Friday, April 30, 2010

Cooking with Ina Garten

Tonight I made one of Ina Garten's recipes... with a few changes of course.  I made Zucchini Gratin, only I'm pretty "free form" about following a recipe like this one.  Ina's recipes are always amazing, but sometimes I don't have her ingredients on hand (like gruyere cheese) and I just like playing around with things.

These are the ingredients:  Full recipe with all the instructions 
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for topping
  • 1 pound yellow onions, cut in 1/2 and sliced (3 large)
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (4 zucchini)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Gruyere

    I used 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash and a red onion rather than yellow ones, all sliced up super fine on the mandolin.  I used a pint of whipping cream instead of the milk and put in a block of Monterey Jack and one of Extra Sharp White Cheddar and topped it with Panco instead of bread crumbs.  Then I remembered that I had some nice crispy bacon in the fridge, so I threw that in.  Mercy... it came out of the oven all hot and bubbly... I knew it was going to be good.  Actually, it ran over in the oven and so the kitchen and family room at my house had a bit of a smokey haze for a while but everything that was still in the baking dish was fine.  And I'm going to replace this range, so I'm not even going to bother to clean the burnt stuff on the bottom of my oven.

    My neighbor brings me trout, fresh from the stream in West Virginia.  He is quite a fisherman and neither he nor his wife will cook them so he brings them to me.  Six this time, I haven't even finished all of the last 12 he brought, eight of them are dressed and in my freezer.  Tonight I cooked two of them "Trout in Cartoccio" style sort of like this recipe but without the additional veggies.  It's pretty simple, the fish bakes inside a parchment bag with some fresh lemon, a spring onion, thyme, salt and pepper, white wine and olive oil.  I used foil instead, so there wasn't quite the "OOOh AAAAh" kind of presentation that the parchment is... but when poaching/steaming/baking two whole fish with the bones in... well... it's going to need a little attention before serving anyway.  And who do I need to impress?  (nobody.)   

    When the fish comes out, lift the top skin and gently lift off the top meat.  Then lift out the entire rib cage, believe it or not most of the pin bones will lift right out with the ribs.  Then just lift the rest of the meat from the skin and top it off with some pan juices.  This takes only a few minutes and can be done quickly while the fish is still hot.  I've done it before the creature was cooked and it takes FOREVER to get the critter out of it's skeleton, believe me!  Especially getting those pin bones out!  And it takes a fraction of the time doing it this way. 

    I made green beans almondine and baked a few biscuits and hubs stirred together an impromptu version of tarter sauce.  He used good mayo, pickles chopped fine and some garlic and a little Worcestershire.  It was quite good.

    We were both too stuffed to even consider dessert.  And I'm not hungry anymore.  I suspect that was the point.  (Though perhaps overdoing it like I did wasn't exactly the point.)

     I've made some small quilts today, photos coming.  And I also got word back from the Doc that I am no longer anemic, so that's really good news.  I need to try to take it easy but I'm not doing a very good job at that.  There is much to be done before I take my work to the gallery on Monday for my one woman show May/June.  Time is tick-tocking right on by, but that's OK.  I've got enough glass and dyed scarves for the exhibit, and I'll be finishing up the rest of the textiles this weekend.  I have a ton of details to finish up... it will all come together.  Somehow it always does.

    Happy Creating
    (and happy cookin!)
    -Carmen Rose

Randy Shenk, Liturgical Artist

I wanted to show another piece from Randy's exhibit Sunday.  This one is a fountain and it is very cool.

The sign to the side reads: "Handwashing. At this station enjoy the ancient ritual of hand washing (cleansing) as you feel the cold water and hear the sound of running water. Or... experience serving by asking a friend if you can wash their hands." This sculpture is located near the door of the sanctuary and people stop there on the way in. A few nice white fluffy towels are provided.

The fountain itself is a pair of hands with the water coming from them and through the fingers to the chunks of marble in the bowl.

I love the way this is such a multi sensory piece. It's a sculpture of metal, but there is the water element that makes it even more tactile, then of course the sound of running water. I works beautifully as liturgical art, designed to enhance the worship experience. I just think it's VERY cool!

I find myself struck on many levels by this kind of work and I'll keep sharing different pieces with you as I get the chance. I'm a fan!

Happy Creating!
-Carmen Rose

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Quilt Inspired by a Vase

This quilt top that I made the other day... (colors not true)
Today I quilted it and combined it with one of these dimensional frames.... (These have glass and the artwork is raised about a half inch off of the surface and there is a spacer so that the quilt is still not touching the glass.)
This resulted in this piece:
And here it is with the vase that inspired the color choice... a vase that I glazed sometime last year. I LIKE them together! These will be fun to use in my exhibit on Monday.

