The Inland Empire Gardeners


Gourmet Gardeners

The Gourmet Gardeners are a group within The Inland Empire Gardeners that as a new member, you can participate in. It was formed by member Bob Snider in 1999 as a way for Inland Empire Gardeners who enjoy cooking and entertaining in their gardeners to share their passion with those of similar interests.

Each Gourmet Gardener family agrees to host one meal/occasion a year at their home. The host is responsible for providing a meal to their guests at their own expense. The nature of the event is left entirely up to the discretion of the host planning the meal/occasion. Some examples past Gourmet Gardener events have included breakfast brunches, outdoor picnics, a catered affair, a simple supper of soup/salad/bread, and ethnic theme dinners. 

The dinners do not have to be "gourmet" or expensive, just prepared with love and friendship in mind. The purpose of the Gourmet Gardeners is to enjoy good friends and good food and to have a good time. It's all good. And a great way to meet new people in the garden club. 

Some Typical Gourmet Gardeners Events:    

Across the Universe (2007) - The music of the Beatles and the Vietnam War form the backdrop for the romance between an upper-class American girl and a poor Liverpudlian artist.

A magical dinner in the garden--Appetizers--Late Summer Vegetable Volauvent (puff pastry shell filled w/ fresh herbs, peppers, squash, zucchini & mozzarella); Firecracker Prawns (sautéed in white wine, amaretto, cinnamon, cayenne & butter), and Fresh Fruit Plate (the summer's best!)

Salad--Green Bean Salad w/ Tangerine & Sherry-Mustard Vinaigrette.  Entrée--Stuffed Chicken Marsala (chicken w/ fontina cheese, fresh herbs & prosciutto marsala sauce) and Braised Beef Tri Tips (beef w/ wild mushroom & rosemary sauce).  Starch--Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes w/ Parmigiana Cheese.  Grand Finale Dessert--Flaming Cherries Jubilee w/ French Vanilla Ice Cream! 

All Hallow’s Eve Tea - Demonic Drinks--Witches’ Brew Tea, Pumpkin Spiced Coffee, Wine Spirits.  Supernaturally Good Main Dishes--Soup Maple Apple Chicken & Pierogi Ghost.   

Salad Halloween Pasta w/ Heirloom Tomatoes, Zucchini Mixed w/Homemade Italian Vinaigrette. 

Sinful Savories--Possessed Deviled Eggs Scary Cat Chicken Salad Sandwich, Batty Hot Turkey Orange Panini Frightening Mini Gourmet Pizza.  Wicked Sweets - Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake W/ Gingersnap Cookie Crust and White Chocolate Topping, Devilishly Delicious Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart, All Hallow’s Eve Scones W/ Alien Green Mint Apple Jelly, Devonshire Cream, & Orange Curd, Autumn Flavors Fruit Cup.

Evil Extras - Haunted Halloween Enchanted Cupcake Forest,  the Mischievous Mouse Stole My Cheese Tray, Monstrous Candy Bar

Big Daddy BBQ - Took place at a garden club member’s ranch like country home in Spangle, WA.  The Big Daddy Barbeque has it all!  Texas Style Beef Ribs, Grilled Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Juicy Hamburgers, and Specialty Bratwurst and Sausages. Served w/ Home-style Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Tangy Bleu Cheese Cole Slaw, Watermelon Wedges, Potato Chips, and Cherry Pie A la’mode - Also included is cold beverages including beer and wine!  

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) - Struggling writer Paul Varjak moves into a New York apartment building and becomes intrigued by his pretty, quirky neighbor Holly Golightly. Holly's lifestyle confuses and fascinates Paul; in public she flits through parties with a sexy, sophisticated air, but when they're alone she changes into a sweetly vulnerable bundle of neuroses starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. A special breakfast brunch was served followed by a special movie showing. 

Cowboy Breakfast and Westside Garden Tour - A hearty breakfast with Parmean scrambled eggs, sage sausage, home-style hash browns, fluffy biscuits, sausage gravy, and fresh seasonal fruit. Breakfast includes assorted juices and special, locally roasted coffee.

For the Love of Roses English Country Garden Tour - Tour, tea, &talk - included country garden tour, English formal mid-morning tea in rose garden setting, And “English rose gardens” talk menu Cherry rose tea, orange scones served w/ lemon curd, raspberry framboise & devon crème Savories French onion quiches, herb goat cheese tarts, chicken little pot pies, cranberry & walnut Zucchini bread Sweets Cherry popovers, fudge cakelets, sugar blossom cookies

National Treasure (2004) - A treasure hunter is in hot pursuit of a mythical treasure that has been passed down for centuries, while his employer turned enemy is onto the same path that he's on with Nicolas Cage.

A gourmet dinner was prepared by a Chef in the Garden.  Appetizers--a skewered version of the famous Buffalo Chicken Wings, chicken tenders are skewered and grilled before being finished w/ a homemade hot sauce, and served w/ Blue Cheese dressing and vegetables for dipping.

An amazing dish created years ago by the chef, fresh crimini mushrooms are sautéed and finished w/ a heavily reduced port wine and shallot sauce.  Each bite is more succulent than the last!

Special Gourmet Dinner--to pay homage to the Inland NW, we created a Huckleberry Drizzle salad that uses Spring greens tossed w/ toasted almonds and feta cheese in a garlicky dressing and topped w/Priest Lake’s Huckleberry Syrup!  Fresh asparagus spears are lightly marinated and then flash grilled to give a smoky flavor to the already fresh and tender vegetable

An amazing side dish inspired by the local landscape, a wonderful wild rice dish is offered with sautéed mushrooms, celery and scallions, along w/ a touch of rendered black forest ham for a wonderful treat!

 “Knife & Fork” Babyback Ribs are grilled w/ the chef’s own bourbon BBQ sauce and served smoking hot.  The “knife & fork” of the dish relates to the fact that the ribs are so tender, you won’t need to use your hands (but you can if you want!)

An Alaskan Salmon Loin is grilled w/ a soy, Dijon, garlic, ginger marinade and served whole. The salmon, which is very tender, is glazed with a coating of the marinade to create a wonderful entrée

Dessert--a mixed berry and pear cobbler with a hazelnut topping is baked on the BBQ and served w/ fresh Vanilla bean ice cream for each guest

Orlando’s Luncheon - The student-run restaurant located at the Spokane Community College, 1810 N. Greene St, is called Orlando's and offers an incredible à la carte lunch menu with a wide selection of items. Menu item entrées average from $7.50 to $8.25. The average price of a beverage, entrèe and dessert can be about $13.00-$15.00. Magnificent plated desserts for $3.50 are a wonderful way to complete your meal. Orlando's is usually open Wednesday through Friday from 11:30am until 12:45pm during the school year, but please refer to the quarterly calendar for specific information. Their regular customers declare that Orlando's is the best-kept secret in town. They are located on the SCC campus in Building 1, Room 148. Every spring TIEG plans a special lunch and informal garden talk at Orlando’s. 

Starry, Starry Night - Stargazing in the Garden - A magical evening under the stars! Special Guests - Spokane Astrological Society will be present w/ telescopes set-up for your viewing pleasure and education. Live music. Gourmet samplings ~ Wine, Cheese, Chocolate

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) - While on vacation, a just-divorced writer buys a villa in Tuscany on a whim, hoping it will be the start of a change for the better in her life starring Diana Lane. Shown outdoors after a Chef in the Garden gourmet Italian meal. 

1st Course--Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus, Sausage Pepper Skewers, Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes w/ Fresh Mozzarella and Basil.  2nd Course--Fresh Greens Dressed w/ Balsamic Herb Dressing, Parsley Lemon Bruchetta.  3rd Course--Grilled Tuscan Chicken Breast and Thigh, Baked Manicotti, Grilled Panzanella (Summer Veggies grilled and tossed w/ Mustard Olive Oil Caper Basil Vinaigrette), Zucchini Gratin.  4th Course--Orange Zabaglione Strawberry Torte.

