When I discovered Dream Weaver, by Jane Yolen in 1979, I was dazzled that a contemporary writer created such fairy tales.
Archive for the ‘Creative Work’ Category
The first Friday of every month, I can always go to a party. It’s a pot-luck soiree of people who work in the creative arts in the Twin Cities–writers, designers, editors, talent in all media. Kit Naylor and Cathy Madison got it started and Kit is the supreme hostess who makes sure it continues, scheduling hosts and welcoming one and all.
Everybody brings something: wine, beer, sparkling water, and food, good food. The eclectic dining offerings span every menu possibility from honey-crusted peanuts from a bin at the supermarket to a curry recreated by a man just returned from Malaysia. A marketing writer who aspires to turn her baking arts into a cookbook brings her latest concoctions. In the winter, there are crockpots of stews and soups. During summer, plates of fresh tomatoes with basil and bowls of fresh fruit predominate.
I decided to bake for last week’s bash. Hungry for pineapple upside-down cake, I down-sized to mini-cakes, each with a bite of pineapple and an almond. They were devoured right down to the crumbs on the tray.
Pineapple Upside-Down Mini Cakes
No need for cupcake papers. You may need to trim the cakes to get them out of the cupcake pans.
Makes 24 mini cakes
1 15-ounce can pineapple slices in juice1/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
24 whole almonds or pecans
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups reserved pineapple juice plus water or milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1. Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Cut six slices into quarters. Use remaining pineapple as desired.
2. In small glass bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, and water. With non-stick spray, coats sides of each compartment of two 12-serving cupcake pans. Divide butter-sugar mixture among the cups. Arrange 1/4 pineapple slice and one nut in each. Set pans aside.
2. In medium bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder. Stir in juice mixture, 1/2 cup butter, eggs, and vanilla. Mix at lowest speed of mixer just until ingredients are combined. Increase speed to medium and mix 1 more minute. Evenly divide batter in pans.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until wooden pick comes out clean. Cook pans on wire rack for about 5 minutes. With a table knife, loosen sides of each cake, removing excess cake on top edges, if needed. Invert onto baking pan. Spoon out any topping left in pan. Serve warm.
In cat years, Lisa and I have been friends forever, since the dawn of our food careers. We’ve collaborated on dozens of food photographs and made each other laugh, many times. She makes it look easy to make food beautiful and she shares her talents as a food stylist, teacher, writer, recipe developer, and lover of the food in general. Learn more about Lisa and food styling at Foodesigns.com and check our her e-zine, Tweezer Times.
Gale Steves has more than a hunch. She has an educated observation that wherever you live right now might be just right. You see too few closets and no decent office space? Gale sees where there’s more storage and how you can set up a working space, all in the home where you are.
For a wider glimpse of Gale’s work, see her recent column at aarp.com. For a 360-degree vista, check out her book, Right-Sizing Your Home: How to Make Your House Fit Your Lifestyle (New Century Design).
(Full disclosure: Gale hired me as an editorial intern for her as food editor of “American Home” magazine when I was a pup in the workforce. She’s an amazing source of good ideas, the latest trends, and just plain fun. And, she’s still a friend and creative professional quite a few years later.)
Gale has right-sized her own home, a NYC apt, and influenced design choices for millions, currently as a home consultant, formerly as editor-in-chief for “Home” and in key positions in New York’s publishing world. She sees home in a practical light, encouraging you to make the space work for you instead of trying to live up to outdated definitions of a particular room or piece of furniture.
Among the masters in my midst are Martha Nichols and Susan (Sue) Palmquist. Martha, an interior designer, is a longtime friend who has helped me make my successive homes more lovely than I could have done myself. Besides her skills in putting together all the design details, I call her the Color Empress. To see Martha consider colors for a room is akin to watching Dale Chihuly invent his glass creations or Olympic gold medal figure skater Kim Yu Na soar over the ice.
I’ve recently gotten to know Sue, Martha’s collaborator in many projects and friend of many years. Sue, co-owner of Sawhill Kitchens in Minneapolis, designs kitchens as a maestro who first listens to the client’s vision and then, makes sure the range plays well with the sink, that the backsplash complements the countertop and cabinets, and there will be room to open the refrigerator door all the way to remove the crisper drawers.
I watched these masters in action last week. Imagine an equally supportive game of tennis between two of the very best. Martha and Sue each have true joy in what they do and the highest standards of excellence.
Not only does Susan make kitchens that work, she’s a wonderful cook. She made us a Roasted Vegetables and Orzo Salad and served it with baked chicken breasts. My contribution to this lunch was bread and chocolate chip cookies. Here’s Sue’s recipe:
Roasted Vegetables and Orzo Salad
Cut the following vegetables into 1-inch cubes, squares, or pieces:
- 1 eggplant (medium size)
1 red pepper
1 yellow or orange (or both) pepper
1 red onion
1 cup green beans
3 cloves garlic – minced
1/3 cup good olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pound orzo
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice – approx. 3 lemons
1/3 c. good olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 scallions, minced
1/2 c. toasted pine nuts
3/4 lb. feta cheese (crumbled or diced)
20 – 24 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips (chiffonade)
Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Place eggplant, red, yellow, and/or orange peppers, onion, and zucchini in baking pan. Toss in 1/3 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Roast about 30 minutes until browned, turning once.
In medium saucepan, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain, rinse lightly, and place in large bowl. Add the vegetables along with all the scrapings from the pan. Meanwhile, make the dressing and add to the warm orzo & vegetables.
Just before serving, add scallions, pine nuts, feta cheese, and basil chiffonade.
Serve with roasted or grilled chicken breasts. Makes about 10 servings.