Sunday, December 27, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I avoid dairy products as much as possible. I believe once we are weaned from the breast it is time to move on. Cows and goats don't continue to drink their mother's milk once they reach a certain age and I for one, do not want to force an innocent animal to lactate for me to enjoy the creamy, viscous liquid we call milk.
Each year I look forward to certain seasonal treats like pumpkin pie, chestnuts, fruitcake (yes, I really do like it) and egg nog.
There are a few varieties of soy nog available but in my neck of the woods, Silk is the only one readily available, probably because I am the only person who actually purchases it.
I used my traditional boule dough for this recipe...
6 1/2 c flour
3 c warm water
1 1/2 Tbs yeast
1 1/2 Tbs kosher salt
Seriously, that's it. Put it all in a mixing bowl. Mix with an electric mixer, mine is a Kitchen Aid, with a dough hook for about three minutes. Cover the bowl with something, not air tight and let it rise in a warm spot. My house, especially the kitchen, is a little on the chilly side so I let it rise under the halogen lamp on my counter top. It is ready to use when it falls naturally, usually two hours.
Pull off a one pound chunk and form it into a ball. Place on a whole wheat covered peel or baking sheet. Sprinkle it with dehydrated onion and a generous amount of kosher salt. Let it rise again for 20 minutes. Make a few slashes across it before baking at 475 degrees for 30-35 minutes. I use a baking stone in the oven but it is not required.
I bought a new kind of flour, I love trying different flours. White, all purpose works best with this recipe. I tend to only use organic flour but it is not required. Today I used a higher gluten flour. The results were spectacular.
Refrigerate the rest of the dough and use within two weeks. Refrigerated dough will take longer on the second rise for obvious reasons...it's cold.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
I recently made a custom light box for my friend Trish. Her parents have been married for 61 years and coincidentally live just up the street from me. She wanted to give them a special gift for Christmas and thought original art might be nice. Her dad loves to paint and likes art in general. She emailed me a photo taken on their wedding day. This is what I came up with. Trish loved it.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Last night we attended a fantastic exhibit Something from Nothing at The Canton Museum of Art. The show was curated by Patrick Buckohr, a painter I have worked with in the past. The show consisted of works by thirteen artists living and working in The Rustbelt, a region that stretches from Minnesota to New Jersey. The art was made from salvaged materials like metal, fabric and wood. My friend, Daniel Horne (pictured with me) had three pieces in the show. He makes kinetic sculpture using metal he finds at scrap yards and various other places metal tends to collect.
You can see Daniels work at his web site scrapheapsculpture.com.
Paul Werner, another artist whom I know had the piece pictured above in the show.
In addition to the great art, Rust Belt Brewery of Youngstown was on hand offering samples of their micro-brewed beer. I tried the stout and enjoyed it very much. It had hints of licorice and Earth, two of my favorite things.
The show hangs until March 7, 2009. Please take the time to see it.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
2. An enormous amount of hair from a beard (perhaps) in the men's room toilet
3. Very dirty blonde wig with glitter on it in the dumpster
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
While at work last evening a call came in from a local, big box office supply store. A group had decided to order food for pick-up. Included in their order was a bowl of soup. The caller explained she had a broken jaw and would need me to puree the soup for her as she was unable to eat it otherwise. Several thoughts crossed my mind.
1. How was it the caller could talk so well yet not be able to mash up some overcooked broccoli to the point of being able to swallow it?
2. What shift would one have to work to get a lunch break at six o'clock in the evening?
3. How did the caller break her jaw? Did a giant box of printer ink fall and hit her square in the jaw or did some other person do this to her?
4. Why didn't the caller bring her own lunch to work?
Needless to say, I pureed the soup as I was not so busy that it was inconvenient. I wonder, how far does one have to go in customer service? Did I do the right thing by pureeing her soup? Should I have told her, "You HAVE got to be kidding?" Is minimum wage worth the trouble? Should we be nicer to people when we make more money for doing so?
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I had never grown leeks before. Late winter I decided to plant leek seeds indoors under lights. They were pathetic little things and I was certain they would never make it to the garden. They did...and they thrived. Once thin strands of green poking out of the soil became robust, sturdy leeks. They were not difficult to grow but they took a long long time. I started the seeds in late February and harvested the first leeks today.
I made soup and it was fantastic.
