Wednesday, December 30, 2009

bagels and color - what a combination!

I meant to blog last night. I uploaded all these pictures and then must have gotten sidetracked and gone to bed early. Now I am dilly-dallying my morning away with this post, when I should be working on STUFF. These are whole wheat-everything bagels -- my favorites, available at the best bagel bakery on the planet, in the next town from me. Notice how dense and chewy they look (that's because they ARE). They are not over-inflated white cotton bread in round shapes, as you find in alleged bagel shops around the country. The "everything" consists of salt, sesame seeds, poppyseeds, garlic, and onions. To die for! Toasted, with cheddar cheese and tomatoes - my breakfast.
Now, back to what I was going to post last night. Because I am fresh out of ideas, I continue to do therapy sewing. This means cutting strips without rulers and putting them together sort of randomly till I have enough units to inspire me. Who knows when that will be? As I was playing with strips, I realized that my favorite part is working/playing with color. Lovely as these are, I took them down from the wall and decided to shift gears a little bit. Most of them have been sewn together, so I put them aside for later and moved on. I had sewn together a rather laid-back combination the other day and then decided they were too blah. What could I do to liven them up? I inserted this slice of really ugly fabric I had printed, which is on pg. 93 of my book. Amazingly, a skinny piece of it works just fine here!and then I thought it would be better with another contrasting strip. Yep.
What would happen if I did this instead?
A different direction, yet again.and on and on...
So now I know what happened last night. I got so busy playing with different combinations that I forgot everything else. COLOR!! Do you find it easy? Do you find it difficult? If you have issues with color, what are they? What gives you the most problems? Talk to me. I'm putting together a color workshop that I hope will be different from everybody else's and I'd love your input.

Monday, December 28, 2009

bridge game

After today's foray to the doctor and the hospital on NY's upper east side for various tests, measurements, and the ultrasound, we breezed over to the East Side Drive and headed downtown to the Brooklyn Bridge. The entire trip to Jessica's should have taken a half-hour. An hour later, we were still sitting in rush hour traffic and hadn't even gotten to the Manhattan Bridge, which comes first. Here it is, in the distance. Not normally one to shoot pix while I drive, I nevertheless couldn't resist while I was trapped on the elevated highway, faced with this gorgeous view. We're getting a little closer to the Manhattan Bridge. Aren't the colors of the sky wonderful? See that triangle under the deck of the bridge? That's the Brooklyn Bridge, a couple of miles away. Obviously, I was moving when I shot this. I knew it would be a blur but didn't care. That shot of pale purple toward the bottom right is the East River. These pix were all shot between 5:29 pm and 5:43 pm today and during the last 8 minutes, the sky changed from the one above to this, complete with jeweled necklaces. The lights in the lower part of this photo are on the Brooklyn Bridge. And below, a closer view before I had to stop shooting because we were finally moving. Going home, it took me less time from Brooklyn to West Orange, NJ despite the bumper-to-bumper through Chinatown to the tunnel. I am happy to be home. hugs to all of you.

I spent the afternoon

or at least 2 hours of it, going through my blog from day one to see if I could tag some recipes for you. Got through half of 2007 and that was enough for one day! Thanks for all your feedback and support -I don't think I've been able to answer all of you individually, so groupthank from me and hugs, too. On the up side, you can now find the cookie crescents and other things if you scroll down to labels and click. Ha - I think I have posted them at least twice! Ditto for the brown sugar shortbreads. I think I need a few new scenes in my act. On the down side - I found my posts from 2006-07 much more interesting than the ones that came after. (Maybe that's because I haven't gotten to the later ones yet). Around 5:00 I went outside with the camera because the sky was just lovely. Here's Marty, peering and wondering what on earth I am doing outside in the dark with bare feet and a camera. If I don't pull down the shades, everybody who passes by can see me working. Oops! This scene needs no introduction. There were about 500 white-tailed deer galloping through the forest, but I missed them. (well, mabe 20).After dinner I got back to my therapy sewing and this is what is on my wall as I go to bed. I haven't the vaguest idea where I am going with them. I will just keep sewing and sewing. Tomorrow, back to the City. The problem is that the Park Ave. neighborhood where we are going is just too boring for good photos. G'night.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

family weekend

Today, someone unsubscribed from my blog with the reason "too many recipes, not enough art." So I guess I'll refrain from posting the crescent cookies I baked this morning. Baking=therapy. Art=therapy. Does that mean that baking=art? (sounds like an I.Q. trick question). Although we don't celebrate Christmas, it is always family time since everyone is off. My brother Jon and my nephew Harry arrived on Thursday and will leave tomorrow. I will miss them, since we have had lots of laughs together. Today, Hilary and Mike brought the boys to get their Chanukah gifts, see Jon & Harry, catch up with Jessica's progress (30 weeks and counting) and visit with my mother, who hid her face when I tried to take her picture because she didn't like the way she looked. Vanity, vanity, even at age 92. Nonetheless, I did manage to get a photo of my two girls. (Jeremy and family had other obligations today).I really wish I could post a few pictures of my art-in-progress, but I don't have any. So I am signing off for the night and promise not to post again till I have some art-related stuff to talk about. It may be a while.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy holidays!

