Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Walnut and Spinach Quesadillas (as tweaked by moi)

Having a teenager who suddenly decides he wants to be a vegetarian is a challenge I hadn't anticipated. I confess: I feel a little betrayed that my home cooking isn't cutting it, but I know it has nothing really to do with me. Trying to develop Vegetarian dishes that wow - we tried out tofu the other night: marinated it with a host of savory flavors and then tried it seared and added to stir fry, and then we rolled some in panko to see how it differed. Apparently marinating makes the tofu much more tender and melt-in-your-mouth.Our most recent foray into Vegetarian cooking was Walnut-Spinach Quesadillas. I found the recipe online but it called for making a Walnut-Black Olive Butter, which frankly, didn't blow my skirt up, so we improvised.

The Walnut and Spinach Quesadillas were a lot better tasting than I thought they would be (Resident doubter here, reporting for duty), and the Professor was right there, doing his part in making them.

We started with:
a heated cast iron skillet with some lovely extra virgin olive oil added to it,
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
half an onion, chopped semi-fine
6-8 baby bella mushrooms (was about a cup and a half)
1 and a quarter cups walnuts, chopped roughly (tip of your pinkie size)
salt and pepper
parsely flakes

We sauteeed this until it was tender, adding a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar(for meatiness)
and a quarter cup of water near the end, to help the walnuts soften - the water was fully absorbed before we took it off the heat. This concoction went into a bowl to cool while we cleaned up the skillet and got it ready again (more lovely olive oil)

On a cutting board we assembled the quesadillas, using:
1 flour tortilla
handful of shredded mozzarella (I think gorgonzola would be killer in this as well, btw)
serving spoonful of walnut/mushroom stuff
handful of fresh spinach leaves (take the big stems off when you wash this)

Grill in skillet until brown and crispy on both sides, remove and cut in half.

We served this with fresh sliced local tomatoes and it was delicious!
As a non-Vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised by how meaty and satisfying this dish was.
Thumbs up!!!

Sadly, no picture this time: we ate them too fast!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hurry Up And Wait

Okay, so no photos in here yet, as part of the cataloging process, but I have gone through my fairly sizable collection of paintings to see what I already have, and what is (in my opinion) suitable for showing to the public. Example: Brown-skinned woman in the Temple of Bast painting who still has no nipples - not suitable. Cher with a snake in her hair - suitable. Tree series - suitable. Unfinished and very boring painting of the seaside - unsuitable. First of the Water's Edge series - suitable, I think. And so it goes.

I'm halfway through another of the tree series, which frankly, will make up the bulk of this show (which i'm still waiting to hear back about, but chins up (sigh! that could apply to just me - ugh!) it's going to work out - I have faith) and pondering the possible ways to fill an immense brick wall in a trendy restaurant/bar. Too many small paintings could get lost, but I really don't want to do an entire series of huge paintings, just to fill that wall. The tree series has been a lot of fun - every one is different, even though it's more of a formula than I've used in the past. I think I like working in series - it gives me more comparison/contrast to look at and learn from. The next series will be The Water's Edge, and will be more dreamlike. The title comes from lyrics in Peter Gabriel's song "Red Rain" and has to do with dreams, portents, and a ghost that I am searching for still. I'm still formulating this series; not sure if they might not include mixed media to achieve what I'm looking for.

A Moment's Venting:
On top of these lovely distractions comes the news that my dad has cancer. He's been taking his sweet ambivalent time to tell the rest of the family, which is pretty true to form for him, and I feel sure he's still in the (internally) freaking out stage (pretty sure I would be too). The good news is that the cancer is encapsulated, contained in one area, and the doctors are optimistic he'll make a full recovery, and that's the story I'm sticking to. It is scary to think of though, the physical reality of what was an academic thought - that your parents DO get old, they DO get sick, and eventually, they DO die. You would think at 49 years old, I would have come to terms with the physical reality of this, and I have, kinda. I always thought it would be my mother who got cancer first - I've been preparing for that inevitability for some time, because she isn't in great health, but my dad - he's 78 years old and doesn't look it at all - more like 60 maybe - so it's a shock that he would be the first one to have cancer. It doesn't help to know that his father died of cancer, and that his sister died last year from complications due to esophageal cancer, but I'm trying to remember that his mother lived to be 96, and that he is far more like her than he would care to admit, though maybe not so much now.

Not to worry, dear reader: the basket case of crazy will not be unleashed just yet.

And I will try and get some photos up of stuff that I'm considering for the show in September.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shhhh! No Sudden Moves

Just pretend I'm not here, bumping around in the dark, trying to find my words that I stuffed under a sofa cushion, how many months ago??? Dammit, where did I put them??

