We got ‘maters!

Our harvest in its “ripening spot.”

We’ve got a garden this year. We tilled a 25X5 foot plot behind our house and planted it with assorted vegetables.We have had some…setbacks, especially one with a rotted out head of cabbage that sort of surprised me. It’s been hot and dry here too, and we have no way to easily water our garden. However, the tomatoes have been doing pretty good.

Don, my father-in-law, says, “Be sure to pick ’em right when they first start to turn orange, otherwise, the squirrels will get ’em!”

I was skeptical, but I defer to Don, because, A) These things ripen up super fast and taste amazing, and B) One that got left on maybe a day too long had a nice little squirrelly bite taken out of it. Bastards.

Anyways Meghan and I got home last night from a drive and as we’re walking to the house, she shouts, “We’ve got ‘maters!” Sure enough, we had plenty that were ripe or near-ripe. Between the two of us, we could barely carry them all back to the house. I asked her to be my stylist for a few photos. The one on top I set up, this one is hers. (She admits to kind-of having a fetish over nice glassware and bowls).

Meghan got one of her favorite bowls for this, a wedding present. I’ll serve something up in a torn piece of cardboard if it’s relatively clean. That doesn’t fly with her.

Of course, since we were taking pictures of something on a table, we had the usual visitor. I took his picture after I finished with the tomatoes. Swear to God, I couldn’t get rid of the little booger when I wanted to shoot the tomatoes, but when I try to get him up there, he wants no part of it. Cats.

“I only do this to vex you” – Eddy. And really, all cats.

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Sunday evening photos

Roadies….some of my favorite pictures, and definitely a good way to spend time, both artistically and in the grand scheme of things. Meghan decided we had spent too much time indoors over the weekend and said we were going out, adding, “Grab your camera!”

 

The best part is, after that, she took me out to dinner too. I love my wife.

Backyard pics

I was at my in-laws’ house and I went out the car to get something. On my way out, I saw these weird bean things growing from one of their trees.

Like peapods or something. Mom-in-law didn’t know what they were and said they had only started appearing on that tree recently.

I liked the layered look they had and the repeating patterns, so I shot a few frames. After some work in the computer, this is what I got. I love it!

Cool, right?

Easter Pictures, belated

Here’s a gallery of pictures I shot for my friend Aubrey of Creative Creations Photography. One of the kids here, “NaNa” was in an earlier post, but now she had to get dressed up nice to get Easter pictures taken with her little brother, Jude.

Haglund House Risotto

I got the bug watching “Hell’s Kitchen.”  What is Risotto and why is it so infuriating to chefs? Is it good? A little while back I discovered that main ingredient is a special Italian rice called Arborio Rice. So following the basic directions on the back of my rice package, improvising a bit and with the aide of my lovely wife Meghan, I set out.

Now normally, I don’t really show my process for cooking. This is because I get carried away, I forget to document my steps, and because, my kitchen isn’t always the, err, neatest. Heck, I’m lucky to keep the cats off of my prep table long enough to….

Goddammit Eddy.

So anyways, we toss some olive oil and butter in a big pan and heat it up. We then add diced onions and button mushrooms. After these get soft, I add a cup and a half of the arborio rice, two strips of crumbled bacon and two smashed garlic cloves, ideally, (Ok, sue me, we used chopped garlic from a jar) and let it all cook up a bit. At the same time, I’ve got a big can of chicken broth on another burner heating up. It shouldn’t boil, but keep it warm. Give a ladle or two of this to the rice mixture and begin to stir gently and constantly.

Stir, stir, stir.

Stir, stir, stir.

Eventually this slow process will yield the rice sucking up the moisture. You can tell when it needs more broth when you stir the rice off the bottom and the liquid doesn’t fill back in right away.

Another ladle or two, never too much, then more stir, stir, stir.

You just keep repeating this process and as above, the rice will start to absorb it and puff up ever so slightly. I had to use pretty much my whole can of broth.

There now it’s puffing up.

I let the stiff absorb until it looked about like cooked rice should, then I started tasting it. And I realized it needed some more broth and stirring. I kept going like this, tasting, broth, stirring, until the rice was tender. Then, it was! So then I got the excess liquid soaked up, and then added a bunch of heavy cream and shredded Parmesan cheese. I did mention the heavy cream and parm, right?

Aww yeah…

So then I topped with some fresh parsley and plated it as I showed at the top of the post.

Parsley-licious? Whatever, it looks pretty.

