Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Interpretation of Grandma's Dressing

My grandma grew up in New Orleans and her dressing is herbaceous and buttery because of this.  I've been making it for a few years myself now, so I've altered the recipe a bit, but the mix of poultry seasoning, butter and bread just makes me happy.  I thought it might make you happy too.

Creole Dressing
Makes 1: 9x13 pan

1 1/2 boules of good sourdough, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped (white parts only)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 pint of crimini mushrooms, sliced (Grandma uses oysters, I didn't grow up in New Orleans, so that's not my thing, but if it's yours, go for it)
2 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme 
1 stick (or 2) of unsalted butter
Salt, pepper and poultry seasoning* to taste
1-2 cups of chicken or veggie broth

Cube the bread the night before and leave it in the oven on a sheet pan to dry out overnight.  If this isn't an option, you can turn the oven on the lowest temperature (mine has a 'warm' setting) and dry the bread out for  an hour or two.

Think of the bread as a sponge, the more of the bread's moisture that you can remove, the more it can be filled up with butter and broth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter your pan.

Dice and chop all of the veggies and herbs and get your biggest pot/pan ready with about 1/2 stick of butter. Start sweating the veggies, onions first, adding salt, poultry seasoning and pepper with each addition.  Celery second, then mushrooms, green onions, and finally the herbs.  In total, I probably end up using 1 Tbsp. of poultry seasoning, 1 tsp. of salt and a 1/2 tsp. of pepper.  You just want everything limp, not totally browned.

Set aside all of the veggies in a bowl and add 1-2 Tbsp. butter to your pre-flavored pan.  The next step is to brown the cubes of bread in some butter, you just want them lightly toasted.  It takes a few batches to get through all of the bread, just set aside each batch and keep on browning until you're done.

Now mix the veggies with the bread and add broth throughout the mixing until the bread has soaked up as much as it can, but you don't want it soggy and dripping, everything just needs to be moistened.  Then pat it all into the pan and bake for about a half hour.  You want a little brown on the top and everything warmed up, but you don't want it to fully dry out.

If you're taking it to a dinner party, bring some broth with you to pour on the stuffing for re-heating, so that it doesn't get dried out.

*Side note: I get my poultry seasoning from Penzey's spices, and I like it a lot.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Late this summer, my friend had her 'golden birthday' and her husband scored a million husband points by throwing her a party at EATZ LA.

Love the pomegranate apron!

She knew they were going to a cooking class, but she didn't know that all of the other attendees would be her friends until they arrived.  Sneaky and amazing!

The menu was French, the chefs were so fun and I learned some new stuff.  When you arrive, there are drinks and appetizers for everyone and you quickly get started with the cooking.

This is called 'bathing the baby', it's the totally technical way to poach an egg.

Then you put lardons on it and call it the salad course, mmm!

Apple slices, sage mayo, ham and cheddar grilled up to perfection.  

Things I don't like: mayo, ham, cooked or warmed fruit.  Things I love: this sandwich, which combines all three of those things.  It's a conundrum.

Main course: ratatouille and porcini crusted filet.

Apparently the trick to a perfect steak is high heat and finishing off your steak by basting it in butter, then you top it with more butter to serve.  It's worth the calories.

Dessert was raspberry white chocolate creme brulee, and you get to use a blowtorch, which is key.

I'd totally recommend EATZ to anyone looking for a fun cooking class that results in a fantastic meal, some great drinks and a good time.  The staff are professional, but super laid back and very fun.  And you get all of the recipes e-mailed to you later so that you can re-create your favorites.

Now, my 30th birthday is coming up next year and the hubs has a major celebration to match.  Just kidding, sort of.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mini Chocolate Waffles

Sorry about the hiatus, been busy since I got a job!  Yeah, that's been great, and as the weather has cooled down, I've felt like getting back into my kitchen and making yummy stuff.

Today's goodies are mini-chocolate waffles with a dark chocolate glaze.

