Yesterday, James was our fill-in model at Vitruvian Thursday Night Drawing Club. I had already had James scheduled for a private drawing session at my studio tonight. You’ll see other drawings of him on Tuesday, as he is posing for the NDG-DC group (ndg-dc.blogspot.com)
Tonight, we had an hour, so rather than timed multiple poses, we worked on a single portrait. I think the next longer term project will be committing this work to canvas from the home studio.
Here’s tonight’s drawing:
Last Thursday, there was a little drama which distracted me from my usual post-drawing-club posting, so tonight there’s two sets in one.
Over the weekend, I hopped in my car and drove for a couple hours, out to West Virginia. A dear friend bought a beautiful house in Martinsburg, and offered up the guest room. We ate kitchen-sink cookies from the still-frozen dough I brought along, and toured the house while sipping Single Malt from tumblers.
It was a lovely time.
Next morning, after a diner-style breakfast at Blue White Restaurant, we popped into a few shops, bought some hand-blown highball glasses made at a glass blowers that unfortunately closed in 2004, adding to my collection of glasses they don’t make anymore, stopped at a shop for some beads and then made a little trip out to Orr’s farm for some produce to take home. I bought some Ramp Mustard, which sounds like it would be wonderful on chicken or turkey sandwiches, or maybe spread over a nice piece of fish before cooking. But then I rounded the corner, after watching a dervish (a tiny tornado) snatch a sun parasol out of a hot dog vendors holder and send it sailing at a woman getting into her truck, and saw the peaches.
They were gorgeous.
They had three varieties to sample. The Fiery Fury was the most complex and the most ‘peachy’ of the three so I bought half a bushel, headed back to my friend’s house and loaded my finds from his car into mine for the drive back and said my farewells.
So, its just me. What in the hell am I going to do with a bushel of peaches?
Well, there’s peach jam and preserves. I’ll do that tomorrow. Canning (did that today). and freezing -also tomorrow.
I peeled and pitted about 20 peaches, about a third of the bushel, and set a pyrex dish half filled with water holding 8 jars. I filled them with water and put them in a 375 oven for an hour. My grandmom does her canning that way. It kind of acts as an autoclave and brings the temperature of water in the jars up to about 160 degrees, which is great for sterilization. I put on my fire gloves from the grill, grabbed a jar at a time, and filled it with peaches. While all of this was happening, those peach skins went into a pot with 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of filtered water, 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger , the zest of half a lemon and the juice of two lemons. I brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. covered it and let it simmer for about an hour. Someone told me that a whole lot of the peaches flavor gets lost when you blanche and remove the skins, so making a syrup using them put the color and flavor back. It yielded a deep-orangey red syrup.
I made a second pot of syrup by taking three cups of filtered water, two cups of sugar, and a split vanilla bean, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer to allow the vanilla to infuse into the syrup. This I didn’t strain, as I wanted vanilla pods to stay in the jars.
The jars were topped off with the syrups and then lids screwed on, but not completely, as that sometimes causes a pressure problem with the jars and causes them to explode. Once cooled a bit, I tightened the lids the rest of the way, and wiped down the sealed jars with soapy water containing a little bleach, rinsed and dried them and let them finish cooling on the counter.
In a couple weeks, I’ll pop down to Trickling Springs at Union Market in DC and get some of my favorite ice cream (Salted Caramel), maybe make some more cookies and put some of those peaches on my ice cream. I’m sure either of those syrups will also make a very exciting cocktail with a bit of Peychauds bitters, some Rye or Kentucky Bourbon, and a bit of seltzer to lighten things up a bit. If feeling festive, I might drop a slice of those canned and infused peaches in there.
There’s a taster in the fridge, and I am VERY pleased with the infusions so far, which will only intensify as they sit in a cool dark cupboard.
I know someone whose sister slowly died from ALS. Her family pulled together and supported her. They had a very strong network. The disease gets very little attention from the charitable communities because it doesn’t strike a whole lot of people. When it does strike, it is a very cruel disease. It takes its time as it snatches away valuable parts of your life before finally allowing you to depart.
There’s a very popular challenge which is now heating up in social media around ALS, If you have money, you write a check, and if you don’t, you make a little video to raise awareness on the disease.
Fantastic idea. I’m not much the video-grapher, so I’ll likely make a donation and move forward through my day with dry clothes. There are other organizations such as SOME and HOPE-DC that occasionally get a check from me as well. SOME offers hand-ups (not hand outs) and do good work for people who need it and HOPE-DC does their best to try to prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS in the DC Metro area.
Now, if you don’t have money to donate or aren’t really interested in that sort of thing but want to do something good for the economy, good for yourself, and good for someone you love?
Pledge to write and mail at least one letter a month.
Because handwriting is becoming a lost art.
Because someone in your life would really enjoy going out to the mailbox today and getting a little note from you.
Because all of the typing into devices we are doing and paying bills online are making it harder for a pretty big chunk of our population to make a living.
Because Congress has placed an unfair burden on US Postal Workers pensions with the ultimate goal of reneging on agreements to pay the portion of their wages they reserved for their retirement funds.
Because Wall Street really wants to sink their bony, greedy talons into that big old chunk of Postal Worker pension money and siphon off people’s livelihoods in bad deals and big fees.
Because the scritching sound of pencil or pen on paper is calming and delightful in the extreme.
And finally, because you really need to practice your penmanship, because your handwriting is becoming a mess.
No ice bucket needed for this challenge.
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I woke up this morning, did a guitar lesson, wrapped a thank you note and present for my Grandma for the amp she gave me on my recent visit, and started craving French Toast. Nice thick slices of fried eggy bread. Guaranteed to sabotage any productive plans today, because that level of deliciousness usually requires a nice, long nap.
As I am a tinkerer with recipes, this is what I came up with:
Serves one greedy person comfortably, or two regular people.
A torta roll sliced into 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide strips.
1/2 cup of Light cream (half and half)
1 tbsp Kentucky Bourbon Vanilla (see previous posts on how to make it yourself)
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
One egg plus one egg yolk
6 slices of a good thin slice prosciutto (the kind with paper separators)
Maple syrup or powdered sugar
Whisk your cream and eggs together until they are well incorporated, then add the vanilla and the spices. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around the torta slice and put it back on the wax paper. Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add enough peanut or another oil with a high smoke point to coat the pan. Its hot enough if the oil starts to ripple. Dip your bread strips wrapped in prosciutto into your egg custard and gently place them in the frying pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides.
I had mine with maple syrup (I cannot abide powdered sugar by itself -shudder) and a small pat of butter. I also had a mango spritzer (mango nectar, seltzer water and a jigger of Italian Triple Sec)