Sunday, August 12, 2018

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs

Disclaimer: This is a cooking post not an art post!  But I will say that there is an art to boning, stuffing and baking this recipe--and it comes out looking like a work of art too! 

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs    (Preheat oven to 350°)

If you like dark meat turkey this is the recipe for you---but not an every day recipe for sure! They sell 2 packaged together and frozen so be sure to pull them out and let them thaw a couple days in the frig. It takes time to bone out the bird, make the stuffing, and tie it all up---although I bone the turkey and make the stuffing ahead. I don’t know quantities for everything---I just wing it! Probably used ½ onion, ½ red pepper, lots of mushrooms. Depends on what you and your family like. Mushrooms tend to cook down quite a bit and we like them so I use a lot. Add or change out the ingredients as you like!

2 Boned Turkey Thigh-Leg Portions (I bone them out myself---just make sure to get out all those really skinny bones that are in the leg portion—this is the hard part!) 

bacon – chopped and cooked
mushrooms - sliced
onions - chopped
red sweet pepper - chopped
fresh spinach leaves (frozen, thawed will work in a pinch)
chicken or turkey stock/broth
Italian bread crumbs and/or Panko crumbs
parmesan cheese (maybe ¼ cup?)
pine nuts – toasted (very good---don’t skip these!)

Cook the bacon and remove from pan and discard all but a tablespoon or two of the fat. Saute the mushrooms, onions, red pepper in the remaining bacon fat and when almost tender add the spinach to wilt. Turn off heat. Stir in parmesan, breadcrumbs and enough stock to help it bind. I like it fairly dry as the turkey will give off some moisture and you don’t want the stuffing too mushy. Add seasonings as you like---thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper… Stir in the toasted pinenuts.

Lay out the turkey and put half the stuffing on each portion. Use kitchen string to tie it up as best you can. I never have enough time to be neat and usually just try to get it closed up enough so the stuffing doesn’t go everywhere. It always seems to come out looking appetizing no matter how messy my tying job is!

Rub a little vegetable oil on and season the skin with whatever you like. I used Lawry’s seasoning salt, pepper, onion powder and a little thyme. Put the turkey on a rack in a sheet pan (or on a broiler pan) and put it in a 350 degree oven until the internal temp is about 165-170 degrees. It took about an hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Cut and remove strings then slice and serve!

I usually accompany this with a vegetable, mashed potatoes or noodles and/or some bread. If you have drippings in the sheet pan you can make a gravy. I used the turkey bones to make a broth and then just thickened and seasoned it to serve alongside.

I cook it on a sheet pan and a rack but you could use a broiler pan with rack as well. Just spray them both with some cooking spray and put the turkey on the rack in the sheet pan. and then season the skin with whatever you like. I used Lawry’s salt, pepper, onion powder and a little thyme. Put it in a 350 degree oven until the internal temp is about 165-170 degrees. It took about an hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve!

I usually accompany this with a vegetable, mashed potatoes and/or some bread. If you have drippings in the sheet pan you can make a gravy. I used the turkey bones to make a broth and then just thickened that to serve alongside.


Monday, April 9, 2018

How You Are A Part of My Creative Process

As an artist I thought I would write this post to help educate the non-artists out there about how I think about my art after it is gone from my inventory---sold or donated or gifted.  But first a word about the creation of it.

 Making art is a very personal journey.  We take inspiration, skills learned, tools and materials gathered, and time found to put together an object that we call art and hope that others will call it that too.  If we are fortunate to have someone pay us money for one of those heartfelt creations we are honored, flattered and affirmed. With a little doubt thrown in. 

What is that doubt about?  For me it is that little voice that asks if I charged too much (too little?) and if that buyer will continue to think their purchase was worth what they paid.  Will they cherish that art or will it be a regretted purchase that in time is relegated to a closet or drawer somewhere---or worse to the trash bin!

 When you buy a piece of art it doesn't have to hang in your home or in the same place in your home for the rest of your life.  My mom used to rotate her artwork on a seasonal basis, and depending on how those seasons made her feel.  No hot colors in August and no cold ones in January.  Joyous life in Spring and cozy warmth in Winter.  And over the couch is not the only location for artwork.  I have art down my hallway and in my bathrooms and enjoy it no less in those spaces.  Give each piece of art new life by putting it away for a while and then displaying it again with a fresh outlook.  For my own collection it allows me to see things in the art that I might not have noticed or felt before.  Feel free to display an eclectic mix of art together in a room.  It doesn't have to match the furniture.  You just have to like it.

Many artists have self doubt about what they are doing and why.  Even though I feel a passion for what I do and feel like my pieces are successful in my own mind, I still have that niggling bit of doubt that anyone else will think the same.  This is one reason I enjoy showing my work to various groups or friends.  Any positive comments they might offer are so rewarding and in some ways motivating.  Just like with any job a person has, positive feedback helps us do better and continue our work with a positive attitude about it.  When someone is actually interested in paying us money for what we create that is truly a gift to our psyche.  For a while it is elating and inspires us to continue doing what we are doing with our art.

