Sunday, May 29, 2016

LAW 96: Memorial Day weekend.

Finally the gods of sun and rain have cooperated, allowing for a beautifully hot, brilliantly blue weekend of water fun. People actually started rolling in well before the weekend officially started; boats were being splashed with abandon and the party began.

Friday dinner, oh amazing!

Our weekend started with an amazing dinner on Friday evening. Tuna kabobs, cabbage salad in the Syrian style, grilled sweet corn and fresh green onions and radishes. Yum yum yum! I did the tuna in a hybrid style, Mediterranean in concept, Malayasian in flavoring and execution. Instead of skewering fresh lemon quarters with the fish i used some of the preserved lemon that i made about a month ago. Preserved lemon is amazing, and easy to make. I can not imagine not having them in the frig! Syrian style cabbage salad is hands down our favorite, it does take a little prior planning as you do need to salt the shredded cabbage for about an hour. After that you rinse the cabbage, make a dressing of lots and lots of finely minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and about 1/4tsp dried mint. Heavenly!

Can you spot the amphibian?

Today in lieu of a walk to the grocery store we went out to Marshy Point Nature Center and hike the Vernal Pond trail. As it's name implies it is a temporary springtime pond. With all the rain we've had lately the pond is still beautifully full. The tadpoles we saw brimming in the pond late last month are now hopping merrily about after their transformation. Frogs and toads galore out on the trail.
UFO's on the horizon

We both thought that the cloud formations were very odd looking, rather UFO ish!


Magellan, most beloved ship's cat went swimming for the first time on Friday evening. We aren't sure, but think that he mis-judged the jump from finger pier to boat. Mungo was on the phone with a friend, i was up in he loft reading when a splash was heard, and shortly there after a very wet kitty was at the door. It is very reassuring to know that he can get back onboard by himself.

well, sigh, it is clouding up, tropical storm Bonnie is moving in and we expect to see rain in a couple of hours. Sigh.

More later,

Thursday, May 26, 2016

LAW 95: Let there be sun, art and strawberries

Finally it looks as if we might get a break in the weather over the Memorial Day. Actually we've had sunshine for three days running, counting today. Glorious hot blue skies, cool breezes, yes, this is the idyllic paradise i remember. We've even been able to switch the refrigerator back over to solar power.

ICAD Haiku warm up exercise

We took a little road trip out to our favorite local farm stand, Zahradka's. Since it is already in the mid 80's, and has been since the sun started shining again we figured it was time to get some fresh local strawberries. They don't last long once it gets hot, hot, hot. Just picked strawberries are one of life's great pleasures, one that we will not deny ourselves. Like 'fresh'  tomatoes in the winter, non-local strawberries are not something that pass my lips.

ICAD warmup exercise,  junk mail collage

I am almost done with my friend Brian's second book. I only have to drill the covers and do the actually binding, than i am done with the Vietnam memory books. It will be good to have those done, as ICAD 2016 starts in just a few days. 61 days of making art, no matter how small is quite the challenge and time commitment. Here are a few more of the warm exercises  we've been doing.

ICAD warmup exercise, leaf drawing, Mulberry

Finally i think i am done with this piece. I actually started it a while ago, but put it aside as i felt it somehow did not pull together as a composition. Basically i strengthened the graphite, added a little pigment to the papier mache, and now feel it's complete.

DARK MOON RISING, mixed media collage

Time to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather on the Middle River. We took the Dharma Duck out for a paddle yesterday. We're replacing the sail, so right now it is people power!

More later,

Sunday, May 22, 2016

LAW 94: Something thing is definitely not right!

Yesterday afternoon, Saturday, May 21st, a mere month from the Summer Solstice it was chilly enough to build a fire in our wood stove. I mean really now! Its not as if we live 'up north', merely the upper Chesapeake. This weather is for the birds.

The good news is we appear to have conquered the various problems we were having with backdrafting and smoke in the boat. It really is a sweet little stove and takes very little wood to get a nice hot fire going. As you can see from the photo my spaghetti sauce was bubbling a way nicely.

Nice hot stove top!

