Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Wings (A Cape Cod Spring Holiday).

Happy Easter/Passover/Spring.
I am very fond of the Easter holiday, it is very aesthetically pleasing to me. Bunnies, Jesus, pastels, eggs, all very good. That said, this year I didn't really get it together to do anything about all that. No egg dying, I didn't wear a cute pink dress, & I haven't cooked rabbit since November
But we did have family, dogs, sticky wings, lots of good bread & butter, & a Cape Cod beach storm, aka an early Diamond family Easter.
4.23.2011: An Early Cape Cod Family Easter Dinner (With Dogs).
I had to work on Easter itself, & didn't really mind, since I very much appreciate all the ceremony & trappings of holidays, but also know that they don't really matter, in the sense that I can work all day on Easter in a pink dress then go & dig in the garden & enjoy that as holiday festivities (what I did last Easter). Plus I hate ham (is it the half-Jewish part of me?) Ham is great thinly sliced on a sandwich with the correct condiments, but an whole ham? One of the only, perhaps actually the only,  meat to which I say, yuck.
So the Diamond/Williams family (minus DR, who was missed but prefers not to travel, being a cat) packed up the car & drove to the family home on Cape Cod, stayed Friday night through Saturday night, & enjoyed the following pleasures: an early Easter dinner of Mum's sticky wings, roasted brussels sprouts, herbed mashed potatoes & French bread, an early Easter breakfast of cinnamon raisin bread & hard boiled eggs, both with the excellent bread from the French bakery in Wellfleet, collecting seaweed & shells on the beach in Harwich the pouring rain, Griswold cast-iron pan acquiring thrifting, Barb's Neiman Marcus chocolate chip cookies, & most importantly (or maybe most adorably?) a meeting of the dogs, Walty our hound meets Mum & Barb's Jack Russell terrier/beagle/dauschound? mix (we don't know what she is, just like Walt, but she looks like a tiny yellow lab pretty much-just imagine a full-gown high energy 14 lb lab with a terrier brain & a tendency for snuggling & here's Sophie), an awesome recent addition to the family. Walt & Sophie ran on the beach, rough housed, chewed on each others toys, leap off furniture, begged for food, cuddled on couches, lay by the fire, & overall had a stunningly good time. Yay dogs!
We drove back to Noho late Saturday night. 
On actual Easter, I worked, & then in a light warm rain, Owen, Walt & I foraged for fiddleheads by the river in the early evening, came home, I talked to my grandparents on the phone, ate steak & mustard greens, appreciated being alive & all the good thing I have, watched tv in bed & fell asleep. Where was the Easter bunny? I do not know.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Snapshot In Leftovers (The Bento Post, Sort Of).

A couple of thoughts-lately I have been on a campaign to improve my life in small ways. One way of actualizing this has been my work lunches. One of my core beliefs has to do with avoiding convenience food, well really unnecessary convenience itself-why not do things yourself & do them well rather than buy a cheap, quicker, lesser version (blah blah blah yes I hate fast food & most restaurants really, I am a do-it-yourself-kind of gal). & of course I am generally pretty broke. I work in a grocery store, where it is easy to spend money on food everyday, but I have been successfully strict for a while now about bringing my lunch always, the problem is frequently I am lazy before bed & my lunch is therefore lame, lots of random crap from the fridge thrown into tupperware with no style or taste logic. 
I spend a lot of time in life doing things that take work because I value the outcome, i.e. cooking a decent dinner every night & growing as much food as I can & canning & preserving as much of that as possible. So why not bring this level of value of life to my work lunches? Exactly. 
I have been reading the Adventures in Bentomaking blog for years, & have always been inspired by it, but never acted on it. I've owned this adorable lunch box with cute compartments for years too (free sample from a previous job) but never use it. 
So this week! Adorable Bento-Style lunches! 
The thing is, I draw these imagines & sit down to paint them, & while I am watercoloring, sometimes my mind wanders. So this post to me now is more about leftovers & grocery shopping creatively on a budget, less about my own adventures in Bentos. Still a great blog, though. 
First, Four Recent Bento-esque Lunches. 

What these lunches make me think about is how telling they are of our recent life in food. The great thing about the boxes is that they are tiny, & perfect for small amounts of weird former meals in the fridge that you don't want to throw away but aren't enough for a meal. Seriously, I am really cheap & I hate to throw out food. Why haven't I always been doing this?
So these lunches are a product of the last week of dinners in our lives (& dinners are the emotional heart of this home of course). They create a picture, & this is what it looks like: a cheap giant bag of broccoli from Price Rite, New England Chinese Night based on a super sale at Stop & Shop last week on crab meat & pork, the Stop & Shop sale last month on lamb stew meat that led to lots of lamb in the freezer, a recent trip to the Asian Market for affordable peppers, ginger, lemongrass, & cilantro,  last Saturday's family journey to New Bedford where we picked up good Fall River Linguica on the cheap at Friendly Fruit, & those jars of green tomato pickles in the fridge. 
The Grocery Store really tells you everything you need to know about a person. Equally their leftovers. So here are mine. Judge me as you will.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Blogging With The Windows Open, & Green Times Three.

