Saturday, June 18, 2011

Of Mint and Men.

Somehow, I angered a spider, possibly a brown recluse spider, in my sleep.  I probably was mumbling something offensive, rambling about anti-spider legislation that should be passed.  That'll teach me.  I awoke 3 days ago with a fine specimen of a spider bite that made me think of every cable emergency-room-she-lost-her-leg-from-eating-shellfish drama I'd ever seen. 

So today, with the instructions of 'stay hydrated', while ambling through my backyard garden; I eyed the lovely mint growing in the nooks and crannies of the juniper logs and decided to do just that.  After crushing up the mint with cane sugar, kneading the sole remaining lime in my kitchen to utter submission, crushing ice up and cooling down grapefruit seltzer water and closing my eyes when i poured the rum; I created my own Anti-Spider Poison Limeade.
I made a second executive decision shortly after. I think I'll be growing lots more mint.  I hope the deer won't like it too much.  The spider bite feels better already.

And yes, I use my potted plants for drink holders. Keeps them upright.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Helter Swelter.

9:20 pm and 90 degrees. I've been waiting for the sun to set and the heat to slow its waves off the ground, the asphalt and the houses.  I've been thinking about the short walk down the back slope to the water, lit only by encircling half-burned-out christmas lights that have faded with the sun's glare, and sliding into the neck-deep bliss of a night-time dip.  I can't wait to hear the call of the summer cicada, and tonight, we're close to a full moon, gorgeous in the texas hill country night skies.

Its been a sweltering summer, and we're only 2 weeks, really, into it.  But with the daily thermometer inching over the 100 degree mark and the ground getting progressively Captain-Crunchier, I can avert my eyes from the heat waves on the asphalt to proclaim that yes, summer is officially here in South Texas, at least for me. 

I spent all of last week cooking in a quasi-retro-wtf chow wagon for a 5-day eco survival intensive class for The Human Path. There was no wash of air-conditioned relief to walk into when my brain started to overheat, and no ceiling fan to lie underneath while sipping imagined frosty beverages lined with rum and mint leaves.  The respite available was a solar shower under the stars and a horse trough filled with cool water in the herb garden there. But oh, it was a welcome respite for me.

Eggplants are pretty.

In between making eggplant (local from the farmers market, bitches!) sandwich filling and herbed hummus for the hungry masses and trying to fill the bottomless stomachs of some teenaged boys (can't be done); the frigid spray coming out of the well was a jarring and coveted pleasure.  At night, when the baked ground was still radiating enough heat to successfully cook yogurt outdoors(no exaggeration here), a soft blue glow from inside the solar shower stall tarp signalled another hot camper cooling down. 

I spent my days cooking, trying to figure out to to fill up the teenage boys without going into permanent debt and sweating.  Sweat running down my back, blurring my vision and making my socks soggy.  Occasionally I stuck my head into the freezer on the auspices of looking for something.  Mmmm.

You. Mo. Bumble.

I made homemade granola with apricot and almonds, yogurt that I set outside in 100 degree heat on the chow wagon porch, homemade bumble-bars, strawberry jam, oatmeal cookies with dried fruit, and homemade icecream sandwiches that I doled out on the porch with two spoons, a tupperware of fresh cookies and sticky hands.

Summer. Summer is good, no matter how hot it gets. It is full of rituals for me, and remains my favorite time of the year, despite the drought and the scorpions.  The rest of the state melts, a-gasp if venturing out past the safe confines of air-conditioned cars and buildings. Too-tight tank tops make their debut here, along with sweatbands, do-rags and the usual manly displays of patriotism and style.

So in the spirit of a summer game, here is mine. Tell me your best suggestion for filling up the bottomless gullet of teenaged boys -- while on a budget, and I will share with you, one of my new well-received recipes, of which you can choose.  The yogurt was DAMN popular though and maybe you should look into that, because your aquaintances and significant others will look at you differently after spooning granola over it. Just saying.... 

Make a comment on to illuminate me on the best way to stave off teenage hunger --- much like a vampire's insatiable hunger --- and I will share gladly. 

teenage eating machines!

And now, there is a cicada outdoors, calling my name.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Love You. Now Eat.

The thermostat is reading in the high nineties, and I can feel the sweat trickling down my back. My fingers are stained purple and red, and thorns have left scritch-scratch marks all up and down my forearms.  When I straighten up, I've got a handful of plump blackberries that will soon become jam, and all that I can see for miles, are the steamy hill country rolls of peach trees.

I'm not a chef and I've never been accused of being a Miss Fancy Pants, but I do love to cook. I am a mess of obsession for color and for flavor.  If I bake you a pie, that means I love you.  If you find avocado and mango sandwiches wrapped up with your name on the tinfoil, its because I've got a fondness for you; and well, if you're eating the chocolate pecan pie I made, you might as well come to grips with the fact that you and I are linked for this lifetime. 

