Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday Soups

In my previous Saturday Soup, I lamented over our wimpy carrot harvest. In contrast, our plum tomato (Roma variety) was wildly successful. I planted 6 plants in an old perennial border and let them be. Wow. Apparently, neglect and 8 hours of full sun daily was all these plants needed.

What better way to savor these mighty plum tomatoes than through a soup....a roasted tomato soup to be exact.

Roasted Tomato Soup

3 lbs plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/4 + 2 TB olive oil
1 TB sea salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced (use less if desired)
4 TB butter
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 can whole plum tomatoes with their juice (28 oz)
1 c. chopped fresh basil
1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme)
32 oz chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and toss with your hands. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer, cut side up, on the same baking sheet and roast for 45-55 minutes.

In an 8 quart stockpot over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, and crushed red pepper in the olive oil and butter for 10 minutes or until the mixture starts to brown.

Add the canned tomatoes and juice, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add the oven roasted tomatoes, including the liquid from the baking sheet (scrape the sheet as well to get the carmelized juices...this will intensify the roasted taste).

Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for 50 minutes. Pass through a food mill with a coarse blade. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy with good friends and a crusty baguette!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Trend is our Friend (until it isn't) Friday

Just the word "trend" can sometimes irritate me because it sounds so fleeting and fragile and throw-away and something that I am always finding out about when it is over.

So instead of doing this series about just colors and specifics although I will throw them in, too, we will also look at the big picture things that kind of envelope the smaller stuff that comes and goes more quickly.

Big Picture Trend 2011 - Cooltural - cool, cultural
(coined by David Report)

As things get more and more impersonal and homogenized - what people are craving are things that are more and more personal and more connected to their surroundings and their history.

(Do we really want to visit a new city and have our morning coffee in a Starbucks - the same coffee we can get in any other city? Or do we seek out the local barista who may just be a guy named Sam in a dirty apron who has never even heard the word barista, but who just feels more real and local and connected to this new experience.)

This trend is very real and going to be around for a long time because consumers (I hate that word unless we are talking about groceries, but it is kind of appropriate here) want to experience the real thing and not just buy things mindlessly anymore, at least according to forecasters and I really think they are right with this one.

This is great news for us as smaller makers best able to incorporate our local culture and personal history into our work!

Small Picture Trends 2011 - Snakes and Butterflies (and I am thinking our favorite of these two trends tells alot about us, so I am including a poll on the left!)

Butterflies - think movement and color and wings and ruffles
Snakes - think scales and geometrics and texture and snakey colors

(and yes, you can totally use the word snakey in your next game of scrabble, just offer up this post and not an actual dictionary as proof of its wordiness)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Paging through our sketchbooks

This series is going to run every other Thursday alternating with "Tea Time". We thought it would be interesting to see what "works in progess" members have, and what ideas and or trends they are thinking about working with. We thought we would start things off with a quick look at what's new with us to give people an idea of things to come. We are really looking forward to seeing pages from other artist's sketchbooks.

For the winter/holiday season Jan and I are looking at Nordic and Scandinavian folk designs and sketching from vintage linens. We've been trying to keep things clean and modern working with crisp red and white combinations.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Favorite Tool/Creative Process

What do I mean by that? We all know there are certain parts we look forward to doing as we work our art/craft, and there (sometimes) are parts that are more of a “I want to get done with this so I can get to the good part” moments: the proverbial “middle stuff” of our work. It could be the use of a certain tool or it could be a time when you are feeling the flow of your creative juices most. Whatever it is – we want to know about it!

This blog theme will run every other Tuesday and I decided to start with my "favorite" to clarify what I mean. I even let my husband take a photo of me – but just what I directed. NOBODY takes photos of me but me! And I use a heavy hand in photo shop ;)

Although I love the manipulating of photographs, colors, overlays in photo shop, my favorite tool AND creative process is the actual taking of the photo. Of course, I adore my camera – a Canon 50D – which rocks in so many ways, especially in that it cleans its own sensor. The best part, though, is when I hold the camera up to my eye and see what I want to shoot.

And no, it’s not what others may see. It’s what I see in my imagination through that lens. Someone asked me once where I get my ideas for photographs when I look at ordinary, every day things. My answer is that I don’t see the ordinary - ever.

It may be due to a childhood of too many daydreaming sessions, or a belief in faeries, but this world is filled with wonder. It’s there for people to see if they just look.

Below is a photo my husband took of me shooting the line of crosses in an old cemetery this past Sunday. 

 and the end result:

 Never Alone

Finally, a photograph I took a few minutes later. I was excited about the fog and had to be told by my husband to NOT park in the middle of the road and to "please, for the love of  GOD put the car in gear first!" as I tried to leap out of the car in my eagerness. I bring him because he’s practical and I kind of have a one-track mind. This photograph  is a perfect example of what I see when others see just a foggy road. My daughter said “It looks like a path to the after life.” And that's the thing - my photos can be anything you want them to be - as long as you use your imagination..

The Silent Path

Monday, October 25, 2010

Creative Inspiration: Halloween

I agonized over what inspiration I would write about this week... birds, owls, linen, ocean. Nothing inspired pun intended. Then I looked around our home. Aha! Halloween. The perfect inspiration for this time of year.

The origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celts. They believed (and many cultures do still) that the veil between the living and the spirit world becomes very thin this time of year....making the trip back home easier for the dearly departed. Homes invited those spirits in for the evening while scaring away unwanted spirits with masks and costumes. Originally, jack-o-lanterns were carved turnips left in windows to scare away troublesome ghosts as well.

