Romance Gone Sour

Lemon Marmalade

Lemon Marmalade with Mr. Wasabi

CAN YOU PINPOINT WHERE IT ALL FELL APART?

HE SAID
Very, very nice profile. I think we have a few things in common. I like Kafka’s writings especially In the Penal Colony, the Metamorphosis and one short story about strange people in a roadside ditch. Forget the title.

I loved how you described your love of cooking and how it’s your art. I can definitely resonate with that, not the cooking, but the passion. I love to paint, draw and write. Very surreal work. But I do love good food very much so and believe it is a definite art. Even though I’m vegetarian, I don’t preach about it nor does someone who eats meat around me bother me in the least. I think people should eat what they want. What are some of your favorite dishes to cook?

I too am a huge Iggy Pop fan, especially when he was in the Stooges. But he has a some great solo albums as well. Ever see him live? Such amazing energy.

Many of your favorite things are some of my faves too: crackling fire, nutella (god so good!), oak trees, first kisses, coffee in bed etc. I would personally add to that: chimney smoke on a cold autumn evening, the smell of fresh basil, hot showers, walking in the rain etc. Yeah, I’m a bit of a romantic

Ok, on that note…take care. Hope to hear from you.

SHE SAID
Iggy? Let’s talk about John Foxx! I love(ed) John Foxx back in the day – no one knows who he is – and it almost makes me wonder if our paths haven’t crossed during our youth.

I’m sitting here, in the Seattle Airport, on one of those airport pletherette ( my new word) chairs waiting for my flight home. I wish I could say this waiting creates the perfect canvas for a creative email in response to yours, but my surroundings are bereft of inspiration.

Penal Colony is one of my favorites and, well, Gregor Samsa and Metamorphosis introduced me to Kafka, so it will always be close to my heart, but I don’t think I’ve read about roadside ditch people – I must seek it out. Please let me know if you remember the name.

I would love to hear from you again – please do write back if you’d like.

HE SAID
Ah yes, John Foxx. His solo album Metamatic is excellent. In fact I like it better than his stuff with Ultravox. It’s a wonderful, cold, visual album. It’s on my iPhone right now in fact! ha! It’s funny how much another of my fave musicians, Gary Numan, took from him. Numan has actually said Ultravox was a big big influence on him. God, I love music.

So you were in Seattle. Business or pleasure? I hope your trip went well regardless. I always find airports to be excellent places for “people-watching”. I’ve seen soooo many characters during my times waiting in terminals. I’ve also filled up many sketchbooks with art while waiting.

Yeah, I’ll have to track down that Kafka short story. It had an impact on me. It was deeply atmospheric. I’m drawn to atmosphere in writing or art or film very very much so. Another of his stories that I love is The Hunger Artist. I think Kafka wrote that–it’s about a “thin-man” in a carnival from what I can remember. I love to read and write 🙂 How about you? Do you do any creative writing? I can tell that you already have a way with words.

SHE SAID

(Sent Story about Mr. Polka Dot – see June 1 post)

I love Metamatic, too. I never realized Gary Numan credited John Foxx for his work. I always thought he was heavily influenced by his early stuff. I was looking at my vinyl the other day, trying to determine how best to sell it (sob!) , when I came across a 12” Gary Numan (with Bill Sharpe) called “Change Your Mind.” While doing a quick online search to determine its value (not much), I found the video on YouTube. If you don’t know it….I highly recommend you watch it. It was cutting edge at the time – oh, those dot matrix printers! Regarding Ultravox, I’m a full-fledged Midge Ure fan. (God, I wish I was as in-tune – pun intended – about music in 2015 as I am about the 80’s).

So, you write, paint, drawn…is one a profession and the other two hobbies or all hobbies or ??? If you could only do one, which would you choose? What do you like to write?