I have decided to participate in the ICAD 2016 Yellow Daisy project this year. If you don't know about this one heres the basic facts. The challenge is to create a piece of art for 61 days, June 1st, through the 31st of July, on an index card, max size 4 x 6". There is an official FB site with all sorts of prompts and ideas. Anyone can participate. It looks to be a great way to stretch or creative imagination. I will post my efforts on a regular, although not daily basis here. Here's one of the warm up prompts, to 'doodle' your name.

ICAD 2016 name warm up

Oh yes, it did rain, again, both today and yesterday. Is anyone counting? Are we close to 40 yet?

Don't forget to check out the Floating Empire, and Wild Shore Press, There's always new stuff.

More later,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Law 93: On Cats and Art, and sadly, rain

Since it is spring, even here in New Seattle, Magellan our most awesome ship's cat has been shedding apace. Yes, there is cat hair everywhere, not to mention the rather amazing 'rastas' he has developed on his hindquarters. Evidently i've been a bad cat mom, performing insufficient grooming on him this past winter.

Please, if you love me, groom me

Yikes! I hope we don't have to shave him. We work on them a little bit every day. Although he is a huge attention hound he will only tolerate the brushing for a limited amount of time before he turns said grooming session into the Bite the Human game.

Okay, I'm done now

And yes, it is raining again here. I believe that we have experienced rain 19 out of the past 20 days here in Middle River, Md, or New Seattle, as the 'joke' goes. It is vital to conduct  mushroom and mold check daily. Urggh!

I must think of more inspiring things than the rain, so art it is! It's been almost six weeks since i first posted about the new embroidery piece i have started, Morning Glory Ganesh. Here's an image of it, cut out with the major design element, Ganesh, drawn in and ready to start sewing.

Ready to start with the needle!

Here you see the piece just as i am starting to be happy with it, and understand where i think this project will go. For me, until the piece begins to resolve as an embroidered image it does not come alive. Before this the work feels dull and tedious. Now that i can see in my head and under my hands what the finished piece will look like the stitching is far more a pleasure, a tedious one to be sure, but a magical pleasure none the less.

Starting to come together here!

Yes, i do look at every stitch, even when i am playing girl/cat on a string with Magellan. This type of work is about ritual. i love it and hate it(the doing) pretty much at the same time.

More later,

Don't forget to keep checking out the Floating Empire

Thursday, May 12, 2016

LAW 92: Potted Duckling and dinner

Hey, that probably sounds bad, but no, we really are not eating the baby ducklings, really! Confit, whom i have written about recently... finally, according to her hatched 6 baby ducklings some time last night. Let me repeat, they are not destined for the dinner pot. Sigh, i do love duckling. I'm not sure how long it will take them to hit the water. It was fun watching this morning trying to bounce around the rosemary and her.

first sighting of the potted ducklings

Still on the subject of very yummy suppers last night's was pretty awesome! We were at kind of loose ends yesterday, so off we went to Zahradka's in search of the illusive parsnip. Gotta get them when they are fresh. We also scored some fresh Cippolini onions  and some of the first asparagus of the season, and then, of course it started raining. Well scratch grilling of the evening's activities! Still we managed to pull off a pretty amazing one pot meal.

ready to go into the pan

I think that i am congenitally incapable of making a recipe as it is written, i mean really. I did some surfing and found an interesting idea on the Food Network site; Honey Balsamic Roasted Cippolini Onions. Sounds great, it was meant as a side for short ribs, which does sound like an excellent way to eat them.
glaze of local honey, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs

So i got some center cut pork chops, browned them, then sauteed the onions, cut up two parsnips, some button mushrooms, dried Shitake mushrooms and some dried black cloud ear fungus. Added to this glorious mixture was the honey balsamic glaze, which consisted of equal parts of honey and balsamic vinegar(using local, raw wildflower honey, also from Zahradka's), a third a cup each, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, lots of fresh thyme and rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. I did not use any salt because although the original recipe did not call for it i also added about a quarter a cup of turkey stock, just to make sure that the glaze did not burn or stick, as i thought that there was the potential for that with all the honey.

browning the pork

We let this all simmer away for about a half hour, turning the pork once during the cooking period.
Amazing stuff! This really reminds me of an old favorite dish of mine from Anna Thomas' first Vegetarian Epicure, Mushrooms Berkley. They both have a beautiful dark, sweet/sour balance, very earthy, with loads of umami.

lovely lovely meal

When i make this again, which i most certainly will, i plan on adding a little heat to it, some red pepper flakes, i think that that will kick up the flavor profile another notch.

