Cooking Game Shows – A Layman’s Glossary and more

Sumoflam Eating

Sumoflam Eating

I am not a good cook. I never have claimed to be one. Perhaps I am most well known to my children for my “amazing” tuna fish casserole (which I have not made in probably 5 years, but was a staple when the kids were growing up.)

Tuna Fish Casserole - not mine, but similar looking to what I made

Tuna Fish Casserole – not mine, but similar looking to what I made

It was typically comprised of egg noodles, a can of cream of mushroom soup, some onions, peas, a couple of cans of tuna fish in water and some black pepper. The extras typically included the cheese powder from a box of Mac and Cheese as well as some real shredded cheese. My only other famous dish was Japanese style rice curry.

Japanese rice Curry - similar to what we make at home

Japanese rice Curry – similar to what we make at home

Both were not necessarily very appealing to look at (though both make my mouth water), but both tasted good and filled the belly. I can admit that cooking is not my forte…not even my pianissimo. And I had failures: like the time we were out of cream of mushroom soup so I replaced it with canned tomato soup (yes indeed, YUCK is right). I have still not lived that one down. And then there were the chocolate pancakes I tried to make while serving as a missionary in Japan. I used baking powder….big mistake. They were so bad and rubbery that one of the other missionaries poked a hole in one and hung it on a wall in the apartment.  It apparently stayed for over a year in that place in moist Japan and never got moldy or hard…just stayed rubbery.  Even some 40 years later I occasionally get razzed about that one!

So, jump to 2014/15 and its a wonder that I have become fascinated by cooking game shows. There are a plethora of them out there and I enjoy most of them.  To name a few of my favorites:Cutthroat Kitchen

    • Cutthroat Kitchen – A Food Network classic hosted by chef turned TV Star Alton Brown, the object of the game is to defeat the other cooks in cooking the assigned dish despite a mad array of unusual and sinister sabotages that can be bought by the cooks. They each start with $25,000 and the winner takes home whatever cash they have remaining. The show has also made stars out of well known chefs Jet Tila, Simon Majumdar and Antonia Lofaso. The judges make their decisions on the appearance, the taste and if the dish reminds them of what the assigned dish should be like.

Chopped

    • Chopped – Another famous Food Network competition hosted by cookbook author Ted Allen, who first appeared on the Bravo Network’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, has been around since 2009. Four chefs compete for $10,000 in three rounds having to concoct dishes from a mystery basket that typically has four very diverse ingredients. The judges base their decision on creativity, presentation and taste. The show has made stars out of judges Aaron Sanchez, Geoffrey Zakarian, Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy, Chris Santos and Scott Conant, among a group of other occasional guest judges.

MasterChef

    • MasterChef – This Fox Network cooking competition show features Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay as the main star, along with chefs Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott. Recently the show has had a series called MasterChef Junior, which is a favorite of ours. It features children between age 8 and 13. Ultimately, 12 contestants are selected and then eliminated one by one with the ultimate MasterChef winning a trophy and $100,000.

GreatFoodTruckRace

    • The Great Food Truck Race – Kind of like an amazing race coupled with cooking competition for Food Truck wannabes. Hosted by Tyler Florence, the show starts off with a number of specialty food trucks and their teams of three who travel across the country facing numerous cooking challenges and assignments. The team with the least amount of money earned at the end of each leg is sent home. The final winner gets to keep their food truck and a $50,000 prize.

WorstCooks

    • Worst Cooks in America – This show, which has featured Anne Burrell, an Iron Chef winner and restaurant owner, along with new co-host Tyler Florence, takes 12 “recruits” who supposedly are terrible cooks and runs them through a culinary boot camp, eliminating contestants each week until there is an ultimate winner, who takes home $25,000.

guys-grocery-games

  • Guy’s Grocery Games – This stars chef Guy Fieri, who gained fame for his Diners, Dives and Drive-ins show. Like many others, the show features four chefs competing in a grocery store with special twists and challenges. After the first three are eliminated, the final winner then gets a list of 10 items that must find in 2 minutes to win up to $20,000. There was a diner owner in Lexington who competed in November 2014 and I have visited her and her diner.
Ranada West-Riley with Guy Fieri and other contestants from Guy's Grocery Games Nov. 2014