6 leeks sliced thin
3 carrots peeled and diced
3 shallots sliced thin
3 stalks celery sliced thin
3 small potatoes peeled and diced
4 c vegetable broth
1 cup cream
Saute the first four ingredients in a little olive oil until tender. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Lower heat. Add sherry, salt, pepper, bay and parsley. Allow to simmer for an hour or as long as it takes to put all the laundry away and leaf blow the deck. Add cream. Puree in food processor. Serve with thin slices of baguette topped with goat's milk feta and roasted red peppers.
I found this photograph in a picnic shelter along the Mahoning River just outside of Downtown Youngstown. I have no idea who these women are. I've decided to name them and create a portrait of each.
From left to right...
Agnes Johnson. Agnes is married to Robert Johnson but everyone still calls him Bobby. He is a fire fighter. Agnes owns a nail salon. She has far too many purses and believes one should never wear white after Labor Day. Agnes has three children, Stella, 30 lives in Tuscon, Jimmy, 28 lives in Gerard and Felix, 26 lives nearby in Youngstown.
Louise Simpson. Louise is divorced. She used to be married to Phil Simpson. Phil worked for King Tool and Manufacturing but is now laid off. Louise works at Macy's in the shoe department. She is famous for her southern cooking which she learned from her mother who is from Alabama. Louise has a daughter, Meredith, who works as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry.
Karen Hawthorne. Karen is married to Bill Hawthorne. Bill works as a car salesman at Fred Martin Ford. Karen is a librarian at a school for kids with special needs. Karen loves gold jewelry and bowls every Wednesday with a group from her church. Karen has two children, Paul, 29, lives in Boardman and Mark, 26 lives in Cortland.
Angela Reynolds. Angela is married to Joe Reynolds. He is a veteran of the police force. Angela is Agnes' sister. Angela plays the organ for her church and loves jazz. She won 1st place for her canned okra at last year's fair. Angela has two children, Donald, who lives in Rhode Island and Danielle who lives in Gerard.
Celia Montgomery. Celia is married to Allan Montgomery. Allan is an assistant prosecutor. In between hosting dinner parties and fundraisers for needy children, Celia also teaches piano lessons and knits. Celia gets her nails done at Agnes' salon every Thursday. Celia has a son, George, who she named after her father.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
I got to know a lot of farmers this summer as they participated in the market. I was under the impression they had thoughts similar to my own where food production was concerned. All of the farmers were what we'd call small, family farmers, farming between 1-80 acres. None of them were big, industrial farmers who see food as a commodity. None of them practiced monoculture, the one farming method I believe is destroying our environment and safety of our food supply. And yet most of these farmer's think it's OK to factory farm because it is our God-given right to eat animals so who cares what conditions they must live in during their short time on Earth. It's OK to put a bunch of suits in charge of livestock standards because otherwise some evil group from the Humane Society is going to shut down the agricultural industry as we know it and we're all going to be forced to eat hummus and falafel which we would buy with our food stamps because we will all be broke. I am beginning to reconsider my role in the county's agriculture landscape. Both the producers and the public seem to be on a very different page than I am. For the hundreds of thousands of acres of corn and soybeans, meant to feed animals that will later be turned into food, I say...what a waste of space.
Monday, October 19, 2009
My great grand-
father was a marble cutter and sculptor in Carrara Italy. Carrara is well known for its marble and has a rich history. The current town originated from the borough built to house workers in the marble quarries created by the Romans after their conquest of Liguria in the early 2nd century BC. He eventually moved to Vermont to work in the stone quarries there. He has a sculpture at Union Station in Washington D.C. and he was asked to work on Mt. Rushmore but declined as he did not want to plummet to his death and leave his children without a father.
In Italy there is a soup named for the marble cutters.
2 medium red onions
1/2 medium carrot
1 small stalk celery with leaves
4 branches Italian parsley
Robust extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tightly-packed cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 to 3 pounds delicious ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or one 28-ounce can and one 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
12-ounces (about 3/4 loaf) rugged country bread of mixed grains (without fat or sweeteners), sliced and left to dry for a day
More olive oil
About 6-ounces Pecorino Toscano, Pecorino di Pienza, Toscanello, American sheep cheese (like Trade Lake Cedar), or young Asiago, shredded (optional)
2 tightly-packed tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (optional)
1. Mince together the onion, carrot, celery, and parsley until very fine. Film the bottom of a 6-quart pot with oil and set over medium heat. Stir in the minced vegetables, with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute to rich golden brown in about 8 minutes. Blend in garlic and basil, and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, crushing them with your hands. Boil 10 minutes, or until thick and flavorful.
