Back to the Studio

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It was a summer that I did not venture into my art studio, and yesterday I realized painting is what makes my heart sing.  That and some great Rhythm and Blues music in the background make for a wonderful day.

Two days ago I picked up a piece from a wonderful Interior Design Studio in Edmonds that sells quite a bit of my work.  The owner took me to house she is redoing and asked if I could do something for the living room to put above the fireplace. The colors were rich grays, taupes, bronze and a little bit of yellow green.  This piece is 30″ x 60″ and painted over a previous piece I had done a long time ago. Purple Abstract 30x48

It was done in a time when everything I did had some purple in it.  In the last couple of years I have finally grown tired of purple. I find painting over a previously painted abstract gives depth and life to a new painting.

In this case, since it was already framed, I just used green guerrilla painters tape to cover the frame, so did not have to remove it and could get right to painting.

Whenever I do a bigger piece, I make it so you can hang it vertically or horizontally. It is one thing I do to make it easier to use in what ever environment you hang the art.  In my own home, I may hang it one way for a while, then change 90 degrees in another place.  That way I don’t grow tired of the piece as quickly.

At the end of the day yesterday I felt this piece was complete and had a great start on a second piece.  I plan to spend a lot more time in my studio in the days to come.  It makes me happy!

Back to the Studio

Pianos are not “IN” anymore

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In my attempt to get rid of everything now, instead of waiting mode, I am finding the things I treasure are not even worth anywhere what I thought they might be.  I have a beautiful 1907 Mahogany Etsey grand piano with ivory keys and a new soundboard.  I have not played it much since marrying six years ago, as my husband is much better than I am.  I am a little embarrassed to play if he is around.  I took lessons for several years, but my first love of music was the clarinet, so my left hand does not mind as well as my right. Trying to work them together doing different things with each hand is just not intuitive to me.

Growing up on a farm in Northern California, we were not poor, we were dirt poor.  I never realized just how poor we were till I was an adult. My father worked two jobs and my mother was an elementary teacher.  We lived in a house that had been passed down from my great grandmother.  It was a very old house with no central heat, a cesspool behind the garage and the only bathroom where remodeling was started, but was never finished, so we had plywood countertops for years. The kitchen counter was rotted linoleum by the sink, but we had many wonderful family meals in the kitchen on our 1950’s now retro table. My mother played the piano, but my family could not afford lessons for me, so I did not have the opportunity to learn.  My mother played for church and school as my grandparents had an old upright piano where she learned.  I often wondered why I was not allowed to take lessons and play their piano, as they lived next door.

When I married the father of my three sons he supported my wanting to learn the piano and bought me a very nice upright piano, where two of my sons took lessons in Del Mar. We left the piano behind moving to the Northwest, with the promise when our gorgeous new home was complete we would buy a new grand piano.  The house was designed with that in mind. For my fortieth birthday, and the year Fred died he bought me a beautiful black concert grand piano where all three boys and myself took private lessons. When I sold that house, as after he died, it was just too big (7000 square feet) I designed the next house with a separate area for that beautiful piano. It had been used by the Seattle Opera, so it was signed by the conductor of the orchestra and had “Lionel Hampton” casters.  We had to hire a crane to get the piano to the second story conservatory for the piano.  In hind sight it was not the best place for the piano, as it was in a very private space away from the main area of the house.  I did practice every day for the years that we lived there; but since I had to go back to work full time to support my sons and I no longer took lessons.  By then they were teenagers and could not be bothered with  piano lessons.

When my taxes grew and grew and grew and I decided it was time to make a change, I had to hire a bigger crane to move the piano.  At the time I was not sure where I was going to move, so I put the piano in storage. I knew I would most likely never have a house with enough space for my beautiful fortieth birthday gift, so when I moved to my beach house I traded it in for the one I have today.

When I called the piano store where I purchased the Etsey grand, the owner informed me he had closed the store and works out of his garage. He told me pianos no longer sell well. He suggested I look on Ebay and see how many thousand pianos were offered for sale. It is sad that so many of the beautiful elegantly crafted and perfectly designed objects that were loved in the past are dismissed in today’s world. Not only are they unwanted, but if you happen to have them, many in the younger generation do not understand the significance they might have had in your life and think it is sill that you have not sold them for the “money”?

Now I guess I am going to keep it and when all the company of summer leaves, I may find somewhere to take piano lessons once again, as it is so relaxing. Maybe when my day comes, I will just donate all my beautiful things to a good cause, as I truly to do not want to burden my family with the bother of selling them.  Ha Ha

 

 

Pianos are not “IN” anymore

Dutch Apple Pie

Farmers Market in Kingston had a new farmer from Yakima today with all sorts of apples, so I bought about ten.  It will be interesting to see how the pie turns out, for I used Delicious apples like like to use in a Tarte Tartin.  The recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen.  Not hard, not simple and a little time consuming.

Dutch Apple Pie

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To create a flavorful, deep-dish apple pie recipe worthy of presentation, we sautéed a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples in sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter. Once they were softened, we removed them from the pan and added heavy cream to reduce and deglaze the pan. Combining the apples and cream mixture in a prebaked pie crust and topping the pie with a crunchy streusel were the finishing touches on our Dutch apple pie recipe.

