Testing a Camera and Sorghum Brussels Sprouts

This was a cell phone camera exposed with the stove light

This was a cell phone camera exposed with the stove light

The above photo and all the photos in this post were taken with the new Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  To truly test the camera I used it in pro mode adjusting the exposure, focus, and white balance manually and also in the automatic mode which it defaults to on each opening. A quick note: Our good friend who works at a local PR firm loaned us and some other local bloggers the new phone to try out. In other words this is a paid promotion, but more on that below.

I tried to mimic situations people would find themselves in when out showing off their current food choices to anyone who is interested such as low light, candlelight, outdoor shade, sunlight and indoor situations. I will break down the results for each photo but all in all the camera is quite exceptional for most peoples needs in a cell phone camera. Its auto exposure and color corrections are very accurate and the full image size can be printed up to 11×14 with excellent results. Of course the selfie has to be a really good one to justify a shrine that large. It allows an SD card for additional memory and can be directly connected to a computer to download with some work sneaking past the annoying operating system.

In the Brussels sprouts photo the image was taken in pro mode and exposed with the stove light. I manually set the exposure and focus and as you can see the result is fairly crisp. I did notice a bit of focus loss around the back of the pile, but the depth of field is actually quite good for the low light. Below is the recipe. For those who want to continue looking at photographs from the phone continue below.

This is a quick and healthy way to cook Brussels sprouts.

Sorghum Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts ends cut off and sliced in half
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp sorghum
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter

In a large frying pan melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cayenne pepper and fry for a minute then add Brussels sprouts and stir to coat. Flip all sprouts cut side down and saute until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Flip over and saute on other side for a minute more then add sorghum and stir well. Continue to cook until sorghum begins to caramelize, about 2 minutes, remove from heat and serve.

Yeah this is another shot from the S7 I am feeling a little blatant.

Yeah this is another shot from the S7 I am feeling a little blatant.

This shot (the shot and the photo!) was exposed with a flashlight to mimic the harsh bar lighting situation some millennial would experience when they need to brag about wherever they happen to be at 3 in the morning. I again shot this in pro mode and though I was able to get the different colors and a fairly decent mid-tone exposure, the phone sensor could not handle holding the highlight detail and the toe detail at the same time. It did capture a lot more detail than I was expecting.

Another shot with the Galaxy S7 far far away.

Another shot with the Galaxy S7 far far away.

This shot was exposed with late setting evening light through a window. The type of light that would be around when you go out for a fancy dinner and want to make all your friends jealous of how great your life is.  Again there is a slight loss of depth of field but the color is quite exceptional. More amazing is it was shot using the automatic color balance instead of manually setting it. The red and yellows are well balanced and though the white plate is a bit yellow it is still very good for an automatic correction.

A healthy breakfast filled with all sorts of things fried in butter

A healthy breakfast filled with all sorts of things fried in butter

The breakfast shot was done in direct morning light using the automatic setting around the time all those healthy people are finishing their morning jog to buy Starbucks and talk about how much the new exercise fad is changing their lives. The sensor did an excellent job of maintaining the shadow detail without blowing out the highlight and the color is quite good. I was surprised that the focus did not hold in the foreground since the lighting was quite bright but that is what happens when there is not an adjustable aperture.

Auto

Auto

In these two shots I used fully automatic and then pro to adjust the color temperature. Although the auto did fairly well with the white point it did cool down the photo a bit. The pro adjustment did allow me to play with my color meter, something I have not played with in a long time and I do like how the warmer tone helps the sweet potatoes look extra tasty and the stone tile is closer to its actual tone.

I know they are not authentic tatties

I know they are not authentic tatties

We’ll post recipes for the duck, tatties and drink soon.

All in all I would say this cell phone camera is pretty amazing. The built in flash has an auto and manual setting. Like all built ins it is fairly over powering and ugly. There are also many different effects and a whole selfie mode to enhance any teenage girl’s narcissism. The video camera is for a whole different post.

A note from Katherine: A big thanks to our friend LW for letting us try out the new phone. The best part of the experience (and perhaps the worst too) was watching Greg’s reaction at the Verizon store. He’s not a fan of smart phones and is more accustomed, as a pro himself, to using a Nikon with multiple lens, settings and more. Looking at all the bells and whistles on the camera phone, he said: ‘I’m gonna be out of a job soon.’ For now I’m enjoying his new toy just as much as he is. (He normally uses a flip phone and I can’t text him photos.) The phone itself is sleek and fun to use. Those of you due for an upgrade can receive up to $300 when you trade in your previous working condition smartphone and upgrade or add a line and activate a DROID Turbo, Turbo 2, Maxx 2, Samsung Galaxy S7 or Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on device payment for a limited time. Those who switch to Verizon can also receive up to $650 to pay off their old phone or contract. There are a few other offers available to. Your local Verizon dealer will be able to tell you more. I need to go text Greg a selfie while I still can.

 

Posted in Food, Rants, Recipes, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Blood Orange Tonics

By Katherine

That is some direct light

That is some direct light

It’s been way too long since we shared a new cocktail recipe. We picked up some blood oranges the other week and were faced with a dilemma. Use them on shrimp or just grill the shrimp with some Old Bay and gussy up some cocktails with the BOJ (blood orange juice.)

Well you know us….

Blood Orange Tonics

  • 2 oz vodka or gin
  • 2 oz blood orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp simple syrup
  • sprig of rosemary
  • tonic water

Pour liquor, juice and simple syrup into a Collins glass with ice. Top with tonic water and rosemary sprig.

 

Posted in Recipes, Spirits | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Meat and potatoes

Meat and potatoes

By Katherine

Drum roll please…. The bathroom remodel is finally done. Greg will get back to being the regular cook any day now. First he just has to fix a fence, paint a door or two, patch some grout…. Remind me again why being a homeowner is so rewarding?

