Monday, March 31, 2014

opening day 2014

it's opening day!  finally.  baseball calls out the end of the winter in the crack of the bat.  it means (hopefully) no more frost until the end of fall.  with that in mind, yesterday mindy and i spent our entire day out in the garden.  we planted a ton of starter plants for our greenhouse and got a bunch of the boxes planted with spring greens and veggies.  garden planted before opening day.  check.  now it's time for baseball.

last year mindy and i packed up and headed to the official-opening-day-of-the-world in cincinnati.  this year i got a head start on the excitement by painting the left corner of wrigley field onto the brick wall at DT Kirby's.  but beyond that, the spring training teaser has been as punch-you-in-the-face as the weather that we've had this year.  my favorite team since childhood has been the cincinnati reds.  they will open the season against the st. louis cardinals (aka the whiny little bitches [WLBs]).  the reds will start with EIGHT players on the disabled list (that is nearly 1/3 of the supposed opening day roster).  so that's a bit gloomy, but it's baseball and it's opening day so there is always hope.

zach medler block print

for those of us in the midwest you either love the cardinals or you hate them.  so whether you're a cubs fan, reds fan, brewers fan, pirates fan, indians fan, tigers fan, sox fan, or a royals fan, the cardinals are who you hate.  their fans are who you detest.  and there is plenty of spilled-beer history to back this up.  and let's face it.  baseball may look like the yankees and the dodgers to the rest of the known world, but here in the midwest, we know that baseball [outside of stupid money] has nothing to do with the 2 coasts.  all the excitement lives in that space between pittsburgh, cincy, st. louis and chicago.  it is still tied together by train tracks.  it is still welcomed with a beer and a hot dog on a cool afternoon.  it welcomes the spring like the first asparagus that begins to peek through the frozen dirt.  it is opening day and it should be a national holiday.  welcome to the spring.  welcome to the green.  welcome to the long slow summer.  go reds!

p.s. read about opening day 2013 here,
and opening day 2012 here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Salad with Beets Three Ways

while visiting NYC, mindy and i ate at a great little spot on 6th Ave, called Tertulia.  We ordered a salad with beets three ways, because it looked interesting on the menu, and when it arrived, i was overjoyed at the little party the beets had on my tastebuds.  it featured a delicious combo of pickled, smoked and raw beets in an arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette.  when we got home i decided i wanted to remake it.  online, i found tertulia's chef making his beet salad on  but i found the recipe and video to be quite uninformative, and more or less, useless.  so, using what info i could gather from martha's page, i just jumped in with what i remembered about the salad.  the main thing is the beets and the dressing, but there are some other little yummy morsels in there that just set it off.


3-4 large beets
1 carrot
basil, sliced thinly
pistachios (roasted)
juice from 1/2 grapefruit
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c and 2tbsp EVOO
1/3 c and 2 tbsp champagne vinegar and 2 more tbsp 
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground mustard seed


Beets prep

for this dish there is a bit of work, because you have to prepare your beets, but once they are prepped, you can keep them for quite a while in the fridge and make this salad as regularly as you want to (same goes for the vinaigrette).  before i start i know i'm going to use raw beets too, but not very much.  they are mostly a garnish and a bit of crunch added to the salad.  so before i prep my beets for their separate cooking methods.  i take about 10 mandolin slices off of one.  also go ahead and mandolin slice the carrot as well.  then throw the beet and carrot slices into an ice bath.  this will keep them crunchy and punchy.

Roasted and Smoked
pre-heat oven to 350.  wash half the beets and remove greens.  place in a baking pan.  drizzle with some olive oil.  drizzle with champagne vinegar.  salt and pepper to taste.  roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes.  when they are done, let them cool a bit, then gently peel away the outer skin with a paring knife.  then cut them into even-sized cubes.

if you have a smoker on your grill, use it.  if not.  make a ghetto one out of aluminum foil pans.  i use 3 pans.  the first one, i poke holes in the bottom, then layer my beet cubes evenly across the bottom.  the 2nd tray gets the fire.  i use bamboo skewers.  break them, shred them, and set them ablaze.  once they are burning and producing smoke, place the tray with the beets over the top.  smother the fire with the tray to produce more smoke.  then cover the beets with the 3rd tray to trap the smoke.  smoke for about 10-15 minutes.  

while you've got your half of your beets in the oven, prep the other half for the pickle.  peel and cube (or slice) your beets.

pickle recipe (this is my main pickle for beets, but you can replace the champagne vinegar with white wine or balsamic, or whatever else to punch up the flavor of the acidity.  i find that 100% apple cider vinegar in the pickle in not nearly as delicious as halving it and using a more flavorful vinegar in its stead)
1/3 c champagne vinegar 
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground mustard seed

add chopped beets and pickle ingredients to a pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer.  it typically takes about 20 minutes for the beets to reach an al dente state, but really it depends on how you cut them.  bigger chunks will take a bit longer, smaller is take a bit less time.  test as you go.


