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Friday, October 30, 2009

Tiny Items get the most Attention

I painted these tiny ceramic plates to see if it could be done. The plates only measure 1.5 inches in diameter. See the diamond ring? The little plates had no home, and then . . . . .

I spotted this lovely and old Italian frame. A perfect marriage.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow and cold, too early.

It is only October! I'm not ready for the cold. Our pond is freezing over! And, it is only October!

It snowed for most of the day, yesterday

I picked these winter pears only the day before,
it was sunny and warm then.

A good friend came by. We canned pears, we baked pear tarts and we enjoyed a bottle of champagne.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

The All Important Brush

All of my brushes tell a story. They come from different parts of the world. . . and I was there.

You have to hold them just right, you have to slow down your stroke, you have to mix the pigment-to-binder-to-water just so. The style of painting is called Delft in Holland, Faience in France and Maiolica in Italy.

Of all the brushes I own, these 2 brushes are the most special. The brush on the right was given to me by the artist Alberto Lunghini of Ferrara, Italy. If you join the locals on their evening Passeggiata you will go right by his beautiful shop.

The brush on the left was a gift from the head painter of a company in Holland. The company has been making hand painted tiles since 1594, which ranks it amongst one of the oldest companies in the world.

While at the factory, I noticed that each painter worked with a slightly different, although similar, brush. You can't buy this brush. It is made by each painter. And this is how:

You befriend your butcher. If he likes you, he will give you the ear from an ox. You can then pull out a few hairs from the ear, then find a whole bunch of hair from a sable and then you have to figure out how to attach all of this hair to a handle. Or you can wrestle your cat for his newly caught mouse and proceed as above. Now you know why that particular brush is so special.

My father taught me how to take care of a fine brush. These brushes should last me for the rest of my life. I won't have to make friends with the butcher (unless I want to) and I don't have to steal a mouse from Stanley, my cat.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apple Pie

On the left, the extra dough is for a plum tart which goes to the cook, on the right is the way to put it together

The finished pie is still bubbling. I should not be baking an apple pie when Gene is on a hunting trip. I fixed a good cup of coffee and ate a piece of pie and then had another . . . can you see? Maybe I just had one very large piece.

Here is how to make an apple pie and I will share a secret with you. Instead of cold water use cold milk. The crust bakes nice and brown and the pie dough is easier to handle. This pie has only a top crust. Who needs the extra calories?
5 or six tart apples
2 Tb of fresh lemon juice
5 to 6 TB of sugar, adjust if necessary
2 TB of cornstarch
a sprinkling of cinnamon
Mix ingredients and pour into deep pie dish, dot with 1/4 stick of unsalted butter
Pie Crust
1 generous cup of flour
3 tsp of coarse salt
With pastry blender cut 3/4 stick of unsalted butter into flour
Sprinkle 1/3 cup of cold 2% milk over flour
Mix with large fork.
Dough should be sticky, adjust amount of milk accordingly
Form into ball, let rest for a few minutes
Roll out dough, cut a few leaves and an apple from extra dough
Cover apples with pie crust and arrange apple and leaves on top
Sprinkle top of pie with sugar
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 45 minutes or until crust is nice and brown.

Today I'm joining  http://designsbygollum.blogspot.com/

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Talent and Compassion

Not very long ago I met a very charming and talented young woman. She wanted to learn how to paint ceramics in the Italian Renaissance style. You see, she is a very gifted potter. Her large, and difficult -to-throw vessels are as excellent as the finest work you see in Italy. And now, her Italian Maiolica is just as superb.

I have been painting in the Maiolica style for several years, having learned the art in Deruta, Italy. Cindy only needed a few lessons and she was on her way.

I am only giving you a few glimpses of Cindy's work, hoping to entice you to see her entire collection at the Lamplight Art Gallery in Bountiful, Utah, a bedroom community of Salt Lake City. Lucinda Ericksen's exhibit will be featured until the end of this October.

