Wednesday, January 27, 2010

display grids, preparing to create, winter pics, risotto recipe

Ah, the beauty of winter, when ice crystals cover everything...I have more pictures below.

I recently ran into a great deal on display grids. A local art club that I belong to announced that they had 20 used grids they wished to dispose of. These metal grids were 2 feet x 7 feet, white and just $7.00 each! Woo-hoo...I wasted no time in snapping up eight of them and they are now in the garage.

You might recall from the photos of my recent studio tour that I already use white metal grids to display my work. I purchased these new several years ago at $36.00 each. The ones I have just picked up are not quite as sturdy but they will be very useful. I have an idea to use a couple of them sideways, in front of my storage closets. I could use coloured clothes-pins to hang some unframed mixed media pieces done on paper...Heck if all else fails, I can use them in the barn as shelves for drying garlic and onions!

Are you a member of a local arts group? There is much value in getting connected with your local arts community and sales like this are just one example. To read more of my thoughts on this topic, check out my 'finding support' button in the sidebar or click here.

I have been going through a phase of preparation. I am preparing to create! I have big plans for February (more on that in a later post) and right now I am setting the stage so to speak. I have been a busy gal dealing with a mountain of paperwork on my desk, I have worked on my accounts from 2009 and I am now ready for tax time and I have been sorting stuff in my studio, going through my pencils and papers to see what supplies I need. I have even removed everything from my drafting table and I gave my Borco a very good cleaning (Borco is the brand name of the vinyl covering that goes over the surface of a drafting table). Cleaning the Borco is the final clue that Teresa means business - a big, creative endeavour is about to be undertaken!

Ah, but I have to be careful that all of my acts of preparation are indeed just that and not acts of procrastination. I have been slowly working on creating a new still life - one that I will have enough faith in to proceed with. I am cautiously dancing my way around this as I am on unfamiliar territory. My next piece is going to be an abstract that suggests something real. At least that is where I am at now. I know I am sounding mysterious about it all but honestly things are still rather vague. Yesterday afternoon I had a breakthrough and I am hoping that playing with my new photos will yield the 'that's it' reference. It feels like I am holding my breath, suspended in that moment before breathing resumes again. When it does resume, things shall be full steam ahead at the drafting table. I can't wait.

The other day our outdoor world was covered with ice crystals. Here are some photos starting with a close up of a bee balm seed head.


Aren't these seed heads gorgeous?

Finally, milk weed looking rather ghostly...

I replied in the comments section of my last post that I would give the barley risotto recipe. So for those of you who might be interested, here it is:

Barley Risotto

The basic part of cooking a risotto with barley in a slow cooker is that you will need 1 cup of barley and 3 cups of stock (vegetable, chicken or beef stock). I like my grains as unrefined as possible (and organic) so I use what is referred to as Pot Barley. It is brown in appearance and like other less refined grains, it has a nuttier, richer flavour. Pearl Barley is the more refined version and is more common. Generally speaking the pot barley usually takes longer to cook and requires more liquid but I find that using the slow cooker works very well. If you are using the pot barley, just check it in the last hour to make sure it has enough broth.

Cooking Time: set the slow cooker on either high for 4 hours or low for eight hours.

Start the risotto by heating fat in a skillet (can be olive oil or butter, don't have your heat on too high). Add whatever risotto goodies you wish - such as chopped onions, garlic cloves, mushrooms, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, some squash or sweet potato, simply whatever you wish. Pick a couple of veggies that you have on hand in the frig. I used onions, a bit of celery and asparagus in my last dish. Chopped carrots and corn make a nice combination. Anyway, saute up the 'goodies' for a few minutes in the pan. (Don't fret about amounts, just use what seems reasonable.) Add your cup of barley and stir. Toasting the barley gives off a lovely aroma! Add whatever spices you wish. I usually like to add a bit of Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper and some drops of a Louisiana style hot sauce. As mentioned in the last post, I also tossed in the chopped chili from the still life.

