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Crusty Artisan Bread

Crusty Artisan Bread

It’s been a raw and unpredictable March with rain, wind, snow, what have you.  If you’re still stuck indoors, here is a VERY EASY and VERY GOOD bread recipe. My husband is the bread maker around here and has many favorites, but this one seems to be a hit with everyone.

Don’t be afraid.  Just do it!  You don’t even have to touch the dough or knead it.  Perfect crusty artisan bread.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of dry yeast

Day 1

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and stir to incorporate.  Cover well with plastic wrap.  Let sit out on the counter overnight (12-18 hours).

Bread in enamel pan

Day 2

You will need an enamel roaster pan with lid.  This should be small size.  The old speckled kind that your grandma used to have will be fine. (Our pan is elongated but a round one works fine, too.)

  • Put the roaster pan and lid into a cold oven.
  • Turn on the heat to 450 degrees
  • When the oven reaches 450 degrees, take out the pan (carefully) and sprinkle with corn meal. (No grease or oil.)
  • Pour the bread mixture into the hot pan, replace lid and bake for 30 minutes
  • Remove the lid and bake another 20 minutes
  • The bread should tip out of the pan easily. It will be crusty on the outside and moist on the inside.

You may add other ingredients when assembling on day 1, such as, dried herbs.

That’s it!  Serve with a pot of homemade soup.  Your friends and family will think you’re a genius.

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First Day of Spring 2018

After 80 degree days in February (very unusual) and just 60s yesterday, we experienced a surprise snowstorm today.  Heavy, wet snow.  Very beautiful but most of us are tired of winter.  What happened to welcoming Spring and its warm, sunny days.

These are a few shots of the snow.  Actually, this doesn’t seem to hurt the daffodils but I’d rather see their golden heads in the yard than this white stuff.

And a few more small daffodil paintings.  I just can’t seem to help myself but I might try some watercolor paintings tomorrow.

Daffodils and old houses

Daffodils-3-1000

Daffodil bouquet in silver pitcher, 10 x 10, acrylic on canvas panel, Kit Miracle

There’s something about old houses in the country that seem to showcase mature gardens, old lilacs and apple trees, meandering forsythia bushes, and banks of daffodils.  At least that is true for this old homestead.  The first few years we lived here, every season brought surprises.  Pawpaws and persimmons, hickory nuts and walnuts, even hazelnut bushes.  And flowers.  Old varieties that don’t appear in any catalog.  You can  spot old farms long after the houses are gone by the daffodils that persist and show their colors each spring.

Our yard is blessed with many varieties of daffodils.  I love their nodding yellow heads in the warm spring breezes.  The largest patch near the woodshed is always the first to come out, sometimes even through a late snow.  Then there are the doubles that seem to “walk” towards the creek a little bit more each year.  And another variety with two colors.  Some large, some small.

This week I’ve been picking bouquets for the house and the studio.  Oh, the joy of the season!  But the season won’t last for long so I’ve been in a painting frenzy with a different spring painting each day.

TABAC, Paris Street Scene

TABAC, Paris Street Scene, framed, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

This is a painting of the view from my hotel window in the Marais district in Paris.  I loved the bright colors and was particularly attracted to the figure of the child and his nurse.  He seemed to be pointing to the TABAC store which sells not only tobacco products but sweets and newspapers.

TABAC, detail of child with nanny, original painting, Kit miracle

The restaurant next to it serves not only regular fare but Middle Eastern entrees.  I ate there several times.

But basically I just love to people watch from my hotel room.  Early in the morning, the green men (street sweepers in green uniforms) are out cleaning the streets while the shopkeepers spray down the sidewalks, preparing for the day ahead.

TABAC, Paris Street Scene, original painting, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

Click on the images for a closer view. Painted in acrylic with impasto style on a canvas toned with green.  I thought it would balance all the blues and purples but it was a bit difficult to work with.

Treasures in the Basement

The Metropolitan Museum of Art main lobby

One of my favorite places to visit in the world in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  I always manage to squeeze in a visit every time I’m in the city.  I’ve been there so often that I know the best/least crowded entrance.  And I always go straight to visit my favorite paintings and sculptures.

Generally after visiting the European galleries on the second floor to say hello to the Van Goghs and Monets, I make my way over to the American wing to visit the Sargents, Cassatts and other American painters.

The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art in the lower level of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

However, several years ago, I discovered a “secret” basement area where many treasures are stored which are not on display. Officially called The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art, there are cases filled with costumes and glassware, china and silver, and a whole lot of furniture.  And, to my surprise, I discovered cases filled with some extremely famous paintings by some of my favorite painters.  It’s a marvel to think that this museum has so much artwork that they can’t even display it all!  But I guess that many pieces are circulated to international exhibits so they always have some replacements available.

