Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Claynfiber Purse

You may remember this purse when it was still in its green state (unfired). I finally decided on how to finish it. I pieced some coordinating upholstery fabrics together for a simple pocket and made a matching 'bow'. I made holes in the purse while building it, knowing I would stitch a pocket in place, so the stitching goes right through the purse. A few small clay beads accent the pocket and bow while clay buttons are tied to the handles. I'm please with my new purse and plan to make a few more. Perhaps a different style purse; maybe a clutch?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bionic Woman!

Do you remember watching the Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman? Should I admit that I do? Sure, I'm happy to have made it past my first half century and am looking forward to living a 'bionic lifestyle'. OK, no bionic lifestyle but Lindsay Wagner's (the Bionic Woman) book 'The High Road to Health' was one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I owned and is still one of my favorites. She teamed up with her friend Ariane Spade to write one excellent cookbook! Their recipes are healthy and delicious. The subtitles in their introduction are 'For People Who Love to Eat', 'Indulge and Be Healthy' and "Satisfaction, Not Sacrifice' and those titles suit their book to a tee. I still return to this cookbook for many favorites. Tonight I made their 'Black Bean and Greek Olive Pate with Walnuts' as an appetizer. It was quick and easy. Below is one of my earlier favorites. (I've added a few of my own notes in brackets)

Polynesian Tofu

3 tsp arrowroot powder or kuzu (I use cornstarch)
1 cup unsweetened pineapple or apple juice
1 Tbsp honey (or use a vegan sweetener)
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
salt to taste (I find with soy sauce we don't need anymore salt but this depends on your salt preference)

2 tsp cold-pressed olive oil
1/2 onion, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced diagonally into 1/2 inch pieces
1 green, seeds and membranes removed, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp very thinly sliced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp slivered almonds
2 Cups ripe fresh pineapple chunks, or 2 cups unsweetened canned pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice for use in the sauce)
1 lb firm tofu prepared as Teriyaki Tofu steps 1 through 3

1. To prepare the sauce, dissolve the arrowroot in 2 Tbsp pineapple juice or apple juice. Add the honey and a little more juice, if necessary, and stir until the honey is dissolved. Mic in the remaining juice and all other sauce ingredients and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or work. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes over medium heat. Add the celery, pepper, and ginger and saute for 3 minutes. Add the almonds and pineapple and cook for 4 minutes or until the vegetable are tender but still crisp.

3. Add the sauce to the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens and becomes clear.

4. Adjust the seasoning.

5. Just before serving mix in the tofu. Serve on a bed of brown rice.

Teriyaki Tofu (only steps 1-3  for above recipe)

1 lb firm tofu
1/4 cup Braggs Aminos (soy sauce may be used for a slightly different taste)
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tofu into strips about 1/4 inch thick and 3/4 inch wide. Press the slices gently in a clean kitchen towel to expel excess water. Arrange on a lightly oiled baking dish so that the pieces do not touch.

2. Brush liberally with Braggs Aminos. Sprinkle liberally with nutritional yeast, garlic powder and onion powder.

3. Bake for 40 minutes but do not allow it to scorch. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Lindsay's cookbook is available at her website where you can also read about her workshops. I have not attended her workshops but if they are as good as her cookbook I'd love to experience one!

Looking for a cookbook zine? Just released  is a beautiful zine with a collection of vegetarian recipes by members of the EtsyVeg group. Available here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Three Cups

I decided on a more subtle suggestion of the origins of this piece by including the wrapper writing upside down along the bottom. Part of me argues 'not so subtle' when the word coffee is printed in the lower right corner and 'freshly ground' along the left edge but my original placements were definitely not subtle. My hopes are that others may also see the aroma of fresh coffee coming up through the cinnamon sticks from the whole beans. Whether this piece suggests coffee or not I'm happy with the experiment.

For those wondering about the making and finishing of the piece, I machine stitched blanket stitched the foil binding in place along the inside edge, then blanket stitched the whole piece to my fabric along the outer edge. I discovered something I really like about working with coffee foil; it doesn't stretch out of shape as you stitch it! So there were no bubbles as I reached the end of stitching even though I used only a couple pins to hold each side in place.

I serged the edges of the fabric and stretched it over a 12 x 16" canvas frame after debating whether to add batting and backing and create a traditional quilt. Finally I stitched my clay embellishments in place.

I emptied a package of coffee this morning but of a different brand. Another discovery; not all coffee foil packages are created equal. This mornings package had a lot more glue holding it together so it ripped as I opened it out. Also the plastic freshness 'port' is permanently in place and I could not simply lift it off the foil. So if I want a full package of foil with no holes or rips I need to be careful which brand I choose at the store. This may become difficult as I try to please both my husband's coffee taste preference and my foil preferences!

