Dec 30, 2011

Crystal Falls Earrings

No one names their girls Crystal anymore.  Oh well, there are plenty of 'em in my generation.  Part of this earring design came out of my recent experiments with patterned brass sheet.  I had a minor "aha!" moment when I figured out how to cover where the chains attach with these brass saddle-like things I made.  I love saddles.  Actually, all horse tack exciting to me.  I could digress further, but I won't.  I made some earrings kind of like this in the past, but if you examined the back of them, you could see how they were assembled, which I considered inferior craftsmanship.  I knew I wasn't doing my best work, but I also knew that I could sell them.  These earrings…maybe not, but they sure do please me.

Follow the Read More link below to see exactly how I made these earrings...

Dec 29, 2011

Work Lunch

I barely take time to eat when I'm working in jewelry studio.  I only take a break when I get so low blood sugar that I can't concentrate.  And then I proceed to hoark down whatever food I can prepare the fastest.  Occasionally, my thrown together lunch turns out to be something really nice.  Like today.  I happened to have on hand:  left over black bean soup I'd made a couple days after smoking a chicken - which means the beans were cooked with smoked chicken skin.  Mmm.  I try to get a little superfood every day, so pulled a bag of frozen kale (from my garden) out of the freezer and threw that in with the beans.  And I'd made jalapeño cheddar cornmeal biscuits with last night's dinner, so they were just sitting on top the stove.  Staring at me.  

I'll show you what I'm making in jewelry studio tomorrow.  

Dec 28, 2011

Smoked Chicken Video

There are probably plenty of better smokers out there, but my affection is reserved for a simple aluminum box with the words “Little Chief” painted its face.  I grew up in small town Oregon, with a father and three brothers who were rabid fisherman.  My memory of fall includes the image and aroma of a soggy back porch on which at least one – and often two – Little Chief smokers were billowing away with the latest catch inside.  Smoked salmon!  That was back in the 70’s, when there were still plenty of salmon to be caught in the rivers of the Willamette Valley. 

In the late 90’s, I moved to New York City, where I didn’t think about fish, fishing, or my past life in Oregon for the better part of a decade.  When my husband and I took up fishing again (I should write a post about fishing near New York City) I wanted to smoke our catch the same way we had when I was a kid in Oregon.  I ordered a Mini Chief – the smallest of the Little Chief brand of smoke houses.  For a long time, fish was the only meat I cured in my smoker. 

These days, we live in a cabin 60 miles north of The City, where we maintain a chest freezer packed with meat bought in bulk from local farms.  As I teach myself how to prepare this wondrous bounty, I am discovering the versatility of my Mini Chief smoker. 

For recipe details and notes on smoking a chicken, follow the Read More link below...

Dec 23, 2011

Smoked Chicken Video Teaser

I've been working on a slightly more complicated cooking video for the past couple days.  I think I've shot all the footage I need, but the editing and voice over will have to wait until after Christmas.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

Where Lamb Chops Come From

I hope it doesn’t freak you out to know that I really look forward to butchering my own meat animals one day.   I’d love to shoot a deer, and I would really love to have a whole pig to turn into roasts and chops and bacon and sausage and pancetta and head cheese and…all that good stuff!  For now, I’m taking every opportunity to observe or participate in the breaking down of large animals.  The young farmers at Glynwood farm are doing the same, and always invite me to join in the learning process.  Miso rucky. 

WARNING.  EXTREMELY GRAPHIC MATERIAL.  The photographs that follow depict a lamb being killed and butchered.  Do not read on if you don’t like the sight of blood or you prefer to keep living in la la land as far as meat-eating is concerned (vegetarians excepted).

Follow the Read More link below to see the process...

Dec 21, 2011

Failed (but not wasted) Attempt at Chicken Giblet Sausage

One of these days I’m going to get serious about answering a question that’s been nagging me for a while: how many uses can I get out of a single chicken?  Let’s see…if a whole roast chicken is the primary meal, I can use leftover meat to make my ever-popular “chicken balls” with hand made pasta.  I can use the carcass, feet, and neck to make stock for a hearty soup.  I can use the giblets for…well, if there’s only one heart, gizzard and liver, not much - and they might as well go into the stock pot or in stuffing.  But if I have a whole mountain of chicken hearts, gizzards and livers (as I often do right after volunteering to help slaughter chickens at Glynwood farm) then I’ll definitely make at least three additional dishes:  chicken liver paté, teriyaki chicken hearts, and deep fried chicken gizzards.  Oh my!  But back to the story.  I wanted to create something new with my bags o’ giblets this time.  Could I manipulate them into some form of chicken sausage?  I’d never made any kind of sausage before. 

After a day of experimentation, the answer was “maybe”.  I failed to make sausage but I think it’s still a good possibility with some – or maybe just one – pretty significant modification of the ingredients. 

