Citrus Tonic and My Sketchbook

citrus tonic

I’ve been sick AND busy, and this is about the extent of my experimenting with recipes!  I made this in my Vitamix:  One whole orange and one whole lemon.  You can add honey or sugar for sweetness, but I like it tart and left it out.  I had such a sore throat and was congested, and this really hit the spot — kind of like an epic Vitamin C kick in the pants.

Then I decided to paint it:

oj

Recently, I’ve begun painting every day in my Moleskin sketchbook as a daily routine.  At first it was really hard, and I felt super self conscious about what I was painting, but I’ve finally found a certain level of comfort with it.  I don’t really care how they will turn out — it’s the process that counts — or rather, the practice– a kind of meditation.  Sometimes I am so tired and exhausted at the end of the day, especially when I was really sick, I only spend ten to fifteen minutes on them!

To read more about the development of this practice, go here.

To see my daily sketch paintings in the future — I plan to do continue to do one every day — right now they have been focussed on street life in Brooklyn — follow me on Instagram! :)

Citrus Tonic (really nice for when you’re feeling the cold bug taking over your face!)

One navel orange, peeled

One lemon, peeled and seeded

Honey, agave, sugar, or other sweetener if desired

1.  Process in blender and drink up!

 

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Filed under Art Related, Beverages

Best Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa Ever and Baked Tortilla Chips

chip in salsa

I have made this salsa exactly four times since I saw this recipe from What’s  Gaby Cooking a month ago!  I made it a bit easier for myself by omitting the cherry tomatoes and reducing the amounts of garlic, cilantro, chipotle, and lime juice.  In the past I have shied away from using chipotles, not because of the heat, but because it comes in a can full of them, and you only need one or two at the most!  I made  Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas for a party, and I still had extra chiles.  Luckily, I learned that they can be frozen for future use!  Brilliant!  The key thing is to line your ice cube tray with saran first, as I learned here.  The sauce stains and everything is really spicy!  I defrost and use a cube at a time (about one chile).

Doesn't it look like some strange fossil?

Doesn’t it look like some strange fossil or worse– preserved organ?!

Throw the ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times and there you have it — perfect salsa.  Use more chiles if you want it spicier.  The fire roasted tomatoes give it a really nice rich flavor.  I used a can from Trader Joes.

fire roasted tomatoes

Serve with bagged tortilla chips, or make your own!  I also put salsa on everything else:  Eggs, veggies — both raw and cooked…  I can literally eat it by itself, I love it so much!
baked tortilla chipsFire Roasted Tomato Salsa

1 14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes

1 chipotle chile (or more if you want it spicier– one is pretty spicy though!)

1/2 medium onion chopped

1/4 cup cilantro with stems

1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 lime, juiced

pinch of kosher salt to taste

1.  Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse about 10 times.

2.  Serve immediately with chips or store in the refrigerator for future use.

 

Baked Tortilla Chips

Corn tortillas

Non-stick spray

kosher salt

 

1.  Preheat oven to 4oo degrees F.

2.  Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray and set aside

3.  Stack up to four tortillas at a time and cut into 8 to 10 triangles (I like 10 for thinner chips)

4.  Lay in one layer on prepared baking sheet.  Spray with non-stick spray and sprinkle with salt.

5.  Bake for about 5 minutes, then watch closely and bake 1-3 minutes more until tan around the edges.  Transfer to a plate to cool and crisp up.

6. Repeat with remaining triangles until used up.

7.  Serve immediately.  Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.  If they lose a bit of crunch due to humidity, toast in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes before serving.

 

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Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

avocado ice cream

In the comments section of my last post, Trixie Pin of Almonds Are Mecurial mentioned an Avocado Ice Cream recipe found at Oatmeal with a Fork.   I’ve always heard of ice cream made out of avocado and I’ve been wanting to try it for some time.  I ended up basing my recipe on this Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip recipe at Detoxinista, which is actually very similar to the Oatmeal with a Fork one.  All three sites have fantastic healthy recipes and beautiful photography, so check them out!  (I’m definitely going to try the Mint and Chip one soon — love that it’s green naturally!)

I only had 1/2 an avocado to work with and I didn’t want to wait until my other two ripened before I made the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream.  I was woman obsessed.  The other 1/2 of avocado I had used to make a half portion of my Creamy Avocado Dip, which I was also craving because I had some homemade pita chips on hand….!  You see, I have both a sweet AND savory tooth!

