Beau Knows…Ravioli

There I was, in a pickle. And when you’re in the kind of pickle I was in…the my-ravioli-makers-have-all-fallen-through-and-I-only-have-six-days-to-photograph-and-compile-a-National-Ravioli-Day-post kind of pickle, you call the most knowledgeable local food guru you know. In my case, this culinary angel was Amanda Cannon. In less than ten minutes, I had a “very handsome” ravioli maker to photograph. Boomtown! 

When I arrived at Amanda’s cozy cottage, I was greeted by a mischievous black cat, “Bad Kitty”, who led me to the door while offering intriguing conversation. Chatty cat-hy. Amanda prepared a cup of coffee for me, introduced me to her boyfriend, Beau, and left.
bsomecIMG_0267bwbsomecIMG_0265 bsomecIMG_0263bsomecIMG_0301What a great way to meet someone for the first time, in the comfort of a home, with warm coffee in one hand and my camera in the other PLUS the lingering thought of homemade ravioli filling my gut in the near future. Lay off me-I’m starving! Beau is the sous chef at Bella Luna Wood-fired Pizza which gives him instant credibility. Bella Luna came to town with great anticipation and did not disappoint. Probably because they hire kick-ass people for front and back of the house, like Beau. Starting the noodle dough from scratch, he got out the ingredients and kindly explained the whole process to me: a ravioli virgin.
bsomecIMG_0297bsomecIMG_0279 bsomecIMG_0313 bsomecIMG_0333bsomecIMG_0316bsomecIMG_0353 bsomecIMG_0364Once the milk was heated for the ricotta, Beau added apple cider vinegar to create the milky, curdy separation. <–Clearly I’m a pro now. After a few moments, however, Beau realized that he accidentally used light cream instead of milk. In his defense, the two cartons looked very similar. Waddayagonnado? He started the ricotta again from scratch. I’ve never tasted fresh, warm ricotta before but his was deeeelicious.bsomecIMG_0272bbsomecIMG_0340collagebsomecIMG_0306 bsomecIMG_0311 bsomecIMG_0322collagebsomecIMG_0357It’s awesome watching someone in their zone…doing something they love. There was joy on Beau’s face, there in the kitchen. In the chopping, the mixing, the cooking, the mishaps and even in the cleanup. A chat about this sort of thing was brought up when he noticed that I took a photo of the dirty wooden spoon in the sink. In my effort to explain why I saw this as photo-worthy, I recalled the book “The Sun My Heart” by Thich Nhat Hanh. There’s a section in the book that discusses dish washing. It’s quite transformative, but here’s the gist: “…the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them…. If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have a cup of tea, I will be equally incapable of drinking the tea joyfully.” Since reading this book I try to find those beauties in my daily life; in my job; in my chores. Folding warm clothes, shoveling the (constantly falling) snow, making my bed, hand dryers, rainy days, rush hour traffic jams…you get the point. I have countless photos of my sink. It’s not just a sink full of dirty dishes. It’s proof that I just made epic pumpkin pancakes for two happy kids that sit full-as-ticks on the sofa. It’s evidence of the existence of the last 2 hours of preparing a feast for my friends. It’s beautiful, really.

Beau’s history, naturally, is different from mine but his time in the Army offered circumstances that led him to a similar philosophy: “Embrace the Suck” as he put it. When he found himself in really awful places and less-than-desirable conditions, he would remind himself that even that would have a say in who he is and will become as a man. He is no doubt a stronger human for taking life, and all that it has thrown at him, in stride.
bsomecIMG_0319bsomecIMG_0330bsomecIMG_0281bsomecIMG_0284 bsomecIMG_0295 bsomecIMG_0372bsomecIMG_0376 bsomecIMG_0384 bsomecIMG_0386 bsomecIMG_0396bsomecIMG_0435c bsomecIMG_0421 bsomecIMG_0400collage bsomecIMG_0429bsomecIMG_0351Ravioli stuffing was ready. The dough was ‘resting’ (shhh!) in the fridge and the clouds parted to reveal the beautiful, blue, Saturday sky. The cats, Bad Kitty and Bijoux, were becoming increasingly vocal as aromas of sun dried-tomato white sauce poured out of the kitchen. It was time for the exciting part, noodle stretching! (That may or may not be what the process is actually called.) A familiar kitchen tool appeared (the bench scraper/knife) followed by a new one: the pastry cutter/crimper. All this newness was so.exciting. And I’m not exaggerating. Beau demonstrated the crimper but also explained how a drinking glass can easily be substituted. The sauce on the stove was turning into a mouthwatering, gravy-esque thickness. At this point, he was doing the traditional kitchen dance that occurs just as everything begins to come to the end of its cooking cycle, all at the exact same moment. So there’s Beau, with a strainer full of ravioli over a sink full of dishes with cats circling his feet like two inverted vultures waiting for a noodle to fall to it’s death. And there I was, standing there with my camera in hand. Laughing. Ha! Sorry, Beau.bsomecIMG_0409 bsomecIMG_0426bsomecIMG_0441 bsomecIMG_0447 bsomecIMG_0451 bsomecIMG_0452 bsomecIMG_0476 bsomecIMG_0485 bsomecIMG_0496collagebsomecIMG_0499 bsomecIMG_0506 bsomecIMG_0508 bsomecIMG_0510 bsomecIMG_0513 bsomecIMG_0515 bsomecIMG_0524 bsomecIMG_0530 bsomecIMG_0535bsomecIMG_0577 bsomecIMG_0575 bsomecIMG_0572 bsomecIMG_0566bsomecIMG_0567 bsomecIMG_0555 bsomecIMG_0570bsomecIMG_0610bsomecIMG_0584

