Black Fig Food

Cook Beautiful

By March 16, 2018 My World

Cook Beautiful?  I haven’t been doing ANY cooking lately.  I have been stumped for several reasons I cannot really share but, I CAN tell you I see a clearing.

A few days ago, I burned my face while trying to make popcorn on the stove…you know, like old school style?  Hot kernels and oil flew right at my mug just as I peeked to see if they had popped yet.  The shit isn’t funny, but it is…. Anyway, those minor burns added to my many reasons why I have been hiding from the world.  Me- 0 Vanity-1.  I must also add that my popcorn was OFF THA CHAIN!!!!!  During my downtime of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to finish a book review I had started in January.

Buying cookbooks are like a religious experience for me.  When I purchase a cookbook and get it home, I can’t just open it right away.  I have to let it tell me when it’s time.  I gotta be ready for it.  And, I am usually just happy to admire the cover forever.  Call me crazy….

I envision myself sitting at the author’s table.  What sort of face will I make once I am served?  What scents will I smell?  What will I wear?  What music will be playing on the turntable?  Most of the time, I will imagine the author shopping at a farmer’s market, carrying wicker baskets to hold delicious finds, wearing something from J. Jill or Chico’s, smelling cantaloupes and shooting the shit with vendors, smiling because they are rich AF.  I hear Stan Getz  or Billie Holiday playing in the background as the scene turns to a Woody Allen black and white movie.  There are birds in the sky circling skyscrapers, weaving in and out of walkway tunnels in Central Park.  Suddenly, my image turns to color again as soon as the author begins to prepare a meal; vibrant greens and reds of the market vegetables sizzling in a Le creuset dutch oven.  Yeah….if a cookbook can’t put this scenario in my head, it stays on the shelf.  Unless it’s Thug Kitchen, by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway…THAT cookbook straight up had me ripping through a playground during recess in a 1970 Chevelle at top speed and listening to ‘Go Motherfucker Go” by Nashville Pussy while eating a sloppy hummus and rice wrap.

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone is the latest cookbook I have acquired in my hot little hands.  As eager as I was to read it, I didn’t crack it open for quite a while.  In fact, It sat on my bedside table for well over a month.  It collected dust because I was afraid to read it.  I figured as long as I didn’t actually OPEN the book, it wouldn’t suck.  I just clung to the hope it would be a wonderful gem to save us from every other cookbook out there with a section on “10 Ways to Top your Toast.”  I have been so incredibly tired of seeing unoriginal ideas being done to death…I simply DID NOT WANT TO OPEN THIS BOOK!

But, eventually, I did.  I had an afternoon to kill so…I made a cup of hot tea and decided it was time.

The refreshing part of the book is that it is sectioned into Seasons which lends a helping hand to those who look for meal ideas using ingredients that are…well… in season!  Duh.  Within each season, Athena gives you options for appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, lunch, dinner, and such gorgeous desserts.  There is something there for everyone.

It begins with Spring, and whadda ya know, we are fast approaching that season!  The recipe photos depict sharp vibrant greens, sun-kissed golden hues (such as in her zucchini fritters), colorful grilled skewers, fresh and clean ingredients not hidden underneath melted cheese or heavy sauces.  Beautiful wrinkled linen table clothes in subdued colors add to my thought, “I could truly enjoy this fucking meal!”  Seriously, I remember the days when wrinkled linen could make Crockett, Tubbs, AND my own mother cringe.  These days, it is more acceptable and adds to a new aesthetic for some Instagrammers and food stylists.  Bravo, I say.

Leading into Summer, my most despised season, I see bright colors of ripened berries, squash blossoms, and tomatoes.  As much as I want to stay in the moment of hating summertime, the strawberries and golden tomatoes, looking most alive, move me to crack a smile.  At that second, I come across the recipe, A Duo of Summer Crostini.  There it is.  There is the damn toast recipe.  But wait…it is so beautiful!  Two crostini:  Blueberries, ricotta, thyme, paired alongside thinly sliced radishes, goat cheese, and fresh green herbs.  Okay, she had me at “duo.”  I like having options, and I appreciate the originality in her ingredient choices.  Anything else but smashed avocado and chia seeds, please….

Lastly, I dive right into Fall and Winter simultaneously because I love them so…  Fall is the section where the colors of summer and fall meet to dance with one another.  I sense a gorgeous and welcoming transition from clean and simple flavors to a more romantic and dramatic piquancy.  Comfort soups such as a silky Cauliflower and Watercress Pesto, simple breakfast of Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels sprouts with Poached Egg, and pan-roasted, seared, slow-roasted goodness are throughout this section.  The season of Winter introduces the deep rich burgundy colors and zing of grapefruits and pomegranates.  The leaves of earthy beet stems plant a “taste of salty” onto my tongue.  Recipes, such as Warm Nonna’s Chicken Soup and Lamb Roast with Fennel Root Vegetables and Lemon Chermoula, have me drooling onto the pages of my brand new book.

