May 29th, 2013 / Comments
Rhubarb heralds Spring in Vermont. Pink sprouts push up from the cold earth.
‘Still have snow?’
‘Is the sap running?’
‘Are the mergansers back?’
The familiar litany of questions heard around town – at the post office, the Creamery, the market, and at community dinners. And then the rhubarb appears – over night, huge green leaves pop up. The first garden harvest of Spring. Although technically a vegetable, I think of rhubarb as fruit, the primary ingredient in one of my favorite pies, as a lovely sauce eaten alone or topped with a dollop of yogurt (see post below), or starring in a chutney or relish.
Today I baked rhubarb with sugar and a bit of butter and finished it with heavy cream and fresh nutmeg. Very easy, yummy and with rhubarb from my garden and cream from the Farmer’s market,
Here’s how I did it. … read more
March 7th, 2012 / Comments
In less than two weeks, Charles and I will be on our way to Sicily. We will be there for nearly seven weeks, missing the end of winter ice and snow and the muck of mud season. Because of an unexpected bit of good luck, our house will be rented while we are away. With renters needs in mind, I have been making empty space in cupboards, cabinets and closets. As I sorted through the pantry, I discovered a rock hard block of almond paste from last years trip to Sicily. (That’s it on the right next to chocolate from Modica.)
Rather than throw it away, I decided to use it to make a frangipane tart. Although, I had eaten frangipane tarts I had never made one. I adapted a recipe for frangipane filling that I found on the Internet, and made a tart to share with friends at a cozy dinner party on Friday night. It had a buttery lemon crust and a frangipane filling studded with tiny French plums I had found at the market. Here’s how I did it: … read more
October 27th, 2011 / comments
Halloween is a holiday when imagination runs wild. Whether you are going to a party or a parade, this is the holiday to join the masquerade.
The possibilities are endless – you can present yourself as a superhero or a world leader, a puppy or a princess, a vampire or a bunny rabbit.Halloween treats are everywhere, free when you call out “Trick or Treat” at the home of a friendly neighbor. … read more
September 21st, 2011 / Comments
On September 26th, I’ll be celebrating John Chapman’s birthday with a bowl of apple sauce, a smear of apple jelly and a dollop of apple butter on toast. He was a barefoot itinerant arborist who wore a tin pot instead of a hat. I met this gentle man between the covers of a Golden Book when I was six, you probably know him as Johnny Appleseed.
When the sweet aroma of apples cooking to make applesauce and jelly as inspiration and a chance meeting with an overloaded apple tree, Charles gathered loads of apples. Here’s how I made a batch of apple butter: … read more
August 4th, 2011 / comments
Blueberries are ripe for the picking, and last Sunday was a perfect day to find a pick-your-own blueberry patch.
I parked my car, followed the crowd to the table to get a pail and headed through the gate and down the hill. The process is simple, find a spot, pick until the pail is full, have the pail weighed, and pay the farmer. … read more
June 2nd, 2011 / comments
Once a month, I meet with a group of fellow artists.
Trillium and Bloodroot Kathy Fiske
Tea Art by Barbara Bartlett
Our group is Art Wise Women and you can see more by clicking on this link or by going to www.ArtWiseWomen.blogspot.com.
After we have caught up with tales of travel, news of children and grandchildren, wild animal sightings and gardens, we talk about new projects, successes and failures in our studios and upcoming shows; we move on to more philosophical topics like ‘dealing with isolation as an artist’, ‘where to find inspiration’, ‘what does it mean to be an artist’.
At our last meeting, I realized that one of my favorite creative activities takes place in my kitchen rather than in my studio. Baking a cake for a dinner party is filled with artistic decisions: What will it look like? What will it taste like? How will I decorate it? The process ends with a plate, empty except for a few sweet crumbs and the anticipation of the next gathering when I will happily offer to bring dessert.
Recently, I wanted to make a cake that would welcome our friends who had returned to Vermont after spending five months in Australia. A hummingbird cake sounded just right. I assumed that since there were lots of hummingbirds in Australia that a hummingbird cake had to be Australian. My research quickly revealed three facts:
- There are no recorded sightings of hummingbirds in Australia;
- Hummingbird cakes are a specialty of the American south; and,
- It’s called a hummingbird cake because each bite makes one hum with delight.
Undaunted by these facts, I made my version of a Vermont hummingbird cake for the party. Here’s how I did it: … read more