Saturday, September 27, 2014

Live Love Laugh Bake!

I have wonderful memories of baking while growing up.  My father loved to bake, he still does. In High School, and when I visited on weekends while in college, Sunday mornings usually began with fresh baked muffins. What a beautiful thing to wake up to!  I would rush into the kitchen hoping they were still warm from the oven so the butter would get all soft and melty.

Live Love Laugh Bake, watercolor & ink, copyright Erin Rogers Pickering

My Dad was always experimenting and using whatever he had on hand to add to the muffins... zucchini, carrots, ripe bananas.  We never knew what we would get but they were always so delicious.  Such a happy way to start the day, quietly chatting over warm muffins.
Dad was always the Baker in the house especially for the holidays but when my Mom was ill and rapidly losing weight his baking became a staple in the house. He was always baking something special for her. Especially cream puffs, my Mother's favorite! He baked them in hopes she would or could eat them and put on weight. And I think he hoped, that by eating them, somehow she could be saved.  
He baked love and hope and tenderness into those cream puffs, cupcakes and treats. It was love made tangible and edible.  He baked them full of love and joy.  
And hope. 
Lots and lots of hope.  
And even as the cancer ravaged her digestive system and he knew it couldn't save her, he still baked for her. And it was always joyous, festive and filled with love.
We all enjoyed those delicious moments and many are still crystal  clear even after over 30 years.
After Mom passed, Dad continued to bake muffins every weekend for whomever was home that weekend (we were all in college) and the smell, the taste, the heat, the bonding... over melting butter was a moment of sweet happiness to be deeply appreciated. 
All the more as those moments could be found even in all the grief.

What I learned from it was to...
Live fully
Love deeply
Laugh heartily 
Bake often. 
Bake with Joy, Love and Hope.
And to treasure all the sweet moments.  

Since I'd rather be sketching or painting I tend to use mixes or at least baking mixes and here are some GF mixes and flours I have used with excellent results:
King Arthur GF Baking Mix
Betty Crocker baking mixes and Bisquick

For a free pdf printable of my Gluten Free Blessing click here

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learning from a Master, John Singer Sargent

"If you could meet anyone from the past, no matter how long gone, who would you choose to have dinner with?"  A popular, get-to-know-you kind of interview question.

Your answer can be very telling on what is important to you.  If I could pick anyone from the past, it would hands down be my Mom, but if I was to choose an artist specifically, it would be John Singer Sargent or Van Gogh.
Since it is not actually something you can do, I have an advantage, because a visual artist leaves behind an indelible stamp, color images capturing pieces of their imagination, their thoughts, and their feelings.

Singer Sargent's watercolors are so impactful and moving to me, they can  literally bring me to tears.  The man was a true genius with watercolor. His work stuns me - on screen, in print or live, doesn't matter. It quite often moves me to tears.

SO I wondered what if I could crawl inside the mind of this great master, or at least inside a piece of his art? What could I learn?  And how might it effect my own art going forward?  I decided to try my hand at a few of his paintings, to truly contemplate his color palette, his approach, his execution of a building, a landscape, a fountain, a reflection. 

The process was actually very freeing, to paint as someone else and not myself, and I felt his presence in the work as I created mine, since it was really his. And, still his work stuns me. I was copying and love how it came out, but it was his genius that chose to use those colors, those elements and that approach.

As I dared to paint after Sargent, and created these pieces, I remain in awe of his talent!

*both sold to a happy customer who had the perfect spot to hang the pair of paintings!  (updated October 6, 2014)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Gluten Free Potato Leek Soup

I am always SO sad to see summer, and sandal wearing season, come to an end.
But Fall is the start of soup season, and there is nothing quite like a fresh pot of home-made soup simmering on the stove.  Talk about comfort food.  It's cozy, warm, hearty, filling the house with a yummy aroma... and if you are making it yourself then you know it's gluten free.

I am a big fan of Potato Leek soup and made a large pot last year after setting up the shots for my Simply Gluten Free assignment from March/April 2013.  Truth be told, I had never made my own potato leek soup until I was faced with a large pile of chopped leeks.  But it was really quite easy!  We were experimenting with a dairy free diet for my daughter at the time so I found a recipe that didn't call for cream. Instead it is whipped in our magic bullet creating a very creamy texture without the milk or cream. (be sure that any beef or chicken stock you use is gluten free)

It was a tremendous success - and the batch went fast!  Now as we move into cooler, and yes sadly shorter, days... it's time to break out the soup pot and start chopping leeks!
If you enjoyed my art you can see more here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What are you hungry for?

What are you hungry for when you don't know what you are hungry for?
Remember that line from a TV commercial for a candy bar... it always stuck with me.  Pops into my head now and then... especially when combing the kitchen for something - but never quite sure what I am looking for.

There were times before I started eating gluten free that I was hungry ALL the time!  No sooner did I eat, I was ravenous again.  My blood sugar had crazy swings.  That persistent, constant hunger straightened out once my digestive system healed.

Then when my daughter was young and I was going on fumes (colic, sleepless nights, business travel, daily commuting) and had very little time for myself - I found I was self-soothing by eating.  And, as she got older I continued to do it.  It was my new habit. 

Snacking but without real satisfaction. No matter what I ate, I always had that nagging feeling I wanted something else.

It was a slow realization that it wasn't really food I was looking for.  My soul was hungry.  I wasn't taking enough time for self-care as I put my family first.  When I did that I was left with not enough for anyone... and forever feeling hungry.

When I made more time for running, meditating, and art (for the pure joy of it) the constant search for a satisfying snack disappeared.  In fact, most times when I am painting there is no hunger and I actually forget to eat. 

What are you hungry for? really hungry for?