I like to warm my broth but it isn't necessary. Once I transfer my skillet contents to the slow cooker, I add my broth to the pan and leave it on the heat for a moment or two. Add your broth to the slow cooker, put on the lid and walk away. You are done. I check on the risotto after three hours (I use the four hours on high method). If you have added celery or mushrooms or some other veggie that has a lot of water content, things should be fine even if you are using pot barley.

You can finish off the risotto by topping with freshly grated Parmesan cheese or some other cheese. As I mentioned last time, once the risotto was done, I added soft goat cheese slices to the top of the risotto. I put the lid back on and the cheese melted in the time it took for me to plate up the smoked salmon. I hope you have fun with the recipe and that you enjoy eating your barley risotto!

My next post will have a new question for us to dare to discuss. I hope you will join in. I shall leave you with this gorgeous clump of tree roots.


Pencil Sanity said...

Lovely photos and what a great buy on the display racks. Now you have me all interested in finding out what your next creation will be.

Gillian said...

What lovely images. I love hoar frosts too - they transform even the dullest of views.
What a great mixture of subjects you discuss here!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Maria, ah my next piece - the suspense of it all...LOL I hope the wait is worth it.

Hi Gillian. I do try to keep this blog about my art but every now and again things like my latest furniture restoration project, food or gardening adventures slip in here! I don't know about the 'great mixture of subjects' :-) I guess sometimes I just like to chat about my other passions! Thanks for stopping by.

Brenda said...

Beautiful photographs! Frost is one of the most amazing "wonders" of the winter season. You've have captured it perfectly.

Your studio purchases make me long for flea marketing season to start around here. I like turning old crates into pencil and book holders. Well to be honest, my son does the handy work!!

Throw as many soup recipes out here that you know. I love making new soups! It is what makes me love the cold weather!!

Jeanette said...

Hoar frosts are amazing things and make magic. The seedpods are exquisite in their frozen state.

The racks were a steal! What a bargain you got.

The barley risotto sounds yummy. If I could get my husband to try anything new I'd make it. But I know I'd end up eating it forever all by myself.

Gary Keimig said...

Hey Teresa, those winter photos have some great possibilities for paintings. Good luck with the new display racks.

Jennifer Rose said...

ooh I'd love some grids like that, but I'd probably end up hanging bags on them rather then art lol

looking forward to seeing your next piece :)

Christine said...

Lovely photos! It might sound crazy, but living in Florida all these years, I miss snow and a real winter so much.
Thanks for taking the time to write out this recipe! It sounds great and I'll write it down for future use. Need to get me one of those pressure cookers as you mentioned.
Looking forward to see what you have been up too and preparing so busily for. I'll bet it will be something great.

Jan said...

Oh, great deal on your grids! I borrowed some from a friend for a show last fall and they are so handy!

But you can put away your winter pics - lordy! I do not like snow and cold! They're predicting us to get some tonight though but I'm hoping THEY are wrong!

Can't wait to see your new piece. If you're so serious and excited about it, it's gonna be great!

Teresa Mallen said...

Hi Brenda, congrats on having a son who is willing to do handy work! Maybe he would like to try making custom frames for you? :-) And hey before you get cooking the barley - keep in mind this was a risotto recipe not a soup. For a soup I would suggest you use less barley and a lot more broth! (of course you wouldn't need to use a slow cooker either, just your stove top.) I too love a good soup in winter!

Hi Jeanette - too bad about the hubby issue. The risotto would freeze well if that helps? Yet I know, you are still stuck making different meals.

Hey there Gary! I wish I had had my macro lens with me. Would have made for better close ups.

And I know Jennifer Rose - the possibilities and only 7 bucks!!! I was so tempted to buy more.

Christine, if I lived in Florida, I would so miss winter too! You have probably seen on TV the snow they are getting in Germany. Do you have any relatives you could go visit? :-) As for the recipe, don't dash out and buy a pressure cooker, I used a slow cooker or crock pot as they are sometimes called.

Now Jan, no winter bashing allowed! It is a wonderful season and everyone should be so fortunate to experience it! LOL I don't know about the next piece being great but I am having fun challenging myself.