Mini Chocolate Waffles
Adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart's Cookies

Makes about 4 dozen

3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 Tbsps. of unsalted butter
1/2 c. applesauce
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Dark Chocolate Glaze

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. milk

For the waffles:

Melt chocolate, butter and applesauce in saucepan over low heat.

Mix eggs, vanilla and granulated sugar in large bowl of stand mixer, mix for 4-5 minutes until thick and pale yellow.  Mix in chocolate mixture, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder and flour.

Heat waffle iron until hot (with my waffle iron, I use the 6th highest out of 7 settings).  Place 1 Tbsp. batter onto center of each waffle iron square and cook until your waffle iron beeps.

Transfer to wire rack or paper towels to let cool.

For the glaze:

Melt butter, then add remaining ingredients.  Stir until smooth.

Once the waffles have cooled, dip one side halfway into the glaze.  Just the raised edges of the waffles should be covered in glaze.

These are super quick to make and come out nice and cakey.  My favorite adjective in a cookie recipe, if I do say so.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Birthday Boy

My cousin's littlest boy is turning TWO!

His nickname is BOO!

We made him a cake that goes CHOO CHOO CHOO!

That is all.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sculpted Flowers

This one was a while in the making.  It's my mom's combined mother's day and birthday gift and it was still late on both counts.  Oh well, I think that hand-delivering it to her in Texas makes up for that.

This is easily my favorite of all the pieces I've made recently, and that favoritism is directly proportional to how much time was poured into it.

The peony alone took a couple of days.

After seeing some of my flowers in other work, Mom requested a floral piece in 'Tuscan' colors, and I think that I delivered.

Because I couldn't find any 'Tuscan' frames with enough depth behind the glass for the flowers, I decided to give frame-making the old college try.  I picked up some trim lumber, a miter saw, and wood glue and went to town.  I also added decorative hinges to the corners of the frame to add a bit of detail.  It's certainly not perfect, but it was quite a learning experience.

Anyone have a good source for frame-making supplies and/or instructions?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Wedding Papercut

Some friends of mine were recently wed (on a lavender farm!!!), and I decided it was the perfect time to do a little papercutting.

Font used: Cafe Lounge 19
(As usual, I printed out my text and then altered the text and flourishes with pencil before using it as a cutting template.)

The butterfly, poppy and water detail are all elements in some of the couples' tattoos.  And I chose an art nouveau looking font because the bride was using that style in her invites.

So... I'm that weirdo that made the bride open her gift at her wedding.  I love gift-giving because you get to see people's reactions to something I usually put a lot of thought into.  Then my friends and I styled this as it sat at the wedding party table.  Good thing the bride and groom are laid-back.

Did I mention the wedding was at a lavender farm...

And this is where I mention how much I miss the Pacific Northwest... so beautiful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wedding Monogram

My cousin recently wed her sweetheart, so I whipped up a monogram for the happy new couple.

I really like the little heart in the bottom of the 'L'.

To make this one I drafted the letters onto the paper, taking lettering styles from some old calligraphy books given to me by an aunt.

I'm excited that my work is getting a little cleaner, which brings me to a favorite tool; eraser pencils.  They're so handy for cleaning up lines in tight spaces.  Just remember to clean up the lines before any glue goes over them, glue will just seal that pencil line in.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Helen

My grandma's best friend, Helen, passed away last week.  She was a spitfire up to the last and I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to visit with her while I was in Texas over the holidays.

She had white hair and beautiful blue eyes, and I always remember her loving pastels.  Her living room was bright and airy with white wicker and florals.  So I made this piece for my grandma, in memory of her.  I'll do my best to carry on her feisty ways.

I did a watercolor wash for the background and used different colors of Canson Mi Teintes papers for the flowers, stems and leaves.

The stamens are yellow trace paper, and some of the petals have watercolor washes or prismacolor pencil details.

The lettering is a lighter colored paper with prismacolor pencil over the top for a little bit of texture and depth.

