The Man From Australia

My last class, and probably the last one I will take for a while was from a well-known and respected artist from Australia.  Colley Whisson came to teach a four-day class at The Winslow Art Center and people from all over the country came to take the class.  He was funny and told great stories and talked a lot!  And talked a lot, but taught a lot too!  He paints a wide variety of topics and creates beautiful paintings from very simple photos.

The first day he did a demo for most of the morning and into the afternoon.  We were then given a photograph of the painting he had previously done from the same photo.

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It was a very simple beach scene which did not seem exciting, but using the brush strokes he showed us and the limited palate, I was very pleased with my finished piece.  I think I was one of few in the class that he did not “touch” my canvas.  He made one suggestion but seemed to like my work.  (Yippee!!!)

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Day two was an old cabin and it was interesting to see in a class of twelve or more that were no two even similar.  Mine featured the smallest cabin. Once again, he did not jump in and work on my painting and made one or two suggestions.  This is a small canvas and I liked using a larger brush than I had in the past.

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Day three after the morning demo he set us free on copying his painting.  Other than saying I should move the chicken or the fountain, he seemed to like my work.  He did make one perspective change that was right-on.  I am getting used to using the bigger brush and like the look.  I would never have selected this view to paint, but I think it turned out pretty fair.

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The fourth and last day we painted Plein Aire in the garden that used to belong to a friend of mine. I had not been in the garden since she sold the home after her parent’s passed away within months of each other.  It is a whimsical and beautifully lush garden.  As I walked in, I loved the contrast of the blue pot in the distance and the bright pink flowers close-up.  After I came home and looked at a photo I had taken and what I had painted I darkened the background for more contrast.  At his suggestion, I added more paint in the foreground and I think the effect is quite positive.

Colley is an excellent teacher that does beautiful paintings and makes his living selling his art in Australia.

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I love the simplicity of his work along with the beautiful brushwork.  One thing he said that will now remain a constant in my work going forward is that you need to have a quiet space to contrast the brushwork.  Brilliant~

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Simple composition with beautiful colors and brushwork. And I really do not like blue, but like the work overall.

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I call this elegantly simple, but fascinating.

 

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As you can see from the four examples I shared of his work, it is colorful, but controlled and beautifully painted.  I would definitely take his class another time. There were many little jewels that I learned from this master artist.

The Man From Australia

Paleo Sausage & Cauliflower Casserole

1.jpgIngredients

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Italian sausage, casings removed

1 medium yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

4 sprigs thyme

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup almond flour

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the cauliflower florets to the pot and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse the florets with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook for 8-10 minutes until browned, using a spoon to break into small pieces. Stir in the onion, garlic, and thyme. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the tomatoes and juices to the pan and cook for 5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Remove the skillet from heat and carefully stir in the cauliflower. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with almond flour. Bake for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven to broil and cook an additional 3-5 minutes. Garnish with parsley to serve.
Paleo Sausage & Cauliflower Casserole

Take the right class

One of the other classes this summer was given by an artist that paints in oil, but more successfully in watercolor. When I arrived at the class I realized everyone else taking the class was painting watercolors.  I do Urban Sketching and luckily had my kit in the car, so I could do watercolor. It was NOT why I was taking the class.  It was an expensive class and I had to drive an hour each way to attend.  I only attended two of the four days.  I think I learned everything I could the first day.

The class was about painting moving water, so we were drawing from printed the examples on the first day.  I quickly learned it was a very beginning class and many of the students had very little drawing experience, let alone watercolor experience.  They had a lot of drawing equipment, but not educated skill.

The teacher had, as many do, sent out an extensive list of supplies with several new (to me) oil paint colors.  So I had to find the colors quickly and $$$$ before the class.  I did not use even one of the colors required and more than that the use of these color combination was never discussed or explained.  The teacher was a lovely talented lady and I enjoyed talking with her but did not enjoy the scattered and unorganized class.