If you live or are visiting near Rockville, Maryland this weekend you may want to visit Visart's 'The Art of Tea 2009' for an incredible exhibition and sale of one-of-a-kind teapots. Check out some of these teapots!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Foil Quilt Continues

I decided to simply cut my painted coffee foil into four strips, reverse the directions and zig-zag them together. I wanted to use the free motion couching foot that I had bought for my machine last year but for which I had never bought any cords. I considered trying some Genya cord but decided I liked the colours of my favorite fuzzy yarn. I knew it wasn't wide enough, so the stitches may not catch it but I hate to stop to run to the store once I'm into a project. I'd rather improvise and experiment. I also like projects with limitations. In general I think it seems to force more creativity. Anyway I tired out the yarn in my couching foot. The stitching missed it in places but caught the fuzzies enough to keep it moving in the general directions I wanted. I actually liked the finished design and effect, with some areas showing the machine stitching more than the yarn.

Next step I tried out several different colors of netting and settled on the brown. It dulls the colors some but I liked the effect. I zig-zagged the net around the edges to hold it in place. I had considered quilting over it all but decided against that.

I had planned to trim away the silver foil edeges and mount it all to a piece of purple fabric background. But I liked the foil edges as it shows its origin. (much how I often like the throwing lines to show in pottery or the natural clay to show through) So I cut strips of foil from another coffee bag. Then another idea .... I liked the idea of showing even more of the origins by using the front side of the bag. I think I'll use the foil side on the tops and bottom and the front side on the sides. But a dilemma ... what part of the front should show. By the time I fold the edges around the piece only 1/2" will show. I could have the word 'England', 'New', ' Fresh Ground' or all scenery. Any ideas?
The cinnamon stick and clay curls I'm thinking of sewing in place once the piece is completed.

Monday, October 12, 2009


That's the sound of finally getting back into the studios! I've learned that after a couple months off there is so much catching up that it takes a couple weeks to start drawing on the creative energy. I completed the fiber part of a clay tote vase this weekend, then went on to work on some foil, something Sue had inspired this summer and I'd been wanting to try for weeks. When I bought some New England coffee it reminded me of Sue's post using kitchen foil for her work.

I opened the empty wrapping, crunched it up then applied layers of acrylic paint using an old toothbrush.

Once dry I made some quick additions of my favorite doodle shape using a felt marker and then added some stamp ink; first with the stamp pad itself (no stamp, just dabbed the pad around) and then with a flower stamp I found in my stuff. I had the foil on a the ironing board and on top of a towel so the stamping would not be very distinct, I just wanted to add suggestions of pattern. Plan is to cut this piece into a few strips, reverse the direction a couple times and stitch it back together. From there, I don't know what it will become but the process has been fun.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Homemade Crackers and Hummus

Most times when asked to bring a favorite dish to a get together I bring some homemade sesame crackers and hummus. Both are super easy to make and lots of variations can be made from my basic recipes. My versions are low in fat; hummus usually has olive oil added but garbanzo beans are already high in fat so I do not add additional fat. My crackers only have a couple tablespoons of oil; enough to separate the gluten (Gluten is flour's protein that gives strength to baked products... fat acts as a tenderizer by 'breaking' up the gluten .... too much gluten together creates a tough product, so I can't make a good cracker without some fat, but I certainly don't need the high amount that is found in most store bought crackers.) Here are my recipes if you'd to try them out .....

Sesame Crackers
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 ½ Tbsp oil
1/3 – ½+ cup water
Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder and sesame seeds
Drizzle the oil on top of flour mixture and stir in well.
Gradually stir in water, adding just enough so that the batter can be gathered up into a ball.
Roll the dough out on a floured board or floured tea towel. Roll thin and transfer to a baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden around the edges.
Break into pieces and serve as is or with dips and spreads.

Note: You can use all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour or a mix of the two. However you make these I'm sure you'll enjoy them!

1 ½ cups cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas)
Liquid from cooked beans
1 ½ Tbsp lime juice
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tahini
Salt to taste
· Combine all ingredients, except liquid from the cooked beans, in a blender or food processor. Add just enough of the liquid to make the consistency you want.
· Adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve with wedges of pita bread or homemade sesame crackers.
If using pita bread, I like to split the bread, cut into wedges and toast in the oven until crisp and golden. You may want to add some favorite spices to them before baking.
Hummus is also good as a sandwich filling with tomatoes, lettuce etc.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Studio Tour - Part One

I responded to a post at Quilting Arts earlier this week about open studios. I love to tour others' studios so I thought I would open my studio to the tour. Two rooms in our house are officially known as studios; one is the clay studio and the other is my fiber studio.

The clay studio is just inside from the garage making it easy to transport pugged clay in from my half of the garage and to move pots in and out to the kiln. Glazing is also done in the garage but I store and mix the chemicals for my glazes in the studio.

Wheel, slab roller, extruder, work table and shelves fill the space!
Many pots leave this studio and head over to the sewing room for their fiber additions ......

Studio Tour Part Two

My fiber studio, more commonly known as the sewing room or the 'other studio' is one packed room!

To continue touring other studios on the Quilting Arts tour click here. If you haven't been following Jennifer's Open Studio Friday here is a recap.