But then time goes by and that doubt starts to creep in again.  Do they still think it was worth buying?  Are they still enjoying the artwork and are they satisfied with having paid money for it?  Will they continue to honor it and keep it safe and display it for others to see?  Do they even like it?  We all know that we make purchases that we regret when we get it home or down the road at some point.  We think, "why did I ever think I liked that....?"   It is my profound hope that this doesn't happen when someone buys a piece of art.  Those purchases are kind of special in that there is emotion and admiration and originality that is all wrapped in the price you pay for someone's art.  You are buying something created just for you and no one else. It speaks to you.  It is personal.  At least I hope it is.  Of course there are those that buy an artwork because it matches their living room furniture.  Then they redecorate and no longer "like" that artwork.  Hopefully they pass it on to someone who might have a more personal connection to the art and will honor it and thus honor the artist. 

Because I have that artist's doubt in my life, I can't tell you how much I appreciate and cherish when someone tells me that they have one of my pieces and still love it.  The fact that they even remember it is my work is enough for me to feel good about it.  But if they still love it---that is the ultimate!  Knowing that my work stands the test of time and that people continue to notice it in their spaces and connect it with me and are glad they have acquired it is reaffirming, supportive, and keeps me going to the studio and being creative.  I don't know if people realize how good it is for an artist to hear that they still notice and enjoy an artist's work, but I'm here to tell you that it is definitely worth your effort to tell the artist that.  I have gotten notes and emails from people who noticed my work at a national level quilt show and were so struck by it that they remembered it and made the effort to let me know they liked it.  That is so gracious--and so appreciated.  Some artists may respond very humbly and just quietly accept your comments with a mumbled thank you, but rest assured they will remember it and it will boost their confidence.  I am grateful to those who have told me about the work of mine that they own and how much they continue to enjoy it. 

We are not artists so that we can make art for our closets.  We want to share it.  We put it in shows and galleries, we post it on-line, we show it to friends and acquaintances.  We put it out there and because it is a part of us that makes us vulnerable. When the response to it is positive we feel good about it.  For me it means that I am justified in spending time, effort, expense and creative energy in my studio creating art.  I will do it anyways because it is a passion, but justifying those things makes it a whole lot easier!

So thank you to those kind people who think of complimenting the artist and sharing with them your positive thoughts about their work.  If you live with it and enjoy it we would love to hear about it.  If you admire a piece on display somewhere we (the artists) would love to hear about it.  If you see the work in a magazine or at a show and really enjoyed it, let the artist know.  You are what gives me some of the inspiration that goes into my work.  It helps me put into it the joy and happiness that a fulfilling occupation provides.  I'm not "fishing for compliments" here or hoping to get a bunch of half-hearted flattery.  Just some good honest sharing about the art you enjoy with the artists who make it if you should feel so inclined.

I hope I have impressed upon you the value of positive reinforcement to the creative process and how you play a part in that process. 
Now go forth and enjoy art!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Finding My Mojo

One of the questions I am asked most by people who view my work is how do I come up with ideas or what inspires me.  I usually say it is the fabric and that is mostly true.  But, I have plenty of fabric and still there are times when I am not inspired to create with it.  So what is it that REALLY inspires me?  I think it is related to how I feel, how much is going on in my life that is stressful or difficult, and how much time I have to spend in my studio.  But the biggest thing that keeps me from creating is when I have something I have to do that is challenging, difficult or just plain uninteresting to me.

Life interrupts and the emotions, good and bad, that we experience affect the way we create art.  My mother died several years ago and I have not returned to my level of productivity from before that time.  I was always very productive and could make multiple pieces in a month.  I was in my studio for some amount of time every day.   Now I will go a number of days without stepping into my studio for anything but to lay another unwanted household item of some sort onto my work table.

 Another thing that has happened in the last few years is that I told myself that I should try to work bigger and make the larger more dramatic pieces that are common in many national fiber and art shows.  Maybe I could get my work into these prestigious shows and compete with other artists if I made the larger pieces.  I have a small studio and working large is a challenge.  And I am used to making smaller pieces and I find that designing the larger ones is more difficult for me.  I have made some larger wall pieces but I struggled through the entire process. 

When I start a small quilt (say up to 20" x 24"), I am able to pick out fabrics and design a piece in a day or two. Then another day or two to quilt it and maybe another day to embellish it and the piece is done.  Sometimes it takes a few days longer than that, but if I am inspired and motivated I can pretty much follow this schedule.  The key for me is to find something that sets off the thought process and gets the wheels turning.  Many times that is a piece of fabric but it can be a particular bead, a color or combination of colors, a particular technique, or even a theme/motif.  Once I get the itch to work on something I find that it is difficult to pull myself away for the mundane chores of the household.  I am in the groove, inspired and finding the passion is easy. 

Because I told myself I should try to work big I have been avoiding doing anything!  So I finally decided I should make whatever size I am inspired to make and not try to force something that I'm obviously not finding inspiring.  I find that I usually procrastinate when I have to do something challenging or difficult.  Some artists will meet those challenges head on and love that. 

I think I enjoy the flow of creativity more than trying to work things out that don't come naturally to me.  That isn't to say that I always want to the same old thing and actually I have experimented with many different techniques and styles in my work over the years.  I have done some very innovative pieces and enjoyed the challenge of making them work.  But taking on a challenge that is not creatively inspiring to me just doesn't seem to be motivating for me.  I have always worked by inspiration. 

So, this year I am going to go with the flow.  I'm going to create fun pieces that I like and that I hope my customers will like.  Maybe some will be bigger but that remains to be seen.  Each one is as it should be and I will just let it happen.  I feel inspired already!!

Stuffed Turkey Thigh/Legs

Disclaimer: This is a cooking post not an art post!  But I will say that there is an art to boning, stuffing and baking this recipe--and it ...