Another Mostly Pictorial Update!

Man! I’ve been so busy and in the midst of it all I felt nothing was interesting enough to post on here; and isn’t that just a sad commentary on everything I have been doing. So I’m going to just update you quick and let the chips fall where they may.

We attended the Cider Summit here in Portland. It rained off and on for a good chunk of the day but that really didn’t stop the PDX-ers. After all if a little rain stopped all the fun there would never be any fun here. My favorite ciders of the day were Reverend Nat’s Hopricort (which I now can’t find anywhere – even at Bushwacker) and Sea Cider’s Prohibition (which sold out so fast I could not score a bottle). So, yay. Awesome.

I finally walked across the Hawthorne Bridge (instead of driving – it’s been on my mental want-to-do list).

We got a new duvet cover with shams. Hey, not exciting to you but I was pretty jazzed about it. Color! I’m still uncomfortable with color, but I’m trying to be all “blendy” with Mike’s tastes. The rug is the main issue. Eventually I think I will get over it. Eventually.

Still working on the giant painting (not a new pic – sorry).

We have been enjoying Oliver’s company and I now love him so much I don’t know how I’m going to let him go back to his home (stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit, stopthinkingaboutit).

I got some adorable new shoes.

We had some cherries come in.

I stuffed some artichokes and they were amazing.

I bought a cactus to go in my Ponderosa mug (so awesome).

I baked my first ever strawberry rhubarb pie and it was delicious. It is gluten free and dairy free. One tip for handling gluten free pie crust – since it cracks and falls apart easily – is to take a cookie cutter and layer cutouts in a pretty way on top of the pie. In honour (check the spelling!) of Canada Day, on July 1, I went with the Maple Leaf design.

We are now getting ready to go the Oregon Country Fair. So much prep involved; the most taxing being the house cleaning for which I have taken an entire day off. I do this out of respect for our friend who will be house and dog sitting for us. Three dogs means a lot of cleaning. But I don’t care! If Oliver wants to stay he should just stay! STOPTHINKINGABOUTIT!

Here is my to get and to do list for the fair:

  • clean entire house
  • buy warm sleeping bag
  • Target Run!
  • figure out food for fair
  • return shoes (i.e. put that money back in your account so you can spend it at fair)
  • buy iron on letters and make a Masshole T-shirt
  • buy funky trim for jeans and then sew it on
  • buy extra freezer packs for the cooler
  • air out the tent
  • pick up allergy pills (remember to pack!)
  • do laundry
  • fix T-shirts that are too big
  • make a light up hat band (if time)

And because Serena and Oliver are in this montage I feel I have to also include a cute pic of my girl Emma (Serena photobombed!). This is what I wake up to every morning.

Ok! I’ll try to get some good pics at the fair to share with you when I get back!

 

Lazy Pictorial Post

I’ve been a slacker. Well, as far as posting is concerned. Life has been jam packed with activities. I hate to be lazy, but here is a mostly pictorial update of what has been going on lately.

We have been working in the garden. If you are new here, the yard is a bit large for us. We have been late to start this season and have spent a lot of time preparing beds and weeding the past few weeks (with help from friends thankfully!). While we have been working ourselves exhausted, this lovely artichoke decided to present itself in all of its purple, organic glory. I will be eating it tonight.

The yard is starting to really look good. Emma enjoys the late afternoon sun on the back deck and appreciates that she no longer has to poop in scratchy weeds. This picture is from last week. The yard looks even better now and there are tons of flowers.

We went to Stumptown Comic Fest 2012 where my fearless partner wore the Superman Kilt I made him for his birthday last year (also his Grover as Captain America Shirt). I think there might be more pictures of him from this event out there on the web. He was a bit of an attraction.

I bought a tiny comic for $ 1.00. The subject seemed appropriate considering we are in the PNW, but I really bought this because of the hand sewn binding. The staple method was rampant at this event and it hurt my soul.

We saw @CraigyFerg at the Aladdin Theater and he was funny. He is a lot less G-rated live (just a comment not a judgement – we like him either way).

That same night our little destroyer ate Mike’s phone (reason #997 for buying the Apple Care Plus Plan).

