Friday, December 07, 2012

Santa Man

I made this little guy at the pottery studio. He now lives in Georgia with this crafty lady.

The base is a hollow ball, thrown on the wheel. I sculpted his arms, legs, and head and added them later. He's painted with underglaze and porcelain slip and then some clear glaze to make him shiny.

My influences for this guy include Tim Burton's Santa from the Nightmare Before Christmas, and Neil Gaiman's movie, Coraline, especially in the button eyes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snowflake Mugs

My sister is a talented paper snowflake maker. She's about a billion times better than I am. So I asked her to make some for me to use as stencils and she mailed me a envelope just stuffed with the little guys. And I made some mugs. Because that's what I do now apparently.

Group Shot

Set 1, Side A

Set 1, Side B

Set 2, Side A

Set 2, Side B

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Woodland Creatures and Wildflowers

I have a few more sgraffito mugs to show you today. I love the way the black underglaze and the brown clay look together on these first three.

The white underglaze on these two just did not turn out very well. It's way more transparent than the black underglaze and thinner, too. It really shows all the brush strokes.

This last one is a work in progress. It's unfired and you can still see some of the pencil marks. When it goes through the kiln, the graphite will burn off.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WWI Doughboys Coffee Cup

A little mug I made in my pottery class. It's about 3" high and 3" in diameter. Black underglaze sgraffito.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Bluebird On My Head

8" x 10" ::: pencil drawing on paper

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fall is creeping in and my summer garden is winding down. There's a slight chill in the night air that sends me searching for long forgotten sweatshirts. There are far fewer mosquitoes and more spiders in the backyard. A trade I am happy to make since the spiders generally keep to themselves.

Matt and I enrolled in an evening pottery class. It's his first time on the wheel but pottery is an old love of mine. I find myself daydreaming about glaze combinations and mug shapes.

I haven't been making as much art as I would like. But I did make this little watercolor for a swap. The woman I made this for loves My Little Pony and all things rainbow. Which was way out of my comfort zone. I was inspired by this piece, especially the rainbow hair. I really hope she likes it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cooking For One

Earlier this month, my husband went away on a business trip for a whole week. I'm lucky that he doesn't have to travel often and so the week felt like a very big deal to me, but I'm sure those of you whose spouses travel for weeks if not months at a time are rolling your eyes at me. But yeah, to me it was a big deal.

One of the things I have always hated about being on my own is cooking for just me. It just seems like too much effort, what with the prep and the cooking time and worst of all, the clean up. But whenever my husband has to travel for work, I find myself forced to cook for one. And I've learned a few things along the way.
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale
1. Use Your Freezer

One of my favorite ways to make things easier on myself is by cooking big meals ahead of time and freezing the leftovers in individual serving sized portions. This does not work for everything. Potatoes for example don't tend to freeze very well. But lots of soups, chilies, and pasta sauces freeze and reheat beautifully.

Chili with Chips and Cheese

To reheat soup or other liquidy foods on the stove, run the container under some warm water to loosen it and plop it right into a small sauce pan. Warm it on medium low heat and stir every 5 minutes or so to keep it from scorching to the bottom.

Pasta with Meat Sauce and Salad
2. One Pot Meals

Any meal with easy clean up gets a big gold star from me. I enjoy cooking but I hate washing up. One way to minimize clean up is to make one pot meals. It doesn't have to be a literal pot, of course. Any meal that you can make with a single skillet, cookie sheet, frying pan or whatever can be considered a one pot meal. The point is that you don't dirty a lot of dishes. Some examples are my fish in a packet recipe, fried rice, and macaroni and cheese.

Asian Fish in a Packet
Garden Veggie Salad with Chicken
3. Indulge In Small Luxuries

I'm a big proponent of spoiling yourself a little every now and again. So go ahead and toss a few luxury ingredients into the mix. Pasta with shrimp and smoked artisianal bacon? Yes please! Grilled cheese sandwiches made with aged sharp cheddar? For sure! Add some local edamame on the side and wash it all down with your favorite micro brew. There's no reason why you should eat a hot pocket while watching the real house wives of wherever just because your significant other is traveling. Martyrdom is for, well, martyrs. And there is no need for that. 