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Randy Shenk, Liturgical Artist

I went to an art opening Sunday afternoon in Harrisonburg.  Randy Shenk, my brother, has long worked with a group from his church at a worship service they call "Misso Dei" which they call "an ancient future worship service."  Basically anything from the traditions of the Christian church is fair game, from incense to a live band... it makes a very multi dimensional worship service.  He creates an artwork nearly each week that goes with the theme of Pastor's message.  One piece that has been central over time has been this large chunk of wood in a Celtic cross.  From week to week the carving may progress, or it may not... I wish I could show the detail but the lighting in that place wasn't great for taking photos.  I'll share some other photos from that exhibit along the way here, and maybe some of the things he writes about his work.  Randy is a gifted artist and it was so fun to see how people interacted with his work (and with him) at the opening.  I look forward to bragging on him more in the future! 

Framing more Mini Quilts

I've been looking around for projects to finish up to make my "one woman show" coming up next month. (Next MONDAY to be precise! EEK!) I discovered these four small quilt tops, fused but not quilted.

Misde wanted to help me photograph these, wasn't that nice of her?
I found these frames at TJ Maxx ages ago and when I realized what could happen when a mini quilt was glued on over the artwork... I bought all they had.
So when you put these ready made frames together with these mini quilts...
Then the artist tends to get happy.  Check out how dimensional they are:
Yeah, I like that!
(I should have tweaked the color, they look a bit washed out in these two photos.)

I was back at UVA today for a post op check up.  I'm doing pretty good, still not 100%, Doc tells me maybe another two weeks before I can expect to get my strength back.  They took blood to see how I'm doing with the anemia.  I'm trying to be patient... but putting recovery and prep for a featured artist exhibit together on the same schedule... well... it's not exactly working for the show or the recovery.  Here I am again, pulled in a variety of directions.  I am beginning to think it's the story of my life!  Do you ever just want to stomp your little foot and tell the world to just stop spinning for a dad-blamed second?!  Yeah, I do.

On the way back from my doctor's appt, I stopped by Waynesboro for a little shopping.  I was doing it mostly for the exercise, and because I'm always so happy to get out of the house these days that I have trouble going home before I've had a little adventure, somehow, some way.  Today I happened in the door of Ross, (like TJ Maxx) and I always check the cheesy reproduction "art" section for frames for quilts...  


More of these dimensional frames!  I'm so tickled!  I snapped up all they had!  (Only four)  I may have to take a day and just drive to all the TJ's and Ross's in reasonable distance just to see if I can find more of these!  (Put down those car keys, step away from the car!)

Time to get back in the studio again, time's a tick tockin right on by.

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cooking with Ina Garten

I was hungry today for curried chicken salad and I looked up Ina Garten's recipe and tried it again. The recipe can be found here and it's very simple (and VERY good!)
 Roast the chicken with salt and pepper.  That's easy, I roasted it at 350 and left it in until my meat thermometer comes out at 150 degrees.  I saw that Emeril Lagasse cooks chicken until 140 and most places say 165 (just a liability issue) but Emeril said he liked his chicken moist.  I can't stand underdone chicken but 150 was perfect for this and the meat really did retain it's moisture.  No more over-cooked chicken for me! 

Then let it cool and chunk it up.  It crumbles some as it gets stirred up so there is no point in going overboard on this step. 

Then ya throw in the good stuff:  Mayo, Major Grey Chutney, curry powder, and celery for crunch.  Oh, and don't forget the salt and freshly ground black pepper.  I had red wine but no white wine, so instead I just included the rest of the broth from the pan I baked the chicken in.  A good vinegar would work here also.  Ina puts this all in the food processor and makes it all smooth before adding it to the chicken.  And that is ideal.... however...  Life is short, and I just threw it all right in and gave it a gedge.  (That's a Rachel Ray term for stirring, can you tell I had Food Network on in the house yesterday?) 

Ina Garten's recipe called for scallion, raisins and cashews... I garnish it with grapes (instead of raisins) and spring onions (close enough.)  I sprinkle those on top mostly because they look lovely, but also because these ingredients don't hold up so well if there is some left for the next day so I prefer to have them separate.  I ate all the cashews in the house, so sadly I could not pile those on top yet.  They really are wonderful in this recipe.  If you want to know how much of something to throw in, consult Ina Garten's recipe.  I tend to dump till it looks right and then make adjustments as needed.  Which reminds me, I should add curry powder and cashews to the grocery list.

