Titanic failure… or success

Whew… 7 courses, 10 guests, so many hours… I must say it went off better than I anticipated. Most importantly, I think everyone had a wonderful and memorable evening. After a very tough 2014, I realized it is “later than you think” and I’m trying to realize each day’s blessings and create memories with family and friends. A fine example… my friend (lizard friend) Eddie IV, one day you are king of the flower pot… catching moths and bugs every night by the breakfast nook window and growing back your tail…that some awful dog named Beau removed, and the next day your friends (me) are lamenting your demise due to the attack by the aforementioned BAD DOG… Beau. Eddie loved life!  Anyway… creating events and enjoying each day is so very important!

Back to the dinner

The Menu

First Course
Oysters a la Russe • canapes a’l’amiral

Second Course
Consomme Olga

Third Course
poached salmon with mousseline sauce

Fourth Course
filet mignon lili • potatoes anna • pea puree

Fifth Course
punch romaine

Sixth Course
asparagus salad with Dijon vinaigrette

Seventh Course
ice cream • chocolate dipped éclairs

My favorite course was the cold poached salmon with mousseline sauce. I usually eat my salmon hot off the grill or out of the oven. Poaching it in a court bouillon (lightly flavored white wine and vegetable stock) kept the delicate flavor and texture of the salmon. I used a Scottish Salmon from Norway as opposed to Alaskan Salmon. It was beautiful…as you will see. The mousseline sauce is a hollandaise with whipping cream added before serving. Another favorite course was the asparagus salad, also served cold with a vinagrette. I kept this course in the meal because my husband Jay loves asparagus. It was served after the beef filet. Blanching the asparagus and then chilling it kept all the great flavor.

I owe much of the success of this event to my son Jay. He worked alongside me all day on Saturday as my sous chef. I always tease him when he is in the kitchen, about how long it takes him to do tasks. He is a perfectionist and thinks recipes should be followed exactly… I don’t. He peeled vegetables, piped the pastry cream into the eclairs, researched the proper table setting and folded napkins, all in a short span of time!  He also helped me plate each course throughout the evening… and because he is so intrigued by facts and history, he now knows much more about the Titanic and the food on the Titanic than I do.

My husband Jay did a little research about the champagne served on the Titanic and we toasted the evening with  Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top Champagne. Each of our couples brought a wine pairing for their assigned course and really outdid themselves. We sampled some wonderful wines that enhanced the meal.

It was definitely a night to remember! If you are considering serving the Titanic dinner… remember to enjoy all the preparations and focus the memories you are creating. Bon Appetit!

p.s. take lots of pictures… my biggest regret is forgetting to take pictures of each course. Next time :) To answer my own question, I would definitely say the evening was a success.

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A Meal of Titanic Proportions

On Saturday, April 18th… 103 years and 1 day after the RMS Titanic tragically sank after colliding with an iceberg on her maiden voyage destined for New York City, I am cooking a 7 course menu from the last meal served in the 1st Class Dining Room, for 10 people. This will be the inaugural meal for the new Sanderling Drive Dinner Party Group. On many, many occasions my husband Jay has requested this meal… My usual response is, “are you crazy”, “it would be too much work”, “NO”. When one of my neighbors mentioned starting this plan to share hosting a dinner with some of our neighbors, the Titanic meal came to mind and I offered to be the first hostess. So…today is Thursday, yesterday I cooked my beef stock for 7 hours and today I will be making the court bouillon to poach the salmon in along with a long list of other tasks to accomplish today. I LOVE cooking! This will be a daunting challenge for even a seasoned chef. It will not be a perfect meal because there are always things to improve on. I have scaled back the menu from 10 courses to 7…since I don’t have a sous chef and I would like to enjoy dining with my guests. Each couple attending is bring a wine to pair with their assigned course and a champagne toast will kick off the evening. If you would like to take on this task, no fear… there are lots of places to look online for assistance! The recipes are available along with suggestions on how to break down all the tasks into an organized, hopefully efficient plan. I’m depending heavily on this. You can look at http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/04/05/game-plan-for-hosting-a-1st-class-titanic-tribute-dinner/ , and I am also relying on a great blog: http://www.thedragonskitchen.com/2012/04/complete-first-class-titanic-menu.html and… I did get a used copy of “Last Dinner on the Titanic” it is a great resource for all things Titanic. It even has that timetable I mentioned, and most likely I am behind schedule. We will have period music playing and even though my home most definitely not super fancy… I am polishing my silverware and have put all 4 leaves into my dining table. We mailed out the boarding passes to our guests and cleaned some thing that only usually get attention during the holiday :).  I am hoping that after Saturday evening the only mention by my husband about the Titanic Last Dinner will be, “that was great”. One  good thing… I can finally use the lovely chef’s toque that my friend Suzanne bought me for Christmas!