By the same token, if I don't cook you anything at all and suggest you check out what WhataBurger is serving, well, you must have pissed me off.  Sea salt caramel and chocolate work wonders for mending that though, fyi. 

I laced up my sneakers and grabbed a hat for what promised to be an excellent late spring adventure in a hill country orchard.  There is absolutely nothing better than those back roads and the turn-off to the orchard that goes past a pond with the run-of-the-end-and-into-the-blissful-water deck, over the cattle guard and suddenly ... there I am .... about 50 miles away from town, traffic and anything distracting. 

If you're like almost everyone, eating the HEB strawberries from the plastic box, you think you've experienced summer when you bite into one of those (tasteless) never-quite-ripe-in-the-right-way berries. so sad.  There is no comparison to kneeling there in the sandy banks next to the strawberry plants, and biting into a berry the size of your thumb ... just a little thing .... and the sun-warmed berry makes you nearly pass out.  Bliss.  With the berry juice staining fingers to a crimson blush, this is the moment one might realize they've truly experienced love. Nirvana. 

If you haven't experienced such a thing, I suggest you get up, go and find it. And if you have no interest in finding it, then you might as well just move over so someone else can breathe in that air that kind of smells like cinnamon and smoke, the gust of wind of a life fully lived.

I collected a full basket of strawberries and I am going to make it into a pie today for someone special.  Those blackberries are going to be cooked down with lemon juice and sugar into jam that I will spoon over banana bread.  The two bushels of peaches I picked will become pie, jam, spooned over ice cream, pulled out from the freezer when the trees are bare, folded into pancakes, made into salsa and parfaits...

The farm hand at the orchard liked the peach trees. Standing under the branches was cooler and a respite from the rising heat. When I was picking from the lower branches, he pointed at the center truck and advised me to pick from the middle, where the sweeter and larger peaches live.  He added his own pickings to my cardboard bushel box and gave me a ride back to the shack where I could pay for my fruit and wash off from a spigot under the oaks.  As I drove away later, I noticed him reaching for fruit for another intrepid visitor with peach wanderlust. 

One sticky hand up, I wave and smile.  It is a very good day, an excellent day for an adventure and the promise of pie.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Where Is The Kitchen? Its At Bihl Haus!

"The Cabinet of (Foreign) Kitchen Affairs"
click on any image for full size.
The opening night of 'The Kitchen Goddess' was attended by art lovers, the curious and those who simply love love LOVE a sprinkling of kitsch with their cereal.  Bihl Haus hosted the most recent outing of the kitsch-en, and our new and freshly powdered goddesses got a chance to stretch their wings and flirt. 

There were quite a few new pieces, such as this sassy vaccuum cleaner, Merceureka. She positively begs to be turned on, and quite honestly, has a mind of her own.  I've never had so much fun pushing around a purring appliance. I"ve started making excuses to vaccuum. Why the front yard just won't stay clean! 

"The Sink of Failed Dreams: Where All Good Housewives' Dreams Go To Die"
And here is a side shot of the sink, one of my favorite pieces. As fun to make as it is to look at, I think I've created a place where you can unzip the mundane, and step into a technicolor world of volumptuous whimsy and tounge-in-cheek humor.  

And our goddesses have evolved too.  From the early days in Colorado, where the goddesses were reminiscent of Jackie O, and just getting their fuzzy house slippers wet...

to the Blue Star installation goddesses that could barely wait to educate viewers on 'How To Be A Good Housewife'...

our Bihl Haus goddesses have evolved into the kitchen-conscious audacious group of not-quite-liberated mavens of the pre-microwave era.

You can view the full opening night festivities and see some of the pieces in the slideshow in the post below, called, 'Bitch and Kitsch' at   Just click on the slideshow to see it in its proper size. 

The kitchen goddesses have now taken off their high heels and massaged their aching toes...

 poured that martini and settled on the davenport to relax ...

and the Magic Chef with his lovely and perfect helper Betty Jean, have packed up their knives and returned to their home turf to insult regular patrons in French while waving their hands at them to dismiss ...

and the mile-long train of devilled eggs has been long-consumed by our lovely guests ...
Adela, a vision in red, with 'Pimento Loaf', her own creation.
so our kitchen goddesses bid you farewell for the time being. 

The kitchen will be on display, up until May 14th at Bihl Haus Arts.  You can visit on Fridays and Saturdays, 1 - 4 pm or by appointment, if you pick up your telephone and call 210,383.9723.  You can purchase a piece of the kitchen to adorn your home and make it even more spectacular, using all the proper colors, or any of the pieces the Golden artists, like Adela above, have created. 