Bourbon Bacon Pasta
I missed my husband quite a bit while he was away, but I really enjoyed the cooking adventure it led me on. A few things I had made ahead and frozen for easy, throw-it-in-a-pot-and-warm-it-up, dinners, like chili (add some grated cheese and chips), meat sauce for pasta, and lentil soup with sausage and kale. Others fell into the quick and easy category. Such as bourbon bacon pasta with mushrooms, asian fish in a packet, and chicken over garden veggie salad with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil. And each was delicious in it's own way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cabled Pillow

I love the texture on this pillow cover. It's so nubbly and fun to touch. The yarn was originally knit into a bunch of little child sized purses, but I had no use for them so I ripped it all out and made this instead. The cable pattern is the same. It's a very basic 2 stitch repeating cable and where the right and left slanting cables meet, you wrap the yarn around several times.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Margaritas and Shredded Chicken Taquitos with Salsa and Guacamole

Today I'd like to share with you my recipe for shredded chicken. I originally modeled it after the delicious shredded chicken you can find in burritos from taquerias all over southern California. But over the years it has kind of evolved into my own thing. I like to use it in burritos, enchiladas, tacos and, as you can see, taquitos. I've also included directions for taquitos, pico de gallo salsa, guacamole and margaritas.

Shredded Chicken:

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 spicy chile, seeded and minced (I've used dried pasillas, fresh seranos and fresh jalapenos. They're all good.)
  • 1-1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small can El Pato tomato sauce - the green one (optional but delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 12 oz of the cheapest beer you have on hand (you can also use chicken broth if beer isn't your thing)
*This chicken freezes nicely, so I often make a double batch and freeze half for later use. That's what I did this time around. Hence the 2 cans of beer, packages of chicken, etc. Next time I think I'll just use one can of beer. It took a long time for the liquid to boil off and my chicken got a little over done and mushy.

In a medium/small pot, pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom and heat it over medium low heat.

Add the onions, spicy chilies, and garlic. Saute them until the onions soften.

Toss the chicken into the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir then bring it to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally until the chicken falls apart. If it starts to dry out and stick to the bottom of the pan, add some water or chicken broth. 
While the chicken is doing it's thing, work on your toppings and maybe a margarita to reward yourself for all your hard work.

Pico de Gallo:
  • 1 ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 jalapeƱo, minced
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 2 large green onions or 6 skinny ones, white parts only, minced
  • lime juice
  • salt

Combine the tomato, jalapeno, cilantro and green onions in a bowl. Add a squeeze of lime juice and a large pinch of salt. Stir it all up. And you're done! Easy peasy!

When it comes to guacamole, I'm a purist. No tomato. No onion. Just some avocado, a little lime or lemon juice, and salt to bring out the flavor. Toss it all into a bowl and mash it with a fork. Give it a taste and add more salt or juice as needed. If you're eating it with salty chips, go easy on the salt.

There are two main things that make this margarita recipe awesome. First, the tequila. Use good quality tequila that tastes good all on it's own. Secondly, I believe that by letting the lime juice and agaves syrup marinate with the lime zest, you get a deeper more complex flavor.
  • lime zest from 2 limes
  • lime juice from 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 3 shots tequila (about 4-5 ounces)
  • 1 shot triple sec (about 1.5 ounces)
  • salt

Put the lime zest, lime juice and agave syrup into a bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Rub the edges of two glasses with the leftover lime and dip into a saucer of salt. Add 4-6 ice cubes to each glass.

Strain the juice mixture into a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila and triple sec and several ice cubes. Shake until it gets cold. Pour into the salt rimmed glasses.

  • corn tortillas
  • canola oil (about 1 cup)
  • shredded chicken
  • toothpicks
  • paper towels
  • kitchen thermometer

Lay out your tortillas on the paper towels in a single layer. You want them to dry out so they'll fry up better. Stale tortillas work beautifully here. Flip them once or twice over the course of 10-20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan to 350˚F.

Fry the tortillas one at a time, for about 5 seconds on each side. You want them soft and flexible, not crispy.  As you finish each tortilla, transfer it to a paper towel.

Take the pan off the heat. Once the tortillas are cool, place a small amount of shredded chicken in the tortilla, roll it up and secure with toothpicks.

Put the oil back on the heat and bring it back up to temperature. Place the taquitos into the hot oil and fry 8 minutes total turning a quarter turn every 2 minutes (or until crispy and golden brown).

Put it all together!
Place 2 or 3 taquitos on a plate. Top with guacamole and salsa. To turn it into a full dinner, add a nice big green salad on the side or some beans and rice.