Friday, June 24, 2011

Adventures in Applied Color Theory

Last night I helped K, my Viking Cousin, and G, his sister-in-law, paint the living room and dining room of the Viking Residence. It was Sunday as the "Work Party to Get the Viking Residence into Shape before the Arrival of Small Viking #2" was winding down, that A, the Viking Wife, said quietly that she would kind of like the living room and dining room painted before the room got put back together. G and I looked at each other. Then we looked at A who is eight months pregnant and a very good sport about having her entire house torn up while the floors were refinished and the windows on the south side of the house replaced. We both thought, "this needs to happen." 

Yesterday G asked if I wanted to come to the Viking Residence and paint last night. After a bus trip that took almost an hour longer than it needed too on account of Seattle traffic, I arrived just in the nick of time for dinner.  Initially things did not look good for getting the painting done. Colors had not been decided on. Paint had not been bought. K was in a funk because of all the stuff that needed to get done. A was worn out. Small Viking #1 was beginning the evening meltdown. But G and I were determined.

I made noises that implied that I had ideas about the colors, so K told me to go look at the paint chips and make some decisions.   So I did.  I picked out a slightly brighter sunnier yellow for the living room, and a rich grey for the dining room (which is open to both the kitchen and the living room).  I have long felt that the dining room needs to be a darker calmer color to mark a still point between the activity of the living room and kitchen*(which is bright green). I have felt this so strongly for so long that my mind insists on remembering the dining as a much darker color than it actually was. K was a little dubious about the grey.  I spouted off with color theory**, but what really decided things was that A looked at the colors and said, "those are just what I want."  Possibly she meant, "I want people to make a decision. Anything is fine as long as it's fresh paint."  However we chose to take her at her word, and sent K off to buy paint, while G and I wiped down the walls and taped.  A took the Small Viking #1 upstairs and put him to bed and then fell asleep herself.

K came back with the paint, and shortly after nine o'clock we started painting.  When it came to the grey, I had several moments of fear because the paint came out of the can much lighter than I remembered and a slightly off color, warmer than I wanted.  Advising other people on what to paint their houses is always slightly harrowing because what if it doesn't work?  What if they hate it?  Et cetera.  Fortunately the grey dried to match the chip. We finished shortly after midnight with the caveat that the grey in the dining room needs a second coat (but it's such a small space that that will take no time).

We sat around drinking beer, eating goat cheese sandwiches, and feeling proud of ourselves.  I crashed in the office. The goat cheese sandwiches were amazing.  However I will not offer a recipe because unless you have scallions fresh from the garden, and equally fresh lettuce, and home made goat cheese cured in jerk seasoning, you just won't be able to replicate it.  Alas. 

When I got up this morning A and Small Viking #1 were up and A said that she liked the new colors.  I do too.

*I may have read The Not So Big House one too many times.
** To wit, cool colors recede, and darker colors, depending on the context, also tend to recede.  So the very small dining area should feel a bit larger with a darkish coolish color on the walls.  And it would provide a point of contrast to balance the yellow and the green of the living area and kitchen.  (The old dining area had been sort of a light orangy tan. It did not work.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Report on Experimental Curry

In case you're wondering.  A boring apple that cooks down into mush is very nice in a coconut curry with the cauliflower and other things you wouldn't normally combine with apple. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Am Lazarus Back from the Dead...

Or at least Sarah back from the end of the quarter, and I'm back to start blogging again.  Much as I would like to say that I am moved by pure love of self expression, I will cop to actually being moved by the plaints of my reading public (such as it is).  Now that I am no longer putting sixty hour weeks in the studio, but am instead seeking summer employment (that does not involve me standing on concrete for hours straight*) and putting up a portfolio online, I have time to bend my ear to their requests.

Tonight there is experimental curry on the stove.  Well not terribly experimental, except for the apple I threw in on a whim.  Apple?

I keep forgetting that Gala apples are not my idea of pomaceous delight.  Not even close.  They may be almost the same color as Braeburns and Fujis, but they lack the snap and crispness that makes them favorites, and they cook poorly.  Under those circumstances the apples become some sort of sweet secondary vegetable, and thus into a curry that is already going to play host to cauliflower, an onion, garlic, and a tomato (as well as lentils and rice and some left over chicken). 

But that's not why I'm writing this.  I am writing this because I made gluten free, dairy free brownies that weren't entirely awful AND DID NOT REQUIRE ME TO BUY XANTHAN GUM.  Also the texture wasn't bad.**

Black Bean Brownies

One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed very well, preferably a brand that does not add onions to their black beans.  Alternatively one could make ones own black beans.  This one did not feel so moved.  Nor did she want to go buy new black beans after she opened the can and then realized that they had onions. So she ended up rinsing her black beans many times over and speaking of her actions in the third person. Even so, not too bad.
3 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil or more.  Next time I'm considering upping the oil. 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon if you feel like it.  Or are trying to cover the taste of oniony beans. 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts chopped

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8"x 8" square baking pan, or a 9" round pan.  (Any guesses as to which I was using?)

 In a blender puree the beans with the eggs and vanilla extract until creamy. Then puree them a bit more.

In a large bowl mix together the dry ingredients (sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon).

Carefully fold the bean and egg mixture into the dry ingredients, then mix until totally incorporated.

Stir in the walnuts and chocolate chips, and scrape into the prepared pan.

Bake until only a couple of crumbs cling to a tester.  I started checking at 30 minutes, but the brownies came out at 40 minutes.

If you have the time, these definitely benefit from aging over night. 

* I have a most unholy love of working retail (I pretty much hate recreational shopping).  I like meeting people.  I like talking about things I enjoy.  I like selling people things that will make their lives better (for sometimes very abstract values of better).  I'm even good at it. My feet however have issued an ultimatum about me and standing on concrete floors for hours a day.  Since my feet are an integral part of my active and exciting lifestyle, I perforce must accept that sometimes desks are okay too. 

**I have a couple of people in my life who need things to be gluten free and dairy free (this pretty much rules out chocolate mousse, since I'm allergic to soy based dairy substitutes; likewise tortes that substitute chopped nuts for flour were likewise out, because I hate chopping all those nuts by hand). I prefer to be able to accommodate them.  Preferably with things that are acceptable to not so restricted eaters. Texture is the area where gluten free desserts often fall down.  So when I find something that works for everyone I get all excited.