Sunday, December 27, 2009


My friend Carol gave me this luscious book by Gale Gand for my birthday.

After taking Andrew to SFO, SOB!, I made a version of the cover egg dish for Steven for breakfast. (Did I mention that I've read the whole book!) I had some Canadian bacon that I needed to use up so I diced it and put it in the bottom of a ramekin in place of the ham shown in the picture. I put in the dollop of pesto and two eggs (another gift of local eggs--beautiful orangey yolks!); I didn't have any fresh mozzarella so I used some sharp cheddar that Steven likes and chopped up and added a small tomato. I baked it at 375 for 15 minutes and promptly forgot to take a picture of it before he devored it. We were both impressed. It's a keeper! I'm looking forward to making it again.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pre-Heating for No-Knead Stirato

Candice asked me if it was really necessary to preheat the oven for an hour before baking my no-knead bread. Here is what I learned from my latest experiment. I made three loaves yesterday to bring to a party. I turned on my oven (containing the covered baker) before shaping my first loaf for its second rise. My kitchen is quite cool, 68 degrees. The second rise took 45 minutes so the oven and container had preheated for 45+ minutes. I baked the first loaf for 30 minutes with the cloche on and then ten minutes with the cloche off (leaving the cloche in the back of the oven so it would stay hot for the next loaf). I have been reducing the oven temp to 425 degrees for the last 10 minutes because the crust gets quite dark if I leave it at 475. I like a dark bake but some of my eaters ask me if I've "burned" the bread.

After taking the first loaf out, I raised the temp back up to 475 and it took about ten minutes for the oven thermometer to register 475. The second and third loaves were baked with the same timing and temps and each loaf came out darker. Even though the oven registers 475 after 10-15 minutes of pre-heating it may not be optimal to get the best color and crust. For great crumb, you want the internal temperature of the bread to be 200-210 degrees when you take it out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Latest Loaf

This is my version of Jim Lahey's Stirato (an Italian baguette!). I'm making a 500g loaf and I'm supplementing it with a wild yeast starter that Linda made.

I'm baking it in one of these

I've also changed the bake time. I'm baking it with cloche on for 30 minutes at 475 degrees and then removing the cloche and reducing the temperature to 425 degrees for ten more minutes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Fall Planting

I finally planted my onion starts (a yellow and a red) and my 9 varieties of garlic. I ordered the garlic last May and it was shipped in August. Alice and Linda and I split two gourmet sampler assortments for warm winter areas which included Creole Red, Ajo Rojo, Burgundy, Native Creole, Kettle River, Inchelium Red, Susanville, Shilla, and Korean Red. I think the Korean Red was rotten. Oh well.

I love these Atlas garden gloves for planting. I discovered that if I double glove with a pair of disposable surgical gloves, my hands stay dry and warmer. Of course with the temperature at 38 degrees today, ski mittens would really have been a better choice. I hope the garlic has long underwear.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lunch Box Update

I finished 88 double four-patch blocks (the inside unit of my lunch box block). These are the blocks on the design wall. I really should have looked at this on my computer monitor at a much earlier stage in the design process but I'm learning! I need to make 90 blocks, 8 inches finished.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wheat and Rye No-Knead Bread

First loaf inspired by Jim Lahey's new book, My Bread. This is my adaptation of his Pane Integrale bread recipe. It is smaller than the recipe (513 g.) but uses his hydration percentage. In addition to bread flour, whole wheat flour, water, salt and 1 g. of yeast, I added rye flour, millet, and flaxseed. I also added my sourdough starter. I let it ferment for 15 hours and then baked it in a blazing hot cast iron pot at 475 degrees. It's cooling.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My Bread by Jim Lahey

I was unable to resist.

I have been a big fan of Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread recipe ever since Mark Bittman wrote about it in November, 2006.

I can't believe it has been almost 3 years. In that time I've become a baker. I have baked hundreds of loaves of this bread my way. I feel as if Jim Lahey is my bread mentor so it seemed only fair that I should buy his book. Lahey started out as a conventional artist but he became a bread artist. His story is explored in the beginning chapters of the book. It is very inspirational.

