Going to the zoo!

What is your favorite animal at the zoo? We went a while back and I have always been fascinated by Flamingos as they just seem outrageous! Amazing colors, weird shape, very long strange legs and a strangely beautiful face. I took several photos of them that day and thought I might try my hand at painting them. With their aesthetically pleasing neck and slightly different way of standing on one leg or occasionally two, I found it a bit difficult to capture them perfectly. I decided to give up on perfection and go for fun.

These Birds are Crazy. 8″ x 10″

It is fun in a kind of crazy way. Going back to landscapes or cityscapes for a while in the future, or maybe some big abstracts. I just need to find a venue where I now live to sell my work. Any ideas are welcome.

Going to the zoo!

Lemons are Yellow

9″ x 12″

In the backyard of our California home we have an abundant Meyer Lemon Tree. At first it does not look like you are going to have many lemons. Then they slowly start arriving. The little buds show up and they must grow and divide, as all of a sudden there are lemons everywhere.

Last year I made Limoncello, Lemon Bars, Lemon Marmalade, Lemon Chutney, Lemon Pie and etc. So in other words, if it had lemon in it or on it I made it. This year I am making the Limoncello, but little more than that! This year I will paint the Lemons, not bake the Lemons.

Lemons are Yellow

Ewe Look Lovely

This is another smaller painting. 8″ x 10″.

My studio is now smaller, so I have been working smaller.

Today walking downtown I was asked if I would consider having a show at a local venue, so maybe I need to start working on some bigger pieces, so I could have a show there.

Keep you posted!

Ewe Look Lovely

And then there were grape vines

Living so close to Napa, makes it easy and wonderful to go wine tasting at a very wide variety of vineyards. One of my favorites is Crocker and Starr where they sell the Sauvignon Blanc and delicious Cabernet Franc. The last time we went wine tasting, I took lots of photos and painted a couple of vineyard pieces. These are smaller pieces, so about 8″ x 10″ and 9″ x 12″.
Trying to capture grapevines is not as simple as I you think. There is the idea of wonderful wine, the simplicity of the vines and difficulty of trying to capture the essence of the place. I added a little gold leaf to try to bring out life of the vines.
And then there were grape vines

Back to the Art Studio

It has been an interesting year or two. I was without an art studio for over a year, so it made it hard to want to paint, as I do love working in my studio. But the new studio in California is up and perfect. All new lights, new attitude and time to get back to painting and drawing. It works great, as my new husband loves to watch sports, and I like to go to events, but can’t listen to them or watch them on the television.

This is called “After the Fire” and is 3’0″ x 4’0″. There were many fires right before I moved to California, and we needed something to hide the instant hot water tank above the washer and dryer, so this came into being and is suspended from the ceiling hiding the tank and making laundry easier every morning.
And the Ducks Liked the Boat

This is a 11 inch x 14 inch painting of a photo I took right before Christmas. We were out shopping for a Christmas Tree at a Christmas farm, but it was so crowded I wanted to get away from the masses, and walked to discover this rather derelict row boat sinking in an irrigation canal. I took a photo and was amazed how beautifully it came out. Once I had some time in my studio I put it on canvas. It was certainly different looking for a tree in California than in Washington State.

I am still looking to find a group of art friends, as I have not yet acquired any, where I now live outside of Sacramento. Nor have I found a venue for selling my work, which sold well and often in Washington. If you have suggestions please contact me at dianabennett.artist@gmail.com

Back to the Art Studio

Cajun Shrimp & Grits


Talk about a quick and easy, yet tasty dinner. I paired with a nice salad and a good Pinot Noir.

For the Grits:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quick-cooking or regular grits not instant
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 2 ounces ( I used about 4 oz)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, about 1 ounce, plus additional for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions white and green parts, plus additional for serving

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 teaspoons EVOO
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, 25 count, peeled and deveined, with tails on

Instructions 

  • In a 3 quart saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, then slowly add the grits in a thin stream, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grits thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in the butter, black pepper, cheeses, and green onions.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss gently to coat. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast the shrimp for 5 to 6 minutes, until just pink and cooked through.
  • Serve a top the grits, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese and green onions.
Cajun Shrimp & Grits

Dobos Torte

Every birthday for years I made my three sons a Dobos Torte for their birthdays. My middle son really did not like chocolate as he grew older, so we changed his to a white cake with fresh strawberries. I had not made one in years and saw a six-layered Dobos Torte in Bake Magazine. It looks a lot more complicated than it is. I could not find the recipe online so I photographed it out of the magazine and hope you can read it.

