Cuisine. Impromptu Peach Tart Tatin. September 1, 2014

 

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I froze some pared and cored Fiery Fury peaches from a short trip out to Orr’s Farms in West Virginia a few weeks ago. 4 peaches were taken out from the deep freezer, put in a metal bowl with a cling film cover and allowed to thaw in the fridge for a couple days. 

Woke up this morning after fixing a quick sandwich on challah  to decide that what I really wanted was pie, so…

1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
10 tablespoons of irish butter ( I prefer KerryGold)
1/4 cup of vodka

Mash it all together with a fork except for the vodka until it looks like lump store-grated parmesan. Add the vodka until you get to a pie crust consistency. You might not need all of the 1/4 cup, so pour it in sparingly. Whatever doesn’t go into the dough, go ahead and drink it. :)

Form 3 disks, wrap in cling film and put them in the fridge to rest.

Take the thawed peaches out of the bowl and slice them, not too thick, nor too thin. If you haven’t sucked down that vodka, pour it into that syrup that the peaches have left in the bowl and shake that over ice, and maybe add a bit of soda. Great stuff.

Clean out the bowl and put the peaches back in with 2 tablespoons of cane sugar. 1 tablespoon of maple sugar. 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, and a splash of peach schnopps, and a quarter cup of corn starch.  Stir that all together, but gently so you don’t break the peaches.

Take out two mini pie pans and roll out your dough into tops and bottoms for the pies. Assemble, put the mini pies in sandwich bags and put them in the freezer. Fall is coming and you might have a guest show up who is desperate for some pie. Its nice to be able to grab a personal one and throw it in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, plate it and impress the hell out of someone.

As for the leftover dough and leftover pie filling, pour the filling directly into a mini cast iron skillet. You can roll out the dough and try to make it lovely, or you can lay the dough in demented jigsaw-style pattern on top of the pie filling. Doesn’t matter. The top becomes the bottom once its baked.  Put the skillet into a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 35-40 minutes. Carefully remove it from the oven. Its hot and pie-filling burns are not anything you want to fuck with. 

Sit the pie out on the counter to cool and do not give into the temptation to taste it yet. You need to have your taste-buds intact, OK?

Once the tart has cooled but is still warm, get the little transpose spatula you use to ice little cupcakes, and go around the edge of the skillet to free up the tart, then put a plate facing down on top of the pan and flip the whole thing over.  Take a little peek. Is it still sticking?  A bit?  Go back in with the spatula and carefully ease the tart out of the pan onto your plate.

I tend to keep ice cream on hand in the deep freezer. Salted Caramel from Trickling Springs Creamery is my ice cream of choice. A nice scoop or two should be fine.  I topped mine off with some of that ginger peach syrup I made a couple days ago from the skins of all those peaches I peeled.

Dig in. 

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Politics. Of Anniversaries and factions. August 31, 2014.

We are coming up on the anniversary of 9/11 again. 

On that day when planes fell, and buildings fell, and as a Nation, we in the US sat in our homes, shocked, saddened, upset and angry that anyone would dare to turn a plane and its passengers into a missile aimed at us. Consider that a terrorist organization would think to send two of those four bombs, nearly half their weaponry, not to Washington DC, our seat of power as they could have sent all four to DC, but to two very large buildings full of some of the wealthiest and completely anonymous businesses on the planet? 

It was a year in which a terrified Nation made some very bad decisions in the heat of fear and anger. 

We attacked a country that had NOTHING to do with those planes.  

In doing so, the US and its allies set in motion several chains of events.

We destabilized an entire region.

We tortured people.

We gave fodder to a small, volatile faction of an otherwise peaceful religion that allowed them to expand their reach globally.

We gave our enemies a convenient and visible target to hate.

We injured our relationships and trust with our allies by openly and covertly spying on them.

We injured ourselves by giving our Government the right to spy on us.

We injured ourselves by standing idly by while the same Government provided legal cover to organizations who broke the law and spied on us.

We emboldened and empowered major corporations to aid and assist with our loss of privacy.