All of the proceeds will go to a charitable foundation that Cindy and her husband founded many years ago in honor of a young man who died much too early. Not only is Cindy a very, very talented artist she is also a very compassionate person, a quality you will know about Cindy as soon as you meet her.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Biscotti di Noce

Most often, Italians prefer fresh fruit accompanied by an excellent cheese for desert. The exception is the biscotti or twice-baked bread.

Here is an authentic recipe for this delectable little cookie. Sometimes, after the biscotti is baked, I will dip either end of the cookie into a fine dark and melted chocolate.

1 cup blanched whole almonds
1/2 cup of hazelnuts
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
5 eggs
1 stick unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 cups sugar
1 tb finely grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast almonds and hazelnuts separately for 10 minutes each. Rub hazelnuts inside a kitchen towel to remove most of the skin.

Add hazelnuts to the remaining whole almonds and chop coarsely.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

Butter 2 large cookie sheets.

Combine all dry ingredient (except sugar).

In large bowl whisk eggs until frothy. Stir in butter, sugar and lemon zest.

Stir in flour and nut mixture until well blended. Dough should be sticky, if too dry add a little milk.

With slightly wet hands shape dough into 4, 12x3 inch logs and place about 4 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes or until firm in the center (or golden brown).

Let cool slightly. Do not turn off oven.

Slide the logs onto a cutting board and cut diagonally into half inch slices. Stand slices on edge. Return to oven and bake until brown or about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bargains in Europe

Bargains are still to be found in Europe; follow me

Driving along the motorway (as "Navi", the GPS calls them), at about 3 to 4 o'clock in the afternoon, start looking for church towers

There are always
3 or 4 Gasthauses
around a church

Gasthauses are charming, they serve the best dinners, the best breakfasts, they have the best featherbeds, modern bathrooms, and owners who are friendly and courteous, and who almost always speak English. And all this for $65 to $85 a night.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jet Lag and students arriving

I was in Paris Thursday morning. Friday morning students arrived for painting lessons.

None had painted ceramics

First thing first, we learn how to control the all important liner brush

First attempt, not too bad

Improving in leaps and bounds

Every student had his/her interpretation

A very nice French plate

A detail from a tray

Great colors and control of line

A simple but very effective design

Unusual detail from tray
My students did well. In 2 days they learned how to paint some very nice pieces. It will be interesting to see if they will continue practicing. See, painting ceramics is not so difficult.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Worked, Natural Pesticide

We came back from Europe a few days ago. Everything was frozen. That is to be expected living in Utah at 6,000 feet. The apples and pears are ripe for the picking. They like a little frost.

We do not use pesticides on our property and have had to accept that a certain amount of our produce would be damaged. This year is different. We tried a new recipe, and it worked. Not 100% but we saved more than half of our fruit crop.

Early in Spring make a concoction of: 1/2 c. molasses, 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar, 1 pkg. of dry yeast, 1/2 cup of mashed raisins, 3 cups of water.

Cut a one by two inch hole into the upper part of a milk or juice carton. Leave the bottom part of the hole intact to use as a "landing strip" for the Coddling Moth. Apple worms start as eggs laid ON THE FRUIT by their Moth parents. Hang the carton on a branch very early in the Spring. One for each tree. Replenish with water as needed.

We were concerned that the Bees might also be attracted to this mixture, however, we only found moths and a few other smaller insects inside the traps.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


Europe 2oo9

Market Day in Alba, Piemonte, Northern Italy

Prize winning Tartuffi Bianco, (White Truffle)

A very proud Trifolau (Truffle Hunter) selling his white and black truffles
One of the highlights of our European Tour was visiting the city of Alba in the Piemonte region of Italy. The White Truffle festival takes place from October 3 through November 8 of 2009.
Truffles, the noble tuber, are related to the Mushroom family. The White Truffle of Alba is the culinary star of all truffles. Truffles range in size from a walnut to the size of an orange. They are worth their weight in gold.
White truffles are used in highest of high cuisine and are outrageously expensive. Truffles are found under trees by trained dogs and pigs. The truffle hunter never divulges his secret forest spot. He might leave in the very early morning hours , under a thick blanket of fog, backtracking several times.
White truffles are never cooked, they are much too delicate. Instead, are shaved over cold or warm dishes to enhance flavor.