I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade... And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
"Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets."
It has been a while. I should apologize for my neglect, but quite candidly, it is what it is. The past month has embraced many things including an unexpected visit from Alex, Kitty getting into a pattern, a trip to Sagamore and the opening of the new Rongovian Embassy on top of the day to day. We have had some bloopers with the furnace and stove. We have had huge hedges trimmed and things closed down in prep for winter. And then of course, there is the ginger bug.
Say what? A ginger bug? Well, let me wheel this back a teensy bit. My friends Melissa and Garrett along with Garrett's brother, Jimmy are making hard cider (label shown to the left). They are also making exquisite ginger beer from the organic ginger that Melissa grows in her high tunnels here in the cold (not tropical) Finger Lakes. The Ginger beer they make is dry and lemon-y and makes a girl wistful for hot summer afternoons or cozy evenings by the woodstove. It is bright and shiny as a blue sky morning and is certainly not kids stuff. I helped Melissa at Cider Week (at the Rongo) --tabling and sampling to get their name out as their hard cider (designed by yours truly) is on the way. But, to get attention on Good Life Farm, they sampled this dreamy sparkling Ginger beer which the crowds went gaga over...and I thought...hey. I should make some of that.
To back up even more, I have turned my new little pantry room into Mommy's Fermentation Room. I pressed a ton of apples -- actually juiced them, and am making big containers of vinegar. I have one of apples. I have one that is apples with one big fat red beet pressed with the apples giving me a vinegar that is rich, deep purple. I have a container of "apple peel" vinegar which is made up of apple peels that are fermenting in water sweetened with honey. There is really not much to make vinegar...it is the cultivation of the "mother", a cloudy amalgam of bacterial that translates the wild yeast magically in the air (I know that there is "science in this" but I prefer to stomp my feet and hope that the juju and the good magic works versus something as sensible and rational as science can 'splain all of this)...and converts the sweetness to alcohol (hard cider) to then the next step which is vinegar. Sounded simple from my reading on the web, and it is. I just need to keep an eye on it and see how sour I will let it go.
The interest in vinegar came from the ton of refrigerator pickling I have been doing in response to our CSA being big on beets this year. And guess what? I am making some pretty fine pickled veggies with beets being at the top of list. They are good enough, we eat them for breakfast (more like I eat them for breakfast and offer them to the crew. "No thank you. Please pass the jam"). The pickled baby brussels sprouts are good too. And, speaking of beets, I am making a slaw these days from shredded beets, carrots, cilantro, oil and lime juice that we eat batch I grate up another immediately. Big hit here at 2 Camp St.
So back to the bug. So Garrett and Jimmy are making this sublime organic ginger beer, and we are talking about it in the early fall sunshine out at their Farm. It dawned on me that they would love my newest favorite magazine...so I whip out my new copy of Imbibe Magazine and there is an article on shrubs and Ginger Beer and we all get really excited, sort of like the happy bacteria chomping away on all the sugery goodness in the juice I had brewing in the Fermentation shack--one idea feeding the other. I ended up giving them my copy of the magazine-- and going home to take out all the electronic books the New York Public Library has online. Turns out, there are many ways to make Ginger Beer, but the most interesting way for me, was to cultivate a "wild-fermented"Ginger bug, essentially, a biga or a starter (as in bread) for drinks. It is ginger, water and sugar and lots of stirring and watching. Also...no closed jars (cheesecloth with a rubberband to hold it in place to keep the flies out but let the yeast in) because it's got to to the same thing that our friends, the vinegar do....which is to invite the bacterial to come and chomp on the sugar--and develop it into a fermented base which will give us a spritz or natural "bottle conditioned" carbonation.
Why have a pet when you can feed and be entertained by a Ginger bug. So much fun.
Here is someone who is intelligent and writes charmingly on the magic I am fumphering around to communicate:
So, I am busy planning Thanksgiving and am going to (hoping I am not going to the hospital this year) be prepping the whole shebang in advance of the holiday. I am making turkey stock as we speak. I have baked a ton of sweet potatoes to make a sweet potato dish (never, ever have done that....not big on sweet food, but I think its a worthy try)>> Ruth Chris Sweet Potato Casserole. I have all the goodies ready to be added to the stuffing bread and parsley all cut, sauteed and frozen. I have the better part of a dozen apples on the stove simmering in lemon juice and cider, ready to make into applesauce for the Thanksgiving leftovers. Tomorrow, the stock will be strained, skimmed and some will become a mess of gravy for the day of and the day after that I will freeze in advance. Gravy is a big deal around here. I will have extra stock for Thanksgiving cooking...ready to go...and a clean refrigerator thanks to all the stockmaking (now referred to, by the hipsters as "bone broth"). I have frozen a pile of grated beets (gold and red) with carrots for a salad. I also have hot beets ready to peel and pickle for another jar of red side dishes.
