A few times a year I meet up with some of the guys from the Irish APUG forum and we have a bit of show and tell with our recent efforts in analogue photography.
Since I started doing my own darkroom printing at home I have found these meetings invaluable. There is a great sense of encouragement in the room and a critique where requested is done in a very gentle way. Over the years I have received practical advice and guidance that has helped me to get better as a printer and allowed me to be more confident in what I’m trying to achieve.
I have been very busy in work and on the domestic end of things we have undertaken some pretty major building works that have taken over a lot of my spare time. So getting into the Darkroom has slipped down the list as a priority. The recent print show was an excuse to spend a few evenings trying to make prints in the hope that I would have something new.
Other than printing a few postcards to contribute to Monica’s monthly postcard swap I had not printed anything from the trip to India so decided to concentrate my efforts on some of the portraits I made while traveling. I got it into my head that Liths of the people would be a nice way to go as the warmth of the country and people I met would be present in the tone of the final prints. I also printed a couple of the night time cityscapes of Dublin and once again feel the Lith process has helped the mood of the results.
I struggled for a long time with the process of Lith printing and had almost given up on it but I think I was just using the wrong subjects.
The India Prints:
Camera: Nikon FM2
Film: Kodak TRI-X 400
Dev: HC110 (B) 7min 20c
Paper: Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (132 Matt)
Paper Dev: Moersch Easy Lith 20ml(A)+20ml(B)+800ml(H2O)+200(old Brown) @40c
Film: Kodak Tri-X 400
Dev: Rodinal 1+100 80min
Paper: Fomatone MG Classic Warm Tone (133 Velvet)
Paper Dev: Moersch Easy Lith 20 ml(A)+20 ml(B)+1000ml(H2O) @40c
Enlarger: Devere 504
In August 2013 the idea for pinholeobscua.com seemed to fall fully formed from the brain of Monica Smith. The idea was to get some of her pin-holing friends from all over the world to collaborate on a website where we would post pinhole pictures of the world around us with the unique view that pinhole provides.
So far between the four of us we have visited 88 separate locations all of which are worth a visit.
They only thing I love more than a good soup is a super lazy soup. To qualify as a lazy soup it must be possible to be prepared with the absolute minimum amount of thought and effort on my part and the whole process should take between 10 and 15 minutes from start to finish. This mostly gets made when I have no interest in cooking but still need to eat. Its so effortless that I’m always a bit surprised at how tasty it is.
- 1 x bag of shop bought fresh stir-fry mix
- 1 x straight to wok noodles/tofu (optional)
- 1 x onion
- 2 x hot chilli peppers (I like red) or chilli paste
- 2 x garlic cloves
- 1 x ltr veg stock
- 10 x table spoons balsamic vinegar
- ? x any veg you might want to add – mushrooms always work well
- Sesame oil for frying and flavour
- 3 x table spoon of dark soya sauce
A little note of the use of chillies to make this “hot”. The more chillies the hotter the soup will be so do this to your own tastes. Over the years I have struggled to select chillies in the shop that are the right level of spice for my appetite so I have devised a fool proof method of working out how hot they are. I take the chilli that is to be tested and take a massive bite out of it. If my head goes numb and the pain is unbearable it is probably just about right for my cooking.
- Chop the onion, garlic and chillies and fry in the sesame oil.
- Drop in the bag of stir-fry mix
- Pour over the veg stock (amount depends on how soupy you want your results)
- At this point at any additional veg you want (I tend to add mushrooms and bean sprouts)
- Add the dark soya sauce as per your tastes
- Now the sour – I add lots of the vinegar as I like the sharpness but you can add to your tastes
- You can add noodles or tofu at this stage if you want the bulk – I add them more often in winter.
- Simmer the pot until the veg is how you like it.
Because I like my veg to have a bit of bite I find that start to finish this dish takes me no more the 10 minutes to prepare and cook. As usual if you happen to make this please let me know how you get on and if you have any alternative suggestions for a similar meal.
It’s not often that I take my soul on the journey from oblivion to enlightenment but the Japanese garden at the National Stud made this an easy and eye pleasing prospect. Located in County Kildare the gardens were devised by Colonel William Hall Walker and were set out by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru. The walk through the trees, plants, rock gardens and water features symbolises the Life of Man.
The Vapors – Turning Japanese :D
When I stopped eating meat a few years ago this quickly became one of the mainstays of my diet. It is very tasty and super fast to cook. Like the Chilli Paneer I tend to have the main ingredients in the house all the time so it’s a handy dish for the days when I’m unsure what to cook. It’s high in protein and I tend to make a bowl of this if I am making any other curries as the cooking process for a lot of things all start with the same basic ingredients.
My friend Nivetha is leaving Ireland very soon to return to her life in Singapore and a great sadness has descended on cook island. I’m so glad she showed me how to cook this dish as it means every time we eat this at home it will be like having her around for dinner again.
- 2 x cups of Red Lentils – I buy these is an Asian shop as “Masoor Dhal”
- 1 x medium sized onion (or two small, 4 really small, half a large one or one quarter of a giant one)
- 3 x cloves of garlic
- 2 x teaspoons of black mustard seeds
- 3 x curry leaves fresh is great but dried is ok also
- 200ml x Coconut Milk
- 1 x tea spoon curry power – I use hot but use as per your taste
- Oil for frying
- A lime
- Rinse the dhal in cold water until the water runs clear.
