Tag Archives: natural art

Event: Feast in the Forest – Ave Alegre

Ave Alegre studios – Feast in the Forest

 

Ave Alegre studios had their Feast in the Forest fundraiser this past weekend, and we had an amazing time. Several different artists came together to create a forest full of beautiful artwork. There was live music serenading us through the night and delicious, romantic treats for all to enjoy, and under the lights you could feel a community of people coming together to support the vision the wonderful people behind Ave Alegre have for their land.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ave Alegre is more than an event space and gallery, it is a place to come together and learn more about how to live in harmony; with our environment and with each other. Classes are offered in everything from working with indigenous clays for pottery to growing and using native and organic plants to cook delectable dishes and therapeutic concoctions. I’ve led foraging classes with them and they are always interested in the new wild dishes we come up with. Classes are taught in both English and Spanish and the whole place is an educational space on how different and beautiful life can be.

They are available for most event types and all of their upcoming classes and opportunities can be found on through their website or on their official Facebook page.

Advertisements

Seasonal Update: Book Announcement!

It’s almost here!

 

~The Cycle of Foraging – A Book of Days~

The book I’ve been writing since the end of the Wild Foods Garden project is basically done, there’s just some last minute touches that need to happen and then some final editing, but then it’s off to the printers.

Here is a quick sneak peek inside at what it will look like:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There are about 50 different species covered, all arranged according to when they appear throughout the year. They are organized by month and seasons; details for each include seasonality, identification, habitat preference, propagation methods as well as uses. I’m publishing it through CreateSpace, on Amazon, so it will be available online for any kindle readers, as well as in print form.

In addition to hundreds of full color photographs, the book is also filled with dozens of original paintings and beautiful illustrations. These have been added to highlight important details of different species and to give a better picture of how the world changes from one season to another.

Foraging, for my family, truly is a cycle. We mark our calendars for when the dewberries will come into season. We celebrate the ripening of the wild grapes at every Midsummer, and spend all year waiting for the beautyberry harvest to come again. Learning about and coming to enjoy and look forward to all the different wild foods available in our environment naturally connects you to a deeper cycle of Life; a different world. The world we are all born into, but for which many have lost sight of. This book is my attempt to share that world with you. To show how our natural resources can improve our lives, improve our communities and provide a more sustainable and secure future.

Over the next month I will be posting updates on when the book will become available, but it will hopefully be before the end of March. I have several events planned for the next couple of months, and I hope to have hard copies available for anyone wanting to attend. This weekend I will be at Ave Alegre’s Feast in the Forest fundraiser and next month I will be hosting a wild foods potluck, and then gearing up for Earth Day 2018!

In between all of these events, I will doubtlessly be sharing what wild edibles are currently coming into season, and any unique and delicious recipes my family creates with them. Over the next month, we are avidly waiting for the cattail shoots to emerge. We had a fluke burst of them at the end of last year and the opportunity gave us some inspiration for when we meet them again. HINT HINT: noodles…..

To stay up to date with progress on the book or what events I have coming up, follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Art Update

I’ve been working on finishing this portfolio for what feels like an eternity. At last I am nearing the end; the final five paintings I’m working on are almost complete.

Once they’re finished, we’ll take them to a local professional to have them scanned. After that,  print copies of them available here on the website.

Once these paintings are all finished, I’m looking forward to taking some time off. Time to relax and enjoy the coming Spring.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

But also to begin some extraordinary projects I’ve been dreaming about for some time….

In addition to my paintings, I’ve been working with a lot of locally sourced materials to develop some unique 3-dimensional pieces. I’ve also been experimenting with developing paints out of natural pigments found here in the Brazos valley.

paint1

Spending more time in these pursuits, I think, will be more tactile and kinesthetic, and perhaps therapeutic, after the focused precision of painting.

Lacie and I are also looking to work more in our Wild Garden this Spring and Summer, as well as develop (and eat!) more Wild Food recipes, and maybe one or two other outdoor projects….

 

 

Like a portable Cob oven. But I’ll keep y’all updated on that.

