Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Drink some Melon.

Just in time for the 4th of July! Delicious drink recipes.

Watermelon Lemonade
I found this on Good Life {Eats}

Small Seedless watermelon 15ish cups. (I used about half, but a whole would work too)
Two 12 oz cans of Lemonade concentrate
Cut up Watermelon in cubes and blend in blender strain through fine mesh strainer if you have one, or don’t like pulp. Add melted Lemonade concentrate and wisk together. Serve chilled. Makes about a two-liter pitcher.

This is kind of tart and strong; (but so refreshing) I would cut this in half and add water to dilute it some, which would make two 2-liter pitchers of the lemonade. Perfect for a party.

Sparkling alternative: Add Sprite to dilute the mixture.

Slushy Watermelon Mint Mojito
I found this in Southern Living

5 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1 cup sparkling water, chilled (or Sprite…. Again)
3/4 cup white rum
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, undiluted
Mint sprigs (optional)
Lime slices (optional)

Arrange watermelon in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze 2 hours or until completely frozen.

Combine frozen watermelon, sparkling water, rum, mint, and limeade in a blender; process until smooth. Garnish with mint sprigs and lime slices, if desired. Serve immediately.

Quick and Easy Watermelon Mint Mojito:
Add Rum and crushed mint to sparkling Watermelon Lemonade.

Until Next Time, Drink Responsibly and all that.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mail Labels

I found the cutest mailing labels ever at: A Very Chocolate Wedding. They are a free download so I have nothing to say other then I will be using these all the time!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tin Can Vase

I like to give flowers to people. When I do I think that they look nicest when they are in a vase, and it seems that when you give someone flowers not in a vase you never get to be the one to arrange them. I have always liked to play around with flowers and arrange them, and think I kind of have a knack for it.

BUT…. Vases are expensive, and if you are not giving them to your mom or someone you are really close to, most the time you don’t want to spring for a vase. Unless it is included with the flowers, and what’s the fun in that?

I came across a good solution to the problem: Tin Cans. On Design Sponge there is a great tutorial for making beautiful tin can vases. When I decided to try to make them it was a spur of the moment decision to take a professor some flowers after she broke her arm during class. So I didn’t have as good materials to work with as the website describes.

For my tin can vase I used some wrapping paper that’s was as similar in color to the bunch of flowers I got at Sam’s club (Hey it was a last minuet thing, don’t judge me.) as I had on hand. I used spray adhesive to attach it (3M super 77) and arranged the flowers in the tin. If I did this over again I probably would have used a shorter can and flowers that hung over the edge more. Although, having chicken wire would probably help. This seems like a good idea for centerpieces for a formal event or even a wedding on a budget, as you can customize the color entirely.

Until next time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Holga Madness.

Looking for a fun way to get kids interested in photography? Want to break into the art yourself but cant spring for a pricey SLR? Looking to upgrade to medium format but don’t know if you should spring for that Seagull TLR? Are you trying to break out of the formality of 35mm photography? A Holga might be the camera for you.

Personally I’m not sure what made me want to go out and buy a Holga. I had been thinking about working with Medium format film for a while, but I had the option to rent a camera from school for free. The reasons are as lost to me now as they were the day I sent my friend Kelly an instant message during our Art Criticism education class.

Me: I think I want to buy a Holga
Kelly: Do it!
Me: I think I’m going to pick one up on my way to work.
Kelly: Do it!

Obviously Kelly was all on board, she is a Holga fanatic herself. Luckily for me I work right across the street from Precision Camera so after a quick bus ride from campus to work, I went into Precision and checked out the offerings of Holga cameras. They had almost every color but my favorite: purple. This was slightly disappointing, but I decided to go for the black camera. I was thinking I would eventually resent a pink one for not being purple, and the black one had a built in flash a feature that the colorful models lacked. After plunking down a mere $45.00 I picked up some 120 film and headed out. This camera was everything I hoped it would be. It is fun, experimental, and really broke me out of the shell I was growing with photography.