I think you can see that I was influenced by Carol Gearing's Paper Cut Florals, Just as I was back during my wedding for my paper flower wall.

I was pretty happy with this frame job, I just have to find a decent frame first and size the artwork to it.  The other way round is very difficult.  This way sort of limits my layout and such, but the end result is cleaner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Partial Eclipse of the Sun

This title is obviously sung to the tune of Total Eclipse of the Heart.  Well, glad that song is now in your heads...  Tonight there was a partial eclipse over SoCal.  I was on the beach for a 9 mile run, and half of my run was spent staring at an eclipse (you know, that thing you're not supposed to do), luckily it was cloudy.  T was at our picnic setup taking pictures after his shorter run (still recovering from an injury) because we got a late start running.

Here's a picture I took after my run, which was towards the end of the eclipse.

And here is the very first gif I've ever made, it uses some of the pictures that T took of the eclipse.

Gifs are fun, and totally easy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Quilled Cross

My cousins' Opa (grandpa) passed away recently, and their family collects crosses, so I made a memorial cross for them.

He was a deacon and the family were all Texas Aggies, so a cross done in maroon seemed an appropriate way for the family to have a reminder of him and his warmth.

I drafted the cross onto the paper and then just went with my gut for the fill and flourishes.  I even did some intersecting lines for the interior, that was new to me.

I printed the text out and free-handed some details and connected some letters until I liked it, then I cut it out with my x-acto knife and raised it off of the paper for a shadow effect.  I simply cut very thin strips of the ivory paper (about 1/16") and glued it to the back to stand the text up off of the paper.  The dates were simply glued to the paper.

I made my own quilling paper for this project; the outline of the cross is done in 1/4" thick strips of black construction paper and the colored paper is 1/8" and 1/4" thick strips of Canson Mi Teintes paper in maroon, and a bluish grey.  The white is pre-cut quilling strips.  The background is an ivory Canson paper, it's thicker than the Mi Teintes, but I don't remember what it's called.

I then framed it and sent it off, but I'm still behind on the learning curve for the framing part.  Any quillers out there have tips on where to get decent quality frames?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Descanso Gardens

On a recent beautiful Sunday here in SoCal, I headed over to Descanso Gardens to play with my camera and do a little painting.  The flowers were beautiful and the light was gorgeous.  I definitely recommend a trip over there if you haven't been, it's only $8 and they have a tea garden, a camellia forest, a rose garden, California natives and more.

While there, I got to test out my new Koi Watercolor Sketch Kit.  I had to buy a new one, because I can't find my old one for the life of me, but it worked out, because I like this one quite a bit and it has more colors.  The brush is pretty neat too, it has a water reservoir in it.

I painted this:

It was fun to sit out on a bench in a shady spot and stare at a flower for a while.

I was doing a little research for a floral paper project that I am working on, and I went a little crazy with the flower pictures.  OK, now for an overload of pretty flower pictures.

The rose garden smelled amazing.

The branches in the canopy of the tea garden were like water flowing in the air.

Backlit camellias are the best.

Backlit flowers in trees are also pretty good.

That pink came from nature, nuff said.

I don't think I realized how much I liked camellias until walking through trees and trees of them in full bloom.

Tulips = spring!

There was a whole area full of lilacs, and their fragrance was overwhelmingly lovely.

Tiny little blossoms in a tree.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Leipzig School Inspiration

Back in early 2007 I went to an exhibition at the Frye gallery in Seattle of work from the New Leipzig School (Life After Death: New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection).  The stark and architectural nature of the work has always stayed with me and I decided to interpret this in a painting recently.

I'm not sure I love the results, but it was great to pick up a paintbrush again.

It's acrylic with some embroidered faceted things up in the corner, because what's blog art these days without facets?!

Some process pics.

I do like the color base though.

My favorite artist from the exhibit is David Schnell, the dreamy perspectival quality just draws you in.

In short, I've got a long way to go before I do any paintings that I'm super proud of, but one always has to start somewhere.