Recipe: Prickly Pear Cheesecake

20160925_151757

This is one of the more involved recipes we’ve created. The upside, though, is that it yields several products which can be used for all kinds of other experiments. So bear with us, dear reader, the result is well worth it!

In Texas, there is no shortage of cacti. We use it in landscaping, but it also turns up wherever it pleases, as it rightly should. A wonderful plant, the maligned cactus has a myriad of uses, not the least of which involve its succulent pads. An important water source in the dry times, this seemingly hostile plant can actually be a lifesaver.

Still, in more docile times, the fruits of this plant especially are a wonderful Summer treat. Over the past year, we’ve experimented with prickly pears quite a bit, but the idea of a prickly pear cheesecake seemed perhaps our greatest idea yet.

To start, you’ll need to make a basic prickly pear syrup. This means foraging for a decent bag of prickly pears! Easy to find in sunny areas along roadsides or other dry, open areas, prickly pear cacti love to grow in bunches so gathering a large amount quickly is no problem. The purple fruit are in season between August all the way into October sometimes. Avoid ones that have a gray, waxy residue on them, but if they’re still a little green it’s perfectly fine.

Once you’ve brought them home, either scrub the fine prickles off using a knife under running water or burn them off over a flame. Peel them and then add about 2 cups to a large pot and cover about 1/2 an inch with water. Bring them to a boil then mash and let them simmer about an hour.  Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve, then through a cheesecloth. It should taste slightly sweet, like muted watermelon.

Measure the liquid, then replace into the pot with the following ratio: 4 pt. prickly pear juice, 2 pt. sugar, 1 pt. lime juice. Alternatively: 2 cups juice, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lime juice. Bring it to a boil for 1 minute and continue stirring then reducing it into a syrup. Cool and taste it, adding lime or sugar and reheating as necessary.

For the topping, you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups diced, seeded and peeled prickly pears

3/4 cup diced lime

1/2 cup prickly pear syrup

Place all the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer until it reduces down, about half an hour to 45 minutes.

To make the cheesecake itself, you’ll first have to make the crust. You’ll need 2 cups of mesquite flour and 1 1/2 sticks of softened butter.

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Next combine the butter and flour to make a crumbly mix, similar to a graham cracker crust. Press the mix into a spring form pan and bake for 5 minutes.

For the cheesecake, you’ll need:

3 8oz cream cheese packages

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup prickly pear syrup

1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs

Beat the cream cheese, prickly pear syrup and sugar until well blended. Next add the sour cream and eggs, one at a time. Mix well between each addition, but be careful to not over-mix your eggs!

Gently pour the mixture over your crust and bake for 1 hour, until is almost set. Next let it cool and remove it from the pan. Chill for 3 – 4 hours, top with the compote and serve!

The recipe for teh topping can be used for any fruit compote, and is a delicious dessert in its own right. The syrup is an amazing condiment and can be used in a wide range of recipes, from barbecue sauces to homemade sodas.

-Enjoy!

News and Update; an end to inertia….

So it has been entirely too long since I have posted on here, and I can’t exactly say it’s been because I’ve been working so hard on any particular project. I’m still trudging along with the two paintings I’ve currently got in the works, and I’ve also got two carvings that I’m now committed to doing for people. But I can’t shake the feeling that, in the main, I have been woefully lax in my efforts to be creatively productive these past months. I’ve been in a funk, been distracted, been too busy wasting time thinking and worrying and not enough time forcing myself into action. I’ve been suffering a lack of impetus. But not a lack of motivation, I think.

20160605_131440
Work in Progress

For anyone who lives in Texas, the past week has, timidly, been the first time in a while we’ve seen sunlight. There have still been wild days of crashing storms and floods, but this day, at least, seems to be a beautiful break in the rains. Perhaps that’s all I needed. I love the rain storms, but you really can’t get anything done during them. Even indoors, you’re compelled to just sit and watch and wait it out.

20160526_131259
boating season….

