Yesterday it was raining all day, which was lucky because I needed to stay in and get some commissioned paintings done. While I had the Christmas music playing and was waiting for the first coat of paint to dry, I popped an easy cornbread recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook into the oven.
Here’s the scoop:
This cornbread is of the sweet variety (which is my preference) and is extra fun given the lightly charred kernels of corn mixed throughout.
Here’s what I subbed:
Butter in lieu of vegetable shortening (1:1). I didn’t really feel like purchasing a thing of Crisco just for this recipe…and anyway, isn’t that stuff supposed to be bad for you? Not that butter is a health food, but at least it was the organic kind.
Coconut milk in lieu of regular milk (1:1). I was nervous it would give the bread a coconut-y flavor which I don’t think it did.
spread batter into greased baking dish
cornbread batter close up
Here’s how it turned out:
Really well in fact! Fortunately or unfortunately Martha says this bread is best served day of baking or maybe the day after is well-wrapped….Sooooo you can guess what I had for lunch yesterday.
Day of baking the cornbread was moist and slightly sweet and slightly salty and I really enjoyed the pop of the corn bits. Day after baking, slightly drier but still delicious covered in more butter 😉
Now not ever having made this recipe with the suggested ingredients, I can’t say for sure how these substitutions might detract or improve the original recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe definitely still works and the ease of the mix-batter and bake means I will be bringing this out again next time I’m called on for a pot-luck.
I’m off to have a lunch of cornbread and roasted acorn squash. A perfectly cozy fall meal!
I love Thanksgiving. Who doesn’t really? It’s a day when most Americans take a break, log off, and reflect on the prior year and the year to come.
In our family tradition, we always go around the table and say one thing that we are thankful for. Mostly family, friends, food, shelter, love. All good things.
This year I’m also thankful for everyone who has supported this wild dream of mine to become a professional artist. It’s not something I ever contemplated moving out of the “hobby” realm until YOU showed me that I could. So THANK YOU for your encouragement and love.
THANK YOU for buying my art.
THANK YOU for putting me in touch with industry professionals to answer my questions.
THANK YOU for networking with me and on my behalf.
THANK YOU for giving me a chance to create something unique for you.
THANK YOU for taking my business cards and passing them along to your friends and acquaintances and interior decorators. (And let me know if you want more!)
THANK YOU for telling me I can and AM doing it.
And in looking ahead to 2017, let me know what I can do for YOU.
As many of you know, I used to run a wedding dress shop in Ann Arbor Michigan, which was completely staffed by volunteers, where the dresses were donated, and where the proceeds were used at the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor. It was a fun and fulfilling endeavor and sometimes I miss being around brides and their families in their happy moments.
Last weekend, I felt like I was back in that world, while collaborating on a styled wedding photography shoot with Clare Mullins Photography. Clare pulled together her vision for a Monet-inspired watercolor and gold theme and brought in her sister to model. I painted a 9.5 ft x 5 ft backdrop in shades of white, green, gold and pink, andMeg Burrell created a clean and modern stationery suite.
It was the first time I had created a work this large or created a backdrop of any kind (save for maybe those huge clothes we made for sorority skits haha) and it was a challenge but fun!
Quick: Google “how to make a backdrop!” That’s what I did! I ordered a few rolls of the biggest canvas and heavy duty paper I could find. But not wanting to buy poles and such, we decided to go with paper that could be hung directly onto the wall of the room Clare had rented for the shoot.
In my tiny apartment, I unfurled the longest length possible and painted, waited for it to dry, rolled it in from the end and unfurled another section, working to integrate all the parts seamlessly.
When I was finally able to unroll the whole thing across the room on the shoot day, I loved the way it all came together!! We chose to hang it vertically for the shoot, but I would love to see it framed hanging horizontally behind someone’s couch. It definitely has a watery/Monet-y quality to it.
From the 90s pop soundtrack to elegant beaded wedding dress Clare had chosen, the shoot was perfect and so much fun. I had never met Clare or Meg in person before but I was in awe of how well we worked together and got along. It was such a fantastic experience, and I cannot thank these ladies enough.
More photos coming soon, and the painting will be listed for sale here shortly.
backdrop by me, Clare Mullins Photography and Meg Burrell stationery
backdrop rolled out as much as possible in a tiny apartment
I’m honored to have my art selected for a #shopsmall holiday gift guide this year! Heart Centered Biz Bosses is a group of women from all over the country who are entrepreneurs that lift one another up through networking and education. Each member owns her own business and also works to better the world through those businesses.
