Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


2 Comments

The Daily Head: Veggie Edition

We had lovely weather over the weekend and it got me thinking about our vegetable garden. What delicious goodies do I want to plant this year?

Early spring planting is one of my favorite times for veggies. The ground is warming, the air crisp in the morning, and Mother Nature is waking and welcoming all her children to return.

With that as my source of inspiration, I decided to sculpt two veggie inspired heads:

Sweet Peas! There is nothing like growing sweet peas, picking them off the vine, and eating them right in the garden. (I think the third pea is a little alarmed by the prospect of being eaten right off the vine.)

Another favorite spring veggie:

Red leaf lettuce! Last year we planted red leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce, and Swiss chard. Ms. Leaf also provided additional inspiration for a new focal disk. I haven’t quite worked out the design for the new disk though I’m getting closer to it. All will be revealed….eventually.

We have another vegetable in our garden that may be the source of another head later this week. This particular veggie is a perennial. We look forward to seeing it burst forth each year. Sweet, tender, and excellent raw or cooked. Any guesses?

My schedule is busy the next couple of days, so I may not have a new head to post until the end of the week. Until then, eat your veggies!

If you like these posts, please click the “Like” button and share them on Facebook and/or Twitter. I appreciate it.


2 Comments

Summer’s Bounty

With the heat of the past few weeks, our veggie garden is producing lots of yummy goodies.

First up, the ever popular grape tomatoes:

This is a rather standard variety. It isn’t too bad. Our favorites are an heirloom orange-skinned grape tomato. I don’t remember the name but I recognize it when I see it. Unfortunately, because it is an heirloom plant, it can be hard to find at the local nurseries. It is sweet and delish!

In the spring we had another favorite: asparagus! The last couple seasons we’ve had to deal with asparagus beetles. Nasty little buggers that like to nibble the tips and stalk of asparagus. I know, they don’t eat much. But when there are multiples of them…yuck. By now, the asparagus is past its prime. Which means we have an asparagus forest in our garden now.

Asparagus Forest

Love the ferns. We’ll cut these down later this summer. For now they’re pretty to watch as they sway in the breeze.

I also tried some new items in the garden this year: Swiss Chard and eggplant.

Swiss Chard is great. You can steam it, saute it. It makes a great substitute for spinach. And it lasts much longer in the garden than spinach (a cool weather green.)

This is the rainbow variety. I bought it in a six-cell pack, popped it in the garden, and have been enjoying it for several weeks. We also had red leaf lettuce and bibb lettuce. Those are cool weather plants which have since been consumed (and/or shared with friends.)

The eggplants are my experiment. I’m not sure when I started eating eggplant. Its only been the last year or two. When I saw the starter plant at the farm stand, I decided to give it a try. Eggplant is a warm weather plant. Some varieties can take up to 90 days to mature!

The recent heatwave has caused a profusion of eggplant to burst forth from our garden.

Young eggplant

Hiding eggplant

Because of the weight of the eggplants, I had to stake each plant, otherwise the entire plant was starting to face plant in the dirt. Sadly, one of the eggplant branches snapped and started peeling away from the main plant. That meant I had to remove a rather large eggplant and cut off the branch. The eggplant wasn’t ready for prime time. Its skin was quite soft; definitely underripe.

However, I was amused to see its ‘face’ when I turned it over. I dubbed it One-Eye before dumping it in the compost bin.

One Eye Eggplant

Though we have a fence around our veggie garden to keep out the deer, it hasn’t stopped a chipmunk or two from making themselves at home inside the garden. Along with the plants above, I also planted cauliflower and broccoli. The cauliflower never saw the light of summer as either Dale or Chip (or both) made short order of the cauliflower plant. One of the baby plants was literally ripped out of the veggie bed. The rest were chewed and stripped of their leaves.

Then D & C went after the broccoli, annihilating three of those plants too. They saved three others for us, except for several side leaves on the broccoli plants. And the other day, the little invaders were generous enough to only eat two large tomatoes and save two for us. Glad their mum told them about sharing the garden’s summer bounty.