Gourmet Gardeners Top 15 Recommended Movies for Food Lovers
Food and movies go together like, well, popcorn and movies. Since food is one of the central themes of life, it stands to reason that it would make a good theme for the cinema, and there have been some great movies based on life’s gastronomic pleasures.

A true food movie is the film that embodies the same trait that makes for a great chef; passion for the food. You should leave the theater so inspired that you want to either sprint straight to a great restaurant or to the kitchen. 

It’s time for dinner and a movie.  Pour a glass of wine, and enjoy the show. These movies may make you laugh, make you cry or may inspire you, but they are all sure to make you hungry.

1 - A Matter of Taste (2000)
Jumping over to France, the center of haute cuisine, we discover another flavorful suspense film that concerns suave tycoon Frederic Delamont (Bernard Giraudeau), who hires handsome waiter Nicolas (Jean-Pierre Lorit) to be his official food taster. It seems the reclusive millionaire has a highly sensitized palate, with severe allergies to fish and cheese. The younger man soon learns he'll have to earn his generous salary, as the demanding Frederic virtually takes over his life. Giraudeau gives a nuanced, unnerving performance as the neurotic employer, while Lorit also scores as the bewildered Nicolas, attracted to Delamont's power, but uneasy about the bizarre emotional undercurrents in his new job. For fans of subtle psychological thrillers, this gripping tale is sure to go down easy.

2 - Big Night - (1996)
The movie that launched thousands of restaurant theme dinners. Perhaps no movie has ever captured the painstaking detail involved in creating a special feast. Two bickering brothers played perfectly by Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub own a floundering Italian restaurant. They cannot understand how the rather pedestrian restaurant across the street succeeds while their spectacular cuisine fails to bring in customers. It is a conundrum face by restaurateurs throughout the world. Desperate, they hatch a plan to lure celebrity Louis Prima to the restaurant and serve a sumptuous meal that will surely put them on the map. The ensuing planning and cooking is stunning on the screen, and we dare anybody to watch this on an empty stomach.  Simply the best food movie ever made!

3 - Babette’s Feast (1987)
A Danish movie about French woman in Denmark who is taken in by a pastor. She lives in a repressed world where earthly pleasures are not permitted, but when she wins the lottery she spends all the money on a feast in memory of the man who took her in during her time of need. The shopping and preparation of the dinner is lavish, and the story is heartwarming. This film won an Academy Award for best Foreign Film and is ranked higher on most lists, but lagged at times for me. Still, a fine movie, and no list of food films would be complete without it.

4 - Chocolat - (2000)
Juliette Binoche is wonderful as a drifter who along with her young daughter opens a chocolate shop in a conservative 1960 French town. The town is mostly won over by her exquisite chocolate with the exception of the evil town mayor who organizes a boycott of her decadent immoral treats. Johnny Depp is along for the ride as an Irish gypsy. A fun, sexy and entertaining film filled with great performances.

5 - Eat, Drink, Man, Woman - 1994
Next, we take the long voyage to Taipei, where noted director Ang Lee filmed the story of a tradition-bound master chef and his 3 very different daughters. The chasm in generational attitudes is made painfully evident at the father's sumptuous weekly dinner which the whole family is forced to attend. Though the film is Taiwanese, the emotions are universal, which is somehow comforting. And even though this film concerns family as much as food, the kitchen scenes will have you phoning for Chinese take-out by the closing titles.

6 - Julie & Julia - (2009)
The movie that drew droves of foodies to theaters follows the true story of blogger Julie Powell, played with abandon by Amy Adams who attempts cook her way through legendary chef Julia Child’s seminal cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” The movie is really parallel stories of two women chasing their dream.  In the role of Child, Meryl Streep is astounding (isn’t she always?) embodying the iconic chef. The inspiring message of the movie is basically how Child lived her life; follow your dream, it doesn’t always have to be perfect, and don’t apologize for the first two. As a side note, there is a Cleveland food blogger who is attempting to do the same thing with Iron Chef Michael Symon’s new book Live to Cook. The blog can be found at We guess movies really can inspire!

7 - Like Water for Chocolate - (1992)
Now it's time for a warmer climate: Mexico. This sumptuously filmed tale of Tita, the youngest of 3 daughters, who by family tradition is forbidden from marrying until her evil mother dies.  Her lover Pedro misguidedly marries Tita's older sister just to be near her.  The kitchen, which could be her prison, becomes Tita's refuge and solace. Her almost mystical way with food helps her cope with the ever-present love she is officially denied, and reflects her fiery, indomitable spirit. Lush, passionate and flavorful as a bowl of chilies, this is a movie worth savoring.  

8 - Mostly Martha - (2001)
We hop to Germany, and encounter the title character, Martha, an exacting young chef whose impressive culinary skills overcompensate for an inability to thrive outside a kitchen. Several events--the death of her sister, the adoption of her niece, and finally, the encroachment of a male Italian chef in her kitchen--force a re-assessment of her life. This heartwarming story rings consistently true thanks to uniformly fine acting, and gourmets will delight in the comforting universe of aromatic kitchens and preparation of fabulous food.

9 - Ratatouille - (2007)
You didn’t think a blog written by a couple of guys named Anton and Gusteau wouldn’t have this utterly charming animated gem on our list, did you? The Oscar winner for best animated film, it follows the adventures of an aspiring chef, and the gastronomic genius rat that helps him cook. It is remarkable how many true food principles are on display in this film, but the true message is that anybody can cook!

10 - Sideways - (2004)
Want to learn the vines? This buddy road trip through Santa Barbara’s wine country will give you a fast education in reds and whites. Follow two best friends: Miles, a failing, self-doubting writer with an obsession for pinot noir, and Jack, his soon-to-be married philandering best friend, as they spend a week visiting wineries while getting themselves into a little bit of trouble along the way. Wine can be quite a romantic topic. Maya’s speech on why wine is an intoxicating potion is so moving it’ll make you want to head to California and harvest your own grapes. 

11 - Soul Food - (1997)
Another movie based on the Chinese film Eat Drink Man Woman, this time from the African-American point of view. Without the family dinners of Mama Joe once she is hospitalized, her daughters begin to splinter apart, only to find their way inspired by Mama’s soul food. A fine cast led by Vanessa Williams and Vivica A. Fox, this later became a TV series.

12 - Tampopo - (1985)
You’ve heard of a spaghetti western?  How about a Japanese noodle western?  This funny and poignant Japanese story interweaves several stories all based around food. The central storyline involves a chef who wants to learn how to make the best noodles in the land, and the Clint Eastwood-like trucker/drifter who helps on the journey. Kind of like Zen and the art of noodles, this movie shows a true love of food and the people who make and enjoy it. Get the DVD and sit down with a great bowl of Ramen.

13 - Tortilla Soup - (2001)
The always splendid Hector Elizondo stars as the widowed patriarch of a Mexican-American family.  Elizondo, a chef who has lost his sense of taste tries to hold together his family consisting of 3 lovely daughters through mandatory lavish Sunday dinners. The more they try to pull away, the more he tries to hold on. A true family values movie with wonderful cooking scenes. 

14 - Waitress - (2007)
This charming little film starring Keri Russell as a waitress at a local eatery who makes the best darn pies you’re ever going to taste. Pregnant, and in a loveless marriage, she hopes that her pies will get her out of her small southern town, and her marriage. The pies she bakes are based on her hopes and dreams, as well as the desperation of her life such as the “I Don’t Want Earl’s Baby” pie. Russell sparkles and is surrounded by a strong supporting cast.  Is the movie Oscar worthy? Not even close, but the pies look so damn good.

15 - Woman on Top - (2000)
Another movie where a woman uses her cooking skills to escape a bad marriage, this time the stunning Penelope Cruz as a Brazilian chef turned cooking show goddess. The movie is quirky and goofy, yet Cruz is adorable in the lead, and with food as a metaphor for life she learns that she does not need a man in her life, she needs to cook and be her own woman.