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     more pictures and updates to follow.

underwater, listen to your heart

Many years ago… before I painted things like turtles and fish, coral reefs and octopus, I was primarily painting the tropical landscape. I had a commission to paint a piece with bananas and big tropical foliage. I started the piece as I start most any painting… with big areas of color, followed by more layers of overlapping color. I was working at a studio on the piece when a friend strolled by and innocently stated that the big shape in the middle “looked like a turtle”. “It’s going to be pink bananas”, I replied. I took the piece home and leaned against a wall to observe for the next few days until I could get back to it, but every time I looked at it, all I could see was that big turtle shape. I planned to continue on painting it as bananas, but in an attempt to be a more intuitive artist, I started the pink bananas on another canvas and finished the original piece as the turtle it was meant to be :)
I’ve learned to listen to my heart a little more… and voices, creative voices of my own and those of my friends, now and then.

I paint turtles… thank goodness. The ocean is a mighty mysterious place. Just as in every other part of creation, it’s design is amazingly beautiful and mesmerizing. I’m working on two commissions of underwater scenes right now at my studio and thought I would share some of the progress.

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Crunch Time

November is always a busy month for art show preparation… then comes December when Christmas is the focus of my time and energy. January means organization, creative focus, super productivity, sort of… and always that feeling that “I’ve got all month to get caught up on lots of artwork that needs finishing.” I have absolutely  been working steadily since the new year began, and loving being back in my studio… but I’m still trying to get a few pieces ready for this weekend. I’ll be in IMAGES, a festival of the Arts in New Smyrna Beach this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Booth 21). It is always a really nice show with wonderful patrons and visitors. If you decide to come, stop by and say hello.  I will (if progress continues as planned) have a new LARGE mixed-media piece to debut. It is a diptych (2 panels) over 6 feet long of an underwater reef with 3 turtles, a shark, jellyfish and lots of little fishes. I am using both hand-painted paper collage and acrylic paint on textured cradled wood panels. Don’t forget… BOOTH 21

Work in Progress:

turtles, sharks, and jellyfish

It’s January the 22nd and I am sitting on my back porch without a sweater or jacket. I love Florida living, except for mosquitos. I had a great time this week in the studio; in addition to just enjoying being down there, it was a fairly productive week.
I am working on several pieces inspired by Florida living. If you live in Florida, or are moving to Florida, the absolutely best feature is of course the ocean. I have lived for short periods in the interior parts… what was I thinking? There is nothing like waking up to pelicans flying overhead, ocean breezes and seashores.
My newest mixed-media work features underwater reefs and sea creatures… turtles, sharks and jellyfish created with bits of my hand-painted paper collaged onto painted boards with lots of surprising textures. Here are a few pictures of a big piece in progress.

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It’s Just Like Riding A Bike

It’s great…wonderful and exciting to be back at the studio. I have finally moved all the art materials that my family brought home for me when I was laid up with my broken leg, back down to my studio. I am also managing to make it down there regularly and get busy working… I know it’s art and I love making art and it may not seem like “work”… but while I could happily paint, collage, collect stuff, read… dream 24-7,  to make it each day’s priority is work. Planning around other commitments, responsibilities and chores, takes lots of creative strategizing :) My 2015 goal is to be super creative and productive.
I am trying my best to “go with the flow” and find that I’m happiest with the pieces where I trust my instincts and enjoy the process of art-making. Several of the pieces “on the table”, or easel, depending on the size of the piece, are moving toward completion and I’m hoping to have them at my next show in a few weeks.

