“Serendipity. Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you've found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.” -- Lawrence Block
Call me curious, but I like to see what brings people to my blog. What were they seeking? Did I have anything new or different to offer? A search for "blood vessel embroidery" brought a researcher to my site and led me to the wonders of Alexis Carrel, a French surgeon who immigrated to the United States at the turn of the previous century. He eventually settled in Chicago where his research into organ transplants and the suturing of blood vessels won him the Nobel Laureate. How in the world did I miss reading about him when digging through medical history?! Thank you to the stranger who led me to knowledge of him.
"Blood vessel embroidery" also led me to learn of advancements in medicinal products with a textile component. A U.S. patent abstract was rich with tantlizing phrases such as "gel-modified yarns" and "knot to knot." They conjure a range of visual images with which to play.
"Painting is another way of keeping a diary." - Pablo Picasso
I'm currently teaching a class in textile-based artist trading cards. It's fun to see what the others do with the techniques I introduce. I've been finding them the ideal size for working out new ideas. I don't know where I am heading with these mini works of art, but that's the point. I am keeping it loose to see what shifts and settles.
"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." -- Dale Carnegie
Performance art came to me by accident. It started as a means of visualizing the familial bond between my daughter and myself and from there it grew and developed. What I like about the medium is the direct interaction you have with the viewer. In my performance work, the viewer ceases to maintain the passive and distant stance of gazing at the object and becomes an active collaborator of making and in a sense the object to be viewed by myself and others. Did you follow all that? In short, I must be doing something right as I was having a whole lot of fun during my performance at Looptopia. See for yourself, that's me on the right in last photograph.
A big thank you to Sara Peak Convery for these photos!
is hung with bloom along the bough" -- A.E, Housman
A week later and I am still making cherry jam. I've had such a bumper crop that I've opened the garden gate to friends and neighbors. Seriously. I've put up 32 pints of jam and made one cherry pie, have 10 more cups of cherries in the fridge and still have 1/3 a tree to pick.
In my experimentations this week, I've learned that only 1 T of pectin is more than enough. A whole package makes a much stiffer product, so if you want a jam spoonable on ice cream, stick with 1 T of Pomona's Universal Pectin.
I've also tried a new flavor - cherry vanilla cinnamon jam - which is perfect on ice cream or cheese cake. Here is the recipe:
5 cups pitted and chopped sour cherries
1 T low sugar pectin (Pomona's Universal Pectin
or adjust with other pectin products)
2 t calcium water (the powder is included
in the Pomona pectin package)
1/2 t citric acid (or 1 T of fresh lemon juice)
2 1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla paste
1/2 t cinnamon
Mix the cherries, citric acid, pectin and calcium water in a large steel pot (not aluminum), cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, add the sugar, vanilla paste and cinnamon. Return to a boil for 3 minutes. Let it cool and then can using the rolling bath method for 10 minutes. It makes approximately 4 1/2 cups of jam.
If you haven't tried vanilla paste, you must. It is one of those "trade" secrets I learned from my daughter when she was at pastry school. It has less of an alcohol base, so the pure vanilla flavor shines through. Just one tablespoon of this stuff is equivalent to one whole vanilla bean and at a fraction of the cost! If not at your local grocery store, you can find it at The Spice House and Sur La Table.
After this week, I am on to blueberries.
"When I sound the fairy call, gather here in silent meeting,
Chin to knee on the orchard wall, cooled with dew and cherries eating
Merry, merry, take a cherry, mine are sounder, mine are rounder,
Mine are sweeter for the eater, when the dews fall, and you'll be fairies all."-- Emily Dickinson
My camera is broken, so I share with you an image of my cherry tree taken 2 years ago. She has grown since then and is bursting with fruit. I already have 30 cups of fruit picked and there is more work to be done. A friend helped me last night. There he was madly picking fruit in the rain as hail was in the forecast. Hail can destroy a cherry crop. Fortunately the weatherman was wrong.
The tree is a self-pollinating Montmorency. I bought it from this nursery as a bare root 8 years ago. It was so small that the pumpkin vine I grew that year made it look like a twig stuck in the ground.
For the past few years there have been enough cherries for a few pies, but this year with such a bumper crop, I am making jam. I poured through my cookbooks and finally ended up experimenting. Oh my goodness, who knew that there could be such cherry yumminess?!
5 cups of sour cherries pitted and washed
1/2 tsp citric acid (also known as sour salt)
1 package of pectin (I used Pomona's Universal Pectin)
1 tbs of pure almond extract (none of that imitation stuff!)
2 1/2 cups of sugar
Chop the cherries and add to your pot. Add the citric acid, almond extract, the pectin (the whole package) and 2 tsps of calcium water (calcium powder comes in the box). Mix and let sit for 10 minutes. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add the sugar. Bring back to a boil again for 2 minutes. It should be jelling at this point, but not stiff. Allow to cool thoroughly so the pectin can do its magic. Can the jam using the rolling water bath method for 10 minutes.
What I really like about this particular brand of pectin is that it doesn't require tons of sweetener to make it work. You can also vary the taste by using honey, maple syrup or fruit juice concentrate instead if you wish.
If you can't find citric acid or pure almond extract at the store near you, I recommend this place.