Sunday, November 27, 2011

post thanksgiving, sausage chili dinner for a crowd

Given all that's going on, I passed on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at the gallery this year, but when my cousin emailed from Ohio earlier in the week suggesting they'd be around this weekend, I couldn't resist replying, "sure come on over - I'll make dinner!"  And once the clan hears of such a plan, it doesn't take long to have a guest list of over twenty.

My mother offered a turkey carcass, giblets and leftovers for turkey soup, but truth be told, I've never made a turkey soup I couldn't wait to make again, so I passed on her generous offer.  Instead, I relied on a family favorite - sausage, black bean chili.  This recipe came together the first time, when the a mother in a young family of six, I was contemplating the pantry, wondering what I could make without a trip to the grocery store.

Last night, this is the generous recipe was made for 25 people in my 18-quart soup pot.  I think we ended up with 23, and there were exactly two servings leftover (and gone today).  I'll let you do the math if you want a smaller amount.

Brown in a bit of olive oil in the bottom of the soup pot:

1 yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, mashed and minced
3 pounds of loose sausage - we used Bob Evans this time, but I usually go to the butcher at Groff's 

When there is no longer any red in the meat and it's browned in bite-sized pieces, add the following:

4, 19-oz cans Progresso hearty black bean soup 
4, 14.5 oz. cans Del Monte petite cut diced tomatoes with zesty jalapenos
1, 15-oz Hunts tomato sauce
2, 15.5 oz cans Goya garbanzo beans, drained of liquid
6 tbs. chili powder
3 tbs. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
2 tsp. dried habernero pepper flakes

Stir to combine, and heat until bubbly over high heat, but stir frequently to prevent sticking to the bottom.  When the chili is heated through thoroughly, turn the burner to simmer, put a lid on, and basically forget about it until dinner, with only a gentle stir occasionally.  

I also made a batch of whole grain french bread - substituting for some of the white flour, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup oatmeal (not instant), and a large handful of 14-grain cereal mix I buy in bulk at the Country Store.  One recipe wasn't enough, I quickly found, as it was gone in no time - I should have doubled it.  Two batches of gingersnaps, and a delicious hot apple pie concoction - delivered in a crock pot by my cousin Bonnie -  served over vanilla ice cream topped of the meal.  Suffice it to say, no one went hungry.

Your comments are welcome at the bottom of any post - eat well and buy more art.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

newly relocated framing consult, as the dust settles

The old framing consult area, as it looked on Tuesday morning before dismanteling it with Jeff Mummau, our carpenter extraordinaire.  A bit of a challenge for the two of us to take off the counter top and stand it against the wall, but we managed with his engineering finesse.

Then came the head-scratching task of how best to take it apart and put it back together, slightly reconfigured for the new location at the back of the gallery.  Jeff built it to begin with, but various components had been added at my request over the past ten years.  

Gerry Freeman, G.L. Freeman Electric, mounting an electrical box on the side, doing away with the past need of duct-taping extention cords to the carpet every time an event required coffee urn or crock pot.  This new configuration allows us to do away with filing cabinets and computer equipment on the exhibition floor.

Frames have been removed from the front wall, carpet stripped from the drywall, and the task of repairing, prepping and plastering before painting began that evening.  David and I took a day off yesterday for Thanksgiving with family, work commencing again this morning.  

In its new location, the consult desk is turned the other direction and is about 18" shorter in width to fit centered in front of the new sample wall.  Another flat file will be installed next to the existing one, with deep storage drawers beneath.  Behind the wall, accessible on either side, is a 12-foot deep space to accomodate a conference table.  

Carpet has been stripped at the front of the gallery, and the old carpeted sample wall is nearly plastered. Can't wait to see paintings on that wall, and I'm loving the openess of the space at the front of the gallery.  Ned Wert stopped in today to discuss his upcoming show in October, and was thrilled with the way the new space is shaping up.  

My father, ever faithful with the paint brush, has been working his way around the gallery painting the trim.  My brother Bryan, and sons Zach and Michael, stopped by for a few hours this morning to help tear up tack strips and sweep the floors.  Together we finished off a pot of leftover, homemade, chicken corn noodle soup and banana chocolate chip muffins before sending them back to Philadelphia.