Why are Holgas great for kids? They are relatively cheap, so if they loose interest you haven't wasted too much money. And the negatives are big, so if you are going to try printing the photos rather then having them done at a photo lab, then the child can see the image better then they would on 35mm negatives. And there is always the crazy experimentation that kids love, the Holga was made for that.

If you are getting a Holga know that out of the box there are no instructions on how to use it, so your going to have to go online to figure out things like how to load the film, what the buttons on it do, and what the quarks of the Holga are. I’ve tried to put some of that info here so you don’t have to look too far.

Helpful Holga Facts:
The Holga is a rangefinder, this is different from most cameras that everyone knows.
Distance settings- Shown with images. you can select portrait, small group, large group and infinity.
F-Stops- The Holga has two F-stop settings, cloudy/ flash and Sunny
Shutter Settings- shutter speed can be controlled by the F-stop or be held open for long periods of time, this switch is located at the bottom of the camera.
Flash- The batteries that power the flash are located behind the mask in the camera. In cameras that do not have a flash there is an attachment spot for a flash to be attached.
Holga Halo- the vignetting around the edges of the photo that occur on a sunny day. this is caused by the over hang of the plastic around the lens.
Blur- Holga photos often turn out blurry around the edges. This can be frustrating, but it is one of the things that gives the Holgs its charm.
Light leaks- Due to the inexpensive nature of the camera there are often light leaks around the edges. this can be controlled by taping the camera at the edges. Some people enjoy the leaks as they are each unique to each camera.
Printing tip: Holga negatives tend to be flat, embrace using filters, they will make your images rock.

Loading Film

General Holga Info
: this includes info on the odd quarks that your camera might have, along with photo examples. This should give you pretty much all the info you need.

Wikipedia 120 film

Until Next time, check out some of my Holga images above.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

French Onion soup.

Some how this blog has really turned into something incredibly food dominant. I guess I just like to eat, and now that I’m not in school for the summer I have been having time to experiment with food. More on crafts soon I promise! I made a wrap skirt, but didn't take any process pictures, so I’m trying to figure out how to explain what I did.

My Great Grandpa Papou Mancy opened a steak house in Toledo Ohio back in the day. It’s called Mancy’s and it’s still there. My great Uncle John ran it after his father died, and now his son runs the place. Mancy’s has this awesome French onion soup that they have spent years perfecting, and since I haven’t had it in about 2 years I decided I wanted some. I told my grandma to call her brother and get the recipe, but of course he didn't answer, and it’s just as well, as I’m sure he wouldn't appreciate my posting his recipe online. (UPDATE: They put it on Pinterest! If you follow me you can find it) I did however make some French onion soup, and as always I played around with it so it is nothing like what I found online.

6 sweet (Vidalia) onions. (or 4 if you use Texas sweet onions, cause like everything else in Texas, they are big.)
3 tsp butter
Bay leaves
20 oz of beef broth
20 oz of chicken broth
Cooking sherry
Apple cider vinegar.
French bread
Swiss cheese
Gruyere cheese.

Cut the onions in half, and then cut across so they are like crescent moons. (Or just cut how you like, I’m not a cutting Nazi. Just please don’t dice.) Put the butter in a pot and melt it, lay down a layer of onions, sprinkle with salt, put another layer, sprinkle with salt etc. till all the onions are in the pot. (It’s going to look like waaaaay too many, trust me, its not.) The recipe I went off of said not to stir, but I thought it would be good to coat the onions with butter, so I did. Just don’t stir a ton, because you want to let the onions reduce down, and if you are standing there stirring it takes forever.

