Monday, August 30, 2010


Skid-a-marink-i-dink-i-dink.....skid-a-marink-i-doo..... I love you....... Ahhhhh! A favorite little tune my kids and I sang to each other hundreds of times - how appropriate on this the day of the annual Boo Hoo Brunch, an annual tradition with my good friends to toast the start of the school year - some of my friends have kids elementary school, while others, like myself, have 2 girls in college. I look forward to this celebration every year.

Enough of kids - we have ink-a-dink-a-doo to review - back to the results of my experiments with the Liquitex inks. When I saw these swatches hanging from the arms of my octopus hanger I knew I had something special - sheer delight!

This is a swatch of white on white fabric.
And these are 3 sheer samples, left to right, mid-weight organza, light weight organza, and organdy.
Look how beautiful the blue shows up on the white on white. The ink saturates the background white portion of the fabric, and tints the white print a lovely lighter shade of blue - how fun is this!
Here is the mid-weight organza - it takes the paint beautifully as did the light weight organza.
The Liquitex ink covered the organdy beautifully as well. With all of the sheers there was noticeably less bleed of the ink. The ink seemed to absorb into the thread of the fabric, leaving the weave completely open. I love this application of the ink and am definitely going to use sheers in my project to feature this exceptional use of the ink.

I wanted to see how well the ink would cover on printed fabric. I tried the blue and crimson - neither of which were labeled as transparent. As you can see from the samples below, the red is quite transparent, the blue however is very opaque.

Blending - my quest for the color purple. O.K. - red + blue should give me purple, right?
Not so - as you can see on the sample I was not able to produce anything really close to purple, I ended up with brown. I think this likely has something to do with the degree of transparency of the red.
I've got one more ink post. This has really been interesting. I'm close to starting my project for the C&T Publishing Creative Troupe project featuring the ink and I'm really getting excited.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking a Bite Out of The Big Apple

We spent the day roaming around NYC yesterday - no shows, no "true" shopping, no touristing - just walking around, enjoying the sites (love this piece below - it's paper), relaxing, and eating.

We were actually in the city to visit with our daughter Olivia - making certain she was ready for her sophomore year at Parsons School of Design where she is a fashion design major. She spent the summer in NYC in a fantastic internship with the designer Lyn Devon. The apple didn't fall far from the tree - she loves to sew (garments, not quilts), and she loves to cook. For our visit she made us a picnic lunch in Central Park. Meet Liv (without her new pet rabbit - surprise Mom and Dad!!!).

She made us delicious pulled pork sandwiches on ciabatta rolls and a yummy side of orzo and vegetable salad with feta cheese, and finished off the meal with her homemade candied almonds. She has no fear in the kitchen - her latest craze is the "waffleizer" - a web site dedicated to cooking everything on a waffle iron.

While Olivia's pork was amazing, I know that even she would agree that Porchetta wins the best pork, hands down. Just walking past this place makes me weak in the knees.
This postage stamp of a restaurant makes pork and pork fried potatoes sprinkled with cracklin's (crispy pork skin) and little else - seriously - what else do you really need? It is to die for! Liv's pulled pork holds a close second!

After lunch we spent hours AT&T'ing - yes, AT&T'ing is now a verb. Liv's cell phone "broke" - arghhhh! We spent a frustrating afternoon resolving the issue, and thankfully we were successful. We deserved a reward - off to Butter Lane! Not just another cupcakery - a cupcakery that actually creates cupcakes with flavor. This whole cupcake craze has somewhat puzzled me - for the most part the cupcakes that I've had were a whole lot of sweet and way short on texture and flavor. Enter Butter Lane.
We sampled 4 different cupcakes (clockwise from top left) vanilla cake with salted caramel frosting topped with sweet and salty popcorn, vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting, vanilla cake with an incredible raspberry frosting and a chocolate cake topped with peanut butter frosting - all delicious!
Rounding out our food excursion for the day was dinner. We tried to get into the Meatball Shop, again, but the wait was too long, 90 minutes - next visit. The kids suggested The Tuck Shop - an Australian eatery featuring meatpies of many flavors. This is another one of those hole in the wall restaurants, focusing on one food that they make expertly - meatpies. We tried the beef and stout pie, a lamb and vegetable, the daily special of a pulled pork pie (can you really have too much pork), and finally a mac and cheese pie (get me my heart pills!). Yum to all of them. And, in case we weren't stuffed after our pie feasting they brought us a sampling of their special cake - Lamington Cake - a sponge cake filled with strawberry preserves, dipped in dark chocolate, sprinkled with toasted coconut and topped with whipped cream - call a cardiologist! It was so decadent!

