Monday, May 20, 2013

$32 a Pound

I'm at the Saturday market and what do I spy?  Fresh, gorgeous, woodsy morels.  And I think, well, it can't hurt to ask.......  $32 a pound.  

Well, that was a bit rich.

But fresh morels!  Woodsy, perfect, yummy morels!

I bought 5.

 I assembled a few ingredients.

And I made myself the perfect lunch.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chefs" Tour of Dream Kitchens

Chef Shubert Ho, Bar Dojo and Shooby Doo Catering
Yesterday was my friend Susan's birthday and I had gotten us tickets to attend the Chefs' Tour of Dream Kitchens here in my town of Edmonds, Washington.  This tour is always great fun and a hot ticket as there are only 70 spaces available.  It is put on each year by the Edmonds Center for the Arts as a fund raiser (and kudos to Nancy Fleck for thinking up the idea in the first place and then organizing it so beautifully and running it each year).  Basically what happens is that "they" take you around in a comfy van, from beautiful home to beautiful home (and, boy, do those homes have dream kitchens), where chefs from local restaurants demo a dish and then you get to eat it.  They pass out the recipes, too!  And wine.  Did I mention the wine?

Above we have Chef Shubert Ho, from Bar Dojo, one of my favorite places to dine in town.  He made beef satay with spicy peanut sauce and it was delicious.  I love satay!

Chef Bill Pennington, Arnie's of Edmonds
Chef Pennington made Prawns en Croute.  He had two very fine helpers, one of whom was only 10 years old. (I chose not to show her photo as I don't have her parents permission.  Trust me, she was adorable in her chef's whites!)

My friends Jeri Hamilton and Susan Penning

Darin Since, The Loft Cafe and Social Lounge
Chef Since made a delicious Braised Pork Belly with Gnocchi and Apple Brandy Gastric that was spectacular.  It only takes two full days to prepare....time well spent, judging from the results!

one of the Tim Morris, Epulo Bistro
Chef Morris made a fantastic Burrata Cheese that was unusual and yummy.  He served it on toasted baguette with a salad of grape tomatoes, lightly dressed, and a chiffonade of basil.

Tim and his daughter and able assistant
The last chef was Jordan Schey.  He made really good crab cakes with a Wasabi Cilantro Viniagrette.  Let me tell you, that sauce was fine.  It made a good dish great.

Jordan Schey, Hills Restaurant
Susan and I had a great time.  So much so, in fact, that I  have already purchased tickets for next year's tour.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Inspired by Others to Try

I have been so inspired by viewing blogs where people paint and sketch and then post their work for others to see.  It's hard---scary---to do that.  I have been especially impressed by MAM and her sister, who have just returned from a trip to Italy.  They have been sharing the sketching they did in their travel journals and I get such a thrill out of seeing what they did, how they did it and picking up all the little details that you get when you sit and quiet yourself and sketch.  It is such a great way to really experience something, be it an object, building, person, action or whatever it is that catches your eye.  By taking the time to sketch something you must focus and be in the moment.  I don't do that enough an I'm trying to pay more attention to what is right in front of me, to really see.

At lunch today I took a few minutes and sketched the apple I was enjoying with a hunk of cheese.  This evening I added a little watercolor to the sketch.  It's not much more than the visual equivalent of a note to self, but while I was sketching I was really looking and I enjoyed the process.  I think that's enough.  In the spirit of sharing, as my inspirational bloggers have been doing, I am trying to be brave and share.

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wood Block Printing Class---Day 2

my block with the second color of ink applied

This is a continuation of my reduction wood block printing class that I took at the Schack Art Center in Everett this past weekend.  If you missed the first post you can find it here.

Betsy Best-Spadano was the instructor.  She was wonderful!

Here's my block just about to be run through the engraving press.

This is what the block looked like when it was removed from the printing press....

...and here is what the print looked like as I peeled it off the block.  Two out of four colors were now printed.


My block began to look used, as each successive color was printed.  I love how it looks as it gets inked and then reduced some more.

And here are the prints with all four colors printed.  I am very happy with these.  I wish that it would have been possible to have done a larger run, but with 8 other people needing to ink and print their blocks, a small run was all that was possible.  I can't wait to do more printing!  I had a wonderful weekend.  Just what I wanted for Mother's Day!

Our instructor, Betsy Best-Spadano, did her own blog post about the class.  If you are interested, you can read it here.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Wood Block Printing Class---Day 1

Betsy Best-Spadaro
 I am taking a wood block printing class at the Schack Art Center in Everett, Washington.  The instructor is Betsy Best-Spadaro.  I am having a great time!