This is my oldest son, now 41 cutting the Dobos Torte I made for family on Mother’s Day 2021. I think everyone enjoyed it. I sure did.

Dobos Torte

Dancing in the Wind

Back to my makeshift studio to paint. This is 60″ x 48″ and is designed to hide a water heater. Not the best reason to paint, but any reason in my mind is a good reason. When I sold my waterfront home, I gave up my perfect painting studio over my three car garage. It was designed to have perfect north lighting, lots of space for storage and close to main street where I could sell my art.

When I sold it, I bought a small cottage with a finished garage, so I could set up my studio there. It was great, people walked by and said hello and it was clean and organized with lots of storage. I still own the home, but do not live there.

Where I live now, really has no studio. It is a wonderful 1912 California Craftsman Bungalow with a not so lovely 1912 one-car garage. I’m not sure it ever really housed a car. It is unfinished, has that “old house” smell, and it has taken me a while to want to paint in it. In time we may dry-wall it, so I can hang some art and hopefully get some shelves so I can store some of my supplies. I did order a lamp this weekend to help with the lighting.

Dancing in the Wind

Garlic, I love you!

What are the benefits of garlic?

Garlic (Allium sativum), is used widely as a flavoring in cooking, but it has been used as a medicine throughout ancient and modern history; it has been taken to prevent and treat a wide range of conditions and diseases.

Garlic belongs to the genus Allium and is closely related to the onion rakkyo (an onion found in Asia), scallion, chive, leek, and shallot. It has been used by humans for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt for both culinary purposes and its health and therapeutic benefits.

National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one, but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant. Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which turns garlic’s thiosulfate compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and bringing about a drop in blood pressure. . Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system.

6. GARLIC CONTAINS VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU.

Garlic bulbs are filled with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid builder with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document, the Ebers Papyrus counts 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves. ,

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire, a beast repelled by garlic to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, he uses it as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent.

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush it to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply slice cloves in half and apply them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit, as long as you can stand and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

Here is a great article by Food52 about buying and using garlic:

ARROWFOOD

11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic

BY KATE ERBLAND APRIL 19, 2018

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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it’s China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC’S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC’S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC’S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel DraculaIn the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

This is a great article from Food52 on how to buy and use garlic.

Garlic

There are many, many varieties of garlic, but they can all be classified as either hardneck or softneck garlic. Softneck garlic truly has a soft neck, meaning the central stalk is pliable enough to be manipulated — this is the type used to make garlic braids. Softneck garlic tends to be milder in flavor and to have more cloves per bulb (up to 20!); hardneck garlic, on the other hand, has fewer cloves but they’re larger (3, last photo) and easier to peel. 

When you buy garlic, as is true when you buy onions, you’re looking for hard, dry bulbs; like onions, they’ve been cured, which means they will last longer and store well. After being cured, the roots and stalk (1, photo below) are trimmed and the outermost layer of paper wrappers is removed. The garlic is ready to hang out in a cool, dry place in your home for months. Both types of garlic store well once cured, but softneck garlic will keep for a much longer time than hardneck, which is why you’ll usually find softneck garlic at grocery stores.

If stored long enough, you’ll eventually see little green sprouts in your garlic cloves. We generally don’t bother with removing them, but if you prefer to, just flick them out with the tip of a sharp knife. ( Iread once that they are a bit bitter, so I remove them)

Garlic

For those who think garlic is garlic, it isn’t all the same. Different varieties carry unique flavor profiles, but you’ll likely have to head to your local farmers market to try varieties like Inchelium Red, Kettle River Giant, Purple Glazer, and Sicilian Silver. Once you leave the supermarket, you’ll see more color variation, like purple streaks (2) in both the bulb wrappers and the cloves.

