Wednesday, 8 April 2020

easy peasy delicious bean patties

I had a hankering to make some simple bean burgers, but was told they tasted very similar to falafels, so I am calling them "patties". I tried to keep an eye on actual amounts, since I planned to write down this recipe for future use (if it worked, and it did produce something tasty - which it did!) but my measurements are always approximate. Here is a list of ingredients:

prepared kidney beans (equivalent to approx 1.5-2 drained cans), 2 tblsp olive oil, 1 onion, 1 egg, 1/3 tube of tomato paste (or 1 little tin if that is the way it is sold in your country), 125 g bread crumbs, 100 g oats, 2 tsp mixed spices (I happened to have this Smoky Brae rub of mixed spices that included cumin, dried garlic, chilli flakes, and other things, but you may just prefer to add a clove of fresh garlic and some salt & pepper - to your own taste!)


I use dried kidney beans, so I soak them the night before and boil them up the next day. I have started adding a bay leaf to the pot as they are boiling. 


I whizzed the beans in a food processor with the oil (necessary to keep the processor working) then added everything together in a big bowl


and mixed it up thoroughly.


Form into patties, like you would burgers and place on oiled cookie sheets.


Bake at 190C about 15 mins, then flip and bake for another 15 mins. They are a bit dry on their own, but either treat as a burger (with toppings) or eat with sweet chilli sauce, mango chutney or raita (or anything you like) as you would a falafel. Very nutritious and delicious! They freeze just like any meat burger and are great on the bbq.


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Preparations for new work!

In addition to the work that I'll be doing for Precariat Press (details here and here) and the writing during the annual NaPoWriMo beginning tomorrow, I am also getting ready to embark on further work for the series Memory Is My Homeland (details of other work in this series here, here, here and here). I primed some small canvases last year, stretching them on wood, which have just been patiently waiting for my return to them.


As with most of my work where the surface has been primed, I always put a ground coat of quinacridone violet over the entire surface, before I begin the painting or drawing. I have plans for both these small formats, likely to be completed with oilstick & graphite.


Before I could prepare for another large piece (Knockeen - my second home in Kerry - is taking shape in my head) I had to take down Kingswood. It was interesting to see the reverse side of the pressed cloth painting, where the "watermark" is more apparent. This is actually the front side, had I used it for its true purpose, a roller blind, but this design would have repelled the paint too much.


I needed a bit of help to affix the large piec of pressed cloth to the wood beam on the wall.


I decided to cut the piece from the roll, weighing it down a bit with another beam of wood. Almost ready to begin!


Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Precariat Press

It's been a good few years that I have been thinking of putting together a collection of my poetry and wondering how I should go about it. While self-publishing has, in contemporary times, always gotten a bad rap as "vanity", historically it was crucial to artistic survival: the Woolfs founded the Hogarth Press and printed Virginia's work, and earlier, across an ocean, Walt Whitman published his enduring work Leaves of Grass himself. Most recently I have been inspired by American writer, Jim Trainer, who vowed to publish a collection of his poetry annually for ten years (I have 2018 & 2019 collections, but I think he started in 2015). I was originally drawn to his writing through his monthly article, The Coarse Grind, and his own blog of personal journalism, Going for the Throat, before I discovered that he was a poet too. So, in good company I set about founding my own press. After sessions of brainstorming with my husband, artist James Hayes, a name for the press and an image for its logo were decided. James designed this logo in record time for me.


I had already decided that my first collection would be a chapbook, with the title and cover image based on the bon voyage card I made for my grandparents after first meeting them in 1967. I gave an explanation of what led to that meeting and images of the original card in my blog post last week. Here is the idea sketch for the cover. I will do a full drawing as it will be a lino block print. I was dithering about handpainting areas of colour, but it is most likely to be monochromatic. While I have use of a printing press, I plan to print the front and back covers as one page, also making a linocut of the logo, so colour has yet to be decided.