4 Comments

Dim Sum and Inspiration in Chinatown

Today we visited Chinatown for Dim Sum. We have never enjoyed the experience of authentic Dim Sum before this adventure. I try to eat a vegetarian diet, yet today, with an adventurous spirit, I knew sticking to that diet may not be possible.

If you’re not familiar with Dim Sum, it is the Cantonese term for a type of Chinese dish that involves small individual portions of food, usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. The servers pass by your table with carts of food. They explain, as best as possible, each food item and then you choose if you want to give it a go. When you are served a dish, the server puts a small stamp on your sales slip. The stamp tells them what food item you purchased. Essentially, you run a tab that is tallied when you’ve finally had your fill of Dim Sum and then you pay your bill.

Dim Sum is very popular on Sunday. We arrived around 10am and were seated promptly. If you arrive closer to noon time, you may find yourself waiting in line for a table.

Busy Dim Sum Dining

We started with two varieties of shu mai, red bean buns (my all time favorite), and a couple more shrimp dishes.

Shrimp Shu Mai

Then things got interesting. We saw the ever popular chicken feet, were offered ribs, beef items, meatballs, sausage, and a watermelon drink with tofu and honey (if I understood the explanation correctly.) We passed on the beef and other meaty items and stuck with veggie, shrimp, and tofu options. Boring to some, perhaps. It was also fun to look at other diner’s tables and see what they were ordering.

Dim Sum Cart (egg rolls, BBQ buns)

Dim Sum Cart with steamers

After about an hour or so we all started to slow down on the grazing. A server came by with a cart of colorful looking buns. We thought she said the one bun had seaweed inside. Yum. I like seaweed. Sure, let’s try those.

Eric passed the plate over to me…with three large, round, green balls on it.

Mystery Balls

Hmm, okay. As we joked about the green balls, the manager came over and explained what we had in front of us. The balls contained a filling from the durian fruit. Durian is the “king of fruit” in Asia. However, it is also a rather stinky fruit even though it contains a creamy interior.

Well, if I wasn’t going to eat chicken feet, I guess this item would be my culinary adventure.

Inside the Green Balls

Yes, it was a bright nuclear green inside, which made us laugh even more. However, the taste was rather, uhm, tasteless. I could detect a faint scent; not exactly noxious but not overly pleasant either. (I’ve since read that the stinky smell tends to dissipate by the time the durian fruit arrives in the US.)

We each tried a piece and joked about glowing later on.

Inspiration in a Chinese Grocery Store

With full bellies, we left the restaurant still talking about our experience and ventured into the shopping area of Chinatown. Here were more restaurants, bakeries, shops, and grocers.

I’ve been into a couple local Chinese grocery stores in my neck of the woods but nothing like the one Ken took us to in Chinatown.

When we entered the store, we were greeted with the smell of fresh seafood. In tanks there were eels, carp, crabs, and other critters. In the meat case were cleaned, fresh chicken, chicken feet, duck, and other items. (I glanced at both of these cases and passed them quickly.)

And then we came to the produce area. Oh.My.Goodness. Here were vibrant eggplants, squash, and huge daikon radish. So much inspiration in the colors and textures of these food items. First, the durian fruit which filled the green bun that we had at Dim Sum.

Durian Fruit

The Durian fruit has a spiky exterior which was sharp to the touch. In this picture, the spikes look like a mass of tiny bird beaks, pencil tips…or a bunch of nipples.

Beautiful pink fruit

We didn’t get the name of the fruit shown above. It was shaped like a tear drop with these soft pink with green tipped petals. If you recognize this fruit and know its name, please let me know.

Chinese Spring Squash

Chinese Okra

I love this okra’s bent and twisted character. It has a slightly nubby texture with little ridges. It looked rather sensual laying there.

Mystery Veggie

I’m not sure of the name of the veggie pictured above. Perhaps a type of cucumber or squash? It also had a wonderful skin with ridges and bumps in the crevices. Any ideas what this might be called?

Green Onion Root

I loved the textural effect that happened with this stack of green onions. The root ends draped over the edge of the produce display like a little forest of whiskers.

