Sunday, September 30, 2012

Paintings of the Past and the Artists

by Frank Bernard Dicksee
English, 1853-1928

(Note: I am placing a painting and the photograph of the artist to show the dignity of these artists and the subjects that they admired enough to paint. I like the contrasts of the women's soft, feminine appearance, and the artists rugged, yet neat and orderly; dignified masculine demeanor.)

The artist, Frank Dicksee

by Edmund Blair Leighton

Soul of the Rose
by John William Waterhouse
John William Waterhouse, British, 1849-1917

Portia Kate Dolan
by John Everett Millais, Jersey, 1829-1896

John Everett Millais

Walk at a Lighthouse
by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida

Joaquin Sorolla

by Frederick Leighton
Frederick Leighton, 1830-1896

Idle Days
by William Merritt Chase, American 1849-1916

William Merritt Chase

Girls Arranging Roses by Sir George Clausen

Sir George Clausen
English, 1852-1954

Mother's Darling
by Frederick Morgan, 
English, 1847-1927
Frederick Morgan

The Artist and His Wife
by Peder Severin Kroyer, Danish, 1851-1909

Self Portrait
Peder Severin Kroyer

The Shell (the artist's wife)
by William Adolphe Bouguereau
French, 1825-1905

William Adolphe Bouguereau

Nordic Summer Evening
by Richard Bergh Sven 

Richard Berg, Swedish, 1858-1919

Lady Agnew
by John Singer Seargent

John Singer Seargent

Lady in a Boat 
by James Tissot

James Tissot 
Italian/French, 1836-1902

 A Pensive Moment
by Daniel Ridgeway Knight

Daniel Ridgeway Knight

The School of Nature
by William Holman Hunt
William Holman Hunt
Reading, by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy

Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoy
Russian 1837-1887

Gathering Poppies
by Henry John Yeend-King
Henry John Yeend-King

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tea at Home

I am still enjoying the outdoor life at home. The convenience of it is so nice, since it requires no packing and no travelling.  It is simple to have a summer vacation at home if you take just a few minutes to set up a tea table outside in good weather. Tea time outside can get you out of the kitchen and out of the house without making a major trip somewhere that will cause you to lose half or all of your day at home. Or, if you are low on funds and need a luxurious lift, tea outside provides the sensation of relaxation in a vacation destination.

My Table in September by Susan Rios

You can make your scones and jam the night before, and the next day, if the weather is warm,  put table and chairs in a scenic spot and gather cushions, tablecloth, tea pot, cups and food.  Gather nearby flowers or fruit and greenery for a cheerful centerpiece. The recipe for the oat scones is below.

Outdoor Tea With Scones and Jam

Oat Scones

In one bowl mix the dry ingredients:
1 cup quick-cooking oats
2 cups unbleached flour (not bread flour)
1/4 teaspoon real salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder  - Make your own baking powder.

In another bowl mix together til blended:
1 egg
1/2 cup water 
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted. (melt it by mixing it with the 1/2 cup warm water) (olive oil or butter may be used. If using butter, cut cold butter into small pieces and blend with a hand-held pastry blender or with your hands, into the flour mixture before adding the rest of the liquids)

Mix the two batches together, adding flour if it is too moist, and then pat it out on a piece of wax paper or on a cutting board, about an inch thick. Cut with a round cutter and place the rounds on a cookie sheet or baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Split open with a knife and apply butter and jam. Serve with hot tea.

This recipe might not work for everyone. It is a variation of "Ruby Tea Biscuits" from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook.

When you take tea at home you are able to use what you have and appreciate your tea cups. I got these at a Goodwill for under $5.00 each, and although they might be classified as fine china, I feel I can use them every day. When I clear the tea table to take it all back into the house, I use a small plastic tub lined with a dish towel, and put other dish towels around anything that might break.