Oh ya, well the aspargus is for tonight. Hopefully on the grill, if it doesn't rain.

Bon Appetite ,

More later,

Update: duckling count correction. there were 8, they just hit the water, some of them face first it was pretty funny!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LAW 91: I Believe in Parsnips, and i believe i will have some more

So Monday night dinner was not a Meatless Monday, rather a White meal Monday. Strange i know, but i did have left over crab from Sunday night's Crab and Spinach enchiladas that we shared with Chris and Shannon. Such a horrible burden to have left over crab. Ya, right.

It was not my intention to have a white meal, rather, it was the confluence of elements that i just couldn't wait to use: crab, well, crab waits for no man or woman in the refrigerator, fresh parsnips, and a staple in our kitchen, a fresh batch of Sichuan Pickled Cucumbers.

Note the very large pile of parsnips!

It is amazing how well you can eat if you just pay a little bit of attention. Believe me it is not that i spend any time at all searching the market flyers, or use coupons. All you have to do is look around you at the market to see what is fresh and beautiful, and on sale. last week our locally owned market had fresh claw meat on sale for $4.95 a pound. How could i resist?

crab cakes, yum yum

 Additionally our favorite farm market, Zahradka's opened this weekend. Naturally no fresh local tomatoes(sigh), but with out a doubt i got the best parsnips i have ever had in my life, bar none. Amazing. Parsnips are best touched with a little frost. Best if over-wintered in the garden. Best if never cold stored. Best if they have never languished on a supermarket shelf for weeks, if not longer.

Parsnips are in my mind one of the most unbelievably yummy vegetables in existence. If they're fresh. They were. Being a mid-western girl by birth i grew up eating parsnips, along with other under appreciated root vegetables. I cook them every chance i get; not often as the pathetic examples  normally found on grocery store shelves leave much to be desired in the freshness department.

If you cook and eat them at all you know that the instruction to remove the woody core is not something you skip more than once. Inedible! Often it is difficult to even cut through the woody core. imagine my surprise and pleasure when my knife slid right through the center. I cut off a piece and tried it raw, it is immediately obvious that i do not need to core these sweet gems. Yea! All the more parsnips for us.

Sichuan Cucumbers, recipe courtesy of the Gourmet cookbook

My favorite method of preparation is very simple, cut them into coins, saute them in lots of butter until the edges are brown and crisp, the inside should be tender, almost like good mashed potatoes.. Add a little salt and pepper and dill weed. Heaven on earth. If you are using 'store' bought parsnips this could take up to 30 minutes.

Most Marylanders will find this blasphemous, but the best part of Monday's meal was not the crab cakes as good as they were, but as you may have guessed, the parsnips. As we were eating them we were planning our next trip to Zahradkas.

No explanation needed.

Bon Appetite.

More later,

Don't forget to check out our companion blog the Floating Empire.

Monday, May 9, 2016

LAW 90: Ducks and Spanish Mackerel and Magellan

Okay, so just a quick little post. We are still busy working on our galley upgrade, which i think will work out very nicely. I will post images and talk about that after we get the new counter top installed.

In the meantime i found some images to share when i was downloading new photos this morning.

Rosemary Duck anyone?

Some time ago, well, not all that long ago one of our semi-domesticated Mallard ducks, one Confit by name decided to utilize the empty half of one of my herb planters for a nest. Since said planter is on our finger pier; which is the way on and off the boat we pass very close to her nest many times a day. So does Magellan, our valiant ship's cat. Amazingly, Magellan although curious about the duck sitting oh so patiently on her nest has done no more than poke his head over the rim of the planter. No duck pate for him! Personally i see this as a very wise move on his part. I would not want that beak to come snapping down on my hand, or in his case, nose.

Confit's chosen nesting spot
Okay, so why should a wild, or even semi-domesticated duck choose to nest so close to human habitation? It's simple, she likes cat food. Although we can not be 100% certain, we are quite sure
that this is one of the ducklings from the first summer we were moored here. Last summer, as a yearling she was brave enough to actually waddle into the galley and eat food out of the cat's bowl.