Ranada West-Riley (second from left) with Guy Fieri and other contestants from Guy’s Grocery Games Nov. 2014

Sumoflam visits Lexington Diner owner Ranada West-Riley

Sumoflam visits The Lexington Diner owner Ranada West-Riley

There are a number of others out there, but they all basically have two things in common – contestants and judges. As well, throughout all of the competitions there are a number of terms thrown out by the judges, which have always struck me as funny, because the usual normal person out there going to a restaurant to eat typically would never use any of the terminology.

Over the past few weeks I have been keeping track of terms that are usually mentioned by judges in most of these competitions. I will detail them below, but here are a few: Acidity, flavor development, appearance, depth of character, pairing of ingredients. I have also learned restaurantese with terms such as sous chef, chef de cuisine, chef de partie and others.  Then there are the interesting ingredients that isles common in the shows, but I had never heard of such as marscapone, pancetta, crėme fraiche and roulade. Then there is the appearance part…many of the dishes seem to demand an artistry of presentation. I mean, what is with the swoosh of cream or sauce on the plate? And then the exact placement of a spring of basil on top? Does the artistry on the plate create a further appeal to the palate?

So, for the guy like me who loves to eat and loves to watch these game shows about food, I am going to try to decipher some of the terms:

All About the Food

    • Acidity: Commonly heard on the shows…not enough acidity…too much acidity.  We all know what acid is, but what does it mean in cooking? If a dish has enough salt and still tastes flat, it’s often because it needs a mouthwatering burst of acidity—think of a squeeze of lemon on a piece of fish, or vinegary pickles on a sandwich. If a dish is too acidic, the way to achieve balance is to add fat or sugar to mute the sourness.
Nigiri sishi has a number of developed flavors

Nigiri sishi has a number of developed flavors

    • Flavor Development: Well, you hear this a lot as well…. This is just fancy lingo for the myriad of techniques in good cooking that create good flavor in dishes. It doesn’t refer to any one specific thing. As I read somewhere on the web – it sounds far more professional to say “the flavor in this dish is not well developed” than to say “this dish is bad.”
Colorful Fruits can be very appealing

Colorful Fruits can be very appealing

    • Appearance: Flavor development may be important, but the first step is the appearance of the food. The appearance of food and beverages seem to influence craveability and a desire to partake of these items. Ultimately, the appearance of food influences food choice. All of these shows have a heavy focus on the appearance.
Food Presentation is so important in these games

Food Presentation is so important in these games

    • Presentation: Presentation goes along with Appearance. A definition in Wikipedia states that “food presentation is the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.”  Presentation and Appearance are both a part of the Plating process, which makes or breaks most contestants, before the food is ever tasted.
Plating with "swooshy" sauces...art on a plate

Plating with “swooshy” sauces…art on a plate

    • Plating: I get a kick out of watching the plating process on these shows. The methods of adding food on the plate, the swooshing of sauces (actually called “pulling”), the mixing of colors, etc.
Plating with sauce...art on a plate

Plating with sauce…art on a plate

Ingredient Pairing example

Ingredient Pairing example

    • Pairing of Ingredients: I often hear the judges say “great pairing” or “poor pairing” of ingredients. I have heard often of pairing of wines to cheeses or meals, but never really thought about pairing of ingredients. Of course, my example above of using canned tomato soup to make tuna casserole is most likely a poor example of pairing!!

In researching for this post I came across a really interesting post about plating.  You can read it here. Called the “Art of Cuisine: Plating Sauces,” it was a real learning experience for me.  For instance, the author notes “the ratio of the food on the plate to negative space should be 40% food and 60% “negative” space, i.e. space that isn’t taken up by food.” As if I really care, but, apparently there is a rule and I am sure that the “esteemed judges” on these shows know these rules.

ChefStuff

Chefs of All Kinds

Everyone knows what a chef is.  I grew up seeing Chef Boyardee in his chef hat, which I have learned is called a “toque blanche.” According to Wikipedia, The modern toque is popularly believed to have originated with the French chefs Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833) and Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935).  So, we know what they wear, but I was never aware there were so many kinds of chefs.  Following are three that crop up often on these game shows.

