Monday, February 23, 2009

Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday.

Pancake Tuesday, as it is known in Blighty, also Shrove Tuesday as it is the day on which one confesses one's multitudinous sins before the beginning of Lent. Also the day when you decide to deprive yourself of 'luxury' foods for the next 46 days, eggs and butter constituting 'luxury', thus Pancake Tuesday was born to use up the remaining butter and eggs, of course with the addition of flour.
In Britain many pancake races (here's a link to the pancake races in London 2012) are held on, yes, Pancake Tuesday......a race open to women over 16 who must wear a cap and apron and run 415 yards (who chose that number I wonder?) whilst tossing their pancakes at least three times. Dropping your pancake means instant disqualification.
British pancakes are what Americans would call crepes...they are very thin and light and crepe like. Growing up we always had two sorts of toppings on our pancakes (and yes we always did have pancakes on Pancake Tuesday).....jam (how very Eddie Izzard!) and the very Brit lemon and butter, by which James is horrified! I have Americanized my lemon and butter with the excellent addition of maple syrup....lemon and maple is a truly great combination.

I use Jooolia's French cooking crepes recipe for my pancakes...and no I don't run in races with them. For some unknown reason my pancakes would not toss this time...I am usually very good at flipping a pancake.....not today....must be something to do with all the snow we have!!
3/4 cup of cold whole milk
3/4 cup cold water
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla essence (Joolia uses 3 tablespoons rum, brandy or orange liqueur but that doesn't work for Pancake Tuesday pancakes)
1 cup of flour, scooped and levelled
5 tablespoons of melted butter
THE METHOD.....bone achingly all the ingredients in the jar of a blender in the order they are listed and blend at high speed for one minute. Scrape down any flour on the sides of the jar and blend again for 3, not 4, seconds. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and preferably overnight.
For each pancake I used about 3 tablespoons of batter, I let them cook on medium high heat with just a glimmer of butter to grease the pan, preferably a copper crepe pan, for about 2 minutes on the first side 'til browned on the edges and they come free of the pan when shaken, not stirred, laterally. I attempted to flip today and failed miserably so I loosened the edges with a sharp knife and persuaded the unwilling pancake to flip over with a spatula.....I cooked them on the other side for about one minute then I shimmied them onto a plate knee deep in granulated sugar...for the jam ones I placed about 1 tablespoon of Bonne Maman cherry preserves in a strip in the centre of the pancake and rolled it up into a tube the way my Mum did, and for the lemon ones I dotted with butter, squeezed lemon on the butter (a Meyer lemon if you can get one, so much more fragrant and juicier) and folded into quarters then sprinkled both types with a bit more sugar...ta dah!!!...Pancake Tuesday pancakes...and delicious they were too. I have some batter left so I can have more tomorrow on the correct day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A beautiful snowfall in Maine!

"Viewmaster" by James Strickland
Snow piling up under the spruce tree
Our house hunkering down for the storm
"Girl Facing North East" by James Strickland
My "Abbey" mandala...I love the way the snow is sticking to the mandala in a really nice pattern, it's a nice sticky snow that would be perfect to make either a snowman or an igloo if one were so inclined....I would make the effort for a snowman IF it were just a little warmer.
There'll be a lot of digging out tomorrow...what joy!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Cautionary POEM for Valentine's Day

by Thomas Campbell (1777-1844)
from 'Palgraves Golden Treasury',
(an unending source of beauteous poems)
How delicious is the winning
Of a kiss at love's beginning,
When two mutual hearts are sighing
For the knot there's no untying!
Yet remember, 'midst your wooing,
Love has bliss, but Love has ruing;
Other smiles may make you fickle,
Tears for other charms may trickle.
Love he comes, and Love he tarries,
Just as fate or fancy carries;
Longest stays, when sorest chidden;
Laughs and flies when press'd and bidden.
Bind the sea to slumber stilly,
Bind its odour to the lily,
Bind the aspen ne'er to quiver,
Then bind Love to last for ever.
Love's a fire that needs renewal
Of fresh beauty for its fuel:
Love's wing moults when caged and captured,
Only free, he soars enraptured.
Can you keep the bee from ranging
Or the ringdove's neck from changing?
NO! nor fetter'd Love from dying
In the knot there's no untying.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A FOOL for Valentine's Day!!!