Passionate About Food: Are You a Foodie?

You Might Be a Foodie If... What does it mean to be a foodie? Does it simply mean you enjoy cooking or the taste of certain dishes? Not exactly. A foodie is a person who eats, lives, and breathes food. They are passionate about anything that involves food. They make it a point to see their favorite cooking shows, buy new cookbooks, and even attend grand openings of new restaurants in their area. Are you still not sure if you're a foodie or not? Well, you may be a foodie if.......

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Order Food from Companies Specializing in a Certain Product
A foodie will know the exact company to turn to for everything from steaks to cheesecake. Whenever possible, they will order from these companies rather than buying similar products at their local grocery store. They know that the best food isn't found at their local grocery store.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Get Excited Over New Food Product
When a foodie comes across a new product on TV or in the paper, they spend weeks searching their store for that new product. It may be a new gourmet candy bar or even a new type of olive oil. Either way, they get excited over new food products.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Plan a Vacation around the Restaurants in the Area
A foodie will of course consider other attractions before planning their vacation, but what they are really excited about is the restaurants in the area. For example, people make the trip to Savannah Georgia so that they can eat at Paula Dee's restaurant The Lady and Sons.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Make More Than One Dessert for Just Two People
At the holidays, foodies go all out and make candy, cookies, cakes, and everything else imaginable. And no, it doesn't matter if there are only two people to eat all these treats. Foodies just love to cook and the holidays are the perfect excuse to do so.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Can't Wait for New Restaurants to Open in Your Area
You've had your eye on the building since the construction first began and when you found out it was going to be a new restaurant, you were ecstatic. What kind of food would they serve? Would it be affordable?  Foodies just can't wait to try new restaurants and new food.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ Your Favorite TV Channel is Food Network
If your partner always complains that the TV is always on the Food Network channel, you may be a foodie. Food Network has been a blessing to foodies. There are shows that not only show people how to cook, but simply talk about food, which is something foodies simply adore.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Collect Recipes
Normal people may clip out the occasional recipe to try, but foodies collect recipes. They go online, search through magazines, buy cookbooks, and even ask friends for recipes. It's not odd for them to have a recipe collection that numbers in the thousands.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Ask Santa for a KitchenAid Mixer
A foodie won't ask for the latest electronic gadget or even a collection of movies. They want stuff for their kitchen and one appliance that is on every foodie's wish list is a KitchenAid stand mixer. To them this is the ultimate Christmas present.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Find Cooking to Be Therapeutic
Many people today hate cooking, but a foodie actually makes time to cook. They will spend hours cooking a meal and they enjoy doing so. You won't hear a them complain about having to cook a large meal, but you may hear them complain about the cleanup process.

You Might Be a Foodie If........ You Get Excited Over New Kitchen Gadgets
A foodie's kitchen is filled with everything from small appliances that do everything from make ice cream to bake bread. Their kitchen drawers are filled with peelers, knives, and stuff that most people may think are torture devices. When a new kitchen gadget comes on the market, they are the first ones to take notice.


The Perfect Gourmet Gardener Dinner - Recipes for You! 

Cheesy Herb Crackers
These crisp savory crackers make delicious snacks or appetizers
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely grated Swiss cheese
¼ cup finely chopped toasted almonds
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic chives
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
Directions:  Sift together flour, baking powder, mustard, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together butter and cheese. Add flour mixture, blending with fingers or a pastry blender. Mix in almonds and garlic chives. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring with a fork, until dough holds together. Shape into a ball, then press into square log about 1 inch square by 8 inches long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for several hours. Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice the dough into squares about 1/4 inch thick and place them on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Store in tins.  Makes about 3 dozen.

Tomato-Lemon Chutney
An excellent chutney with a complex, not-too-sweet flavor.  Beautiful made with a rainbow of red, orange and yellow heirloom tomatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 small whole fresh or dried chile chopped or crumbled
½ teaspoon cumin seed
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon mustard seed
4 large tomatoes, very thinly sliced
½ fresh lemon
13 cup raisins or currants
½ cup sugar
Directions:  Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the crumbled chile, cumin seed, nutmeg and mustard seed.  When the seeds start to jump in the oil, add the tomatoes. Quarter the lemon half, removing any seeds, and lay it on top of the other ingredients in the pan. Simmer, stirring as needed to keep from sticking, for 15 minutes. Stir in the raisins or currants and the sugar.  Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, about 30 minutes. Cool and transfer to jars. Store chutney in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups.

Carrot and Potato Soup with Lemon Thyme
A rich-tasting but lean soup that is good served either hot or cold. A great recipe for fall harvest bounty
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 large leeks, sliced (about 4 cups)
3 large carrots, sliced (about 4 cups)
2 large potatoes, sliced (about 3 cups)
5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
GARNISH: ½ cup chopped parsley
Directions:  In a 4 to 5 quart saucepan, heat butter and oil. Add garlic and leeks and sauté, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until leeks are lightly colored. Add carrots, potatoes, and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots and potatoes are very tender, about 45 to 50 minutes. Add lemon or lime juice and lemon thyme. Puree in batches in a food processor or blender.  Return soup mixture to saucepan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set over low heat and simmer until soup is just heated through. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serve hot or chilled. Serves 6 to 8.

Mediterranean Salad
This is an easy, healthy salad--hearty, robust, and delicious!
5 to 6 cups cauliflower florets (1 medium cauliflower)
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup sliced tomatoes
½ cup chopped scallions
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata or dry Italian olives
2 tablespoons capers
¼ cup finely diced dill pickles
½ cup chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon dried red chile flakes
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Directions:  Blanch cauliflower florets and carrots in lightly salted boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender crisp. Drain and chill in ice water, then drain again. Place in a salad bowl. Add the red bell peppers, scallions, olives, capers, pickles and parsley. Dressing: combine ingredients whisking in oil until blended.  Pour over salad, tossing until combined. Add salt to taste if desired.  Chill for several hours or overnight.

Summer Garden Cornbread
Hearty golden cornbread with the vivid flavors and colors of the Southwest
1 cup unbleached flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2½ tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
3 eggs
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons corn oil or melted butter
1½ cups corn kernels (1½ to 2 ears)
2  fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced
1/3 cup minced red bell pepper
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Lightly grease a 10 inch ovenproof skillet or 9 x 9 baking pan. Mix together dry ingredients. In another large bowl, beat eggs, then beat in milk and oil. Stir in corn, chiles, red pepper, basil and cheese. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended:  o not over-mix. Spoon into pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving. Any leftovers are great split and toasted. Serves 6 to 8.

Spinach, Ricotta and Basil Stuffed Mushrooms
Crusty, creamy, meaty, what more could you ask for in a savory starter?
8 sundried tomato halves
1 cup fresh low-fat ricotta cheese
1 small bunch spinach, washed, stems removed, finely chopped, about 1½ cups
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup shredded jack cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 dozen large mushrooms, (stems removed and saved for another use)
olive oil
2 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Directions:  Soak sundried tomatoes in boiling water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain, discard water and coarsely chop tomatoes. Combine filling ingredients, mix in sundried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Preheat over to 350°F. Brush mushrooms very lightly with oil. Arrange on a baking sheet, cup side down.  Bake for 12 minutes. Pour off any liquid. Turn mushrooms over and stuff each drained cap with ricotta filling mixture. Sprinkle feta cheese over top of filled caps. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or long enough to heat filling through, then place under broiler until lightly browned.  Makes 24 caps.

Scented Basil Vinegar Chicken
An easy-to-prepare dinner dish with a subtle taste and heavenly scent
¼ cup butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 chicken breast halves, skinned (and boned if desired)
½ cup any scented basil vinegar
¾ cup sour cream
Directions:  Melt butter and sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Add the chicken breast pieces and sauté over low heat until the chicken is done--no pink shows when sliced. Remove the chicken pieces to a warm serving dish and keep warm. Add the basil vinegar to the pan and simmer, stirring in all the bits from the pan for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce. Add the sour cream, mix and heat through but do not boil. Pour the sauce over the chicken breasts and serve over fluffy rice or noodles.  Serves 4.

