Saturday, January 31, 2015

homemade bread!

Thanks to Zach, the whole house is smelling like a bakery. So heavenly!

We ate the smallest sesame-topped loaf right out of the oven ...

so now we have just three left!

Friday, January 30, 2015

{Five for Friday} 5 Paintings by Norman Lewis

I realize I've been talking a bit about how crazy busy I've been trying to finish my dissertation but I haven't mentioned much else about it. So in case you're wondering, here's a very brief spiel (so boiled down it might not make much sense ...):

My work focuses on the re-writing/(re)membering of African American artist Norman Lewis into the mainstream accounts of Abstract Expressionism. Scholarship on Lewis has been limited because art historians have struggled to fit his art into a particular genre. His paintings were considered not “white” enough to be part of the Abstract Expressionist canon and often lacked “black” enough subject matter to be a considered a significant part of Black art. The task to “(re)member” is thus twofold: the first is to establish the significance of Norman Lewis by arguing that his contribution to both the history of African American art and Abstract Expressionism earned him a rightful spot amongst the popularly canonized artists (to re-member the canon); the second is to present the consequences Lewis’ inclusion have on future studies of Abstract Expressionism and the history of African American art (to remember a different history). 

Bored yet?

Well, here are five of Lewis' work for you to admire instead ...

Phantasy II, 1946
Ring Around the Rosie, 1948
Untitled, 1957
New Moon, 1959
Green Envy, 1975

** the scream **

I've been buried under work for the last week and it has greatly diminished my sense of humor. But on Wednesday, when Zach brought in the mail, I saw this picture (an ad for something I can't remember!), and it cracked me up:

This picture of a crying baby at a desk in (grown up) work clothes pretty much sums up how I am feeling these days. All work and no play makes Mindy scream in agony. I've been wondering if working is like exercising, and that at some point, the endorphins will kick in and I'll start being a happy camper. So far, that hasn't happened for me. I have to stay buried and keep on keeping on. Will try and write more whenever I surface for air.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Does anybody still read books?

I went to the Humanities and Social Sciences library on campus today, and made a funny little observation. Nobody reads books anymore. The aisles and aisles of books were untouched. There wasn't a single soul checking out the books. The desks on the periphery of the room though, were filled with students hunkered over their laptops. I'm sure they were reading. Just not reading books. What a strange sight.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Crunch Time

Crunch time.
Big time.
Fight time.
Work time.
Go time.

No time to sleep.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

All Aglow

Bear with us. We've been slacking on our blog posts. Zach and I have both been buried under work. I have some really tight deadlines coming up soon, so all my time and energy has been devoted to researching, reading, and writing.

Today I spent some time in the library with my face set aglow by this old school microfiche machine. The strange smell, the whirring sound, the wacky crank. They all gave me a strange sense of excitement. And for the briefest of moments, my stress melted away and I was actually happy to be working ...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Yogurt-Crusted Cauliflower (or, Roasted Zombie Brains)

 I ate half a zombie brain for lunch today, and it was good.

Nah. No zombies were hurt in the production of lunch. I simply roasted a whole head of purple cauliflower that I smothered in yogurt and spices. It was yummy, and if you're looking for something easy to make for lunch or as a side, here's the recipe.

1 large cauliflower, cleaned and trimmed
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp Harissa spice
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt  and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine yogurt, lime juice, and spices. Mix well.
Spread the spice mixture all over the cauliflower.
Set cauliflower on baking sheet.
Roast for 40 minutes, or until yogurt is crusty on top.