I am in love with this cookbook, mmmmmkay? I know the recipes are good.  Each one is crafted around fresh ingredients and clean flavors.  I am certain I will be using this book for years to come.  There is not one recipe in it I could recreate that would suck.  It has inspired me to get off of my ass and get back into the kitchen.  It has opened my mind to embrace ALL of the seasons as well as “things on toast.”  Just by its images, Cook Beautiful delivers gorgeous visions, devouring sounds, inviting textures to the palate, and smells of romance and beauty…..soooooo worth the wait in cracking it open.  It is art.  If you cannot pick up any of what I am putting down, you just don’t get it.

GJ (good job), Athena 


You Might Also Like

Lena Von Vintage: Finding Color Inspiration Through Food

By February 4, 2018 My World

I cannot color coordinate….. AT ALL!  For this exact reason, I adopted the “goth” look early on in my youth.  Black matches black.  Well….sort of.  But that is a whole other story in itself.

Color has always been tough for me.  Whether it was my inability to color coordinate, my shy demeanor and inclination to blend in, or lets face it, the fact that I always thought I looked better in black.  I have always struggled with adopting color into my own wardrobe.  At this very moment, I am sitting here typing this in a vintage black backless chiffon blouse and vintage a-line black and white circle skirt.  Black is timeless and classy.  And, unfortunately, it is also my fashion crutch.

When I started to collect vintage clothing, it became quickly obvious to me that black was not a wardrobe staple in generations past.  I was forced to branch out into a new world of color.  And, what a beautiful world of colors it is; pinks, blues, and greens…..browns, yellows, and oranges….capes in mint, trousers in tweed, and dresses in red.  It was liberating to be surrounded by so many hues and tones.  There was only one problem.  How in the hell would I wear this stuff?

Does my brown plaid wiggle skirt go with…yellow?  Blue?  Is there maybe a hint of green in the skirt?  I had no idea how to make a fashionable wardrobe out of these pieces without resorting to just throwing on something modern…with a touch of black for accent.  During this time of fashion self-discovery, I had a conversation with my nearest and dearest friend, Ruthie.  We talked about how a really great punk song could inspire us in a totally non-musical way to create another form of art or, how a poem can inspire us to create a new painting.  And, THAT is when it hit me; use Ruthie’s art…her food!  In my opinion, the amazing dishes she puts together are works of art.  THAT is where I began to learn how to color coordinate.  The beautiful blending of flavors and colors decorating the plate are by no accident.  Nature created these elements and ingredients artists use as mediums to complement each other.  It is downright primitive.  Early humans were given all they needed to know about what to eat and what to eat it with through color and smell.  Ruthie was born with a primitive and yet highly sophisticated intuition about food.  She knows what flavors work together, what colors a dish needs to turn it into art on a plate…art to be devoured by the body and the soul.  And, I have been inspired by her dishes through taste and vision to know how various colors can work together.  It is no coincidence that Ruthie loves to cook with yellow and my wardrobe has become overrun with the color.

Let me give you a scenario on how it works.  I need to wear more purple.  It is just something random I have decided.  I have no idea how to WEAR purple. What does purple go with…more purple???  I had better check Ruthie’s blog.  After scanning a few pages and realizing how hungry I am and how much I miss her cooking, I see it; Ruthie’s Fig and Blackberry Pizza with Mascarpone and Olive Tapenade

​There is my purple. And within it, I see peach hues, creams, soft yellows of the cheese, and dark browns of the crust.  There it is.  There is my outfit; a soft 1950’s cashmere lilac sweater (figs and berries), a pair of high-waist 1940’s tweed pants (crust and cheese), shoes in a soft cream colored kitten heel, a matching 1950’s box purse, and it is done.  A dandy outfit inspired by the best pizza you will ever eat or lay eyes on.  Inspiration can be anything, anywhere, anytime and for any reason.  It is mysterious and illusive.  But it is always natural or never forced.

 If you feel stuck in your art, in your creativity, look around you.  More so, SEE around you.  Really pay attention to what surrounds you. However small, let the things you like, the sounds you enjoy, and the movements you make, spark something fabulous within you.  Then, watch it grow out of you in a form of expression and in your art.  Your next hit song could be just a quiche away.

– G

GaLena Wertz curates and sells vintage clothing and lifestyle items in Amarillo, Texas.  She began Lena Von Vintage in the fall of 2017 and has grown a nice following through social media platforms as well as her Etsy shop.  You can find her on Instagram and in Lena Von Vintage Facebook group.

You Might Also Like

Note to Self: I Love AcuPUNKture

By January 28, 2018 My World

This has been the most crazy and interesting beginning of a new year ever.  The month isn’t even over with and I have been through an emotional hell and back with a stop somewhere between heaven and earth too.  You could say I am exhausted.  But, I can honestly say I have ended up in a pretty great place at month’s end after my first experience with acupuncture.  It totally had me dancing the pogo.

It all started out a bit rough the first week of January.  I will gladly blame my lack of focus on the hubs who came to Georgia with me for New Years.  What a wonderful distraction..but dang, I was burning shit in the kitchen and totally phoning everything in.  I love you babe, but you had to go home!

Luckily, I got my mojo back just in time for some pretty cool guests to arrive….whipping out good food for about a week and a half.  Then, the anniversary of David Bowie’s death landed in my social media news feed.  I began to feel that guttural sensation of something sucking deep within my soul.  I felt very off.  

A week later, I learned of my father’s  passing. And just a day before, I had met a woman who looked just like my late mother.  It was very strange she had come to me in that form just one day before I learned my dad had died.  It was almost as if she wanted to tell me something.  The irony was thick.  Rather than shake my hand, the sweet woman went in for a hug after I had told her she reminded me of my mother.  I completely lost it in the arms of a stranger. Yay me… Note to self:  stop losing your shit in the arms of strangers.

The death of my biological father along with so many unanswered questions and lack of “reasons why” really planted a rotten attitude into my being.

Day One:  I felt nothing

Day Two:  I felt anger

Day Three: I wanted blood.  I wanted someone’s head.

Day Four:  I… HELLO acupuncture!!!!!!

I had never been to an acupuncturist before and was eager to see what could be done with a few ailments I have had for the last six months.  It was AMAZZZZZZZZZINGAH!  As I stepped into the treatment room, I could have sworn I smelled weed…” like, were you straight up puffin’ in here, Doc? No?  Must be all the herbs and shit…”  After a thorough assessment, I removed my tights and hopped onto the table.  I expressed my relief that I had remembered to shave my legs for this only to find out SHE has never shaved a day in her life.  Note to self:  stop giving a fuck.

A few moments after she inserted tiny needles into various points of my body, I began to feel energy running throughout my limbs.  It was almost as if I had little minions slam-dancing in a pit inside of my nerve highways.  I began to giggle.  As I laid there listening to soothing Tibetan music, I could feel day one, two, and three slowly lift out of my body and completely disintegrate.  I didn’t care where the hell they went, I was just glad they were gone.

On the way home, I popped into Whole Foods for a few things.  I began to look wide-eyed and became instantly awed by the deep red color of the counter top in the check-out line.  The sweet cashier asked, “Are you okay?”  I slowly responded with hesitation, “Yeah…I think I’m tripping…like I just had acupuncture and I’m seeing such bright beautiful colors everywhere!”  We both preceded to laugh.  Colors had never been so vivid and my mind never so clear before (not since that one time I did coke…hey, don’t judge).  What in the name of all that kicks ass was this sorcery…this ACUPUNCTURE?  It had eliminated all of the heavy emotional stuff I carried the past week and had me seeing little birds weaving ribbon into my hair… Note to self:  Traditional Chinese Medicine is my new jam .  Everyone should indeed experience it at least once.

To wrap up an emotion-filled month, I leave you with a new Spotify Hot Mix List and few of my favorite Instagram photos I turned to for moments of peace, inspiration, love, and happiness.


Oh Hi, Joe and Paul!  @punkpoetryy




You Might Also Like

Almond Flour Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Cinnamon Butter

By January 21, 2018 Food, My World

I struggled writing about this for a few days…but I decided to go ahead and do so.  My father passed away on Wednesday.  His obituary mentions none of his children.  After all, I have not seen or heard from him in almost 29 years.  Still…that was incredibly hard to see and read.  It was equally hard to learn of his passing via a message left on my sister’s phone.  What a way to find out….but what do I expect.  Although the choice to be without a dad was made without my permission, I never wanted to chase someone who did not want to be in my life any longer.  So naturally, I should not be surprised by the way in which we were informed.  But, the absolute hardest part of all was not knowing how to feel.  Rather than write about the way and why things are, I decided to share once more about the way things were….a memory of him I have chosen to hold onto over the years…the one trait I have inherited from him…his love of cooking.

Ol’ dad had quite the talent for cooking.  He had taken a second job as a cook at a small café outside of town called Nona’s.  It was right off the interstate and easy for truckers to stop in for a hot cup of coffee and my dad’s delicious pancakes.  There is something about walking into a dive café that triggers my hunger.  A combination of café sounds and sights; the clanking of off-white colored cafe dishes, diners’ conversations and plumes of smoke from their cigarettes, the smells of maple syrup and coffee lingering in the air and the token waitress with an awesome beehive hairdo.  Nona’s had it all.   Those café sounds and smells became a solid reason as to why I enjoyed breakfast so much.

My dad often took on those familiar smells of coffee, fried eggs, syrup, pepper, cigarette smoke but with the addition of Budweiser.  I could smell him from the hallway as I walked into the kitchen yawning, sleepy-eyed with uncombed hair and one sock dangling halfway off of my foot.  There he stood making pancakes.  There was definitely an art to making those yummy fluffy slabs of warmth.  He would slowly pour a stream of batter into a black skillet that was the perfect temperature.  I would stand on my tip toes to peek into the pan and see bubbles popping up to the surface of the batter.  Once he flipped the pancake to the other side, it began to take on a beautiful caramel color and an aroma sent from heaven.  In a smaller fry pan on the burner next to the skillet, were two eggs frying to over medium.  He would place a pancake onto his plate, then a fried egg, then another pancake, followed by the second egg on top of the stack.  After drizzling maple syrup over the top, he would then cut into the stack as if it were one of Nona’s pies.  The yolk would ooze out and mix in with the syrup; the bright rich color of yellow marbleizing with the sweet maple shade of bourbon.  Watching those two slowly collide and dance together gave me warmth over my body as though I were a cat sitting in the morning sunlight.  Looking back, I find it interesting I understood and appreciated all of those elements at such a young age.  After all, it was a beautiful thing to see.  It was culinary genius. 

Almond Flour Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Cinnamon Butter

2 ripe bananas
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup almond flour
1 cup milk or almond milk
3 eggs
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 cardamom pods, seeds removed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sugar
4 eggs
1 ripe banana
Maple syrup

Peel bananas, place in large mixing bowl, and mash with a fork. Add both flours, milk, egg, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk together until a smooth batter forms. You may need to add a bit more milk to thin batter. Set aside and begin heating cast iron skillet over low heat.
Place butter in a small bowl. Add cardamom seeds along with 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix to combine and set aside.
Add a tbsp of cinnamon cardamom butter to pan and melt. Spoon pancake batter into hot skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes then flip to cook the other side. Repeat until you have 6 pancakes. Set aside on a plate.
In a separate non-stick skillet, heat pan with a little oil and fry eggs to over medium.  Place one pancake onto serving plate, top with fried egg, then another pancake, egg, and finish with pancake. Add banana slices to pan and fry for a few minutes on each side. Top onto pancake and egg stack. Drizzle with syrup and serve with remaining cinnamon cardamom butter.

You Might Also Like

Hello 2018

By January 7, 2018 My World

For me, 2017 came and went with great moments with loved ones and lots and lots of cooking.  I don’t know about you but, I am ready to do it all over again with the mindset to achieve more.

A new year seems to be the perfect time, in everyone’s mind, to start anew…make that list of resolutions; start that exercise program to shed the destruction from holiday feasting, start saving for that epic summer vacation, quit smoking… yadda yadda ya…after all, it’s the right time to do it along with everyone else so that when you fall away from your resolutions, no one will notice.  It’s a clean slate, January 1st…  It’s a fresh pair of socks right out of the dryer.

Well damnit, I made a list too….but, it’s not just any list.  It needed super long thought, a small moleskine journal, a brand new sexy monthly planner, kick-ass dual brush pen sets, and a large sketchbook for bullet journaling.  Don’t judge………I’m addicted to office supplies!  And while I’m on the subject of bullet journaling, I refuse to believe that it is the new “scrapbooking.” Say that to my face and I’ll punch you in the ear. Not that there is anything wrong with scrapbooking.  I just blame my scrapbooking years (yes, I had them, damnit) on a very turbulent time in my life which is a story to be saved for another blog post….errrrrrr novel. I digress….

Part of me struggled with the idea of acknowledging any changes.  I did not want to give my bad habits any sort of recognition.  That would deem them as having an important yet shameful existence.  For instance, I quit smoking a year ago this month (give or take a few Pall Malls I had bummed off of friends during social gatherings) BUT, I could not tell you the exact date because I did not want to remember it.  I just know it was during the time of grievance on the loss of my beloved David Bowie.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I smoked one last grit in his honor and then threw the rest of the pack in the trash, in his honor.  I did not want to be able to give ‘smoking’ the satisfaction of being important enough to remember the day I quit.  It was, in a way, my 2017 new year resolution and I didn’t even know it.

So yeah, I made this list in my bullet journal….let’s see what I actually begin, what I decide to leave in the ashes, and what I will be okay with acknowledging, “Yeah, I used to…”

-Set weekly intentions

-Do all things with love

-Set realistic goals

-Start doing yoga

-Eat breakfast every morning

-Practice compassionate self-care

-Stop procrastinating

– Learn to love to sweat

-Be more mindful

– Embrace each day

First Recipe of the Year

This recipe is good for everyone to try…even for those who choose not to have resolutions at all.  You never know what sort of epiphany will spark in your mind just from indulging in a few moments of self-care.

1 comfy bed

1 epic mug of coffee

all of your brand new office supplies

Your favorite David Bowie tune playing in the background

Do you even need any fucking directions? I am certain you all know what to do from here…make that list!!! What are your new year resolutions?

You Might Also Like

Cauliflower Panang with Toasted Garbanzo Beans

By December 17, 2017 Food

Our home has become a place where, on some weeknights, two or more regional cuisines can be combined into a hybrid of delicious debauchery.  This particular recipe is one of our favorites that we make weekly because it’s simple to throw together when using pre-made panang curry and most importantly, it’s THAT fucking good.  Thai panang married with chickpeas toasted in fragrant Middle Eastern spices is a glorious fusion I know your senses will truly dig.  Give it a go~


Cauliflower Panang with Toasted Garbanzo Beans

Instead of using kaffir lime leaves like the traditional panang recipe calls for, I use fresh cilantro.  It gives the dish an extra reason to cause my husband’s eyes to pop right out of his head…(he’s a cilantro freak).  This recipe will easily feed 4 to 6 people and tastes even better as leftovers.

1- 4 oz can panang curry paste, found in any Asian ingredient isle or Asian market

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2- 13.66 oz cans coconut milk

1 head cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets

2 large tomatoes, halved, then each halve cut into 4 wedges

1 bunch green onion, julienned

kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil

1- 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and dried

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

2 cups basmati rice, cooked to package instructions

Heat oil in large pot over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Stir panang paste into the onion garlic mixture.  Let cook for a few more minutes.  Add both cans of coconut milk to the panang paste and stir to combine then, add cauliflower, tomatoes, green onion, salt and pepper.  Slightly cover and let simmer on low for 20-25 minutes or until cauliflower has softened (being careful not to let it boil over).

Meanwhile, heat olive oil once more in a small saute pan over high heat.  Add garbanzo beans along with cumin, coriander, paprika, and turmeric.  Stir beans to coat in spices and cook until they begin to toast.  Set aside.

Serve panang over hot basmati rice and top with toasted garbanzo beans chopped cilantro.

You Might Also Like

Me, Where A Hole Used To Be….

By December 3, 2017 My World

As my cookbook collection continues to grow, I find myself going back to the very same one time after time.  Frida’s Fiestas:  Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo, gifted to me quite a few Christmases ago,  is my go-to culinary connection to a culture lost.  About this time every year, I bust it out and cook up a storm of authentic Mexican dishes just to feel a little bit closer to my heritage; Papas en Salsa Verde, Flag Rice, Corn Pudding with Poblano Cream Sauce.  It is my favorite cookbook in my collection as it reminds me of an “Uncle Rico” moment…the summer I found a huge part of me in New Mexico.

In that summer of 2013, I took a dual credit Art History and Drawing course called Sketching the Southwest, visiting various museums, Hispanic cultural exhibits, and historical landmarks of New Mexico.  A whirlwind of emotions plowed me over from the experiences I encountered.     

 For myself, being a ‘real’ tourist for the first time in my life meant a great deal to me.  I was able to experience and become consumed by my travels for longer than three days.  I absorbed impact calories from so much art that I developed a yearning to live it.  A strong inner experience grew apart from my culturally stagnated position I had been in for years.  My experience urged me to search for the bona fide in the sense of a reality I wasn’t familiar with and wanted to learn.  I wanted to connect with the disconnection of my culture lost. And so…I share with you, excerpts from my final paper ( which I LOATHED writing) and project from the course.

An old traditional aura throughout the streets of Old Town Albuquerque mixed with a new energy filled with gift shops and tourists gave me a sensation of intrigue.   I fixated on the ‘old’ and was inquisitive of its history.  Walking through the town square was an observation of that history in an open air museum.

A tree was just a tree until I viewed it from the other side.  Suddenly, I saw a three hundred year old cottonwood tree symbolic of miracles depicting a vision of the Virgin Mary seen by Juan Diego near Mexico City in 1531.

Upon entering the Town Plaza, my eyes absorbed the San Felipe de Neri Church, the convent of Sister Blandina and the home of Ambrosio Armijo, a Union soldier who built his home in the 1880s which is now the Placita Restaurant on the square.  The devotion to family, faith, and tradition were existent in their design.   For instance, the 125 year old staircase was just a staircase until I learned that it was imported from Spain in 1872 for the wedding of Ambrosio’s daughter to accommodate her 30 foot long wedding gown train.

As I embraced the nostalgia from day one of my tour of the Southwest, I was eager to visit the Hispanic Cultural Center.  Being able to fit the visit into our schedule a day after we had planned, was a very positive sign for me.  Had I not gone, I would not have experienced such a powerful connection with several exhibits. The Scraps of Life short film, produced by Gayla Jamison, echoed a haunting depiction of strength and family bond; two elements weak within my own familial history. The numerous grieving mothers, sisters, and wives of missing murdered Chileans during the Pinochet coup d’état 1973-1990 banded together to look for truth and justice.  The tears of a hopeful wife who had not seen her missing husband in years were symbols of faithfulness of a love that never died.  I found the film to be an extremely powerful starting point for the Stitching Resistance display.  The beautifully stitched layers of sackcloth and burlap arpilleras were a compelling narration of the film.  Human rights issues and violations, abductions and disappearances, women and community wearing white shirts to symbolize peace and black skirts to symbolize mourning were the stories created within each arpillera.  They served as a guarantee that the lives lost were never forgotten.

The Estampas De La Raza exhibit of Contemporary Prints in the Albuquerque Museum conveyed a more personal connection for me.  It was a manifestation of my coming to terms with self identity.  As I studied each print, I took note of the artists’ portrayal of the Chicano Movement and its traditions….its icons both secular and spiritual that have kept the culture alive.

In La Ofrenda (1988) by Ester Hernandez, a Latina is depicted as a Chicana who is proud of her past yet very much a part of contemporary American life.  She is comfortable with her identity adorned with a tattoo of the Virgin of Guadalupe on her back and a contemporary hair style.  She looks as though she is carrying her heritage with her into the future.

Although, Purgatory Mary (2010) by Germs (Jaime Zacarias), did not necessarily portray Chicano struggle like other works in the exhibit, it was a compelling piece celebrating more than one cultural experience.  The main figure in the print is a blue multi-tentacled ‘Mary’ with hands and eyes ostensibly derived from Buddhist sculpture.  One of the many tentacles holds an iPhone with a Los Angeles Dodgers logo as the screensaver.  Another tentacle is wrapped around a pinto bean (baby Jesus) and other tentacles spell out Germs across the composition in graffiti fashion.

Experiencing tourism in the Southwest was a revealing, educational, and inspirational absorption of art.  It fed my soul with a rich and ever-changing culture defined by passionate artists in various ways.  From the petroglyphs, Navajo textiles and pottery, to the Nuclear Science Museum and contemporary area artists’ studios, New Mexico’s art scene proved to be more than just red chili ristras hanging from an adobe home.  The scene, art, and museums were a very important catalyst to inspire the tourist within me to become a better artist.   More importantly, those same things gave birth to a thirst I’d never known; a thirst for commonality with art, history, my own culture and a self-confirmation that I do exist.

The Hispanic culture and art that I experienced with its richness in tradition, respect for family unit, and religious romanticism reached out to me louder than ever.  Coming from a predominately white upbringing, I felt a strong yet forgiving resentment brewing within me for the culture I had been given in exchange for the culture I had lost.  I came to recognize that the culture I was handed was not given in vain. My mother, who grew up extremely poor and was taken out of school at an early age to work in the cotton fields and pecan farms, wanted a ‘better’ life for me.  Her passion for wanting to raise me in an unfamiliar culture, subjected me to racism and lack of acceptance. I was completely ignorant of my own culture.

After my travels, I realized it was time to embrace the culture that had been absent in my life for too long.  So…for my final project for the dual credit course, I blending where my mother came from, where she placed me, and how I tried to wipe away that layer to expose myself to my culture lost.

Me… Where a Hole Used to Be – 2013 Installation

Ruthie Landelius

Acrylic on vellum, coroplast and cardboard

         Art, music and food have always been of great interest and inspiration for me.  They merge into a Trinity of expression which speaks to creativity and self discovery.  I cannot do one without the other because my aesthetic is informed by and relies on the feelings and information derived from the experience of each.  Influences from New Mexico have allowed me to realize that this “Trinity” had taken me full circle.  From multiple trips to this region, I had experienced new food, new music, and such penetrating art that threw me into a deep investigation as to who I was, who I am now and how I exist.  The progress of my self-growth has become an essential catalyst to the significance of the art I create.

Throughout my life, I have felt an overwhelming sense of loss without truly understanding what that loss was.  I had discovered that I had missed out on an amazing Hispanic Culture most of my life.  I had always known of this particular culture, I just always viewed it from the other side of a looking glass.  For years, I have hidden my talents out of fear of rejection.  Now, I have a drive to create artwork that connects with the things that constitute my being.

My mother’s old antique sewing machine with a dish of pecans and cotton resting on top represents Irene and her past.  The combined earthy browns are reminiscent of a dry heat in San Saba, Texas; her birth place.  The wood is thirsty for oil just as you become thirsty for water once you have eaten a pecan.  Please, eat a pecan.  The bright colored frame with the Sacred Heart above transports me to a welcoming Mexican hacienda; one that I had never known.  As I tug at my pearls and smear my lipstick, I attempt to remove the stress of having to fit in, be proper and innocent.  I cannot be Sandra Dee.  I can only be me, surrounded by vibrant welcoming colors, with my satin rimmed fedora, my Black Flag punk rock t-shirt, and my ink.  I search for me, where a hole used to be.  I am a Chicana.


Sadly, it was thrown away due to a poor storage choice on my part (under my bed) and a lil’ pup who liked to pee (under my bed).


You Might Also Like

Passion: Fig and Blackberry Pizza with Mascarpone and Olive Tapenade

By November 19, 2017 Food, My World

This is Izzy.  She’s the one who looks like she’s about to stage-dive off the steep mound of dirt.  She’s one passionate kiddo.

Passion.  If we do not have it, are we wasting our lives?  I don’t really mean, “wasting OUR life”.  I mean, “wasting A life.”  An opportunity to really feel something…anything; gratitude, awe, true desires of our hearts that make our veins burn with anxiousness to take it in… are all within our reach.  Are we grabbing it when we see it?

In picking up a habit of journaling every morning, I often slip into a deep “aha” moment at times.  One morning, not too long ago, I had one of those aha moments about the power of passion.

Recently, I witnessed someone else’s passion…my very own kiddo’s passion.  Izzy has always been that fearless soul; at age 3, jumping into a 10 ft.-deep pool without knowing how to swim, sneaking out hammers and nails to work on crafts at age 5, and to this day at age 11, eating fresh onions for a snack.   I don’t know….maybe she’s just an adrenaline junkie or a masochist.  Like, what kid does that?!?!  This past summer, she developed an interest to learn the ukulele and began playing non-stop until her little fingers yielded blisters.  It was a prime example of where passion outweighs pain.  I was completely awestruck.  The difficult part for me was to step away from my own narcissism in thinking, “wow, look at what an awesome job I’m doing raising this kid to be passionate about something!” I had nothing to do with it.  Instead, I realized, I was witnessing this incredible little human experiencing the growth of passion all on her own.

Sometimes we get so caught up with keeping passion alive within ourselves, we miss opportunities to see it cultivate in others…guilty one, right here!  In this day and age of social media and self image being front row in our “priority bank”, it is important to step back and away from our own narcissism in order to recognize and acknowledge someone else’s passion.  I feel we have become our own paparazzi…self-cheering section, if you will.  I am not suggesting we brush our accomplishments under the rug.  Toot your horn when you want to!  We all all bad-asses at different times in our lives.   I am simply saying, slow down and just LOOK AROUND.  Passion is within others everywhere and can actually be an inspiration to us all if we just pay attention to its presence.  Although I won’t be eating fresh onions for breakfast any time soon, I will, however, be looking forward to finding that good ol’ passion out in the world…starting with this Fig and Berry Pizza!

Fig and Berry Pizza with Mascarpone and Olive Tapenade 

I love a little salty mixed with sweet so, I added a few dollops of olive tapenade and crumbled feta onto the pizza before sliding it into the oven.  You won’t be sorry.

1 container mascarpone cheese

1 vanilla bean, split and beans scraped or 1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar

Pizza dough recipe or store bought to save time

4 to 5 fresh figs, sliced

1/2 cup fresh blackberries, sliced

1 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup olive tapenade (recipe below)

Prepare pizza dough as directed (3 1/2 hour process).  Combine mascarpone, vanilla, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl.  Set aside.

When dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Roll out dough onto a floured surface.  Place pizza stone in oven for about 10 minutes to get nice and hot.  With oven mitts (duh), remove stone from oven and transfer pizza dough on top.  Spread mascarpone over the pizza, then top with figs, blackberries, feta, and olive tapenade.  Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until mascarpone is bubbly around the edges and crust is golden brown.

Olive Tapenade

1 can black olives, drained

1 jar kalamata olives, drained

1 jar green olives, drained

1 small jar capers, drained

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

4 to 5 sprigs fresh thyme

olive oil

Add all ingredients into a food processor and process while adding a slow stream of olive oil.  Be careful not to over process olives into a paste.  Top over fig pizza or serve with toasted pita chips.

You Might Also Like

Sunday Mix-Tape and Breakfast For Dinner: Frittata Love

By November 12, 2017 Food

Say what?  Breakfast for dinner?  Did you also say you wanted a super cool playlist to jam to while whisking your damn eggs?  I aim to please….myself and then push on to you!  I am horrible at figuring serving quantity because I have no idea how hungry you may be… I don’t know your life!  Seriously though, this will feed 6 to 8…depending on your “sharing mood.”

Potato and Mushroom Frittata

1 bag baby tri-color Yukon potatoes or just plain Yukon

1 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt and pepper

1 container fresh baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

8 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 cup finely shredded Gruyere cheese

fresh dill for garnish

Preheat oven to 375.  Toss potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in oven on baking sheet for 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat an oven safe large non-stick pan over medium high heat.   Add a glug of olive oil to hot pan then add mushrooms, red bell pepper, and onion.  Saute until onions become translucent and water from mushrooms has evaporated.  Mushrooms should have a lightly crisp brown sear on at least one side.

Remove potatoes from oven and add to pan with vegetables.  Add thyme and set aside.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, almond milk, cheese, and dill in a large mixing bowl.  Season with more salt and pepper.  Add egg mixture to hot pan with vegetables.  Cook over medium heat until eggs begin to cook around the edges.  Place pan in oven and let bake for 20 minutes or until egg mixture is completely cooked through.  Last few minutes of cooking, switch oven setting from bake to broil to brown top of frittata.  Using oven mittens, carefully remove pan from oven and set aside to cool before serving.


You Might Also Like

A Forever Home Is Within Ourselves

By November 5, 2017 My World

Nature is a funny gal.  She never disappoints when I am looking for comfort and answers.  Here in Georgia, I often stand beneath the tall pines to feel a calm come over me.  With their statuesque presence, they hide me from the world so that I can take a moment to meditate and, simply, just breathe.

Back home in Texas, on the eve of Halloween, I was driving through one of my favorite neighborhoods and passed a beautiful home I have always admired.  Its gorgeous blue minty color,  I swear I can taste.  It has always reminded me of a cool blue taste in a stick of gum.  With its warm wooden embellishments and rich seasonal decor of illuminating jack-o-lanterns on every porch step, the home suddenly made me crave hot caramel sauce and pumpkin spice apple crumble.  And so, I began to profile the lady of the home.

Is she a sixty-eight year old lovely woman who stayed at home to raise her children and now has all the time on her hands to drop an insane amount of Benjamins at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s while her physician husband is saving lives and sleeping with his nurses?  Does she buy all of those things to mask her pain from an unhappy marriage?  Do I create this horrible scenario in my mind about her only because she gets to have this beautiful home and I do not?  The answers are no…I am certain her life is damn near perfect.  How awful of me to think otherwise.  Leaving my judgement on the street corner, I drive on past the house to a busy outlet and think to myself, “Will I ever have MY forever home?”

What IS a forever home, anyway?

During my first marriage, I used to dream of what my ‘forever home’ would look like…that place the kids would come home to during Christmas break from college to reconnect with childhood memories…..the home where I could babysit my grandchildren.   I looked and looked for it for two decades, all the while moving from beautiful home to beautiful home every three years, not realizing that those homes were as good as it would get.  After my divorce and fifth year in my rental home, I came to a sad realization I may never have it.  Sad…….OR is it?

Later that day, I found myself unintentionally driving past another home.   This particular home was the place I spent my early years as a sticky-faced baby in cloth diapers and then, a rather shy and quiet young girl through my junior high years…and the house was fucking gone.  I tried to muster up tears but, I just couldn’t.  I even made that squint-y face we all have come to love and know when we are on the porcelain throne ….still, I had nothing.  I sat in my car in total shock thinking, “How dare they tear down my childhood home! I didn’t get to say goodbye!”  I looked for something….anything to take as a souvenir.  All I could find were the memories in my head.  Memories of learning to ride my bike in the backyard, watching my father twist the heads off of chickens so we would have an evening meal, burying our pet cat after it had gotten hit by a car and then digging it up a year later so we could see its decomposition, and hiding behind the big tree by the alley, giggling at smut magazines my brothers and I would find….it suddenly hit me.   A home doesn’t necessarily keep memories alive.  Memories (wonderful and gruesome) stay alive in our minds.  THAT is the place where our forever home truly resides.

……and, nothing lasts forever.  Time and change make sure of that.  Seasons come and go along with a stronger inner growth within ourselves.

… that we can get through this thing called life, forever moving toward anything that strikes us as beautiful or makes us want to continue to grow.



You Might Also Like

Page generated in 2.339 seconds. Stats plugin by