I wish I could say I have the strength to fast for the day, but sad to say I already have dinner planned for the evening and it's not yet noon. I'll try to fit in some exercise. Later this week a visit to my oldest daughter Meredith.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Play Time with Liquitex Inks

These Liquitex Inks have been burning a hole in my imagination since they arrived on my door step yesterday - I couldn't wait until I could get down to some serious experimentation time today. And, as you can see from the looks of my octopus dryer, I've been very busy - so busy that there is no way to cover everything in one post.
For today I thought I'd stick with the basics, addressing three variables - dry application, wet application and a thickened application. Last night I played with applying the ink straight from the bottle - dry brush onto dry fabric and I was quite pleased with the results. What might happen if I wet the fabric??? Below you can see the comparison of dry (top) to wet (bottom) application - quite significant.

First dry on dry - dry brush onto dry fabric. The sample has been allowed to dry completely. The dot to the left of the color stripe is wet to allow for a color saturation comparison of wet to dry. I applied a thick strip using a fresh 3/4 inch brush for each color. Aside of the thick stripe I used the tip of the brush to apply a thin line. As you can see there is very little bleeding of the color in the blue and the umber, however, the red does show a slight bleed. The saturation value of the color changes little for the blue and umber, but there is a noticeable loss of saturation in the crimson. The coverage with the umber was not as complete.
This is the sample of wet application (it has been allowed to dry). I applied the ink to the wet (drenched, then wrung out completely) fabric as described above. Again, the dot to the left of the streak is a fresh application of wet ink to see the comparison in color wet to dry. As you can see there is a great deal of bleed, particularly of the red ink. There is actually so much bleed that the thinner stripe of ink has blended into the larger stripe of both the blue and crimson. There is also a significant loss in saturation of the color. The blue, and particularly the umber, exhibit a ringing effect at the edge of the color.

Next I wanted to thicken the ink. I couldn't find my Liquitex Gel Medium so I used Liquitex Acrylic Gesso to thicken the ink. I have since found my Liquitex Acrylic medium and will post on that at a later date.

The gesso is definitely going to effect the color.
I used a palate knife to blend the ink into the gesso, stopping initially when I achieved an interesting incomplete blend.
I applied the incomplete blend using a palate knife to one side of my fabric sample. I then completely blended the gesso to a uniform color and applied it to the other side of the fabric. Here is the result of the three different colors. From top down - the incomplete blend, in the center a sample of ink directly from the bottle without gesso allowed to dry, and on the bottom the complete blending of the ink into the gesso. The small dot of ink to the left of each sample is wet for color comparison purposes. There is a significant loss of saturation with the addition of the gesso. I love the mottled appearance of the incomplete mix and can see many applications for it. There is also a significant change in the hand of the fabric - the gesso has made it stiff and rough.
While I had some ink thickened I thought why not play with silk screening. I used an old Print Gocco screen with wording on it for the test - this screen never printed well - the lettering was too small.
I also tried it using one of my big screens with a very simple design.
Here is the result of the Print Gocco trial - this is pretty good considering the poor quality of this screen.It also worked very well with the other screen I used.
I have many more samples to share with you over then next week. While all of this experimenting is fun I need to come up with my project idea for the C&T Publishing's Creative Troupe- I'm honing in on an idea and am getting pretty excited about it. Can't share that just yet.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Call Out!

I've become a member of C&T Publishing's Creative Troupe - see the link to the right. Being a member has its perks - like being eligible to participate in "call-outs". Last week I responded to a call for members interested in playing with Liquitex ink - how could I pass that one up - I've never tried ink on fabric - I was curious. Today I received my sample Liquitex inks - blue, crimson red and a transparent umber.
The color is highly saturated, and very thin / watery in consistency. A little goes a long way.
I tried the blue out on a scrap piece of fabric - dry fabric and a dry brush. As you can see there was minimal bleed of the color producing a nice definition of the brush strokes.
Tomorrow more play time with the inks - I plan on trying to stamp with them, test the bleed on wet fabric, thicken them to try with silk screening, monoprint, sample on wool and printed fabric, and experiment with the transparent umber as an overlay - I've got my work cut out for me.

I need to create a project featuring the inks no larger than 12 x 12 inches by September 17 - no problem! Promise to share my experiments with you tomorrow - this is going to be fun!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aucht Wunst - Dats Gutt!

I grew up in a Pennsylvania German household - not Amish, that's a specific religious order of the Mennonite church. My family has been in this country since the early 1700's; and, up until my generation, Pennsylvania Dutch was a common language in my family. Whenever the aunts and uncles wanted to keep secrets from the kids they spoke "Dutch" - a contrived form of a high German dialect.

And, yes, I grew up eating like a Pennsylvania German - the dietitian that I am cringes at the pillars of the Pennsylvania German diet - fat and starch, all the whole milk, butter and cream you can lay your hands on, wursts and sausages galore, smoked and cured meats, lard, pickled everything, no meal complete without a healthy dose of bread "und" butter, and we love our sweets. We ate what was local, and we made most everything from scratch - hmmmm - isn't this what the current day Slow Food Movement is all about? I guess we were ahead of our time!

Summer always sends me back to my Pennsylvania German roots - all of the fresh produce available brings back memories of some of my favorite meals. Corn was a staple in my house - I swear we had it as our vegetable 5 days out of 7, fresh, frozen, dried, and canned. I ate so much corn growing up I rarely eat it as an adult - except when it's at the peak of freshness - then once a year I will make a Corn Pie.