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In this small watercolor, we were to work on the direction the flow of the water, by bringing the edge over the top and puddling it at the bottom.  That was the extent of what I learned in class.  The next day we went to a local park to paint moving water, but there was no moving water.  There was a rather stagnant pond. I did a small watercolor of it but did not like the result, so put it in the “not to be shared” file, otherwise known as the trash can or round file. gaz.jpg

Later in the day, I did the little gazebo by the water, but there was nothing new it this either.

I will continue to admire Julie Gilbert Pollard’s work, but what she does versus what she teaches are two different things.  I would have loved to have learned how to use the new colors that I bought for the class.  I will never take a class that attempts to teach both watercolor and oil painting as the approaches are the complete opposite.  In oil painting, you generally start with the darks and in watercolor painting, you add them last.  2.jpg

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The other thing in signing up for a class, find out the experience of the other class members overall.  If there are a lot of beginners in the class they are “time hogs’.  They don’t mean to be, but they just want to learn so much more.

I have taken classes taught by the same teacher at different locations and discovered when most of the class is beginning, you don’t walk away with nearly as much new information.  The other “light goes off”, was that every artist thinks that their way is the best and sometimes the only way to do art.  Keep in mind there are a lot of different ways to come to a beautiful painting.

Take the right class

Art Classes

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William Wray is a very talented artist and came from Los Angeles to teach at The Winslow Art Center this summer.  Signing up for the class, which was quite expensive, I was hoping to learn how to take my more impressionistic painting to a more edgy look, but it was a class about extreme basics and blocking, which is always a good refresher, but not what I was hoping to learn.

The first morning of class, he announced that there was no democracy in this class. We were to do as he required.  I commented that right now in the world, we don’t really know what a democracy is anyway, so it did not really matter.  Not so sure he liked my comment.

We spent three days working on 2″ x 3″ drawings and if he and only he approved of our drawing, we could move on to painting in two colors.  Middle of the day on the first day, he reviewed one of my drawings of a gas station and comment:  “That is about a B+”.  Considering he had not said anything to any of the other drawings in the class, I just commented back: “Well, that would be the lowest grade I have gotten in the last twenty years.”   I complete my Ph.D. at 62 with a GPA of 3.85 having gotten a couple of A-‘s, but no B’s.    He was no sure what to think of my comment.  I felt it was a little “macho” at the time and at this point in my life, I am not out to impress anyone.

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Here are a few of his paintings:

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I was attracted to the etherial rawness of his work and hoped to be able to learn from a person I considered masterful.  I walked away with a couple of new ideas, a few new artist’s works of whom I was unaware, but I did not feel the class brought any real “ah ha’s”.  I could have learned as much studying his work.  The technique was not shared.  This is the only class I have taken where I actually think the narcissism of the artist got in way of actually teaching students anything new.

There were several successful professional artists in the class.  I wondered what they felt about the experience, as it was more of an experience than a learning environment.  I did not save any of the small tonal works that I did as I did not like them, and did not feel I learned much new from them.  I was frustrated in the class.

Our first day out Plein Aire painting, I could not find anything that looked remotely interesting to paint in our 2″ x 3″ block.  He came to talk to me and asked me how I reacted to classes I hated in high school or college.  I told him, the problem was that I loved my classes and loved learning.  The only thing in high school that upset me about a class was the time I spilled acid on a new pair of shoes and ruined them.   I didn’t mention the one class I had to drop in college as I stayed out all night partying rather than studying for a test.

I was being sarcastic, as I felt it had nothing to do with painting and irked me a bit.  I started not to attend the last day of class, but it was by the marina and I love the water and boats.  My first drawing and painting, which I did not save was of a “floating” dock.  He came by and said my perspective was off.  I told him the dock had moved.  For some reason, he had not noticed that the dock was not stationary and moved with the tide.  I just laughed.