We had our first 75+ day here in Western Massachusetts, & it was pretty sweet. There's is just something about being actually hot...outside in the early evening walking a hound dog beside a river with a breeze promising warm rain, wearing a t-shirt & a skirt, bare legs, bare arms (but cowboy boots of course). The water expectant with future swimming, the air carrying smells of grilled meat & green things growing. I can't help it, I love hot weather. Living in New Orleans totally ruined me, I like sweating. 
Having the windows open after all these months of winter is a joyful experience. I slept in bliss last night because there was a constant breeze through the open window. & tonight, sitting in the kitchen after having fed the animals, drawing at the kitchen table with a glass of chilled white wine, hearing the random music from the Community Music Center next door, various conversations on the street, smells, & the feel on my skin of that warm, soft breeze. I love air. The worst part of winter is all that time inside.
Oh & the lack of fresh food possibly grown or gathered by oneself! Hey fresh food, you are almost here! Ramps, lettuces, fiddleheads, morels, oh yes! 
& now it has begun to rain. Perfect. One of life's great pleasures=the sound & smell of warm rain with the windows open.
In a spring mood, although the garden is just beginning & the farmers markets haven't started & fiddleheads will be a while yet, I give you three green moments of early spring anticipation.
Green #1. Spring Sunday Dinner (we love Spring Dinners & Sunday Dinners!)(& dogs & cats): 
4.3.11: Cilantro/Almond Pesto with Hot Italian Sausage & Peperoncini over Pappardelle.

I really love Cilantro Pesto. Very spring tasting, even if it's too early to grow it yet. So what, at least the bundle I used cost a dollar at the Asian Market. But Cilantro Pesto, check it out, made just like any Pesto, use any nuts, any cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper, a bunch of cilantro, you're there. & like Arugula Pesto, this is a good one to make spicy & add peppers or hot sauce. I wouldn't make it for my Grampa though. 
Green #2: Recently buried in the back of the fridge I found several large Mason Jars of Spicy Green Tomato Pickles we pickled last fall at the end of our huge garden tomato crop. I guess they got forgotten back there in the fridge, but wow I just found them the other night & they are delicious.
We just mostly pickled them like they were cucumbers: sliced green (unripe green, not green heirloom) Mason Jar, allspice, mustard seed, garlic, coriander, cumin, whatever, salt, pepper & vinegar, & added some habaneros we also had in excess from the garden. These guys are really pretty great, also coming in handy for my new project, Bento Box Lunches For Work, inspired by this fabulous blog. (stay tuned).
September 2010-April 2011: Spicy Green Tomato Pickles From Last Year's Garden. 
& finally, Green #3: 
April 2011: A Sketch of Our Future 2011 Garden.
We have an additional plot there this year, so if all goes well, twice the food (If only we could somehow fit in chickens & a goat, maybe a sheep, maybe a cow, we could realize our dream of not buying food). We have tiny radishes, beets, & cabbages growing there. Chard & carrot seeds are planted (Bright Lights for the chard & Purple Haze & Atomic Red for the carrots). A gentle spring rain is falling on them right now. 
We will be eating radish & lettuce salads from the garden before we know it. & drawing them, & swimming. & sleeping with the windows open all the time. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

One For The Dog People: Introducing Walt. Plus Lentils & Cumin.

As I mentioned, a little more than a month or so, we added a new family member to the EnD household:
Walt the Hound, February 2011. 
Walt's feline sister, the country singing grey tiger cat DustyRose, has always been an important presence on this blog, as she is in my art, & my life. Walt is turning out to be an equally unique & fabulous animal, clearly the world's best dog to go with the world's best cat (or maybe I'm slightly biased? IDK, they are both seriously goodlooking & complete sweethearts).
Like DR, Walt turns out to be an excellent drawing companion,
Walt sleeping while I paint, 2.21.11
 & Walty, A Sleepy Hound With A Tennis Ball, 3.29.11
There is something about a pile of sleeping animals in sight while working that has because a required studio element for me, like my preferred sketchbook, Pilot V-5 pens, the right music (usually the Mountain Goats), & a glass of cheap white wine. To get real work done, I need my pets. They give good solid feedback. Or they love me unconditionally & are cute. Whichever.
 In a nod to remembering that this is supposed to be a food/art blog (whatever that means) & not a "my pets are cute" blog, a drawing of what the humans ate on Walty's first night as a resident of South Street (Walt ate dog food & bacon & Tator Tots, of course).
2.18.11: Lentils, Onions, & Broccoli, Over Potatoes Roasted in Olive Oil & Cumin (Walt's First Night). 
So yeah, we have a dog now, it's pretty great. We also have twice, maybe eventually three times the garden space as last year. & we just actually cleaned the apartment. Other than the generally wretched weather, Spring 2011 is shaped up pretty positive so far.
Yes, we love cats. But we also love dogs. Wait for the drawings from the dog park. & Walt sleeping at our garden plot, also good. We also also recently acquired four Koi, so maybe I'll draw the fish too. & the baby plants! The world is my drawing oyster. & hopefully soon we are on Cape Cod eating actual oysters!
Or maybe I'll actually cook something & draw that. You never know. Eating & Drawing & Gardening & Pets?