A typical sous chef

A typical sous chef

  • Sous Chef: A Sous-Chef de Cuisine also known Under-chef of the kitchen is a chef who is the “the second in command in a kitchen; the person ranking next after the head chef. Sous-chefs must plan and direct how the food is presented on the plate, keep their kitchen staff in order, train new chefs, create the work schedule, and make sure all the food that goes to customers is of the best quality to make customers happy
Typical Chef de Partie

Typical Chef de Partie

  • Chef de Partie: When I first heard this name I chuckled in the thought that they actually have chefs whose focus is on parties.  Well, not really the case. A chef de partie, station chef, or line cook, is a chef in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant. In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several cooks or assistants. In most kitchens, however, the chef de partie is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with “first cook,” then “second cook,” and so on as needed by the establishment.  Wikipedia has a breakdown of the different line chef titles.
Chef de Cuisine example

Chef de Cuisine example

  • Chef de Cuisine:  The Chef de Cuisine or executive chef is the main chef in a restaurant. He/she is in-charge of every other functional chef in the kitchen.This position is also known as chef manager, Head chef and Master chef.
Cooking Ingredients

Cooking Ingredients

Typical Basket from "Chopped"

Typical Basket from “Chopped”

Commonly Uncommon Ingredients

These cooking shows offer a literal cornucopia of ingredients, many which I have never heard of.  There are always the usual ones – onions, vegetables, sugar, flour, etc.  But what about marscapone, pancetta, crėme fraiche and roulade?  I don’t think I have ever used any of these.

Marscapone

Marscapone

  • Marscapone: Seems like this ingredient appears in almost all of the shows. I have learned that it is a type of cheese.  But, why is it always used? Mascarpone is an Italian cheese made from cream, coagulated by the addition of citric acid or acetic acid. According to Cheese.com, mascarpone is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is added to enhance the flavor of the dish without overwhelming the original taste. The cheese tastes best with anchovies, mustard and spices, or mixed with cocoa or coffee. Tiramisu, a layered dish with espresso, brandy, chocolate and Mascarpone has brought the cheese to the forefront of Italian cooking. Another possible use of Mascarpone is to thicken puddings and dessert creams. It is also popular as a standalone dessert served with fruit or syrup.
Pancetta

Pancetta

  • Pancetta:  Pancetta is another ingredient I hear often. Seems to me like it is a type of bacon, but probably much much better. According to Wikipedia, pancetta is is Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that is salt cured and spiced with black pepper and sometimes other spices.
Creme fraiche

Creme fraiche

  • Crème fraîche: When I hear this one (which is also often), I end up thinking Cream Fresh and wonder why they call it that. But, actually, Crème fraîche is a soured cream containing 30–45% butterfat and having a pH of around 4.5. It is soured with bacterial culture, but is less sour than U.S.-style sour cream, and has a lower viscosity and a higher fat content. European labeling regulation disallows any ingredients other than cream and bacterial culture. It is often used to finish hot savory sauces and is also the basis of many desserts and dessert sauces.

Roulade

Roulade

  • Roulade: A roulade is a dish of filled rolled meat or pastry. Traditionally found in various European cuisines, the term roulade originates from the French word “rouler”, meaning “to roll”.

