Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving, Food and the Garden

I have made the traditional cranberry relish..cranberry sauce...I never know exactly what to call it...with fresh cranberries, orange, orange zest, clove and a wee bit of cinnamon...and the house smells great. Just like the holidays have arrived! Which I suppose they have. How did that happen already?

I have also pre-cooked and mixed up the squash casserole with fresh yellow squash and fresh oregano from my garden. We are still enjoying going out to the garden for fresh herbs and some vegetables. Earlier this week we had roasted red peppers on homemade pizzas from the bell peppers that are now starting to turn red...and we have lots of them in various shades of green to red, still on the plants. We have several jalapenos ready to pick, lots of very green tomatoes that survived the cold nights a while back, and we picked two small eggplants several days ago. Wow! Eggplant and jalapenos in late November. My okra is huge, and still has blooms and little baby okra, but the growth of the okra has slowed down a lot in the cool weather, and it takes a long time (especially considering the usual growth rate of okra) for them to get big enough to pick. Even my basil is still surviving, which makes me very happy. I think that is what I miss the most through the winter and early spring...not being able to go outside and get fresh basil in just the amount I need.

Another dish I am making for Thanksgiving tomorrow is buttermilk pie. I have been a big fan and critic of buttermilk pie since we stopped at a small home cooking type restaurant in East Texas after berry and peach picking one summer about 6 years ago. Since then I have sampled and critiqued (right texture? creamy enough? too much nutmeg? no nutmeg? too dry?) many slices of pie from restaurants and cafes all over. But, I have never made a buttermilk pie myself. I know, it's funny, because I bake a lot...maybe I was a little intimidated. (Would I not live up to my own standards?) The recipe I am using we looked up on the internet a few years ago, is titled the "Best Ever" buttermilk pie. I recall that it was part of an article about buttermilk pie, and how a southern girl had to convince her friends where she was then living that the idea of buttermilk pie was not weird or gross but was in fact VERY good. Sounds great; however, this buttermilk pie recipe has no nutmeg...not the slight perfect amount, not any. So, of course I will be adapting that recipe and adding a hint of nutmeg with fresh whole nutmeg and the essential nutmeg grinder that my son Damon gave me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

House of Hope and Striving Collage

House of Hope and Striving,  Collage by Anita Barnard

Here is another recent collage with a different interepretation of a house. The piece explores the theme of Vincent Van Gogh's yellow house in Arles, France and the great hopes he had of creating an artists' community there. The collage is 8x10 on 11x14 Bristol board paper. It is comprised of found and created papers, text, images, ink and acrylic paint. Two examples of Vincent's handwriting from his correspondences appear in the piece, including the larger word "Tristement" in the roof. Sadness.

I worked on the piece on and off for over a week, then I just let it sit for another week, sometimes taking it out and looking at it, or arranging the last couple of elements on it. Finally I quit asking Edward and my youngest daughter whether I should add the last bits or not and just glued them down. I don't know why some pieces of art feel more certain, and others are dithered over for a long time, but I am happy with the decision I made. (Which is good, because you can always add something later, but it's a lot more problematic to rip something out.)

It was an interesting piece to work on, and sometimes a somewhat melancholy process, as I spent a lot of time thinking about Van Gogh's work and his life while working, as well as about the life and ideas of artists in general.

An archival print or a poster of House of Hope and Striving are available on Zazzle.

The images of wings came from The Graphics Fairy, a great site for vintage images.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two New Collages - Houses and Birds

Collage with Mixed Media 8x8 inches

I've been having a lot of ideas for some little collages lately. Today I just finished up the images of two from last week. I keep thinking about house and home and all that means and that images of houses can symbolize and bring up emotionally for us. Like some of my other recent collages these two have the house image...and also some birds that crept in, which is not unusual in my collage work lately.

Collage  8x8 inches
The two pieces are very different in tone and color, one being more serene and pastoral, closer to a traditional landscape, and the other with more deep color and contrast, and as Edward said, more masculine "plus it has all those numbers." Now I'm not very into numbers, being more of a language and art person, but as a former quilter and sometime woodworker, these images of vintage tape measures and rulers just appealed to me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mixed Media Collage on Wood

Small Stories 10 by Anita Barnard

I'm posting some more of my Small Stories series of little collages.

Small Stories 11

These are about 51/4 x 5 1/4 inches x 3/4 inch thick so they can hang on the wall or sit on a shelf.

Small Stories 12

Small Stories 14  (Sorry, this picture is unedited.)

The old English garden urn image is from Karen.

Some of the Small Stories collage series

Linked here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Garden in November

Happy Autumn

I just wanted to talk about my garden today, as we get close to the end of the season here in north Texas. Or more specifically, my potager or kitchen garden.

The okra plants are six feet high, a couple a little taller, and have been producing like crazy lately, since the scorching temps and drought eased a bit. Ignore them for a few days and all of a sudden I have huge okra, too big and tough to eat.

Late last week as a cold front was blowing in, I ran out to harvest okra, just before the rain hit. My plants were covered in buds, blooms and tiny baby okra.

I'm pleased to say the temperature only dropped to about 40 and they fared well.

I'm still hoping for all my green bell peppers to turn red before I have to pick them.

Today I have to pick yellow (so called "summer" ;-) squash and more okra. And since it will get down to 32 tonight, bring in the basil that's in pots and cover my peppers. Not sure what to do about all the still small green tomatoes. The heirloom plants are almost too big and sprawling to cover, but as we got almost no tomatoes during the harsh summer, I really hate to lose them.

Tonight may mark the end of some of the garden veggies, but even so, I think Fall gardening in Texas is the best.