First off, this is how I ripen my avocados — I throw them in a brown paper bag with bananas or plantains and fold the bag closed.  In a few days, they are perfect.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them.  The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

An unripened avocado and a ripe one, with an unripened plantain cozying up to them. The ripened bananas were cut up and frozen.

Avocados are amazing fruit. They are full of more than 25 essential nutrients, fiber, protein, good fat, and beneficial antioxidants!  Read more about the benefits here, if you are curious.   I am so glad I like to eat them now.  As a kid, I hated them.  I’m happy Jamie loves guacamole.  My mom eats avocados only one way:  Mashed with brown sugar and spread on her morning toast.  I guess it’s a Hawaiian thing….  This is a savory breakfast that sounds good, that I will try soon — an egg baked in half an avocado!

Recently, I heard on a podcast about a study done which showed that eating avocados tripled a woman’s chance of getting pregnant through IVF.  I’m not trying to get pregnant but found it intriguing.  There are several lists of fruits and vegetables that look like the human organs they are good for floating around the internet–not surprisingly avocados look like a woman’s womb!

For the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream I made, I threw into my Vitamix:  1/2 avocado, 2 tablespoons lite coconut milk from a can (you can use the extra in curry, or freeze in an ice cube tray like this for future smoothies), 2 tablespoons of agave syrup, 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil, 2 tablespoons of raw cacao powder (my new love), and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla.  If you have a whole avocado or two, just double or quadruple the amounts.  After blending to a creamy smooth consistency, I poured it into my ice cream maker and let it roll.  It only took about 5 minutes due to the small quantity — basically the time it took to clean the dishes!  You could also pour your mixture into ramekins and chill and eat as pudding. It is SOOO good!

So creamy!  I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

So creamy! I garnished with some dried coconut and toasted almonds

This ice cream is so creamy and rich.  I only eat one scoop at a time (not three) because it is very filling!  Out of curiosity I plugged in the nutritional values for the ingredients and came up with this for 1 oz. of Chocolate Avocado Ice Cream:  78 calories, 6g fat, 1.7 g sat. fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium, 8.6 g carbs, 2.1 g fiber, 5.6 g sugar, and .8 g protein.  Happily, my vegan and gluten free friends can enjoy it as well! :)

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Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 3.12.37 PM

In other news, I just want to give a shout out to people in the New Jersey area!  This Saturday (September 20), I will be at the 2014 Princeton Children’s Book Festival signing books with my husband, Denis (and author of Hush Little Monster), and Anne Rockwell (author of numerous books, including  Truck Stop). We are so fortunate to be included in such an amazing gathering of authors and illustrators.  Favorites, such as Brian Floca (2014 Caldecott Winner), Brian Lies, David Kirk, Sophie Blackall, Fiona Robinson, Peter Brown, Pseudonymous Bosch (one of Jamie’s favorites), Jon Scieska, Mary Rose Wood, and a whole boatload of others will be there.  Check out the list here.  If you do make it out, be sure to stop by our table and say “hello”!

Chocolate Coconut Avocado Ice Cream

1 ripe avocado, halved, pit removed

1/4 cup lite coconut milk from a can

1/4 cup agave syrup

 1 tablespoon coconut oil (in liquid form)

1/4 cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth and creamy.

2.  Pour into an ice cream make and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.  Alternatively, pour into a metal bowl and put in freezer and stir every 15 minutes until thick and creamy.

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Filed under Books, Desserts, Vegan, Vegetarian

Cacao “Tofutti”

tofutti 4

Awhile ago, I had a somewhat high blood sugar score on a test.  It wasn’t a fasting test or anything, so I don’t know how accurate it was, but in the past year, it was higher than my last one, and that one was higher than the one before that. Diabetes runs in my family, and as I get older, I find that I’m more sensitive to sugar (and caffeine and alcohol!)  I also was borderline for gestational diabetes when I was pregnant.  For all these reasons, I decided to do an experiment over the last couple of months and greatly reduce my sugar intake.  I haven’t cut it out completely, and I occasionally have dried fruit (but not much) and bananas, and all the other high glycemic index fruits (apples, watermelon, etc.)  But I have cut it out A LOTI’ve since realized that I used to eat a lot of sugar — I have such a sweet tooth.  But if I have a taste of something now that’s high in sugar (the other day I sampled a bite of a gluten free blueberry muffin sample at Trader Joe’s and had to throw the rest away), it tastes TOO sweet.  I do sweeten my coffee with stevia and I chew sugar free gum, so I haven’t shunned all sweet things though.  I’m just trying to do things in moderation.  I find I need less sweetener in my coffee now than I did before though.  I will probably have another blood test in a week or two, so it will be interesting to see if my levels have been affected by the change in my diet over the last three months or so.