Just want to wish you all a Merry/Happy/Joy-filled day and holiday weekend. hugs to all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

tonight's project

I learned about this lovely item to my left so long ago, that the Internet was still called the world wide web, lists were hosted at universities on listservs and there were no pictures. It is a rice bag. It is the best heating pad ever invented (although I understand you can also freeze it as a cold compress). It is cheap, takes 2 minutes to sew up (this is a piece of an old sheet) , and if you heat it in the microwave for 2-3 min., it will be hot and moist for quite a while. I don't know what I did a couple of days ago to cause a stiff neck on my left side, but ouch! Feels like a pinched nerve. It's worse when I lie down, but I must admit I have been walking around moaning and groaning about it all day long. I was just too lazy to make a rice bag to replace the one that I threw out a couple of years ago because it was too grotty for words. Tonight, I caved because the usual neck stretching exercises have not worked. Of course, the only rice I have is expensive Lundberg brown basmati rice and I wasn't about to waste THAT. So I used a combination of lentils, wheatberries, the tiny pinch of white rice left in the jar, chana dal, and barley. Works just fine although it doesn't smell as good as all rice. But I have been sitting here for 15 minutes and it only now cooling off. I know it's a temporary fix but it sure feels good. Jessica arrived around 2:30 , so I spent all afternoon on the couch with her, chatting away. What a pleasure! Ditto, after dinner (with her feet up on a chair) while we had our coffee and the oatmeal cookies with the big pieces of secret ingredient in them. LOL. Before she arrived, I started sewing the piece on the wall together. Of course, once you start sewing things together and trimming, they take on a life of their own and they rarely end up exactly as you had envisioned them. This piece is somewhere around 14' x 11" and is perfectly content to sit there and keep me company. I have auditioned a couple of tweaks but at the moment, I am finding that big green segment strangely restful.I need all the restful I can get because tomorrow, my other houseguests arrive. Time to go reheat the rice-lentil-chana dal-barley-wheatberry bag. Maybe I should just call it the multigrain bag.

miso soup

I can't make enough of this -- I'm eating it for breakfast, late night snack, or whenever. Just last night, I added to the batch I had. Is this an addiction that will soon run its course?? I am lucky enough to have stores around here that carry miso and wakame. If you don't have access to these ingredients, Asian Food Grocer does mail order. Every supermarket carries tofu and scallions. For 4 servings of Miso Soup : this takes about 5 minutes to make 4 cups of water 2 scallions, thinly sliced 1 package of medium or regular tofu, cubed 4 teaspoons of dried wakame (pronounced “wa ka may”) flakes, a type of seaweed (sometimes packaged as “healthy sea vegetable”) 4 tablespoons of white miso paste 1. Start boiling 3 cups of water in a pot. 2. Soak wakame flakes in a bowl of cold water until they expand, about a few minutes. 3. Add cubed tofu into the pot of water. I usually add this into the water, even if it has not begun boiling yet. 4. Drain the wakame flakes and add to the boiling water. 5. In a separate bowl, add miso paste to a cup of hot water. Whisk miso paste until it dissolves. 6. Turn off the boiling water and add the whisked miso paste. Mix well and enjoy! Sprinkle with the sliced scallions just before you eat it. YUM! *When reheating, heat the soup while stirring until it begins to boil, then turn off the heat. The miso soup will be heated thoroughly. Now I am going back to the kitchen to make Syrian meat and spinach pies for tonight's dinner. I used to make this with Pillsbury dough boy hot roll thingie in a tube but since I don't have any and am too lazy to go out, I will just go make the dough from scratch. Fortunately, I have bread flour and yeast. See 'ya later.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

life is what happens...

