Monday, March 31, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore and Roasted Kale

It would be great if, at some point, I started forming a repertoire of my attempted meals. Culinary adventures take much longer to complete than an old standby. (It seems that I can multiply any given cooking time by at least 1.5 for the first attempt.) My first chicken cacciatore was no exception.

It was very much worth the effort - I loved it. I used Giada's recipe, but was torn between that an another that involved roasting red peppers myself. I chose the simpler recipe, of course. I will make this meal again, but need to find a way to cut the fat while keeping the wonderful flavor.

My friend, Meira, recently came across a recipe for oven-roasted kale. "Kale?" I said, "As in the frilly annoying garnish that ends up on your plate at, say, Friendly's?" It was, indeed, this same kale and she was raving about its deliciousness. I had to find out for myself.

The most time-consuming part of using kale (for non-garnish purposes) is the washing and drying - there are lots of places for dirt and water to hide! With that out of the way, I chopped it up and tossed it in some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground nutmeg - just as I was instructed. It roasted at 375 for 10 minutes, tossed, and then a final 10 minutes. It was chewy yet crispy, and all-round wonderful.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Travel Plans?

I was bit by the travel bug a few months ago. Excited by the replenishing of my vacation time at work, and very much looking forward to warmer weather, I started thinking about what exciting locale we might travel to this summer. Where do I want to go? Where have I been?

I was torn between a week in Chicago or, by contrast, Bar Harbor, Maine. We've never been to either of these places, and I came very close to clicking on the "Purchase This Package" button multiple times on more than one travel website. My finger started trembling each time I attempted the click. Why could I not commit to these plans? I was forced to explore this question.

Our lives have been pretty crazy throughout the past year or so - new apartment, new spouses, grad school, new jobs, family illness, attempts to grow into a family of three, and questioning our geographical location while examining house-buying options. While all of this would seem to be good cause for a vacation, it seems to be working against us right now. We want to save the money that would allow us to be more mobile, and we also desperately need a week of no-work, and no-plans. So, that has become our new plan this June. In fact, I have realized that John has not ever had the opportunity to explore my hometown area for longer than a three-day weekend. So, the plan is to kick-off our vacation week with the Relay for Life in Pittsfield, and then explore the Berkshires - something I have not been able to do, myself, in many years.

The same week that I graduated from MassArt, I traveled to China and Japan as part of an Art and Architecture class. Since I already had my degree in hand, I didn't need the class credits. Finding a job, rather than completing the final project for this class, was my priority upon returning home. However, I did propose a project idea to the instructor: I was struck by how many photos I took on my trip - I was so alert to every detail at each location we visited (holding a camera in my hands always causes my eyes to open to everything in my path, as though it's a second set of eyes).

Just some Chinese door?

Just a Chinese lunch?

For my project, I wanted to bring this same level of awareness to a photography project at a location with which I am overly familiar (Boston, Pittsfield, my backyard, my workplace), where I ignore and under-appreciate the little things that, together, define a place. I never started this project (but I did find a job!).

When I first decided to attend art school, I had planned to major in photography. It is my hope that my own (long) post here will inspire me to revisit my passion for the camera, and to re-realize the volume of exploration that can be done in the most familiar surroundings. (Hmmm...I need a good title for these photo explorations - any ideas?)

Monday, March 24, 2008

JoAnn's Knockouts!

My friend Laura and I recently formed an American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" team in honor of my mom, JoAnn, in support of her fight with cancer (which she is winning!). We have appropriately named the team "JoAnn's Knockouts!"

The 24-hour walk begins on Friday, June 20th at Onota Lake in Pittsfield, and we would love to see our team grow. At least one team member should be on the track at all times, so some of us are camping out by the lake. It should be lots of fun! And I have heard that the luminaries (purchased in honor of those affected by cancer) make for a beautiful scene at night by the lake.

I encourage you to visit our "Relay for Life" page, where you can JOIN or DONATE or PURCHASE LUMINARIES.

Laura had bracelets made for supporters (of which there are many!), and we continue to collect donations.

We have also been collecting signatures on a pair of giant pink boxing gloves, which we were thrilled to present to my mom this past Easter weekend (when we told her about the team we formed in her honor). She is excited!

The giant pink gloves are our inspiration for the team T-shirt design:

Many, many thanks!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What I Made 4 Years Ago

I am so excited to have just been asked to submit a poster I created in the Fall of 2004 for possible publishing! Like, in a book!

Ah, the world of Poster Design - in an academic setting no less. No restrictions, no federal regulations, no clients choosing your least favorite proposed design. In Chaz Maviyane-Davies' absolutely incredible Poster Design class at MassArt, we were asked to create a poster on the topic of "Discrimination." Here was my response and explanation as it might (hopefully) appear in Steven Heller's upcoming book DESIGN SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL:

Let Them Eat Pork!

This poster was created in response to the French National Assembly's decision to ban Muslim head scarves and other religious symbols from public schools in February of 2004. Designed for a class project about discrimination, this poster focuses on the ignorance of this archaic decision regarding the traditional practices of Islam, with 18th century Marie Antoinette representing the modern-day French government.