At this point go make yourself a Gin and Tonic, cause you are going to wait a while for these suckers to reduce down and caramelize. I’d say a minimum of thirty minuets. Don’t worry about the onions burning; because that just adds to the flavor, but if you keep the heat high then make sure you can keep an eye on them. After a while they will start to turn brown and taste super sweet (if you are the kind of person who tastes constantly) start stirring, because you want all the onions to get a chance to brown and not stick to the bottom totally.

After you are happy with the color. (Mahogany is what the recipe said, but I didn't wait that long) pour enough cooking sherry in to cover the onions, put the heat on high and reduce the liquid to syrup. This will take like 15 minuets, but don’t leave, because if it burns your house will smell (but the flavor will rock) you want to control the amount of burn. Note: Every recipe is different, and I found ones with red wind and white also, so it seems you can use what you have on hand if you don't want to go out and buy sherry.

Once that reduces pour in the chicken and beef stock, bay leaves, thyme, and parsley. (Sorry I didn't measure this, just put however much you like) I accidentally bought cilantro, which it turned out I needed for other things anyway, but this just proves to me that parsley is not really all that necessary. If you don’t like it leave it out. Also if you want the soup to be thicker use less of the beef and chicken stock. The recipe I used called for half that amount of both and I didn't think it was enough. Throw a dash of apple cider vinegar in there too. The recipe I was going off of said 10 oz of the vinegar, and that frankly would have ruined it. No more then a tablespoon. Let the whole thing simmer for like 10 minuets.

Cut up a French baguette and put it in the oven and broil at 375 for a few minutes to make the croutons. The size of each piece should be about the size of the bowel you put the soup in. Pay attention here, these are easy to burn.

Okay, we are almost done. Put the soup in an oven safe bowel, and using a cookie sheet, stick it in the oven with one of the croutons on top and a slice of each cheese. If you put the Swiss on top it will brown better then the other cheeses. The cheese should overlap the opening of the bowel so the cheese can drip down the sides and crust over. This is what makes the Mancy’s French onion soup I think. If (like me) you don’t have a bowel that can go in the oven just use a coffee mug, it works wonderfully. I found that if you put the mug to the side of the broiler in a gas oven it browns the cheese the best. You could also use a torch if you have one.

If I had the time this is what I would probably serve this soup with:
Steak, Mushrooms, and Onion rings

Although it is a meal in its self.

Until Next time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Texas Pecan Pesto.

My brother came up with the name for this while drinking a lone star beer. Go figure.

For some reason or another basil grows really well in Texas, despite the heat. An important aspect of basil maintenance is cutting back the plant before it flowers so that it continues to grow fully and doesn’t get bitter. The draw back with this pruning is that you are left with a ton of basil, more then you can usually use to spice up one meal. After you have had your fill of garnishing salads, and topping bruschetta, give this recipe a try.

2 cups fresh basil
Olive Oil
½ cup parmesan or Romano cheese
½ cup pecans
4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Official recipe for any pesto.
Combine Basil garlic and nuts (traditionally pine nuts) in a food processor, pulse several times slowly drizzle olive oil into the mixture while blending. Add cheese and blend together.


My recipe.
Throw basil, Pecans, Garlic and a half a cup of olive oil into a food processor or blender and mix together. Remove from mixing device, add cheese, and more olive oil, as much as you like, and stir together until pesto has reached desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste, and throw some lemon in if you think it needs an extra kick.

A food processor is probably best for this recipe, but I didn’t have one, so I just used a blender, which I found to work just fine, although I had to dig the blended part out and push the non blended part to the bottom myself, which I wouldn’t have had to do with a processor I’m thinking. The half a cup of olive oil that goes in the blender is mainly to keep everything moving and from sticking to the blender insides, although there will still be some of that.

I also found that using already chopped pecans made life easy also, cause you can in theory leave it all to the end and just mix in with the basil mush after it is out of the blender. I put half in the blender and mixed half in later. It seemed like having the nuts in the blender helped the mixture move better.