1 clove of garlic
juice from 1/2 a grapefruit
1/4 c olive oil
2 tbsp champagne vinegar

add juice from half a grapefruit and minced clove of garlic.  whisk.  add in the olive oil and continue whisking.  add in the vinegar and continue whisking until emulsified.

Putting it all Together

in a big mixing bowl, add arugula, a handful of fresh chopped basil, the pickled and smoked beets, the carrot and raw beet slices, and a handful of roasted pistachios.  add vinaigrette and toss together, coating everything as consistently as you can.

as a delicious garnish, i like to pan fry a slice of brie.  i get my iron skillet and a bit of coconut oil super hot.  then i fry the piece of soft cheese.  the trick is to get the pan really hot, so the outside will get a slight crust on it before it totally melts into the pan.  add the piece of brie to the salad as a beautiful and delicious sidebar garnish.

fried brie

this takes about an hour to prepare from start to finish, but it's totally worth it if you like beets and interesting flavor combinations.  this isn't quite what we had at Tertulia, but it is damn close and damn good.  give it a try.  i like to serve this with a side of a fried fish cake of some kind.  try it with a side of salmon patties or crab cakes.

the second time we made this salad, we added some red clover sprouts we had been growing 

Friday, March 28, 2014

{Five For Friday} 5 Ways to Eat a Beet

1.  pickle it!  they are great alone.  they are great in salads.  creme fraiche and a little lemon juice, will help cut and accent the tartness.

recipe for pickled beets

2 or 3 good sized beets
1/3 c balsamic, white wine, or champagne vinegar
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c water
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mustard seed

peel and evenly chop beets.  put all ingredients into a pot.  bring to a boil.  then reduce heat, cover and simmer.  it typically takes about 20 minutes to get the beets to that al dente state, but i just test as i go, as it really depends on how big your beet chunks are.

2.  roast it!  roasting your beets brings out the sweetness!

roast roasted beets

chop off the greens and place upside down on a roasting pan.  drizzle with olive oil.  drizzle with vinegar (i use balsamic, white wine, or champagne...they just have more flavors).  sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.  remove them from the oven and allow to cool a bit.  once you can stand to handle them, gently peel away the loose skin with a paring knife.

3.  smoke it!  try it.  it's a crazy bunch of layered flavors in one little punchy morsel.

smoked beets

first roast the beets.  after you've peeled them, chop them into squares.  if you have a smoker on your grill, use that.  if you don't, you can make a ghetto one that will work just as well using 3 aluminum pans.  i poke a bunch of holes in the bottom of one of the pans and then layer the roasted beets in the bottom.  in the 2nd pan, i set some broken and shredded bamboo skewers on fire, then get them to a state of smoldering, so they are producing more smoke than flame.  then i place the pan with the beets over the fire, hoping to mostly smother it to produce all smoke.  then i cover the beets with the final pan to trap the smoke.  let it work for about 10-15 minutes.  when they are done they have this smokey, sweet, earthy flavor than is just super interesting and delicious.

4.  raw!

raw beets

slice them thin on a mandolin and toss them in an ice bath.  they will start to slightly curl in the ice bath.  remove them and use them in a salad.  they will add a great crunch and flavor.

5.  beet greens!  don't forget about the greens!

beet greens

the flavor is very similar to chard.  it has that slightly savory taste.  they work great in a quiche. or just sauté them with some garlic and salt.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

clay soup: a collaborative film

check out this great animation i made with a group of kids!

i've been working as a resident artist for a past 4 weeks with a group of kids from tippecanoe youth services day reporting program.  i was supposed to be teaching a clay class.  we started in with cutting blocks to print in the clay, then we made slab boxes.  and i was bored to death with it.  and so were the kids.  so we flipped the project on its ear.  during class time we talked about art a bit and what they were interested in.  the kids all wanted to show me their favorite things on their phones, most were short funny little animations.  so with this art viewing experience in mind, we decided to make a cartoon using claymation as our base model.  

we developed, storyboarded, installed, animated, and filmed the entire thing in just 3 hours, using my little snapshot camera and my iPhone.  we used a hollowed out tv the kids already had at their facilities as our 'stage' and recorded all sound effects intermittently to be looped together during editing.  it took me an additional 3 or 4 hours to edit the film and mix the audio, but in the end the kids and i created something that has all the qualities of an improvised creative project, grown out of nothing other than play and time to spare.

it's amazing to me how learning develops in projects like this.  these kids, by simply playing with this project, learned to collaborate with each other, discussing and building off each others ideas, with egos left at the door.  they learned timing and movement in a frame by frame manner.  they learned about story-telling and visual narrative.  i hope they learned that art is something more than pots and pictures.  but mostly, they had fun, i had fun, and we produced a great little film in a short amount of time.  and these are human values that will never show up on a standardized test.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Painting Wrigley Field

wrigley field mural

Zach and Ladonna (who you'll remember from the Attica mural!) painted the left field corner of Wrigley Field, Chicago in a local downtown restaurant today. If you are in Lafayette, stop in to D.T. Kirby's, order yourself some hotdog and fries, and check out the new mural inside!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

{Share your ZMEDCeramics pictures} Emily P.

