Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rabbit, Rabbit

Was Thanksgiving really only this past week? It's been a busy seven days! We're also being treated to lots of sunshine here in Portland, so that doesn't help me realize it is, truly, just hours away from being December.

It's been a nice week, though. Prepping for sales, delivering work, making post office runs for etsy purchases, exploring various culinary delights, and a new hobby, coffee roasting.

[Main course, Thanksgiving 2011, The Country Cat Dinner House]

Thanksgiving dinner was taken at a local restaurant, The Country Cat. Though turkey was an option on the four-course menu, I applaud them on the thoughtfulness that went into both the presentation and consuming experience of the salmon. It mush have been broiled for the last minute of cooking, as it was just a little crispy on the outside. Sliced almonds added a crunch and pomegranate seeds a surprise pop at the end of each bite... nice.

I'm still learning about the finer points (and safety measures) of roasting coffee, but after a coffee roasting class took last weekend, I couldn't wait to begin experimenting with stovetop roasting (as long as all of the doors are open and the box fan blasting). It's a smoky experience --not something to be taken lightly -- but twice so far I have roasted up some beans and hand-ground them in a cast iron burr grinder for a few amazing cups of coffee. Can't wait to see what future batches will taste like when the process of perfected.

[Ethiopian green coffee beans on the skillet, ready to smoke up our kitchen while becoming a delicious light roast ready to be ground and brewed.]

Oh, and the title of this post? I don't remember who I first learned it from, or when, but folklore has it that you will have a month of good luck if the first words you utter on the first of the month are "Rabbit, Rabbit." Sometimes I remember sometimes I don't; we'll see if I do it tomorrow. Anyone else follow beginning-of-the-month rituals?


Friday, November 25, 2011

All I Want for Christmas is a Clean Floor

By Thanksgiving morning, my floor looked like this:

Because I was just finishing up a few new product lines to go out into the world in two holiday sales this week and next.

[teeny blank book ornaments!]

One is the annual holiday sale at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, happening tonight (Friday, November 25th) as well as Saturday 10-5 and Sunday, 10-4.

[box ornaments that open for your own treasures]

Next weekend, a pop-up-shop stype sale opens in NE Portland that my work will be in. The weekend sale, in a cozy studio called Camp Cactus, opens with wine, snacks, and all of the artists present next Friday, December 2nd, from 6-9. The sale continues Saturday and Sunday as well, 10-6 both days. This one has been a PDX staple for over 20 years, and I am excited to be a part of it.

Many of my smaller paintings will be for sale as well, so part of the clutter was from framing and wire-backing.

Before Thanksgiving dinner, the floor was swept clean and everything packaged away. Whew! Craft on!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Most wonderful, and busiest, time of the year

The rainy season may have begun here in Portland, but life has been too busy for November blues to get me down yet!

The First Friday of the month was a good time at the annual Oregon Visual Arts showcase at the Beaverton City Library. I had two works in the show, one of which sold (along with several giclee prints).

November also means craft and art sales, so I've been packaging cards, framing paintings, and making stocking stuffers. One of the first sales I'm in is this Sunday at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, a book arts/print holiday sale. 10-3.

[Mini books made from cards that one doesn't normally see in PDX... like Dunkin Donuts gift cards and "T" subway passes.]

I am also furiously marking my calendar with new dates I will be offering children's classes in Portland, as I add new venues. I recently was hired by both the Multnomah and Washington County library systems to offer children's bookmaking workshops periodically throughout the year, and have just become a teacher member of Southeast Portland's 100th Monkey Studio. And of course, my long-time venue Green Bean Books is hopefully just as excited as I am to begin a string of all-new classes starting in December... Magic Books! Book structures with secret messages, hidden pages, and a touch of whimsy throughout. The first class is on December 1st, 3:30-4:30, and will be the Magic Wallet Book structure. Ages 6-11 invited to join in.

[Magic Wallet Books -- Almost as mesmerizing as a Jacob's Ladder book!]

Who doesn't want to make some magical art when the weather outside is frightful? And the forecast changes from rain to the *possibility* of snow on Friday and Saturday. Icy conditions in our city are dangerous, but I'll take a few flurries over the rain for sure. The holiday feel of this month would be complete!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Adventures in Cooking: Coconut Flour Pancakes

Lately I have been trying to incorporate new recipes into my repertoire and add new ingredients to the kitchen. Part of this experimentation has been cutting down on processed foods, sugars, and wheat flours -- especially after discovering this summer that I am hyperglycemic (high blood sugar).