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Home Sweet Home Goodbye

It was in 1967 that my family won a St Patrick's Day competition from the "Toronto Today" news and current events tv show. As a child it was exciting for me to appear on tv with my very large Irish immigrant family, but the prize was most exciting of all: to bring relatives over from Ireland for a holiday in Toronto. This allowed me, as a seven year old child, to finally meet my grandparents for the very first time! I would meet my father's dad a few years later, but my mother's parents were both still living. I adored them and was heartbroken when they left. In the 1960s air travel was not as frequent as now, and the fact of immigration was very much that you never knew when you would see a loved one again. When my grandparents were due to leave, I made them a going away card. This card was found in my grandmother's purse, in 1980 when she died, and made its way back to me. The simple landscape is what I, as a child, thought Ireland must look like.


Of course I was very familiar with the Irish flag, which I illustrated on the inside of the card, along with my good wishes. During their visit, my grandparents nicknamed me "you know what" as I was constantly telling them things, preceding my revelations with this question phrase. I think now that I must have been driving them crazy, but they never showed any annoyance with me or discouraged my attention.


I didn't get to see them the next year, but they came for a holiday the following year, and perhaps both of them again one more time. I saw my grandmother again three more times after my grandfather's death, but through the years we wrote to each other often. I still think it is interesting that as a child I saw the creative use of a sliding puzzle (I think it came in a gum machine as a prize). I removed all the numbers and used the base as a frame for my mini-painting on the front of the card.


Wednesday, 11 March 2020

A Short Walk to Fort Carré - linoprints

Towards the end of my studio residency at Signal Arts Centre in 2018, I started working on some drawings with the intention of turning them into future lino blocks. As I had been offered a further residency at Signal in 2019, I decided I would shelve the drawings and get back to them at a later date. I previously blogged about the progress of this work here.


The images from this series are all based upon things I particularly noticed in Antibes while going on a short walk, on a hot August morning a few years ago, from the apartment in Antibes, where I was staying, to Fort Carré on a promontory on the edge of the town.


Aloe plants were on the side of the footpath, and shadows were very strong in the sunlight. Palm leaves brushed the pavement in some areas.


From under a palm tree, I thought the branches and bark seemed somewhat prehistoric.


I could see why palm branches would be used as fans.


In the heat the succulent plants thrived.


The shadows of trees were amazing.


After years of visiting Antibes, it was delightful to finally see Fort Carré up close. It is a 16th C fort on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Further information on the fort may be found here. One of the things I concentrated on at my Signal residency in 2019 was printmaking. I cut the lino blocks and printed them up before xmas and bound the series of prints into portfolios (edition of three) last month (Feb 2020). I previously posted information on the binding process here.


Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Perfect Roast Potatoes!

Well, it only took about 30 years of trying, but shortly before xmas last year, I discovered that the secret to making perfect roast potatoes lay in the variety of potato used. Who knew? I live in Ireland and there are so many potatoes to choose from but shortly before xmas I was told that Maris Pipers were the absolute best for making perfect roast potatoes. Apparently this type of potato is very specific to Ireland and the British Isles, so elsewhere make sure you get a potato with similar qualities, ie a floury potato, like Russet or Golden Yukon (though English ex-pats are not too happy with them...). Anyway, there are only 3 people in my household, so 1.5 kg is enough for us for a dinner and some leftovers to hash up for a lunch.


Peel and halve (or cut in three for larger potatoes).


Parboil 10 minutes at most.


Preheat your oven (about 180C) and your baking dish so the butter and veg oil will melt together.


When the potatoes are ready at parboil stage, drain, and shake your pot so the potatoes get all scuffed up on the outside.


Place in your dish (don't forget the bits that were around the edge of the pot) and turn about so that they are coated with the melted butter and oil. Put them in the preheated oven (the dish should already be hot).


After about half an hour, check on your potatoes and turn them in the dish - they tend to brown on the bottom, and it's an all-over effect that is extra delicious.


Roast for another half hour, getting the rest of your dinner ready in the meantime.  These are so delicious -  perfectly crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth fluffy on the inside. One of the reasons I think it took so long to make such delicious potatoes is that I love other roasted veggies and would put them all in the same dish. The moisture from the other vegetables I think kept the potatoes from browning and crisping, so I cook them separately now!