I visited the Oregon Coast (Depot Bay) with a friend on a sunny day.

I bought a blender so that I could continue to make chicken mole (No pic of the delicious mole I made. Sad face.), but secretly it was to make pina coladas all summer…

I made delicious Grilled Shrimp Chile Rellenos. It was a Rick Bayless recipe that I modified. I added artichoke hearts to the recipe, and for Mike’s instead of cheese I used nutritional yeast. Mine had full cheese. Delicious if a bit ambitious on a Friday night. They took two hours to make. WORTH IT!

Another labor of love is this Salad Nicoise that I made a couple of weekends ago. Between boiling eggs, boiling potatoes, making three dressings – one for tuna, one for potatoes, one for salad – I am always overwhelmed with using so many dishes, bowls, pots and pans. Again, WORTH IT!

My sister’s doggie, Abbey, got big.

Our doggies are still adorable (also, ‘Rina got fixed and is recovering very well indeed).

Sketch

So many projects so little time. I was like a whirling dervish for parts of the weekend. I know before 11:00 am on Saturday I had accomplished an insane amount of things. Then it all sort of dropped off and on Sunday I took a two hour nap with Mike and the dogs. That nap was awesome actually, so I make no apologies.

One big thing is I started a sketch for a painting:

This looks lame right now, but hopefully when I finally move to a 40X60 inch canvas and paint it will all work out. I did start the color work and the good news is that it looks like total crap so far which frees me up to just try the hell out of stuff and not worry about this sketch turning into anything I need to stress about. Occasionally the sketch starts out so good I end up feeling like I can’t ruin it and less experimentation occurs. It’s great when that happens, but it is almost a relief when it’s crap and I get to just experiment for a while. Mike accused me of not wanting to actually paint when I sort of wandered around the house after sketching but I think he figured out that a lot of painting – for me anyway – is thinking about painting. I had a conversation last year with a coworker; both she and her husband are artists. Her husband is all about getting into the studio and having at it. He’s been known to say, “less thinking and talking, more making,” but she is a little more like me in that when she finally sits down to work she kind of has it all mapped out in her head. Two different, but equally valid, ways of working. I might be a bit of both. A little work followed by a lot of thinking. Then a little more more work…and then more thinking. I end up distracted a lot, wandering around looking a little vacant.

Truthfully I don’t find painting to be a relaxing activity. It is the end result that is very satisfying. I think that was quite a surprise to Mike. Probably because he enjoys torch work so much. When I do torch work I’m tense, but I still like to do it and am really happy when I end up liking what I made.

Cilantro Pineapple Salsa

ImageThis is actually a recipe I created a few years a ago. I’ve been digging through old blogs, social media sites, and emails to gather twenty recipes I wrote for a small cookbook I am putting together (the intent is to make about 25 hand-bound books). I’m basically throwing it on here now as a way of saving it in a spot that is easier for me to get to. How self-serving. Super simple salsa and very tasty.

Cilantro Pineapple Salsa

A large bunch of fresh cilantro leaves (about 2 cups)
Olive oil (about a 1/4 cup)
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Healthy splash of pineapple juice (also to taste)

Throw the first three ingredients into a food processor and blend until the cilantro has been fully chopped and the consistency is liquid (i.e. not a paste but a liquid – if you need to add more olive oil go ahead.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add salt, pepper, and pineapple juice to taste.

Serve over warm or cold fish.*

*At this restaurant in town we discovered a cocktail of pineapple juice and champagne. It goes great with this salsa/fish dish. Fry up some plantains and you have a really great meal.

Shrimp Gumbo (GF/DF)

If you are new to the party here are some things to know before I write out this recipe. My partner Mike has a series of food allergies, sensitivities, and preferences. He has celiac disease, he has a very bad reaction to garlic, he is allergic to the protein in dairy products, and he chooses to eschew meat with the exception of chicken (and the chicken is a recent addition after 10 years of being a pescatarian – have mercy on him since his safe list of foods is a shorter one than most of us enjoy).

