Monthly Archives: November 2018

Happy Birthday, Charlie Brown

Early books by Charles Schultz

Today we celebrate the birthday of Charles M. Schultz.  Few people of any age have never heard of him.  I came across these old Peanuts books in my collection.  I must have had them for about fifty years!  Yikes!  Few kids grew up without drawing a Peanuts cartoon, some simple drawings.  Even today, A Charlie Brown Christmas is still one of the most popular holiday shows there is.  I love the music and the sentiment.

Anyway, it’s a bit silly to wish a dead person happy birthday, but today I honor Charles Schultz and all the inspiration he’s given me and many others throughout the years.  Hope you all get to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas this season.

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Alley 2, Belgravia Court

Alley 2, Belgravia Court, Louisville, KY, original painting, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

I seem to be stuck on a theme of alleys these days.  This is another alley view from Belgravia Court in Louisville, similar to last week’s post but a different alley.  I’m not sure which one I like better, the horizontal or the vertical.  Both paintings are acrylic on canvas.  Now I need to find more alleys to paint.

This is, of course, for sale on my Etsy shop.

Alley View, Belgravia Court, Louisville, Kentucky, Acrylic on Canvas

Alley, Belgravia Court, St. James, Louisville, Kentucky, original acrylic painting, 20 x 16, Kit Miracle

Last month I visited the St. James Art Fair in Louisville, Kentucky.  This is one of the most prestigious art fairs in the country. I exhibited on Belgravia Court for many, many years when I was traveling and doing art fairs.  Although the day was very hot for early October, many years the weather is rainy and miserable.  This year, the crowds were out en masse.

One of my favorite parts of walking around on city streets is looking into alleyways.  I always think of this as the back doors of the inhabitants.  The alleys seem so much more interesting to me than the front facades.  This is true for large cities or small.

This is an acrylic painting on canvas, 20 x 16.  I switched to acrylic last winter as I felt the fumes from oil painting and the solvents were probably not good to breathe in a closed environment.  As you can see, I handle acrylics very much like I handle oil paints.  The good part (and bad part) about acrylics is that they dry so much quicker.  As I painted watercolors for over 25 years, I am used to working under the clock.  To slow the drying process, I will often use a retarder which makes the acrylic paint dry more slowly.  I also like the tactile quality of oil paints.  Painting in impasto, or thick paint, is fun but challenging. It is almost like sculpting in paint. For acyrlics, I use a flexible sculpting medium to add more body to the paint even though I use heavy body paint.  The flexible medium allows the paint and canvas to breathe and to be, well, flexible.  It shouldn’t flake off the canvas as a stiffer medium would. My ultimate aim is to capture the feel and results of painting in oils without the toxic fumes.

If you are interesting in learning more about this painting or making a purchase, check out my Etsy shop at KitMiracleArt.  Also, follow my Facebook page KitMiracleArt for special discount codes.

Chicken and Dumplings – Comfort Food Recipe

Chicken and dumplings, comfort food for the soul and body.

The weather has drastically changed from last week’s sunny and balmy temperatures in the 60s, to this week’s freezing rain, drizzle and even a few flakes.  Time for some comfort food.

When I have asked my sons, both now grown, what their favorite childhood food was, they both say that it was my chicken and dumplings.  My brother and I both agreed that it was the most requested meal we would request of our grandmother, too.  Some things never change.

So I made a big pot of chicken and dumplings this week.  Now if you even have one toe in the South, you know that by dumplings, I do not mean those fluffy dumplings.  Those are for beef stew.  The kind of dumplings I’m talking about are “slick” dumplings, or flat dumplings. These are akin to a homemade noodles.

So what follows is my grandmother’s recipe as taught to me; nothing is written down.

In a large pot, at least eight quarts, place:

  • Three chicken thigh and leg quarters (or equivalent). Dark meat is more flavorful.
  • A whole, unpeeled yellow onion (the skin adds a nice color to the broth)
  • Water about half way (no exact measurement)

Bring to a boil and simmer for about an hour and a half until the meat is falling off the bone.