Apple Bread Pudding with a Lavender Twist
In this recipe, the milk for the custard is infused with the flavor and scent of sweet lavender. This bread pudding is especially delicious made with raisin bread. The dried cherries and brandy give it a luscious extra dimension
2 teaspoons butter
2½ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons dried lavender florets
½ cup halved, dried pitted cherries
3 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon brandy
4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and diced
¼ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1½ teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
8 slices day-old (stale) raisin or cinnamon raisin bread
3 eggs slightly beaten
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon apple jelly or orange marmalade, melted; heavy cream or vanilla ice cream
Use the 2 teaspoons butter to thoroughly grease a 9 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Combine the milk, sugar, and lavender in a medium saucepan and heat until hot, but not boiling. Stir to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat, cover, and allow the lavender to steep for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the cherries in the 3 tablespoons of brandy for 30 minutes. In a large bowl toss the apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, and brandy-soaked cherries. Tear the bread into 2-inch pieces and add to apple mixture. Stir the beaten eggs and salt into the milk and lavender mixture, then strain through a sieve over the bread and apple mixture, pressing down on the lavender to release its flavor. Discard the lavender. Add the melted butter to the bread mixture, stirring to combine all the ingredients. Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish and allow the pudding to stand for at least an hour or more before baking. Preheat oven to 325˚F.  Bake the pudding for 55 to 60 minutes, or until set and golden brown. Drizzle with the final tablespoon of brandy.  Brush the top with warm jelly.  Serve warm with heavy cream or good vanilla ice cream.  Serves 6 to 8.

“Happy and successful cooking doesn't rely only on know-how; it comes from the heart, makes great demands on the palate and needs enthusiasm and a deep love of food to bring it to life.” - Georges Blanc, 'Ma Cuisine des Saisons'

Shutterbugs Garden Photographers

If you're a fan of taking pictures in your garden, have we got a group for you!  Here's a way to enjoy your love of gardening and photography with great people with your same interests. 

Shutterbugs, TIEG's Garden Photography group's purpose is to gain skills and comradeship through photography, and also to improve one's skills in seeing and exploring the world of plants and other things.  We plan to meet as a group once a month at some location selected by a trip leader.  Hopefully, everyone in the group will be a photo leader at some time. 

The group shall exhibit some of their photos several times a year in the TIEG's Artist Corner at the monthly meetings.  The individual decides what photo or photos will be shown in our group.  If the individual wishes, he or she can have their photos rated by others in the group as to their  appeal (with positive thoughts only). 

Film and developing is not expensive if done through Costco or Walmart.  Exhibition presentation expense will be up to the individual.      


Shutterbugs Garden Photographers Top 10 Recommended Movies for Photography Lovers

1 - Baraka - (1992)
In a review written several years ago, the author declared that this was his choice of a film for a desert island.  If he had just one movie to take along to an isolated refuge away from the human race, this would be it.  Certainly it would be one of my candidates as well.  The movie has no plot but it's anchored by a riveting stream of images shot over 14 months in 6 continents and 24 countries.  A 3-person crew, led by director and cinematographer Ron Fricke, employed a $4 million (U.S.) budget to capture scenes of beauty, mystery and destruction in the expensive TODD-AQ 70mm format.  Throw in a hypnotic soundtrack and you've got a 93-minute feast for the eyes and ears. 

Baraka contains at least several dozen scenes any photographer would love to have captured digitally or on film.  One minute you're mesmerized by images of the very human-like faces of Macaque monkeys immersed in hot springs in snowy Japanese mountains and sometime later you're watching burning-of-the-dead ceremonies on the Ganges River or Whirling Dervishes spin in what I believe is a Syrian temple.  It's all very captivating although the film is probably best viewed in 2 or 3 viewings because there is almost too much to absorb in a single viewing.

For movie-goers who insist on a beginning, middle and an end, Baraka might be a little bewildering because there is no narration or explanation and there is often little context except, for example, that the viewer might know intuitively that certain scenes were shot in, say, Asia or Australia.

While nature and exotic location photography anchor this movie, Fricke employed a computer-controlled camera to record some wonderful time-lapse shots in congested locations such as Manhattan at rush hour or Tokyo on the crowded subway platforms.  These are scenes that illustrate motion but they are also reminders that still photographers can capture motion through the use of time-lapse exposures as well. 

It's no surprise that this film was supplemented by a nicely-printed and handsome coffee-table book. It complements the movie and photographer Mark Magidson describes the move-making process and shows the people and equipment that made the film along with a variety of images in both black and white and color.

If the film seems a little derivative to some, it's probably because it bears a resemblance to Koyaanisqatsi, a 1983 movie that was the first film of the type to dish up a well-constructed sequence of music-laced world scenes.  Not coincidentally, Koyaanisqatsi was filmed and edited by Ron Fricke. 

Baraka is an ancient Sufi word which can be translated, in part, as "a blessing."  The film is just that, a gift to anyone who appreciates visual artistry.  Prepare to be inspired.

2 - Barry Lyndon (1975)
Okay, who out there has an f 0.7 lens?  Well, among still photographers no one has such a treasure and even in the richly financed movie industry, such an extraordinary piece of glass is very rare, possibly limited to just one--the one director Stanley Kubrick used to film the lingering candlelit scenes in Barry Lyndon.  For these moments, Kubrick had a 50mm lens built for NASA by the Carl Zeiss Company modified with a Kollmorgen adaptor used in still cameras.  No artificial lighting was used with all the illumination coming from the candles.  The warm light generated by the candles creates a compelling painterly look that is reminiscent of Thomas Gainsborough and other artists of the era in which this movie is set.

The movie focuses on the exploits of a scheming Irish rogue who wins the heart (and fortune) of a rich widow and makes a sideways entrance into 18th century aristocracy.  There are some powerful battle and dueling scenes but it is the candlelit scenes and meticulous composition that hold visual sway for photographers.  The frame is often held and the action allowed to develop within it.  Often landscapes rather than people dominate the screen.  

Barry Lyndon is played by Ryan O'Neal who was never a great actor in my view but who, nevertheless, manages to capture the rakish failings of a man who doesn't have the moral compass to match his lofty ambitions.  Barry Lyndon won several awards including Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (the late John Alcott) and Best Art Direction & Set Direction and The Best Cinematography Award by the British Society of Cinematographers.  The film runs 184 minutes.  It is impossible not to watch this movie and not want to indulge in some portraiture of your own employing candles, perhaps employing a few reflectors to spread the light.

3 - The Conformist (1970)
The plot that revolves around the story of an ambitious professor in Italy in the late 1930s and early 1940s.  It's a time when Mussolini has risen to power and the professor conveniently declares himself a fascist.  His commitment gets tested later, however, when he gets involved with the secret police and is given as assignment to murder one of his former university teachers who leads an anti-fascist resistance group.  Disturbing psychological themes and sexual undertones abound.  Freud almost deserves a credit on this film.

While director Bernardo Bertolucci didn't cater to viewers with a traditional beginning, middle and an end, what makes the movie irresistible is the inspired and daring cinematography of Vittorio Storaro and the vision of Bertolucci.  The movie features some of the most dramatic use of light and shadow you’ll ever see.  Often, unusual shooting angles or the use of filters to tint colors heighten the visual tension.  Many scenes from the movie stay with me still such as the windshield wipers of a car sweeping across a window or sunlight streaming through a forest or the daunting interior scenes of Mussolini's art-deco headquarters.  Some of these scenes manage to be both beautiful and creepy and they are always powerful and often surreal.  Still today, 35 years after it was released, this film is capable of inspiring a still photographer to think outside the box--to create compositions that defy convention.

The movie is arguably Bertolucci's most intriguingly photographed film although some viewers might feel another Bertolucci movie, The Last Emperor (also on the list), is a more elegant contender for that honor. 