Is this a Fool or a Whim Wham...that is the question!
After reading through various books and tearsheets I realized that Fool and Whim Wham are somewhat interchangeable although Fool leans more to crushed fruit and luscious whipped cream gently folded together and Whim Wham tends towards custard, cream and crushed fruit with the excellent added addition of almond macaroons. I have to admit I swooned towards the Whim Wham but, of course, I wanted to use Fool in the title as it works so well with the whole concept of Valentine's Day!!! Tee Hee
Here is the recipe, which honestly is not at all unlike the trifle recipe below...the jelly/jello being the noteable absence.......please make in order...
2ozs ground almonds
2ozs fine sugar (I actually grind the sugar and almonds together in a coffee grinder to get them finer than they come from the store...the almonds don't go oily if you combine them evenly with the sugar and don't grind for too long).
2 egg whites...whisked to quite dry/stiff peaks
1 teaspoon rose water (not necessary if you can't find it but it does add a certain 'je ne c'est quoi')
Very simply gently blend all ingredients together so as not to deflate the whisked egg whites then drop in small mounds onto a greased baking sheet and cook in a slow oven ie about 275F for about 30-40 minutes until somewhat browned and 'dry'....the net result should be a very crunchy cookie/biscuit to crumble in with the Fool, allow to cool completely before you use them so they are nice and crisp.
CUSTARD/english custard/creme patisserie/pastry cream:
FINALLY, I have found a pastry cream that actually sets when cold, I tried about 3 other recipes that SAID the custard would set when cold but they didn't...this one WORKS!!!, and really well but you have to be vigilant!
1 cup of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon of sugar
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon of regular flour
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (cornflour for the Brits)
1. Combine the milk, vanilla and 1/4 cup of sugar in a pan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. In a bowl beat the egg and extra yolks with the remaining sugar until thick.
3. Sprinkle the flour and cornstarch into yolk mixture and beat until well mixed and smooth.
4. Beat half the hot milk into the yolk mix until combined and smooth.
5. Then pour this into the remaining hot mixture in the pan.
6. HERE IS THE VIGILANT PART, keep your eyeballs peeled and whisk moving like the clappers!!! Bring the custard to a quick boil, whisking, whisking, whisking and as soon as it thickens..., take off the heat and whisk until it starts to cool....put pan in a bowl of cold water and continue to whisk until don't have to do it non-stop, but pretty often to prevent a skin from forming....when I was little if there was a skin on the custard it made me gag,
so don't go there!!!
Preferably organic and about 12 fl. oz of such with a little added sugar to taste and perhaps a teaspoon of vanilla extract/essence
I chose raspberries for my Fool, a package of frozen organic ones which I put into a bowl, sprinkled with sugar and let steep and macerate whilst I proceeded with the rest of the recipe.
You can do strawberries or most traditionally gooseberries if you can find them.
In a tall glass layer the whipped cream, then the custard, then the crushed fruit, then the crumbled macaroons til the glass is elegantly full....add a macaroon to the top...consume!!
In Medieval Europe lovers gave one another sprigs of YARROW at the beginning of a Valentine's Day dinner which if they wilted by the end of the repast, meant the love affair was doomed, DOOMED I tell where do you get yarrow at this time of the year in Maine??
(This information courtesy of Gourmet Mag Feb 2008)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The RED Show at Aarhus Gallery, Belfast, Maine

"The Badge of Love" by ME
(James calls it "The LOVE Sheriff")
I did this artwork specifically for the RED Show and I have to tell you it was quite the challenge for me to stick to such a restrained colour pallette. You can't see it very well in this photo but the word LOVE is in red glitter ( I love glitter glue!) as are the 'balls' around the edge, looks so much better in person but I just couldn't get the glitter to show.
Here is my work in situ amongst the other RED works for the show, the gallery looked great decked out in so much red....very warming on a cold Maine winter's eve and a welcome contrast to the banks of snow piled up outside.
"Auspicious Omen/108 Compassions"
by James Strickland
This piece really is RED....James uses the most fantastic red for his artwork, it almost glows, why didn't my red turn out this way, I ask?

"Everlasting" by Willy Reddick
Willy has a lovely way of combining the hard edges of the metal 'frame' with a stunning illustration of a chrysanthemum...well done as always Willy.
"Rectangles are Yellow" by Wes Reddick
Another thing of beauty by Wes, the colours on this piece are very delicious and the surface is rich and intriguingly worked
"Elevation" by Annadeene K. Fowler
Love those polka dots! Annadeene's work is rich and inviting, it makes me happy to behold it's intricate nuances!