A new moniker that keeps popping up in health news these days is “Super Food” — have you noticed?  I haven’t been paying that much attention, because I tend to eat a lot of them anyway:  green leafy vegetables like kale, blueberries, oats, broccoli, walnuts, salmon, spinach, chia seeds, avocados, coconut oil, eggs, etc. I haven’t gone out of my way to sample some of the more exotic super foods, like acai berry, camu camu, maca, lacuma, spirulina, or even wheat grass.  But I keep hearing about raw cacao powder — cacao is the portion in chocolate that has all the antioxidants and is rich in minerals.  I’ve even read that it helps to lower insulin resistance.  It appeals to me because I love chocolate, and since I have stopped eating a lot of sugar, I find I even love eating unsweetened chocolate (to my son’s horror).  I decided to buy a bag at our local health food store and try it out for myself.  It definitely tastes “more chocolatey” than regular unsweetened cocoa.

cacao

I’ve been eating sugar free Chocolate pudding occasionally, but I’ve been finding it also is too sweet even when I add unsweetened cocoa powder to it.  And I’m not that big of fan of it containing aspartame.  So I decided to try my hand at a tofu based pudding.  And then I decided: Hey let’s take it a step further and try throwing it in the ice cream maker. :)

The result was really great! It is very easy to make as well.  You just process a package of Silken soft tofu, cocoa powder, agave syrup (or other sweetener), and some vanilla in a food processor and then churn in an ice cream maker for about 10-15 minutes (it is much faster than making regular ice cream, perhaps because of the low fat content).  Let it harden in the freezer.  The longer the tofu melds with the other flavors, the better it tastes.  There you have it — dairy free, chocolate tofu ice cream that is high in anti-oxidants and low in calories! :)  Note, my batch is not as sweet as the kind you buy in the store, but I prefer it that way.  If you want a sweeter version add more sweetener or make with 2/3 cup chocolate chips melted with 1 tablespoon water — I have made it this way too in the past before my sugar concerns, and it is very delicious!

tofutti 1

Chocolate “Tofutti”

1 block of Silken soft tofu

1/4 cup agave syrup or other sweetener

1/4 cup raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1.  Process all ingredients in a food processor until silky smooth, stopping to scrape down edges midway through.

2.  Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions for about 10-15 minutes.

I had forgotten that I awhile back I did this submission for Tofu 3 Ways, for the awesome site, They Draw and Cook.  The Tofu Mousse recipe in the illustration is similar — but not sugar free.  Still, this would be good also when churned frozen in an ice cream maker!

Tofu_melissaiwai72b

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DIY Terrariums

jamie's terrarium

I have a recipe today for you, but it’s not of the edible variety!  (sorry)  I wanted to share it with you all though, because it was loads of fun to create, and it makes a great project to do with the kiddos if you have them.

First off, the inspiration:

Lilla Roger’s Round one Global Talent Search (GTS) assignment — Create wall art related to terrariums with some text in the final piece. I just love her assignments.  They are very open ended yet structured enough to push me to create something I normally would never, ever create.  That’s why I decided to do it even though I never thought I would make it through to the next round.  You have to understand — the GTS is intense!  I had only read about it in blogs last year, and I would never have even entered had I not experienced the joy of the Bootcamp!  In the end, 999 people entered and only 50 made the cut! I didn’t, but it was a great experience.  A HUGE congratulations to the people who did make it though!  Looking forward to seeing what you came up with in the following round!  Go here to view their artwork  There are a lot of yummy pieces there!  But honestly, I saw SO many amazing, beautiful pieces in the private forum that I loved and thought for sure would make it that didn’t.  There is a lot of great art out there! It was so inspiring to see all the different creations and interpretations of the assignment.  Each one was truly unique.