What is a Corn Pie - exactly that - a casserole dish lined with buttery good pie dough, filled with fresh corn, topped with slices of hard boiled egg and more butter, seasoned with salt and pepper and doused with whole milk, and finally topped off with the upper crust. Ahhh - all of the hallmarks of a decadent Pennsylvania German meal.
And no Pennsylvania German meal is complete with only one kind of pie - after all, if you're making dough you're bound to have leftover dough - you are mandated to use the leftover dough for a milk flitche. What is a milk flitche - basically a poor man's pie - it's a milk pie made with sugar (white or brown), more whole milk, and more butter. There is no hard or true recipe for a milk flitche, and I've yet to replicate my mother's delicious flitche - I'm working on it. Today I tried using granulated sugar and flour. These were never big pies - they were small, using up the leftover dough.
Here are my pies just about ready for the oven - colorful, eh? Nope, not really! Loaded with energy in the form of saturated fat and carbohydrate - you bet!
And here is my corn pie out of the oven and ready to dig into - once a year I need this treat - it takes me back. How about the tablecloth - take a closer look.

True Pennsylvania Germans have a way of speaking English that can send a grammar teacher's head spinning - I'll admit I still carry with me some of the idiosyncrasies of the language. I found this tablecloth years ago - it highlights some of our strange phrases.
Lost in translation:
Here's the milk flitche out of the oven. It looks a lot like my mother's but it doesn't taste like her's - back to the drawing board - less flour and switch to brown sugar. When this pie turns out right it is heaven - my brothers and I have fond memories of fighting over the last sliver.I didn't want to count on the milk flitche for dessert - it would be too risky if it failed. What to do - it's peach season - make a peach pie. This is my mother's famous peach pie with a crumb topping. What makes this different from other peach pies - the addition of eggs.

Leah's Peach Pie

Makes 2 nine inch pies

2 homemade 9 inch pie crusts (or you can cheat, but it won't be as good)
I used Martha Stewart's pate brisee recipe, mixing it by hand with a pastry blender

8 - 10 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar

3 - 4 Tbsp. granulated tapioca
2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine the filling ingredients and toss to coat and distribute evenly. Pour into your homemade pie crusts.

- Combine the crumb ingredients, and with your fingers rub the butter into the dry ingredients to make the crumbs. Top the pies with the crumbs.

- Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 25 minutes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Book and the Cook - a la Mexico

I just finished The Lacuna, by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver; and as expected with Barbara's books, this one did not disappoint. A "lacuna" is a gap.

This is a fictional work, with much of the story centered on the life of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo during the American Depression through World War II written from the perspective of Harrison Shepard, a member of their household staff. It delves deeply into the politics of the day, as well as giving an insightful eye into the life and art of these two distinguished, yet controversial artists. Oh, and yes, there a healthy dose of foodie focus and discussions of Frida's passion for entertaining. After reading The Lacuna I needed Mexican food - and who better to give me the recipes I desire other than Rick Bayliss - the expert and Craig Claiborne celebrated chef. Meet Rick and the ingredients in our dinner entree - Chicken and Mushroom Stuffed Chiles with Tomatoes and Cream - everything is local - tomato puree made from beautiful Lancaster County grown plum tomatoes, spinach, corn fresh from Sugartown Farms, cremini mushrooms, poblano chilis and a beautiful free range chicken from Lindhorf Farms. This is a baked version of a traditionally fried chile rellenos - lighter, but still incredible!
Can you guess who I am and what I can do???
Here I am from the back - I've got teeth but I don't bite - do you know me and my powers???
I'm the corn zipper from Kohn Rikon!!!
I love this gadget - the best corn stripper on the market - all the others are a waste of money - I know - I spent my money on them and threw them away - they just can't hold a candle to the Kohn Rikon Corn Zipper. It takes off two rows of corn at a time - perfectly. I hate to purchase a single use only gadget - I hate being functionally fixated - but this one is worth it!
Here are my stuffed chiles ready to hit the oven. What to do with the next 45 minutes???
Ahhhhh - yes - a Margarita - don't mind if I do!
I just love a really good Margarita - not one of those frozen concoctions - a good honest Margarita. The recipe in the Rick Bayliss cookbook is excellent (add a little extra lime juice and simple syrup) - simple, not fussy, and thankfully, not frozen; shaken, not stirred. Who could take issue with waiting when you have a good Margarita to distract you? Certainly not me!
Dinner time - what a beautiful entree - Chicken and Mushroom Stuffed Chiles with Tomatoes and Cream, scented with Mexican Cinnamon - yum! The flavors are so decadent - simply indulgent!
All you need is a simple salad to accompany the stuffed chiles - refreshing and delicious. Tomorrow - more food - back to my roots. My Mom is coming to dinner and it will be all about Pennsylvania Dutch, all about summer, all about local!