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INGREDIENTS

Pie Dough

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, chilled in freezer for at least 30 minutes
4 – 6 tablespoons ice water

Apple Filling

2 ½ pounds Granny Smith apples (about 5 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 medium)
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup golden raisins
½ cup heavy cream

Streusel Topping

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/2 ounces)
cup packed light brown sugar
cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornmeal
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 8

The most efficient way to make this pie is to use the dough’s chill times to peel and core the apples and prepare the streusel, then cook the apples while the dough prebakes. We prefer ceramic or metal pie weights for prebaking the pie shell. If you don’t own any, rice or dried beans can stand in, but since they’re lighter than pie weights, be sure to fill up the foil-lined pie shell completely. For a finished look, dust the pie with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

1. For the pie dough: Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until combined. Add shortening and butter and process until mixture is pale yellow, rides up sides of bowl, and resembles coarse crumbs with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons ice water bit by bit over mixture; with rubber spatula, use folding motion to evenly combine water and flour mixture until small portion of dough holds together when squeezed in palm of hand (dough should feel rather wet). Add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if necessary. Turn dough onto clean, dry work surface; gather and gently press together into cohesive ball and flatten into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll out on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9-inch pie plate, or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of 9-inch pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Trim dough edges to extend about 1/2-inch beyond rim of pan. Fold overhang under itself; flute dough as desired, refrigerate or freeze dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 1 hour in refrigerator or 30 minutes in freezer.

4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough-lined pie plate from refrigerator or freezer and press doubled 12-inch piece heavy-duty foil inside pie shell and fold edges of foil to shield fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over foil. Bake, leaving foil and weights in place until dough looks dry and is light in color, 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights by gathering corners of foil and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until pie shell is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from oven.

5. For the apple filling: Peel, quarter, and core apples; slice each quarter crosswise into pieces 1/4-inch thick. Toss apples, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl to combine. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over high heat until foaming subsides; add apples and toss to coat. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in raisins; cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until Granny Smith apple slices are tender and McIntosh apple slices are softened and beginning to break down, about 5 minutes longer.

6. Set large colander over large bowl; transfer cooked apples to colander. Shake colander and toss apples to drain off as much juice as possible. Bring drained juice and cream to boil in now-empty Dutch oven over high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and wooden spoon leaves trail in mixture, about 5 minutes. Transfer apples to prebaked pie shell; pour reduced juice mixture over and smooth with rubber spatula.

7. For the streusel topping: Combine flour, sugars, and cornmeal in medium bowl; drizzle with melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms many large chunks with pea-sized pieces mixed throughout. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread streusel in even layer on baking sheet. Bake streusel until golden brown, about 5 minutes; cool baking sheet with streusel on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle streusel evenly over pie filling. Set pie plate on now-empty baking sheet and bake until streusel topping is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack and serve.

 

My husband loves Apple Pie, so we will see how he likes this  one.  To make sure the bottom was cooked through, I put a baking pan in the oven, while I doing the first round of baking the crust.  I put the pie pan on the hot baking pan, so it had a little heat to start.

Dutch Apple Pie

How to photograph what you cook.

This is a great article from America’s Test Kitchen.

5 Tips for Better Food Photography in Almost Any Setting

Hint: Natural light is your best friend.

JULIE BOZZO COTE

As the director of photography here at America’s Test Kitchen, I’ve art directed more than 1,000 food photography shoots for our magazines, cookbooks, and everything in between. Some tricks of the trade can only be accomplished using professional cameras and perfectly placed lighting, but the following five tips will help you take better food photos, no matter your setup. (And here’s a bonus sixth tip: Natural light is your friend!)

1. Taste It First

I find that once I know how amazing a dish tastes then I’m motivated to show off the unique qualities that make it such a winner. Once you’re in love with the food, you can then work to highlight those special details and properties. For instance, if a dish’s crunchy texture is the thing that gets you, then try to find ways to highlight that part by getting close in on the exterior or by showing textural differences within the dish.

2. Move Around the Food

Think high, think low, look at all sides of the food, move the plate and see what happens when light hits it from different angles. Get up on a chair or ladder, get low and look right into the interior. Add multiple pieces of the food, or include elements in the frame that support the main character in a real way.

3. Make Color Happen

Even if you have the brownest or whitest of foods, add that parsley or some olive oil or use a complementary colored serving vessel. Find ways to keep dimension in a photo that could look too monochromatic. And if you’re going for the monochromatic thing, which is cool, find lots of contrast and interesting shapes to play off of—create the shapes if you have to by cutting into the food in a creative way.

4. Fight the Cold

Food that’s meant to be served hot should be photographed while it’s hot. Makes sense, right? The challenge is that food can often look like it’s not actually hot in a photo, even if it is. The best way to show hot is to let juices from meat or fruits pool on a spoon or plate. Shoot the steam coming off food by adding a dark background that allows the camera lens to capture the wafting steam. Let the light rake over the top of the food so it looks shiny with the natural oils. (It’s also okay to add a little olive oil for highlights.)

5. Interact with the Food

Pick up the tongs or the slotted spoon and break up the mound of food with a cooking or serving utensil. This allows some breathing room on the platter or plate, and can uncover nice details. This also gives the sense of scale and brings in the element of motion and possible drama, which are always nice to capture in a still photograph.

(The photographs in this post were shot by Joe Keller, Carl Tremblay, and Daniel J. van Ackere.) 


What are your food photography secrets? Let us know!

How to photograph what you cook.