When I began researching terrariums for my assignment, I was instantly fascinated by all the different types.  I love learning how things are made, and I found a number of sites that had tutorials.  We had some extra glass vases lying around, and I had just seen these adorable mini succulents in the plant store around the corner, so I thought:  We have to make some!

Jamie and I spent one sunny Saturday afternoon shopping for the ingredients (dad was off playing jazz piano with our friend who plays the bass guitar).  This is what we came back with:

ingredients

Actually, we had the glass vases and rocks at home.  We bought the mini succulents, cactus potting soil, and activated charcoal (from a pet store).  The charcoal is not required for a succulent terrarium — I’ve seen tutorials where it was included and where it wasn’t.  But we got it because it helps to drain the water, and keep smells to a minimum.  I didn’t want to take any chances with over watering our little plants.

Then we began layering:

soil and rocks

First we put rocks at the bottom, then some charcoal (it is the black bits in the photo above the white rocks), then some potting soil.

putting in rocks

Then we planted some plants and covered the soil with more rocks.  That’s it!  The whole thing took about 5 minutes.  Jamie added some Go Gos to inhabit the terrarium and keep guard.

jamie's terrariumI planted two more, and here is the trio (the little guy in the pot was too large to fit in a glass one!):

all three terrariums

It makes our window sill so much nicer!

plants on sill

 

Here is my final (painted) terrarium!  Since there was an elephant living inside, I decided to fill his space with lots of moist plants and give him a few friends to keep him company. :)

MELISSA_IWAI_GTS14A1_CULTIVATEJOY

 

 

DIY Terrarium (Open Air Succulent Type)

Some large mouthed vases or glasses

Rocks

Activated Charcoal

Potting soil for succulents

Succulent plants

Any mini figure or object you’d like for decoration

1.  Wash glasses and dry.

2.  Fill bottom inch with rocks.

3.  Add about another 1- 2 inches of charcoal

4.  Add potting soil.

5.  Plant succulents starting with the biggest first.

6.  Cover soil with rocks.

7.  Add mini objects if you’d like to live in the environment.

 

 

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Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Bacon and Shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp

Cauliflower fried rice with bacon and shrimp


Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast on super foods, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that cauliflower is one of them.  I love it and eat it all the time.  So I was happy to hear that there are so many benefits to incorporating this lovely vegetable into one’s diet.

The other night, I made a huge batch of Cauliflower Fried Rice for myself (Denis and Jamie don’t eat cauliflower… :(   They don’t know what they are missing!).

I had thought I had already done a fried rice post here, but it turns out I haven’t!  Fried rice is a favorite in our household.  I don’t make it the traditional way — I always add bacon.  We love the smoky flavor it imparts.  And you don’t have to use as much oil — everything gets mostly cooked in the bacon fat.  I add a bit of water later on and steam/braise the fried rice until everything comes together.  Then I season it all with sesame oil (a must!) and soy sauce.  When the kitchen begins to smell like smoky bacon and nutty sesame oil, people will come wandering in, mouths watering.

Since I didn’t feel like eating a ton of rice, and because there wasn’t enough anyway, I made mine with cauliflower rice recently.  It was really delicious and much lighter, but filled with as much flavor.  This is a perfect alternative for people who are reducing their starch intake.  Half a head of cauliflower makes a lot of “rice”!  You can eat tons of it with abandon, knowing you are getting a ton of nutrients, fiber, and protein.

cauliflower fried rice 3

Cauliflower Fried Rice

1/2 head of cauliflower

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 medium onion, diced

2 slices of bacon

2 sprigs of green onion, sliced finely

2 cups of veggies (I used zucchini, steamed broccoli, and frozen corn and peas)

1 cup of shrimp (deveined and cleaned), or cooked chicken, ham, cubed tofu, or other protein of choice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

water

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1.  Process cauliflower in a food processor until it has the consistency of rice.  Set aside.

2.  Cook egg in a small skillet on stove.  Remove to cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

3.  Cut bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears.  Heat a large cast iron skillet or non-stick pan.  Add bacon.

