Saturday, October 29, 2011

Wax Carving Workshop with Kate Wolf

 Carving from a tube of wax using layout techniques.  Pear shaped Green Beryl faceted gemstone.
 Carved detailing on side of wax for Green Beryl faceted gemstone.
 Lathe turned tiny vessel with matching lid for cabochon gemstone.
 All the projects worked on through Thursday of class.  Pear shaped ring is still looking like a block of wax tube.
The EtsyMetal crew with Kate Wolf. (l-r)Clare Stoker-Ring, Kate Wolf, Renee Ford (me,) Danielle Miller-Gilliam.

After a wonderful week spent in beautiful Portland, Maine, I am finally getting around to posting some pictures from my adventure.  I longed to take a class from Kate Wolf for several years.  I finally decided that the only way I was going to get any better at carving wax was to go learn technique versus hacking at a block and not accomplishing much.  

What an amazing experience it was to learn from Kate.  I was fortunate to have two great EtsyMetal companions, Danielle Miller-Gilliam  and Clare Stoker-Ring to share my wax carving experience.  Techniques were presented fast and furious, lots to try and use immediately.  Kate instructed with effortless ease, patience and attention to detail.  There were so many little tricks learned during the week that make daunting tasks happen with ease.   Kate has an ingenious and determined mind to finding solutions that make the process seem  so simple.  Tools are adapted on a regular basis to fit the needs of the project or the technique. In my opinion, there are no other wax carving tools on the market that even come close to comparing to Kate Wolf tools.

I feel so fortunate to have taken this class and had the opportunity to hang with some wonderfully talented people.  I know this class will lead me to push myself to new levels and bring my work to a more sculptural, three dimensional feel that I have longed for in my designs.  Keep watching to see what comes next!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Food! Food! Marvelous Food!

Very simply put, I love food.  Yea, I know, we all do.  The memories a certain meal can bring to mind is very powerful.  I read somewhere once that our sense of smell has the best recall memory.  I must have a pretty good sniffer.  I always associate smells to certain points in my life.  It often recalls a great family gathering, shared meal with close friends, or traveling somewhere exotic. Memories of cooking with my grandparents and mother all immediately surface with a whiff... Ahhhhhh....

I am often squeezed for time since I have my studio attached to my home and can't seem to pull myself away from the bench.  While I love to cook, I often find that there is not enough time to plan, prepare and make a 4 course meal every night.  I've come to love my pressure cooker and crock pot.  Both are able to serve up delicious meals that taste like I spent all day cooking. 

I'd like to share a recipe that has proven to be tried and true for a yummy home cooked meal (or two!)

Boeuf Bourguignonne (Beef Burgandy)
I make this in my pressure cooker, but it can be adapted to a dutch oven or crock pot. The name makes me giggle.  I go around saying "Boeuf" all day in funny voices. I do try to use my best Julia Child voice but it often comes out a bit like Betty Rubble instead.  Go ahead, say it out loud.  "BOOF."  It's funny, isn't it?

1 T olive oil
3 strips bacon, coarsely chopped
3 pounds beef bottom round, cut into 1 1/2" pieces square
1/2 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch lengths
1/2 c chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves
1 c hearty red wine, I use Pinot Nior
2 c beef stock
2 T tomato paste
4 T butter
1/4 c all purpose flour

In 5-7 quart pressure cooker, heat oil. Add bacon, cook until browned, scoop out onto paper towels to drain, saving bacon fat. Reserve bacon fat in bowl.  Add 1T back to pan. Now brown the beef in batches in the pan, not overlapping as to evenly brown each cube on all four sides.  About 4-5 minutes, just to brown not cook through.  Transfer browned beef to plate or bowl.  Season beef with the salt and pepper.  Add 1T of reserved grease back into pan.  If all used up, just use more olive oil.  Reduce heat to medium add mushrooms, garlic, shallots and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are slightly soft and the shallots and garlic become slightly translucent. Add the wine.  Have a glass :)  Bring to boil, scraping any bits left on the bottom.  Stir in broth and tomato paste.  Return beef to cooker with any juices that have leached out.  Now you begin pressure cooking, high heat for 15-25 minutes.  My pressure cooker takes 20 minutes after it reaches full pressure.  It is a newer model (7 years old.)  I must admit, the thing scares me.  I always have visions of everything exploding.  After 20 minutes, I quick release the top and release pressure.  Add the bacon.  Stir.  Remove veggies, and meat from cooker leaving the liquid behind.  Skim any fat then bring to low boil.  In a medium bowl, using a rubber spatula, make a roux by combining the flour and room temperature butter together until smooth.  Gradually whisk 1 cup of the liquid into the flour mixture to make a paste.  Briskly whisk into the roux into the boiling liquid in the cooker.  Stir for about 5 min until it has not raw flour taste.  Season to taste with more salt and pepper.  Pour over meat and veggies. Serve with warm crusty bread and over noodles or rice if you like.  I usually do not use rice or noodles but my family often requests them to savor all the flavored gravy!  Enjoy!

Please visit my fellow metalsmiths with have blogged about their favorite food experiences today on our Blog Carnival*!

* Blog Carnival is a group activity of EtsyMetal, an international collective of jewelry artists. Each month the group selects a topic and members link their writings on that topic, giving readers a broader range on the same topic.