I have been painting more, since I stopped blogging, so I haven't been totally mind-sucked into Facebook, and if all goes well, I am hoping to be in the planning stages of a bonafide show very soon. I've never really done a show - I've never really thought I was professional enough to warrant one, but I'm almost 50 and dammit, I'd like to be able to say I had at least one damn show to my name before it's all over. Besides, after a few trips up to Asheville, where we looked at tons of art, I realized that I don't suck nearly as much as I thought I did - high praise, no? And it's time to carpe diem baby!

So with that in mind, I'm going to be using this space for the next few months, to try and organize both my thoughts and my painting body of work, so when September rolls around, I will hopefully have not only my paintings ready to show, but that I'll be able to articulate some kind of thought process or inspiration about how they came to be. You know, the bullshit blah-blah, yappity-yap that artists expound on the opening night - yeah, I don't know shit about it either, so I'm going to have to practice, on you guys.

The idea of doing a show is thrilling and definitely a good thing to be fixating my OC ass on, but there are many unseen forces pulling me in several directions right now; some are the predictably unpredictable, like my boys - the Professor has recently informed me that he can only eat humanely raised meat  now, and preferably, he would prefer to eat none at all - I swear he's my sister's changeling child!!! Other things chumming the waters of my mind right now are murkier and not publicly known yet, so I'll have to promise to divulge when I can, later on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Patience My Ass - I Need A Cold Front! (Recipe Included)

Where the hell is Fall? It's September 28th and the humidity is still omnipresent, the temperature at night is still around 70, and dammit, that shit has to go! Sure, sure, further north they get winter earlier and spring later, but right now they aren't sphitzing whilst trying to drink a cup of coffee, or having to crank the air conditioner to enjoy a bowl of butternut squash soup. Right now, the leaves are changing further north, and the apples and pumpkins are piled up at the roadside stands. We have apples and pumpkins piling up too, but the current state of humidity will cause our pumpkins to rot and mold by Halloween, and don't get me started on the soft mealy cardboard that passes for apples in this part of the world, or the Koolaid-sweet cider that's made from them.

I know where this is leading - I need a road trip to the north. I'm not going to get one though and it's making me very grumpy. I'm trying to hold out - I hear tell the great cold winds of Canadia are on their way, that by the weekend it will feel like fall, and I want to believe, but right now the air is still soupy and it seems a faint flickering light at the end of a long and miserably hot steam tunnel.

But in the meantime, because it is fall and because somewhere there is lovely crisp fall weather that warrants it, I'm making butternut squash soup. A friend on Facebook asked me to share my recipe for it, so I wrote it out, even though I never follow an actual recipe for it. I don't have recipes for anything but baked goods because, cooking in my opinion should be less regimented, and more open to variation. So take this recipe as a place to jump off from and do something wild with it to propititate the Autumnal God of the North Wind.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces (more or less)

1 large onion, chopped semi-fine

2-6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

half a stick of butter (see now, I used a whole stick last time, and some olive oil)

2 cups dry white wine

2-3 containers chicken stock or broth (8-12 cups, approx.)

In a large heavy bottomed stockpot melt butter and saute onion and garlic until tender, add cubed squash and saute until browning occurs on bottom of pot. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.

Deglaze with 2 cups of white wine, let alcohol cook off a little, then add chicken stock/or broth to cover the squash. put on the lid and let boil for about 15-20 minutes. I also added a tablespoon of bacon fat, to add flavor and to tenderize the squash.

When squash is tender, mash up with potato masher, add more stock and cook at medium heat, stirring and mashing for about 30 minutes. The lid is off at this point, allowing condensation, so soup will become thicker. Squash will begin to have an "applesauce" consistency and get thick. Keep adding stock until you are ready to serve or until it is the thickness you desire. (when reheating, you will have to add more stock, as it thickens when it cools) I know that a lot of people prefer to use an immersion blender to speed things up, but I personally think the slow cooking approach breaks the squash down just as well, and allows more time to build flavor with your components.

If desired, add 2 Tablespoons of horseradish to soup and stir in well. The heat will mellow it, but it shouldn't be more than an earthy taste at the end of a spoonful, and a bit of a warm glow on your throat. The longer the horseradish cooks into the soup the less prevalent it will be as itself.

Serve in a wide, shallow bowl, garnished with crisp chopped bacon and green onion, or julienned rare roast beef and green onion. It is also very good with a creamy blue cheese and candied green apples (leave out the horseradish for this variation). Fresh crusty bread or buttermilk cheddar biscuits are a good accompaniment.