This winter city mug belongs to Emily P. She bought this a few Decembers ago. I thought I would share this today since we woke up to snow on the ground ...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Beet Greens Quiche

eat beet greens

We've been eating a lot of beets lately, and instead of always throwing out the beet greens, I decided that we needed to eat them too. Beet greens are no less nutritious than beetroots. They are a great source of vitamin A and K, and are awesome antioxidants as well. Just look at those gorgeous colors!

For this week's recipe, I used them in an easy-to-make vegetarian quiche. 

6 cups beet greens (with stems), chopped and packed loosely
2 shallots, diced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
6 white mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 small red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup of milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 (9-inch) deep pie shell

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.
In a large skillet, cook shallots and garlic until fragrant.
Add mushrooms, bell peppers, and then add kale, spinach, and chard. Cook until wilted.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, parmesan cheese, and eggs until smooth.
Layer vegetable mix in pie shell. 

Pour egg mixture over.

beet greens recipe

Cover quiche with foil, and place quiche on cookie sheet (in case of overflow).
Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes.
Remove cover, add a layer of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

beet greens recipe


Friday, March 21, 2014

{Five for Friday} 5 Early Spring Vegetables to Grow

It got up to 67°F today. Zach and I have eagerly awaiting this day because it means we can plant a round of early spring vegetables in our new and improved "greenhouse" planter box! If you need some ideas on what to grow, here are five of our favorites:




Swiss Chard


Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Spring!

It's officially Spring! We finally made it through the rough winter! I think this calls for much rejoicing, so Zach and I are off to play!

new york city collage

Earlier this morning, Zach worked on a New York city-inspired piece using a variety of techniques. It's not complete, but I think it already looks good enough to share!

Hope you have the most awesome of Spring days ahead!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Third Day of Spring Break

On the third day of Spring Break, Zach and I painted a robot mural with the students from East Tippecanoe Middle School!


Okay ... so as it turns out, the window at Artists' Own is really beautiful, and it's a piece you have to see in person to truly appreciate. 

In the day, the "grass" and the "bunnies" in the foreground are well-lit by the sun but everything else is mostly obscured by the glare and the reflective glass ...

and at night, the paper cuts look awesome (though a tad flat) but the "grass" and the "bunnies" are mere silhouettes.

Urgh. I hate bad pictures. Promise me you'll check out the window in person if you live in town. Zach and Andrea worked hard on the display and they'd be delighted if you do!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Second day of Spring Break

On the second day of spring break, we went down to Artists' Own (AO) to work on the new window display.

Zach and AO member, Andrea Wellnitz, made a series of delicate paper cuts to hang in the front window of the store.

zach medler artists' own

And then Zach added some "grass" and a couple of "bunnies" to complete the spring theme ...

We couldn't get a picture of the completed work because of the bright glare of the sun through the window, but we are headed back right now to see how things look at night. Please check back tomorrow to see the finished work!

Monday, March 17, 2014

First day of Spring Break

On the first day of Spring Break ...

both Zach and the cat worked on the patio to get the garden ready!

Zach used some plastic sheeting and some pieces of wood to turn our old planter box into a makeshift greenhouse. It won't be long before we can fill the box with beets!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Recipe of the Week: Fish Tacos (with lots of toppings!)

letter blocks say what recipes

this is one of my favorite foods.  fish tacos.  they're not fancy, they're just good.  basically i make my tacos as though it is just a pile of side dishes on a tortilla.  i combine a pickled slaw, salsa, guacamole, sour cream cheese and whatever green leafy thing i have.  but this is stuff that can be recombined through the week for quick and healthy snacks or lunches.

letter blocks say what recipes

1 lb cod chucks
2 tbsp flour 
2 tbsp coconut oil

directions:  chop cod into bite size chunks.  pat dry with a paper towel.  coat each piece thoroughly in the flour.  over med. high heat, melt coconut oil in an iron skillet.  fry each piece of fish until golden brown.

pickled slaw
1/4 of a head of cabbage, sliced thinly 
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 c water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt

finely chop the cabbage and separate it
mix vinegar, water and salt, and pour over cabbage.  allow to rest a couple of hours in the fridge.  drain and serve.

2 ripe avocados
2 tbsp chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp lime juice
salt to taste

peel and smash avocados, mix in all other ingredients and stir together.  serve.  all ingredients can be adjusted to taste.

2 tomatoes
1 can of black beans
2 tbsp red onion
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp lime juice
salt to taste

dice tomatoes, salt and set aside to drain for an hour.  after an hour, pour off the water, add in all other ingredients and mix.  all ingredients can be adjusted to taste.

letter blocks say what recipes

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