A FEW OTHER TERMS COMMONLY HEARD ON THE GAME SHOWS

  • Al Dente: In cooking, al dente describes pasta and vegetables, rice or beans that are cooked to be firm to the bite. The etymology is Italian “to the tooth.” If pasta is too soft or mushy it is not al dente.
  • Render Out: Often when the cooks explain their recipes on these shows, they talk about “rendering out” the bacon or pancetta.  HERE is a good post about rendering bacon. Ultimately, render means “cook the fat out of.” The bacon and/or pancetta is almost always cubed when rendering happens on these shows. Mmmm….bacon….
  • Wine Reduction: So, how does one “reduce” a wine?  Obviously, you can reduce the amount of wine by drinking some of it.  But, I don’t think that is what they mean. Actually, in cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling. Reduction is performed by simmering or boiling a liquid such as stock, fruit or vegetable juices, wine, vinegar, or a sauce until the desired volume is reached by evaporation. This is done without a lid, thus enabling the vapor to escape from the mixture.
  • Caramelize: I love caramels…those rich creamy candies.  But, when a cook talks about caramelizing onions, I most certainly don’t think of caramels! Caramelization  is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.  Guess what? Onions have sugars and that is why they are caramelized?
  • Emulsify: Another word I have heard many times, but never really understood. When you whisk together two liquids—like oil and vinegar—that normally won’t bond together, you can cause them to form a single liquid that may stay stable for at least a short period of time. Think about what oil and vinegar look like when well-whisked – the result is thicker and almost creamy looking: that is an emulsification.  A vinaigrette is an emulsified liquid.
  • Socarrat: I like rice a lot.  Especially a good savory rice that has been fried. Japanese/Korean Fried rice is wonderful, especially when some of it has browned and caramelized (there’s that word again!!) Turns out that the burnt and crunchy portion of a good al dente (Ha! used it too) rice grilled in a pan, like fried rice, is called socarrat.
A rice with caramelized socarrat

A rice with caramelized socarrat

It is obvious that these game shows are meant for entertainment as chefs, cooks, culinary experts and the likes go at each other to show off their crafts and cuisine arts.  But, they can be learning experiences at so many levels.  Now I’m hungry!!

IMG_1635

Biting into the “small” burger at Big Jud’s in Rexburg, ID in 2013. They are home to the 1 LB and 2 LB Challenges…

 

2014 – Year in Review: Livin’ the Dream

IMG_4063The year 2014 was a marvelous year for me.  As with all years of life, there are always ups and downs, and this year was no exception.  But, I always strive to take a positive vent on things (as much as possible) and there was much positive that happened this year.  Following is my retrospective view on 2014…the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful (no Ugly here…sorry!).  I really was living the dream!

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

I made this 35 year banner for Facebook

Celebrated my 35th Wedding Anniversary

35 Years of "Merried" Life

35 Years of “Merried” Life

July 15, 2014 was a momentous day in my life as I celebrated the 35th anniversary of wedded bliss with my sweet eternal companion Julianne. Even now I am awestruck at how she has put up with me all of these years.  My quirkiness, my playfulness and yes, my more often than occasional thoughtless foot-in-mouth disease.

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

I love hanging around with my BEST friend

Julianne has been a wonderful example to me and, in the words of my favorite musician Antsy McClain, I truly “Married Up, my life is sweet as a daydream”

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

Julianne and David have enjoyed 35 years!

First grandchild baptism

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

Grampz and Kade on Baptism Day

In late May we got to go to Montana to attend the first baptism of any of my grandchildren. This was a wonderful event as Kade Matthews was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am proud of this little guy with a big heart and wonderful spirit.  There will be more baptisms coming in the future, but the first is always wonderful

Seeing ALL of the children and grandchildren

Our family has spread out across the United States (literally coast to coast!), thus making it difficult to see them all at one time.  Not since Christmas 2012 have we all been together.  However, as of Christmas 2014, we were able to spend time with all of the children and grandchildren at one point or another.

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

With 5 of the Grandkidz at Christmas 2014

  • Amaree – Our oldest was living in Shelby, Montana the last time we got to visit her and her family (including husband Aaron and four children – Kade (8), Charlie (7), Olivia (5) and Benson (3))  We were blessed to visit them in May for Kade’s baptism and also spent some time traveling in Montana with them.  It was a wonderful time. In October, they moved further west to Port Orchard, Washington in a job transfer for Aaron. They are loving their new place and I am hoping to be able to go out there and visit in 2015 for Charlie’s baptism.
  • Grampz with Amaree's children.  Fun to see Livvy, Charlie, Kade and Benson

