Monthly Archives: May 2011

A cozy little find…

I saw this saying in the bathroom at a very cute, unique, and cozy coffee place tucked along a side street in River Falls, WI called “Earth Angels Coffee House and Acoustic Gallery” Everything about this place felt very inviting. A place you’d want to bring family &  friends to relax and lose yourself for a couple of hours. A part of their sign outside said it all…. Free Hugs.  You could tell this place was built on love, passion, heart. I look forward to coming back and listening to their acoustic music sometime soon. I love finding places like this that are unlike any other.  

http://earthangelscoffeehouse.webs.com/


Grilled spicy sesame garlic eggplant with sushi rice…

Preparing the Eggplant:

I’ve cooked Eggplant before, but I’ve never thought about how to prepare it before you cook it. Eggplant has a natural enzyme in it that can leave a bitter after taste. So to get rid of that bitterness, you have to draw out the moisture in the eggplant. They call it sweating the eggplant. 

The first thing to do is line a baking sheet with paper towel and set aside. Clean your eggplant and cut off the top & bottom. Starting from one end, slice off 1/2 inch circles. Place them onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt on both sides of the eggplant slices and leave for 1/2 – 1 hour. It’s fun to see how much water will come to the surface. When the time if up, take a towel and soak up the water & salt until the slices are dry. Now they are ready. 

Spicy Sesame Garlic Eggplant with Sushi Rice

Ingredients

2 small garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/2 inch circles

Grapeseed Oil

Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Salt & white pepper

Parmesan cheese, shaved

 Sushi Rice

Preheat grill. (I used my panini press which is amazing to cook on) First brush Grapeseed oil onto the grill so the eggplant slices won’t stick. Drizzle the grapeseed oil on the eggplant pieces as well. Season with salt & white pepper. Place on grill and cook for approx. 14-20 minutes or until eggplant becomes soft. Meanwhile add garlic, brown rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and red chili flakes to a small bowl. Whisk together until flavors are blended. When eggplant slices are done, place them onto a plate of sushi rice and pour desired amount of the sauce all over. Top with shaved parmesan cheese and finely fresh chopped mint leaves. 


Herbs and more herbs…

My husband and I are in the process of selling our house so it definitely made it hard this year to plan for a garden since I hopefully won’t be there this fall to harvest my vegetables. One thing that I can still do though, is have my herb garden. I can plant them right into pot containers and sit them on my deck, plus it makes it easier to access them while I’m cooking. If you are one of those people who doesn’t have a garden and is sort of interested in herbs, planting them in pots is the way to go.  I buy good organic soil, water them regularly, and let them do their thing. There’s nothing better then having fresh herbs on hand to enhance the flavor of what you’re cooking. 

When potting the herbs, make sure you put the tall herbs in front of a shorter herbs. That way they aren’t blocking light. You can pick up several variety of herb labels or make your own to help identify what you are growing. Mine are made out of metal for .50-.80 cents each. I purchased them at Dragon Fly Nursery in Amery, WI. It is one of my favorite greenhouses to go to. http://dragonflygardens.net/


Sewn into the earth….

     Sewn Into the Earth: Vesper College- Minneapolis, MN 

The show is part of the Art-A-Whirl event throughout Minneapolis. It’s the countries largest open studio tour sponsored by the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association. It starts Friday May 20- Sunday May 22. It’s a chance to check out local artists and their studio work. 

I am very excited to be able to be a part of this wonderful show. Vesper College is a graduate school of Fine Arts and Architecture that offers a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Ecological Architecture. I didn’t know what to expect as I approached the building to get ready to drop off my artwork. It was amazing. A medium sized studio filled with artist’s creations made out of wood, metal, branches, concrete….it was right up my alley. A appreciation for the natural elements of the earth which is something that they strive for at the school-“A connection to a better understanding of the earth.” I got to meet one of the students the night of the reception. Her passion, drive, and enthusiasm for the school and what the school was all about, was inspiring, refreshing, leaving me with an over all good-positive feeling. I believe that it’s important to find and seek out where you belong in this world. Life is about living passionately towards something and that is exactly what she was doing. 

Besides the main studio area, there were four other areas with various artists’ work ranging from Stained Glass, Painting, Photography, Lithograph prints, Monotype prints, Etchings and more.     

Websites:  

http://www.vespercollege.com

http://www.northrupkingbuilding.com/artawhirl

"The Journey Within" Acrylic-Mixed Media 24 x 12


Coconut milk….

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The process: Cracking open the coconut

 Purchase a fresh coconut!

1.  Drain the coconut. (This makes less of a mess when you crack open the coconut) There are three holes on one side of the coconut. Find the softest hole and insert a nail. Tap on the head of the nail until it goes straight through. If it’s hard to tap into then you haven’t found the softest hole. Once you’re tapped in, set the coconut on a glass to drain. 

2.  Cutting open the coconut…we tried two different methods:

Method 1: Look for the seem that runs between the eyes, follow that seem to the equator of the coconut. Using a hammer tap firmly around the equator line until the coconut splits.

Method 2:  Holding the coconut firmly in the palm of your hand, lunge the coconut into a hard sharp corner (we used concrete steps)

After both attempts, nothing. We decided to go back to method one and after numerous times it finally cracked open. yeah!

It cracked open beautifully and ready to be turned into coconut milk

Making fresh coconut milk

1. Remove the outer brown shell from the coconut using a knife or chisel/hammer. Break the coconut into small pieces and grate on a metal grater until you get 1 cup of shredded coconut. 

2. Add the 1 cup of shredded coconut to a blender along with 1 cup of hot water. Blend for 2-3 minutes.

3. Position a metal mesh strainer over a large cup ( I like to use a glass liquid measuring cup and my mini strainer (purchased at Target) sits right on top) 

4. Pour the blended coconut/water mixture into the strainer until full. Using a spoon, push down the mixture so the juice is running out from the bottom. After a while you’ll notice the mixture in the strainer becomes dry. 

5. At this point you’ll want to take the dry mixture and put it back into the blender to be mixed again. This time add 1/2 cup of hot water and blend for 1 minute. Repeat straining process. 

*Now you are ready to enjoy a warm cup of fresh coconut milk, if you don’t like it warm add an ice cube and enjoy! 🙂

The final product. Fresh warm coconut milk.


Lyrics…

Today I was inspired by the music lyrics of Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten.

“No one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in, no else, no one else, can speak the words on your lips….

Drench yourself in words unspoken, live your life with arms wide open, today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten”


Mother’s Day….

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there!