2. Stir in 6 cups water, or a ladleful for each diner. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, or until soup is only slightly reduced. Taste for seasoning. Just before serving, break up the bread into bite-sized pieces and add it to soup, or place the bread in the soup bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls and serve hot. The soup is also good at room temperature.
3. Sprinkle each serving with a teaspoon or two of olive oil and generous black pepper. A little chopped fresh basil is a modern touch, and a very good one. Pass the cheese if desired.
SMARTS is an educational organization that promotes art and literacy in Youngstown. They have asked me to make them some lightboxes to sell in their shop. I met Becky, the director of this very cool organization, at an art show last month. She saw my boxes and thought they would sell well in her shop. We'll see what happens.
1. Sign up and complete your 4x6 piece of art work. It can be anything. A painting, drawing, sketch, photograph, or just about anything that can fit on the drawing paper we send you.
2. We will hold an exhibition in Brooklyn, NY of the drawings we get back and allow the viewers at the show to vote for the 100 best.
3. We will put the 100 with the highest votes on the website where the art house community will vote on the 50 best.
4. The 50 artists with the most votes will create a larger painting, photograph, drawing, whatever and submit it for a 2nd exhibition. (We will email more info to those artists that were selected.)
5. The person with the most votes will win the $1000 dollar artist grant!
Keep in mind this is a 4x6 inch piece of paper. What can I draw, paint, smear, print on such a small piece of paper that will be noticed in a sea of other small pieces of paper? Any ideas?
You can read more about it here
Friday, September 18, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
It was a sad day. For weeks I have been wondering why our tomato plants were developing dark spots on the leaves and the fruit. It turns out they are infected with the fungus-like oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans, the same disease that caused the infamous Irish potato famine. Our potatoes seem fine so Francesca and I harvested them. The tomato plants are in the dumpster. The pathogen can over-winter so we did not put them in the compost. The disease can be prevented if healthy plants are sprayed with a fungicide containing chlorothalonil. We choose to use organic methods in our garden so this was not an option. Next year I will spray the plants with neem oil once a week to prevent a repeat of this year. The perils of gardening...ah...such is life.
So far this year we have lost two cherry trees, the Minnesota Midget melons, Longfellow cucumbers, peppers, gourds and now the tomatoes.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Today's menu includes:
Green Fields Farm Burger
1/3 pound premium aged beef from Green Fields Farm of Tuscarawas and Harrison County with your chioce of toppings on a Flat Top Bakery Bun
Walnut Grove Egg Sandwich
Fresh, free range egg from a variety of heritage breeds raised at Walnut Grove Farm in New Philadelphia grilled with your choice of toppings on Yoder's white or wheat bread.
Heirloom Tomato and Onion Sandwich
A variety of heirloom tomatoes and onions served hot or cold on Yoder's white or wheat bread.
Starfire Peanut Butter Sandwich
Homemade peanut butter by Starfire Foods of Sugarcreek and your choice of locally produced honey or jelly.
Tomato, Red Onion, Grilled peppers, Onion Marmalade, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Hot Pepper Butter and Cheese from Heini's in Bunker Hill
Sides by Starfire Foods
Potato Salad, Pasta Salad or Macaroni Salad
Saturday, August 15, 2009
As much as I enjoy my garden, the planning, the preparation, the tending and the harvesting, I also enjoy the things I did not plant, the things that just grow because that is where they decided to take root. Some of these things are obvious...a bird or squirrel left a seed behind or the wind carried it. Others are more mysterious and beg one to wonder, how did that get there? Rather than pull up every stray sprout, I leave them in their new found home and watch them grow. This year there were many marvels, the mysterious pumpkins on the deck, the impatiens in the hibiscus planter and the tansy and sunflowers. Everything happens for a reason, I suppose.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Francesca earned her white belt with black stripe on Friday. She decided, with the coaxing of her friend Shayla, she would go to Tae Kwon Do camp. The camp allows the kids to earn a belt in one week as opposed to the two months it normally takes. She is now the highest belt level in her group called the minis. At the end of August she will test again and graduate from the minis and become a mighty. Here is Francesca and Shayla with another friend, Antonia on the day of the test. Silliness was abundant.
We have a Silver Maple that is nearly hollow and a home to many creatures. A most wondrous thing occurred when one of those creatures, probably a squirrel placed sunflower seed in the tree. The sunflower is growing...thirty feet up. It's quite charming.