I bake a half-size loaf using a starter. I have made my own starter (and lost it) so many times that I can't remember. I end up not baking over the summer and either I'm not patient enough or unsure about it's qualities that I end up starting over. I currently have a starter that Linda made using Nancy Silverton's protocol with organic grapes.

My real quest is to figure out how to make Nancy Silverton's whole grain bread no-knead. That is why I bought Jim Lahey's book. Autumn is the perfect time to begin a bread quest. I spent almost all of yesterday reading his book and creating my own recipes. Let the testing begin.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The eve of All Hallows Eve?

I finished reading Possession. Now I'm only possessed by making my blocks. Back to the sweatshop!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've been finishing Possession, by A. S. Byatt, the selection for our book group get-together tomorrow and between it and these blocks I'm not getting anything else done.

As promised, this is a sneak-preview of a piece I'm trying to finish up. These are 1-inch blocks. What was I thinking?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Seasonal Content

More inspiration from the market.

My friends and those who know me from my guild have heard me say that I am great at starting projects but not so great at finishing. I heard AS Byatt speak on Monday night at City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco. When asked if she shared her manuscripts with her sister (Margaret Drabble), she commented that she shows nothing to anyone until it goes to her publisher. I find that if I show a work in progress I'm discouraged if it doesn't receive positive reviews but I also can resist finishing something if it receives "raves" (fear of failing to live up to expectations?).

I am working on two ancient projects and making good progress. Perhaps a sneak preview in a few days?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Inspiration from the Garden

Alice and I went to the plant sale at the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek. It has been years since I saw it (and thought I wasn't interested in cactus and succulents). What an inspiration for making art.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Art in Public Places II

This piece is in the library plaza in Orinda Village.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pan-baked Lemon-Almond Tart: A Dessert Frittata?

I'm still trying to clean up and organize my "studio" (which seems to have proliferated far and wide) but ya gotta eat. I tried this NY Times recipe (there's a cute video--be sure to watch it but use the measurements in the recipe) last week and taste-tested it for dessert with the Wednesday quilters. It was quick and easy.

My first outing was not without its problems: I used a 10-inch pan because for some reason I didn't think I could use a non-stick pan in the oven; and as Kathy said, don't take your eye off it when it is under the broiler... I repeated it for Saturday breakfast with an 8-inch non-stick pan--much better: it makes a thicker tart and much easier to get out of the pan. We both loved it. I think it's a keeper. I toasted the almonds and be sure to use extra sliced almonds on top. A little crunch is a good thing. As Mark Bittman says, it's great for "a decadent breakfast, a new twist on a classic coffee cake, or a last-minute dessert."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The colorful season

Our trip to the farmers' market today was so inspiring. I saw, I shopped, I recorded.

Monday, October 05, 2009


I'm in my studio: cleaning up, re-organizing, and fooling around. We were in Half Moon Bay last Friday for Friday Beach Day. Half Moon Bay may be the pumpkin capital of the world.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Art in Public Places

One of my favorites in our little village.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Big Tomato Sandwich

We still have lots of tomatoes in the garden so tonight we had this.

I used a recipe from Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets by Deborah Madison. It is such an inspiration. Each picture just makes you want to try it.

I started with a 1 lb. loaf ciabatta. You want a crusty, strong-textured bread. In the book she shows a round loaf which looks lovely. I sliced off the top third of the loaf and pulled out the inside to make room for the filling. I "painted" the inside of the bottom of the loaf with an herb vinaigrette (1/4 c. basil leaves; 1 T. chopped oregano (she suggests marjoram but I had none in the garden); 1 T. chopped parsley; 1 small clove garlic, minced; 1/3 c. EVOO; 4 t. aged red wine vinegar; 1/4 t. Salt, and freshly ground pepper.)

I alternated layers of sliced tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and 4 oz. fresh sliced mozzarella, on the bottom 2/3 of the loaf. After adding each layer I "painted" the vinaigrette on and seasoned with S&P.


Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11, 2009

Whaler's Cove, Pigeon Point, San Mateo County Coast, California.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Got Tomatoes?