    Grampz with Amaree’s children. Fun to see Livvy, Kade, Charlie and Benson

  • Marissa – Our second daughter Marissa still lives nearby in Lexington.  It is always fun to see her sweet family (including husband Adam and three children – Joselyn (7), Landen (6) and Lyla (3)). It has been a blessing to have them nearby and have the opportunity to hang with those sweet grandkids! Marissa’s wonderful talent as a photographer and videographer always continues to impress.
  • Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Enjoying time with Autumn, Joselyn and Landen

    Fun with Lyla

    Fun with Lyla

  • Chelsea – Our third daughter Chelsea also lives in Lexington and we get to see her and our oldest grandchild Autumn (9) quite often. Chelsea recently became engaged to Jorge Mendez and is excited about the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit his family in 2015. She continues to do well on her job as a manager at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
  • Seth – Our oldest son Seth lives in Vernon, Connecticut.  He and his wife Holly and son Rockwell (4) have been busy in life, Seth with his engineering job at GE and Holly with her business “Cutting It Cute.”  We really had lost hope of seeing them in 2014, but, they surprised us in late December with a Christmas visit and it was amazing to see us.  They shared some other exciting news (coming soon).  With their visit we finally got to see ALL of our children and grandchildren this year.
  • Three Generations of Kravetz...David, Rockwell and Seth

    Three Generations of Kravetz…David, Rockwell and Seth

  • Solomon – Our youngest son Solomon moved out to Colorado to join some friends in a joint business venture.  Though times have been challenging, the business seems to be picking up steam.  Sol visited us earlier in the year for a couple of days.  It was good to see him and hear of his progress.  He has remained upbeat and seems to be finally finding his pathway in life.  We are proud of him.
  • Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

    Its Sol Good with Mom and Dad

Kravetz Family Reunion

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Kravetz Family Reunion 2014

Another great highlight this year was a Kravetz family reunion, held in Galveston, Texas in late June 2014. Though not all were able to attend, I was happy to meet with my sister Sherry and her family, my step-dad Joe, my Uncle Lou and his wife Toni, and many of my cousins.  It was a wonderful four days on the beautiful island of Galveston.  On the way back home I spent an evening at my Uncle Lou’s house in Houston and then a day with my cousin Lewis in Austin, finally finishing up in Keller, Texas with my sister Sherry and her family and my dad, before heading home.

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

Visiting with my Dad in Keller, Texas

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry's daughter)

With my cute niece Savannah Blessing (Sherry’s daughter)

Extensive Travel Opportunities

Welcome to Louisiana

Welcome to Louisiana in 2014

As noted above, in 2014 I was able to travel to Montana and also to southern Texas. As is typically the case, I drove and made a vacation/blogging trip out of these.  During the year I visited 18 states and drove close to 10,000 miles in road trip travel (not counting local Kentucky travel).  Detailed blog posts on my travels can be seen on my Less Beaten Paths blog (see actual post HERE). But, I will note below some of my “Bucket List” locations that I was able to check off.

Visiting Oklahoma

Visiting Oklahoma in 2014

  • Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, MN – I have wanted to visit here since I was 8 or 9 and first saw it in a LIFE travel book back in the 1960s. Finally made it in May 2014! (see blog post)
  • Beartooth Highwayon the border of Wyoming and Montana – Supposedly one of the most spectacular mountain drives in America, it has been on my list for many years.  I made it (just barely) on Memorial Day weekend in late May 2014.  I got there a couple days after it was opened for the season and there was still piles of snow. It will leave me with everlasting memories of the beauty of this earth. (see blog post)
  • Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – One of the “Car Sculpture” places I had hoped to visit, I was able to get here on my way from Montana in late May. It was a fabulous visit! (see blog post)
  • Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

    Visiting Carhenge in Alliance, NE

  • Traversing US Highway 2 across northern US – Though this is still a Bucket List item (since I have east coast to Michigan and then western Montana to Washington coast remaining), I was able to knock off a big chunk of the 2,571 mile highway as I drove from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Browning, Montana (about 1,171 miles) (see blog post)
  • Didn't matter which way.  Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

    Didn’t matter which way. Had a great time. (This is in Lake Jackson, TX by the way)

