Thursday, April 24, 2008

I've Been Dreaming of . . .

chocolate cupcakes. Yes, chocolate cupcakes. It started a few weeks ago. I woke up from a nap with a picture of the perfect chocolate cupcake in my head. I resisted the image for as long as I could, substituting raspberry sorbet or a piece of fruit, hoping the craving would go away. But it wouldn't. So last night I got out my mother's old cupcake tin and made my favorite chocolate cake recipe. Then I whipped up some chocolate buttercream (no crisco for this girl . . .) with really good Belgian chocolate. I poured a glass of icey cold milk and took a bite. . . I was transported back to childhood and went to bed with a smile on my face . . .

Here's the recipe, from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and lightly flour 2 8-inch round cake pans or one 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, bewating until smooth. Spread in the pans and bake about 20-25 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out on rack.

My tips: Use really good cocoa and good vanilla. That imitation vanilla will ruin anything it touches.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Another Road Trip to Saratoga Springs

My sister Barb and I took another road trip this past weekend. We combined a visit with Clara and a rug show in a little town just east of Saratoga Sprins called Victory Mills. I've posted some photos of the rug show on the blog we share -- Hallowed Hill Primitives -- if you'd like to take a look. There were many beautifully hooked rugs, but this one, called Too Good for the Doorway designed and hooked by Marian Bigelow was my favorite. The hooking technique is amazing, and I love the simplicity of the design -- the circles breaking the straight lines. It really is too nice to wipe your feet on.

But you can read about the rug show on the other blog. . . I want to tell you about dinner on Friday night. Clara invited several of her friends to join us, and, of course, they picked the best and most costly restaurant in town. But it was worth every penny -- obviously, since it is now Tuesday, and I'm still talking about Friday's dinner.

The restaurant is Max London's, right next store to Mrs. London's, the well-known bakery. It was very busy when we finally arrived (Clara had to blow dry her hair, you know. . . ) I asked the waiter for his recommendations and I took his advice on everything. I started with a mixed green salad with beets, walnuts and blue cheese that was perfectly dressed. He recommended the skate for my main course -- he said it was the best fish dish he had ever eaten -- and he was right! It was served with cavolo nero (I had to ask -- that's Italian for black kale), butter beans, and preserved lemon. I wanted to lick my plate when I was finished, and I found it very hard to share tastes with my fellow diners, that's how good it was.

The dessert menu didn't excite me -- I had to ask what Chocolate Maximus was (a flourless chocolate torte served with pistachio ice cream) and what's a budino? (Can you tell I let my subscription to Gourmet lapse?) Our waiter explained that budino is Italian for pudding, and that this black-bottomed butterscotch pudding was the best dessert he'd ever eaten . . . He was right about the fish, so I ordered the pudding. It came in an unassuming glass -- and my sister was thinking "You paid $8 for that?" I'd pay twice that to have one right now . . . It was layered chocolate and butterscotch pudding topped with an unsweetened whipped cream, soft caramel and fleur de sel. Yes, salt! It was AMAZING! I am going to try to replicate it soon . . . Or make the 5 1/2 drive to Saratoga so I can order it again . . Barb ordered a BLT pizza that looked great, and the Chocolate Maximus, which was also delicious. Clara ordered seared duck with wild mushroom risotto which was also lovely. (She learned to love duck when we went to Paris -- it was during the height of the Hoof and Mouth scare and she wouldn't touch beef . . .)

Now I have to go think of something to make for dinner tonight. . . I wish Max London lived next door. . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Webshow Closes Soon!

If you have not had a chance to look at The Eclectic Artisans first webshow, hurry on over there! It will be closing on Monday, April 21.

The good news is that we have scheduled 3 more for this year! Here are the dates:

Monday, June 10, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Eclectic Artisans' Web Show Starts Today!

The day has finally arrived! Here's my contribution to the web show -- a hooked adaptation of an antique backgammon board. It is hooked with 100% hand-dyed wool on primitive linen. I LOVE the way this rug turned out. I love it so much it is hanging in my studio so I can look at it everyday until someone adopts it.

To see my rug, and a host of other fabulous hand-crafted items, visit The Eclectic Artsans Web Show here.

Friday, April 4, 2008

It Won't Be Long . . .

til The Eclectic Artisan's first ever web show! Here's the date: Monday, April 7, 2008. And here's the list of artists:

Blue Jean Primitives
Chickadee Primitives
Country Rustic Primitives
Daughternature Folk Art
FootHill Primitives
Hallowed Hill Primitives
Honeysuckle Lane
Love The Prim Look
Make Me A Memory
Pear Tree Primitives
PieCake Primitives
Primitive Bettys
TFC Folk Art
Whendi's Bears
Wings & Paws Primitives

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Suzanne Tagged Me

Sweet Suzanne of Pear Tree Primitives, aka Painter of the Past, tagged me. I'm supposed to explain how my business got its name. . . . I love old paisleys, and long ago, when most hooked rugs were made with recycled materials, women would hook their worn paisleys into rugs. Old paisleys are a little harder to come by these days, and pretty expensive, but they add a real spark to an otherwise dull rug. So there you go. The Paisley Studio was born.

Underwater Photos

My daughter Clara took a bunch of underwater photos when we were in the Caribbean (wish I was there right now!) and I thought I'd share them with you.


School of fish

Petroglyphs just off the Reef Bay Trail

Parrot Fish

Cute little blue fish