Tonite I made the Pasta Primavera from this cookbook

The authors indicate that "this is the authentic Italian recipe for Pasta Primavera, which is called spring pasta because it utilizes the first tomatoes that come in." I love this recipe, even though I've been picking tomatoes for several weeks.

Here's the recipe:

4 c. coarsely chopped fresh, garden-ripe, never-been-refrigerated tomatoes
4 T. fresh basil, chopped
1 T. Italian parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped, or more, to taste
S&P (freshly ground P)
1 lb. spaghetti
EVOO, for garnish

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, oil, basil, parsley, garlic, and S&P to taste; pulse to blend.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook. Drain the pasta and toss it in a serving bowl with the raw sauce. Garnish each portion with a dribble of EVOO and serve immediately. Serves 6.

I made fettucine dough in the food processor this afternoon and let it rest in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. (1 c. unbleached AP flour; good pinch of salt; 1 large egg; 1 t. olive oil; a few drops of water). While the water was coming up to a boil, I cut the pasta with the pasta machine and tossed it with semolina flour to prevent it from sticking together. It was so quick. I made about 7 oz. of fresh pasta for two of us and I halved the above sauce recipe. The fresh pasta takes about a minute to cook. If you have the tomatoes and basil and garlic and parsley chopped, the sauce comes together in a flash.

I wish I would have made a loaf of bread to sop up the leftover sauce. That would have been great! I'll have to get my bread baking back in gear.

I served this with Janine's Bean Salad. I'll post the recipe for that later this week.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Pelicans, and harbor seals, and tide pools, oh my!

I don't know who this guy is but I love the flags lining the walkway to the lighthouse at Pigeon Point.

Wonderful day on the San Mateo Coast: more than 20 brown pelicans working or playing the waters of Whaler's Cove and harbor seals cavorting in groups of threes and fives. Then, we were off to Bean Hollow State Beach and more inquisitive-seeming harbor seals and tide pools. Sunny but breezy.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The view from "my" lane

These are the waning days of summer and this is the big oak at the end of lane 1 on the shady side of the pool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Farallon Islands

Here's Rick getting ready to board the Salty Lady on Sunday morning. We were about to venture out to the Farallon Islands with Robin and Paul on an Oceanic Society expedition.

Don't you get the idea from this picture that it is going to be a perfect day to see whales and puffins? Let me just say that the trip was so exciting (and eventful) that this is the last picture that I took on the entire trip.

As we left San Francisco harbor we saw over 20 harbor porpoises and 3 miles out, we saw our first whales, humpbacks, a cow and her calf. As we approached North Island, we found ourselves in a "garden" of whales: 5 humpbacks diving for food and 9 humpbacks spouting, diving, breaching, and showing their flukes. We saw one humpback spyhopping: lifting its head about 6 feet out of the water.

We also saw California sea lions, northern sea lions, harbor seals and a variety of sea birds: western grebes, elegant terns, Forsters' terns, northern fulmars, pink-footed shearwaters, sooty shearwaters, western gulls, brown pelicans, red-necked phalaropes, double-crested cormorants, pelagic cormorants, Brandt's cormorants, pigeon guillemots, common murres, Cassins' auklets, and tufted puffins.

It was a never to be forgotten experience.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My new favorite

I'm really excited about this set. I must decide whether to cook or dye.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

More pretty colors

Today would have been a perfect day for dyeing. It was hot, hot, hot! Instead I prepared some fabric for my next set and tried to sort out my results.

These are the pieces from using fuchsia, lemon yellow, and turquoise as primaries (I think). I'm not certain because the red doesn't seem right. I didn't repeat the red-orange, orange, or yellow samples because I already had them from the first set. It probably would have been a good idea to at least have swatches of those dyes (the darkest, if not the mediums and lights) from this run. And I messed up on the yellow-greens.

I was trying to get more solid (flat) colors (less "crystallization" of the colors) and I think my results are pretty good. Still, lots to learn.

I used Dharma print cloth (mercerized).

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Julie & Julia: Croutons or Toasts?

I loved the movie. I would see it again. I am not trying to quibble, but this, a crouton (or is it a toast?) is in the book.

This is not.

