Camera person

Plus: gingerbread

Going on

A bit of recent news: I was awarded a residency at Chalk Hill in Healdsburg, California in 2021. I’ll be spending a month in a 1925 farmhouse on a working ranch and vineyard with the sole goal of making drawings and prints. California, here I come!

Seeing

Right now I’m seeing everything through the lenses of my film cameras. It’s one of those millennial hobbies that’s easy to write off as twee, but it makes me really happy.

Using my grandpa’s 1970s Minolta SRT gives me a sense of connection to the past. Like me, he was an artist but mainly used his camera to remember family vacations and milestones. I think he’d like knowing that the same camera goes with me on walks in the city, road trips upstate, and vacations farther afield.

Last month I unearthed my own childhood point-and-shoot, the Minolta BigFinder. I’d taken it out briefly in 2017, new to New York, and never finished the roll. Getting those pictures developed brought back moments I’d forgotten; ones that I probably hoped would look less ordinary with the patina of film. The film didn’t necessarily make them look better or worse, but marking those images as different than the thousands that accumulate on my phone does make them feel special.

Yesterday I bought an Everflash Fun Shooter 20 at a thrift store. It’s a little rectangular piece of 1980s plastic that takes 110mm film. Instead of having the lens on the large flat face of the camera, it’s on the long edge, as if it’s turned sideways. The moral of the story: I can’t resist a cute old thing.

Eating

Do you eat gingerbread during the winter holidays? Are you a ginger snap person, emphasis on the snap, or do you prefer a chewy cookie? Do you serve gingerbread cake? Maybe you’re sneaking into Starbucks (gasp!) for a gingerbread latte?

One of my favorite molasses applications is chewy rolled gingerbread cookies (I utilize not only a person-shaped cookie cutter but also sunglasses, rhinoceros, stars, and houses) using a recipe from the family cookbook. It makes a ton of dough, which can be rolled and re-rolled as many times as you want without getting tough, making it great for kids, clumsy adults, or cookie cutters that don’t tessellate.

Rolled Ginger Cookies, adapted from Grandma Shirley

(Makes a lot of cookies - I’d recommend cutting the recipe in half most of the time.)

1 C molasses

1 C sugar

1 C shortening

1 tbs vinegar

Bring these ingredients to a boil. Cool and add:

2 eggs

Stir into this mixture:

5 1/2 C flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tsp salt

Mix well. Chill at least 1 hour (or overnight), then heat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll thick or thin. Cut with your favorite cookie cutters and bake 9 minutes for super soft cookies, increasing the time if you prefer them snappier.


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