Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I am SO glad the holidays are coming to a close because I have done more baking and making of sweets than anyone I know. I am a slave to the kitchen.It all started last winter when I discovered the quick and easy recipe for no-bake Oreo truffles. They were an automatic hit at holiday gatherings. These are the photos from last year.

My mistake was mentioning this to my mother. She was entertaining a bunch of girls for her annual ornament exchange party and asked if I'd make some snacks. I made Mint Oreo truffles, brownie bites, and dark cocoa truffles.
However, since the Oreo truffles were such a hit, I was somehow convinced to make 300 of them for another party later in the week. It seriously drained all my enthusiasm for the holidays. I normally hand dip each truffle into the chocolate, but there were just too many! Instead I pour melted chocolate into condiment squeeze bottles (one of my favorite kitchen tools!) and created a ribbon pattern which was much more time efficient. Phew!
So, in case you're curious about these little devils. You take a package of Oreos (I use Mint or Peanut Butter flavor) and remove six cookies, set them aside for a crumble topping or eat them! Crush the remaining Oreos, mix with a package of cream cheese, and form into 1-inch balls on a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or so. Melt chocolate bark (white, milk, or dark) and dip truffles into mixture. Set aside at room temperature until chocolate hardens. Serve.

They are in no way healthy, nor organic...but if you need to feed a herd of salivating old women with ravenous sweet tooth this is the trick! ;)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tonight, I made a festive dish inspired by Hanukkah, Saffron "Chicken" Broth with Spinach Matzo Balls.

I say "chicken" because I used No-Chicken Broth for a base; I have this unusual aversion to chicken broth. To replace the chicken needed, that would normally be leftover from making the broth, I baked three small chicken breasts. Since I didn't use the chicken for broth, I didn't end up with chicken fat to use for the matzoh balls; so instead of substituting it with another animal fat, I chose to leave out the fat. The recipe really didn't need it. I also added organic dill weed, organic cayenne red pepper, Colman's mustard powder, chopped carrots, dried wild Chanterelle and Shiitake mushrooms to the broth. I added organic ground cumin to the Matzo mixture. It took over two hours, but it was completely worth it! I will definitely re-use the broth recipe for other meals.
This is the broth according to the recipe.
This is the broth according to me, prior to the addition of carrots and dill.
Giant Matzo ball!
This photo does not do the soup had such a rich depth.

The world record for eating Matzo balls is 78 matzoh balls, but I topped out at five. I think my true limit is three.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Saturday I took K to Fire & Ice in Vero Beach, where the crowds came out in drones to ice skate (in 65 degree weather, it is Florida afterall), ride ponies, and watch fireworks. They had kids' crafts, charity booths, and local dance and music performances. I suppose it's worth mentioning Santa dropped in for a visit, as well.

Everyone went to a field to watch fireworks, but we sat on the roof of my car so we could hop in the car and beat the traffic afterwards. I have seen my fair share of fireworks shows and I have to say this was, hands down, the very best I have ever witnessed! After what seemed to be the grand finale the crowd cheered in celebration, then BOOM! A massive shower of gold lights filled the sky and a hush filled the air as explosions of color took our breath away. Ten minutes later, I found myself with my mouth agape as I stared heavenward in awe. It was over. There was a small moment of silence as I imagine the rest of the crowd recollecting themselves and their dropped jaws, then a roar of screaming and applause sounded as if The Jonas Brothers had come to town. It was truly spectacular!

We jumped in the car and headed to Sunrise Theatre in downtown Fort Pierce to watch A Christmas Carol. It was a fantastic play. K really enjoyed it! It was a long day, but a nice way to bring in the holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's another intimate meal for one, or two.

I made Pomegranate-Marinated Lamb with Spices and Couscous.

I made the pomegranate molasses (cut recipe in half) from scratch since I didn't have time to find a Middle Eastern market, substituted basil for mint leaves, substituted chicken broth for no-chicken broth, and held back on the cinnamon. I did top with pomegranate arils, but I forgot to photograph the finished product so use your imagination. ;) I also served greek yogurt on the side. All of my ingredients, aside from the POM Wonderful, were organic and/or all-natural. I accompanied the meal with a glass of Herzog Wine Cellars Syrah 2005.