Friday, January 16, 2015

from the studio: 1.16.15

i've been working through a new project this week.  after reorganizing our bookshelf, i realized that there is something interesting about flipping through the images in an art book, that does not translate the same as flipping through images on instagram.  i spent as much time flipping through the pages as i spent reorganizing the stacks.  that inspired me to want to make books.  so i'm dipping my toes into the punk pond of the 'zine, and producing a limited edition collection of prints, poems, and philosophies.  here's a few pictures from my sketchbook and studio to give you a hint as to the subject matter.  stay tuned for the finished product!

how does the smart phone effect the ego/self paradigm?
cell phone.  that's some thick irony.
a few notes in my sketchbook about the selfie-driven identity crisis
a poem and a few more notes on distraction.
updated classic.  narcissus taking a selfie...after caravaggio.  always a favorite painting, and subject matter.  the story of narcissus is great and when you put a smart phone into the equation is has ripple effects into the understanding of identity and vanity.
a bunch of images i made to be stickers, but many will apply to this zine as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


A photo posted by Zach Medler (@zmedceramics) on

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Recipe of the Week: Southwestern Stuffed Peppers (Smothered in Cheese and Tomato Sauce)

Last fall, we got into the habit of making stuffed peppers for dinner. Our friend Kathleen had been gifting us with these gorgeous sweet red peppers, and stuffing them with rice, meat, and beans, then smothering the peppers in tomato sauce topped with bubbly melty cheese, quickly became our favorite way to eat them. But it is winter, and the only peppers we have in the house are the ones we had chopped up and froze. In a pinch, I settled for some store-bought poblano peppers.

This recipe for Southwestern stuffed peppers is fairly flexible. In fact, I've never made it the same way twice, and you definitely don't have to do it the way I did (this time)! Feel free to substitute some of the pepper filling with what you have at home. Try it with chorizo sausage or ground lamb or use some other kinds of cheese or beans! For this round of stuffed peppers, I went the Southwestern route.

6 poblano peppers
1 lb of ground beef
2 cloves garlic
1 cup of brown rice, cooked
1 cup of sweet corn
2 cups of beans (I used black beans)
4 cups of grated Chipotle Jack cheese
4 cups of tomato sauce
fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

spice mix: in a small bowl, combine the following spices and set aside
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tbsp dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425F.
Cut the tops of peppers and remove seeds.
Prepare sauce by combining 4 cups of tomato sauce with 2 tbsp of spice mix. Let this simmer while you work on the stuffing.
In a skillet, cook garlic until fragrant, then add beef and cook through.
In a large bowl, combine rice, beans, corn, and beef, and 1 tbsp of spice mix.

Add 1 cup of grated cheese to rice mixture; stir well to combine.
When peppers are stuffed, ladle some tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Add peppers to the tomato sauce, then bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, gently flip peppers, cover with remaining grated cheese, and bake for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Serve hot!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Homemade Sauerkraut Experiment

We received the book Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten and Christopher Shockey for Christmas last year, and Zach's first experiment was sauerkraut. We've tried to make sauerkraut in the past but never succeeded in yielding anything close to tasty. They were always too salty or too funky. We didn't want to risk kidney failure or die from ingesting mold, so those batches of failed sauerkraut always ended up in the garbage disposal.

One of the best part of Shockey's recipe, is that it allows you to make fermented vegetables in small batches. Other great things? You add ingredients, like salt, to taste. You don't need any fancy equipment or containers either. A simple mason jar would do. Since our local grocery store sells cabbage for $0.39 a head, we decided it was worth trying to make some sauerkraut again.

First things first ... thinly slice your head of cabbage.

Then add some salt, and work the cabbage until brine develops.

Pack cabbage tightly in a mason jar so there is no air pockets.

We used some water in a ziplock bag to weigh the cabbage down.

A week later, we conducted a taste test. And ...

it was perfect! So we ate some, and packed the rest back into the jar for storage in the refrigerator.

And just like that, our first kitchen experiment for the year is declared a success!

Friday, January 9, 2015

{Five for Friday} 5 Good Food Documentaries

The new year always brings on new resolutions, like the resolve to eat better. We used to do {Food for Thought} posts on the blog where we would share what we've learned and/or our concerns about the food we eat, but it's been a while since we've approached the subject. The following 5 food documentaries highlight the problems with our food industry, the consequences of eating mindlessly, and the bleak future we face by eating badly.

