Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shameless self-promotion

Anyone wanna buy a poured Portland cement leaf plate (or three)? I used real leaves to mold all of these (which required some surreptitious hunting for big elephant ears...) After hardening I painted them with metallic acrylics and sealed with an acrylic finish. I wouldn't recommend putting any moist food on them because of the sealer and paint not being technically food-safe, but I wouldn't hesitate to serve crackers or something like that off of them.

These have lived, wrapped in newspaper and stacked together, on my front porch for 1.5 years, so I would think that makes them relatively weather safe. A couple have cracks that formed in the drying process, not in the sitting on my front porch process.

Make me an offer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I took a hammer to every memento/but image on image like beads on a rosary/pulled through my head as the music takes hold

Apparently screwing around on Facebook, online and in real life has superseded my blogging time. Well, let's get the meat and potatoes stuff out of the way first and then on to a little musing.

Last week was not a stellar cooking week, really. I don't actually remember what I made during the week, though I do remember a couple nights of takeaway (thank you very much Tin Can Tavern and Lemongrass). At some point in the recent past I made a chicken coconut curry and coconut rice.

Peas, carrots, green onions and chicken went into a gingery, coconut milk sauce and it was good, though miles behind the previous tofu coconut curry. Not quite sure why. Maybe the chicken flavor dulled the brilliance of the coconut milk that the tofu just absorbed and highlighted. Lesson learned.

I get a daily email from and they occasionally inspire me to either follow a recipe exactly (well, exact as I ever get) or at least use one as a starting point. Last week some time Scottish Oatmeal Scones popped up and I knew I had to make them. Sadly, I had neither currants (which the recipe called for) or raisins, so I substituted walnuts. They were really good - dense and heavy and not too sweet.

Today, Tuscan sausage soup was delivered to my inbox and that sounded irresistible on this endlessly rainy day. Sweet Italian sausage, potatoes, spinach and beans resulted in a hearty, really hearty bowl of soup. Alongside we had English cucumber with feta cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of rice vinegar.

Approaching Easter, the store where I work started stocking lots of Easter-type flowers: various huge lilies, tulips, hyacinths, peace lilies, anthuriums. Lots of very prominent pollen, particularly as the blooms started to wilt. For an entire week I had a seriously sore throat, swollen and scratchy and achy. It wasn't until the day I found myself covered in pollen that I realized I didn't have a cold; I was simply having an allergic reaction to all that pollen.

If only lily pollen was like the saffron-producing crocus pollen. Alas, it is not. Dosages of Claritin and Benedryl finally got rid of the sore throat and I was not sad when all the lilies, et al, were tossed into the trash.

This is perhaps the most boring blog post. I have more to say, but I got up really early today for my show and I am sleepy. More tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

As I flit from shop window to window/I'm trying to pick up a friendly bargin

My world has remained rather narrow lately and I'm perfectly happy with that. It's been all about working, drawing and painting, the computer and all that entails, tv time with Steve, and a fair amount of cooking.

On Saturday morning I happened across a mention online of a croque monsieur and I was immediately obsessed. Dinner would be croque monsieur sandwiches, frites and an apple tartin. The sandwich is simple and is a delicious sum of its parts - ham and cheese on toasted bread kissed with Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, topped with a slightly cheesy bechamel sauce redolent with nutmeg and another bit of cheese. The whole thing is run under the broiler until the cheese and sauce on top is bubbling and golden. The combination of the melted cheese, crunchy bread and velvety smooth sauce is intoxicating. And it was a mini explosion of taste as the mustard and the nutmeg blended in my mouth. Oh, to live in France and have these available at every corner bistro. To go alongside, I cut very thin sticks of potatoes and deep fried them till golden. There really is nothing like a home made frite. A simple salad alongside cut the richness.

My apple tartin was not authentic, but was an amalgram of several recipes I looked over. Sliced apples were cooked in butter and a caramelized sugar syrup, then baked until the apples just started to caramelize, then removed from the oven to top with a circle of puff pastry cut to fit the pan and returned to bake until golden brown and puffy. After cooling for just a bit, I inverted it onto a platter. It didn't end up looking as pretty as I would have hoped, but it tasted great.

Sunday night dinner was a fat, juicy roasted chicken seasoned with lemon juice and garlic. To accompany I roasted brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper and prepared rice with sweet corn and achiote. A very satisfying dinner for the end of the weekend.

Today I stopped in at Jay's to pick up a supply of international ingredients, leaving me with a pile of exciting possibilities for the week ahead. Look at all this good stuff!

Empanada wrappers! Coconut milk (tofu curry here I come)! Bleu cheese! Feta cheese! Spanish chorizo! Whole wheat lavosh! Oh the possibilities to come. Tonight a brisket of beef is slow roasting in the oven. I believe I will serve it with bleu cheese sprinkled on the slices and a bleu cheese speckled potato salad. All I could think of today was that luscious beef and bleu cheese combo.

Tomorrow it is back to work after being off for several days. Believe it or not, I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Every field wears a bonnet/With some spring daisies on it/Even birds of a feather show their clothes off together

I like to compare myself to various UPS/FedEx delivery men I've encountered over the years . It's really only in one regard - I like to wear shorts to work. When I was at Big Espresso I was one of the few employees who regularly work shorts in warmer weather. I would have worn them even in the cold weather except that I usually had to walk at least a block or so from my parking space and I am a bit of wimp when it comes to being cold like that. But once it was spring, I'm sure weeks and weeks went past without me wearing trousers. And now that I'm at a job where I am often outside and frequently in danger of getting dirty and wet, it'd be crazy if I didn't wear shorts. I'm just more comfortable in them; I feel more free, unencumbered.

So yesterday, in shorts, I ventured out of the plant section to look for a piece of store equipment I needed. I tried cutting through the paint department in search of it and got rather waylaid between a shopping cart and a couple patrons, one of them an older (somewhere in his 60s, I say) gentleman who eyed me with apparent delight and broke out into song as I struggled to get past him and his cart. "Who wears short shorts?" he sang, an impish grin on his face. "YOU wear short shorts!" I had to literally push my way past him, pushing his shopping cart to give myself a path of escape. He was singing LOUDLY and I was blushing furiously, hoping against hope that none of the store employees were paying any attention. If they were, I don't want to know. I tried to smile weakly at the customer and I may have mumbled something like "No I don't!" as I stumbed my way out of that department. Today, I wore shorts again. Much much longer shorts. I won't give up my shorter shorts, but I thought it was a good day for a break.

Despite that incident, and despite the fact that some store managers were giving me gip today, I still love my job. And I don't suppose mine are any shorter than these. In fact, I know they are not. And I have to wear much less glamourous shoes.