Instructions for making blackberry tea:

Crush a half cup of blackberries in a bowl and use a mesh strainer to strain the berries. Pour the liquid into the teapot and add boiling water.
To make blackberry powder for a tea, put  blackberries on parchment paper, on a cookie sheet and bake at the lowest temperature on your oven for 3 hours or until the berries are dry.  Crush them in a little electric coffee grinder like this.     You will know when they are dry enough, when they can be crushed into a powder. Use a teaspoon per cup, in the cup indidually, or in the tea pot. This grinder works well to make almonds into almond flour, and oats into oat flour, flax seeds into powdered flax, which can also be used in scones.

Before making tea, put some warm water in your tea pot to warm it up and absorb the shock of hot water when you pour it in. Make sure your water has been brought to a boil, but do not continue boiling it; pour it in the teapot right away.  Some people prefer to place the tea bag on top of the hot water, rather than leave it in the bare tea pot and pour the water on it. It all depends on your own experience as to weather it works better one way or another.

The tea ceremony at home is not expensive, and it is not difficult. It provides you with some time to rest your mind and body, which is essential to logical thinking, good health, creativity, and perfect contentment.

This tea time was impromptu, but some times I will plan it a few weeks ahead and sew a special summer dress with a daisy or rose print, or make a tablecloth and a tea cozy to coordinate with the dishes and the foods.

"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. " Matthew 11:28

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Extended Summer

Garden Tea (Pinterest)

Outdoor Reception (Pinterest)

Above: Enjoying the scene outside the front door

This year's sheet tent (a day tent)

Home Made Bread: my hint: I mix the yeast granules in with
all the dry ingredients before adding warm liquids. (Check back for instructions.)

Some ingredients I use: real salt, light tasting olive oil, unbleached flour. It does not have to be bread flour, but unbleached is the tastiest, and it is usually a blend of wheat and barley, which gives the bread a pastry-like taste and texture.

I used coconut oil, instead of olive oil, in this bread. This brand comes from Costco and has a strong coconut flavor.

To make this bread, first pick a recipe. Sometimes there is one printed on the back of the bag of flour.
Next, with a slotted spoon, (a large spoon with holes in it) thoroughly mix the dry ingredients. I used:
5 cups unbleached flour
1 and a half tablespoons dry yeast
1 teaspoon real-salt

In another bowl, mix the oil and warm water. The water should be very warm. I used:
1 cup coconut oil
2 cups warm water
Allow the oil to dissolve in the water.

Mix two eggs with a small whisk and gradually blend them into the oil and water by pouring in a stream and mixing with the wire whisk at the same time. To the liquid ingredients, you may also add two tablespoons or one fourth cup of molasses, for a different flavor. Try also adding ground flax.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or sturdy mixing spoon, until the dough sticks together in a ball that is a little greasy. It is okay to add more liquid if you find the mixture too dry, but generally, it does not mix in as well, once the dry and wet ingredients have already been mixed.

If the bread dough has too much liquid and seems "soup-y" you can add flour, a little at a time, mixing it in after each addition, until the dough is manageable enough to knead it with your hands.  It should not be sticky, but elastic.

The dough will look like this after being mixed. Knead it about 12 times before forming it into loaves. Kneading is a method of mixing that requires folding and pressing with the heels of your hands, over and over until the dough is well mixed. A well-kneaded loaf will not show streaks of oil like the one above.The ball will be smooth and not lumpy when it is sufficiently kneaded. The more it is kneaded the finer the grain of a slice of bread will be.

Divide the dough into three balls and form three loaves by stretching the dough and tucking it  under the loaf, in a shape, as you see, above.

Brush one beaten egg over the top of the loaves.

Bake at 350 degrees for half an hour to 45 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown on the crust, and then turn the oven off. If you like, you can leave some of the loaves in the oven to soak up the rest of the heat.  If you use the coconut oil, the bread crust will be like pastry and taste as good.

Instead of applying an egg wash, you could brush coconut oil on the top of the loaves before baking.

Be sure to try different bread recipes until you discover one that works well for you. Every climate and home atmosphere is different, and this will have an effect on the end results of the bread-making. My recipe works well for me, but it might not work well for you, so just keep trying.

A Recent Trip to the Coast

We have been enjoying company from Australia and are quite busy, hence my lack of posts lately. All is well here and the days are still sunny.