If you are one of those people who are aiming to eat better this new year, you might be interested in watching one or all of the following ...

1* Food, Inc.

2* Fed Up

3* King Corn

4* Super Size Me

5* Hungry for Change

In the end, the takeaway message from every one of these films is clear: knowledge is power. You simply cannot afford to be ignorant about the food you ingest.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Good Morning!

It's only the seventh day of the new year and somehow, I've gotten my sleep schedule all messed up already. The constant cold and lack of adequate sunlight are not helping. And the stress. Oh, the worries. They keep me tossing and turning all night.

But today, I came across this article online that offers me the sweet treat of falling asleep in under a minute. It's honestly got me excited about going to bed tonight! I can't wait to try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. You breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven, then exhale for eight seconds. This is suppose to slow your heart rate and lull you to sleep. It will be amazing to be free from the millions of thoughts that race through my mind each night.

In the meantime, it's a miserable 4°F outside. But hey, the sun is shining for a change! I'm going to go get some work done!

Happy hump day!

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's snowing!

It's snowing! The first significant snow of the winter season. Judging from the crowd at the grocery store and the craziness in the parking lot, I'm going to guess that we're in for a couple of unbearably cold days. Brrrrrrrr!!!!!

This was the inside of my car this afternoon. Snow, frost, ice belong on the outside, but I guess you have different expectations when you are driving an older car!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Recipe of the Week: World's Best Brown Butter Apple Galette

If you want to bake something really beautiful and delicious for the new year, might I suggest a galette?

A galette is not quite a pie, not quite a tart, and definitely not a cake. It's buttery, flaky pastry filled with something yummy in the middle. And this easy recipe, dear readers, makes the best brown butter apple galette in the world (though I've pretty much concluded that anything with brown butter makes my belly dance with glee ...)!

1/4 cup salted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
flaky pastry dough (see below for recipe)
4 apples (any kind you like!) sliced thinly
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
honey, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and vanilla extract over medium heat. Butter will foam, then brown. Be careful not to let it burn.
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese with maple syrup. Set aside.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry to either a rectangle or a circle, then transfer to a lined large rimmed baking sheet.
Spread cream cheese mixture then arrange apples in concentric circles or overlapping rows to within 1 inch of the edge.

Brush apples with brown butter and sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top of apples.

Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples. Brush with leftover brown butter.

Drizzle some honey over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until pastry is nicely browned and apples are tender.

Let cool before serving. Some ideas for toppings include vanilla ice-cream, cream fraiche, or a dollop of whip cream!

Galette dough

In a food processor, combine:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water (goes in last, sprinkled on top of flour mixture)

Process the pastry dough for 20 seconds, then transfer onto a work surface.
Pat dough into a disk, then wrap tightly in wax paper and refrigerate until chilled.
You also have the option of freezing the dough for future use, or using it right away.

Friday, January 2, 2015

{Five for Friday} 5 New Books to Start the Year

We picked up 5 new books to start off the new year with.

If you've seen our bookshelves lately, you know we really don't have room for more books. Maybe something like a Kindle might be better for us. But the truth is, nothing, absolutely nothing, can beat the feel, the smell, and the weight of a book in hand. No room on the bookshelf? No big deal. We'll just have to double stack!

These are the 5 books we chose:

Fermented Vegetables by Kirsten Shockey and Christopher Shockey
This one is a Christmas gift from Zach's mom. She knows we love kitchen experiments, so this book just ups the game for us! Zach is currently fermenting a small batch of cabbage for sauerkraut. I can't wait to see how that turns out!

Miss Lonelyhearts & The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Two novels about the decay of the American society. Nihilistic, prophetic, depressing. Intriguing.

The Shape of the Journey and In Search of Small Gods by Jim Harrison
Poetry books by the legendary Jim Harrison. These will stay bedside, because poems are great bedtime reads!

Farm City by Novella Carpenter
 ... because Zach and I dream about having our own farm someday, and this book will help make those dreams a tad more vivid!

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