Dessert was a half of a Choxie Dark Chocolate with Cocoa Nib Mini Bar. Target carries Choxie, which is a line of normally disappointing chocolates; however, this tiny chocolate bar is absolutely worth a taste! I finished with a small glass of pomegranate juice which made the entire meal end on a perfect note!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's no secret that I love experimenting with food. I made burritos, and this ain't your momma's recipe.

  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut lengthwise
  • 2 organic garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 2 cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 12 ounces organic spinach
  • salt and pepper
  • whole wheat tortillas with flax
  • 4 ounces Ile de France petite buche goat cheese, crumbled
  • Newman's Own medium chunky salsa
  • Pace Tequila Lime salsa
Use a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, garlic, Garam Masala. Cook for 5-6 minutes until onions are tender, stir periodically.

Add spinach and black beans. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until uniform heat is achieved. Set aside.

Heat tortillas over stove (or in microwave).

Spoon goat cheese and both salsas in the center of the tortilla. Spoon the beans and spinach into the center. Fold burrito and enjoy!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Of Montreal has long been my favorite band, yet opportunity to see them perform has rarely come around. That streak of bad luck and timing ended this past Tuesday when we went to see them play House of Blues in Orlando. This, my friends, is a short recap.

Let me start by saying, I had spent the entire week prior to the show discussing with K the various reasons she could not come to the see Of Montreal, who happen to be her favorite band, too. She even went as far as Googling the venue to see how old you had to be (it was All Ages afterall), but my argument rested on the facts that she was only eight, HOB has a bar, and it was a school night. She persisted to debate her case desperately. It broke her little heart in the end. I've taken her to music fests and outdoor concerts in the park, but she's simply much too young for this type of concert...particularly when Kevin Barnes has been known to get down to his birthday suit during the set. Nonetheless, heartbroken.

I went with a good friend and we arrived just before Fiery Furnaces went on. Now don't get me wrong, I like the band...but they have absolutely no stage presence and the crowd was talking above them as if it were background music. Needless to say, we all welcomed the intermission of tacky funk music that you can't help dance along to while Of Montreal was setting up.

Once the curtains drew, a door opened to a new dimension in which we all found ourselves ecstatic to be in the middle of. All of our senses were heightened at once, although the taste might have been elevated by whisky and cheap beer. As the band began playing a revolving screen in the middle of the stage turned to reveal Kevin Barnes in all his glory, immediately jumping into lyric. From this point on, every soul in the crowd would be grinning ear to ear and dancing their little hearts off the rest of the night.

Barnes' love of theatrics and costumes were evident as a troupe of monsters and dancers in nude suits and a giant tree-like creature took stage acting out skits and interacting with the musicians, as well as the crowd. Glitter was spewn out at the crowd as if Ziggy Stardust had been resurrected. The multiple screens behind the stage delivered psychadelic mini-films that made even the most sober among us to question if someone had laced their Vitamin Water with LSD. There was a definite hint of Magic Mystery Tour inspiring the stage show and costumes. I think I even made a reference to George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic at one point. For a generation of reality TV show addicts living in the post-glory days of MTV, we don't know what it means to see a true performance by an artist. David Bowie, The Beatles, and early-Elton John all provided that for earlier generations, we missed out big time!

Barnes changed costumes nearly five times, leading to him wearing only skimpy hot pink hipsters while various creatures rubbed red paint on his bare skin. The performance could be best described as a rock orgy on acid. Within a moments notice there was an upright piano on stage with Barnes playing an interlude to the next fantasy he had planned out for us, as he allowed his alter-ego Georgie Fruit to deliver some of the most intoxicating dance tracks from the past few albums. While most of my favorite Of Montreal songs are off older albums, like Cherry Peel and Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies, I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed in the set one bit. Yes, I would've preferred to hear, literally, fourteen songs they didn't perform, but in no way did they fail the audience.

Just when we thought the soles of our dancing shoes had worn thin, the band delivered an encore with a fairly accurate cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit. Again, just as I referenced legendary performers my generation missed out on experiencing first-hand, Nirvana is also grouped into that category. It only took three seconds into the song to take the crowd of Gen X'ers back to 1991, when most of us were in elementary or middle school. Everyone, yours truly included, was slam dancing with huge smiles on their face singing along as if Cobain were standing in front of us with his beat-up Strat and stringy blond hair hiding his baby blues, but when we looked up we were reminded of the trick the glitter-adorned Barnes was playing on us. And no one cared.