Italians didn't start cooking with tomatoes until the 1850's. They were introduced to the Italians by the Spanish in the 1500's but they weren't very popular. It is difficult to imagine Italian cooking without them now. My family is from Northern Italy where the food differs a great deal from the Americanized versions we commonly see in the U.S.
I like meatless sauces.
2 small onions diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
2 stalks celery diced
1/4 olive oil
Heat the olive in a stock pot until hot. Add onions, carrot and celery and saute until golden about 15 minutes.
1/4 dry white wine
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt I always use Kosher
5 basil leaves
3 bay leaves
Add the wine to the vegetables and stir until evaporated on high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for a good hour. You can puree the sauce for a smoother consistency. Various herbs can be added. This is a very basic recipe and can be personalized with oregano, marjoram, hot pepper flakes...as you like it!
I serve this sauce over brown rice pasta as I do not eat wheat but any pasta will do.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I never like the term starving artist. When I was in art school 20 plus years ago, I was poor...but I was never starving. None of us were starving. We took care of one another. Sundays were the best. All the art students living in cheap apartments in Olde Town East and Franklinton gathered, usually at Randy's place just across the alley from my apartment, for Last Chance Pancakes. Everyone brought an ingredient... flour, nuts, berries, bananas, maple syrup, butter, eggs, whatever we had, whatever we could afford. Randy would mix it all up and we shared the pancakes, ideas, opinions and fellowship.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Amanda is one of my favorite people. We share many of the same ideas regarding environmentalism and sustainabilty. She is the founder of The Tuscarawas County Sustainability Network.
We met at a local rally to protest BIG COAL a few years ago. Seems our local leaders didn't see things our way and are now locked into a 50 year contract with a company that doesn't care about poisoning the water or the air. This fight isn't over and Amanda and I are very passionate about it.
Amanda sells books and zines and also has a lending library. You can borrow a book for $5 and when you bring the book back she gives you your money back.
Amanda went to school in Montreal. She earned a degree in International Studies.She speaks fluent French and is now attending massage therapy school.
Amanda organized an art show called Art Pals. School children from one of our local districts made art and then sent it to countries like Senegal and Japan where the children there responded with their own art. All this art eventually ended up back in the states and was hung as a show at the local art center. I learned a lot from this project. And sadly, American children are quite shallow and superficial.
Amanda chooses her bike more than her car. She also helps people in need. I am proud to be her friend.
Ruth is our only certified organic grower at the market. She owns a local greenhouse and grows herbs and produce. I appreciate the heirloom varieties she brings to the market. She often brings tea for customers to sample. This week she brought chocolate mint tea sweetened with Stevia. I can't say I have ever had a finer iced tea in all my life.
I invited Chef Cameron Krahel of The Inn at Honey Run to be a guest at the farmers market. We scheduled a meeting to discuss ideas. He invited me to his home just outside of the neighboring town. I made my way down a long gravel driveway and quickly noticed a large garden and chicken coop. When I knocked on the door of the red-metal roofed house a delightful Dalmatian appeared. It seemed Cameron was not yet home so I waited.
Cameron arrived a few minutes later. He let Gracie, the Dalmatian out and then we walked to the chicken coop where he opened the door for an assortment of outgoing heritage breeds. He showed me his garden and we strolled about the property while he gave me some history. Gracie insisted I throw the tennis ball over and over and over again and I was happy to comply.
At one time a previous owner was so paranoid his neighbors were going to cut down his trees, he cut them down himself and buried them. Cameron is still dealing with this as he digs in preparation of an orchard.
Cameron's home is new but has much character. The kitchen, as you might imagine, is the heart of the home and looks like Mario Batali's set kitchen.
Cameron agreed to come to the market every other week to do cooking demonstrations using products provided by the market vendors.
Week one was a huge success. Cameron prepared a delicious cheese soup, a vegetable fritata and a zucchini pasta with tomatoes. Samples were given away for free and most took a recipe print-out home.
In addition to his culinary skills, Cameron has also been know to win small town versions of American Idol type contests. Who knew?
Thursday, July 9, 2009
My house is over run with toys, toys of every variety, toys that I must admit, I bought. How did it come to this? I trip over them. I step over them. I kick them. I sit on them. I sleep with them. I even play with them. Simply put, Francesca has too many toys.