In addition to his food issues, I have very high standards for Cajun food. I lived in Texas for almost four years and enjoyed some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life (Houston very seriously rivals San Francisco for amazing food). I haven’t had really good barbeque or Cajun food since leaving Texas. I will also say that I have never in my life personally made a shrimp gumbo that came anywhere near what I enjoyed out there. That, my friends, has suddenly changed. Considering my limitations – no flour for a roux, no chorizo, and no garlic! – it is indeed a bit of a minor miracle.

From my kitchen to yours; I hope you will try this recipe!

Shrimp Gumbo (GF/DF) Recipe:

Olive oil for sautéing

½ lb. of frozen cut okra

2-3 tblsp. cornstarch

2-3 oz. GF Chicken breakfast sausage (the kind that is not in a casing)

1 tblsp. paprika

1 medium onion diced

3-4 stalks of celery diced

1 green pepper diced

1 jalapeño pepper with ribs and seeds removed, diced very finely

1 ½ cups of fish stock (you can buy this frozen in the market, clam juice can substitute, you can also use water)

1 14 oz can of organic chopped tomatoes in juice (unsalted would be best)

1 bay leaf

1-2 tsp. dried thyme

1 pound of raw, shelled and deveined shrimp

1 tblsp. file powder

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Thinly sliced scallions

Fresh, chopped cilantro

White rice

In a shallow bowl add the frozen okra and dust with the corn starch. Toss the okra and corn starch together until the okra is evenly coated. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium/high heat. Swirl the oli in the pan as it heats to fully coat the pan. Add the okra in an even layer and let sit until the okra begins to brown. Begin sautéing the okra until most of the “snotty” stickiness is gone. Transfer the okra to a dish and set aside.

In the same pan you cooked the okra, sauté the chicken breakfast sausage, breaking the ground meat up in the pan so that it is in small pieces. When the sausage is almost done add the paprika and continue stirring being careful not to burn the paprika. Add a little water (or chicken stock if you have some handy) to the chicken mixture and deglaze the pan. Let most of the liquid boil off and then transfer to a heavy stew pot (if you are lucky enough to have an enameled cast iron pot then this is the perfect time to use it).

Add a little bit of olive oil to the stew pot that contains the sausage mixture and turn the heat to medium/high. When the mixture and oil is hot add the onion, celery, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and sauté until the vegetables are wilted. Add the fish stock, tomatoes with their juice, okra, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer on medium to low heat for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are at a soft – but not mushy – consistency. Add the shrimp and freshly ground pepper (Notice I did not add any salt; the chicken breakfast sausage is salty enough to season the entire thing). Simmer for two minutes more until the shrimp turns opaque. At the last minute add in the file powder and stir well.

Serve this piping hot over rice and sprinkle a bit of scallion and cilantro on top.

All The Pretty Tea Towels

A friend and I got together for a little craft time this weekend. I really wanted to do a potato stamping project. I decided to create some tea towels, and with one exception (a high school project carving a linoleum tile and printing on fabric using an oil based paint) I really had no experience with either stamping, printing, or using fabric paint. I did a lot of internet research and I invested in a book. In the end just diving in was the way to go. The idea was to make simple and beautiful things using a very easy and inexpensive process. The notion of taking what essentially is a child’s project – potato stamping – and turning it into something beautiful for my home (and maybe other people’s homes if I get my act together) is very appealing to me.

Determined not to use any store bought stamps or stencils I went the simple route (the potato) and a more complicated route (a hand designed and carved stamp made out of a rubber block). Here are the results, which I am pretty pleased with.

These:







Turned into these:







And this:








And then this:








Started out looking like this:








And with the help of some paint pens, turned into this:

Mini-Explosion of Ideas

A few months back when I flew out to California to visit my sister so we could make holiday cards together, we saw some cute needle felting projects in one of the stores. I mentioned I didn’t know anything about it and I was curious. My sister took note and got me a cute little needle felting kit for Christmas. This weekend I finally got around to using it. I made this funny little pig. I actually kind of love this funny little pig. When I first started the project I thought it was kind of boring and repetitive, but the more the little pig took shape the more delighted I was with the whole process. It started sparking ideas for what other things I could make, and suddenly I had a growing list of ideas. The fun part is that they are not all felting ideas. Creativity does indeed spark creativity. Nice.