  • Travel the “Blues Highway” in Mississippi – Another of my “Bucket List” trips, I had hoped to someday travel US Highway 61 north to south in Mississippi.  I was able to do this (see blog post)
On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

On the Blues Highway in Mississippi

Meeting New Friends and Old Friends

This past year provided me with the opportunity to visit a couple of old friends from the past and also opportunities to meet a few “new” friends from Facebook and otherwise. Also wonderful and fun to continue old relationships and to also create and foster new ones!  Here are a few:

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

Visiting with musician friend Antsy McClain (and gawking at his grandchild pix) just before a show in Ohio

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

A visit with my friend Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Hanging out with Texas travel blogger, author and photographer Tui Snider in Azle, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Got to visit with old friend Brian Gavron in Austin, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs' fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Having BBQ with my old friend and fellow Troubs’ fan Michael Fisher in Georgetown, TX

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Got to meet Troy Landry from Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Visiting my fellow Flamingohead Tiffany in Ohio

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Waving to the world with new friend, Texas author and ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie Tucker in Denton, TX

Building My Own Business

As reentering the work force has gotten more difficult for me due to my age and extensive experience, I really dug in hard this year to build my own business, Sumoflam Productions, and really strived to make it on my own (coupled with Julianne’s work at University of Kentucky). After learning WordPress through my blogging, I have been able to expand my expertise  and indeed was able to build the business throughout the year with new clients and partnerships. I worked hard to learn more skills and have successfully built a number of sites this year in the WordPress platform. Following are a few of the sites I have done and manage now:

There are a number more and all can be seen listed at My Sumoflam Productions Site

Also during the year I was contracted for website work and broadcast monitoring for Blue Million with monitoring internet broadcasts of the PRCA Rodeo and other broadcasts on the Wrangler Network.

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

Working the Great American Rivalry Series

And America’s largest marketing producer of high school rivalry football games, The Great American Rivalry Series contracted me to manage their social media, arrange and monitor broadcasts and also manage and update their website during the 2014 high school football season. We did 100 games this year and that made for a busy few months at the end of the year. It was a wonderfully busy time.

Sumoflam in the News

In 2014 I was asked to write a couple of articles for local press.  These were both fun adventures.  The first one was about the playground at Jacobson Park. (See Entire Article here).  I wrote the article and also provided the photos.

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014.  My article about Jacobson Park

Hamburg Journal, Sept 2014. My article about Jacobson Park

In November I was asked to write an article about the murals and wall art in Lexington for Ace Weekly magazine. This article was posted online in December and may appear in their end of the year issue.  They also included a complete photo gallery of my photos of Lexington’s amazing street art.

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Ace Weekly online edition in December 2014

Also, in December, I was involved with Lexington Nativity Festival, which was sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I managed the website and the media relations for the event. The Lexington Herald-Leader photographer Pablo Alcala out to do some shots and I was included in this and the newspaper gallery in late December.

NativityFest

Nativity Festival Gallery featured in Lexington Herald-Leader. Photos were by Pablo Alcala

A Few More Odds and Ends

I got to visit with my cousin Lewis Goldstein a couple of times in 2014.  Once was a sad affair at the loss of my uncle Jay Goldstein, who passed away in Louisville.  I also got to spend some time with Lewis at his home in Austin after the family reunion in Galveston.  Always good to visit with one of my favorite cousins!

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

Got to visit with my cousin Lewis a couple of times in 2014

In 2014 I really kicked my blogging and photography into full gear.  I had 38 posts on my Less Beaten Paths blog (and over 50,000 page views during the year).  I also posted 20 posts on this blog and have had nearly 5000 page views this year. Between my travel photos and local photos, I had nearly 500 selfies (HA HA….I love these iPhones!).  I also took well over 5000 photos of travels, family, sunrises and sunsets, birds, squirrels, bison, antelope, murals, wall art, sculptures and more. I had nearly 3700 views of my photos on my SmugMug Photo site. I will be doing a post about my favorite photos of 2014 in early January 2015.

My SmugMug Photo site

My SmugMug Photo site

Overall, this was an amazing year.  I am grateful for all of the blessings, all of the adventures and all of the family and friends.

Life is Good

Life is Good