Don't get me wrong. Play is good and she does play...constantly. Legos, dolls, castles, fairies, barbies, stuffed animals, cars, guitars, hats, boas, houses, trucks, costumes, puzzles, wizards, James Brown rubber ducky, drums, kitchens, play doh, buses, scooters, games, nesting boxes, James Brown dancing doll, mega blocks, keyboards, xylophone, James Dean with a cigarette doll, Frank Sinatra with a fedora doll, Dr. Doolittle doll from the seventies, markers, crayons, paper, paper, paper, paper, magnetic paper dolls, paper paper dolls, and Gib.
Gib is Francesca's favorite bear. He goes everywhere with us.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
My friend Tricia makes soap. You can buy her products at the market. Most of her soaps are vegetable based with added herbs and essential oils. They make your bathroom smell delicious. Tricia also makes cotton candy and does body piercing.
Mom nearly sold out of her hand drawn gourds at the market this week. It is nice to know people want to have beautiful things.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Poor spelling bothers me, especially with resources like dictionaries and spell check at our disposal.I find most people spell poorly. When we write we leave something behind, something that can be viewed again and again. If part of that is misspelled I feel like one would if they went outside without their pants on, exposed, perhaps vulnerable. Maybe it is laziness. I still manage to put my pants on.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Francesca doesn't like Tae Kwon Do. She doesn't hate it. Once she gets there she has a great time. When she asked to sign up Clint and I decided she could do it if she committed to two years. That WAS asking a lot of a four year old but we thought it would be good for her. Her two year commitment will be up in September. Today she had a belt test. She earned her brown belt.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
It gave him an opportunity to see the world beyond his own backyard, which was in itself, pretty interesting.
He used to say he left as a boy and came back a man and I believed him.
Today I remember my dad. I think I would have liked him even before he was my dad.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The rules of the market do not allow for the selling of live animals but it is the perfect venue to introduce prospective owners to these wonderful dogs.
Suki was fortunate. He found on a home after spending the day at the market.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I have been trying to come up with ideas that will keep the kids coming back.
The Skiffle Band Workshop is next week and the Bookmobile is coming. Can't say I have ever experienced the Bookmobile. It seems odd to me there are people with no books in their homes. I suppose a mobile library is pretty good.
All kids like face painting or body painting as it were. Girls pick butterflies and kitties. Boys pick skulls and sports.
I remember getting a strawberry painted on my face when I was six at The Strawberry Festival in Bolivar. I thought the artist was the coolest person in the whole world.
They brought tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, green beans, peas, lettuce, bread and maple syrup, all produced on their family farm.
As they don't want photographs of themselves taken , I asked if I could photograph their products. They kindly agreed and seemed delighted I was impressed with their food.
Mrs. Weaver and I discussed lettuce and its ability to bolt overnight. She was generous in sharing her knowledge of growing, harvesting and preparing meals. She explained her family ate seasonally and was just about tired of strawberry pie and strawberry jam.
Friday, June 12, 2009
As Father's Day approaches I have been thinking about my dad a lot. I have noticed I am more like him than I ever thought I could be. I use all the dumb one-liners he used. I would rather entertain then be entertained. I become obsessed with my passions. I try to be my daughter's best teacher.
The last father's day gift I bought him was a radio controlled boat so he could play with Francesca without having to physically exert himself. He died two months later and never got the chance.
I am still learning to live without him.
It wasn't always so bad, in fact, sometimes it was downright enjoyable.
I worked in nice places and hole-in-the-wall places and usually made decent money that went into my pocket and not the corrupt governments. I evaded taxes like crazy because, well, I could. I feel no shame about that either.
I was performing a customer service. I listened to peoples joys and sorrows and pretended to care. There were times when I did care. I saved marriages and ruined even more. I cleaned up vomit and feces and urine and some other substances I still have not identified. I was forced to listen to music I hated at volumes that are incomprehensible. I called cabs or dropped off drunks at three in the morning just so the customer wouldn't get their fifth DUI. I mostly listened and for most people that is all they needed beyond the drink or the beer.
I learned to cook mostly from watching my parents and grandparents but this book played a big roll in gaining my independence in the kitchen. It is a Betty Crocker cookbook for kids that my mom bought me when I was about five. I had graduated from the Easy Bake Oven and was ready to move on to the real kitchen. The recipes in this book are things I would never consider eating now but at the time it taught me about proper measuring and oven temperature even if it meant making canned pears look like mice. I was especially fond of the sugar cookie recipe and the pancakes shaped like circus animals. Today I refuse to make any recipe that calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup but back then I followed the instructions to the letter.