Risk and Reward

I am going to step away from the kitchen for a moment to write about the other hobby that I have a passion for, my not-so-secret affair with photography. I regularly cheat on my relationship with my kitchen in order to commit to photo, and it has become quite the challenge to entertain them both as they vie for the coveted first place position in my heart. Much of my childhood was filled with various creative activities; whether I was participating in camps or digging into our plethora of art supplies at home, there were always resources available to me to exercise my right brain. I really owe my artistic growth and transition into photography to my mother, who was always and continues to be, the most supportive of all of my endeavors, no matter how crazy they may be.

Photography is a medium that sparked my curiosity when I was younger, but it was not until high school, or college really, that I became capable of utilizing it as a form of expression. I learned that until I was willing to accept the vulnerability of photography, I would not be able to develop my body of work. With the concept of seeing “exactly” what the photographer sees, there is not much room to hide from the camera. Photography is exposing and can be quite pointblank, but that is the beauty of it. With Ricky’s passing, photography was the first medium of expression that I turned to. My kitchen was officially closed for two weeks and I found myself obsessing over the nostalgia intrinsic to analogue photography.

Capturing spaces, documents, and stories all contribute to this mass archive that I have been working on; together, this collection represents Ricky, and who he is to me (one such image can be seen in here). Working through this certainly hasn’t been easy, but it has made me stronger and has brought me some peace of mind. Moreover, this work has quickly become the best of my portfolio and is being recognized for it. I have left myself exposed to critique and allowed classmates to know the intricacies of a relationship that even some of my closest friends don’t know. I took a risk. I took a huge leap of faith that laying myself out on the line and running out of my comfort zone would encourage growth – and it did, and so much more. My professor just asked me to have my work evaluated by a panel that will determine whether or not it will be included in the dean of USC’s Roski School of Fine Arts exhibition! While I cannot deny how must of a personal battle it was for me to publicly display these works, this request only further establishes the necessity of risk. Oftentimes we fear the unknown because of the uncertainties ahead, but one has to remember that when a risk is taken, no matter the result, we learn from it.

With all of the emotional exhaustion of critique today, I wanted some good old comfort food. I found this recipe in my handy Whole Foods Market Cookbook (honestly, I don’t know what I would do without it!), and had a nice well balanced meal in no time. This recipe for sausage and roasted rainbow peppers and basil is incredibly versatile and you can serve it however your heart desires. I served mine over brown rice, but feel free to change that to polenta, pasta, or maybe use this as a filling for another dish!

Sausage and Multicolored Peppers with Basil – Serves 2 (adapted from the Whole Foods Market Cookbook)

1 lb sausage (whichever you like); 1/4 cup olive oil; 1/8 cup garlic (minced); 1 1/2 lb.s bell peppers (seeded and cut into 1-inch strips); 1 large onion (sliced 1-inch thick); 1 1/2 cups whole canned tomatoes (drained and hand mashed); chopped basil and chili flakes to taste; salt and pepper to taste

Cut sausage into 1-inch lengths. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat olive oil in a large skillet (with raised sides) and brown the sausage, turning frequently, for 4 minutes. Remove the sausage from the pan and transfer it to a plate.

Add the garlic, bell peppers and onions and sauté for 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Return the sausage to the pan and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through and the peppers are nice and tender.

Add the basil, chili flakes and season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.