As of this morning, I finished organizing the new sample walls, allowing additional space for two shipments of new corner samples to freshen up the selection.  I was surprised to find how much additional space was available, along with nine drawers of shadowbox moldings, fillets, liners, handmade papers and floater frames. 

With the afternoon sun shining in, you can literally see the dust still floating in the air!  One more dusty, dirty job, Monday a week from now, when they sand the floors before painting them.  I think we'll take some time to seal up the sample walls beforehand, and save ourselves time later.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ralph waldo emerson and color theory

In my travels yesterday to secure some windows I'd discovered a few weeks ago, I found myself coveting this leather-bound collection of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  This rare 1897 set printed by Riverside Press Cambridge-Boston is a far cry from the dog-eared, paperback book of Emerson's writings I purchased from at street vendor in New York City back in the late 1980's.  Ever since, Emerson's writings have served to ground me throughout my life, informing my sense of self.

"Trust thyself, every heart vibrates to that iron string," I quote.  Oh, how often have I had to step out in faith, believing in where I felt my heart was compelled to go!  The answers, and the path aren't always clear. Often we must make the choice of a next step without a clear notion of where it's leading, trusting the path will become clear as we move along it. 

These windows, for example, the door I found in the basement, or the still empty spot waiting for a conference table... the best design has room for missing pieces to be filled in, and a quality of coming together that can't be determined ahead of time.

Enough windows, 58" high by 17" wide, 2 pairs and 6 singles, look like they came from the same genre as our middle-aged fire hall.  They could become cabinet doors on that eighteen-foot spread of wall in the studio waiting for shelving.  Thought it would just be simple, floor to ceiling, 3-foot spreads like upstairs in the loft.  And then I found these....

Meanwhile, color studies on various walls, are defining what to use where.  This process of purchasing a few pints of colors to try is worth every penny.  The light in every room is different and it changes with the time of day or the weather.  Swatches on opposite walls and a few days walking past them, inform my decision.  I rarely end up painting the walls the way I went into a project thinking I would.

Painting swatches near the adjoing room are helpful in picturing spaces as you move through them.  With several gallons of trim paint, just slightly brighter than the old trim, we've been painting all weekend.  My father, always my faithful painting companion when a project gets to this point, has been detailing the windows and doors, while I make my way around the crown molding and baseboard trim.

If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see the door trim and mouldings are in process, brightening the countenance of the gallery space - whose walls are staying our characteristic mottled and ragged off-white.

The studio and adjacent areas, however, may surprise you in the end.  Will have to trust that iron string...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

dust and the holidays

It's been a bit dusty around here, and if all goes well, we'll be able to clean up, be painting by the weekend, and have the gallery put back together for the holidays.  Several parties are booked starting on the 10th, so we're under deadline to get it all done.

Above is a view from the side of the new gallery wall.  To the left will be the relocated framing consultation area, and to the right a conference area with my design studio up the steps beyond the brick wall.  

Remember that dark, disorganized print room outside the bathroom?  We'll be improving the lighting and are adding a six foot coat closet to accommodate clients and guests during our events.  No more lugging those metal racks up from the basement and trying to fit them into my office.

Then head back to the frameshop through a well-lit hallway, visualizing art on all the walls of course.  To the right, a repurposed french door has been installed as a pocket door into the new studio.  No telling how long that door has been sitting in the dank basement! 

David in the studio, parging the remaining stucco after spending a week with mortar filling and repairing any loose-fitting brickwork and scraping it clean with a wire brush.  This was the original back wall to the Fire Hall addition added around the 1920's.  This back space was added around 1950 and used to be the kitchen.

Good thing the dirty work is nearly done, because we'll be hosting an extended family Thanksgiving gathering next weekend and I think we're going to need those ten-foot tables.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

pizza with whole wheat parmesian crust

I posted this pic a couple weeks ago, and have had people asking for the recipe. I was surprised to find I hadn't already added it, as this has been a long time, family favorite. I have a large, round, cobalt blue ceramic plate with deep sides that "just fits" into my oven. Made by one of my artists, Milt Friedly, I've custom ordered several as gifts over the years.