In my home, I create altars for my grandparents so they can find their way back. A photograph of the wanted spirit, a candle to light the way, a favorite flower, a plate of food, and glass of a favorite libation, all left at a north facing window. Do they come? I'd like to think they do.

Our present day Halloween has morphed into a parade of costumed kids and buckets of candy. Still, there is the mystery of the night, the darkened afternoons, ghost stories, haunted houses, candle-lit pumpkins, and the unexplained bump in the night.

Have a spooky Halloween!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday Soups

I grew carrots for the first time this year. The results were mixed. Some were very tiny; others full sized. Was the soil too rich and not sandy enough? Did I not thin the tiny seedlings enough as instructed or did I plant too late in the spring?

I love the taste of a carrot just pulled from the garden and rinsed off with the garden hose. That earthy sweetness can not be found in carrots stuffed in plastic bags from far off fields.

I dreamed about making this soup all summer with our own carrots. I had hoped that my carrot harvest would produce enough for this soup...sadly, it did not. So, I purchased carrots at a local farmers market. Next year though, I'm determined to grow a bumper crop of carrots for many, many soups.

Carrot Dill Soup

4 TB butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 lbs. carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs with leaves, diced
8 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
cayenne pepper, pinch or to taste
2 TB dill, chopped
sour cream
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
dill sprigs for garnish

Melt the butter in a stock pot, add the onion, and cook over low heat until the onion softens, about 10 minutes.

Add to the onion: the carrots, 1/4 cup of dill, celery, stock, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover. Cook over low heat for 50 minutes or until carrots are soft. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor and return to the pot. Add the remaining chopped dill. Adjust the seasonings and heat thoroughly.

Serve in bowls. Garnish with a bit of sour cream, red bell pepper, and a dill sprig.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tea Time

For our first installment of tea time we bring you a simple maple cinnamon scone
Here is the recipe:
2 cups white flour
3/4 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Tbsp butter-cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup maple syrup

1 Tbsp half and half
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp powdered sugar

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients
blend in butter with pastry blender/fork/or fingers until it resembles a coarse meal

In a separate bowl whisk together the half and half, maple syrup, and egg

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just blended

Pat out on to a board into a circle approximately 1 inch thick

Cut into 8 triangles and place on ungreased cookie sheet

Cook at 400 degreees for 14 to 16 minutes

Whisk together glaze ingredients

Drizzle over scones while still warm


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Postcards From Home #15-Madder Root

Hey Everyone, we are back this week with Postcards! Thanks to Jan and Christina from Madder Root. They live and work in Old Town, Maine. Thanks so much to them for sharing a view of their world with us!

Christina is screen printing with Mr. Squidge (he's the one with the bow tie).

Janyce is sewing a sage acorn tea towel.

This whole area is a nature preserve, so the deer run rampant. This little one is taking a munch break in Christina's yard.

Old Town, a city made up of several small islands, is located on the beautiful Penobscot River.

The original Old Town Canoe building located near downtown. They've made canoes and kayaks in Old Town for over 100 years.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saturday Soups

Several years back on a bitterly cold December Saturday, we moved into our home. With a six month old baby, two stressed-out dogs, an overpacked U-haul, and inherited grime in the kitchen and bathrooms, cooking was the last thing on my mind that weekend.

My dear grandmother arrived that morning to tend to our daughter while we cleaned, hauled, moved, and unpacked. Gram did not come empty handed. She supplied us with food for the weekend... fresh baked rolls, brownies, pickled beets, and several jars of her sausage and kale soup. The home cooked goodies, especially the soup, was a comfort that weekend as we tackled new ownership of an old and unexpectedly drafty house.

It's now a staple in our fall/winter menu. Perhaps we both love this soup as a remembrance of my grandmother's kind gift of comfort on that cold December Saturday. Years later, our home is no longer drafty and thankfully grime-free, but this soup still warms our souls as it did on moving day.

Sausage and Kale Soup

1 lb. bulk pork sausage (regular, sweet Italian, or hot Italian)
2 medium onions, chopped
2 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 cans (14.4 oz each) chicken broth
2 cups water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1/2 lb. fresh kale, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 or 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Over medium heat, cook the sausage and onion in the olive oil, stirring as needed. Cook until the sausage is brown about 5 minutes. Drain the oil if needed. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add broth, water, bouillon, and kale to the sausage mixture. Bring to and boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, covered. Add the potatoes and cook another 15 minutes (or when the potatoes are fork tender). Add the beans and cook 5 minutes. Enjoy!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Creative Inspiration: The Night Sky and Stars

"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day" ~ Vincent Van Gogh

The dark night skies have been brilliant in these parts. I benefit from living far away from the glow of city lights that can impede proper star gazing. Sometimes a simple evening stroll with the dog can turn into an hour long astral observation. Orion's Belt, Pleiades, and a bright Jupiter are among my favorite celestial bodies in this sea of inky blue blackness. I often search for a faint bead of light, so faint that I lose it from time to time, moving quickly across the sky. These are man-made stars... satellites...zipping around our planet.

shirt by Blackbird Tee
garland by Maisy and Alice
pendant by Lulu Bug Jewelry
print by Cathy Nichols

Without question, stars and the night sky have inspired artists, poets, composers, and the like for centuries. A vast boundless frontier full of mystery and wonder, the evening sky constantly transforms and never bores the observer.

The next chance you get, meander outside on a fine October evening, pull up a chair, and tilt your head back. Be prepared to be dazzled, humbled, and perhaps even inspired.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Yay! It's out! The lovely Michele Maule did the cover art and I was fortunate enough to contribute an embroidery project to this awesome book! Check it out if you get a chance:)


Cindy (Mary's Granddaughter)