This would make a lovely main dish for a picnic, then add veggies, crisps and other fun picnic foods.  This time I just served it as a one dish wonder.  (With iced tea made from garden mint and lily of the valley from the poison ivy patch on the table.)  The only comment from the peanut gallery was that it "needs bread or something."  (G, think he's spoiled?!)  It would be good in a wrap or as a chicken salad sandwich, no doubt about that.  I love the combination of the sweet Major Grey Chutney against the curry flavors... YUM!  And yeah, I meant to make fresh biscuits to go with it and just didn't get it done.  But I have leftovers, so there is still time for that.

Best Dishes, (with a nod to Paula Dean)
-Carmen Rose

Framing a Mini Quilt

I had a hair brained idea the other day, why not put this ready made frame together with this small quilt:

And when I tried it, I LIKED it!

Now this is one of my new favorites. Now whether or not I'll ever let it leave my house, I do not know. Right now I think I'd just like to enjoy it myself for a while.

I love the dimensional quality of this frame, I came across it by accident and bought all I could get my hands on.  I love the look of a small framed quilt.  So... I think it works. 

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trying to Find my Groove...

I had begun to wonder if my creativity had gone on vacation without me... I was really struggling to get back in the studio.  I wanted to sit on the sofa, or perhaps clean out my fridge, do the laundry and make my kitchen sparkle... but I was having a dickens of a time doing *anything* at all in the studio.  However, getting back into the swing of things is not optional as I have a one woman show that I need to go hang on Monday the 3rd.  Time is ticking away.  Thankfully I was able to look through some of what I have created in the last year and see some things that I wouldn't mind sharing with the public, so that took some of the pressure off.  I still have time to churn out a few things... so I'm hopeful that I can pull this one out of the hat.  We'll see.

Saturday, in between all the housework, I forced myself to spend some time in the studio. It was an exercise in futility as I created this piece.
Only one little problem: I hated it.

I came back to the studio this afternoon looking for redemption I suppose... and ripped apart that thing and created this pair instead:
Much better. They are not quilted yet, but I'll get there.

I saw these at the store and picked them up:

The part where the cheesy photographs are is raised, and I think it will give the quilts a bit of a dimension and yet they are still are covered with glass.  I shall take them apart and place my quilts in there instead of the photographs and put them all back together.  I think it will work, we shall see.  It's always an experiment around here.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes not so much.

Physically I am still struggling to get my strength back.  For the past two days I've been back on some pain meds because I've overdone it a bit.  It just seems that the ol bod is not ready for me to get back to work, and yet my one woman show is there on the calendar... and I feel the demands of putting together a good show.  Soo... I work some and rest some.

It felt good to create something after at least a month out of the studio.  My surgery was the 31st of April and I wasn't putting out much of anything for quite a while before that.  With my choice to end the adoption process and then surgery and everything else, I sat down the other day and wondered why I felt so tired and then had to laugh at the very question!  Why am I tired?  G, I wonder!  Once my show is up maybe I can give myself a few vacation days where I'll do nothing but read a book cover to cover.  Or get an appointment with my massage therapist or something, that sure sounds nice!

My grandmother was known for mispronouncing some words.  When my aunt was recovering from back surgery, she was back to work fairly quickly and Nannie often said that if she didn't take it easy that she would become an "envelope."  The word she intended was "invalid" but she always pronounced it "envelope."  No worries, I shall push myself here and there, but certainly not to the point that I become an "envelope!"  Though if you want to wrap me up, stamp me and ship me to Costa Rica... be my guest! 

Just trying to find my groove,
-Carmen Rose

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Traveling Jones Theater

And finally, Rachel and Scott of The Traveling Jones Theater: "Anita Reedmore's Rock & Roll Book Report."
Rachel called and wanted to know if I could come right over and snap some publicity photos for the show that she and Scott are working on.  I said "sure!" and made my way up the Massanutten.  It was a fast paced and fun time of working with these two creative people.  Then I sat by the lake and soaked in the beauty of that place since I had some time to kill before a grueling board meeting this evening.

Fun day! And now I'm weary! Rest time, kiddos!

Pleasant Dreams,
-Carmen Rose

Rachel Q

Here are a few more photos from today's photo shoot, this time with Rachel Quagliariello, one of the actors in "Anita Reedmore's Rock & Roll Book Report." 
Isn't she a RIOT?!  (O yeah! And I love her!)  These are some of the quick change costumes for "The Traveling Jones Theater." 