HE SAID
Ok. You are an amazing writer! Your tale of Mr. Poka-Dot Sock Guy was hilarious!!! I loved the line, “he OJ Simpsoned through the terminal”. HA! Genius and so damn funny 🙂 But wow, what an adventure. I think you did the right thing so I wouldn’t worry about your traveling karma points. His socks, oh Jesus, so funny! So surreal. Your experience sounds like something that would happen to me. Seriously, I think my life is one long David Lynch film. That is of course both awesome and scary but oh well. I wish you could’ve taken a pic of his socks. It’s like you found some strange mythological species out in the wild. Heh.

Ah so for your question about whether or not I write/paint/make art as a profession. Nope would be the answer. The notion of being a starving artist, especially with the work I do, holds very true for me. And that’s ok. I don’t make art for others or for money. I make it because I enjoy the process and exploring different sides of myself and how I see things. Thankfully I have a full-time 40 hours a week job. I’m lucky to have a job in this economic climate so I’m not gonna complain especially since my life-path to this point has been anything but linear.

As for the type of stuff I write: it comes down to two areas. 1. poetry and 2. novels. In terms of subject it’s all very heavily atmospheric and surreal stuff. I wrote a small poetry book about the atmosphere of autumn. Specifically, for that project, many of the themes dealt with ideas concerning small spooky coastal towns, chimney smoke, secret meetings inside sleazy motel rooms, night drives through old neighborhoods, ancient Victorian houses, ghosts, people going missing etc. etc. It was a fun project. I’m currently working on a first draft for a strange, I suppose existential horror novel, that’s both erotic in parts and deeply disturbing in others.

All of these themes can also be seen in my drawings, collages and paintings. If you’re mildly curious to see some of my art, my Tumblr site is: xxxxxx. It’s very strange stuff, but I make no apologies for it even though it’s not everyone’s cup o’ tea. That’s ok. I just love doing the work.

It would be difficult to choose just one passion to do be it either art or writing. Each is so damn unique. And I can do things in art that I can’t in writing and vice versa. I guess I’d choose visual art. Tough choice.
Anyways, enough of my babbling. How has your day been? Are you re-cooperating from your trip? I always find that I sometimes need a vacation from when a trip/vacation is over 🙂 Tell me more about yourself. Anything random 🙂

SHE SAID
Thank you for the compliment but, I really don’t deem myself a writer. I have friends who are Writers (capital W) and I consider myself more of a dabbler – in most pursuits. My use of the term “dabbler” frustrates a friend greatly. He says I should either do something or not do something and he finds dabbling apathetic. At least I’m resolute in my apathy.

I’d prefer to play rather than focus. Technically, I’m a classically-trained Chef, but I would never use that term. In addition, I write about and photograph my food, but I don’t consider myself a food writer or photographer. I see stuff on LifeandThyme and realize how far I have to go to produce my vision. At one point, I took a ceramics class to make my own bowls/plates, but never became serious about it. It was fun to play with mud. I’ll probably pick it up again at some point, although never earnestly.

I checked out your Tumblr site. I’m a huge fan of German Expressionism as well as of Francis Bacon, so the fact that you stuff isn’t classically pretty and is a bit unsettling doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I prefer art that arrests the thought process (hmmm….no wonder she likes Kafka). I have a painting in my dining room that I’ve nicknamed “Angry Man” – he disturbs most of my dinner guests. My favorites of yours are Queen and Make a Wish. Tell me about them.

I’m convinced that whatever esthetic draws me towards outlier art is the same that makes me find scars so fascinating – there’s more to it than meets the eye, there’s a story behind it, it’s interesting. I’ve always wanted to do a B&W series of scars lit in the style of George Hurrell. Something else to dabble in.

HE SAID
Oh don’t sell yourself short when it comes to your skills as a writer. I for one think you’re excellent and you have a wonderful way with the written word and are very articulate–kinda sexy in my book. Do you have a blog where you write about the food you make? I’d love to see it if you’d be willing to share [Phoren: Ha – if only he knew he’d be a topic].