Back before the floods started, Lacie, Luna and I had made an effort of gathering as much of the young cattail flowers and then the wonderful, magical cattail pollen as we possibly could. This stuff has got be some kind of sacred manna; if you’ve never tried cattail pollen, you are missing out. I’ve been making a habit of taking different things Lacie and I make at home to share with our friends at my work, and it’s been really inspiring to see and hear their responses. Last night we made acorn flatbread sandwiches, with black forest ham and cattail flowers, slathered in mesquite-jalapeno jelly. I could not tell you how amazing they were; they only thing that would make them better, would be using thick cut bacon instead of the deli ham.

Omg.

The past month has seen a lot of plants and seeds ripening and now that the sun is starting to break through the clouds, all the wild grapes will start ripening quickly in the lead up to Midsummer. Amazingly, I even saw a couple passion flowers blooming around the woods the other day! I could have also sworn I saw fireflies out in the garden the other night, and as we’re in this transitional period of tons of water lying around and warmer, sunlit days, we’ll probably see more of them during this happy time of year.

20160516_193407

I am actually looking forward to getting down to the waters myself now that the floods are giving us a break. I’ve got a new, smaller cast net and long pole, and my favorite fishing spots are calling to me in my dreams. We’ll actually be going down to the coast before too long, and I’m hoping to catch the blue crabs down there when the moon is full and they are wont to dance in the moonlight. Last year we timed it perfectly and ended up with more than we expected! I also still have buckets of wave polished shells of almost every color that I haven’t gotten around to playing with yet. That’s another thing I’m hoping to get around to soon; so many sculpture projects that I’ve kept on hiatus while I finished this past slew of paintings.

Speaking of which, I do have a giant debt of gratitude to repay to someone I’ve met in these past months. A strange form of luck allowed me to meet Cyd Cassone at work one day several months ago, and it was clear we had a lot of the same passions. Cyd is a musician and currently works at the Creekside Wellness Center in Bryan. They focus on holistic approaches to medicine and naturopathy. After spending some time talking about some of our shared ideas, they offered to host some of my paintings in their office! I couldn’t think of a better place to show these pieces since so many of the messages in them are reflected in the work Cyd and her partners are doing.

I’m really so glad to have met them and many others this past Spring, and Nature willing, I’m hoping the clearer days are a sign leading to more great things happening in the near future and an end to inertia.

20160525_203106

Flying Swan necklace

Just a quick add I wanted to post of a necklace I recently finished for someone special during the holidays.

Flying Swan; mother of pearl and bone
Flying Swan; mother of pearl and bone

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

The body is carved out of bone and the wings are carved from mother of pearl.

The bone I used was from a deer we were thankful to eat last winter and the shells used to carve the wings were the discards of some generous raccoon at a local watering hole….

Truly, there is treasure everywhere.

 

Update….

Jeez, I am starting to feel it now. A deep-seated fatigue, most likely due to the notion of what I still have to finish.

I’ve taken a lot on in recent months. To be clear, I’ve no intention of giving myself any slack; I’m just finally coming to terms with what I have committed to.

I’m very close to finishing the portfolio that I started at the beginning of last year, and by close I mean I still have four more paintings to finish. I am currently working on three of them though, so we’ll see how that goes….

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

In addition to this, I’m still working with an area non-profit, providing environmental education to area schools. I love this and can’t express how thankful I am to be a part of it. Educating kids about the wonderful environment all around them, I really feel like I’m helping to connect them to the world they’re a part of. And that makes me feel great.

That’s why I’m really excited about the new programs we’re (hopefully) going to offer this year. Starting this Spring, I’ll be teaching classes on wild edible plants of the Brazos valley. The amazing plants we’ll see can be found right here in Bryan/College Station, so you can interact with them everyday.

The hope I have for this workshop is to show people that wild foods aren’t just something for “survival scenarios”; that they’re capable of enriching our lives on a daily basis. It’ll be about Thriving, not just Surviving. Because there is a positively reinforcing relationship that we can have with our environment, because we’re meant to be right there.

Wish me luck.