Later that day, I sketched a little tug-like boat at the dock. and he said it was “ok” to paint.  IMG_1887.jpg

So first we had to do a “block-in” using only three values.

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Then we could actually put the painting on a 6″ x 8″ canvas.  Mine is below.  It is certainly not one of my favorite works, but it was on par with other work in the class.

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Conclusion:     Find out how and what the teacher is going to teach and don’t bother taking classes that only go over basics if you do not need that level of instruction.  Don’t take too many classes in a close time frame, as it is only and always confusing.  My lessons of classes grew my credit card bill and didn’t expand my knowledge as much as I would have desired.  I can see improvement in my painting, but it was only from a couple of the classes.

Art Classes

It is an official “Puppy Take-over”

My house is no longer the serenely lovely home by the sea.  It is a maze of puppy cages, toys, and protective barriers.  The cat now has to eat behind the barrier in my living room and my home has the essence of Lavender, as puppies apparently do not chew where you spray Lavender.  Or I only hope it has a Lavender scent and not something else.

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The puppy, known as Coco, loves to tug and pull on the corners of my living room chairs and thinks my grand piano legs need resculpting.  So here we have a very short (17 feet) barrier, which gives the cat a safe place to leave cat hair.

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As you enter our once rather, kind of elegant front door, you are now greeted by the small dog kennel, where Coco goes when your patience has neared an end.  This happens more when there is more than one person in the house, as she gets too excited.  The kennel is filled with at least $100 worth of toys and chews, and a water bowl.

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Venturing out onto our once scenic back deck is another “station” for puppy break time.  Sometimes she loves to sit here and count the birds and other times she howls till you shamefully let her back in so she can annoy you.

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Moving on in the yard is the “Poop Training” kennel, where you run down the stairs and out to the yard every time she sits by the back door.  But she doesn’t always give you the warning gesture and we should now own stock in paper towels and toilet paper.  Luckily now she only has access to wood and stone floors.  Before we put up the seventeen-foot barrier, our living room area rug was her favorite depository. I never did love that rug, so hoping it might see it’s demise and have to be replaced.  Ha Ha

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In my what used to be organized in my laundry is the sleeping crate, where she does finally sleep through the night and finally “makes” it through the night.  There is another one of these crates in the back of my Mercedes for travel.  As I attempted to put the divider up between the back and the seats, where she stayed happily and peed.  Luckily the area was already protected with a rubber mat, so cleaning was relatively easy, but I did have to leave all the windows open to air out the smell.

Like the kennel in the back yard, there is a matching one that is a bit taller for the garage, for if and when we dare to have company.

 

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Then, there is that moment, and it only takes a moment when you are trying to work in your office and the knawing you here is not that yummy stick that you bought hundreds of, but the even yummier molding that just might have to be repaired.

Better yet is the collection of spray bottles and etc, that are now on the counter in the Laundry Room. Must be prepared in the event of another happy chewing event!  There is additionally the spray bottles throughout the house to stop Coco from chasing you and growling and attempting to rip your pants off your body at you try to walk through your formerly peaceful house.

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And don’t forget the dog bed that is more of a toy than a bed, as it mysteriously moves throughout the house.  It started out under my desk after I moved the printer, so she would not eat yet another set of cords.

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And the look that says “You Love Me” and I am worth it.

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It is an official “Puppy Take-over”

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Turning seventy is a pretty big marker in your life, kind of like a “land-mine”.  You are there, it is the climax, as unfortunately, it is mostly downhill after 70, with health issues, brain issues and with what personally worries me the most: stamina!

As we go through life we make wonderful friends, have wonderful adventures and experiences, enjoy our family time and spend a lot of time working at some job to support our lifestyle and our hobbies, adventures, and family.  We live hectic busy lives racing from event to event, sport to sport, meeting to meeting and don’t realize we love it, till it is done and our children are grown and live elsewhere. But the memories and the joy of them remain.