Why do I say “We?”
Because when our duly elected Government, and the corporations We work for do things to us, to our friends, to our allies, and to people who eventually grow to hate us, We share in the benefits as well as the consequences of those actions. Regardless of whether We agree or disagree with our Government, our Corporations, our Leadership, The Wealthy amongst us, or the Powerful amongst us, their actions communicate our perceived beliefs to the rest of the planet. 

To people around the globe, our leaders represent who We are.  When factions within our Government make it their sworn duty on television that gets broadcast around the globe to declare openly that they will not work with the current leadership, the clear message that sends to everyone else on the planet, including those who might have reason to despise us for our past mis-steps up to our clearly and deeply flawed actions is this…

The time is now.

The US can’t do anything to stop you because We are too busy fighting amongst themselves to be bothered to do the thing that the US is usually pretty good at doing – stepping in globally and providing aid and support to the victims of those who use their power to oppress the weak.

If you had any designs on grabbing power, taking over a Nation, encroaching on foreign borders, making a power grab in the name of protecting “ethnic” citizens living abroad (like the excuse Russia currently is using), expanding the levels of destruction and oppression in order to free up land held by one ethnic minority in order to make it available for settlement by another ethnic minority with bigger guns and bombs (Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Israel, Iraq, etc), the time is now because We are distracted by tan suits and water bucket challenges and Gay football players, and Beyonce possibly getting divorced from Jay Z. Our Congress, specifically one side of the House, is too distracted by Money and hatred of any idea the White House proposes, even if every single idea was based in or created in a Republican think tank, to be bothered with providing any kind of legislation or support to solve any of the real problems this Nation is facing like Voter Suppression, Uneven Access to Quality Education, Uneven Access to Post Secondary Education, Crumbling Infrastructure, Tax law that encourages the Exportation of Employment to Nations with no protections for its working class, Tax law that enables those who are the heaviest burden on our infrastructure not to pay a single penny to support that infrastructure, Corporate policies designed to downsize a workforce, while overburdening those who get to keep their jobs. Oppressing those who do get to keep their jobs with fear of losing the job, while reinforcing the idea that a 3% raise is more than adequate for bending over backwards to do your job and the equivalent of the jobs of the two or three other people who just got fired. Transferring all of those cost savings over to Sales as bonuses or up the the Executive level because they “made a profit”, usually by cutting workforce and rather than giving the money to the people whose workloads were quadrupled, sending it upstairs to the CEO, or out to the shareholders on Wall Street…

Or in large towers in New York where anonymous companies buy and sell pieces of paper, and in doing so enrich themselves from stolen resources, stolen time, and stolen revenues.

So as our Government, our Corporations, and our people do things in our name, and our planet races towards its extinction in its desire to build taller buildings, exploit more resources, point fingers at the other guy and say, “We’ll stop polluting, but only if They stop polluting first.”  We’ll continue to claim to negotiate a “Peace” in Israel, while our actions and our funding confirms we have already chosen a side in the conflict and cannot be trusted to negotiate impartially. 

Both sides know this already, and the side with more money and guns knows all they need to do is wait and occasionally escalate a conflict and all that they want, which appears to be a country free from the people who used to live there, will come to them. Palestinian land was taken in the name of a book that not everyone believes. Is that valid enough reason for folks to come in, build high walls separating farmers from their water and cutting their fields in half, send people through changeable checkpoints, and start unevenly enforcing building codes so European Diaspora can build gun-turreted castles in the sand, and exclude those of the African Diaspora from the same “privilege?”

So the Palestinians in the desperate act of those fighting an un-winnable war, throw rocks and poorly made rockets at a wall they have no hope of damaging because resistance is all they have left, even if it is futile.

Palestinian land was seized and given as a blood gift in reparation for 6 million lives lost at a time when Corporations, and Government were too busy enriching themselves to be bothered with paying attention to people being oppressed and trampled back in the past centuries’ history, as trains full of humanity, built by companies with names you’d likely recognize today, rolled quietly toward waiting furnaces. Its funny what happens to people when the previously whipped and oppressed are given their own whip to crack?

