It's Pony time!



Goaty



An Enterprising new camera

December of 2013 I bought my first interchangable lens digital camera, a Samsung NX2000.  With my substational tax return the next spring, I invested in a number of lenses for this camera, purchasing 10, 30, 45, 60 and 85mm prime lenses and a 12-24mm zoom lens to go with the 20-50mm and 50-200mm zoom kit lenses.

The NX2000 was considered one of Samsung's entry level cameras, and while it was a nice camera, it lacked some important features that I had relied on with previous cameras, such as a viewfinder.  Samsung also produced mid-range and high-end cameras that use the same lenses, so I was considering an upgrade in the future.

And then my SO bought me an NX1 for Christmas!



This is Samsung's first foray into a professional camera, and in developing it, they had their sights set clearly on the high-end full frame market.  The sensor is still APS-C, but it's the first large sensor that uses Back Side Illumination (BSI), a design that boosts light sensitivity by about 30%.  The sensor is equipped with over 200 autofocus points, more than most full-frame cameras, making the NX1 among the fastest focusing cameras available.  It's one of the few cameras currently capable of shooting 4K UHD video.  They also equipped it with a CPU derrived from one of Samsung's flagship smartphones, enabling an incredible 15 frames per second shooting RAW+JPEG!.  This image processor also gives the NX1 the fastest electronic viewfinder ever equipped on a camera, with a mere 5 ms lag, faster than the human eye can detect.  And they didn't slouch on the build quality, either; this is one of the heaviest and sturdiest mirrorless cameras ever made.  It's ergonomically well designed, it feels really good in the hand and the controls are about the most intuitive and best laid out I've ever seen.



I've added the vertical grip, which makes it much easier to hold the camera sideways.  The grip adds a second set of controls including two command dials, AF ON, AEL and EV buttons and an additional shutter button.  It also provides a second battery, doubling the number of shots per charge up to 1000, and the extra weight helps stablize the camera.



I'm very impressed with the light sensitivity of this camera.  This is a photo of the Great Nebula of Orion, taken with just the NX1 and an 85mm f/1.4 prime lens.



The autofocus is really amazing.  I wasn't planning on shooting a rabbit in mid-flight, I just swung around and hit the shutter as the bunny darted past.  Caught her in mid-hop!  None of my previous cameras could do this.



I'm hoping to buy two of Samsung's newest lenses soon, a 16-50mm f/2.0-2.8 zoom and a 50-150mm f/2.8 zoom.  While I have lenses in these ranges, they are significantly slower, f/3.5-5.6 for my 20-50mm and f/4.0-5.6 for my 50-200mm.




Mistletoe has yellowish-green, smooth-edged, teardrop-shaped leaves with white berries.
Holly has deep green, pointy leaves, thorny branches and red berries.
You kiss under the mistletoe, while holly is used to deck the halls.

Berries of white, kissing's alright.
Berries of red gets you hit in the head.


Lentil soup

I use split red lentils to make this dish.  They cook very quickly and don't have to be soaked.  You should pick through them first, however, to check for stems or stones, then rinse them throughly with fresh water to clean off any remaining dirt or debris.  Lentils are loaded with fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, folic acid, pantothenic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B6.  Red lentils will turn yellow as they cook, so don't be surprised when the soup isn't the same color as the raw lentils.

Start by making a soffritto, the Italian cousin of the mirepoix.  Chop 1 cup of carrots, 1 cup of celery, 2 cups of onion, and about 5 or 6 cloves of garlic.  Saute in olive oil until soft.  Add 2 cups of lentils, 6 cups of chicken broth, 2 large bay leaves, a teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika (pimentón ahumado), and some fresh black pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. If you use brown or green lentils, it may take longer.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of Balsamic vinegar.  You can puree the soup if you prefer it smoother, but I just serve it as is.

Serve garnished with croutons, fresh parsley and/or heavy cream, greek yogurt or sour cream.

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Joys of Cooking

I have always enjoyed cooking and my first cookbook was a copy of the 1975 edition of the Joy of Cooking given to me by my grandmother.  Over the years I've purchased the new editions as they've come out, and I've recently started buying the older editions as well.  I've finally managed to acquire one of each of the eight official editions that have been published.


Read more about the Joys of CookingCollapse )


Brussels sprouts with bacon & onions

If your Brussels sprouts came on a stalk, cut off the individual sprouts.  Most people discard the stalk as the outside is tough and woody, though the center is edible and supposedly tastes like broccoli, but that's another recipe.

Clean 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts by peeling off the outer leaves & rinsing under cold running water.  If the sprouts were purchased loose, also trim away the dirty part of the stem.  Slice the spouts in half from top to bottom; if they are particularly large, quarter them, making sure each piece has a bit of stem to hold it together.

Chop 1 large sweet onion into small pieces.

Cut 1 pound of bacon into bite-sized pieces.  Cook the bacon in a large skillet until the meat is brown and the fat has been rendered out.  Remove the meat to a bowl, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.  If there isn't enough fat remaining, add some butter or olive oil .  If you are watching your cholesterol, drain the bacon fat and use olive oil instead.

Add the onion and Brussels sprouts to the skillet and sauté until the spouts are tender.  The sprouts should remain bright green; if you overcook them they will turn greyish and develop a foul odor.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the bacon back into the pan and stir.

I like to serve this over buttered rice.

Brussels sprouts are extremely high in vitamins K (169% RDA in 3.5 ounces) and C (102%) and have moderate amounts of vitamins B1 (12%), B6 (17%) and folate (15%), as well as iron (11%), manganese (16%) and phosphorus (10%).  Brassicas such as Brussels sprouts contain sulforaphane, which may have anticancer properties.

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Goat porn



Beware the Fire Monster!



That's the spot!


Oh yeah, right there!