I am lucky enough to have one beautiful granddaughter that spends time with me throughout the year, but does not live closeby; so I do miss the everyday experiences with her and regret she does not live closer.  Still, at eight we have a wonderful and loving relationship.

This year I decided to have a party for my Birthday, which I have not done since I was sixty and will not do again unless I turn 100. (But I will be too senile by then to know if I had one or not) . Ha Ha

My youngest son and granddaughter and I made seven types of sausage one summer day and ate the “go-betweens” for dinner.  That is called “not changing and cleaning the sausage stuffer between recipes”.  They were so good, my husband and I made two more kinds one night after he got home from work.  It was a lot of fun and over 100 sausages of all different kinds were made.

I had decided to have a 70th Birthday party, so sent out Evites and Emails to about 150 friends and family.  I used to have parties with my women friends when I was in my late forties and early fifties and single, and more than one hundred people would show up.  I would make the entree, and everyone would bring food and wine.  It was easy and great fun!  One year everyone had to wear red, so my whole house was a sea of red.  One year it was a “silly slipper” party and the best slippers won a price.  Invitations were mailed and each person could meet a friend.  We all made lots of new friends this way and had fun and lots of laughs.  I had expectations of this being the same for my 70th!

My dear friends of forty years came up from Del Mar for the celebration, and friends of fifty years came, even after recent back surgery.  Most of my book club, my Table Five Women’s group, and a variety of neighbors, ex-students and local friends came and we had a lovely evening.  But it was not the hundred or more that used to arrive.

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The Evite card had a photo of me at 30 saying the “Glamour is Gone”, but the party has just begun.   In many ways that is just not true.  I believe the quiet time of life has just begun.  Since I am no longer working, I awake when I desire. (not too late with new puppy) and enjoy my days painting, cooking and reading  (Seventy-five books last year and fifty-one so far this year). I no longer participate in Rotary or the local Chamber and interestingly enough only one person attended from those years of service.

This Birthday is the last of the big parties I will attempt to have.  We may be eating sausage for the next ten years anyway.  I so very much appreciate my friends that took the time to stop by and love the cards and several gifts.  I have come to the realization, that as our friends grow older, they travel more, spend time with newly extended families and do not respond to invitations.  In life, we are always learning. I love all the Birthday Greetings that I receive via Social Media and accept that Social Media is beginning to replace or attempting to replace meaningful relationships.

I remember when, before cell phones with contact lists, I had over a hundred telephones memorized and now I cannot even tell you those of my spouse or my sons without referring to my cell phone.  Email and text and messages via Facebook have replaced many happy phone calls and coffee dates with friends.  Thinking about this I wonder what it will be by the time I turn eighty?

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None of this is a complaint!  It is a realization that life changes as we age.  Our families live all over the world.  Our friends are busy with their families traveling all over the world to stay close to them. My summer birthday date sends people to weddings and the births of grandchildren; the last hurrah of good weather for those traveling in this area and people so much on the go there is not enough time for everything.

I had really wanted to just go to Ireland, but that was not in the cards.  From now on I am going to be traveling on my birthday and enjoying it.  No more weeks of prep for a party or a day or two of clean up afterward.  I am accepting that I am too old and too dang tired.

I have always been lucky in life that I have wonderful friends and I intend to keep them close and love them more than ever, but I am going to put “me first” for once and save my money and travel and paint.

So Happy Birthday to Me and thank you to all my family and friends for making it wonderful!!!

 

 

 

The Art of Turning 70 Years Old!

Art Classes

This summer I took quite a few Art Workshops with different painters. From some, I discovered new ways of seeing art. From others, I had a good review of the basics of art, something all artists should think about from time to time.   As would be expected, I enjoyed a couple of my classes better than others.

