Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Sweetest Soup

Beautiful fall soup and salad.
My daughter is a "picky eater". She has been a vegetarian since birth (her choice... she spit out meat from the first bite). She likes all her tastes separate, no mixing, no sauces. But the variety of things she eats is good: lots of dairy, eggs, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables. She is 11, and I've been making her try more things. If she's wary of a soup I make, she must eat a few spoonfuls served in a small pyrex bowl. Last night she hugged me and thanked me for finding a soup she likes. She ate a whole regular-sized bowl.

It is a sweet potato/pear soup adapted by me from a friend's recipe adapted from a Moosewood recipe.

peeled, chopped sweet potatoes with cinnamon stick

apples, pears, sauteed in butter simmered in white wine

This hand-held blender makes soup preparation easy.

Sweet Potato/Pear Soup
 1.5 lbs yams or sweet potatoes
4 cups water (I used half water/half broth, I think some cider in there would be great too)
1 3-inch stick of cinnamon
1  teaspoons salt
3 large (average person’s fist-sized) ripe pears (I used 2 pears and an apple)
¼ cup  white wine
1/3 cup half and half or light cream or milk
A few dashes of ground white pepper

Peel the yams and cut into small pieces. Place in a large saucepan with water, cinnamon stick and salt.
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer till tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove and discard cinnamon stick. Set aside.

Peel and core the pears (and/or apples); cut into thin slices.
In heavy skillet saute pears in butter for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Add ¼ cup wine, cover and simmer 10 – 12 minutes over medium heat.

Using a food processor or blender, in several batches, puree the yams in their water and the pears in their juice until smooth. (My new hand held blender allowed me to put everything together and blend it quickly, no transferring hot liquid, no messing up lots of bowls and appliances, get one!)
Add the milk or cream, stir and serve.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Another Journal Page

After sharing my journal entry from NC yesterday, I decided to share an extended page I created after an early October trip to Washington, DC. I went there to meet up with some friends from graduate school. It took 20 years to begin, but for the past 2, we have met for a annual reunion (last year in Cape May).

Getting together with women friends is wonderful. We all leave our family responsibilities behind. We don't have to cook, clean or be responsible for anything but ourselves. Last year we took beach walks, this year we toured the Washington mall and art museums.

With my camera at home, I, instead, recorded words and art that touched me in my journal.  I have a couple journals, one just for writing, one for drawing and collage, and this one that I take on trips. I won it in a blog contest here. It is thin with the softest leather cover and creamy pages, some with prompts suggesting you draw while listening to music or collage around your favorite photo. I stuff each page honoring the space hoping the journal will last a long time.

Below are the closed and open page with collaged attachments I made on and shortly after the trip:

I copied words that inspired me as we walked the mall:

At the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

At the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

I drew artistic works that spoke to me.

At the National Gallery West I saw a wonderful portrait photography exhibit. At the bottom left is my rendition of a surprising photo by Ilse Bing from 1931. With 2 mirrors and her camera, she captured herself head on and in profile. As an artist. she hides behind the camera yet exposes herself in such a compelling way. On the way out of the museum I grabbed a flyer that had a copy of the photo. I collaged it in on the open top right.

In the same show were the ethereal, ghostly photos of Francesca Woodman. I had recently seen a documentary about her and her family's life. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known who she was. I am intrigued by coincidences like that. In addition, there were much more recent photos by Nikki Lee. She was featured in each photo as part of a crowd of Hip Hop kids, yuppies, lesbians or other groups. Her work showed how we can change our identities, yet how fixed we can become as part of certain groups... suburban moms for example. See a video about her work here.

Outdoors at the Hirshorn Sculpture Garden I was transfixed by Rodin's Burghers of Calais. I tried to draw the anguish of one of the figures (in blue at the center right). I didn't know the story behind the work, but the art drove me to find out more. The sculpture was done in the late 1800s to honor the leaders of the city of Callais on the French coast who in 1347 surrendered themselves, starving and nearly naked, to the English forces to save their blockaded city. A powerful work, a powerful story.

Inside the Hirshorn was an exhibit by controversial Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. His highly political art can be both tragic and humorous. A huge wall of the museum is covered with a chart from his Citizen's Investigation Project, listing the names and ages of children lost in China's earthquake. More than 5000 were killed--many in their schools--because  of corruption and shoddy construction. On a lighter note, a work called Study of Perspective Tianamin and the White House, showed two large photos (one of each place). In front of each landscape, someone holds up a middle finger that looks large before the small facade. It was as interesting to watch people encounter the work as it was to see it. No one could stand before it without laughing. Here are some of his Perspective photos:


I love making time to explore art in my community, in my travels and in my journal.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Sad Prediction Fulfilled

This seems an odd day to finally write this post. It's the morning after an election where the most radical tea party sentiments were turned back throughout the country. Candidates who would require a woman to carry a baby created from rape were defeated. Elizabeth Warren, a women who began fighting for financial reforms to benefit the middle class long before she had any thought of running for office, became the first female senator from Massachusetts. Perhaps having those concerns off my mind has allowed me to consider something else that's weighing on me.

Climate Change Is Here.

When I'm relaxed on vacation I like to spend time observing and drawing. During our August NC vacation, I drew this picture.

I was fascinated by the efforts of the man rebuilding the stairs of the home on the left (note the tiny figures working under the house). The supports of the house on the right were in the water at high tide. Here's a photo in the mists at the edge of the warming, rising Atlantic.

I wrote about risk and building on waterfront land here. Here's a video of the house on the right side of my journal picture and the photo above breaking apart against the neighboring house after its fallen into the ocean.

This was in the early stages of yet another 100 year storm, perhaps the 3rd one in a year and a half, well before it deluged the NYC subway tunnels, put millions of people in the dark, destroyed hundreds of homes and killed over 100 people.