the photo. Get some scallions as well. Normal onions will do, but scallions are preferable.

Now the brown mushrooms are compulsory. Optionally I dare you to get porcini, the king of the crop when it comes to mushroom risottos. Dried ones will do (remember to let them soak in water for two hours, and reuse the water for the risotto), but frozen or (I don’t even dare say it) fresh ones are will rock that risotto.

The boring part is really to clean all the mushrooms. I usually do it, but if you trust your local mushroom dealer, go ahead and just slice them up real nice without cleaning them. Needless to say that mushrooms shouldn’t be washed with water, though I’m not sure if that’s an urban myth your mom told you, or if it’s actually the truth.

You also need vegetable broth. If you’re not vegetarian, any broth will do, but don’t quote me on that one. Personally I don’t imagine fish fond going very nicely with it, but really, I couldn’t imagine using anything but vegetable broth.

Apparently it seems to be the norm that white wine is used as a base for the risotto. I do no such thing, since I’m steering clear of alcohol, so I only use vegetable broth (with a twist from time to time, told you there would be a twist here and there, right?), but you’re free to replace the broth in the recipe (better yet, some of it) with white wine.

Did I tell you about the rice? Shame I didn’t. Of course you need rice, not just any rice though, you want risotto rice, e.g. Arborio. Make sure you get the peeled version, you don’t want to wait two hours for your risotto to finish, trust me.

The remaining ingredients are butter and parsley. Nothing else you say? Not really. That’s pretty much it. Oh right, there’s Parmesan, lots of Parmesan. And by lots, I mean you better get a kilo right away. You will need it.

And except for the twists of course, there are always twists. But first let’s have a look at a nice list of what you’re going to need. This dish is for two people, but I usually cook a whole week worth of risotto, so I just throw in whatever is available.

  • 200 grams Arborio rice
  • 300 grams of brown mushrooms
  • 1 liter of vegetable broth
  • 25 grams of butter
  • A bundle of parsley, flat leaf
  • A bundle of scallions
  • A garlic clove
  • As much Parmesan as you can get your hands on

After you cut the mushrooms in slices (however thick you like them, you can even just quarter them or cut them in half). Doesn’t matter, they will shrink, and they will taste delicious either way. Chop the leeks. Meanwhile put a big pan (and by big I mean a big-ass pan) on the stove, and put some olive oil in it. After the oil is heated (you did turn on the stove, did you?), sauté the scallions. Before they turn brownish, put in the mushrooms, and I mean all of them. As you turn them, put some more olive oil on them, otherwise they’ll start burning and stick to the pan.

When they start turning brown, add salt, a not just a pinch, more like a flat tea spoon. That will help bring out the mushroom juices which will be very helpful for the next step.

Add the rice. Lower the heat a little bit so it won’t burn. Stir in the rice with the mushrooms and let it take in the mushroom juices for a few minutes. When they’re gone, pour in the broth, just enough to cover mushrooms and rice. Make sure you cover the pan with a lid, you don’t want the fluids to leave the pan without doing their magic.

Now you can start to relax, because the hard part is over. The only thing you have to do from time to time is to add more broth, because the rice will soak it all in, and the mass is turning into a sticky something with mushrooms in it.

Whilst adding broth I constantly add pepper. Somehow I like my risotto with a lot of pepper in it. It gets even better when you have leftovers, and eat them the next day. The pepper taste will grow stronger and stronger. Keep adding some salt too, depending on how salty your broth is, remember though that the Parmesan is very salty too, so don’t add too much.

It usually takes about thirty to forty minutes until the rice is done. You’re free to watch the current episode of The Simpsons while it cooks, but remember to pour in more broth from time to time. Add the chopped garlic, when you get the feeling the rice is almost done.

The finishing touch is the butter and the Parmesan. Stir in the butter, it will add a nice creamyness to the risotto. Grind a nice load of the Parmesan directly into the risotto. Use a bowl if you’re paranoid that you might waste something.

Add the chopped parsley, either into the pan, or sprinkle it over the risotto after you put it on a plate.