I start by preparing the plate with a mixture of canned parmesian cheese, dried basil and oregano, and a little salt. Just swirl it around to cover most of the bottom so it looks like "a satellite picture of a hurricane" as my husband David described it, and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

I found the pizza dough recipe in Courntry Living Magazine, the October 1990 issue, and adjusted it only by substituting some whole wheat flour for some of the white. In a medium sized, glass bowl, add the following and stir with a fork or whip just until dry ingredients are combined:

1 1/3 cup very warm water
2 tbs. honey
2 tbs. dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour

In a few minutes the mixture gets foamy, simply telling you the yeast is at work. Stir in the following until it no longer sticks in the bowl, then turn it out onto a floured surface:

2-3 cups unbleached, white flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbs. olive oil

Knead for five minutes, adding remaining and additional unbleached white flour as needed, until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers. Be generous with your kneading, and you'll be rewarded with a finer textured dough. Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil, and let it rise in a warm place until double in size - about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare ingredients for the sauce. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil and saute the following:

2 large mashed and diced garlic cloves
1/4 diced white onion - about 3 tbs.

Add in the following, stir together and gently heat:
26 oz. can tomato sauce
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. dried habernero pepper, to taste

Turn off the sauce, stir about a 1/2 cup fresh, diced green pepper, and set aside.

On a sheet of wax paper, or into a bowl, shred the following cheeses and mix together, or if you are in a hurry, use prepackaged shredded cheeses, but use at least three different ones for a more flavorful pizza.

1 cup mozarella
1 cup parmesian
1 cup cheddar

Punch the dough down and knead again briefly, then let rest five minutes on a floured surface. Roll out the dough into a large round, big enough to cover the surface and sides of the plate, flipping frequently and adding plenty of flour to keep it from sticking while rolling.

Fold in half to transport to the plate, then unfold, tucking into the sides any loose edges that escape. Poke holes in the crust with a fork to prevent bubbling, and let rise 15-20 minutes. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove.

Spread a layer of your prepared sauce on the pre-baked crust, then layer cheeses, sliced bell peppers and fresh spinach, pepperoni, or any other combination of pizza toppings. Place back in oven for 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes or so, then slice and serve.

This recipe makes enough for two large pizzas, and I usually end up making one unadulterated pepperoni pizza specifically for my kids, and another veggie pizza with whatever happens to be in the produce drawer for myself and any other more adventuresome guests. Leftovers will keep fine in a cool oven with foil on top for a day or two, if they last that long! Or you can bag and freeze individual servings for the coming weeks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

eye candy for the frame shop

This afternoon one of our new framing vendors came by unexpectedly with a fun, colorful new collection of hand-crafted Italian wood mouldings that I couldn't resist sharing. In the midst of all the dust and dirt, this fabulous collection of lacquered inlays, birdseye maples, African wenge, zebra oak, olive, pecan and burl veneers got my creative juices going.

All the things I can do with these! The collection boasts width sizes from 1" to 5 1/2", and a stunning selection of patterns from checker blocks and stripes, to bubbles and swirls. One of my favorite framing tricks for something really fun and creative is to stack mouldings - the possiblities are endless and provide pure sculpture for the wall.

This will definitely make the move to our new walls the end of next week, a delicious treat. We were promised delivery of corner samples in time for Christmas framing, and as you can see below, the blank canvas eagerly awaits.

This one is Walter's personal favorite...

And this one is mine - love those organic inlaid bubbles.

For more about the frame shop at Lynden Gallery, see our website,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

peanut butter cookies and plaster

So the detailing begins, and I think plaster is my husband David's favorite medium. He spent a week scraping, plastering and repainting the gallery ceiling before we even got started on the dirty work.

So as he spent the late afternoon mixing plaster of Paris and wrapping the raw top edge of the window well in chicken wire, I headed to the kitchen to bake - my chosen artistic medium. While the porkchops were baking and the rice simmering for dinner, I put together a salad and a batch of Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Cookies. Layne stopped in for dinner, then delivered a hot serving to Lynden at work - how many projectionists get a hot meal on the job?

