Monday, August 26, 2013

Roasted Cabbage and Kielbasa

I stopped at the pop-up vegetable market off Bickett today and got this organic cabbage for dinner. A friend had just been talking about roasting cabbage, so I decided to make a slightly Germanic dinner.
cabbage for dinner

In a bowl, I mixed olive oil, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and Dijon mustard. I love the Trader Joe's Dijon; it's delicious. Whisked this all together and brushed it over the sliced cabbage. 
marinade for the cabbage recipe

Doesn't it look great? And this isn't even all of the head of cabbage.  I covered it in foil and put it in the oven to roast. Then I got a beer and sat down to relax while dinner cooked. As soon as I sat down, I remembered the garlic. Or remembered that I forgot the garlic. So I went and pulled the dish out of the oven to add the chopped garlic. I was amazed at how hot the copper gratin pan was already. When cooks talk about how well copper conducts heat, they aren't kidding!

It roasted for 30 minutes, Then I added the sliced turkey kielbasa, covered it back up, and roasted for another 20 minutes. 
roasted cabbage

Then I uncovered it and let it cook another ten minutes until it was nicely browned.
roasted cabbage and turkey kielbasa recipe

Looks yummy, doesn't it? Next time I may add whole garlic cloves because I love roasted garlic.
roasted cabbage and kielbasa

 And what a bargain. This entire dish cost about six dollars and made six servings. Next time I'll make cooked apples to serve with it. That would have been the perfect accompaniment. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Artichoke soup for a light lunch

I admit it - I live soup. So when it felt at all cool which in August meant a high of around eighty, I made soup. I'm not much for following recipes, but I had found a recipe for artichoke soup last spring and really liked it. So when I was pondering what to make for lunch on the way home from an estate sale, I decided to make it again. I looked up the recipe just for reference. I liked Giada's recipe and this one at Food and Wine.

Of course, I veered wildly off both recipes based on what I had in the larder. I started with chopping an onion. I had intended to use two, but the other one had gone bad. 
Chopped onions

I sauteed the onion til it softened. Then I added a few cloves of chopped garlic and some pepper and cooked it until the garlic became aromatic.
Sauteed onions

Then I added this beauty - a Parmesan rind. You can either save rinds of your Parmesan or buy them. I get mine at Whole Foods and they are very inexpensive. You can toss one into almost any soup, cook all the flavor in, then remove it right before serving. Yum! 
Parmesan rind

I also added f four cups of chicken broth, but of course you could use vegetable broth if you'd rather. The recipe called for two chopped potatoes, but I was fresh out. So I threw in some of the Trader Joe's frozen mashed potatoes. And two bags of frozen artichoke hearts. I was very hungry and love leftovers, so I made a double batch.
artichoke heart soup recipe

I left that to simmer about a half hour. Then pulled out the rind and pureed the soup. My stick blender sadly died when I made crockpot soap with it, so I had to blend mine in my blender. Hot things in blenders always scare me so I was very careful. I just love my orange blender; I got it at a yard sale for fifteen bucks. And it is very powerful! Great for margaritas or smoothies.
Pureeing the soup

And a little closer look, just for fun.

After blending I put it back in the pot. The recipes called for mascarpone or cream. I didn't have the first and didn't want the second. I was planning to use milk and plain Greek yogurt, but the yogurt had just expired. So I added about three quarters cup of skim milk and then maybe one quarter cup of half and half. (Sorry, but I never measure.) Then heated up the soup a little more. But don't let it boil.

Isn't it pretty with a little Parmesan resting on top? We had it with some crusty ciabatta and fresh cantaloupe. Great summer lunch!
Artichoke heart and parmesan rind soup

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What a beautiful breakfast!

I made this for breakfast this morning, and it was so lovely that I had to photograph it! 
English muffins for breakfast

This is a whole wheat English muffin topped with goat cheese. Toasted to soften the goat cheese. Then I spread the goat cheese and topped it with whole figs that I picked this morning. Stems removed, of course.  
Whole wheat English muffin with goat cheese and figs

Here is the other half of my English muffin spread with tapenade and topped with part of a slice of muenster cheese. Toasted til it is all melted and yummy. Absolutely delicious!
whole wheat English muffin with tapenade and muenster cheese

This is only the third year we have had figs to harvest. And the first year that we have had more than we can eat. So I am always looking for new ways to gobble them up!