I was so shocked and humbled that out of a handful of vendors, my art was chosen to be featured in “Gifts for Mom.”
It came as a bit of a shock this morning that it was so chilly and windy outside. It shouldn’t have since it’s already October, but it’s been so beautiful for so long that I forgot it was fall and no longer summer! After a morning coffee date (and before visiting some potential new apartments this afternoon), I threw together some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
To be perfectly honest, the reason I went with oatmeal cookies was because I had a huge tupperware container of oatmeal taking up WAY too much room in the cupboard and I had to get rid of it.
The recipe I adapted from allrecipes is an eggless one, which is perfect because I don’t have any eggs, AND because I can eat the batter guiltlessly. A word to the wise though: don’t eat too much batter if raw oatmeal makes your tummy upset.
While the recipe doesn’t call for eggs, it does mean the cookies are a bit drier than a typical moist oatmeal cookie.
A few adaptations and tips:
Use all brown sugar to keep the cookies chewier
Use dark chocolate chips for a richer flavor (and to be slightly healthier depending on how dark you go)
Add a pinch of cinnamon for a fall flavor
Skip the oatmeal altogether, add the chocolate chips, wrap the uncooked dough in plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator to snack on. Why must the cookies be baked to enjoy?
Here’s the recipe with my changes:
Ingredients & Procedure:
1 cp butter (slightly softened)
1 cp brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the above ingredients until well-blended.
In a saucepan, boil 1/4 cp water and dissolve 1 tsp baking soda into that.
To the butter-sugar-vanilla mixture, add: 1.5 cp flour and 1 tsp salt (optional pinch of cinnamon) and stir.
Add the water-baking soda mixture and stir.
Add 2 cps oatmeal and at least 1 cp chocolate chips (to taste based on the darkness of the chocolate and how chocolatey you like your cookies).
Bake teaspoon-sized balls on parchment lined cookie sheets at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown
One time I went over to my boss’ home for coffee and paperwork. The coffee she was brewing smelled so good, I thought it was some specialty flavored kind. It tasted richly of cinnamon and milk.
Then she let me in on her secret: it was just regular ground coffee but she added a few taps of ground cinnamon to the top of the coffee grounds before brewing. It was like drinking flavored coffee!
This year, with the presence of Starbucks around the corner from my apartment (and really anyone’s apartment in Manhattan), I’ve been drinking Pumpkin Spice Lattes like I have $5 to spend on daily coffee.
They are a deliciously warm and remind me of good autumnal times. But let’s be honest, they are full of sugar, fake sugar, chemicals and cost a million dollars (not really, but they’re not cheap).
So even though I don’t think I’ll totally quit my Sbux habit, I have come up with an equally (although less syrupy-sugary-sweet) yummy version of the #PSL that I can make at home.
While I’ve been a devoted cinnamon-shaker ever since that morning when I learned my boss’ trick, I never thought about taking it to the next level in terms of adding AAAALLLLL the pumpkin pie spices.
So that’s what I did: after measuring out my ground coffee, I sprinkled a good amount of cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, a bit less of ginger and threw in some whole cloves (although ground would’ve been fine too) on top of the coffee, and brewed away.
The result was coffee that tasted like pumpkin pie! Without any added chemicals, syrups, sweeteners or sugar.
Now, you could just add milk and call it a day. Or sugar, or simple syrup if you like your coffee sweet.
But I took it a step further and warmed some milk up in a pot (not to boiling but almost) and transferred it to a mug with a spout (I have a special metal one for frothing milk but a measuring cup would do too).
Using an aerolatte milk frother that we got for our wedding, and a technique I learned while barista-ing it up at my bakery gig, I added some creamy warm milk and latte foam to the top of my coffee ~ instant pumpkin spice latte!
So here’s the trick: either keep the frother near the bottom of the cup of milk and keep it steady to create some foam but also to generally steam the milk; or move the wand slowly up and then slowly back down to create tons of foam ~ more like cappuccino-style, less warm milk, more foam.
Maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon to top it off? And even if you don’t have the milk frother, just add warm milk to your pumpkin spice coffee, try it and let me know what you think!
Wow, it’s been a few months since I’ve written up a Martha Stewart recipe but it always seems a bit too hot to be baking up a storm during the summer. Now that fall is starting to creep in, spending days inside doesn’t seem so blasphemous.
I was recently longing for a sweet treat but didn’t feel like leaving the house to go purchase some cookies or something, so I turned to Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook for an easy recipe.