Part of the reason why the US got into the business of “helping the oppressed,” was in recognition and guilt that We sat idly by and some even profited from it while part of humanity was summarily executed for a crime no greater than being born Jewish. Kind of how Black men are being shipped off to prisons or shot in the street for a crime no greater than being born “Black.” Smaller scale. Same problem.

Over the years and as time passed, the US forgot itself, or remembered its real goal which is to acquire resources and protect the interests of a very small section of the population – the ruling class – and to give the rest of the population   “Democracy” and equal access to “Success” both of which are akin to those with power waiving a dollar just out of reach at a person who needs a lot more than a dollar, but the chance at that dollar is seen as a start, even though we all know that dollar will never get close enough for us to actually reach it and the one person who might get that dollar won’t help the other thousand or million who couldn’t or wouldn’t step on their fellow man to get it.

So as we approach the anniversary, and the weeping and the flag-waving and the vision of those two large towers on fire in NYC begins to invade our senses via the Corporate Run media, and we are reminded of the fear, and the opportunity to unite in our grief, and take a very serious look at who We are to the rest of the world, will we take advantage of it as a moment to awaken our better selves and move forward as a Nation and as a World capable of great and wondrous things?

And maybe ask the question, “Why did they aim at the Towers?”

Or will we pay lip-service to the tragedy, and continue locked in a pointless battle with ourselves while the planet slowly catches fire?

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Cuisine. Some Unfortunate Peach Adventures, Lessons Learned, and Applying the Lesson to “Found” Pears. August 30, 2014

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Last week’s peach adventure was only a partial pass. The peaches frozen on the sheet pan and then put in a freezer bag are wonderful. They separate very nicely. The canned peaches didn’t work out. Apparently, they really wanted to be moonshine and decided to start their own still right in my canning cupboard. I decided I wasn’t looking to find out if they were safe to eat (or drink), so alas, to the trash can they went.

The ginger peach syrup on the other hand made from the skins? Astoundingly delicious stuff.

Today’s adventure involves a load of pears from an abandoned tree not far from where I’m sitting now.

I used the same technique on the skins (peeled, put in a heavy pot with 2 cups of organic sugar and a little water, and about a quarter cup of Williams Pear Eau de Vie (brandy). Simmered until the house smells like pears (wonderful smell) strained off the skins. Added another quarter cup of brandy and 4 cups of organic sugar. I’ll pour that into a fancy stoppered cleaned bottle I have left over from some Italian Lemonade, let it cool, and put it in the fridge.

As for the pears, I’m stewing about 50 small under-ripe pears in 4 cups of organic sugar, 2 cups of filtered water and half cup of Williams Pear Eau de Vie (Brandy), and I’ll can those the way I usually do rather than trying to get fancy, and probably messing it up because I didn’t hear or missed a step when my grandmother explained her “Cold-Canning” technique. Some of the batch will likely end up in a pie or cobbler once the weather changes and I start baking a lot more when I don’t have to worry about heating up the house with my antics.

There’s always more syrup than pears, so I bottled one plain, bottled one with a split vanilla bean, a couple cardamon pods, a couple star anise pods, some Allspice (whole) and a couple cinnamon sticks, and topped it off with some bourbon to help extract the essential oils into the mixture.

With the last of the syrup, I used the last of my Williams Pear Eau de Vie. (about 4 ounces), the last of my Italian Triple Sec (about 2 ounces), half a pitcher of the syrup, about 12 ice cubes, a bottle of hard pear cider I found in the fridge, and about 4 ounces of Rye Whiskey. Tasty stuff. :) Had I thought to do so, it would have been a good idea to garnish with a couple of those pear slices. 

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Art. Vitruvian Drawing Group. August 28. Model: Sean

Tonight’s drawings:

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Art. Sex. Naked Drawing Group. August 26, 2014 Session. Model: James

Tonight’s drawings:
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Sex. Art. The Drawing Room at Dry Creek. James (again.) August 22, 2014

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:

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Art. Sex. Vitruvian Drawing Session. AJ and James. August 21, 2014

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.

Tonight’s drawings…

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