This class reduction block printing.  Basically, you print in several colors and once you have printed your run (the number of prints you are attempting) with one color, you then carve away that particular color from the block.  You start with the lightest color, in my case, yellow, and once I have printed each piece of paper in my edition with the yellow, I go back and carve away the part of the block that I want to stay yellow.  I am reducing the block.  Betsy told us today that reduction block printing is sometimes called "suicide blocks."  I can see why!

Betsy showing us how she will. carve this wonderful face she is working on.
 In the above photo, Betsy was showing us how to get a sharp edge by using the knife blade and making angled cuts, two for each line, in the shape of a V.

This shows the beginning of my design for my wood block.  I used a photo I took in Africa of an acacia (thorn tree).

Using colored pencils to color a tissue paper copy of my design gave me an idea of how the print would look when done with ink.  It was pretty close to what I "see" in my mind's eye, so I am going with a four color print...yellow, orange, lavender/violet and something dark, maybe a dark brown or a purple-y black.  I'm not yet sure what the darkest color will end up.

Here I am transferring my design onto my block with tissue paper and carbon paper.  I have transferred the design in reverse so when it is printed, it will appear the way I drew it.

Now the design is transferred to the wood block.  We are using shina plywood wood blocks for this project.  Shina is easy to carve.

I have inked the block, using a mask that covered the bottom part of the block (no need to waste the ink and I do not want yellow under a purple layer---a good way to get "mud").  The mask is cut out of scrap paper.  You ink the block right over the mask, then remove the mask before making the print.  We are using an engraving press.

The ink we are using is very transparent.

Here you can see my prints drying on the drying rack.

Once I had all my yellow printing finished, I carved away the parts of the block that I want to remain yellow on the prints.  The next color will be orange for the sky.  You can see the mask for the block that I have prepared before inking the block with the orange ink.

Here's a close-up of the clouds in the sky caved away.  Now that part of each of the prints will remain yellow.

Tomorrow I will post more photos to show the progression of my prints.  I am excited to continue.  This is really fun!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Spring Soup

Instructor Wendy Van Wagner
I took another cooking class at The Pantry at Delancey last week.  This spring soup class was as much fun and just as informative as the sour dough bread class I attended the week before.  Wendy Van Wagner was our instructor for this class.  Wendy is the owner of In the Kitchen in Nevada City, California, a community kitchen and cooking school.  She is a great teacher and encouraged lots of hands on work for the class, the learn-by-doing method that works so well for me.

Spanish-style fish soup with little neck clams and monk fish
We made four soups over the coarse of the evening----creamy mushroom, potato and fennel, an Indian vegetable and lentil and a Spanish style fish soup, very similar to a French bouillabaisse.

We used this mixture of crème fraîche and dill to top the fennel and potato soup.  It was goooooood.  I know that I will use this mixture to top other soups, such as borscht or a hearty vegetable.

fennel and potato
The mushroom soup was made with half shiitake and half common button mushrooms.  What I loved about it was how creamy and rich it was without any cream.  None of the soups we made that night used a meat stock/broth for the base, except for the fish stock for the Spanish fish stew.  It's nice to get away from meat stock once in a while.

mushrooms for the creamy mushroom soup

Wendy stressed the importance of getting the vegetables well caramelized to develop sweetness. Be sure to scrape up all the browned bits that cling to the bottom of the pan by deglazing with some liquid----stock, wine or water.  That's where the flavor hides!

By the end of the class we were all singing the praises of an immersion blender!

creamy mushroom soup
Frankly, there wasn't one soup in the group that wasn't stellar, but I do believe the mushroom was my personal favorite.  It's flavor was deep and mysterious, creamy and rich and was one of the best mushroom soups I have ever had.

Spanish Fish Stew
I took this class with my friend Denise.  She's a great cook.  Like me, she is always interested in learning something new and perfecting her technique.  I should probably have been taking notes myself, but it was fun to sit and watch Denise do all the work!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Green, Green is my Sister's House

Don't you dare climb that tree
or even try, they said, or you will be
sent way to the hospital of the
very foolish, if not the other one.
And I suppose, considering my age,
it was fair advice.

But the tree is a sister to me, she
lives alone in a green cottage
high in the air and I know what
would happen, she'd clap her green hands,
she'd shake her green hair, she'd
welcome me.  Truly.

I try to be good but sometimes
a person just has to break out and
act like the wild and springy thing
one used to be.  It's impossible not
to remember wild and not want to go back.  So

if someday you can't find me you might
look into that tree or---of course
it's possible---under it.
                                        ---Mary Oliver

Ah.  There is truth to me----"to remember wild and not want to go back."