Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fava Bean Salmon Pasta Salad with Carrot-top Pesto Tapenade

Last week we weren't sure what we were going to have for dinner.  George said he would make the fava beans we got from Hazelfield Farms and he would scrape something together from the leftover salmon we had from the night before.  In my head I thought, "Oh great, leftovers."  But when I saw what he came up with I felt like we were eating at a five-star restaurant! 

Not only did he find half a portabello mushroom in the fridge, but he decided to make use of the carrot tops and garlic scapes from our CSA to make pesto.  I have to give full credit to my friend Jennifer who gave us the idea for carrot-top pesto, and Julie for garlic-scape pesto.  We weren't so sure about using carrot-tops to make pesto but they work great all by themselves (or you could mix basil in if you wanted).  After trying this recipe you will no longer be able to throw those carrot tops into the compost pile!


Carrot-tops from about 10-15 carrots
5-10 garlic scapes (you can use 1 or 2 cloves of regular garlic if you don't have scapes)
1/2 cup almonds (or pine nuts)
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
olives or capers (if you have them)
dash of salt

Cut carrot-tops off of carrots and wash.  Wash and chop garlic scapes (you can use the entire thing, it is just easier to chop it into smaller pieces to fit in the food processor). Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until well blended.  Add olive oil until all ingredients are moist.


1 salmon fillet
pasta (we usually make 1/2 -2/3 box)
fava beans
mushrooms (pick you favorite kind - we used portabello)
green olives
chick peas
olive oil

Prepare salmon according to directions (we have been using frozen fillets and baking them in the oven at 325 for 30 minutes).  Cook pasta timed to finish when salmon is done.  The fava beans require a bit of prep which can be done earlier if desired. Pre-heat skillet with olive oil.  Add mushrooms and cook until they release water (maybe 4-5 minutes).  Then add all other ingredients to skillet if you want to serve warm.  If you want to serve cold, mix all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fava Beans - How to Prepare

I thought this post was just going to be about how to prepare fava beans but when I went to decide on the images for the post I couldn't decide between the above and below photos.  So let me know via comment on the blog, facebook, or email which is your fava-rite (pun courtesy of hubby George) and I will post the results in the comments next week.

Now to get down to business. We have been getting Fava beans from Hazelfield Farms at the Hyde Park Farmer's Market and I just can't get enough of them. They are super delicious and in my opinion one of the most beautiful beans around.  The pod itself is large and beefy and the color of the bean is a soft, dreamy green.  They do require a little preparation but it is well worth the effort.  Here is how George prepared ours:

  1. Open outer pod and take out beans. (It helps to have a knife because the pod can be strong).  Admire their beautiful soft green bodies.
  2. Boil the beans for 2-3 minutes.  This helps soften the coat.
  3. Put beans in an ice bath.  (Probably not totally necessary, but it helps to cool them off).
  4. Peel the outer coat off beans.
  5. Eat raw or saute with olive oil or butter or add to a salad.

Check back soon because I am going to post a fava bean recipe that George came up with that blew me away!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sketchbook - Historic Office at Spring Grove Entrance

Last Saturday Christina and I walked at Spring Grove and then sketched what I thought was a church at the entrance.  Apparently the building was actually the old administration building and is now referred to as the "Historic Office."  It was built in 1863 by a prominent Cincinnati architect named James Keys Wilson and the east addition was done in 1955 by India Boyer, one of America's first female architects (source here).

I thought it might be fun to show the progression of this sketch from start to finish.  It was a nice day so we sketched for about an hour.  I usually only get my pencil sketch done in that time but Christina has often inked her's in at that point.  We then typically take a photo and finish at home.  Some might be purists and say you should stop when you leave, but I find it super relaxing and fun to finish up at home.  If I don't like the sketch I may never finish it but that's OK too. (You can click on the images below to enlarge.)