Happy Silliness,
Carmen Rose

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Scott Craig Jones

A spontaneous photo shoot today yielded these photos of Scott Craig Jones of The Traveling Jones Theater.
These are costumes from "Anita Reedmore's Rock & Roll Book Report"

Here's to a little spontaneous frivolity,
-Carmen Rose

Roses & Dreams

I'm back to work in the mornings, I manage property for a gentlemen who owns a bunch of property here in town. I was hungry this morning when I came home, so I ran by Food Lion to pick up a few things. I picked up some eggs and veggies for quiche and a chicken for the slow cooker... and I walked by the flower case as I often do. I usually stop and enjoy the flowers for a bit then keep on moving. This time the pink roses seemed to have my name on them... (Carmen Rose... ha ha ha!) so they came home with me.
I tried them in my white pitcher but they were too tall and straggly looking so I cut them a little shorter and tried out this small pitcher. My grandmother used to do some ceramics, the kind where you buy the ware, glaze it then take it back to be fired. The little pitcher is one she glazed, white with little blue speckles. It seemed fitting somehow to remember Nannie and enjoy my roses.
I'm really struggling to get anything done right now. I picked out a few fabrics inspired by this vase and fused them to the wonder-under... but there it sits. My recovery seemed so rapid at first. Now I'm struggling with the lack of energy and even some unexpected pain. I suppose I should take it a little more easy but I have a one person show coming up at the end of the month (Yes, only TEN DAYS!  EEEEK!) and I really need to be in production for that. I feel the *need* to get back to work... but struggling to find the motivation and energy.

I did manage to pop the chicken into the slow cooker and make three quiches today though. I haven't felt like eating or cooking and I'm getting tired of cooking for one. So, now I can pop a slice of ultra healthy tofu, bacon and veggie quiche in the oven in the morning and have an excellent breakfast with no fuss. Yeah, tofu and bacon... healthy and unhealthy... that's just crazy, but really, it works. I also put in spinach, red peppers, mushrooms, fresh pineapple and extra sharp cheddar cheese. I forgot to put in the onions and the salt and pepper. Oh well.

I am giving some thought to what is next for me. Now that I have chosen to be child-free instead of becoming an adoptive mom, I can be more career focused again. I felt like my life was on hold for those two years that we gave to the process. I'm giving some thought to getting a job or opening a gallery, or or or... I'm spending some time just holding the question "what do I want?" It's a bit like considering what I'd want said of me at my funeral, what kind of mark would I like to leave? What do I want to be known for? I can chose, life is not lived entirely accidentally.

There is an element of "how am I going to make a living?" in my dreaming at this point as well. My friend says that when someone asks him what he does for a living, he wants to be able to respond that he doesn't work, he plays. I've had seasons of my life where my work brought me so much satisfaction that I didn't consider it work at all. I'd like to find that zone once more. So I'm taking some time for consideration, healing, and dreaming. And perhaps some of the answers I seek will present themselves. It's difficult to be at rest in this uncertainty when I get impatient, but I will walk in the light I'm given. And time will tell.

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Different Perspective

It's not uncommon to find one of my border collies patiently sitting in the yard staring up into a tree. Now... they are stalking a squirrel when they do that, but if you didn't realize that it would be easy to conclude that they (Misde especially) enjoying looking up through the petals of the dogwoods.
Here's Misde in hot pursuit of a squirrel who is running from tree to tree above her.
I decided that Misde really had the right idea, enjoying a dogwood from a distance is one thing....
But watching the dogwood petals light up in the spring sunshine...
I love how graceful the branches are.
The textures of flowers that are close and those that are more distant.
I love this time of year, even if my cars and deck furniture are all covered in fine yellow powder, and I'm doubling up on my allergy meds.
It was beautiful today, sunny and just a tad cold. I visited Mary Baldwin and then sat outside on a bench enjoying the view for a while, completely raptured by the view and beauty of that place.
I passed the park on the way home and decided to spend some time with the ducks and fish. They've put up a sign, apparently one is no longer allowed to bring a stale loaf of bread and feed the ducks. That's really sad. Maybe stale bread isn't good for ducks, but I sure enjoyed giving it to them.

I really am enjoying spring with these beautiful dogwoods!  I learned something from Misde.  Look up!  Appreciate something from a different perspective today!

Happy Creating,
-Carmen Rose
Related Posts with Thumbnails