4.  When a bit of fat has rendered from the bacon, add the chopped onion.  Saute until almost translucent.  Add other vegetables and meat if you are using it.  When softened, add cauliflower.  Drizzle with sesame oil. If pan seems dry, add a bit of water and cover pan with a lid.  Turn down low and braise until vegetables are cooked to your liking.

5.  Add soy sauce, chopped egg, and scallions.  Stir to incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Makes 2-4 servings.

 

Note:  You can also use about 2-3 cups of leftover cooked rice in place of the cauliflower (or a combination!) to make regular fried rice.

My regular fried rice with bacon

My regular fried rice with bacon

 

 

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Green Recipe Fail and Success: Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

My attempt at a green dosa

My attempt at a green dosa

I’m sharing with you a recipe (semi) fail today.  Sometimes life is not perfect.

I ate my first dosa from Dosa Royale eaten at the Brooklyn Smorgasburg.  I wish I had a photo to show it — it was huge and delicious!   A dosa is a savory crepe made from a fermented batter of rice flour and black lentils.  I was inspired to try making a savory zucchini one at home

zucchini batter

Zucchini batter

I don’t have a crepe pan — but that shouldn’t be the cause of my fail because I’ve made many crepes on a regular non-stick skillet.  Bu this time, nothing stayed together when I tried to flip it. :(   Maybe I need a new skillet?  Or perhaps there wasn’t enough oil?   Wanting the salvage the remaining batter, I decided to try baking it in the toaster oven.  I had better luck with this, but who bakes a crepe!?  Anyway, here is the result.  It is crepe-like and similar to the dosa I had, but with a nice tea green shade:

zucchini crepe

I used it to make a breakfast burrito (with beans, egg, cheese, salsa, and onions).  The flavor is wonderful, even though it is not very “pretty”.

burrito

These days, I am so busy with my artwork, I don’t have as much time to noodle around experimenting in the kitchen, but it is a nice way to procrastinate!  For breakfast, I’m sticking with my perfected Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream.  It is similar to my Green Coconut Chocolate Spinach Smoothie, but instead of psyllium husk (I know, I’m losing out on the extra fiber…!), I use a pinch of xanthum gum which I picked up at the health food store.  It gives it a really nice smooth and creamy ice cream feel.

AH... dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

AH… dessert for breakfast! I garnish it with toasted unsweetened coconut and sliced almonds and chia seeds.

This is the perfect light breakfast on a hot summer day.  If you can find xanthum gum, try it out — a little goes a lo..o.o…o..ng way!

 

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In other news, my son, Jamie and his friend have recently started blogging.  For a peek at what ten year old boys and girls are writing, check out their blogs at:

http://storiesonclouds.wordpress.com/ and his friend, P’s http://hefordandmelly.wordpress.com/ blogs.  Both are creative writing blogs. It is pretty obvious which one is written by the boy and which is written by the girl!

Perfect Green Coconut Chocolate Protein Ice Cream

2-3 ice cubes

1/4 frozen banana (I slice them and freeze, so this is about 4 slices)

1 cube of frozen coconut milk (or 2 tablespoons)

About 1/2 cup frozen fruit — I use blueberries and strawberries often

1 pinch of xanthum gum

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

a little less than 1/4 cup milk

teaspoon of toasted coconut and almond for garnish (optional)

1.  Crush ice cubes and coconut milk in blender.

2.  Pour in remaining ingredients and blend. Use a tamper to press everything down — I use a Vitamix.  If you don’t have a tamper, I would just keep stirring it every now and then by hand to remove clumps, and blend again.

3.  Pour into a  bowl and top with crunchy toasted coconut and almond topping if you desire!

Here is my semi-fail recipe if you are interested — still needs work!

Zucchini “Dosa”

1 medium sized zucchini

1 egg

2 tablespoons pancake mix (I used TJ’s multigrain)

1 tablespoons grated parmesan

salt to taste

about 2 tablespoons water to thin batter

non-stick spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut eight  5 x 5 inch squares out of parchment paper and lay four of them on top on baking sheet.  Spray paper with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2.  Blend ingredients in a blender.

3.   Spoon batter onto parchment and spread into circles or squares.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Cover each square with paper then flip pancake so that the cooked side is down.  Bake for another 5-7 minutes until pancake is done.  Cool and store in refrigerator or eat immediately.