Pencil Sketch


ADDENDUM: After I posted this Phil Nuxhall, Spring Grove historian, sent me some additional information he had on the building so I thought I would post it because there are some interesting tidbits (i.e. the building cost $30,000 to build!).

Originally, the main offices of the cemetery were downtown at 215 E. Fourth Street for 55 years. In 1938, the offices moved to 212 East Sixth Street, in the Gwynne Building. Then the present building in Spring Grove, by James Keys Wilson, was constructed in 1863. Originally there was a pump and a horse trough at the entrance prior to the erection of the administration building. A letter in the archives dated June 22, 1882 from builder Charles Farnan states: "…propose to furnish material and labor for the change of windows in the public waiting room and office, all made of black walnut, inside blinds all complete for the sum of $45.00". Another letter in the archives dated May 1871 from John B. Mahoney offers to repair decay of building! Schoenenberger recommended white walnut. On the outside of the front door to the front room/chapel is an electrical box that was connected to a bell to alert visitors & employees to closing time, etc. The addition was done in 1955 by India Boyer, first female architect in Cincinnati with AIA. The administration offices remained downtown in the Gwynne Building on 4th Street until the addition was constructed around 1955.  From The Commercial Tribune 1867: “The edifice at the south entrance, built in the Norman gothic style, and completed in 1863, cost about $80,000. As the building on the other side of the gate will be soon commenced, it would be well to select a better quality of stone, and have the work done in better style than previous undertakings of this character. This lodge will contain but one room, and cost about $15,000. There is another entrance on the east side of the cemetery, which is used during high water, when the south entrance is submerged."  Also from The Commercial April 14, 1867: “Old Admin. Bldge was $30,000 and the carriage house was $15,000".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Flea Market Armoire

This past May my mom and I attended the Springfield Antique Extravaganza where I came across this armoire with the most amazing painted paneled doors.  The armoire itself was made of what appeared to be a high-quality old wood and had square flat-head nails, hand-carved door stops, iron hinges and funky drawer pulls.  But what I liked the most were the hand-painted designs on the door panels.  I love the orange and green color of the flower motif and the way the wood grain interacts with the design.

Whenever I like something this much at an antique show I get nervous because I know I really want it but I may not be able to afford it.  So when I asked the vendor how much it was and he responded $200 I was surprised.  In my head I thought, "There has to be something wrong with it." 

Well, when I opened the doors I quickly discovered it did indeed have a major flaw - there was a huge hole where someone had cut out the back to accommodate a TV.  In my head I was thinking, "You remember the more purchases where I have to do something to the item when I get home.   This includes clothing that need to be hemmed or altered, items that need to be framed, and most certainly furniture that needs huge repairs."  The vendor could see I was struggling with this issue and he then dropped the price to $160.  Without hesitation I said, "I'll take it."  It was like the words came out of my mouth before my mind had time to realize what had happened.

So for the past month my husband and I have been slowly re-building the back of the armoire and adding shelves.  After several trips to the lumber store, running out of stain three times, bugging my neighbor Mark to help shave off a hair here and there (twice) and several cracked shelf supports, the project is finally done and I couldn't be happier. 

This armoire may not be a "fine" antique but to me it is priceless. Not only am I am crazy about all of it's wabi-sabi character but it is already chock full of memories.  I will always remember what a great time I had with my mom that day.  Plus my dad had to come help pick it up because, of course, I didn't drive my truck that day.  A huge thank you must also go out to the strong group (Frank, Tim, Dad, and George - and Amy for moral support) who risked bodily harm to carry this incredibly heavy hunk of wood up to my second floor.  I also want to thank my neighbors Mark and Mary for putting up with me bothering them with my wood-cutting needs.  I now no longer need a hammer to put the shelves in and the doors now close.  And of course a big thank you to my husband George for his forced-carpentry and patience with my crazy projects.  Oh, and John for his moral support and design consultation.  Wow, you would think I had won an Emmy or something!  In the end I have a kick-ass armoire plus a beautiful reminder of all the great people I have in my life.    