Duck goes best with wine

She is extremely close to hatching We can't wait to see our new 'grand-ducklings', and get the other half of our planter back. I have more herbs to plant!

For those of you who were following our blog "On Board Cooking', i apologize. It's not that we've stopped eating. Far from it. I just don't seem to have enough time to do it justice, so it has kind of fallen by the wayside. Still, occasionally we have a meal that is just so awesome that i have to share a little something. Even if it is only the aftermath.

Oh, it was ever so yummy!

We are happy to note that Ha Ha Market, a very nice, local Korean market has recently changed hands. The new owners are massively expanding the range of products they offer to cover all of Southeast Asia. Most importantly to this story, they have also seriously upgraded their fish market. Prior to this transfer of ownership we had never purchased any of the fish on offer as we had felt that it was, well, old. I am very pleased to report that has changed. Witness the remains of an absolutely delicious grilled Teriyaki Spanish Mackerel.

Oh, and as an end note, as all blog entries should include a cute cat picture, here we have Magellan, ship's cat extraordinaire, doing battle with one of the cat's most fierce, natural enemies, the rocking chair.

Cat with rocker

Don't forget to check out our companion blog The Floating Empire.

More later,

Friday, May 6, 2016

LAW 89: Sorry i've been away

Wow, where has the month of April gone? I try not to let so much time pass between posts, but... life as usual got in the way. Well, actually this time it was really politics that got in the way. Mungo and i divided our time in April between yet more revisions on the Floating Empire and working for the Sanders' campaign here in Maryland. It was an uphill battle here, sigh, still, the fight goes on and there is still reason for optimism. I really don't want to get into politics a whole lot here as that is truly not what this blog is about. Suffice to say, win or lose the awakening of a new generation of activist is heartening in the extreme. Here's to no more politics as usual!

Yes, i really am pulling that hard!

It appears that weather here on the Middle River has done a flip flop. April was for the most part, sunny and warm. May so far has been nothing but rain and below average temperatures. i feel as if mold is growing everywhere and can't remember the last time we saw the sun for more than about thirty seconds at a time. Our poor solar powered batteries are limping along to the point that we had to switch our refrigerator back to shore power a week ago. Urggh!

In process, binding the signatures

Through all of this i have still been making art. I finished the first book of a two book commission for my dear friend Brian. We took several days off right after the primary to deliver the first book to him. As usual when we get together with Brian and Marianne we ate and drank extremely well. Very very well. It is always a pleasure to spend time with good friends and it is amazing just how many bottles of wine four people can consume over the course of an evening's free ranging conversation.

Inside front cover, handy pocket

Anyway, the book commission was to take Brian's Marine winter dress blouse (i believe that is the correct terminology) and create two hand bound journals, utilizing his Corporal's chevrons and other elements for the cover. One of the journals goes to Brian, the other to his good buddy Al, who served with him in Vietnam.
What a pain binding it this way. Way too many knots!

The most difficult, challenging element of this project was the binding. Brian wanted to recreate the form of the Vietnam service medal with the binding. The particular canary yellow of the medal proved impossible to find in an appropriate paper stock, so we made the decision to cover the spine edge of each signature with ribbon. That actually worked rather well, but created other issues to be dealt with down the road.

Finished, front cover view

I have done many two color bindings before, but never the way Brian wanted. It worked, it was a challenge, but it worked. So, probably tomorrow, after i finish the collage that is currently on my work table i will tie back into the second journal.

Oh, did i mention that Brian is a poet? The following piece is the poem he wrote on day two of our visit as we were all sitting in their comfortable living room. I am honored to share it all with you.

The Then And Now Of Things

My friend, Gail, artist that she is,
has made for me a journal for my writings,
covering it with the forest green wool
of my old Marine Corps uniform
and adorning its cover with
my green on red Corporal’s chevron.
It is beautiful in and of itself,
but it’s also rich with memories
from back when I wore these threads
and walked the talk they required.
I was young then, which I am no longer,
though it is the here and now that counts,
when your friend, Gail, artist that she is,
hands you back your past
in which to write your present
and perhaps dream yet about the future.

Brian C. Felder

More later