I just found out that figs are related to mulberries. Which we also have in our yard.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Great Deal at the Flea Market

Okay, everyone who knows me knows that I am the deal maestro. I yard sale and haunt flea markets, thrift shops, and auctions. So I find some amazing deals. This may be one of my best. I was wandering the Flea (that's what the regulars call the Raleigh Flea Market) on Saturday when I saw a dealer with two rugs lying on the ground rolled up wrong side out. 

As soon as I saw one of them, I knew what it was. A hand-knotted Oriental. When I asked the price, and the seller replied, "ten dollars", I didn't even roll it out and look at the right side of the rug. I immediately bought it, basically sight unseen. At that price, I could deal with any damage, frayed edges, or holes. And here it is. Or most of it; it's so long it wouldn't fit in one photo. 

This is the center medallion. I believe it's a newer rug because of the numbers or letters set in the design of the medallion. I'm not sure if they say '555' or 'SSS' or '222'. 

Here's a look at the corner designs.I love all the borders. 

And the tag that the seller either completely missed or knew nothing about. Probably the latter. I have ceased to be surprised by folks selling things that they must not have even Googled. And so they have no idea of the value. 

My other two great Oriental rug deals:

1. a small antique rug that was quite worn but with a fairly high thread count that I bought way out in the country. I asked the price, and the seller just replied "two". At first I wasn't sure if he meant two hundred or two dollars. So I handed him two dollars, and he said 'thank you'. 

2. Kind of the opposite extreme: someone in a high end Cary neighborhood was remodeling and selling a newer room size hand-knotted Oriental. I saw the ad on Craigslist and snapped it up for $75. It's about 11 x 15 and looks great in my dining room.

TIP: Room size Oriental rugs often sell for a steal at auctions, Room size means a fairly large rug like mine that is close to a 11 x 15. I've seen a number of them go in the $200 to $300 range. Of course this won't happen in a high end antique auction house selling antique rugs. But in a regular urban auction - oh, yeah. A lot of people can't use a rug that large. And those who live in the really large houses want to buy new rugs.

TIP: if an Oriental rug is exactly 4 x 6, 5 x 8, 10 x 12, or any of the standard American rug sizes, then it isn't a true hand-knotted Oriental. Because their sizes aren't the same as American sizes.

PS: I know that some collectors insist that the correct name is Persian carpet instead of Oriental rug. But I think more folks recognize the name Oriental rug. And Persian carpet makes me think of the flying carpet in the Disney movie Aladdin. Which just makes me feel silly.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

First Time Grilling Pizzas

So, we had grilled pizzas cooked by my brother-in-law a while ago. They were so good that I decided wwe had to try it. We finally got around to it tonight. 

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take photos of the whole process. However, this was the first time I have rolled out any type of dough on my zinc counters.  They were great; I just threw a little flour down and no problems. I should probably add that I am really not a baker, so I was thrilled that this went so well. 

The zinc counters are very different. They change appearance every time food spills on them because acid colors them. So they are slightly mottled all the time. That works for me, though. And they are historically accurate for a hundred year old bungalow like ours. Plus zinc is antibacterial. Which is why they were used for bartops at oyster bars. Here they are sprinkled with flour from rolling out the pizza crust. 
zinc counters

We made one pizza with pesto, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella. Before adding the toppings, I rubbed a smashed garlic clove over the crust. Here it is on the grill.
rustic grilled pizza

After the grill, we put it in the oven for a few minutes to brown the cheese. Here it's on the ironwood pizza peel that I gave my husband. Isn't it lovely? The pizza, I mean.
tomato and pesto pizza

This is the potential masterpiece! Our fig tree is producing abundantly, so we made fig pizza. I  brushed olive oil on the crust, then sprinkled it with herbes de Provence and sea salt. I sliced the figs into wedges and spread them on the crust. Finally I put lumps of goat cheese all over.

If you decide to try this, I would definitely recommend the crumbled goat cheese - my hands were a sticky mess! Especially bad because I am slightly OCD and cannot stand to have 'oogie' hands.

Here it is on the grill...
rustic fig and goat cheese pizza

And here it is after browning. 
grilled fig and goat cheese pizza

Now for my opinion of our first attempt. I think I was too worried about overwhelming the relatively thin crust with too much stuff on top. The tomato pizza needed more pesto, but the tomatoes and mozzarella were fine. 

The fig pizza was delicious but needed more of everything! That's why I said it was the potential masterpiece. More herbes de Provence, more figs and more goat cheese. I think I was worried that the figs would be too sweet, but they wren't at all. And goat cheese has such a distinctive flavor that I skimped on it - mistake!  Also, I think I would add a little mozzarella. I can't wait to try it again, though.