Final thoughts? I had it the night of making it and damn it was rich. I had it as my main dish for dinner and it was a bit much. This would be better as a side or appetizer. I also thought, for all that work, I could put the other stuff on noodles and enjoy it greatly with less work. Am I missing something? So anyways, I tupperwared the stuff up and had it the next day. Let me tell you, as leftovers, I cannot put this stuff down. So there’s that. Anyway, pretty awesome and I mostly glad I tried doing it. I still would like to have some risotto made by someone who knows what one is supposed to taste like.

Navy Pier people pics

A mother and child (presumably), waiting at a crosswalk.

Went to Navy Pier with friends while back at home in Chicago. We rode the ferris wheel, saw some sights and I took no-look-through-the-viewfinder candids of people that were out, which I have a lot of fun with. Hope you like ’em.

James L. Haglund, my dad

Dad in front of one of the big towers in Shanghai.

“Mer,”says Dad. Not really of course. Yes, he’ll make sounds and grumbles as he goes through the day but, as he says, “I’m not the dog.” Our first dog, Henry used to “Moo” as he sat or laid down. Dad thinks that’s where we got it from.

Really, the whole “Mer” thing is something that I think my brothers and I just kind of stumbled upon. It’s a good approximation of the some of his hemming and hawing, without having a positive or negative connotation. Moreover, it’s an excellent tool in doing imitations of Dad, which is probably the real reason for its popularity and continued use.

Dad during his cool phase, from approximately November of 1976 through March of 1977 when he finally cut his hair.

Dad is smart. Dad is kind. And Dad is funny. Very funny, in fact. He has a kind constant dry sarcasm. He observes all and will constantly throw out puns and wordplay, which while not as funny as his less intentional humor, set the scene. He knows these aren’t funny exactly, but they are clever and the overall effect is very entertaining. I see this now as I grow older and find myself making the same types of throwaway cracks.

There are other things too. My dad has a sheepish little half smile. All who love Jim know this. Half is trying to be serious. The other half is an acknowledgement that, yes, whatever is happening right now is kind of funny, he just sort of wishes it weren’t happening to him.

Dad prefers to be underestimated. He’s brilliant, skilled and due to his, ahem, advanced age, experienced. Some this may stand out to me more than other family members. We both are working in the same accursed field, something that I swear, I had no intention of happening back when I was in high school.

Dad’s chosen profession is as a journalist, where he’s been working, for a major newspaper, for more years than I’ve been around. All through my life, he’s played off that he’s not very good, exactly, just doing his job, a sort of C-student editor. But he’s not- he’s amazing.

“Did you just take my picture?”
“No.”
“OK”

The first clues came when I was younger and would pick my Dad up from birthday or retirement or work celebration parties with his paper friends. His pal/immediate superior came up to me, after having as many as Dad had, would tell me how great Jim was, how he pulled everything together, how it couldn’t happen without him. Dad would write this off as bullshit.

But, in college, a young photographer decided to try working for the school paper, run from a journalism school which he had two former colleagues working in. That student became a photojournalist. In the years that followed, he eventually began to work at a small-town paper where he filled a number of roles, including that of a reporter, and Dad’s abilities would make themselves clear.

My Dad and my friend Mark’s Dad, Norman. Presumably discussing Dad things like, I don’t know, pipe tamping, slipper wearing, whiskey drinking and newspaper reading while waiting for dinner to be made. Not really sure, not a Dad yet.

Working to get my paper put together on a Monday or Wednesday evening is a whole new ballfield when Dad is in town. He looks over the pages and each thing he tells me not only helps the publication, but also is an epiphany to me, each something I had never realized but would now never forget. Some of these are basic rules and ideas that, had I taken newswriting 101, or whatever my poor reporter D.E. Chums had to take, I would have known. Others are design and layout ideas. My Dad, a designer, who would have known?

Seriously, this guy is damn good at what he does.

Of course, it’s not the what of working with him, but the how. Things move quicker, but they’re higher quality and the whole newspaper flows better. He can motivate not by discipline but by bringing you in on a vision of a better paper, something that you can see your part in and are happy to do. This is how I learn, truly and in my heart, that editing is not proofreading. I had known the difference but when I really get to see it in action, it’s my own Dad.

Except of course, when it comes to try to shoot mini golf as pool. Seriously, right into the windmill.

Dad will probably deny all this. He’ll be embarrassed. But he’s good at what he does. He is a good Dad, just like he’s a good journalist. But talking about that is not so straightforward as talking about his editing. Still, maybe he should at least be told it, so that he’ll have to deny it, or play it off as bullshit. He may say that it was all my Mother, about whom he could truthfully say that he “Couldn’t have done it without her. Still, credit where credit is due: Jim Haglund is my Dad. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Dad, with the rest of the family, while garbed in the traditional tribal attire of the American Father, the Hawaiian shirt.