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Kahlua Egg Cream


kahlua egg cream top


Last summer we got a Soda Stream, and we’ve been addicted to it ever since.  I don’t know if we save money with it necessarily (we have to buy the cartridges  of CO2 and we drink waaay more soda water than before we had the Soda Stream).  But it is better for the environment because we  never buy bottled drinks anymore (unless traveling).

We have a collection of syrups that we have amassed, and it is fun to mix flavors and experiment. Denis always drinks Cola Free, which tastes like Coke Zero.  Jamie likes Root Beer, and my favorite is Diet Cream Soda.  I like being able to sweeten the water to my own taste, which is usually not as sweet as canned soda.  The Cream Soda flavor pairs well with a dash of fruit juice.  Recently, I’ve been drinking it with about a tablespoon of tart cherry juice.  With apple juice, it tastes just like Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider.

Another fun aspect of having soda water around is being able to make the quintessential Brooklyn beverage, the egg cream, at home!  An egg cream, as you might know, does not have eggs in it at all- – just syrup, milk, and soda water.  It’s a retro fountain drink, and since you have to drink it immediately after the soda water is added — it’s not something that can be bottled.

Even Jamie has mastered the art of making a good egg cream.  For a traditional Brooklyn one, you must use U-Bet’s!  But if you can’t get your hands on a bottle, any chocolate syrup would work.

syrup

The next important factor:  You must use a new bottle of sparkling water/seltzer/club soda or a freshly made bottle of Soda Stream soda water!  The carbonation is key to creating a really good egg cream head.

egg cream 2

To make one, pour syrup into a tall glass, add milk, then the soda water.  Stir to combine and serve or drink immediately!  The lovely head goes down pretty rapidly.

As you might know, I LOVE Kahlua and I like finding ways to use it in recipes.

 

dusted

Check out my Kahlua Tiramisu here.

I decided to try my hand at a Kahlua Egg Cream.  You could make this with Chocolate Syrup if you wanted, but I wanted a vanilla one, so I used Soda Stream Diet Cream Soda syrup.  It was heavenly!

kahlua egg cream top

Last month the  MATS Bootcamp class I’ve been loving for the past five months, ended.  I was kind of sad to finish, because being in the class was such a great experience.  It was so inspiring, and I met so many other great artists taking the class.  My work has greatly improved in the process as well — it’s helped me to approach it differently and really focus on creating a lot more personal pieces for myself.  I will be taking more of Lilla Roger’s classes in the future though, so that is something to look forward to!

The theme for our last assignment was our favorite beverage.  Of course I had to do a piece on soda water!  Here’s my version inspired by vintage beverage ads:

soda water final copy

Traditional Egg Cream

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (preferably U-Bets)

about 1/2 cup milk

Soda water

1.  Add syrup to tall glass.  Add milk.  Slowly add soda water making sure the head comes to the top (depending on how strong your carbonation is will determine the speed at which it rises).  Stir to combine syrup.

2.  Drink or serve immediately.

Vanilla Kahlua Egg Cream

2 teaspoons cream soda flavored syrup

2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon Kahlua

1/3 cup milk

Soda water

1.  Add syrup to tall glass.  Add Kahlua, then milk.  Slowly add soda water making sure the head comes to the top (depending on how strong your carbonation is will determine the speed at which it rises).  Stir to combine syrup.

2.  Drink or serve immediately.

 

 

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California Dreamin’

June and me

June and me

It’s been so long since I’ve posted, I feel like I’ve almost forgotten how!  In the past few weeks, I’ve had a ton of deadlines and events, and in June, we made a visit to California.  It was my 30th high school reunion, and we had a book signing in my home town of Lompoc on the Central Coast.  Life has been a whirlwind and now I am catching up!

Air travel and the time difference makes life so surreal… It was hard to believe that the same day we left Brooklyn, we later found ourselves driving around in sunny Los Angeles in a rented car.   After a lunch of the requisite In-n-Out burgers (which are nowhere to be found in New York),   we hopped on the 405 and headed north to Lompoc.  On the way there,we made a quick visit to a Barnes and Noble store in Westlake Village where we met June Sobel, the author of B is for Bulldozer, and the two of us signed books there.  I illustrated this book over ten years ago, and June’s son, to whom the book is dedicated and was inspired by, just graduate from Stanford this summer!  We had just met in person finally this year in NYC, and it was great to see her again. :)

Then, the next thing we knew, we were in beautiful Santa Barbara at the wonderful Chaucer’s Bookstore where I got to sign more books!