I love the rustic look of the grilled pizzas with the hand rolled crusts. They would be gorgeous to serve for guests.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Alas, My Lord! one of a kind necklace

I just made this Victorian necklace. What a romantic piece!
Victorian assemblage necklace

First I made this pendant. It started with a recycled keychain and a rhinestone earring from a bag of jewelry that I bought at a yard sale last weekend. Then I went through my ephemera and found this lovely image of a woman. She is part of a page of a book published in 1917. The caption reads, "Alas! Of all the ships I see, is there never one that will bring my lord home?"
pendant with rhinestones and ephemera lady

The lady is staring out to sea at ships in the distance. So I added the ships she so longingly watches to the back of the pendant. And sealed all with artist's acrylic gel medium.
 the back of the pendant with vintage ephemera

I added beads recycled from vintage necklaces and from a vintage designer dress. The semi-precious stone is store-bought. All in all, it makes quite a romantic necklace.
Victorian assemblage necklace Alas, my Lord!

 Then I decided to make earrings to coordinate with the necklace. Therefore, I included a ship on one and a vintage monogrammed heart charm on the other. I like to think that it's the monogram of the lady. The heart symbolizes her aching heart.
Victorian assemblage earrings with heart and ship charms

And here they are together!
Victorian assemblage necklace and earrings

Friday, August 9, 2013

High Voltage Necklace

 I actually didn't start this necklace with the ammeter dial in mind. I started with the white glass beads. I just got this vintage glass bead necklace at the flea market and wanted to make a necklace with some of them.
high voltage assemblage necklace

 I had an idea in mind that I would make a necklace that was predominantly black and white. So I added the vintage chandelier crystals and the recycled dark pearls that have a wonderful iridescence. 
assemblage necklace with vintage ammeter dial

After I had made the main part of the necklace, I needed a focal point. That's when I saw this vintage ammeter dial in my drawers. But it still wasn't quite right, so I added the vintage cross. 
vintage ammeter dial

On the back, I added some extra chain to make the length adjustable. And a shiny bead to dangle down the back. I knew that was all it needed, and here's another look at the finished piece.
vintage recycled necklace

And here's a peek at my volunteer crepe myrtle in full bloom for the first time. This tree appeared in our yard a couple of years ago. I've discovered that if you have a railing or an arch where birds can perch, you will get volunteer trees. 
crepe myrtle

This tree will be wonderful in a few years providing shade for the sidewalk and stairs. But until then we have to duck when it rains. LOL!
crepe necklace

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Friend for the Necklace with a lot of History

When I finished the necklace with the West Point button from the 1800's, I decided it needed another necklace to wear with it. So I made a friend for it to play with.
Upcycled necklace with leaf charm

I started with this brass leaf charm that I salvaged from some old jewelry.  I like how it has developed quite a patina over the years. Then I added parts of an old rosary and various recycled beads and bits of chains.
Assemblage necklace with rosary beads, recycled beads and chains.

See how well they play together? 
Assemblage necklace with recycled jewelry parts

Did you know the word rosary comes from the Latin word rosarium which means crown of thorns.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Liquidambar Gallery Show Opening

 Today was the opening of the Liquidambar Gallery Show. The first time I ever exhibited a piece at a gallery. Here I am at the opening with my mixed media reliquary - the piece on top. 

Here's a better photo of the piece. It's based on a photo of my grandmother and father from the 1930's that I have always loved. You can read more about the evolution of this piece here.

The members of the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild are the featured artists at this show. And here we have more photos of the gallery and also of some of the other guild members. 

There was also musical accompaniment. 

Pittsboro on a Sunday afternoon was truly hopping. 

The picture on the left had sold before the show even officially started. Way to go, Jeanne!

More of the artworks... 

The potter who is also on exhibit was rather amazing. 

What fun!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Circus Reliquary

I was actually trying to finish this piece in time for the Liquidambar show, but I got stuck. I still thought that I'd share it with you.

Here;s an early look. I used images from vintage circus ads. You can see that I have just glued on the silver trim - that explains the pins. The box is a vintage cigar box.  

I was playing around with placing a horse inside the box. Horses and circuses. Right?
But I'm still not sure about whether I like the horse there...hmmm

Then I added the vintage tin to the top and the Scrabble tray/molding to the base. 

This angle shows the design in the molding and the raised aerialist.

This is as far as I have gotten. In my head I saw it with horses cavorting on the outside of the box. But the proportions weren't right when I tried that. Eventually, it will come to me, probably when I sleep.