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Food Gatherers, Why Turmeric Rules, and My Picture-Taking Saga

I’ve always wanted to volunteer at a soup kitchen. And today, I finally did.

Food Gatherers, as suggested by their name, does just that. They are a local organization that rescues perishable and non-perishable food items and then distributes them to those in need. It’s a wonderful thing. I recently discovered they operate a community kitchen through the Washtenaw County Shelter Association in downtown Ann Arbor. There, they serve hot meals — lunches and dinners, to anyone that walks past their doors. After getting the run-down of where everything was located in the kitchen (first time working in a commercial kitchen! Woot!), I scrubbed my hands clean, put on some gloves, and got busy chopping veggies for the mixed salad. Time flew by quickly, and before I knew it, the doors were being opened and people were lining up to get their food. I dutifully stood at my post. I was responsible for ladling the roasted green tomato and bacon soup into bowls and also asking folks if they would like a pumpkin-apple muffin or a box of raisins. I’m sure you know which one of those they most often chose. After reciting that question about twenty times, my brain was getting all twisted-confused, and I started sputtering out things like, “Would you like a box of muffins?” or “Would you like a raisin?” Not my finest hour.

Needless to say, it was a rewarding experience. The staff were so very friendly and accommodating. It was nice to see them go out of the confines of the kitchen to talk with the people eating.

Wrapped up in my own jubilant excitement of actually being there, I forgot to take pictures. I sorry. But, here’s a remnant of my experience contributing my time there. My fancy new bandanna:

So.

Turmeric. My new favorite spice. She’s everything I never knew I always wanted. Vibrant, earthy, and seductive, this persimmon-hued powder brings dishes to a more sophisticated level. The other evening while I stared at my spice cabinet, very much aware that I should probably be asking myself if I truuuuly need another tin of paprika while at the market because the other two that I have at home won’t be enough, I became bored with my usual choices. Adobo, cayenne, and cumin, while all very wonderful in their own unique way, just weren’t calling out my name that night.

But…turmeric.

She put me under her spell and before I could even draw a stick figured-gal with curly hair (if you didn’t already know, I’m really good at drawing. Like circles and lines and sometimes squiggly scribbles if I’m feeling fancy), I was sprinkling some of her magic dust into my “everything-but-the-kitchen-sink chicken noodle soup.” In the end, the soup tasted warm and comforting — the slight gingery undertones of the turmeric settling nicely into the back of my throat. Highly recommend giving her a try the next time you’re wondering how to “spice” up your meal.

In other news, my squabbles with photography and “getting my money shot” with food continue to pester me. Currently, I’m using a regular point-and-shoot camera and then using Photoshop to edit them, in the hopes that they turn out better than their original counterpart. The end result definitely looks nicer visually, but I’m still vexed by the limitations of my camera. I’m starting to peruse websites and ask around for recommendations for a good digital SLR so I can snap better food photos.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to take photos of my foodstuffs to the best of my ability with my Elph and doctor them up with some editing tools.

Thank you and good night.

XO, Steph

steph@nie - I’m glad it amused you. It amused me too. Luckily, I don’t think the people minded me saying silly things. LOL

Leslie - I “laughed out loud” about your mixing up the “box of muffins” and “raisin” thingy!!
Great photography btw:)

steph@nie - Hey Megan! Wow, nice. His tips were actually very useful. I spent quite a bit of time reading them last night and was able to re-discover the manual to my camera so I can fumble with the settings a bit. I don’t know, my camera is pretty ancient so it might not have what it takes to make it do what I want. Thanks for the share! BTW, how is Mr. Bjorn doing?

steph@nie - Wow, Diane, that would be awesome-rific! I’ll give you a holler when I’m ready….eek. Talk about pressure! LOL

Megan - Hi Stephanie! Bravo for working at Food Gatherers–that sounds like a great experience! 🙂

So–Lars is actually a pretty respectable photographer but he has never used an SLR. He put up a little guide for digital photography (albeit for outdoor shots but I think it still applies).

http://meganandlars.com/guides/photography/

Just thought you might find it useful!

Diane - Glad you had a good experience at the Community Kitchen. Did you meet Missy? She is the “boss” of the kitchen. Remind me over a glass of wine some time, to tell you how I helped raise the $8.3M to build the shelter and the kitchen. It was interesting.

Just thought of something. When you are ready, I would love to introduce you to Chef Alex, one of the partners at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. If you were wanting an internship or something, maybe that would be a possibility???

Miss you. Love,
Diane

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