Once you get to know your local garlic farmer, you’ll have an easier time getting your hands on garlic at other stages of growth early season treats like green garlic and garlic scapes(the latter of which are only produced by hardneck garlic) and wet or fresh garlic (which is fully mature garlic that is eaten immediately after it has been harvested, without going through the curing process).

Garlic Cloves

If you’ve ever come across black garlic, that’s not a specific variety, it’s garlic that’s gone through fermentation and the flavor could be described as having a lot going on: “First there’s a hit of sweetness, followed by a faint hint of smoke, then a pungency that lingers long after the sweetness is gone.” If you’ve tried it and you weren’t immediately converted to its charms, cook with it, as the flavor changes with heat. 

For some, garlic cloves can be as aggravating as shallots. as recipes will call for a set number of cloves, but when heads of garlic can have such a wide range of clove sizes, there’s room for interpretation. We assume a mediumish-sized clove of garlic is about a half teaspoon once minced. 

Garlic

It’s hard to find a savory dish that we don’t like to use garlic in, but if garlic isn’t the first thing you reach for when you start cooking, we’ve got 5 ideas to get you started using more of it:

  • Pair garlic with your favorite protein: Try it with any protein
  • Introduce garlic to your favorite vegetable.
  • Make garlic bread or try grilling it.
  • Roast garlic to bring out its softer side.
  • Enjoy garlic in soup.
Garlic, I love you!

Seared Scallops over Risotto

An easy and fast dinner for a weeknight. I prepared the chopped onion and garlic in the morning, so I just had to add it to the Risotto as I was cooking it. I took some frozen peas out of the freezer and had some fresh broccoli in the refrigerator left over from Farmers Market, so cut it up and got it ready.

Risotto is an easy dish, but you do have to watch and stir and watch and add more liquid. I took a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator and put it on the counter to bring to room temperature. Most people tell you to add everything “hot” to the pan, once you add the rice and EVOO, but I add at room temperature, mostly because I am a little lazy. I almost always have frozen chicken stock, so throw it in the microwave to warm, while I am cutting up veggies.

Garlic Parmesan Risotto

Risotto in 17-25 minutes?! I’m in! Garlic Parmesan Risotto may be the star of the show we call “dinner” in this easy side – it’s sure to please the whole family!CourseSide DishCuisineItalianPrep Time5 minutesCook Time20 minutesTotal Time25 minutesServings4Calories367kcalAuthorKylee Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion diced finely
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tb s EVOO
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  •  dry white wine ( I use whatever is left over in the refrigerator, so maybe half a bottle). Cheap wine gives you cheap flavor.
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for serving ( I only use Reggiano Parmigiano, so the flavor is the best it can be)
  • 3 Tbs freshly chopped parsley ( I pick it from my garden, and be sure to remove all the stems, as they are bitter)
  • Peas and Broccoli or what ever veggie you want to add.

Instructions

  • Add butter and oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook until just tender, then add the garlic. Cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the rice and toss to coat, (making sure oil gets onto every grain of rice if you can). Remember I did mine ahead of time.
  • Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  • Add 1 ladle of stock and stir until it absorbs.
  • Repeat this until you have used almost all of the stock -(It should take about 17-25 minutes). Taste to make sure it is the texture you want to eat it. Not mushy, but not too al dente.
  • After adding the last ladle of stock, add the parsley, and promptly add the cheese.
  • Let it absorb until it is creamy and thick, but not soupy.
  • Serve, adding extra parmesan if desired.

Seared Scallops

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • In the meantime, pat the scallops very dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper, to season.
  • When the pan is hot, add EVOO, then drop in your scallops, giving them enough room in between so they don’t steam each other. The scallops should make a sizzling noise when you put them in the pan.
  • Cook the scallops for 2 minutes, or untill you can see a little brown on the edges, making sure not to move them or touch them at all.
  • Flip the scallops over with a pair of tongs, and add the butter to the pan. Let the scallops cook for 1 more minute, basting the scallops with the butter.
  • Remove the scallops from the pan and serve over Risotto!

We served this with a Bennett Lane Pinot and loved the dinner. My granddaughter, age ten had joined us for dinner and ate two huge helpings, more that my male friend. She is quite slight, but can really eat if she loves it! Enjoy!

Seared Scallops over Risotto