I personally find nothing wrong with “dabbling” in this or that. I think it’s good to explore. Why not? Life is short. I’d like to see the ceramic bowls you made sometime. I took a few ceramic classes here n’ there but I was never good at it. But I’d try it again. I did enjoy getting dirty with the wet mud. I enjoy getting my hands dirty when I make my art. When I make acrylic paintings, I don’t even use a brush but my fingers instead. I love texture and literally feeling my way through the process. The dirtier the better . Geez that sounded perverse. ha!

Thank you for taking a look at my Tumblr site and for your nice comments. Francis Bacon is one of my heroes. A truly wonderful artist. The two pieces you like, Queen and Make a Wish, were made at the same time if not during the same day. I can’t remember. It’s difficult to explain them in words–after all they’re purely visual and exist beyond the logic of words. But I’ll give it my best shot! Queen is yet another in a long long obsession I have with re-configuring the beauty of the female form. I also like to create strong, almost dangerous women. I get the sense of defiance in her expression mixed with beauty. There’s a sharp elegance to her lips and chin. She has the type of lips that I could spend hours kissing and toying with.

As for Make a Wish, that’s a spooky one alright. I like the texture in that one. It’s of a man who, like almost all of my figures, is either physically damaged or going through some sort of transformation. I’m not sure. But there’s also an elegance to him as well. I like that. I’m constantly exploring what others deem “ugly” in a more beautiful way.

It’s much like you said about scars. They tell stories. And I love stories. I love experienced people. All my figures have gone through so much, but have survived and it’s their wisdom that makes them wholly unique and compelling I think. And I think your idea of doing a b&w series of scars would be excellent. You have wonderful ideas.

Ok, switching topics for a sec. Would you like to get a cup of coffee or dinner sometime? Something casual. Or maybe talk on the phone beforehand? I’m very open and flexible.

SHE SAID
I’m afraid my schedule is very odd the next few weeks. We could meet on Thursday for coffee or a drink, but then I’m traveling for work again and won’t be home until the 22nd. Could that work?

HE SAID
Sure that might work. How much traveling do you do for your work on average?

SHE SAID
During the busy time, which is Spring, I travel 50%. The rest of the year, about one week a month. July and around the holidays, travel is strictly saved for my own enjoyment. Traveling for work is decidedly different than traveling for fun, and I’ve never quite been able to combine the two.

HE SAID
I see. That’s quite a bit.

SHE SAID
And…

HE SAID
Well I was just wondering if you have the time to date someone. I’m kinda looking to develop a deep meaningful relationship with a woman.

SHE SAID
I’m not interested in dalliances, either. I’ve had serious relationships in the past with my travel schedule but I won’t say it’s always easy. I find that we spend quality time together when I’m home and the time I’m away can be used for laundry days and errands. But, at this point, I think you may be over-thinking things a bit – we haven’t ever met for a drink yet. You may find my travel schedule the least of our shortcomings.

HE SAID
I’m like totally suffering from writers block right now in how to respond 😦 Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era with all this email and internet stuff. I’m better on the phone and in person I think. Who knows. Sorry, I’m not making any sense. But please know that I’m not over-thinking things. I just was curious about your schedule and what you’re looking for. You’d be surprised by how many people don’t know what they want or need and beyond that, aren’t able to express that.

Well, I gotta go nurse a stomach ache. I think I drank too much coffee earlier. Uggg 😦

AND THEN SILENCE…

Gibassier

 

Gibassier

Gibassier

As kids, our family Christmas tradition included a morning of Ray Conniff, hot cocoa and Sister S’s home-baked pastries. As we grew into adults, parents needing more care and family members moving away to begin their own traditions, homemade pastries had given way to purchased Viktor Benes Danishes, and our hot cocoa into mochas.

Last year, Sister S and I escaped the holidays by traveling to Portland. We spent our time devouring the city’s famous foodstuffs. During our culinary adventures, I discovered a breakfast bread at Pearl Bakery called gibassier. While I devoured the knots of yeast bread in mere seconds, their sugar-crusted memory lingered with me throughout the year. My first attempt baking them happened soon after our visit – January 3rd – but I quickly realized that making these tasty treats too often would result in the ballooning of my waistline. For the remainder of 2014, gibassier stayed just a memory.