Then…magic. All the chaos gets placed on a plate like the edible masterpiece it is. I even noticed a happy little basil-tomato face smiling up at me…then I ate it! Happy National Ravioli Day everyone! Go indulge yourself in some tasty carbs, wouldya?!bsomecIMG_0588 bsomecIMG_0608 bsomecIMG_0602

Read more about my Celebrating Life series here. And get caught up on the January & February posts!

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Brunch & Bubbles

“Man, I hate brunch” said no one ever.  Anything that prolongs the breakfast experience is ok with me. For this particular brunch, the occasion was to celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer.  …I hear ya… “Girrrl, you cray, it’s August!” I am aware. It’s a common misconception that teachers have all summer to do absolutely nothing thereby quantifying their mediocre annual pay. Wrong. I spend a large part of my summer (which was 7 weeks this year) working to earn money to compensate for what my “day job” does not pay. And I am just now finding the free time to complete this post. Excuse me while I step down from my soapbox and get back to…brunch. The kids and I headed to meet my friend Martha and Jewel at Jewel’s new home. Her hand has surely touched every inch of her yard and perhaps even watered it with her sweat and tears. It’s gorgeous. All the flowers stood tall and the trees chatted about their spectacular views. Oh, Harrisonburg. You so pretty. Jewel made a variety of treats including a cheesy crumb cake(!), a sweet breakfast crumb cake, fresh fruits, a fruit smoothie and of course, coffee. Mm. After chatting about art and work and life the kids (and adults) had fun with Jewel’s bubble set!
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So cool!FCLIMG_7583 FCLIMG_7589 FCLIMG_7592CFCLIMG_7605BW FCLIMG_7599BW FCLIMG_7601 FCLIMG_7608Reaga had fun too.

Copyright © 2013 · Photos by Brandy Somers. All Rights Reserved · friendlycitylens.com & brandysomersphotography.com. This material may not be copied, downloaded, altered, cropped, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting my creative property.

Dudes: Asheville, NC – Part II

My time in Asheville was short but day two was upon us and there was no time for wasting. Laura and I slept like heavenly angels in the massive king sized bed, awaking to the sounds of a disgruntled Billy on the porch…in a floaty. Before loading into the party van, I nabbed a group shot…which literally took 30 minutes to get everyone in the same room at the same time looking the same direction. It was early…those boys were mindless wandering drones. Yeesh! I left my camera behind for the day since we were going whitewater rafting on the French Broad River say whaaaat?! 13 people in a 15 passenger van at 8am after a long night of celebration…it was a quiet ride. The air reeked of booze and other ungodly smells. Not to mention, I was quite certain that I was heading towards my unavoidable death as I’ve said previously in my life (alone to myself): I have no desire to ever go white water rafting. Canoeing the Shenandoah is enough of an adventure for me…but here I was, sandwiched between 11 stinky men, heading straight for class 4 rapids. *cue the pre-hurl mouth water* We arrived at Blue Heron and most of my fears were put to rest by the experienced, calmness of everyone that worked there. “We’ve only had one death in our history of rafting.” mmmk. Gag. On the river, we used Laura’s Go-Pro camera and the Blue Heron photographer shared his images with us. After rafting we went into a feeding frenzy at a place right up the road from where we were staying: Nachos & Beer. Not only was this place close, but the title alluded to the fact that very little decision making would be involved in our visit. FCLIMG_6294 FCLIMG_6297cBWDCIM100MEDIA DCIM100MEDIADCIM100MEDIAFCLDSC_0995 FCLDSC_0999 FCLDSC_1017 FCLDSC_1055 FCLDSC_1064 FCLDSC_1069FCLDSC_0951 FCLDSC_0955DCIM100MEDIA DCIM100MEDIAFCLphoto-9

With full bellies, we returned to the house to clean up and laugh about the events that occurred that day on the river. I designed a tshirt using one of my favorite Lee-one-liners to commemorate the weekend. We all decided to wear them out on the town as we celebrated our friend Lee’s upcoming marriage. I can feel myself getting sentimental here so I’ll just leave you to the images now before I lose some of my well earned dude-points.
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Lee's heart is covered in patchouli and dreadlocks...

Lee’s heart is covered in patchouli and dreadlocks…

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Copyright © 2013 · Photos by Brandy Somers. All Rights Reserved · friendlycitylens.com & brandysomersphotography.com. This material may not be copied, downloaded, altered, cropped, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting my creative property.