Wednesday, 26 February 2020

A Short Walk to Fort Carré - bound print portfolio

Since I decided on the prints and their order (blog post here), I gave myself till the end of February to get the portfolios completed. I had already created the portfolios, from heavy-weight acid-free blotting paper, at the end of my residency at Signal Arts Centre last year. Before binding, I cut pieces  of acid-free tissue paper as interleaves for protection of the print pages.


I scored the margins of the print pages


before affixing the tissue interleaves with Filmoplast, an acid-free tape.


I realised I also needed to score the margins of the portfolios, and mark the spots where the binding holes would be drilled (an awl can be used, but a drill press is faster and less fiddly).


After the holes were drilled small bits of wire were put in place to ensure that the pages would not move during binding.


Japanese stab-binding (full instructions here) is both simple and elegant. I chose a teal cotton embroidery thread (6 strands) to complement the colours of the prints.


Once everything is in place, the binding doesn't take long.


Completed edition of three: A Short Walk to Fort Carré.


Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Preparing pumpkin mush for cakes, muffins and pies

I know I posted details of making pumpkin mush a few years ago, here, but decided to again while pumpkin muffins were on my mind: I made a huge batch of them a few days ago, in advance of Valentine's Day. The main thing is to make use of all the pumpkins available in October (in my family we usually get two to carve for Hallowe'en and then cut them up for cooking when the festivities are over). Basically the pumpkins are cut into cubes, after removing the hard outer skin.The cubes are cooked with some water (not too much as they contain a lot of water), lemon zest, and lemon juice.


Drain the fluid when all cubes are fully cooked and softened.


Mash.


When cool measure into 400-450g bags and freeze.


I usually have about 6 or 7 bags for the freezer, which is enough to last me the whole year, making cakes and muffins and pies for special occasions. For Valentine's Day I made nearly four dozen muffins but forgot to take a picture of the muffins after I iced them. Today there are only 4 left! The muffins are light and delicious, the pumpkin mush makes them moist. The recipe I use for muffins and cake is here. One 450g bag of pumpkin mush will make 2 delicious pies, though I have not posted that recipe YET!


Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Shamrock bowls - revamped!

In 2018 I made two foliage bowls, which I was really happy with from a beautiful results point of view, but realised that I put such a huge amount of effort into their making that I wanted them to remain unique, for my own use only. Last autumn I wondered if there was a way for me to create several similar bowls that I would be happy to sell at a reasonable price. I decided that I would make the bowls using one plant and that I would make them without "feet" thereby removing the necessity to take them home in order to complete. Details of making the fern and wild rose leaf foliage bowls are here and images of those finished bowls are here. I had a pot of shamrock in bloom, so I brought it into the ceramics workshop and cut sprigs from it for my design.


I was using plastic pudding bowls (I had 3 different sizes) as formers. Each bowl need a cling-film lining and then I swirled long sprigs of shamrock inside the bowls.


The clay was wedged and rolled out into a a large slab, from which I cut random pieces, which were fitted together as I worked.


I used my fingers to press the pieces together, letting the finger dents remain as part of the interior bowl form.


From the outside, one can see how the shamrock has been embedded into the clay from the pressure of joining the pieces. The cling-film creases will also add to the final design, apparent in the glazing process.


Here are the five bowls posing with the shamrock. Normally they need to be leather-hard dry before removal from the bowls, but since I was not adding feet to the bowls I could leave them until they were totally dry and ready for firing.


I glazed all the shamrock bowls with a food-safe green, wiping the glaze on the exterior in order to allow the glaze to only be in the plant and crease areas. I liked the way the glaze worked on the interior, accentuating the finger marks, however, I thought it was a bit too pale on the outside. I did submit them to the craft fair (more pictures can be seen here) but when they returned to me, I took the opportunity to make them better bowls.


For each of the five bowls I made feet that I thought were an aesthetic improvement. I knew that once they were fired some glaze could be used as a glue and the bowls could be re-fired with their feet.


I also took the opportunity to use a darker glaze on the exterior, with not such aggressive wiping in order that the creases were more apparent as well as a stronger appearance of the shamrock. For the deeper bowls I made tall feet.


For the two shorter bowls I made feet rings that were appropriately shallow. I am quite pleased with the results.