4 - Days of Heaven (1978)
Still Photographers are often reminded that the best times to shoot are the "magic hours"--the time around dawn and dusk.  These are the times when the light is warm, low and flattering to its subject.  Movie directors enjoy the magic hours too but they have significant constraints such as budget and plot and onerous schedules.  It would cost a fortune to have highly-paid actors and crew waiting around just to shoot their scenes for 1 or 2 hours a day when it might not advance the plot. 

Nevertheless, back in 1978, shooting a film almost exclusively in the "magic hours" is just what director Terence Malick did in a remarkable film called Days of Heaven.  Telling a story about a love triangle in the early 20th century, Malick employed the talents of two of the greatest cinematographers at the time, Nestor Almendros and, to a lesser extent, Haskell Wexler.  For much of the film, the decision was made to only shoot during the "magic hours" and it paid off:  Days of Heaven and Almendros won Best Cinematography at the 1978 Academy Awards. 

While the movie opens in a Chicago steel mill, the heart of the film ostensibly takes place in Texas farm country when 3 of the main characters in the movie, including a young Richard Gere and Brooke Adams, join a wave of itinerant workers following the farm season.  In reality, the sweeping farm scenes were shot in the rolling plains of southern Alberta which has never looked more evocative.  Fields of wheat ripple sensuously in golden light, a grand farm house often anchors simple, elegant compositions and trains packed with workers cut ribbons through a dreamy agricultural landscape. 

The beauty comes under siege though when swarms of locusts descend on the landscape and fires started to control the plague get out of control.  Almendros, who started as a still photographer, builds visual tension with close-ups of the grasshoppers intercut with tight shots of torches and he makes the scenes go from warm and romantic to hot and dangerous. Tension is also heightened by the plot which has Richard Gere's character getting trapped in a deception of his own making when he pretends to be the brother of Brooke Adams rather than her lover.   Adams moves in and gets cozy with the terminally-ill owner of the vast farm where they find employment and while it starts out as a way for Gere and Adams to inherit the farm, things don't go as planned.  In all, the movie presents some low-key quirky acting but it's really the visuals that reward the viewer. 

Here are a couple of relevant quotes from Nestor Almendros given not long after the Days of Heaven was completed:  Terence Malick told me it would be a very visual movie, the story would be told through visuals. Very few people really want to give that priority to image. Usually the director gives priority to the actors and the story but here the story was told through images.  In this period there was no electricity, it was before electricity was invented and consequently there was less light. Period movies should have less light. In a period movie the light should come from the windows because that is how people lived.

"Magic hour is a euphemism, because it's not an hour but around 25 minutes at the most. It is the moment when the sun sets and after the sun sets and before it is night, the sky has light but there is no actual sun. The light is very soft and there is something magic about it. It limited us to around twenty minutes a day but it did pay on the screen. It gave some kind of magic look, a beauty and romanticism."

5 - Dreams (1990)
It's a challenge to pick one film by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa that ranks as a visual favorite.  He was very prolific in his lifetime and he displayed a knack for potent cinematography but, without a doubt, Dreams remains the most haunting of his films for me.  In fact, Dreams is 8 short films, some quite melancholy and all born from his actual dreams and memories.  The surreal, ethereal visuals in each of them is quite breathtaking. 

The mystical tone of the film is set in the first vignette when a boy witnesses an eerie procession of fox spirits in a wedding procession.  It's visual poetry.  Another vignette involves a party of mountain climbers struggling through a fierce blizzard.  Another section includes a man, a former military leader, who encounters the ghosts of Japanese soldiers he once commanded in a lonely tunnel.  It's chilling to the bone.  The same man is seen in the next vignette as he wanders through a Van Gogh painting and encounters the famous artist (played by Martin Scorsese).  What this movie offers still photographers is imagination. 

Commercial and editorial mandates don't always allow a photographer to blend illusion or fantasy or artistic license into an image but it's a belief that we should always try to pursue at least some personal work that displays creative flourish and imagination.  We need more images that mirror, more or less, what is conceived in the mind's eye.  Kurosawa did this with a far-ranging color palette that swings from the bland to the bold.  He did it with purpose and the discretion of a master but several of his films--this one especially--illustrate the joys of constructive whimsy.  For many, Dreams tells the photographer to play in the photographic sandbox a little more.

6 - The Last Emperor (1987)
Bernardo Bertolucci faced an enormous challenge when he decided to tackle the true story of Pu Yi, the last ruler of the 300 year old Chinese Ching Dynasty.  Spanning the years 1908 to 1967, Bertolucci was successful in turning the story of Pu Yi into a compelling (and tragic) historical epic. 

One of the very effective cinematic tools in the movie is the use of color.  Bertolucci and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro employed very specific color palettes to symbolically reinforce and illustrate moods. Indeed, it's been said the real star of the film Storaro's cinematography and certainly such deliberate and brilliant use of color is one of the reasons the movie won many Academy Awards including Best Cinematography.  The film also serves to remind any visual artist of the power of color to influence the response of the viewer.

Scenes from Pu Yi's childhood, when his life was vibrant and literally colorful, for example, are enhanced by bright warm colors such as orange and yellow.  Indeed, Pu Yi, wrote in his autobiography that as a boy he believed everything was yellow because he saw so much of it.  Scenes set in chilly Manchuria incorporate lots of cool indigo while scenes of the emperor's imprisonment and "re-education" during the sterile Maoist era are almost devoid of color.  When his English tutor arrives (played by Peter O'Toole), we see green for the first time.  It's the color of knowledge.  Scenes of Pu Yi in his latter years have a more balanced spectrum of colors which reflect his life at the time as well as the political and cultural climate.  The first time red is seen in the film is when blood fills a sink in a suicide scene. 

The topic of color in the film was the subject of an essay in the book, Bertolucci's The Last Emperor: Multiple Takes (1998) in which Storaro explains how he exercised the psychology of color.  In the DVD, Vision of Light (which is reviewed below), Storaro also comments briefly on his use of color in the movie.  Photographers can benefit from this movie by being reminded that color is rarely incidental in an image.  It may be subtle or it may be bold but it can engage the viewer (and photographer) in ways that often appeal to the sub-conscious.  An additional benefit for those of us who have had the opportunity to visit or photograph The Forbidden City in Beijing is the way in which the movie recreates part of the past of the venerable and hallowed structure.  For those with stamina, there is a director's cut of The Last Emperor available on DVD. 

7 - Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
Like The Last Emperor reviewed above, Raise the Red Lantern provides insight into China's not-so-distant history.  The difference is that The Last Emperor was directed by an outsider, Italian Bernardo Bertolucci, with the cooperation and approval of the Chinese government, while Raise the Red Lantern was directed by Zhang Yimou and never sanctioned by the Chinese Government.  Implicit in its story is a couched allegory about obsolete old men and the harmful traditions governing China and it is a condemnation of the feudal attitudes that still linger today.  It's no surprise that the film was financed by a Taiwanese distributor through a Hong Kong subsidiary.

What the two films, The Last Emperor and Raise the Red Lantern, have in common is the eye-popping use of color.  When I first saw Raise the Red Lantern, it was the first Chinese movie that impressed me with its astonishing beauty.  The plot, which focuses on the experiences of a reluctant young concubine in the house of a nobleman in the China of the 1920s, is a grim account of sexual or gender politics.  As the 4th wife, Songlian, the main character, must figure out how to get along with the imperious master and husband and survive prickly relationships with his other wives.  Tensions are often thin as rice paper as the hazards of polygamy are charted.

While the tale is psychologically grim, the vividness of the many colors used in the film is stunning and heightens the emotional content of the story. The most potent color is red because wherever the master chooses to spend the night is ritualistically lit up with opulent red lanterns (hence the title).  The film was shot in the classic three-strip Technicolor process which allows a richness of reds and yellow that are no longer seen in American films.  The vivid colors give the movie a sensuous, vibrant quality, particularly in the use of fabrics.

