July 28 Photostream - Paintings, Kids, Canning

A custom piece for a 20-year anniversary -- an adoring Pan and a water nymph.
Finished and given to the happy couple.
I SOLD this over the weekend on etsy.com -- so excited!! I love this painting, and it's going to a great home in Texas. The goddess Nut, reclining on her earthly husband, Geb.

Jocelyn, pulling out every puzzle in the house and with her "I'm trouble" face on :)
Watching the Phantom Menace... or Jocelyn?
Homemade Tomato Sauce from Local tomatoes. YUM YUM YUM
My husband found this old canvas on the side of the road, beat up and abandoned. Here it is at the beginning of the week with some sketching already done, ready to be upcycled and given new life.
The MesoAmerican Goddess, Water Panther, with her jaguar totem and Temple of the Jaguar behind her. This is the "first draft" that I began painting today while the wee one had her nap. Finished product will have more glazes and layers, be darker - she does, after all, hunt at night ;)


French Classics Made Easy - 250 Great Recipes Simplified for the Modern Kitchen

This month I've really been enjoying experimenting with european cooking, which provides the perfect foil for my light Japanese-style lunches. One cookbook that I've been especially pleased with is French Classics Made Easy. This book by Richard Grausman was sent to me a few months ago for review, and is an updated version to his well-known book At Home with the French Classics. The updated version not only simplifies and shortens cooking processes for the home chef, but many recipes have been trimmed down from their traditional French counterparts.

Now, Richard is one of the country's top cooking teachers and the founder of C-Cap, the non-profit Careers through Culinary Arts Program, so he is very concerned with the final result. His students go on to become top chefs in restaurants around the country, and are expected to understand French processes and produce authentic tasting cuisine. So his recipes, although often trimmed of excess fat or carbs, have lost none of the taste and richness of sensation that one expects from French food.

Author, Richard Grausman
His book covers everything from appetizers to desserts, including sauces, glazes and sorbets. I was especially excited about his ice cream and sorbet directions, because they don't call for an ice cream maker. I had an ice cream maker for years but it never worked properly. I think my freezer just can't get quite cold enough for it. Richard teaches us that you simply make your frozen base and then smooth in in the food processor. Return to the freezer to re-firm for a few hours and VOILA! perfect ice cream or sorbet. This is so easy, and perfect for the current heat wave we've been experiencing.

If you are looking for a book that will allow you to wow your dinner guests, or recreate your french vacation at home without tearing your hair out, this is the book for you. Duck a l'Orange, Gnocchi a la Parisienne, Soup a L'Oignon, Tarte Tatin -- they're all here! Being half French, this book brings back all sorts of wonderful memories of family vacations for me. But I am also especially thankful to Richard for showing me a faster, juicier and tastier way to cook a whole chicken (on it's side!); how to make cream sauce for pasta or vegetables in less than a minute; and make my own glaze from fresh stock, a bouillion like gel that will keep for months in the fridge or freezer and add flavor to many, many meals.


Culinary Tea -- A Cookbook Review

Recently I had the absolute pleasure to receive a review copy of "Culinary Tea: More Than 100 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World", by Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern. This book is a treasure. The authors have taken tea outside its comfort zone and proceeded to create a repertoire of meals that dazzle both the mind and body.

As many of you know, I am an herbalist by trade, so when I think of "tea" I tend to think of what are actually healing infusions made from plants. Tea, in its true sense, refers only to the plant camellia sinensis -- that which produces what is commonly known as white tea, black tea, or green tea. The recipes in this book are dazzling, and the story and history included along with the recipes made it a real pleasure to read. Whether you actually plan to cook with tea or not, I urge everyone to read this book -- it will broaden your understanding of cooking in general, and tea in particular. It's a beautifully designed volume which would enrich any coffee -- ahem, shall we say tea? -- table.

Have I become more of a tea enthusiast? Well, I most definitely do own more varieties of green and black teas now, and I have been experimenting quite a bit with matcha, or green tea powder, in my food. There is always a pitcher of tea brewing in my fridge for these hot summer days, and I have begun to experiment with tea/herb combinations more (chamomile will naturally sweeten the pot without adding calories, and mint cools the blood.)

"Culinary Tea" is 288 pages with full-color photos. It is available from Running Press for $22.95.


"Dangerous" Heat

I find the idea that 94F is too dangerous to be outside laughable. I went to work every day in LA when temperatures were over 100F. Traffic jams and overheated cars -- now that was scary. I worked an entire Summer in Madrid, Spain, where three weeks straight of temperatures ranging 110-115F were the norm. THAT was hot. And we did it without AC. To cool off, I would take a couple baths each day in cool water.Those were blissful moments, followed by lots of water, fresh fruit, and salty tapas.

Dangerous heat index at 94F?? Too dangerous to go outside?? Really? We're heading to the local swimming hole that is a spring-fed pool, and I'm looking forward to my time outdoors today :) I can't imagine being anywhere nicer on a hot summer day.


Weekend Photo Stream

Our newly finished stone hearth behind the wood stove (awaiting a new flue) and flowers from the garden.

Alt-rock Fairy Princess, kicking it old school in Hawaii-style vans.

Gorgeous backyard discovery -- 3 inch Pandora Sphinx Moth on my Irises

 Baby Eastern Toads chilling in the terrarium. They recieve a daily diet of wild insects while their outdoor brethren are slowly picked off by local birds, bigger frogs, and yes, the dog.

Homemade Rye/Mochiko Rice Flour Noodle, ready to be added to white miso soup.

Homemade Miso Soup with Bonito Flakes, Carrot Flowers, Multiple Seaweeds, Garlic Scapes, Lemon Balm and Orange Mint.

Loving the tire swing at grandma's house.