I am not a floral artist, but I took a studio with Stanley Bielen where we painted small florals, vegies or anything we selected from a table full of fun objects.  My first was a copy of the demo he did for the class. Stanley 1.jpg

Being happy with that, I found a small white teapot and put together a rather whimsical painting with the teapot.  All of these pieces are 6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″, a size I had not done much work in before, so small was a little challenging to me.

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The class lasted three days and each day I discovered something new or different. Stanley is a funny and intelligent instructor that kept the class laughing with stories and kept our interest by sharing facts and information about other current artists that he has met.  The class had students from all over the United States and Canada. It was fun being in a class with such dedicated artists.

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Going searching the table for the next object or objects to paint I spotted this beautiful turnip and loved the contrast of the bright orange peppers next to it.  Purple and orange are two of my favorite colors, so this was fun to paint and I was pleased with the composition.

Day three and a lot of the flowers on the table were starting to look a little limp, and having had such fun painting the turnip, I decided to do another vegetable – a Bok Choy. Bok Choy.jpg

I loved the floppy character of the Bok Choy and felt I “captured” the essence in this little painting.  By the last day in the afternoon, I was getting tired.  I was enjoying the class, but my energy level was down a bit.  I often think I am better in a two-day class. The last painting of the class was my worst of the series. yellow.jpg

I started too high on the canvas so I was not happy with the composition and composition, even of small paintings make or break the work.  I think I finally just cut off the bottom and repainted shortening the stems.

Being inspired by painting small, I took the concept to a slightly larger canvas and painted plants with pots from our local nursery.  I am pleased with the result and hope to do a few more of these in the future.  Pink flowers.jpg

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Stanely Bielen’s class at The Winslow Art Center was informative, fun and made me look at smaller objects in a new way.  This was not the first of my Summer Classes, but one I truly tried something I had not attempted before and was quite happy with the result.

One other lesson from taking many classes in too short a period of time is that every successful artist believes their paint color choices, canvas finish, and style is the best way to paint. What you should take away is that there is no one style of painting and that you can incorporate, some but not all that you gather from each professional.  Take too many classes and it becomes confusing.  Take classes from too few instructors and will realize that your paintings start to look like theirs.

I took art class once a week from the same instructor for twelve years.  One day after they opened a small local gallery and I was taking a hiatus from painting I walked by the gallery and my youngest son (in his thirties) said to me: Why do all the paintings shown here look the same, even though there were four or five artists represented?”  It was at that moment I decided to take classes from a variety of different professional artists.

Art Classes

Adding a Puppy to your home

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I used to love my nice quiet mornings.  Wake up at will, make coffee, feed the cat and then check email or write on my blog.  Head out to my art studio to paint.

How would I know that getting a puppy would change my entire life?  My serene home now has a kennel by the front door, a 17-foot fence to block off the living room, a crate in the laundry room and a jillion dog toys and bones and a bed floating throughout the rest of the downstairs spaces. The doors to any other rooms are closed and there is a gate to close off the upstairs.  In the back yard is another kennel for potty training.

The guilt of leaving the dog in the crate makes me jump out of bed the minute I wake up.  Goodbye, leisurely mornings.

The cat constantly teases the dog, so the dog is always chasing the cat.  Keep in mind the cat weighs more than the dog.  This is most likely the first time I have ever regretted that our cat was declawed.

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Our puppy came from “Farmland” and she, as you can see, is adorable, but buying from a store has some additional challenges.  She has Giardia which is not fun. She started getting diarrhea about day three, so we have been to the vet several times.  I don’t think I need to describe in more detail, but we did move the in-house kennel from the nice light gray wood floors to the tile by the entry.  The liquid medicine is not her favorite, so this morning, I am not sure if more went down her throat or all over the floor.  I am wondering how you could mix it with peanut butter so she likes it.  No, I think I will just let my husband have this joy (job) for the next few days.