Like The Last Emperor, it is a riveting movie made better by the abundant but careful use of color.  Until this film, we always avoided brilliant reds in my work because they seemed, well, coarse and over the top.  Raise the Red Lantern changed our minds and influenced our willingness to occasionally search out or use more potent colors for maximum effect.  With Photoshop and digital photography, we have the option more than ever to enhance colors where the enhancements enhance the image.

8 - The Third Man (1949)
After writing elsewhere on this page about the glorious use of color in some films, it's comforting to be reminded that old-fashioned black and white has just as much magic--it's just different magic.  No film better illustrates this in my view than The Third Man, a thriller which, in addition to a great story, offers moody cinematography that won the film its only Academy Award (though it was nominated for three).

This classic hasn't lost an ounce of appeal--the British Film Institute voted it the number one British Film of the 20th century.)  It was the first movie that had canted camera angles so that unsettling tilted compositions heighten the suspense of some scenes.  Wide-angle distortions and shallow depth of field also contribute to an unrelenting tension and suspense but nothing grabs the viewer's attention more than the long shadows and the striking use of light and shade that give the film its compelling visuals and slightly nightmarish intrigue.

Almost all of the movie was shot on location in post-war Vienna and it's based on a story by British screenwriter and author, Graham Greene.  Fellow Brit Carol Reed was the producer and director and Robert Krasker the cinematographer.  The main character is American pulp-fiction writer Holly Martins played by Joseph Cotten.  Another lead character, even long before he makes his entrance, is Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles.  His presence--or lack of it in the first half of the movie--is an inspired absence.  Now some cinema buffs will note that both Welles and Cotton, the former especially, anchored Citizen Kane, another great and ominous black and white movie, as great as it is, it doesn't possess the visual intrigue of The Third Man.

Greene's story tosses the naive but principled Holly Martins character into Vienna at a time when it's under the schizoid control of four Allied forces including the British, French, French and Russians.  The morality in the city is ambiguous and there's all kind of illegal black-market activity and wheeling and dealing.  Martins has come to visit his old and favored friend Harry Lime but Lime doesn't show up to greet his arrival and so the mystery begins.  The climax of the film occurs in the Vienna's sewer system, a murky labyrinth of rushing water and mysterious tunnels, and it's here that the film-noir cinematography and lighting underline the strength of black and white.  Criterion has done a superb job of restoring this film and though the DVD is expensive, it's well worth it.  Watch it and you'll feel the urge to get to work on some black-and-white images.

9 - Visions of Light (1992)
Okay, technically this isn't a movie.  It's a documentary about movies, covering the history of cinematography and some of the movies mentioned on this page are illustrated or discussed. And yes, there are lots of talking heads but almost all of them engage the viewer/listener and offer genuine insight, the kind that makes you exclaim "Oh, wow!"  We meet such fascinating individuals as Nestor Almendros, the lead cinematographer of Days of Heaven (see above), who was interviewed shortly before his untimely death in 1992.  Vittorio Storaro, the award-winning cinematographer who won awards for The Last Emperor (see above) and Apocalypse Now, is another of the many wise men of the camera presented in Visions of Light. 

In some instances, cinematographers acknowledge the vision and influence of certain directors such as Roman Polanski.  His role in determining the composition of a scene in Rosemary's Baby is one of the many interview clips worth waiting for.  It reveals how an unlikely move just a few inches in one direction made all the difference.  The cinematographer on McCabe and Mrs. Miller discusses how colors were altered and muted in the film to instill the feeling of the late 1800’s.  Anyone who works with Photoshop and has had to create the look of another era will enjoy this section.

Another worthwhile interview is with Conrad Hall who photographed the chilling In Cold Blood back in 1967.  Hall recounts how they were setting up a key prison scene where a murderer played by Robert Blake is about to be hanged.  Rain was splashing the window outside and Hall noticed that if the lighting outside was placed at just the right angle, it projected the shadows of the raindrops on Blake's face, giving the appearance of tears as he discusses his bleak childhood with a Chaplin.  Rarely has there been a more heartbreaking scene in a movie.

Inevitably, the strength of the movie though are the hundreds of film clips it presents.  After its 92 minutes are up, you can't but help come away deeply impressed by the talents of the great magicians behind the cameras.  Indeed, any still photographer with a heartbeat will be inspired by their vision and ability to render magic results with light and technique.  What the many film clips in Vision of Light do is help train our visual instincts and ability to recognize and respond to and perhaps even create the kind of light that makes for an unforgettable picture, still or otherwise. 

The documentary is divided into three sections and right from the get-go, with excerpts from the early silent films, we are surprised by the quality of picture making.  Even back in the early days, there was genius.  The second section of the film deals with the black and white era after the introduction of sound (an "evolution" that is lamented by some because sound handicapped the mobility of camera operators).  The third section of the film focuses on color movies and explores how the use of color can influence viewer response.  We are made aware of great composition as well as depth of field and, of course, the power of light and shadow to capture and hold our attention.

10 - Winged Migration (2001)
Wildlife films don't come any better than this breathtaking effort by French director Jacques Perrin.  He gives the viewer a strong sense of what it must be like to fly and soar in the skies.  Perrin had millions of dollars as a budget and a crew of over 450 people who used gliders, balloons and small planes equipped with ingeniously-designed cameras to film migrating flocks up, close and personal and from all angles.  He also followed bird migrations through all kinds of weather and perilous situations through 40 countries and 7 continents over 4 years. 

Such advantages don't dissuade me since there's also great magic in a single still shot of a bird or mammal.  It's just a different vehicle for reminding people that there are millions of creatures the deserve our consideration.  Millions upon millions of dollars are spent annually on special effects in movies and often with dazzling effect such as with The Lord of the Rings.  It is the natural wonders of nature that trump just about all the special effects and wizardry humans can concoct. 

Capturing wildlife doing what it does naturally isn't easy, however, some clever and persistent wildlife photographers such as Franz Lanting and Jim Brandenburg, to name a couple, have managed to achieve this.  The potential of a film like Winged Migration is to inspire both documentary cinematographers and still photographers to find fresh ways to capture the magnificence of nature or just to persist in the quest to share nature's wonders through pictures. 

Just so beginners don't get discouraged with early results, it's worth mentioning that for every 225 feet of exposed film shot for Winged Migration, only one foot made it into the movie. 

The DVD offers a 50-minute behind-the-scenes documentary that shows how the amazing photography was achieved in Winged Migration.  It also reveals that some of the birds were trained from birth and even exposed to the sounds of airplanes and film cameras while still in their shells.  For what it's worth, one of the consequences of the film is that it also motivated me to develop a means of shooting waterfowl with my formidable Canon 500mm f4 lens from one of my kayaks.

Honorable Mention

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter & Spring
Perfect: The film is as close to perfect as a film could get.  No shot is presented to us, nor a line of dialog uttered that does not make us ponder and understand at the same time.  The film is also beautiful.  This film exceeds most other Asian films as far as cinematography. However, its beauty is surprisingly deceptive.

Like most great films, it surpasses the 'cinematography' level of beauty and delves into the beauty of existence through its story.  For example, the Old Monk has a different pet during each 'season' of his life.  This is not discussed by the characters nor shoved in our face by the director --as would have been done if Hollywood had done this film.  It is merely background we experience and come to understand.  Even after viewing the film, you will still finding new reflections in your mind that encompass the cinematography, the literal story and the underlying context of the film.

Simplicity:  This film approaches a level of cinematic Haiku--you could print the script on one page of paper.  The amazing part is that while you are watching the film, you don't notice this. Every shot moves the story along.  The simplicity of life as shown by the story is reflected in the simplicity of the film.  After the film ended, you will have a strong urge to move away from civilization and live--or die--in peace with nature.  It does exactly what good story-telling is supposed to do: Take us completely out of our world and put us in another. There is no wonder that this film was selected for so many film festivals.


