A friend’s happenstance run-in with painter Brooke Pickett during a pit stop on Magazine Street led me to a gallery opening at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans last weekend. The paintings alone reminded me of Philip Guston’s work, so I wasn’t surprised when I read in Pickett’s interview that he was important to her as an artist. But as I walked into and around the gallery as the sun was setting, it was Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series compositions that came to mind; the light was changing the work on the wall even after it was finished. The way the light hit the windows into Diebenkorn’s studio largely informed his compositions (this video shows him sitting in his studio like it is a gallery). The image of my friend Jillian taking in her old schoolmate’s paintings is my humble photographic homage to Diebenkorn, because why can’t the gallery be a studio, too?
Did you think we only looked at things on Magazine Street? No way! Yummy food stops along the way included hey! Cafe, Slice Pizzeria, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt and Velvet Teacakery. It is unbelievable what fresh, house-made mozzarella can do for a pie. And what laughter, silliness, and sharing city-loving can do for the soul.
A couple of days ago I literally walked my shoes off on Magazine Street! A few miles in I thought the bottom of my feet felt funny, so I looked down and my sandals were trashed. Now I have an unintentional souvenir pair of flip flops called feelgoodz from the Crescent City. Being in good company, taking in the sights, stopping along the way.
I am in New Orleans for the first time in my life for my first ALA Conference! I didn’t eat one full meal today, but in between registrations and check-ins, I was able to have a few tasty bites around the Conference Center. Baby Arugula Flatbread with Shaved Manchego and Marjoram, House Sourdough from Feast, Warm Pork Fat on Toast with Thyme and Piccalilli (my stomach churned for a bit afterward, but it was so rich and cozy). Finally, my indulgent version of bedtime tea and milk: Creole Cream Cheesecake with Chamomile to drink. What makes a cheesecake Creole? Oh my, a tangy combination of whole milk, skim milk, and cream with spiced Steen’s cane syrup and dehydrated berries. Sweet dreams.
Don’t worry, the usual malted milk balls and peanut butter crackers are in my bag, too. This granola recipe, adapted from Melissa Clark’s in In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite (recommend), is the only one I have made that doesn’t call for honey. The cardamom/maple syrup/olive oil combo seeps into the oats and turns them into an addiction! The great thing about granola is there are unlimited ingredient variations. My sister always does coconut and pecans, my friend Mary gave me a delicious batch with dried blueberries and walnuts at the holidays. Dried papaya, almonds, and pumpkin seeds were my add-ins this time. I think I am all set to fly now, and I will also have a few homemade gifts to give. It just occurred to me that making granola is a lot like making caramel corn, and oh, the kitchen smells the same.
Who wants gumbo mail? Later this week I will get on a plane bound for the American Library Association’s annual conference in The Big Easy. There are 20 postcard stamps in my suitcase, and I can’t guarantee that your postcard will be as charming as this one I received from a sweet friend who spent some time in New Orleans six years ago… but get a hold of me with your postal address, and I will send you one during my first visit! I am not sure how much free time I will have, but I would also love recommendations for what shouldn’t be missed. My nephew is quite the mapmaker lately and made me this drawing last week when I told him where I was going. “TC means take care,” he said. Black tea and orange madeleines hit the spot this stormy morning before heading off to work.
I wouldn’t be here. And I wouldn’t have experienced Angel Food Cake French Toast from Spyro’s this morning! I intended to make breakfast rolls for Father’s Day, but yesterday’s migraine dictated else ways. So we went out for brunch instead and then watched cake shows and baseball on TV. Three of us split the french toast, garden frittata and Wyoming bacon (when bacon is thick and good, my dad calls it Wyoming bacon), otherwise we may not have been able to get out of our booth. My dad played the organ the morning I was born and watches Christmas movies with me at any time of the year. I like to watch birds, ballgames and eat brats with him. Thanks, Dad, for reminding me today not to let emotions get in the way of joy. Cheers to happy memories and all of the fathers who work so hard to provide a joyful future for their children.
A porch swing. What’s better than a porch swing? Pie on a porch swing! My sister came up to her in-laws’ this week and somehow through the magic of text messaging and family recipes they put together a lovely spontaneous cookout. Not bad for the middle of a workweek! She made some pies, her father-in-law did some grilling and we all ate well. The cherry pie is a Southern Living recipe, and the peaches and cream pie is from Great Grandma Manges’ family cookbook. The internet is pretty great for recipe finding, but family recipe cards and books are among my personal treasures. Later I will have to say more about spaghetti squash and shrimp on the grill, but right now I’ll appreciate the coziness of a welcoming front porch.
Eleven years ago I had the privilege of standing up next to my sister as she married her best friend. The least I could do to help celebrate the anniversary was make a cake. The recipe was from Cooking Light magazine, originally called Luscious Lemonade Cake. I mostly followed it and added extra lemon juice to perk up the frosting. It turned out somewhere in-between a wedding cake and a lemon pound cake. My nephew did the decorating (came up with his own words!), while my niece helped me pick strawberries to plop on top. One of the many things I have learned from them over the years is to be generous together. It was a joy to share in that day, and today it is a joy to be part of their family that has grown from two to four. I hope to one day return the favor.
It just takes a few sweet potatoes (or one whopper sweet potato) and spoonful of cinnamon to transform a biscuit into a stand-alone sweet treat. Don’t get me wrong, I love all kinds of biscuits, but these are my new favorite. I use this recipe from Paula Deen, a food mill as my sweet potato sieve, add 1 t cream of tartar and 2 T cinnamon. My mom gave me these square biscuit cutters at Easter, and the little ones make adorable bite-sized biscuits! Kind of like monkey bread, only less sticky and somewhat healthier. And lucky for me, I found some gingerbread ale in my cupboard that accompanied nicely.