I came across these caramel dots, which are actually part of a sub-recipe for cake decorations, but who needs a whole cake when you can just eat some caramel?
Additionally, the recipe was super simple: sugar, water, lemon juice!
Step 1: Mix sugar and water and lemon juice.
Step 2: Heat until it turns into caramel
Step 3: Drizzle bits of caramel onto parchment paper* and let cool
*When the caramel was still hot (and PS it was really hot – I burnt my finger and it blistered because the caramel stuck to it and I couldn’t get it off – so don’t touch it!) I pinched bits of black sea salt on top to make a sweet-salty dessert.
Thoughts on this recipe:
I don’t have overly processed white sugar, only pure cane sugar which is pretty coarse. I think this resulted in too grainy a caramel.
These dots are super hard candies. Definitely more of a sucking candy. Next time I would add a tablespoon or two of butter to make the texture creamier and try for a chewier caramel.
The ones with sugar tasted a lot more interesting and less overwhelmingly JUST SUGAR than the regular ones.
The caramel dots were quite pretty – almost like stained glass.
This recipe definitely served the purpose of sating a sweet tooth and would look good on a cake, but one or two was enough.
Verdict: Have I ever said something was TOO sugary? This might be the first time.
Okay, time to capitalize on this dark rainy day to make chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!! 🙂
I feel like I’ve already been shouting it from the rooftops, but I’m just going to go ahead and drop this into a blog post too:
I’m having a Pop-Up Shop this weekend (Sat & Sun, Sept 17 & 18, 12-4pm) inside the West Elm on Broadway and W. 61st St in NYC!!!
West Elm is a national furniture and home decor store. They have a really cool initiative to promote local artists and makers through pop-up store-within-a-store events as well as carrying locally-made goods.
And what’s truly amazing is that they donate the space and don’t take a cut of any sales at the pop-up event. It’s really incredible!
As you can tell, I’m super excited (and somewhat nervous). Please come by and say hi! I’ll have some new, not-yet-on-the-website original paintings, as well as some reasonably priced prints.
Canadian Maritime Trip Log Book Continues: Returning to Newfoundland from the French islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon, dad and I rented a car in Deer Lake and drove up to L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern end of the western peninsula of Newfoundland. The trek took about 5 hours driving extra fast, and we checked in to our B&B, Jenny’s Runestone House in the early evening.
Jenny and her husband Dave were the sweetest, chattiest people. They brought all the guests together to foster conversation and were genuinely welcoming and warm. Her breakfasts were also filling and delicious. I can’t recommend this B&B enough.
Right around the corner from Jenny’s is L’Anse aux Meadows – the only known Viking outpost in North America! Our guide was AMAZING and so knowledgeable. I’m glad we did the tour and didn’t just wander around on our own: the site would’ve just looked like lonely rolling grassy hills with some plaques.
There was so much to learn – too much to recount here – but here are a few fun facts:
Viking is the word meaning “raiding” – the people are Norsemen, not Vikings. What they did was “go a-viking”(pronounced “vic-ing”).
This was not a settlement. This was an outpost that the Norsemen visited for an aggregate of 10 years over a 25 year period. We know there were at least two visits, perhaps more. From here, the Norsemen would travel around to gather resources to bring back to Greenland, such as wood, rocks and other natural resources.
A new Viking outpost (maybe full-blown settlement) has potentially been discovered on the southern portion of Newfoundland. The folks at L’Anse aux Meadows are waiting eagerly to hear what is discovered. It could really change the whole perceived history of the Norsemen in North America.
We saw our first moose siting here! Everyone told us there are tons of moose everywhere and to watch out when driving in case they bound out into the road. I was diligently looking all around as we drove and didn’t see a single one until we got to the park. (And as a PS, we didn’t see any more ever again.)
replica hut – l’anse aux meadows
The next day, it was pretty rainy and cold (as has been the theme of the trip), but we booked a 2.5 hour boat trip out of St. Anthony (the largest town on the northern peninsula and about 35 minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows) to see icebergs and whales.
Decked out in my anorak and rain pants, I hunkered down on the aft deck as we motored through the harbor out to the North Atlantic.
dad bundled up
han bundled up with iceberg
First, we came across a pair of humpback whales feeding by the rocky shoreline. We followed the sprays until we saw the slow backs arching out of the water, often followed by a graceful tail flick as the whales dove deep.
whale tail descending
We didn’t see any full breeching or jumping, but we did see some side fins as the whales trapped fish against the rocks and swam by, huge mouths agape to sweep in the fish.