Garden Photography Tips

As the seasons change the color of your garden will change with it. Most gardens are a rich source of great colors, patterns and vivid textures and can make for a perfect setting to practice all different kinds of photography--especially close-up nature photography.

Your garden can be one of the most wonderful places to take images of flowers, insects and a variety of small birds--and if you are lucky, occasionally other types of wildlife might wander into your garden. You don’t need great sunshine to go out into the garden--overcast days are always great days to get into the garden and capture the majestic colors of flowers.

Flower photography can be challenging, but when done right is most rewarding. The key to getting good flower pictures is pretty straightforward--get in close. You don’t need to buy a macro lens to achieve this, a good telephoto lens on a tripod should do.

Use a large aperture (low f/number) to isolate your flower. This will get rid of any unwanted background, which sometimes focus attention away from your flower portrait.  Don’t be afraid to use your flash--even on a bright day. This will get rid of any unwanted blur and help make your flower picture sharp.

These are simple tips to follow and should help to make your garden images better: 

Photographing insects in many ways is similar to taking pictures of flowers. You need to get in close; your focusing has to be perfect and you also must minimize motion. If you are having trouble photographing insects try the following.

Pick a single flower on which you focus. Place a light fabric around any other flowers to isolate your shot. Now it’s time to place the bait--perfume is ideal to attract bees, butterflies and other insects into your outdoor studio. Use your strobe unit to freeze any motion with fast moving insects. This should be used in the brightest conditions and will stop any movement in your nature portrait. Now it is time to sit and wait until your bait attracts your prey.

Your garden is also full of all kinds of other creatures. Garden birds will make an attractive image; they will be up and out at an early hour so it’s best to join them. Try building a hide in the garden and get up before sunrise--you will be surprised what creatures will wander in front of you at an early hour. Lay some bait around the garden to attract them in.

Use the elements of the weather to create more impact in your garden images. Early morning mist will leave droplets of water on leaves and flower petals. Use garden statues and other garden objects to create attractive silhouette images at dusk.

One of the biggest attributes of nature, wildlife and garden photography is patience. Even though you are at home great patience is required to get the best results from your garden photography…happy shooting.

“It pleases me to take amateur photographs of my garden, and it pleases my garden to make my photographs look professional.” - Robert Brault, Freelance Writer


Snoopy’s Great Adventure Fun Club

Do you cherish the time you spend with your dog?  Then do we have a group within our group for you!   

The Snoopy's Great Adventure Fun Club plans fun events for garden club humans and their furriest companions. Past events have included a Pet Picnic, a Doggie Tea Party, and a Puppy Couture Party where the dogs were able to model the very latest in doggie fashion. 

Future plans include more picnics, nature walks, and even a doggie road trip on a mini-bus! Just let Chris Sheppard know at if you'd like to go on the list for future events. Please be sure your dog is sociable around other dogs. 

"Dogs are our link to paradise.  They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent.  To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring--it was peace."- Milan Kundera

Past Snoopy Events

Dogs Playing Poker - Bring your favorite furry friend. All social dogs are welcome. Yard is on a country road but there is no fence so bring a leash if you need to. Bring a jacket for yourself. We will play poker with our dogs, board games, and enjoy a free lunch of chili-dogs, chips, dessert, and drinks. The dogs will entertain us with agility equipment fun. Tour a beautiful country garden with stunning rose and perennial borders.

Greyfriars Bobby - Scotland 1865. An old shepherd and his little Skye terrier go to Edinburgh. But when the shepherd dies of pneumonia, the dog remains faithful to his master, refuses to be adopted by anyone, and takes to sleeping on his master's grave in the Greyfriars kirkyard, despite a caretaker with a "no dogs" rule. And when Bobby is taken up for being unlicensed, it's up to the children of Edinburgh and the Lord Provost to decide what's to be done. There's magic in the memories as great Disney moments are captured right here for you and your family to enjoy. Overflowing with warmth and charm, Greyfriars Bobby celebrates the powerful bond between man and a loving animal.

Based on Eleanor Atkinson's immortal children's book, Disney presents the remarkable true story of one of Scotland's most beloved and celebrated heroes--a terrier named Bobby! The enduring friendship forged between a tenderhearted shepherd known simply as Old Jock and his devoted dog cannot be broken--even by the kindly old man's death. Set in bustling Victorian Edinburgh and the breathtaking Scottish countryside, this film is a sensitive tale of uncommon loyalty and affection that is certain to delight and inspire one and all! 

A red granite stone was erected on Bobby's grave by Dog Aid Society of Scotland--it reads:"Greyfriars Bobby--died 14th January 1872--aged 16 years--Let his loyalty and devotion

A Scottish Celebration of a Special Little Dog - Scottish Beer Cheese Soup, Salad, and a wonderful selection of authentic Scottish treats! Mull of Kintyre, Arran whiskey flavored, oak smoked, & smoked garlic cheddar cheese truckle; Walkers Scottish biscuits for cheese & highland oakcakes; Walkers Duchy Chocolate Butterscotch and Chocolate & Orange Scottish Biscuits; Gordon and Durward Tablet & Fudge; Ross's Whiskey Fudge; Elizabeth Shaw Classic After Dinner Mints, Brodies Mulled Wine Chocolates; and Famous Edinburgh teabags

Woofstock - A Groovy Day of Peace, Love, Music, Fun and DROOL! Join us for a groovy evening of fun and yummy food, far out dog agility, contests, & very cool prizes! 

GAMES - Dog Agility and other fun activities
MENU - Pizza for People, Treats for Pups
DRESS UP CONTEST - Dress em’ up & bring em’ out! It’s a dogs day to party!  Judging based on originality, crowd appeal, showmanship, costume detail, & personality.  Prizes awarded to 1 winner in each category based on judges’ choice 
Winners will be chosen from the following categories: 
- Most Humorous and Happy Flower Child (class clown)
- Most Unique and Stylin’ Threads (60’s-70’s theme)
- Most Macho Boy Toy/Stone Fox (a hunk of a cute boy)
- Most Darling Diva/Glamour Girl (bow-wow-ti-ful)
- Most Awesome and Amazing Group Theme (limit 6 in group)
- Most Gangster/Far Out and Frightful (scary)

AFTER DARK ENTERTAINMENT - Fire House - 2007 - Dog Rexxx, Hollywood's top canine star, gets lost and is adopted into a shabby firehouse. He teams up with a young kid (Hutcherson) to get the station back on its feet. We will watch this fun flick under the stars outdoors!

Don’t Worry, Be Yappy - Reservations Requested - All cool, well-behaved dogs welcomed!  


Snoopy’s  Group Top 10 Recommend Movies for Dog Lovers

1 - Beethoven - 1992
The Newton family live in their comfortable home, but there seems to something missing. This "hole" is filled by a small puppy, who walks into their home and their lives. Beethoven, as he is named, grows into a giant of a dog... a St Bernard. Dr. Varnick, the local vet has a secret and horrible sideline, which requires lots of dogs for experiments. Beethoven is on the bad doctor's list.

2 - Benji - 1974
The first movie about the famous golden mutt. Benji is a stray who has nonetheless worked his way into the hearts of a number of the townspeople, who give him food and attention whenever he stops by. His particular favorites are a pair of children who feed and play with him against the wishes of their parents. When the children are kidnapped, however, the parents and the police are at a loss to find them. Only Benji can track them down, but will he be in time? If he can save the day, he may just find the permanent home he's been longing for.

3 - Beverly Hills Chihuahua - 2008
While on vacation in Mexico, Chloe, a ritzy Beverly Hills chihuahua, finds herself lost and in need of assistance in order to get back home.

4 - Bolt - 2008
The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.

5 - Hachiko: A Dog's Story - 2009
In Bedridge, Professor Parker Wilson finds an abandoned dog at the train station and takes it home with the intention of returning the animal to its owner. He finds that the dog is an Akita and names it Hachiko. However, nobody claims the dog so his family decides to keep Hachi.