It looks delicious and you can almost taste it in the movie.
It seems okay to have it in there because Julia did live in the south of France. But it's not in Vol. 1 nor is it in Vol. 2. In fact, neither book has much at all on tomatoes. So if you go to see the movie and it's a matinee, you will be walking out and everyone will be wondering what's for dinner. And somehow boning a duck will not seem very do-able. And that roast chicken looks excellent, too! But...

This seemed much easier. I couldn't resist trying Julia's method. You will need to clarify some butter. Then slice some 1/4-inch thick rounds from a nice rustic loaf of bread. We used a Semifreddi sour batard but a baguette would have been better. Heat the clarified butter and saute the rounds on each side until very lightly browned. Then, to be authentic, just eat it or treat it as a canape and top it with some diced garden tomatoes, a little fresh basil. Now go see the movie!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Pretty colors

The G6 (or some of us) had a dye day last weekend. I've been bitten by the dyeing bug. I'm dyeing color wheels (plus some values) using primaries. This one is with Dharma dyes: Lemon Yellow, Sky Blue, and Fuchsia. I'm working on a new one today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Blackberry Jam and Bread


It's blackberry season hereabouts. I found these cute jars that just wanted to be filled with blackberry jam. I have a loaf of bread in the oven. I'll open the first jar this afternoon and check it out. Someone has to sacrifice herself for the good of the pantry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pickled Green Beans

The July issue of Sunset magazine has a great feature on canning. Pictures of sparkling jars of preserved food always get to me. My friend Alice had a surfeit of green beans and she alerted me to their recipe for Pickled Green Beans with Dill, Tarragon, Garlic and Peppercorns. She also gifted me with about 3 pounds of beans. I modified their recipe slightly to make these.

I also liked this recipe at Downstairs Recipes.

I used Three Monks vinegar and more salt than the Sunset recipe. I made some of the jars with these jalapenos from our garden, omitting the tarragon in those jars.

It is all experimental. The bigger jars are 1-1/2 pt. which is a nice size for long beans. I processed the jars at 180-185 degrees for 30 minutes (rather than 5 minutes at boiling) because the Sunset recipe promised a crunchy bean. Of course I will have to wait about a month to check out my bean stash. Makes me think I should plant a crop of beans of my own

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Potato

Picked our first potato. We planted them late. Found some old ones in the pantry and figured they were ready for composting so, why not?

The weather has turned hot--it got up to 94 degrees today. I watered the things in pots but there remain lots of things to do in the garden. Best to wait until it cools off again.

Pool closed early this AM because of you-know-what...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Things bike; Things Italia

My favorite commercial from the 2007 Tour de France.

Friday, July 03, 2009

And now the driveway is done...

Perhaps boring but quite exciting for us.

It took more than two weeks to complete. I was able to avoid most of the noise and the dust because I was in OHIO.

It is a wonderful, smooth ride up the hill.

Definitely worth it!

Emily Richardson at EBHQ

This is a WIP from cloth I painted in a workshop with Emily Richardson. She was the speaker for our June meeting at my guild, East Bay Heritage Quilters . The picture looks a little wonky. I got a new camera that I am trying to figure out. This is one of the first pictures. More soon if I ever figure it out.

I was first attracted to the layers of color in Richardson's work. I experience an exquisite ethereality in many of her pieces. We saw her work, Until the Day, last week in Athens, Ohio at Quilt National. It was so exciting that she was scheduled to speak and teach this week for our guild. Doing the EBHQ workshop afforded the opportunity for close inspection of her work. I was enchanted by the lines she creates both in her applique technique and her quilting line.

My friend Chris at Reap As You Sew posted some great pictures of cloth she made during a class. She also briefly describes the materials we used.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Planned Destruction

We share a long driveway with a neighbor. This is the view from our house looking down after we started the demolition in preparation for new paving.

Here's the pile of paving from the section from our house to the neighbor's house.

Troy gets to have all of the concrete in front of his garage.

And on his auxiliary parking pad. I hope the apple trees survive.

It was pretty noisey and exciting. We have our cars parked on the street as we will not be able to drive up or down for the duration.

It will take at least a week. Harrison is very excited (he's in grade 4). He was climbing all over the piles with his brother and his followers after the workers left.