Cassatt paintings “in the basement” at the Met.

Portrait of Rosa Bonheur (The Horse Fair) by Anna Klumpke

Last year I discovered many of Mary Cassatt’s most famous pieces, a portrait of the painter Rosa Bonheur (The Horse Fair), and a large painting by Edward W. Redfield of the American Impressionist group. This doesn’t begin to cover the paintings crammed into this area.

Edward W. Redfield painting on display in the Luce Center at the Met

So, next time you’re visiting the Met, make sure to try to find this subterranean treasure trove.  If you get close to the American Wing, you may have to ask for directions on how to get there.  I usually enter from the North side of the café court.

Lunar eclipse

Blue Moon, January 31, 2018 Early morning waiting for the eclipse.

The lunar eclipse begins in about an hour around here.  Check out this website which follows it live.  Also, you can enter your location to find out if/when it will begin in your area.  https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2018-january-31 

Or just go outside and LOOK UP!  It’s a beautiful moon.

Red Cabbage Still Life – A Challenge in Color and Shape

Red Cabbage Still Life, oil on canvas, 18 x 24, Kit Miracle

This still life is a little larger and more complex than many of my other recent paintings.  I was inspired by a visit to the grocery.  I must have had my “artist’s eyes” on that day because I seemed to be dazzled by the beautiful colors and shapes of the vegetables.  Several of the more interesting vegetables came home with me that day.

Inspiration in the vegetable department at the grocery. I love these colors and interesting shapes.

Before I tackled the main still life, I first completed several smaller still lifes just to get a feel for the shapes and colors.

Red Cabbage, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

Surprisingly, the red cabbage was the most difficult to paint.  It has very subtle hues of purple, red and magenta.  It was a tight head so not much interest as far as shape until I peeled back a leaf or two.  I think a larger, leafier cabbage would be far more interesting.

Artichoke, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

The artichoke, with it’s pointy leaves and shapes, was very fun to paint.

Radishes in Green Bowl, oil on canvas board, 10 x 10, Kit Miracle

The radishes are usually fun but their greens started to wilt quickly.  However, they later generated more new leaves so that was a big help.

The final big still life was painted on an 18 x 24 inch canvas which I had toned in variegated colors.  It seems to have a glow all its own.  I don’t quite know how that happened except that some of the under painting showed through.  Unfortunately, I didn’t’ take step-by-step photos of this painting.  I might tweak it a bit more but there’s always a risk of going too far.  Sometimes done is done.

These paintings will be for sale on my Etsy shop.  KitMiracleArt

Musicians and Artists – Keep Growing

Trombone Shorty

One thing that I’ve learned in life is that talent will only take you so far. You’ve got to keep growing.

Trombone Shorty

 

I was a little distracted this week and was thinking today what I might post on Sunday.  Tonight as I was painting in my studio, I was listening to American Roots on NPR.  They were talking with Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews) the fabulous musician from New Orleans.  He said something that really hit home.

He was talking about how he is sometimes criticized because he always wants to branch out and try new things.  “You’ve got to try new things so that others that follow you have something to build onto.”  That just made so much sense to me.

I’ve seen so many artists who do the same thing, year after year after year.  While sometimes their tenacity is admirable, most of the time I’m struck with the thought, “how boring.”  What does that feel like? To keep doing the same thing everyday? How are you improving and what are you leaving for the following generations?

I think Trombone Shorty was referring to taking what you have, the talent or skill, and building on that. Take your skills, twist them a bit, and see what happens.  Any artist who has tried this knows that sometimes it turns out like crap.  But other times, it’s magic.  THAT is what we’re after, right?  Some magic.

Try something new today.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Maybe it will be another piece for the garbage…but maybe, just maybe, it will be MAGIC!

Ladybug Teapot, a Whimsical Painting

Ladybug Teapot, oil on canvas, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

This playful still life was inspired by the whimsical ladybug teapot that I found in my prop cupboard.  It’s actually a teapot and cup combination which I paired with some red apples and bright green fabric.  Check out the step-by-step of how this painting was created here.

The painting can also be found on my Etsy shop, KitMiracleArt.  A great gift for your favorite tea lover!

Urban sketchers

Urban sketchers is a group of people from all over the world who sketch their local areas and post them online at Urban Sketchers.

This is a little different from plein air painters but in the same vein. Sometimes they get together at various locales, but their different styles are inspiring.  It is also great fun to view the different parts of the world that they sketch.  Many of the paintings are pretty complete while others are really just “sketches.”  Check them out!