So how does putting pecans in pesto make it “Texas?” Well, it adds a taste that other nuts seem to be lacking. You can also use pesto in ways other then just Italian spaghetti. You can use it in pasta salad, an awesome pick nick staple. Its also good on baked potatos, tortillas, and as a dip for chips.

Helpful tip- if you don’t want to eat a ton of pesto all at once you can freeze the pesto in an ice cube tray if you leave the cheese out and add it later.

Until next time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

UT in the press

There are always exciting things going on at an art school and the University of Texas is no exception. Despite being in the shadow of a nationally recognized football program (literally, the art building is right next to the stadium) we still know how to make headlines of out own. In my painting class last fall Sharon, a fellow student painted a bizarre giant painting of a gerbil. There were some things that were objectionable about this painting, but no one in the class said anything about it in the spirit of free speech.

Eventually everyday we came into class and Sharon would discover her painting had been turned to face the wall. She would turn it back and notice some paint on her canvas that had come off the wall. After this happened several times despite her putting notes on her canvas saying “do not touch” she got the Professor involved. The culprit it turned out was the instructor of an informal painting class that used the room at night and whom many other students had run ins with. Everyday we were all excited to learn the drama that had unfolded the day before.

A few months ago there was an article in the paper (Statesman.com) about Sharon, her painting, and the woman that was causing her so much trouble. It appears that the woman might have called the paper because the drama with Sharon caused her to quit teaching painting at UT. The article is pretty funny, and the comments on the article are even better. One of the comments gives the link to the woman’s blog, where her take on the whole story is particularly nasty.

Until next time, happy reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Moroccan Stewed Chicken

I know that food is not the main focus of this blog, (UPDATE: Who cares?) but I love food, and this recipe was AMAZING. I found it in the January issue of Women’s Health magazine and just tried it last week. This is my personal adaptation, which is a little more haphazard then the original recipe, and has a few extra ingredients. It’s so quick and easy! You can find the Men’s Health version at http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/mens-health/3191/moroccan-stewed-chicken/
Image from website.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
I large zucchini, cubed.
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can diced tomatoes
chopped fresh cilantro
½ Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock or water
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 cloves minced garlic
1-ish onion
1 bell pepper

All of these measurements are totally subjective other then pouring out cans I didn’t measure a thing. I’m sure I put more of the spices then was called for, but I tried to use the measurements as a guide to my haphazard pouring. I used a 2 cup can of chicken stock instead of one cup. It will seem overly soupy but if you keep any as leftovers it will evaporate in the fridge and the extra moisture will be needed. Also any kind of chicken will work, even leftover rotisserie chicken from the grocery store.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.
Sauté two cloves of garlic and half a large onion, or a whole small onion and bell pepper.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper, place them in the pan and cook them for two to three minutes on each side, until brown.
Add the zucchini and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
When the zucchini has browned lightly, add the chickpeas, tomatoes, chicken stock, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Season to taste with more salt and pepper, add garnish with chopped cilantro. Serves four. (although it served my family of 4 more or less twice, so unless you get seconds expect leftovers)

Cook plain couscous according to the box instructions, add pine nuts, raisins, and chopped cilantro (this is from the Magazine). From Me: plain couscous is BLAND. To make this better add ground cumin, garlic powder and celery salt. You could also just use a box of flavored couscous. To get the flavor of the pine nuts, raisins, and cilantro in the couscous, mix it in with the boiling water.

Serve: in a bowl together not much broth.

Mmmmmmm! Until next time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I'm Blogging!

I suppose that I should start by explaining my aims here. I have been having a fantastic time studying to be an art educator the last few years and want to share my experiences, and collect feedback about how people feel about art education. I have also been collecting wonderful crafts, lesson plans, gadgets and projects on the Internet and would like to share them with the world.

Now you know a little about me. It seems that a first Blog post should be memorable, but I know that no one is reading. My biggest goal is that I will not end up a post in one post wonder: http://1post1der.blogspot.com/

Until next time.