Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice

Most people dread the winter season, but just between us, I have to confess it's one of my favorites.

Zach and I are observing the winter solstice by making glutinous rice flour dumplings in ginger syrup. It's something that my grandmother used to do, and it's now something we like to do (when we remember!). If you'd like the recipe for this, check out our post from last year.

Happy Winter!

Recipe of the Week: Brown Butter "Crack" Toffee

In the words of my cousin Gillian, this is the official start of holiday baking! 'Tis is the time to crank up the oven, dust off the mixer, and pull out those bags of flour. We have things to bake!

Instead of cramming all my baking into a day's effort, I am trying to bake just a couple of things a day. So today, I made some brown butter "crack" toffee ("crack" because this thing is addictive!). It's an easy recipe to kick off a week of baking. There are just some hard and fast rules to observe in order for the toffee to solidify. I'll share those in the directions below.

6 oz saltine crackers (1.5 sleeves)
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
nuts (I used hazelnuts)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, then fill with saltine crackers in a single layer.

In a saucepan, melt butter and sugar over medium heat. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil.
Once the mixture starts boiling, STOP stirring. Start your timer for 3 minutes, and watch to see that nothing overflows.
Pour butter and sugar mixture over the saltine crackers as evenly as you can. Don't worry if you don't get all the crackers covered. The mixture will boil again in the oven and all the crackers will eventually be covered!
Bake for 5-6 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate, then top with nuts. Be sure to press those nuts into the chocolate.

Cool completely, then break into pieces.

You can be totally creative with this basic recipe. Go ahead and mix things up. You can try graham crackers or pretzels instead of saltine crackers. Top with pistachios, almonds, pecans, or a mix of every nut you like! Maybe you love dried fruits? You can use them too! Bacon? Why not! Crushed candy canes will look lovely as well.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We're back!

Zach and I are back from our break!

After working ourselves into a tizzy for several hectic weeks leading up to the studio open house, we left on Monday for a short getaway. It's our second time in New York this year, but this city never gets old. On this trip, we did some of the usual things we always do. We ate. Really, really well.

We searched for new pieces of street art ... and contributed some of our own around Soho! See if you can spot them in the pictures below!

I had a meeting with a senior curator at the Jewish Museum, so on Tuesday morning, we trekked up to the Upper East Side. The museum is currently showing From the Margins: Lee Krasner and Norman Lewis, 1945-1952.  Lewis is the subject of my dissertation so I was excited to see the exhibit with 25 of his paintings and pick the brain of the man who put the show together.

Early Wednesday morning, we got in line to see Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). We had seen the Matisse show at the Indianapolis Museum of Art last year and really enjoyed it, so we wanted to see more! The MoMA has an online page where you can pay a virtual visit and "interact" with the show. Check it out here.

The most unusual thing we did on this trip was to go see the ginormous Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. If you know Zach, you know how much he hates doing the kitschy touristy thing.

At least I managed to coax a smile out of him!

We have another busy week ahead of us. But before we begin to fret too much, we're going to an ugly sweater party at my professor's home tonight. It should give us plenty of laughs. Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope it's a lot of fun.

p.s. check back on Monday for more graffiti pics!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thank you!

We want to thank everyone who made it out to the open studio yesterday. It was so nice to get to see old friends and meet new ones. Thank you. You made our day.

Now that the studio open house is behind us, we're going to take a couple of days off to rest and recover. If you weren't able to make it to the sale but would still like to pick something up, please send us a message!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Curried Carrot Soup with Sweet Potato and Ginger

This week, both Zach and I were too busy preparing for the open house that we skipped going to the grocery store altogether. We decided that we'd cook based on the foods we already have in the house. We were diligent this summer in storing, drying, canning, and freezing meat and vegetables, so it really wasn't that great of a challenge. But by the end of the week, we both found ourselves craving something fresh tasting. Since we still have cabbage, broccoli, and carrots growing in our garage, we decided we'd make something with either one of those.

We ended up pulling the carrots. Aren't they gorgeous?

Using these carrots, the sweet potatoes and onions we got from Kathleen, and some ginger, we made a creamy curried soup that warmed our bellies and re-energized our spirits.

Here's what we used:
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cups sweet potato, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tbsp grated ginger
3 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp tumeric
4 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large soup pot, cook onions in olive oil until soft.
Add sweet potatoes, carrots, and ginger; cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Stir in chicken broth, add curry powder and tumeric.
Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup.
Season with salt and pepper, then serve!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Reminder: ZMED Studio Open House

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Artist Studios

As we prepare for Zach's studio open house this weekend, I am reminded of this one passage in Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston, written by his daughter Musa Mayer. In it, she describes Guston's studio this way:

          My father's notes stay tacked up on the Homosote walls beside his desk -- memos to himself, and   
          lists of the paintings to be shipped to the retrospective of his work that has opened, only weeks 
          before, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Pots of dirty paintbrushes stand on the 
          drying palettes. Turpentine hardens into brown, gluey masses. His work shirts hang on the hook 
          by the door, bespattered and torn at the elbow; his paint-daubed chair with claw feet sits facing 
          a wall where his latest paintings -- small acrylics on paper -- are hung patchwork style, with 
          pushpins. An ashtray on a brass pedestal is still filled with his cigarette butts.

I love her description of Guston's organized chaos. I've had the great honor of being in different artist studios in my life, and each one of them fascinates and charms me in its own unique way. They all have this in common though: they are spaces crammed with ideas, experiments, innovations, much hope, many triumph moments, and countless disappointments. Every studio provides a glimpse into the artist's state of mind, the energy behind the finished work. I find it to be an exciting and extraordinary privilege to be welcomed into an artist's private work area.

If you'd like a peek into Zach's bizarre mind, we'd love to have you visit his studio this Sunday, from 11am to 6pm!

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