In the meantime, I’m trying to revisit old recipes and cook him comfort food whenever I can. (Getting him to actually sit down to a meal is another challenge.) A restaurant nearby caters to Irish and British expats so we stock up on puddings and bangers whenever we’re there. If you can’t find bangers where you are, just take a pass on this one. The bangers are a must. This recipe came together incredibly quickly. Make sure to time everything so it’s done at the same time. The bangers can sit for awhile, but the potatoes and gravy should be served as soon as they’re done. It’s a meal all to itself, but if you have to have a vegetable we’d suggest peas and carrots.

Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

  • 1 lbs bangers
  • 2 lbs Russet potatoes, peeled (or red unpeeled)
  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 medium onion sliced thin
  • 15 oz beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • salt/pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water until fork tender. While the potatoes are cooking, place the bangers on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook at 400 until crispy on the outside. While those are cooking, melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until golden and soft, about five minutes. Whisk in the flour coating the onions. Season with salt and pepper. stir in red wine and beef broth. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer until the gravy is thick, about 8-10 minutes. When the potatoes are done, mash with 1/4 cup butter, milk, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Add more milk if need to get to the desired consistency. To serve, divide potatoes between four plates. Top with bangers and gravy.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Black Bean Hummus

By Katherine

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Winter is when we can actually enjoy our deck.

It’s been a hectic few months in the Rufus household. Most of our weekends have been consumed by a bathroom remodel and Greg’s dad came for an extended stay to help with the project. It wasn’t extended enough — there’s still much to do. I’ve been making a lot of simple foods, and loads of comfort food. For the most part, the new recipes I’ve made haven’t been my own creations. It’s been so long since Greg cooked that he actually relished the chance to put in a full day of grouting and then relax in the kitchen. I am one lucky woman. Here’s a snack I whipped up for the big game, not that we really spent time watching it. The photo is one I snapped on my cell phone. Greg’s photography will return when he’s finished the remodel.

Black Bean Hummus

  • 2 cups cooked black beans, drained
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • roughly 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender, using just enough water to reach a smooth consistency. Add more salt, pepper or olive oil to taste.

 

Posted in Appetizers, Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Salisbury Steak

It is shaped like steak

It is shaped like steak kind of

This is a classic recipe found at any late-night diner as a blue-plate special. It is also very tasty and simple to make.

Salisbury Steak

For patties

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tbsp garlic chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs + some
  • Salt/pepper
  • 2 tbsp butter

For sauce

  • 1 medium onion cut in half and sliced very thin
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 tbsp flour

Take everything for meat patties and mix well in a bowl. Add breadcrumbs until mixture forms a rough “dough.” Shape into 4-5 large oval “steak” shaped patties. In a large oven proof pan heat butter over medium high heat. Add meat patties and brown on one side. Flip and place in an oven at 375 degrees. Cook until meat is your desired doneness in the center then remove from pan and let rest. Meanwhile place pan back on burner and saute onion in fat over medium low until golden brown. Add mushrooms and saute until softened. Add flour and mix well with everything then add wine and deglaze pan. Bring heat to a fast simmer and add broth. Cook sauce for five minutes then add meat and any juices back to pan and cook until sauce is thick , about five minutes more. Serve with mashed potatoes and roasted carrots.

Posted in Beef, Dinner, Food, Recipes | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Honey-Mustard Potatoes

By Katherine

I struck gold in the yukon

I struck gold in the yukon

This side is simple enough for a weeknight meal and tasty enough for a more elaborate dinner as well. I hate baking potatoes because it seems like there’s always something else that needs to go in the oven at a lower temperature. Steaming them instead and then popping them under the broiler solves that dilemma.

Honey-Mustard Potatoes

  • 2 1/2 pounds red potatoes
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • salt/pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into bite-sized chunks and steam until fork tender. In the meantime, mix remaining ingredients in a bowl. Once potatoes are tender remove from heat and run under cold water. Toss with mustard mix to coat potatoes. Line a baking sheet with foil and place potatoes in a single layer on the foil. Place under the broiler on high for 8-10 minutes, tossing once to allow the potatoes to crisp evenly.

Posted in Dinner, Food, Recipes, Sides | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Reuben for the Handyman

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By Katherine

Another house project is underway so I’ve taken over most of the day-to-day cooking as Greg solders pipes, hangs drywall and breaks out power tools. Yes, I’m also helping with the project. So far I’ve stripped wallpaper, removed popcorn ceiling, painted and primed. I also spent an uncomfortable spell in our crawl space. Greg is the skilled laborer though and it’s best if I stay out of his way when he doesn’t need me. As our readers know, he cooks more than me in general except when we have a project underway. Lately, I’ve been sticking to comfort foods that make lots of leftovers: red beans and rice, mac and cheese (I added broccoli to make it healthy) and some hearty soups. I pulled out all the stops for Greg’s birthday, but for the most part favor meals that can be made ahead — his breaks don’t stick to a schedule — or left on the stove in the event I’m sent on a Home Depot run. Making a Reuben was perfect because it’s one of his favorites. Plus I could make the sauce in the morning and put the sandwich together in a hurry.

Reuben

For the dressing:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup diced dill pickle, plus 1 tbsp pickle juice
  • 1/4 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup diced bell pepper
  • salt/pepper to taste

Mix ingredients together for dressing and refrigerate until ready to use. Assemble sandwich by spreading dressing on the top side of one slice of bread. Layer desired amount of pastrami, sauerkraut and a layer of Swiss. Drizzle more dressing along the top and place remaining piece of rye on top. You can grill your Reuben if you wish, but I toasted my bread and popped the sandwich under the broiler until the cheese was melted.

Posted in Food, Pork, Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments