Friday, January 28, 2011


I asked my dear friends at Marisol Spoon a few questions for this week's post.  Spoons are an eating utensil, but the word has a definition as a verb that is much more romantic meaning: to make love by caressing, kissing, and talking amorously.  It derived this meaning perhaps from the Welsh custom of an engaged man gifting his lady love with an ornately carved spoon.  Marisol Spoon is an artist husband and wife team, I have known them now for over a decade and they are an inspiration when it comes to partnership, and art.  I just love the little details in the picture above...don't you?  Enjoy!

1.  Marisol Spoon is the brainchild of two artists from Appalachia.  Give us a little background on how Marisol Spoon came to be.  

Marisol Spoon began with the idea of creating a children's book. We had been tossing the idea around for quite some time. We roughed out a version of our first book, and the summer of 2009 I began on the illustrations. I was enjoying the painting so much that before I knew it I had 12 completed pieces. We decided it would be fun to open an Etsy shop to see the response to the visuals we had so far. Next thing we know it we have a shop filled with prints, wearable art, stationery, and various other items. So I guess you could say Marisol Spoon has come about in a very organic way.  

2. You are a husband and wife artist team.  How is it working together...running a cyber mom and pop shop so to speak?  How does your collaboration/partnership help your creative process?
For the last 10 or so years we've had separate art careers and bodies of work, which we still continue to build on. But the collaboration of Marisol Spoon has been rewarding in so many ways we never could have expected. We absolutely love working together. We begin by brain storming and looking for inspiration, we bounce ideas off one another and one or both of us draws on the same image until we love what we see. I usually draw the figures and the Mr. adds to it with objects, but that process changes all the time. I do most of the painting and we both design and make the other various objects. 

3. Your work is a synthesis of folk and fantasy...vintage yet contemporary, with a dash of kewpie. Where do you draw your inspiration?
From all over really! Art history, 60's and 70's illustration, fairy tales, vintage tea canisters... 

4.  NYC was your home for the past three years before your return to Asheville, NC.  This is a food blog so I have to your three favorite places to eat in the Big Apple.

Shake Shack -great burgers (I love them and don't even really eat red meat!)
Plump Dumpling - Best dumplings in NYC

Monaco- great 
prix fix dinners (grilled salmon is divine)
5.  You guys are both southerners, which in my book means you know good cookin'. Do you have a favorite family recipe to share?

Well, to be honest we're just now getting into cooking. This isn't a family recipe but one that I tried recently which turned out pretty delicious.


Pumpkin Bread 
Serves 8

  • 1 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 2 cups cooked pumpkin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
  • Toast pumpkin seeds by placing them on a baking tray in a 140 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Put ½ cup aside to sprinkle on bread. 
  • In a food processor, pulse chop the remaining ½ cup to a course consistency. 
  • Puree pumpkin and set aside. 
  • Mix dry ingredients together. 
  • Stir sugars and pumpkin together. 
  • Process oil and eggs in food processor with a metal blade. 
  • Add dry ingredients, then pumpkin and pulse to blend. 
  • Add yogurt. 
  • Put mixture into an oiled pan.  
  • Bake bread for about 50 minutes or until well browned. Allow to cool in pan.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Soul Food and Snow Angels

Imagine this dinner party.  A chef, a gynecologist, a lawyer, an osteopath, a writer, a billionaire's personal assistant, an Olympian, and three beautiful kids under the age of 10 all sitting around a giant wooden table laden with soul food.

Our trip to Park City, Utah last week was far from your average ski trip mainly due to the exceptional company we kept throughout the vacation, and I will always remember this trip as the time The Sprout first saw snow, and when Lil' Bit made her first snow angel.  Snow angels...there is something about spreading out on fresh snow that leaves you with a wide open feeling.  Good for the soul.

Ski trips are about three things...snow, skiing, and mealtime.  Big breakfasts, lunch on the mountain, and then dinner to feed an army.  Every morning Chef dished out a huge breakfast to feed his brothers, father, the kids and I.  Eggs, bacon, homemade biscuits, pancakes, sausage...lets just say our low calorie diet was shot to hell on a highway of grease.  But that is what ski trips all are about.  Waking up early and starting a full day on a full stomach.

Lunch.  It was easy to be good on the mountain.  Deer Valley Resort is beautiful. Roaring fires in the dining areas, micro brews on tap, and an unexpectedly elegant selection of food at its various movie theater prices of course.  The hit of the week was by far this sandwich, photographed by Chef's brother, Jason. A serious milanesa (Argentine spelling) sandwich, perfect for playing hard on the slopes.

Back to dinner.  We had many great meals this trip, but our soul food feast was perfection.  Fried chicken, collard greens, fresh biscuits, cornbread, piping hot hoppin' john, and macaroni and cheese good enough to slap your grandma, and for dessert chocolate cake in honor of Chef's birthday.  But what made the meal exceptionally wonderful was people that shared it.

You can have an incredible plate of food in front of you, but if your dining partners are no fun then it doesn't matter how good the food is...the meal is going to be a drag.  On the other hand, if the food is terrible and the company fabulous then at the very least you are in for good conversation.  The Jarrett family who reside in Heber City Utah,  were our guests for many a meal this trip, and they brought so much thoughtful energy to our table.  The type of folks who give you a hug upon your first introductions.
Dave Jarrett, former Olympian, is now the US Olympic Ski team Nordic Combined Head coach.  He loves what he does, and is literally the best in the world at it.  Took home three medals for the US in the sport last Olympics, the first time our country has ever medaled in the event's history.  His wife Kelly is as lovely as it gets.  One of those gals who you immediately connect with because she is so easy going and authentic.  We spoke a bit about what it was like to have partners that have turned their passion into their life paths, and what the next step is in our game as mothers as our children grow less dependent. 

Now that I have returned to routine of home life from our vacation I have had some time to reflect. It is getting towards the end of the first month of 2011.  The year seem to be shaping up to be full of change and growth for us as a family as we consider a move to Atlanta in the summer.  While at time life seems to drag (this is mainly due to housework in my case), life is short.  Really short.  It flies by if you are not watching.  If you are not present.  We all have a lot to learn from people like Dave and Chef.  People that follow their dreams and actually catch them.  I imagine it frees you a bit like making a snow angel.  Wide open.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Goodbye Citrus, Hello Snow

I had to walk away from this beautiful bowl of citrus last week as we set forth on our annual ski trip.   It was picked by dear friends here locally and given to us during the holidays, and Lil' Bit and I picked our share as well.  Grapefruit, tangelos, tangerines, and oranges of every variety.  We had three pickle buckets of citrus, most of it went to 29 South and some was of course re-gifted.

Lil' Bit and I delivered a bag of sunshine to our new neighbors from Wisconsin.  They in turn juiced the fruit and left a pitcher of fresh juice on our front porch.  It was a lovely and unexpected thank you.

Citrus is the most widely grown crop in the world, with Brazil as its numero uno provider of oranges and grapefruits...although Florida citrus is usually 25% heavier than fruits grown outside the state due to thinner peels and more juice. 

I wonder if there will be any fruit left in our bowl when we return tomorrow night.  I told my wonderful friend and housesitter/zookeeper to enjoy it while we were gone, and given that he had just started a raw food detox it is unlikely there will be.  It is okay though, after 8 hours of travel with a 2 year old, a 9 month old, and a ski-torn Chef I think I will be looking for something a little stronger than grapefruit juice when I finally arrive at home sweet home.  Something a lot stronger.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Edna Lewis and Tyler Pie

Chef has 316 cookbooks and counting.  They fill this giant shelf and spill out into various lesser shelves throughout our home.  For his New Year's resolution, Chef has resolved to make one thing out of every cookbook in his collection.  On Saturday, we had the best New Year's Day dinner I have ever eaten, and he closed the meal with a perfect pie recipe from this cookbook. 

If you are from the South and do not know Edna Lewis, well don't worry I won't tell anyone...but you better go here and buy this book, The Taste of Country Cooking.

She is the grand dame of southern cooking, an extraordinary woman...and absolutely beautiful don't you think?   Her story is fascinating.  Edna Regina Lewis was born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia which was founded by her granddad and 3 other families of freed slaves.  Soon 8 more families joined their farming community.  Edna grew up in a large family with many generations living under one roof.  She ventured from Freetown as a young woman and held a variety of careers, from being a dress maker for Marilyn Monroe to New York City chef with a pheasant farm on the side.  In other words...
a bad ass.

Here is a quote from Alice Water's forward in the 30th anniversary edition of her groundbreaking cookbook first published in 1976. "Edna Lewis had an irresistible generosity of spirit.  She was far more than the doyenne of Southern cooking.  She was, and remains, an inspiration to all of us who are striving to protect both biodiversity and cultural diversity by cooking real food in season and honoring our heritage through the ritual of the table."  

Chef chose a recipe from this brilliant woman's cookbook to begin his resolution for the year...which makes perfect sense.  Her food philosophy resonates completely with his.  Presenting Tyler Pie, our first desert for 2011.  Here is the recipe and a little ditty about it from Edna.  One of the best things about this cookbook, besides the seasonal food of course, is that it is full of fascinating stories.  Make this custard pie.  I dare you.  You will not be sorry, and it is soooo easy.

Tyler Pie
There are many recipes for Tyler pie or pudding.  This recipe has been around Lahore one hundred years, and I suspect it is pretty close to the original, since Tyler was born in Orange County.  The women of Freetown each praised the perfection of their Tyler pies.  It was served throughout the year along with seasonal pies.


Pastry for 2 8-inch pie pans (I am not going to include a recipe for this, but I am sure you can find one or make it easy and use store-bought pie crust)

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1 cup (1/2 lb) of slightly melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups milk 
  1. Chill the pie pastry until you are ready to fill it.  
  2. Beat the eggs well.
  3. Mix sugar, flour and salt.
  4. Add sugar mixture to eggs and mix well.
  5. Add in butter, vanilla, and lemon extract. Stir.
  6. Add milk.
  7. After one final stirring pour the mixture into your pie crust pans.
  8. Bake in oven preheated to 350 degrees about 30 to 35 minutes