Sunday, September 15, 2013

Summer Lovin' Pic Stitch Style

My God, there are so many photo apps. I must admit, I never got too into Instagram, and that's just fine with me. But some of these really allow you to be creative, and break the traditional frame. This app is called Pic Stitch. There aren't enough hours in the day to explore all these apps... 

Outer ring is a photo Lance took on his property. Next ring is a drawing I did of our traced hands. Center is us, obviously. I love concentric circles and the mandala tradition, so I respond best to this version.

Lance is into Egypt, archaeology, and the eye of Ra. I thought he'd like this pyramid version.

And then there are our babies, Maya, Inca, and Gertie. Hard to get a still shot of them all cuddled up, so I Pic Stitched 'em together to be one big happy trio. Happy experimenting!

Summer Fare and Food Rules

With a beautiful kitchen, spans of time, great recipes, bountiful veg, and zestful intention, I had a summer of food lovin'. I cooked up a storm. It helped that I had a hungry partner to help devour and give helpful, honest feedback. Special thanks to Ali at Gimme Some Oven. I kept going back to her recipes, such as the enchilada sauce and spinach artichoke dip (not pictured, eaten too quickly). But Ali, you'd be proud...instead of using the frozen spinach you called for, I added a whole bag of chopped fresh spinach. World of difference. That is one thing I learned, whenever possible, fresh tastes best. PERIOD. 

For several years now, I've also heeded the brilliant advice of author Michael Pollan. His updated book Food Rules with lovely illustrations by Maira Kalman is my go-to for practical, healthy, and realistic food advice. Here's a few to chew on:

Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.
Do all your eating at a table.
Place a bouquet of flowers on the table and everything will taste twice as good.
No labels on the table.
Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does...
...and on and on.

Salsa with red onion, cilantro and a couple colors of peppers. Don't forget the lime!

Roasted veggies for the first time in my life. They are transformed in the oven. Great for pizza, pastas, soups, and...

Roasted veggie enchiladas! Ali's enchilada sauce recipe is easy and super yummy, only a few ingredients.

Learned how to make refrigerator pickles. Thanks, Sam! I love salt, but this is only garlic, dill,
and a dash of vinegar. The taste and crunch satisfy better than a bag of chips.

Danger, Will Robinson. Mac and Cheese with sharp cheddar, havarti, sliced smoked sausage, and hot sauce.
The shells are my favorite pasta for this dish. Green onions make a great, pretty addition.

I've been making my own pizza for a few years now, crust and all. But this pre-cheesed version took the cake for tastiness: red onion, mushroom, chopped chicken nuggets, bbq sauce and hot sauce. Seriously.

Found myself with a few huge zucchinis and tomatoes. Found several recipes to try at Health Magazine
This is a garden lasagna, fully veg, with a white sauce topped with basil.

Baked tomato and zucchini slices topped with sweet corn, bread crumbs, and parmesan.

Friday, September 6, 2013

ABC: Apple Butter Canning

I've been a foodie for awhile. A foodie in the sense that I want to cook as much as possible, not pay the price of the restaurant, and be in control of exactly what ingredients go into my food which then goes into my body. Don't get me wrong, I still patronize my favorite local spots, and out of sheer exhaustion give in to the ring of Taco Bell. But the last few months, I'm spending more time cooking than I am making art. The processes are similar, but now I get to eat my creations, and even share them with people I love. I know this is the beginning of a lifelong obsession, a healthy one. 

Granny Smiths from my very own yard. Samantha made an apple picker and helped me get them off the tree. She was the impetus for this whole adventure in canning! Thanks, Sam.

Followed a recipe online. Took forever to hand peel the apples, but it was quite enjoyable. The key is I have a kitchen I love to spend time in. It's full of light and comfort.

TADAAA! Just did a hot water bath, no pressure canning. That's too science-y for me at this point, and scares me a little bit. So the water bath was perfect. SO SATISFYING to hear the 'PING' as the jars pressurized. Out of about 14 jars, only 2 didn't seal. So those are the 2 I devoured first. Easy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Judith and Holofernes

I am a huge fan of Caravaggio because of his frozen, theatrical, dramatic lighting and shallow space. He doesn't beat around the bush concerning what he wants be to look for, pay attention to immediately. I appreciate that. I was not familiar with this story from the Book of Judith, from the apocrypha, part of the Bible's old testament that was eliminated, thus not in the current version. It's about the delivery of Israel from the Assyrian General Holofernes. In the scene, Judith and her maidservant behead him after he passes out asleep due to drunkenness. It is extremely violent and gory. This depiction led me to look into other depictions of the same story...

Judith Beheading Holofernes by Caravaggio 1598-99 Oil on Canvas

Judith and Holofernes by Valentin de Boulogne 1626 Oil on Canvas
This painting, created about 30 years later, is much more static and calm to me. The sword plays a prominent role, but the blood is not as prevalent, colorful, or spurting.

Judith Slaying Holofernes by Artemisia Gentileschi 1611-12 Oil on Canvas

This painting is much more interesting to me, considering the back story. Painted only a dozen years after Caravaggio's, it turns out Artemisia's famous painter father was a follower of Caravaggio. Artemisia was raped by her own painter mentor, and it went to trial. She lost, of course. It was the 17th century. But she continued painting. She placed herself as Judith, and she is above and not beside Holofernes, dominating him physically as perhaps her rapist dominated her. The maidservant is more involved, as if she stands for all women who are enraged by their friend's victimization. Gentileschi's biographer said the depiction was  "a cathartic expression of the artist's private, and perhaps repressed, rage."