I read that giving her rice and boiled chicken might help diarrhea, so I made up several batches.  The first two batches went well, but the third was a little more stuck together.  Well, it became a toy, and as she played with it, batting it throughout the dining room, kitchen and hall as it deteriorated in small clumps.  It only took a half-hour to sweep and vacuum it all up, while both the cat and dog chased me trying to eat it.

So my quiet and serene morning began, by running the dog outside to pee, coming in, noticing more pee on the wood floor, that she must have snuck that in earlier when my husband let her out at 5 AM; feeding the cat, chasing the ball of rice-chicken around the house, cleaning up poop in the entry, cleaning the chicken/rice more and then I finally got to make a cup of coffee.

As I am making the coffee, the dog makes a run at the 17-foot fence, knocking it over and scaring itself.  Uprighting a 17-foot fence is not the easiest thing to do, but I did and it is now held in position by two of my dining room chairs.

It’s an hour later and I finally get my first cup of coffee.

I turn seventy this week, and though I am generally high energy, I wonder if I have enough to deal with a cat and a new puppy at this age.

I have actually had a couple painting classes and done a little Urban Sketching, just no time to post.

Adding a Puppy to your home

Cantalope, Tomato & Avocado Salad with Butter Garlic Baked Pork Chops

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Servings 4

Total Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Nutrition Information

Calories 192

Carbohydrate 22g

Protein 3g

Fat 13g

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon(s) lime juice
  • 4 teaspoon(s) honey raw
  • 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sea salt coarse
  • 1 medium cantaloupe(s) quartered and seeded
  • 1 medium avocado(s)
  • 1 cup(s) tomato(es) cherry or grape, halved

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, honey, oil and sea salt; set aside.
  2. Cut each cantaloupe quarter in half lengthwise. Run a knife between the flesh and the skin of the melon, discard skin. Slice each wedge lengthwise into 1/2 inch pieces.
  3. Cut each avocado in quarters lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch thick slices. Add cantaloupe, avocado, and grape tomatoes to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

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Garlic Butter Baked Pork Chops (Super easy to make!!!)

Garlic Butter Baked Pork Chops are juicy, tender, and super-flavourful thanks to the amazing butter sauce. You need less than 20 minutes to make this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 medium-sized heritage breed pork chops

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons grass-fed butter — melted (use ghee if you’re doing whole30)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme — chopped

2 cloves garlic — minced

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, thyme, and garlic. Set aside.

4. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.

5. When the skillet is really hot, add the pork chops. Sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

6. Pour the garlic butter mixture over the pork chops.

7. Place the skillet in the oven, and cook until the pork chops reach an internal temperature of 145ºF, about 10-12 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of your pork chops.

8. Remove from the oven. Using a spoon, pour some of the butter sauce left in the skillet onto the pork chops before serving.

Cantalope, Tomato & Avocado Salad with Butter Garlic Baked Pork Chops

Seared Scallops with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce and Orzo

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In just 30 minutes you can have restaurant-worthy seared scallops ready for a delicious weeknight dinner. This summertime recipe makes great use of your garden tomatoes and basil. Sea scallops called large or jumbo scallops, are up to three times larger in size than bay scallops. They have a sweet, delicate flavor and slightly chewy texture. The jumbo scallops make great main dishes, and the smaller bay scallops are ideal stirred into pasta dishes or tossed onto salads. Look for dry-packed scallops, which are packed without extra water or preservatives. This helps them brown nicely when cooked. Dry-packed scallops have a shorter shelf life than wet-packed scallops, so cook them the day you buy them.

How to Make It

Step 1

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the basil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and release their juices, 6 to 7 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; cover and keep warm.

 

Step 2

Wipe skillet clean. Pat scallops dry with paper towels, and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over high. Add scallops, and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side. (Do not overcook.)

 

Step 3

Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Stir in butter and parsley.

Step 4

Divide orzo among serving plates; top each with about 2/3 cup tomato sauce and 4 scallops. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.

Seared Scallops with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce and Orzo