when you're making other plans. I think that's the expression. I was going to do studio work today. But no-o. At 7:30 am, husband calls from the supermarket (stopped to buy fruit for lunch en route to the office) to tell me he doesn't have his wallet. No, it is not on his night table or the desk. It is not in his jacket pockets. It is not on the driveway or on the sidewalk outside our house. It is not in his car or anywhere in the Shop-Rite parking lot. Or in the aisle near the fruit. After multiple phone calls back and forth, he comes home to call the credit card companies, DMV, and Medicare. "Did you have it this morning?", I ask. "Could you have left it in something you wore yesterday?" So, into the closet he goes - and there it is, in the buttoned back pocket of his corduroy pants. Two big sighs of relief. The supermarket employee had paid for his fruit and he called to tell her he would be by tomorrow to give it back to her. But by the end of this ordeal, he was so exhausted that he took the rest of the day off. That meant he had time to go to the V.A. office in Newark, which meant that I had to take him because he is not driving on highways these days. Then I got an e-mail from my nephew Oliver, who is back in NJ for 2 days before he departs for Fla, San Francisco,and back to India, where he has been for a year, making art, being spiritual, and having adventures. Could I come at 3:00,pick up the book he had signed for me and bring his mother the book I had signed for her? So, between noon and 2:45, I finally had a chance to work. I auditioned a few other fabrics, switched the layout several times, and have now sewed together a few pieces that I'm sure about. Tomorrow, I'd like to finish it and move on. The days will be a switcheroo: Jessica's father has volunteered to schlep to Brooklyn and bring her to my house, so that frees me and maybe will make up for the loss of today. If you want the miso soup recipe, let me know and I'll send it. If enough people want it, I'll post it. Till tomorrow...

Monday, December 21, 2009

ok, ok - recipes

Potato Chip Oatmeal Cookies Excuse me while I go make a cup of tea and get a few of these to eat while I write this recipe for you... they are that good!...ok, I'm back with 3 cookies in hand. The original recipe is from Maida Heatter's Brand New Cookbook (which it isn't) of Great Cookies (which some of them aren't) where she calls them Key Largo Oatmeal Cookies. I have never been a big fan of oatmeal cookies - they are fine, but not my favorites. However - THESE!!! Here is my adaptation of her recipe 4 oz salted potato chips, crushed put a bunch of chips in a plastic bag and squeeze them to crush them a bit - but they should be coarse, not fine. They should fill 2 cups when they're crushed (of course, I cheated and added more). 1-1/2 cups walnut pieces 2 cups sifted unbleached flour (I used whole wheat) 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 to 1-3/4 packed cups brown sugar** ** The recipe calls for 1-3/4 cups light brown sugar. I cut it almost in half and used 1 cup because I don't like very sweet stuff. I also used dark brown because that's what I had. Suit yourself anywhere in between. 2 large eggs 2 cups old fashioned (not instant) oatmeal 1 cup raisins 1 cup dried pitted sour cherries (I used dried cranberries but you could use cut up dried apricots, dates, or whatever. I like the tart things best, though) 1. With electric mixer in large mixing bowl, beat butter till soft. 2. Add vanilla and sugar and beat till mixed. 3. Add eggs and beat till mixed 4. Add sifted dry ingredients and beat on low only till incorporated. 5. Add oatmeal and beat to mix. (if using food processor, move contents to a large mixing bowl to continue) 6. With wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, stir in the dried fruits and nuts. 7. Finally, stir in the potato chips. The chips should still be visible. Line cookie sheets w/ parchment, put a tablespoons of dough on the sheet, about 1" apart: press down to flatten. Bake at 350 for 18-20 min or till lightly browned all over. Maida Heatter uses 1/4 cup of dough for each cookie but I'd rather use a tablespoon and get twice as many cookies out of the deal. You will be glad you made smaller ones and more of them! Happy eating. Mushroom Barley Soup there are a zillion recipes, some of which you can find on the Internet. I grew up with a grandmother and a mother who were good cooks and Nanny never used a recipe. Both cooked by instinct, taste and experience nothing written, nothing measured exactly--adding unspecified amounts and giving this kind of advice:"if it needs salt, add more"; if it is too sweet, next time, add less," "cook until it's done", etc. While nothing was ever the same twice, it was always delicious. Actually, in my family, this was called Bean and Barley soup and the only mushrooms in it were dried Polish mushrooms, which gave it a wonderful,smoky flavor. I never saw a live mushroom in my bean and barley soup. My mother and grandmother made it in the pressure cooker because it cooks in 20 min, and they always included a soup bone (beef marrow bone). I use the pressure cooker, but if I don't have a bone I make it without. If I have fresh mushrooms, I'll throw some in - but if not, I don't care. The dried ones are the ones that count. Here's my "recipe" - give or take. If you are the type of cook who needs measurements, skip this and go to the cookie recipe. 6 cups water - Put into pressure cooker or pot and add: a few cut up celery stalks, including leaves a few cut up carrots 5 or 6 dried Polish mushrooms a couple big onions or a few small ones, cut up about 1 cup pearl barley about 1/2 cup dry lima beans (more if you want, or none if you don't want) a bay leaf 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced salt & pepper OPTIONAL a parsnip if you have one a couple pieces celery root if you have any sliced fresh mushrooms a beef bone If you have about 3 hours, you can cook all of this on low. If not, cook under pressure for 20 min, adjust salt and add a handful of fresh dill. Soup should be thick. If it isn't, add more..but by next day you'll probably have to add water. (see what I mean?) If you look on the Internet for a recipe, ignore all that add tomatoes or green peppers (no self-respecting Jewish grandmother would add those!) and skip any that tell you to sauté the onions and carrots, etc. before you add the other stuff. Too much trouble - just throw everything in at once! Enjoy! R.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

