Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just like me




I was little, not more than 5 or 6.  It was a warm day, probably summer.  I was lying in the cool grass on my stomach, examining a single green blade.  I remember thinking.  Somewhere in another world there is a girl just like me, and she is staring at a blade of grass that is just like this blade of grass.

We are told that we are unique, that there is no one like us in the whole universe.  Yet at a young age I imagined the opposite!  The thought that there was someone out there just like me gave me comfort; and it filled me with wonder.  What was that little girl thinking as she looked at that blade of grass?  Was she thinking the same thing I was thinking?  Was she wondering about me?



Monday, May 28, 2012

10 things you might not know about me

In no particular order...

1. I am from the Artichoke Center of the World and the Land of Fruits and Nuts, something I take great pride in.



2. I am drawn to architectural details, all the swirly patterns and ruffles of buildings.



3. I am a recovering ceramics fanatic.  The walls of my home are evidence to this.
4. My favorite painting medium is watercolor.
5. I love painted and craved wood and colorful textiles.



6. I have met two Presidents.
7. My favorite vacation includes a visit to the marche provencal.



8. I am most at peace by the sea, and I have an affinity for trees.



9. I am very proud of my family; they are a warm, loving, and creative lot.
10. I miss home.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Treating myself

The original figls burger

Sometimes you just have to treat yourself.  In Vienna that could take so many forms.

What would an American living overseas for long periods of time do to treat herself here?  A hamburger!

Perhaps it is sinful.  (I hope my veggievore friends will forgive me.) I should have gone to a sophisticated cafe and had a melange and sachertorte.

No.

I went to figls.  They make the best burgers in Vienna!  (The pretzels and beer are pretty good too.)

Yes, that is really the size of a pretzel at figls

I ate the whole thing... well, almost.

Comes with roasted eggplant and peppers
What's your favorite treat?





Monday, May 21, 2012

Nourishing Corn Oat Bread

Corn Oat Bread


Making bread is a nourishing experience. Gathering ingredients - grains and yeast from the earth and air, salt from the sea, honey from bees. Putting it all together in new ways, a little of this and a little of that.  Wondering what some pumpkin seeds might add.  What about some raisins or chopped dried apricots?

Each time it is creation anew.

Making bread is a bit like gardening or like making baskets.  You gather up the seeds (or the fabrics).  You think about structure, color, texture.  Then you plant and watch as something often unexpected and lovely emerges.

It is nourishing.

Today I nourished myself with a new recipe - Corn Oat Bread.  You might think it a bit odd to put corn and oats together.  Corn meal tends to be crunchy and oats tend to be chewy.  But, it makes a great combination.  The bread comes out with a wonderful crunchy crust outside and an delicious chewy inside.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups liquid (I used 1/4 cup yogurt and 1 1/4 cup water.)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose white flour)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (I like rough cut.)
  • 1/2 cup corn meal (I like it coarsely ground.)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup seed mixture for crust (This can be anything you have - sesame seeds, oats, sunflower seeds, etc.)


My favorite duo!


Preparation:

Using your electric mixer with a paddle attachment or your bread machine, combine the ingredients – keeping in mind your machine’s instructions.

When kneading is done, let the dough rise for about 45 min. or until it has doubled in size.  (If you prefer hand kneading, see my note on hand kneading in my Best Ever Polenta Pumpkin Seed Bread Recipe.)

Once the dough has doubled, pour it out into a floured surface, give it a good kneading - a couple minutes - and then place it greased bowl.  Leave it to rise once more.

Waiting for a second rise


Now preheat your oven to 200 C (or approximately 390 F).

Once the dough has doubled again, pour it out onto the seed mixture.  Gently roll it over the mixture.  The seeds stick to the dough and create a lovely pattern.

Rolling in the seeds


Place the dough on to a baking sheet, and cover with a damp towel.  Let it rise another 15 minutes.

Now for the final rise


Once the dough has risen about 50 percent more, place it in the oven.  Baking time will be between 30 and 35 minutes.

Ready for the oven!

The bread is ready when it turns a lovely earthy brown and the seeds are nicely toasted.

Toasty brown and ready to eat


If you like a crusty and chewy bread, one that is on the heavy side, give this a try.  Oh yum!



Here's to nourishment.




Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strassenbahn

There is something romantic about the Viennese Strassenbahn.
Perhaps it is shape and color.  You cannot go wrong with red.
Maybe it's the way its bell rings.
Or the voice on the intercom that announces the nächster Halt or next stop.
This is the best way to experience movement in this city of the old empire.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

The making of a basket

Independence Basket


I thought it might be fun to offer a short tour of basket making.  My sister taught me this craft years ago.  I can't seem to get enough of it!  There are always new colors and patterns to explore, and new ways to embellish a piece.

Here we go...

First, I wrap reinforced cotton rope with fabric cut into strips.  Sometimes I use fabric scraps that quilter friends and family send my way. Sometimes a generous clothing designer will share pieces.  Sometimes I use fabric from gently used clothing.

My pile of possibilities

If I am making a round basket, I start by pinning the wrapped rope into a small coil.  Like this...

The beginning

Then, starting from the very first curve in the coil, I zig zag around and around, watching as the pattern unfolds.  This is the fun part!

A pattern emerges

When I am ready to shape the sides of the piece, I bend the disc, forcing the rope to turn upon itself.  This part can get a little tricky at first, but with practice...

Working the sides

Another important ingredient to my process is a visit from my cat, Dusty.  Fortunately, he has learned to stay out of the way...

Hanging out (of the way)

Lately, I have been embellishing the top of my baskets with a bit a ribbon.  I love the striped pattern.  Here, I leave a long piece of ribboned rope, which I use to create a design on the basket's side.

The tail

I pin a swirl pattern onto the basket and tac it down with needle and thread.

The final touch

And voila!  My Independence basket is complete.

Independence Basket

I hope this encourages you to be creative today.

You can see all my baskets in my shop, SquareCircleWorks on Etsy.




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