That’s it. Add heaps of Parmesan to your liking, and enjoy!

Now, there were twists. I told you that, right?

First one is walnuts. Before you put in the rice, add a handful of chopped walnuts to the mushrooms. Pine nuts work as well, but I just love walnuts with my risotto. They add a nutty (duh!) flavor, and that works well with the risotto.

Second: If you like the risotto to taste like wine, add a dash of balsamic vinegar at the end. Not too much, otherwise it will pretty much nix the taste of the risotto.

Third: As an alternative (which I actually prefer) to balsamic, add a teaspoon of truffle infused olive oil at the end. My god, the smell and the taste, it will make your guests worship your cooking skills.

Fourth: Now there, I already gave you three twists. Find some on your own, will ya?

Enjoy!

My Little Bergen Love Affair

It’s no secret that Bergen is one of the prettiest little cities in the world, if not the universe. Luckily, through the magic that is Flickr, we have friends there, who are let us stay in their apartment twice already. Once last summer, and the other sleepover was last weekend. Basically our last trip somewhere before the number of family members increases next year.

The Story of the Golden Dwarf Basic Elements of a Norwegian Household
Sun! A Tribute to Sølve

The lovely Astrid and her hubby Sølve (a real hoot I’m telling you) make for some excellent hosts. And they have a pretty home which is just excellent for some good Polaroid action. If there’s sun of course. Last summer, during our first trip, there was no sunny weather worth mentioning. Maybe an hour or so one day. I’m not complaining about it. If you go to Bergen, you should be well aware that rain can come and go as quick as the craving for a cupcake. Of course we brought several of the latter, so that wasn’t really a problem.

While we had a cloudy day with some rain on Saturday, Sunday turned out to be glorious. Just like our wedding day (which the weather forecast entitled as being glorious in March), but with 30 degrees less. And wind, my gosh, the wind was mind-blowing (literally). We drove out to the sea to do some serious photo action, whilst Sølve did his best to keep himself busy on the telephone.

Of course I also made the Flickr-famous risotto. And I’m gonna blog the recipe as soon as I put together a reproducible version. We also met this little fella, not knowing what he would mean for the weekend.

Guess Who We Met

We spent the nights watching the original Star Wars trilogy. Unfortunately only in the digitally remastered version, but I hadn’t seen the old movies in English yet, so I could live with that.

I also researched the history of Norwegian Black Metal, but that’s an entirely different story.

We sure had an excellent time there, and even though Norway is slightly more expensive than the average Europe, I’d highly recommend paying a visit to this beautiful country. Bergen even has an incredible used camera store, amazingly we went in and I went out with the same amount of cameras I had when we entered. Yes, I didn’t buy anything. Amazing, huh? I guess it’s slightly because J. said that my camera nerdism is getting slightly more annoying than my computer geekery. Go figure.

Good News for Film Lovers

Even though my friend Amanda made some unexpectedly bad experiences when it comes to getting film developed quickly, there’s still good news in the business of analog photography.

It’s already a month since the photokina 2008 in Cologne ended. Unfortunately I didn’t make it there, but apparently there were lots of good news for film lovers. Apparently film sales for Kodak and Fuji have been on the rise, they even make profit.

For me, the most interesting news was that Fuji is about to release a new medium format camera early next year. Of course I’ve missed the initial announcement, but better late than sorry.

It’s the Fuji Folder, a 6×7 format camera which, you guessed it, folds. Voigtländer will be responsible for the European market, where it’s going to be released as the Voigtländer Bessa III. And well, it’s a beauty.

The sweet spot will of course be the price. I probably wouldn’t cough up 1000 Euros for it, but I might be convinced for 500 or 600.

Several other companies have announced new films, including Kodak, Lucky and Rollei. The latter announced a film based on the emulsion of the good old Agfa RSX-200 II, one of my favorite slide films, most excellent for cross-processing.

You can get all the nitty-gritty details in this thread over at APUG.

So far, the future looks good for film shooters. And I want that Fuji Folder. I really do.