Drain through a colander into another pot and place pot of broth back onto the stove.  Add about two teaspoons of salt, a few shakes of garlic powder, some coarse ground black pepper, a pinch or two of parsley flakes.  I usually add a couple of chicken bouillon cubes for more chickeny flavor but that is a personal choice.  Bring pot of broth back to simmer.

While the cooked chicken is in the colander, you’ll want to move it around with a large spoon to let it cool.  Then debone the chicken.  You’ll end up with a large plateful of chicken.  Cut up some of the larger chunks but don’t shred it too much.

Meanwhile, as the chicken is cooking, you’ll want to make the dumplings.  Frankly, this is about the same recipe as homemade pie dough.  Ingredient measurements are not exact but you’ll get the feel of it.

  • In a medium-sized bowl, add 1 ½ to 2 cups of flour
  • Add 1 tsp of salt and mix with the flour
  • Add shortening, about the size of a hen egg, and cut in with pastry cutter or your fingers. My grandmother would sometimes use melted chicken fat.  (She never worried about cholesterol or her weight but remained thin and fit and lived into her nineties.)
  • When the shortening is cut into the flour and it looks kind of granulated or like crumbs, then you add ice water. You drizzle it in little by little and fluff it with a fork.  This will be about ¼ to 1/3 cup. It is not an exact measurement but don’t add too much or your dough will get sticky which will make heavy dumplings.  Bring it into a ball but don’t handle it too much.
  • Put it in the refrigerator to rest. Cool dough is easier to roll out.
  • About 15 minutes before your chicken is done, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it very thin, about 1/8 inch. Then cut the dumplings into squares about 1 to 1 ½ inch in size.  You can use a sharp knife but I find a pizza cutter works much faster.

After you have brought the seasoned broth back to a boil, add the cut dumplings into the simmering broth, a handful at a time.  Stir a bit to keep them from clumping together but they’ll rise to the top when cooked.  Then add the deboned and cut up chicken back to the pot and again simmer.  The dumplings will usually thicken the broth but you can always use a little cornstarch and water to thicken it.  Or if you need to thin it, add some more chicken broth or water.

I know this sounds like a lot of work but it’s definitely worth it and perfect for a cold, winter day.  Let’s just see if your family adds this to the favorites list.  Enjoy!

 

Fall Scene with Bridge

Fall Scene with Bridge, acrylic on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

I love to drive around on the roads in this part of the country.  Especially this time of year, the trees are golden and a multitude of other colors.  Just looking at the scenery makes my heart sing.

This is a little one lane bridge in my county.  My son commented the other day that it’s amazing that up close, impressionistic painting looks just like a bunch of fuzzy blobs, but step back a few feet, and the whole scene looks realistic and inviting.

I couldn’t agree more.  It’s all an optical illusion.

Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River

Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River. Plein air, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

Yesterday I drove up to Indianapolis to drop off a couple of paintings at the Indiana Plein Art Painters Association annual member exhibit.  I haven’t entered this before, mostly because of the three hour drive.  But the day was a beautiful fall day, starting off with some fog in low-lying areas. The fall colors were breathtaking.  For those of you who think Indiana is represented by flat cornfields, nothing could be further from the truth.  The southern part consists of beautiful hills, rivers, and streams covered mostly by deciduous forests.  This time of year, the landscape is a panorama of golds and reds.  It was just a glorious day for a drive.

One of the two paintings I entered is Trees at Alton, Indiana, on the Ohio River.  I just painted this back in late September.  As you can see, the tall trees on the left are just beginning to show some color.  Alton is a tiny little collection of houses and has been flooded many times over the years. But the people who live here are passionate about living on the Ohio River so they always come back.  There is something mesmerizing about the big river with its barges and other river traffic.  I can just sit and watch the river for hours.

This scene is pretty classic.  Just some trees, a path leading into the picture, a river and some hills.  A very peaceful vista.

If you’re interested in seeing the whole exhibit, it is at the Hoosier Salon Gallery in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis.  The exhibit runs from November 10th  through  December 14th.  The reception is Saturday,, November 10th 5-9 pm.  There are many beautiful paintings of all parts of Indiana and most of the work is for sale. Take a gander at this exhibit and visit lovely downtown Carmel with its many arty and eclectic shops and eateries.  A great time for some holiday shopping.