Yesterday's lunch was a hit; gluten free, grain free, low carb (yet delicious) coconut flour pancakes. I notice more and more Americans moving toward this "paleo diet" trend which cuts out grains (and dairy, and soy) -- "eating like our cavemen ancestors." While I'm not there yet, I did feel great and energetic after this grain-free lunch... where as typical buttermilk pancakes would tend to put me in a sloth-like food coma. It's nice to switch it up, right?

[Coconut flour pancakes with baked apple, plain yogurt, toasted almonds]

I'm stepping into previously unknown territory cooking and baking with non-grain flours (almond! coconut! chickpea!) and amalgamated a few coconut four pancake recipes I found online into these guys. My recipe below, plus how I might do it again... (which I probably will if only because of the giant bag of opened coconut flour now in the fridge. Yes, you do need to refrigerate non-wheat flours because of the oil content.)

This recipe made 8 short-stack sized pancakes, or two servings. I used:

• 3 eggs and 2 egg whites (could use 4 eggs, or 6 whites, or even cut one out--our batter was a bit liquidy. Next time I may use 2 eggs and 2 whites... word around the web is eggbeaters and flax eggs work just as well.)

• 1/4 cup coconut flour

• 1/2 tsp baking soda

• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (couldn't taste it over the egg... maybe 1 tsp next time)

• 1 tbsp honey (those really avoiding sugar could use 1 tsp stevia glycerite, a sweetener that won't spike your blood sugar)

• 1/4 cup milk (We used 2%, as skim milk is more watery. Net says almond milk works just as well.)

• Dash of nutmeg, dash of cinnamon or any other flavoring

• Butter (we used flax butter) or coconut oil to grease the pan. Quite a bit of it for each pancake.

I listened to what some people suggested and let the coconut flour and eggs sit out for about a half an hour to come to room temperature. I whisked the 3 eggs, 2 whites, milk, honey, and vanilla together in a large bowl while combining the coconut flour, baking soda, and spices in a small bowl. The dry mixture was slowly added to the wet while whisking to combine well. Per online suggestions, I let the batter sit, covered, for about 5 minutes to allow it to thicken. Coconut flour is very absorbent and if allowed to sit with a liquid will thicken it up (I add a dash to soups and stews where you may add flour or tomato paste).

I heated about a tablespoon of flax butter in a non-stick baking pan over medium heat. Seemed like a lot of liquid but it burns off quickly, so you're not exactly getting it all in your meal. Dish out the batter to make small pancakes, no more than 4 inches across and smaller if you can swing it. Should take about 3 tablespoons of batter per pancake. I guess when using non-wheat flour smaller pancakes cook more evenly and flip better. After two or three minutes, they'll start to brown and solidify and you can flip them. Aother 2-3 minutes and theyre done... repeat with rest of batter, adding another tsp or so of butter for each batch, just to keep them from burning.

They were fluffy and just tasted like... pancakes.

Here are some of my jumping-off-point recipes:

I had mine with a side of baked apple, plain yogurt, and toasted almonds (place sliced almonds on a dry pan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, shaking frequently.


I like this recipe because it's flexible. It can be vegan, or it can have lots of dairy, eggs, and honey if that's your thing. With one egg each it has a normal amount of cholesterol. The baking soda is basically the only thing adding any sodium. It can be sugarless, and is naturally gluten free, grain free, and vegetarian. It was tasty, filling, and should suit many palettes. Anyone else cooking with coconut flour? Suggestions welcome; I've still got that big ol' bag in the fridge!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

BAC show and Business Cards

Tomorrow night I will be headed to an opening of a show I am in, and I letterpress printed some snazzy new business cards for the event.

Over the summer, two of my works (five paintings total) were accepted into the the 29th Annual Visual Arts Showcase, a juried show open to Oregon artists. The show is being held at the Beaverton City Library, with an artist's and patrons opening on Friday (cocktail attire required, ooh la la!) followed by a public gala and opening Saturday, 7-9.

Anyone in the area is invited to swing by for the Saturday event! (Click the postcards images for more info.) The show remains up through November 13th.

Luckily, for its short run I just finished a big ol' stack of new business cards. Mmmm. I enjoy them and it's going to be difficult to not be selective giving these out, at first!