Chinese Long Green Beans

Finally, I was quite taken with these Chinese long green beans. And they were long; a good 16″ at least. Laying in bundles they reminded me of long, luscious fingers longing to stroke your hand.

Thanks to Ken and Verjik for a great time in Chinatown.

Eric, Ken, Verjik

Eric and I

Capturing My Shadow

As I lowered my cell phone with the camera still turned on, I caught a glimpse of my shadow in front of me through the camera lens. This made me giddy like a little kid. There in front of me, my elusive shadow. I remembered how we’d try to catch our shadows as kids. And there it was. Unaware.

I snapped this picture.

Finally I gotcha!

Me and My Shadow


4 Comments

Inspire Me Baby!

Inspire Me Baby! is a new feature on my blog. In these posts I’ll share my inspiration for certain pieces of art I’m creating.

Today’s inspiration comes from our veggie garden, specifically the Bibb lettuce that is bolting in all this heat. When I walked into the garden, I was immediately drawn to the bolting lettuce; its size and shape. Quick, grab the camera to capture the idea.

Top shot of the lettuce

Bolting Lettuce Front

Bolting Lettuce Back

Naturally, for me, I immediately saw inspiration for an art doll; something with a loopy, wavy bodice.

But before following that stream of thought, I decided to sketch the lettuce. I printed out the pictures above, sketched what I saw, and then colored it with water soluble oil pastels and colored pencils. In the process I remembered how much fun it is to sketch and color.

Bolt 7/12/10

Now I’m thinking I may play with the digital images in Photoshop and make a three or four panel piece using the various images and then engineering an art doll inspired by the whole lot.

Stay tuned.

Inspire me baby!


1 Comment

Sunshine on a Plate

As creative types we are usually open to trying new things and taking a risk here and there. And that tendency includes cooking and/or eating new and different foods.

One food that I’ve never been fond of is beets. My only experience with beets was limited to the kind you get in a can; all purpley -red and tasting, well, awful. And the smell…fuhgedahboutit. One tiny bite of that variety as a kid and I swore off beets for the rest of my life. Blech!

Then, a few years ago some friends served beets at a gathering. Yes, these were the red beets that make me flashback to the stuff in a can. However, the difference, the BIG difference, is that these were fresh beets from their garden. And they were prepared with a creamy dressing.

I was pleasantly surprised. Could beets really taste this good? Apparently so, if you use fresh beets.

On our last day in the workshop in France, Dayle bought a fresh beet salad to go with our lunch. This beet salad had vibrant red beets, cut into small cubes, and prepared with a light dressing. Again, I was amazed at how good beets tasted when prepared well. (Of course, just about anything you eat in France tastes good; even the not so great stuff still tastes pretty good.)

When the Boston Globe food section recently featured a recipe for beets, I knew I had to try it.

When I tweeted that I planned to make a new dish for dinner using yellow beets, the comments ranged from a quote from “The Office” suggesting I grow candy (“something that everybody likes”), to a fellow Tweeter sharing how she prepares beets (steamed with a light, oriental style vinaigrette), to another Tweeter referring to yellow beets as “sunshine on a plate.”

Hence the name of this post.

So, if you’re feeling creative and up to trying something new, here is the recipe for “Sunshine on a Plate,” otherwise known as

Beets in Creamy Horseradish Dressing

1 bunch red or yellow or orange beets (about 1 1/2lbs)
1 T prepared white horseradish
1 T mayonnaise
1 t Dijon mustard
1 t white vinegar
salt & pepper

Cut off the leaves, stems and ends of the beets. In a pan, cover the beets with water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer 30-45 minutes or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a skewer.

While the beets cook, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold the beets.

Drain beets in a colander under cold, running water. Let drain. When cool enough so you can handle the beets, remove the skins from the beets. Cut beets into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes and toss in bowl with the horseradish mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Served chilled or at room temperature.

This dish goes well with fish. I served the beets with red snapper and sliced baguette.

Beets in Creamy Horseradish Dressing

Beets in Creamy Horseradish Dressing

And thanks to wvclaylady on Twitter for the inspiration for this post.