The music ceased and we all stood in a trance, as if we had forgotten we were in Orlando on the curtails of 2008 instead of 1991 Seattle, 1971 London, or in a dimension of Sunlandia where time does not exist. I have been going to concerts for over 15 years now and I've been to my fair share of breath-taking, mind boggling performances; however, Of Montreal was hands down the single best musical production I have ever witnessed.

I bought K the Skeletal Lamping blik by David Barnes, since I already have the Gemini Tactics blik. On the back of the packaging there's a message from Kevin Barnes about the concept of having their album art transformed into various forms, including paper lamps and blik.

Ideally, every object you bring into your
home should feel exceptional to you, otherwise,
it just adds to the clutter and chaos of your life.
We feel, there's no reason to produce another
object that just sits on a shelf. We only want to
produce objects that have functionality and can
be treasured for their singularity. Objects that
can transform a room, bend the mind and
inform your dreams.

I absolutely agree on the importance of aesthetics, simplicity, and functionality in decor. Well said, Kevin.

On a final note, I still have glitter in my hair from two nights ago!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Here are the inspirations for the other two paintings left to finish.
1969 Dove & Guitar Woodstock posterThis poster originated at the height of Vietnam as the logo for Another Mother for Peace (AMP).
I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm planning this to be my fourth project in my 1960's art installation. I should be done with the AMP painting tomorrow night. When I have a lot on my mind, I get unusually productive. There's nothing more relaxing than becoming enveloped by painting for hours on end.
This is the first, and probably last, time I ever bring up Josh Groban in my blog; however, after looking at a recent house tour of his L.A. home I fell in love with some industrial sculptures by David Buckingham.
Although I hate L.A., Groban is a native, which means he has simply been brainwashed to love it since birth. Buckingham's metal sculpture is above his head.
Buckingham next to one of his color studies.
I really liked this sculpture of the infamous quote from Full Metal Jacket. However, since I can't afford the original, nor do I have welding skills to make my own...I decided to paint it.
I started three paintings Friday evening: "Me Love You Long Time," a copy of an original Woodstock poster, and an old hippie protest poster for Vietnam that reads "War is Not Healthy For Children and Other Living Things." The yellow canvas barely fit in my car, to give proper scale.
It took a total of two sessions to finish it, Friday 6pm-3am and Saturday 10am-3pm.
I can draw a straight line like there's no tomorrow, but don't ask me to draw a curve. This is evident by looking at my O's and G. One painting down, two more to go. Tucker is showing you how large the canvas is! ;)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes I impress even myself. I made a twist on steak and potatoes.The steak was so utterly perfect before I added the parmesan butter and glaze that it killed me to mess with it.
You can make it, too!

Steak with Parmesan Butter, Balsamic Glaze, and Arugula

Roasted "Chips"

I am going to bask in how glorious my cooking skills are now. ;)
Saturday was a very long day. I got up much too early and hit Fort Pierce. First I stopped by the Farmer's Market in downtown, next I went to the holiday bazaar at the college, and finally the long-awaited plant sale at Heathcote Gardens.
I started my day off with cherries, grapes, and raspberries!These are the roots of a bonsai.
I came home with Huernia schneideriana, African Spear, Costa Rica bush mint, magenta Christmas cactus, weak-leaf yucca, desert rose, and chocolate mint.
I bought this from a starving artist at the Farmer's Market.
I also bought organic mint and dill to use this weekend...along with ginger cookies and pumpkin bread. Yum!

We went to a charity Ranch Roast for the Boys & Girls Club of America. The drive out to Indiantown was an adventure in itself!
The Seminole Inn fed us pulled pork sandwich, potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, and the most fantastic peach cobbler I've ever had!
Our host, Iris Wall, turned 79! We sang Happy Birthday to her.
We went on a sunset hay ride.
It was a nice way to end the day.

Actually, the dinner I made ultimately ended it on the best note!
A simple salad of organic baby greens with pomegranate arils and gorgonzola; I hand-squeezed pomegranate juice for the dressing. It was incredibly light and refreshing!
I made scallops for the first time! I was told the secret to preparing scallops is: keep it simple. So I simmered 1 tb of butter, 1 tb extra virgin olive oil, and a smidgen of sea salt in the pan on high heat before slapping those puppies in. They were incredibly tender and perfectly seared! I served them up with risotto. K said the scallops were, "heavenly!" I guess that sums it up. :)

Saturday was awesome.