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

Jamie and me with Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

It was so great to finally make it to Lompoc after 15 hours of non-stop traveling!

I’m totally dating myself when I say it was my 30th reunion, but honestly it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! Lol.  Some of my classmates whom I haven’t seen in 30 years were in town and came to a book signing we had at The Bookstore–a wonderful independent book store in Lompoc.  I don’t think we’ve changed THAT much.  It was so great to see these lovely women again after so many years!

sarah me barbie karen

 

bookstore karie, donna, lisa

 

There were several reunion events during the weekend.  What fun it was to see everyone again and reconnect.  It was  kind of weird to talk to people who remembered things that happened that were shared experiences that had no recollection about…!  And so amazing to realize that we had all watched each other grow up and now here we were in the present so enmeshed in our respective adult lives and identities!  It was also nice to be able to introduce Denis to everyone and meet my classmates’ significant others and tie the two worlds (past and present) together.

While in Lompoc, we stayed with my mom, of course.  I hope I have her energy when I’m 84….

My mom tree trimming on her property.

My mom tree trimming on her property.

The whole time we were there, I think every meal I ate except for maybe one was Mexican!  I so miss the food I grew up with, and here in our part of Brooklyn, great, cheap Mexican food is not to be had….  My mom made her yummy enchiladas (I did a post on it here and again here!), and I literally ate a burrito I got in town and brought home (it was as big as my head) for about five meals.  lol.

For breakfast, my mom introduced us to a delicious and so so easy to make Mexican Migas that a friend taught her to make recently.  Basically it is scrambled eggs with salsa and leftover cut up corn tortilla.  It is SO good!  Total comfort food.

You start by frying the corn tortilla in a bit of oil:

migas 1

Then you add beaten eggs:

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks...

Note the Japanese influence of cooking with wooden chopsticks…

Then you add salsa:

migas 2

Serve and eat!

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

With refried beans, crema, and chopped scallions

I’ve seen other migas recipes made by sauteing onion and pepper first, but my mom’s recipe is easier– you could do it in your sleep – or at least before your first cup of tea or coffee!

I think it also tasted so good because my mom made it for me. :)

Hope you enjoy it!

me jamie mom in lompoc

Mexican Migas

2 corn tortillas

1 teaspoon oil

2 eggs, beaten

about 1/4 cup salsa or more to taste

1.  Cut up corn tortillas.  Heat oil in skillet.  Saute tortillas until soft.

2.  Add beaten eggs to skillet and stir. Cook until no longer translucent.  Stir in salsa and cook until heated through.

3.  Serve with shredded cheese, chopped onions, beans, sour cream if you wish.

Makes one to two servings.

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Eggs

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

zucchini crepe up close

There were so many times I wanted to write a post in the last few weeks — about my experience at Surtex, my mom’s visit and our subsequent travels to Maryland to honor the life of her long time partner, Tom… Book Expo America, a fun class I taught to 34 families in Brooklyn recently, new art pieces, several newfood concoctions I’ve been experimenting with… Now it is weeks later, and I’m feeling very overwhelmed and bad that I never posted a thing! Still struggling with meeting several major deadlines which takes precedence over everything.
But it’s all been good –lots of wonderful things happening! If you’re interested in my Surtex experience, I wrote about it here.

Let me just leave you with this quick recipe of an easy Zucchini Pseudo Crepe. It is a wonderful way to get more veggies into your diet and easier to make than a regular crepe. I like to eat them with Mexican food in place of tortillas, with my breakfast eggs, and just as a nice vegetable side. They go well with a lot of things! This recipe makes 3, which I store in the refrigerator and use whenever needed. Sometimes I eat half at a time.

zucchini crepe with egg

Zucchini Pseudo Crepe

About 3 cups of shredded zucchini
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup multigrain pancake mix
2-3 tablespoons liquid egg whites or one egg white
kosher salt to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Line a large plate with parchment paper. Spread 1/3 of mixture on top in a thin circle.
3. Microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.
4. Peel off paper and eat or store for future use.  Repeat with more paper and more batter twice.

Makes 3 large crepes

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Filed under Uncategorized, Vegetables, Vegetarian