Many people have asked me 'where IS Bihl Haus???'.  Darlings, its easy to find.  A vision in seafoam green and barbie pink, my kitchen lives in the Bihl Haus gallery for the next 4 weeks at 2803 Fredricksburg Road, INSIDE of the Primrose retirement community.  Its right across the street from DeWeese's Tip Top Cafe, where you can also have a delicious chicken fried steak OR grilled cheese sandwich if the devilled eggs and mini burgers in the exhibit leave you hungry for more. 

My exhibit has much less calories than this...

Here is the map for those of you who need more reference.

We do hope you will have a chance to drop by our kitchen. Its an experience we'd love to share with you. When you are there, simply close your eyes and inhale. We just know you'll be able to smell the cinnamon from those oatmeal cookies we cooked just for you. 

And as soon as my bruised toes recover, I'll be updating on my latest adventure, here at

-- Vanilla, sugar and lots of powdered sugar,

Bitch and Kitsch

hey babycakes! click here to view the slideshow of all
the delicious things we made for you...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interview With A Housewife

With only 4 days remaining before the opening reception for 'The Kitchen Goddess' exhibit, we sit down for just a brief moment to see just what this is all about.  I mean honestly, if we're going to drive all the way over to Bihl Haus Arts, we want to know what we're in for over there.  Thankfully, our busy housewife had just enough time for a small cup of tea before rushing off again. 

Whats this all about? 
- (laughter).  Its about tedium, darling.  Welcome to my home.  Look how much time I spent on this ... on everything.  It took me months and months to do this, and its still just ever so slightly off-kilter.  Some things will never be finished. Just as soon as I'm done ironing, I've got to turn around and start over again!  I slave over things to make them just right, but there's always room for more improvement.  But thats ok, because its a housewife's job to make sure we keep trying, keep working.

Working on ...?
- Well, everything of course.  What would the neighbors say if I just stopped keeping up?  My wonderful strong husband just gave me permission for the new kitchen layout and I want to make sure its absolutely perfect.  Thats very important.  Organization is very important.

Why does your kitchen make me feel like I'm in a Dr. Suess book? Whats with all these colors?
- (titter) Oh isn't it lovely?  I can't believe how much of an improvement it is over that dreadful old white Fridgidaire we had five years ago and that stupid rusty Maytag that didn't go with anything.  Everything matches.  Its just like being in The Wizard of Oz, with all these new and exciting colors.  I just get so ... excited to be cooking in a kitchen like this!

Hmmm. OK. Can you tell me about this one piece, "The Sink of Failed Dreams: Where All Good Housewife Dreams Go To Die"? 
- (pause. Puts down tea cup.)  Go to die?  I wouldn't say that. I mean, those dreams were awfully frivolous anyway. This is where I really belong and it's an awfully good life. Who has time for college and .. and a job when there's so much to do here.  Why its positively consuming!  There's really no time left over for such nonsense. I am very fulfilled right here and I've learned so much just with learning about domestic home economics ... so that silly thing about going to school was just that. silly.  They need me here. 

Alright. What do you keep under that sink? 
- Oh that? Thats just the stuff I don't need anymore, never did.  Rat poison, the leftovers ... all that silly stuff that I need to get rid of now that I have a nice new kitchen and a family on the way one day.  I've been needing to clean all that out anyway. 

How much time do you spend in your kitchen?
- (polite laughter) Why, all day, of course!  One day, when we have a big family, I'll be spending time in a nursery with little John Jr. and a sweet Becky Sue, but for now, I have so much to learn!  Home economics is a very very exhausting topic. Oh. I don't mean exhausting in a negative way. I simply mean there is very much to learn!  Did you know that the new ovens completely change the amount of time it takes to cook a glazed ham?  Canned pineapple makes it go so quickly. 

What is the most important tool you use in your kitchen?
- Oh thats easy! That would be my mixer. It matches my new refrigerator. They came together. It make my life so easy!  I get soooo much done with it.  It is so much better than mixing cake batter by hand!  Just look at it. It loves me ... its like its arms are opening for a big hug. (sigh)  Well I really must get back to work. There is so much to do before Friday, and we're expecting company. It was so nice to meet you!

There you have it.  Our housewife is back at it, primping her mint green and barbie pink kitchen, getting ready to greet you on Friday's opening at Bihl Haus Arts.  Do stop by. She'd love to show you around. (there might even be an ironing tutorial if you haven't already mastered this essential craft)

Bihl Haus Arts
2803 Fredricksburg Rd.
San Antonio, TX
This Friday, 5:30 - 8:30 pm