Combine in a mixer and cream:
1/2 cup softened margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 cups brown sugar

Add the following and whip until fairly smooth:
1 egg
6 tbs. water
2 tsp. vanilla

With the following dry ingredients added in, mix until combined:
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 c. dry milk solids
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda

Roll into ping pong ball size balls, flatten and score with a fork in both directions, then bake in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

David's artistry in process....

And mine. I'm going to enjoy it until the dust settles and the painting begins.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

oatmeal cranberry walnut raisin bread

Some might think this is overkill, but it's just plain delicious. A "More with Less" oatmeal bread favorite recipe since Jenna and Joe were little, I've done numerous variations on the theme. One summer I even tried it with candied ginger and figs, and have been meaning to do it again ever since. Alas, I don't typically have both ingredients in my pantry at the same time.

This version was first created for Thanksgiving dinner at the Clemens' house a few years back, and my nephew Alec begs me for it every time we speak. I promise, Alec, I'll make it again for you this year - and stash an extra loaf aside for you to take home.

In a medium bowl add and whip together, then set aside until foamy:
2 1/2 cups hot water from the tap - as hot as you can stand to touch
1/4 cup honey
2 tbs. yeast

Stir in the following, or some combination of whole grains of the same measure. Again, set it aside until it bubbles and nearly doubles in size:
1 cup rolled oats - not the instant kind
1/2 cup 14-grain cereal - I buy this in bulk at a local country store
2 tbs. whole flax seed
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. salt
1 cup whole wheat flour

Add the following and then stir in unbleached, white occident flour until it is bulky and dry enough to turn onto a greased countertop:
1/2 cup craisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

Knead more flour into the dough, kneading generously about 5 minutes. You know you've added enough flour when it no longer sticks to your fingers and is rather elastic when you poke your finger into it. Sensitivity to the temperature and working of bread dough is key. Oil your bowl and put the dough back in to rise in a warm place with a light towel on top. It should double in size in 30 minutes or so.

Remove the dough to a lightly oiled countertop and pound it down. Divide into two equal parts, knead it a bit more, then shape into loaves. Put them in two greased bread pans (I usually use 2 pans slightly smaller than the typical bread pan), spray them with olive oil, slash the tops on an angle, cover them with a towel, and let rise again.

When they have again doubled in size, bake them in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned. When you remove them from the pan and tap on the bottom, they should sound kind of hollow. Nothing as yummy as butter melted on a slice right out of the oven. This bread makes wonderful toast for as long as it lasts.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

who's going to clean up this mess?

Ok, I'll admit it. It's a bit overwhelming at the moment! But I'm excited with the unearthed possibilities of it all. Each step is explorative with it's own narrative, and that is what makes it so much fun.

On the right side, near the corner about shoulder height, I can see layers of paint and history - the same, antiseptic, institutional-looking, turquoisey, blue paint that was on the second floor when we bought the property. It was on every piece of trim, the ceiling, and the 11 and 14-foot ceilings up there - every inch of 2500 square feet. Someone really liked that paint.

We did manage to get the salvaged door up between the mess and the frame shop, which Dave thanked me for this morning.

On that side of the wall, it's orderly, neat, and business as usual. Minus the wheelbarrow, of course.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

lynden at lynden

Tonight was the moment of truth... I've been sweating bullets wondering if this crazy idea of mine was going to come to fruition as I envisioned it.

Lynden started the first window, digging away at the mortar around one of the concrete blocks, then following it with sledgehammer blows. What we didn't expect was two rows of concrete block, but he wasn't deterred.

With only one small hole through to the other side, he and David began spelling each other, and spending less time than I would have expected, made it through to the other side.


And a neat and tidy pile of rubble after I did my small bit with the shop broom afterward - I got the easy job. We'll see if I'm still saying that all this week as I'm wiping up the thin layer of dust off of everything in the gallery.

And on the other side, a view into the gallery. Of course next week, this is going to look different too.

But I think it's fitting Lynden got the fun part, 12 years later, in the building that bears his name.