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet Peas

I know it's summer when we start to get sweet peas from Hazelfield Farms.  I have to admit I am not a huge sweet pea lover, but I did discover I love photographing them.  It doesn't happen very often, but some times every thing happens just right in a photo shoot.  I barely fussed with the composition of the peas.  I dumped out a few, cut one open to show the peas inside and then sprinkled a few peas around and everything just sort of fell into place.  Then the lighting was starting to fade but it was just enough to shoot wide open and get a nice forefront focus and soft background.

When I uploaded my photos and looked at them seeing these sweet peas just made me smile.  I love the way the light makes the pea bodies look so soft and green.  It made me want to nestle right up next to them in that pod.  When I think about it, this is why I do this blog.  It brings me such joy to take note of the small things in life that are so friggin' amazing and that are around us all the time.

Being part of the Hazelfield Farm CSA has not only broadened my palate and made me healthier, but it has opened my eyes to the incredible beauty of the food we eat.  Seriously, next time you are eating say a carrot, or a strawberry, stop for a second before you eat it and take a will blow your mind if you let it. (Click photo to enlarge).

Monday, June 10, 2013

Sketchbook - Cincinnati

After Illustrator Lunch last week Christina, Jeb, and I crossed over to the "other side" and sketched Cincinnati from Riverside Drive in Covington (that's Kentucky for all you out-of-towners).  It was a beautiful day and we got right down to work.  Christina sketched the Roebling Suspension Bridge while Jeb and I sketched the Cincinnati skyline (check back soon because I will link to theirs when they post them).

This was not one of my favorite sketches and at one point I considered not posting it, but I think it's important to accept not every one will be a masterpiece (unless, of course, you are Christina).  After I added the watercolor I felt it turned around a bit and I started to even like its "naive" illustrator look.  I have begun to understand that that is the look that comes out of me.  It is what happens when I put a pencil in my hand without the aid of Illustrator or Photoshop and it may not be perfect, but it is apparently "my style".  And I love when I see other people's imperfect styles, so why not love mine? 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Garlic Scapes & Onions

The other day my amazing photographer friend Gina posted a photo on facebook of a bowl of fava beans and a curly cue sprig from the plant.  The curly sprig reminded me of the garlic scapes and onions in the fridge and I thought,  "I have no idea how to cook them, but at least I can photograph them!"

So I pulled them out of the depths of the refrigerator and we had a quick photo shoot out by the shed.  I looooooove their slender, curvy, soft green bodies and the ombre effect of their white heads...too beautiful!  Now, if only cooking-loving hubby were here to concoct some wonderful meal with them.  Alas, he is in Ireland and I am stuck here googling garlic scape recipes.  Something is not right here. 

Oooh, I just found a good link with incredible-looking recipes here.  Will let you know how it goes.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sketchbook - Lafayette Ave.

My friend Christina and I walked a loop around Clifton starting at Mt. Storm Park and ending on Lafayette Ave. last week.  This house caught our eye and Christina aptly named it the Edward Gorey house.  I love the widow's walk and the shape of the central tower structure.  I also really liked the way the upper dormer windows jut out of the house.

From my exhaustive 60 second google search I think the architecture would be classified as a Victorian Second Empire.  One of the main characteristics is the mansard roof which is means it has 2 slopes on each side, the first slope being barely visible from the ground and the second slope being very steep.  Other characteristics include dormer windows, rounded cornices, brackets beneath the eaves, patterned slate on the roof, wrought iron cresting, and a central tower.  So this house seemed to fit that description.  If anyone out there knows about these things, correct me if I'm wrong.

When I opened this image in Photoshop I liked seeing the close-up details in the image above.  As you can see below my overall composition was a little lacking.  I was originally only going to draw the main house but in the end I added the structure to the right that appeared to be a later addition to the house.  I wished I hadn't but as I always say "that's why they call it a sketchbook".  It's the place to make mistakes and learn from them.