cookie monster

I'm telling you - today I made soup and baked cookies. Mushroom barley soup which has no recipe, but which is one of the world's best soups (at least, when I make it - LOL). Tonight I made these wonderful oatmeal/raisin/walnut/cranberry/potato chip cookies, for which I had mixed the dough this morning. I put most of them in the freezer so at least when Jessica is here she will have some goodies. Between cookies, I played around with the THING on the wall, which is now becoming an army of things because I have split up the pieces and who knows where they will end up? This is only one of about 17,000 different auditions I have played with tonight and I am sure that tomorrow, it will have transmuted into something else. Some of you have said you liked watching my process: it is both liberating and frustrating at the same time, but I would not know any other way to work. This always allows me to ask "what if?" and to act on it immediately. My digital camera is my best friend.

after the snow

Looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? This is what greeted me this morning when I walked into the kitchen. Probably about a foot, but I didn't go out to measure. Instead, I grabbed the broom and went out the front door to clean off the cars as well as I could. The men with the shovels were working their way up the street and I wanted to get the snow off the cars before they got to our driveway so they could take it away. Mostly, I succeeded. Alas, I could not go out in my Birks this morning, or even my shearling clogs - the snow was too deep. Yes...I put on my boots to retrieve the newspapers and to traipse around on the as-yet unshoveled driveway, cleaning off the cars before breakfast. And what was breakfast this morning? Miso soup! I had made some yesterday and eaten it late last night while I was blogging. Then I read that in Japan, people eat it for breakfast. Of course, that makes sense: it is hot and full of protein, between the miso and the tofu and the seaweed. So, after coming back inside it seemed logical to do the same. When Marty came down, I had to make another batch for him. We love miso soup and it is the easiest thing in the world to make. Just for good measure, my favorite scene in all the world - the first of my annual pictures of my woods in snow. Now I am going back to those minimalist blocks to see if I can make them my own. This should amuse me for an hour or two -- and will put off the inevitable bill-paying marathon that awaits me. I will weigh in later.

Friday, December 18, 2009

things I know

1) I did not win the NJ $11million lottery this week. 2) I can sleep late tomorrow. 3) Last night's forecast was correct. viz As bad as it gets in New Jersey Saturday be thankful you’re not in Baltimore. Or on Long Island, for that matter.

Barring last-minute changes in the forecast, the season’s first big blow will go easier on the Garden State than on its neighbors up and down the East Coast, bringing 4 to 10 inches of snow to northern New Jersey.

If that sounds inconvenient, consider Baltimore and nearby Washington, D.C., where residents were bracing for a blustery 20 inches, or Long Island, which was under a blizzard warning.

It is coming down and the plows have made their first few runs through the condo development. Earlier, my omingrid measured 2" vs a foot down the shore at Joanie SanChirico's house. But it keeps coming. I think a blizzard has hit Maryland-DC-Northern VA.

More things I know

4) It is good to have food in the house when a snowstorm is due.

We hit the supermarkets today with the rest of the population and now we have stuff to eat, which was not the case this morning. Can you imagine being out of these?? Without them, I can't cook. (isn't this a great graphic?)

6) I am not cut out to do minimalist work. It gives me a headache. I thought I would play with just line and color but I was so bored that this is as far as I got tonight before I took it off the wall. It could be anybody's work -- there is nothing that identifies it as mine. Bah.

7) This is better since I added some squares on the right hand side to minimize the pink. Now I can put it away.

8) Vaut mieux être riche et en bonne santé que d'être pauvre et malade.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Enough!

I still have plenty of pieces from that cut-up pink and purple block but I'm done with this exercise. It seems to be a small piece on its own. I'm shifting gears this afternoon and maybe tomorrow I'll have renewed energy to work with the rest. I'm eager to see what Rachel does with her block!