Follow the Read More link below to see exactly what I did (wrong) and what I’ll do next time…

Dec 20, 2011

Hudson Valley Venison, Anyone?

Today was the last day of deer hunting season in the Hudson Valley - where a fully tagged hunter can bag up to four deer. Four!  As my interest in sustainable living, humane carnivory, and doing-everything-myself increases, I have realized that I need to learn to kill, or at least butcher, my own meat.  I actually showed up at Glynwood farm on this particular morning to learn how to kill and butcher a lamb, but when I arrived, Mark and Mary were already skinning two deer - double whammy!  Or is that a triple?  Anyway, I was fortunate enough to be able to document and take part in both the butchering of the deer and the "dispatching" of the lamb.  (I'll show you the lamb in a separate posting.)

To see the rest of the photos of the venison butchery, follow the Read More link below...

Dec 16, 2011

Making Simple Sparkly Earrings (Not So Simple)

As I re-open my jewelry studio, I have to constantly check in with myself and make sure I'm creating things I feel excited about.  When I let those nagging questions (Is this hip?  Is it so five years ago?  Will anyone buy it?) pervert my vision, I end up with a bunch of jewelry stock that I would rather not look at, much less put my name on.  It’s not bad stuff, it’s just not really me.  I’m going to try in earnest to stay true to my own taste this time around, and have faith that it’ll all work out some how.  As in, I’ll at least make my money back. 

For my first project, I wanted to make some simple sparklies to wear on New Year’s.  To see exactly how I did it, follow the Read More link below...

Dec 15, 2011

I love you but I've chosen dark chocolate

Refined sugar is the bane - the crack cocaine - of my existence.  I don’t need to know what “scientific” research has been done on the subject of its addictive properties to know that sugar is more powerful than any drug out there.  It’s pretty simple: if I begin my day with a lovely scone with a bit of jam, I’m screwed.   For the rest of the day, all I will want is sugar.  In the form of baked goods, chocolate, boxed cereal…whatever I can get my mitts on.  What drug on earth has the power to hook you after just one sample?!  In my day to day life, I see myself as either “on sugar” or “off sugar”, with no in-between possible.  Yesterday I made chocolate rum balls, and was heavily into the stuff.  Today I know could start anew and break the habit if I just deny myself refined sugar for the next 16 hours…but there are still a few rum balls left in the house.  Should I flush them down the toilet?  Because putting them in the waste bin will not prevent me from later going through the trash to find and eat them.  And so the bargaining begins.  How about I get rid of the rum balls by eating all of them right now and starve myself tomorrow?  Or eat them and then run for two hours?  Seriously, I can run for two hours.  This is really crazy.  This is what sugar does to me.  And it’s legal.

For the rum ball recipe I used, go to:  chef john makes rum balls on his awesome cooking blog.

I added chopped walnuts to half of the rum chocolate paste and they were wonderful!  

Dec 14, 2011

Last Harvest of 2011

My heart breaks a little when I pull the last produce from my home garden.  I know I’m facing a long winter of really crappy grocery store produce and/or very limited and hideously expensive farmer’s market items.  It’s winter in the Hudson Valley for like, six months – which is no small part of why I’m not fulfilled by living on the east coast.  I need to be outdoors.  A lot.  The nice thing about winter here is that it IS sunny most of the time, so I do get outside, but my face freezes off and then I get so sweaty inside my three hundred dollar north face parka…it frustrates and confuses my body.  Oh well, this is very likely my last winter on the east coast and I’m going to make the best of it.  What began as a ladies’ crafts night has blossomed into an impromptu holiday dinner party at our cabin tonight!  Yay!  It’s so rare to have anything occur on an impromptu basis in New York, and especially during the holidays.  I love holiday parties and dinners - and was kinda hoping to pull one together - but I just couldn’t muster the planning energy.  So I’m really pleased a few of my wonderful foodie/farmer friends are coming over tonight.  I love cooking all day.   I’m making a smoked chicken in my mini chief, roast butternut and apple soup, chicken liver paté, and chef john’s chocolate rum balls.  And of course I’ll sauté my last harvest of kale.

Dec 13, 2011

Switching Gears

Last week was all about filming/editing/recording voice over for my buttermilk biscuit video recipe.  That was a pain!  I’m still on the steep part of the learning curve - and it’s about to get steeper when I leave iMovie in the dust and start using Final Cut Pro soon. Yikes.

Anyway…this week I’m re-opening my jewelry studio.  I’ll start with something simple and sparkly with New Year’s Eve as inspiration.  I’ll show you what I make with these giant “Genuine Diamelles” (that’s jeweler’s code for cubic zirconia) in day or two…and I promise I will start an Etsy shop very soon.