- Add the dhal to a pan and add just enough water to cover it – this will need to be topped up as the dhal cooks but it is better to add the water gradually than to lose the flavour by drowning the lentils at the start
- Turn on the heat – as the dhal cooks you will start to see a white foam appear. When I was a little girl growing up in Sri Lanka it was my job to use a slotted spoon to remove this foam. It is entirely optional – personally unless there is mountains of it I leave it as I have taken the view that it might contain that delicious lentil flavour.
- While the dhal cooks chop the onions and garlic
- Heat a frying pan and add some oil.
- Fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop and scatter all over the cooker. This releases their aroma and rich flavour – I wear eye protection for this bit.
- Fry the onions, garlic and curry leaves until cooked “nicely”. I still have no idea what cooked “nicely” means but this was the advice I was given so I’m passing it on.
- At this stage your dhal will be just about cooked – I like it with a bit of a bite and texture to it so I believe that technically I might be slightly undercooking it so do it as per your tastes.
- Add the fried mixture to the cooked dhal adding the curry powder.
- Add the coconut milk gradually tasting as you go until it reaches a level you enjoy. It adds richness which if overdone can hide the flavour of the dhal.
- You may wish to add salt also but I find that many of the off the shelf curry powders have plenty in them already and its better to just leave some on the table for people to adjust for their own taste.
- A good twist of lime right at the end is the secret ingredient that really adds a zest of freshness to this dish.
I tend to serve this with basmati rice and have been know to just sit dipping cheese and onion crisps into it while I vegetate on the sofa. It is always a nice one to have along side other curry dishes and according to my good pal Nivetha anything less than 5 curries its not really a meal anyway.
Let me know if you try this or if you have your own alternative version.
Due to laziness on my part and a fundamental dislike of most of the food produced by many of the takeaways in my area I have gotten pretty good at cooking things that are super fast to make and taste a little bit like something I could order and have delivered.
Chilli paneer is an Indian Dish with roots in China and I often enjoy it as an alternative to ringing the delivery guy. I tend to have the ingredients in the house some of them might seem unlikely to have at home all the time but once you start down the path of trying to cook these things at home your kitchen fills up with odd ingredients.
I normally serve this with basmati rice or popadoms. The rice I use takes 12 minutes to cook and it is ready at the same time as the Chilli Paneer so from chopping the first onion to eating is generally no more than 15 minutes.
So in keeping with the tradition of these things you will need some ingredients. Have a look for them in your larder, if you don’t see them there have a look in your pantry.
- paneer – fresh if you have it or a pack is fine also.
- 1 x Medium Onions (or two small or one eight of an giant one)
- 1 x Large Red or Green Pepper (Bell Pepper/Capsicum)
- Red Hot Chilli Peppers as per your own tastes (Some Like it Hot)
- 3 x cloves garlic
- 3 table spoons of dark soya sauce
- 3 table spoons of tomato sauce
- oil for frying (I use olive oil)
- Chop the paneer into pleasing sized pieces
- Finely chop the garlic and hot chilli
- Roughly chop the onions and peppers
- heat the frying oil in a wok or high sided pan,
- fry the garlic and chillies to release the flavours into the oil
- fry the onions until golden
- add the green or red peppers to the pan and cook to your own taste (personally I really only heat these through as I like them to retain a lot of texture)
- add the cubes of paneer and stir all together
- squirt over tomato sauce over the mixture
- add the dark soya sauce and mix through the dish adjusting for your own taste.
I love this dish and find it easy to make, it sometimes fills that desire for junk food from the takeaway during a midweek slump. Let me know if you try this or if you have an alternative that you would recommend?
I love to cook, if you happen to follow me on Instagram you will see that we have recently extended our kitchen and I installed an enormous 7 ring stove. The area got christened “Cook Island” and I post many photos of the stuff I enjoy cooking and eating. This might be the first of these posts in a series I will call – Tales from Cook Island where when requested I will detail what I have cooked.
This year for world pinhole photography day I visited an old haunt. I lived very near Dun na Rí for about 6 years and it was at one stage one of my favourite places to run my dogs. This was many years before I was as keenly interested in photography and had you told me that one day I would set off with a pinhole camera to try and capture the beauty of the park I would have asked you “what’s a pinhole camera”.
The park itself is a gorge on the banks of the Cabra river and my first shot in my series here is one that I decided I wanted to try and take at exactly 12:00GMT so that I could include it in the WPPD2015 gallery Eur1200 group. It pretty much turned out how I had hoped. I took two pinhole cameras with me. My zero image 4×5 (25mm focal length) and a homemade 4×5 (50mm focal length) that my father built for me. It had been a long time since I left home with two pinhole cameras in my bag.
It was a fun way to spend a day and I even managed to convince my pal Nivetha to try taking a pinhole portrait with the camera. She was annoyingly good at this for a first attempt!
Pinhole 4×5 (Horseman 120 roll back fitted)
Film: Foma 100
Dev: Rodinal 1+ 50 9mins