This week I realized I was running low on the painted papers I collage with… so, I took a day and painted paper. It’s a part of my process that I LOVE. A large artwork that is primarily collage, requires a lot of paper inspiration. One portion of a painted paper can also lead to a brand new artwork…

Here are some of this week’s work:

The Process is Magical

Oh those “lazy days of summer”… they disappeared years ago; It was a very long summer though, broken leg and all.  I have spent much more time making art this summer than usual, due to my limited mobility. I am so excited to be focusing on combining many of the processes I have worked with over the last 5 or 6 years. I prefer using acrylic paint because it allows for a more intuitive approach to the artwork, due to it’s fast drying time. I love printmaking, and paper adds a tactile element to my art. I also love wax… it’s wonderfully fragrant and can enhance the mood of a piece. My current path is leading to a merging of those mediums. I “print” the paper with design using stamps, stencils and found items, then use my painted or printed paper to create the composition and finally finish the piece with acrylic glazes and paint and sometimes a layer of beeswax to tie it all together. The very best thing about this is that I LOVE each step of the complicated process. The finished pieces have wonderful depth, texture and the design draws the viewer to stop and look closer… I hope.  Connecting with the viewer is always my end goal.

The subjects of these new works are varied. Along with adding to my series of strong, confident and feminine women and girls, I re-visit my love of the tropical landscape and the ocean. The latest large pieces combine the figurative work with the landscape. The time involved in completing new pieces is considerably longer than just using paint, but the process is magical for me. It’s like taking a puzzle or image that has not been fully imagined, deconstructing it and piecing it back together with bits of design painted on paper. I love solving problems… and there are many opportunities for that, throughout the process.

Moving forward in an unfamiliar direction is not always easy. It can be scary to present “new work” to a host of critics;  we artists are fragile at times.  Most artists understand that change is inevitable… it’s tied to creativity. All the more reason to enjoy the journey, and the challenges that expose those creative opportunities.

Sitting it Out This Summer

Summer is my favorite season, and strangely enough I love Florida summers. Yes… it gets too hot and humid to breathe some days, but that is what the ocean, the springs and swimming pools are for. This summer has been a unique experience for me. I broke my leg at the end of May and I am still non-weight bearing now in mid August. Other than almost daily swimming pool therapy, I am sitting inside this summer.

After three trips down to my studio to pack up art supplies and bring them back to my house, I am working. The first 6 weeks home recovering, I built houses for the HOME show exhibit I organized for Fifth Avenue Art Gallery. See More About HOME. I built beach houses and bird homes and a mountain cabin diorama… oh, and a chicken house. Now that all the “building” is over, I am back to painting papers and making mixed-media collages.

 

It’s hard to believe that soon… very soon, the fall art show circuit gets into full gear. I only do a few shows in the Fall… especially this year, but lots of new work is needed!  At my studio I have these great tall legged tables that I work at so I can move around to different works in progress. Here, at home I have had to adjust to worker smaller, better planning and rotating artwork and supplies. It’s nice to be home with my pups, Beau and Sweet Pea… they love everything I do :)

Today, just back from physical therapy… I am working with my gelli plates to paint some new papers for collaging with. One benefit to not being able to get out much is that the typical distractions of life are fewer and there is more time to work.

A Very Big THANK-YOU, to all my family and friends who have cared for me in so many amazing ways this summer!

The Big Easy

French quarter

Heading home from another great trip to NOLA. I have seen several signs around town that say: “New Orleans, is the most foreign city in the United States”. I haven’t been to all the cities in the US, but New Orleans is definitely different in an amazing way; the food alone is worth the trip. Food, “flavor”, art, history, architecture, and wonderful hospitality. New Orleans is like a touch of Paris with a 1 1/2 hour flight. We had great food… I think I said that… lunch at Commander’s Palace is a must-do, oysters, oysters, oysters everywhere you go. We had an oyster Rockefeller po-boy at Tableau that was amazing. Our best dinner was at Restaurant August… really amazing.

We started with their potato crisp and P&J oysters appetizer; lightly dusted with cornmeal and Parmesan and served with their house pickled vegetables. The entrees were gulf snapper in court bouillon and breaded “trout Pontchartrain” shrimp, blue crab, and wild mushrooms. We booked an early afternoon flight home to take advantage of one more meal of oysters… char-grilled oysters and an oyster po-boy at the ACME Oyster House; I don’t think you can beat the ACME for oysters! We will be back next year, trying new places and re-visiting our favorites.
Thanks New Orleans for always delivering a great time!