I have two huge stalks of brussels sprouts that need to be pared down and the sprouts sliced paper thin to roast on the big day. I will prep the mashed potatoes the day before and let the potatoes sit in water and destarchify. There are the cranberries to be made and frozen. This year, I am going rogue and adding fresh ginger to that mix. I think that will be sublime.
I have baking to do (cornbread and pumpkin bread, ginger snaps, and some pecan bars). A friend is bringing pies. I might even make a spice cake as I love them...and having a robust dessert offering is just plain fun and feasty.
Gotta go. Tomorrow I will rant about my planning around this year's advent calendar. I am smiling a lot to myself as I am amused by where this is going.... Lets hope the work measures up to the dreaming.
New haircut. Rob found the perfect picture of my soon to be hair --a current picture of David Lynch--with long wavy hair on the top and short on the sides. Mr. Lynch and I have similar hair...and I have a wave too, so Emma was charged with this direction. My hope is that by Christmas, the hair will be 100% there. And, my thinking is that we go for foils to make stripes of white... just to really jazz things up. I cannot be as fabulous and gorgeous as Latrice Royale ( a contestant on "RuPaul's Drag Race" who both Kitty and I admire). We'll see. But this is the latest beauty and fashion update.
I just stopped by Sundrees to see that the rack of my cards are severely diminished...so I need to crank up my printer and get things going to fill those racks. I am so surprised that these cards are selling so well, but it is little business worthy of nurturing. To that, should I be considering going to the stationery show and seeing if there is more to it than this little business I have going here on our beautiful plateau? Should I just spread my wings locally a bit more to see if there is traction? How would I need to staff to make this happen? Could cards do well on Etsy? Boxed or singletons? More on the retail front: We also worked up some inexpensive little neckaces of teacups and of teapots...and it seems that these are selling as well. I have Kitty's retail intuition to thank! Maybe I can put jump rings on things as I travel out to Utah next week? I have resin gummy bears that need little hooks and jumprings as well as silver teasets and slices of cake. There may be a bit of traction re: skeletons etc. as the black and orange holiday is on us.
Four months to Christmas. Time to update my mailing list.
This collection of five guys are from my annual (2012) Advent Calendar project, "Gingerbread Advent". They were, just today, accepted into the annual, juried competition that 3x3 Magazine has to celebrate illustration. They were accepted as a group. Hurray and Thank you to 3x3. It is wonderful to know that the freakish stuff that flows out of this brain onto digital paper has some bounce in the real world beyond the happy high (when I get the cogs and gears rolling) that this December project can give me. Double the holiday gifting for this girl. To see who else got in>>
Kitty and Rob come home from New York City today. I had a nice chat with Kitty about her relief in gettting the semester done and the fever done. She has had a flubug. We are looking forward to her time here.
Alex, Elly and I had a little time yesterday evening with Alex playing music from his computer featuring an artist Boniver…and dancing in a very cute and funny way. We are nosing the applications along…with hopefully some closure in the next week. Wouldnt that be amazing?
Tucker is here trying to make a little money for the next semester. He is stacking wood, raking etc. with such happiness bringing lots of chit chat and a big appetite (so going to the store is going to be central to the holidays). Mandy just poked her head in…to say hi. She will be here tomorrow—so there will have to be a big, inexpensive lunch (like pancakes?).
I bought a bunch of synthetic, cheap round brushes this Sunday at AC Moore. I was beginning to do some fill work with ink (not the wonderful Pentel Pocket Brush Pen) and found that the watercolor, sable brushes I have were way too wiggly, too long, too fluid…and what I wanted was something a bit stiffer, bit shorter and in a few sizes to do the big stuff and try to do the pointy stuff too. So, I bought these brushes and discovered (at least with these “Majestic” Royal and Langnickel) there is a range of play/ stiffness in acrylic brushes. And you know, I think I can work it out from here. I tried two of them out this morning to pretty good success with my most favorite, rich carbon inks, Dr Marten’s Black Star matte ink. However, this is not the most fluid…so I may try using Noodlers this evening just to see what the difference might be. Either way, ink on Moleskine watercolor paper is divine. Love how the ink just works with this lovely rich paper.