Our boat guides with Northland Discovery Boat Tours were great – lots of whale info, as well as info about daily life in the town… like it’s an 11 hour drive to the closest Costco.
Next we got up close and personal with some incredible icebergs. We even saw a seal lounging on one of the ice hunks!
seal on an iceberg
look at that bright green water/ice!
The blue streaks contained within the bergs are created by melted ice water pouring into a crack and refreezing. Apparently if you were to hold a chunk of that blue streak, it would be clear as glass. That’s how pure the iceberg water is. A St. John’s brewery, Quidi Vidi, makes “Iceberg Beer” with water they claim is 25,000 years old.
blue streak close up
another dense blue streak
These icebergs break off from the glaciers on Greenland, as well as few from the arctic ice pack. They are eroded as they float southward by the lapping ocean; melting is actually only a small percentage of how they become smaller and smaller. Some may drag their bottoms on the ocean floor. As they change shape, they may “calf” (have smaller chunks break off) and even flip over if they get top-heavy enough. Jenny said she could watch icebergs all day, get up to use the bathroom, and when she gets back, the whole thing has flipped over and she’s missed it.
After our tour, we ate a warm lunch at Lightkeepers Seafood on Fishing Point (my French dip sandwich was so good) with a lovely views, wandered around Dark Tickle (a gift shop and local-berry jam factory in St. Lunaire-Griquet), and then went back to Jenny’s to continue watching icebergs and whales from the cliffs by the B&B.
As for food, we sampled some local fare: fresh seafood – mussels, scallops, shrimp, ate jam made out of local blueberries, partridgeberries, bakeapple (cloudberries) and crowberries.
We ate dinner the first evening at Northern Delight, where I had a not-too-greasy pan-fried local cod and dad had a whole lobster for $24 (CAD) – good deal. We were “treated” to a visit by some Mummers – people dressed up in masks and baggy clothes who danced around to local music (a typical Newfoundland Christmas tradition). I was creeped out, but I don’t generally like people in masks.
The second evening we ate at the more upscale restaurant, The Norseman by L’Anse aux Meadows, where we had freshly made butternut squash soup, scallops and mussels. All delicious. And here we were serenaded by a guitarist playing Newfoundland traditional folk songs and classic pop music. And actually that musician was also our costumed re-enactor at L’Anse aux Meadows the prior day!
I’d say two nights was the perfect amount of time to do all the things we wanted up in the north-western part of Newfoundland. 100% worth the visit!
Most people know that I have a few causes that are close to my heart: healthcare, women’s empowerment, the arts. I’ve done a lot of volunteer work and work-work raising funds and awareness, organizing, planning and jumping in wherever needed to give back, mentor and generally help out.
And over the years, I’ve asked for much support from my friends and family and community and have always been blown away by the resounding response.
In particular, through my work at The Brides Project and the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor, I’ve seen the emotional, financial and logistical challenges faced by a family dealing with cancer. It’s pervasive. It’s unmooring.
There’s always another person, family or community to help. And for me, this month, it comes in the form of a charity art auction for the Ackermann family, whose 2 and a half year old son, Brayden has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
I had never heard of this cancer, until a community of artists via Instagram decided to put together an art auction to raise money. DIPG only affects about 300 children per year, and what’s particularly scary is that Brayden was happy and seemingly healthy, until one day he lost use of the left side of his body. Of course his parents rushed him to Westchester Children’s Hospital, not knowing what to think.
How utterly devastating to learn that your child has a difficult diagnosis that’s rarely cured. And then to have to find the strength to do everything possible in the face of that and to preserve a normalcy and quality of life as much as possible for a child who may or may not really understand what is happening to him or her.
To try to help offset the financial worries for the Ackermann family, over 90 artists from around the world have donated pieces for an art auction to be held Friday September 16 – Sunday September 18. The auction will open on Friday at 7am Eastern on Instagram @brushstrokesforbrayden. Here’s the link for those that want to check it out or pass it along.
The artworks are currently being posted to that Instagram account so you can see what’s available before the auction opens. Opening bids are very reasonable, but hopefully we can raise a lot more money and awareness!
Please spread the word to your art loving friends, even if you don’t bid yourself. And if you find something you love, but don’t have Instagram, let me know, and we can discuss a proxy bidding system. I’m Artwork #9.
Thanks for always being there and exceeding my expectations.