This year, I decided to restart my sister’s Christmas morning pastry tradition by baking my second batch of gibassier.   She has proclaimed my Gibassier “better than Pearl Bakery’s,” which is quiet a compliment, indeed.

Gibassier (Makes 18)
Revised and Adapted from Dinner Plate

Overnight Starter:
1 1/4 cup equal parts APF and Bread Flour (180 grams total) [6 ounces]
1/2 cup whole milk  (110 grams)
2 pinches from 1 packet granular yeast (Fleishman’s) (10 grams) [2 1/2 teaspoons]
1 egg

Put in an oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and put in a warm place (can be an oven/toaster oven/convection oven that is cooling from previous cooking) that is just warm and draft free.  Let ferment overnight.  It does not rise much, if at all.

Dough
Remainder of packet granular yeast (Fleishman’s) (10 grams) [2 1/2 teaspoons]
2 Tablespoons water (25 grams) at 107 degrees
2 eggs plus 1 yolk (130 grams)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Orange Flower water
3 cups equal parts APF and Bread Flour (400 grams)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 grams) [3 3/4 ounces]
6 Tablespoons butter (70 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Anise Seed, toasted and slightly crushed
3/4 cup Candied Orange Peel (70 grams) – it’s worth making your own

Bloom yeast in 2 T. water. All remaining liquids should be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the bowl of a mixer, add eggs, olive oil and orange water.  Mix with paddle attachment.  Add starter dough and beat slowly until loose and fairly uniform.  Change to dough hook and add flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Mix for 4 minutes.  Add softened butter to dough in 4 stages, incorporating each part before adding more.  Mix dough until gluten fully develops, stopping to check every so often–the dough will be smooth, soft, won’t stick to your fingers, and slightly “oily.”  When you pull up a piece, it will pull into a “window” rather than breaking.  When it is kneaded completely, the texture changes and the dough “moves” on the hook.  When you remove the hook, it comes out completely clean.

Remove dough from bowl of mixer, and hand knead in the candied orange peel and anise seed, distributing the flavoring evenly in the dough.  Let rise 2 hours in a draft-free place, in an oiled bowl covered with plastic.

Divide dough into 18 parts at about 70 grams each, shape into rounds, and let it rest for 20 minutes covered by a dishcloth.

Shape into semi-circles about 1/2 inch thick (To make shaping easier, I shape them into a circle and then fold them in half, pushing the semi-circle together firmly) .

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and cut each semi-circle with three long slashes on the curved side, and then with four short slashes (one in between each of the long ones).  Gently spread the “toes” and place on the baking sheets (6 each).  Let it proof for 1 1/2 hours, covered with plastic.

Preheat the (convection) oven for 10 minutes to 350 degrees.  Bake 12-15 minutes.

Topping
1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (don’t use superfine)
1/2 cup butter (4 ounces)

Clarify 4 ounces of butter (113 grams). When the Gibassiers are golden brown (some parts may be lighter than others), remove to a cooling rack and brush generously with butter (once), and roll in sugar (twice).

I freeze leftovers and rewarm them in a 200 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Before serving, I give them a final sugar roll.

Pack Light

This Summer, I lost my luggage somewhere between Calabria and Bologna on the worlds most unfriendly airline – Alitalia.  Really, I “voluntarily surrendered” it.  The luggage was more than 30 minutes late coming off the plain and  I had a choice between grabbing my luggage from the previous flight or making my connection. I chose the latter.  Where most women would be horrified by the prospect of having no luggage for an entire week, I decided to ‘go with the flow’ and not let the missing luggage ruin a trip I have been planning for months.  I found the local H&M, bought a few 10 Euro dresses, a t-shirt for sleeping and a few pairs of undies.  That was my uniform for the week.  I didn’t feel deprived.  I’m comfortable doing without.  Last week, I was traveling in the States and managed to pack one of those H&M dresses– along with 14 other outfits and 6 pairs of shoes. Why?  I didn’t wear most of it.  I prefer my Italian simplicity.