Another nice thing to muse over is this remarkable book I discovered, The Liber Floridus. What is the Liber Floridus? The site says: “The Liber Floridus (”Book of Flowers”) is an encyclopedia compiled in the early twelfth century by Lambert, canon of the Church of Our Lady in St Omer. The Ghent University Library possesses the autograph of this work, i.e. the actual copy scribed by the author himself. Illustrated autographs of twelfth-century encyclopedias are so rare that this manuscript is now protected by the Flemish Community’s Decree on the acquisition and protection of rare or exceptional movable patrimony.”
A medieval encylopedia! There are some great architecture pix that I plan on learning from, in addition to some insane lettering (above). I am taken with a few styling things…the way the line is handled…So you probably will hear more about this Belgian book, The Liber Floridus.
He swells with the season, bursting leaves, budding flowers.
Its been a quiet weekend rolling into a very busy and productive week. We had some folks for dinner (Alex and Jacob’s friends and our friend, Bruce). We did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I slept, read terribly trashy books and chilled. I am surprised how tired I had been, so I got a little spring in my step along with some general laundry doing and little cooking. I had the hope of blueberry picking and maybe raspberries too, but the pillow beckoned and other planes of fun filled with steam punkery won.
Love the Steam Punk thing. Love the fusion of old technology with advanced biology. The fusion of the world of Dinotopia (James Gurney) along with that of Charles Dickens and all the fingers and threads that draw them together. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve is a wonderful example of this sort of book. The next, Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeldl, pits the Darwinists against the Klinks (those mechanically driven) and fuse it with the socio-political environment of Europe prior to World War 1. Trashy. Yes. Brain absorbing. Yes. A mental vacation. Absolutely.
Kitty worked. Alex chilled until Sunday when he went over to Geneva to stay and visit with a dear friend and his family (who he adores).
Tonight, I need to leave ON TIME as we are going to the Finger Lakes Community College’s outdoor concert space (CMAC) to see Wiz Khalifa and Girl Talk. I love Greg Gillis, Pittsburgher and Girl Talk( from the CMAC website):
Celebrating 10-plus years of sample-obsessed production and relentless touring, Gregg Gillis returns with All Day, his fifth album as Girl Talk, and his most epic, densely layered, and meticulously composed musical statement to date. Continuing the saga from the previously acclaimed albums, Night Ripper and Feed The Animals, Gillis lays down a more diverse range of samples to unfold a larger dynamic between slower transitions and extreme cut-ups. With the grand intent of creating the most insane and complex “pop collage” album ever heard, large catalogs of both blatantly appropriated melodies and blasts of unrecognizable fragments were assembled for the ultimate Girl Talk record (clocking in at 71 minutes and 372 samples).
Since the release of Feed The Animals, things have flourished for Girl Talk. He’s played almost 300 shows and hardly taken a full week off from hitting the road. He’s playing even larger venues and making even more of a spectacle—he’s employed a small crew of toilet paper launching stage hands, who also propel confetti, balloons, and inflate oddly chosen props into the audience. For the New Year’s Eve show to ring in 2010, a team was hired to build a life-size house, with attention to fine details, on the stage at Chicago’s Congress Theatre. Described as the craziest house party ever, Girl Talk continues to please live audiences as the mass of sweaty bodies at his shows continually grows. Touring highlights from the last couple of years include the Vancouver Olympics, large festivals such as Coachella, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, V-Fest, Sasquatch, Rothbury, Monolith, Planeta Terra, and trips to Australia, Japan, South America, Europe, and Mexico.
Earlier this year, Girl Talk finally took a break from touring, festival dates, and college shows, in order to create an album that is being released immediately after its completion. While posting the album as a free download on the Illegal Art label’s site allows All Day to reach his fanbase quickly and with minimal cost, Gillis spent more time on this album than any previous release and considers it the most fully realized and evolved manifestation of the Girl Talk aesthetic.