6 - Hotel for Dogs - 2009
Animals are strictly forbidden at Andi and her little brother Bruce's foster home. But for Friday, the adorable dog they secretly care for, they're ready to risk everything. They finally find him an ideal shelter, a huge abandoned hotel that Bruce transforms thanks to his engineering genius. In what has become an incredible paradise for dogs, Friday is soon joined by all kinds of furry friends, so many in fact that their barks alert the neighbors...and the local pound, who can't understand the disappearance of all the stray dogs. Andi and Bruce will have to call on all their friends and all their imagination to stop the hotel's secret from being discovered.

7 - Lady & the Tramp - 1955
Lady, a golden cocker spaniel, meets up with a mongrel dog who calls himself the Tramp. He is obviously from the wrong side of town, but happenings at Lady's home make her decide to travel with him for a while. This turns out to be a bad move, as no dog is above the law.

8 - Lassie Come Home - 1943
After her destitute family is forced to sell her, a collie named Lassie escapes from her new owner and begins the long trek from Scotland to her Yorkshire home.

9 - Marley & Me - 2008
After their wedding, newspaper writers John and Jennifer Grogan move to Florida. In an attempt to stall Jennifer's "biological clock", John gives her a puppy. While the puppy Marley grows into a 100 pound dog, he loses none of his puppy energy or rambunctiousness. Meanwhile, Marley gains no self-discipline. Marley's antics give John rich material for his newspaper column. As the Grogans mature and have children of their own, Marley continues to test everyone's patience by acting like the world's most impulsive dog.

10 - One Hundred & One Dalmatians - 1961
When a litter of dalmatian puppies are abducted by the minions of Cruella De Vil, the parents must find them before she uses them for a diabolical fashion statement.

* Attach Here - Read about Ziggy, the little Papillion who was the founding member of the Snoopy’s Great Adventure Fun Club
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20 Tips for Gardening With Dogs
We love our dogs and our gardens, but sometimes it seems the two don't mix well. Here are 20 simple tips for balancing the needs of pets and plants.
By Doug Jimerson, Better Homes & Gardens

1 - Start Young
The earlier you start training your dog the better. Old dogs can learn new tricks, but if you have a puppy, begin training as soon as you bring it home. Let it know right away what parts of the garden are off limits. And don't assume puppies can't learn. Even puppies as young as 6 weeks old can master basic commands.

2 - Don't Leave Your Dog Alone
If you want a perfect lawn or garden, don't just shove your dog out the back door while you are at work. Dogs require exercise and get bored easily. Left alone, they quickly find ways to amuse themselves--and that may mean digging up your favorite plants or tearing out your sod.

3 - Teach Your Dog Obedience
Take your dog to an obedience class so it understands basic commands such as sit, stay, and down. Larger dogs, especially, make better gardening partners if they know how to hang out without causing trouble or getting in the way. Find a local obedience class and enroll your dog as soon as you adopt it.

4 - Latch Your Gates
To keep your dog from getting out of your yard, make sure your garden gates have strong latches. A gate lock will prevent it from being left open by delivery people or neighborhood children.

Here's a Hint: Make sure your dog always wears a collar with ID tags, and have it microchipped as soon as possible. That way, if your dog does get loose, your chances of recovering it will be greater.

5 - Use a Fence
When all else fails, protect your beds and borders with a low fence. Here, a low picket fence was all that was required to keep this bouncy bruiser at bay. You'll be surprised at how even the most meager fence can be a visual barrier for your dog.

Here's a Hint: Check your fence once a month to be sure your pet hasn't dug an escape route or gnawed a hole through a hidden corner.

6 - Try a Kennel
If your dog has to spend a lot of time by itself, build a kennel where the dog can remain safely during the day. Most kennels are made of chain link, but you can create something more eye-catching with ornamental fencing. Cover the ground with gravel and be sure the dog has plenty of fresh water and shelter from the elements.

7 - Use Your Deck
A large deck can be a great place for your dog to enjoy the outdoors when you can't watch your pet every minute in the garden. Install a sturdy railing and gate, making sure that your dog can't get its head stuck between the supports.

Here's a Hint: Give you dog plenty of chew toys to keep it occupied. This will also protect your deck from becoming a snack for your dog.

8 - Play with Your Dog
Dogs need physical and mental stimulation each day. So carve out time to give your dog a long walk or playtime each day. Active breeds like this Border collie can cause a lot of damage to your beds and borders if they are bored.

Here's a Hint: Walk your dog for 45 minutes every day to keep it fit and happy.

9 - Include Your Dog
As you garden, provide your dog with an activity. This happy hound gets a tennis ball tossed for it throughout the day as its owner works in her greenhouse.

10 - Keep Toys Handy
Keep a stash of dog toys in your garden. These can be special toys your dog only gets to play with while it's with you in the garden. Here, a lucky golden retriever has its personal selection of colored balls to choose from.

11 - Provide Water
Dogs get hot easily, so always be sure to have a source of fresh water available in the garden.  This Cavalier King Charles spaniel quenches its thirst from a handmade dog bowl that doubles as a piece of garden art.

12 - Give Them Shelter
Even if your dog lives in the house, it will appreciate having its own home where it can retreat to when outdoors during stormy weather. And remember that doghouses don't have to be eyesores. Design one to match your home so it fits in with your landscape.

13 - Pave Pathways
Keep feet and paws dry by paving your garden paths with brick or gravel. Plus, most dogs will quickly learn to stay on the paths so your lawn and garden soil won't become packed down.

Here's a Hint: Mulched paths work well, too, but avoid using cocoa bean hulls as they can make your dog sick if it eats this mulch.

14 - Grow Barrier Plants
Even the most rambunctious dog will avoid garden beds planted with tall, fragrant, or thorny plants. Barberries, roses, euphorbia, Joe Pye weed, and bamboo are just a few rugged yet beautiful plants dogs prefer to walk around rather than through.

15 - Try Container Gardening
If all else fails, plant your favorite flowers and vegetables in containers. Most plants do well in large pots or planters, and they'll be less likely to be trampled by pounding paws. Here, a beautiful assortment of summer bulbs bloom safe from the owner's sheltie.

16 - Know Your Breed
Dogs have strong natural instincts you should be aware of before you turn them loose in your backyard. Terriers, such as this Airedale, love to dig and if left unattended, can eventually turn your garden upside down. Be sure to give them lots of exercise and toys to chew on to keep excavation to a minimum.

17 - Care for the Elderly
As dogs age, their hearing or sight may decline, or they may have difficulty getting around. If you have an older dog, be willing to help it up and down steps and be alert to prevent it from accidentally falling into swimming pools or wandering behind cars. This older basset hound occasionally requires a lift up the garden steps.

Here's a Hint: Elderly dogs can suffer when temperatures soar. If your older dog is with you in the garden, be sure to provide a shady place for it to relax.

18 - Include Your Dog
Dogs are pack animals and don't enjoy being kept in another part of your house or yard when visitors arrive. So make sure your dog is well trained and invited to all family functions. This little West Highland white terrier waits patiently for the festivities to begin.

Here's a Hint: Never feed your dog from the table. It will encourage begging, which can be annoying.

19 - Introduce Children
Dogs and kids are a great combination, but if your dog isn't used to being around children it could become fearful. So find some kids in your neighborhood or at the dog park and let your dog spend some time with them. Socialize your dog as much as possible so it maintains good manners around any visitor, young or old.

20 - Have Fun
And finally, enjoy your dog and don't get too upset if your dog knocks over a pot or kills a plant. Remember, plants grow back, but your relationship with your dog can be a lot more rewarding. In this garden, for example, the owners allow their Jack Russell terrier to dive in their water garden in an attempt to catch koi. The koi aren't bothered, the dog enjoys herself, and the owners get to laugh at her antics.

"A dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, big or small, young or old. He doesn't care if you're not smart, not popular, not a good joke-teller, not the best athlete, nor the best-looking person. To your dog, you are the greatest, the smartest, the nicest human being who was ever born. You are his friend and protector." - Louis Sabin


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