Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chocolate Truffles

I'm always looking for handmade gifts that are easy, special and good for all kinds of occasions. Recently, I discovered chocolate truffles. I used to make them for gifts quite a bit many, many years ago, but then I forgot about them. Although I'm not sure how I could. They are so delicious!
So when Daniel recently mentioned them as a possible gift to take to a birthday dinner, I thought it was a great idea! Since then, I've tried three different recipes with varying results:

1. The first I tried was by Ree Drummond. They were easy to roll into little balls, but I found that using sweetened condensed milk instead of cream made them very sweet. Too sweet for my taste. I also didn't dip them in chocolate, but dusted them with cocoa powder.

2. Then I tried one I found on the Bon Appetit website. They were quite good, but for some reason they stayed rather soft. Maybe because it used 9 oz of chocolate to 1 1/4 cup cream.

3. Today, I made a recipe from the King Arthur Flour website. So far, I like this one best. It uses 12 oz of chocolate to 1 cup of cream, which makes for a very nice texture. I mixed dark chocolate with a little bit of semi-sweet and dusted them with Trader Joe's drinking cocoa powder. Good choice! And a perfect gift!!
No matter what recipe you use, always go for really good quality chocolate. Plus, you can add all kinds of flavorings to the ganache and also vary the toppings. The websites all have great ideas. I happen to like the traditional truffle best!

Here's to chocolate! And to you...


Friday, September 30, 2016

Playing with Color

When I say I just play with color, that is true and it's also in a way much more. The whole purpose of me painting the way I do is to develop my intuition, which I am finding is actually quite strong and accurate - now that I no longer ignore it.
When I went to school as a kid, everything was all about doing things "right."  I found the same thing when I was taking "serious" art classes. I had a hard time being creative and allowing my imagination to guide me when I was concerned about doing it correctly.
That's why I started playing with color and shapes before I even think about painting an animal. There is no way to get these wrong, at least in the beginning layers.
So when I start a painting, I am very tuned in to how I feel and the energy of the day (sounds weird, but that's what happens). And then I feel drawn to certain colors and color combinations.
I don't question it, I just take the colors and start. The first layer will lead to the next one and so on. And at some point I either see an animal in the shapes or an animal pops into my head and that's the one I go with. No questions asked. I assume my intuition is working correctly.
This is actually a watercolor card I painted for a friend who lost her sweet dog. 
Everything in the universe is vibration, including color. I have tried to have a more monochrome palette or to use black and white and one additional color, but that's just not me. At least at this point in my life.
I seem to be made of bright colors and when I paint with them they feel right to me every time!
At the moment I'm drawn very much to accents of neon pink, as you can see in the first four paintings I'm showing you today.
Every painting doesn't just carry the vibration and energies of the colors, but also all of the love and good wishes I pour into it while painting. I hope you can feel it, too!!

Some of these small paintings have already found their forever homes, but a few are still available at my Daily Paintworks Gallery.

I'm linking this to the wonderful Paint Party Friday group. If you want to be inspired, head on over for some fantastic art!!


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Recipe: Pretzel Buns

As soon as the latest issue of LandLust Magazine hits the shelves in Germany, my dad sends me a copy here to the US. I love this magazine - reading it and looking at the pictures is like a mini escape to Germany. 
So, when this latest issue had recipes for pretzels and pretzel buns, I knew I had to try making them immediately. As long as I can remember, I have loved pretzels. Growing up in Germany, they were a regular part of my life. And while we can find them here now once in a while, they aren't quite the same.
 So, by popular request on Facebook, I translated the recipe and adapted it to American ingredients.

Pretzel Buns
(makes about 16 buns)


500g All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
40g softened butter

For the brine:
50g baking soda

Possible toppings:
coarse salt,
seeds (sesame, poppy, pumpkin, sunflower),
or a little grated cheese

1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 320ml lukewarm water.
2. Using the dough hook on the mixer, work the flour, salt and softened butter into the yeast water. Knead the soft dough for at least five minutes (I had to add a little more flour to keep the dough from sticking).
3. Form the dough into a ball, put into a large bowl, cover and allow to rise for either 2 hours at room temperature or over night in the refrigerator. (I allowed it to rise over night and made the buns for breakfast.)
4. After the dough has risen, divide it into 16 equal parts, form each one of them into a small ball, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 465 degrees F (240 C).
5. Meanwhile bring 1.5 liters of water to a simmer. Add the baking soda carefully as it will foam quite a bit initially.
6. Add three or four of the dough buns at a time to the simmering water for about 45 seconds, turning them once.
7. Remove from the water, allow excess water to drip off and put on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (I used a Silpat baking mat, which worked great.) With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each bun and sprinkle with your topping of choice. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
8. Bake for 15 minutes or until nicely browned and your kitchen smells like a German bakery.
9. Try not to devour all of them. By yourself. In one sitting.

Enjoy!! Easy and delicious! And if you make the dough the night before, you can have fresh buns for breakfast. Also, they freeze really well.

A note: This recipe is easiest if you have an electronic kitchen scale that also measures in grams. For the liquids, 1 ml is equal to 1 gram, so you can weigh them on the scale as well.

Tomorrow, I'll have a bunch of art for you! In the meantime, have a beautiful Thursday!


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Something New

For a very long time I have wanted to participate in Ginny's Wednesday Yarn Along where everyone shares what they are knitting and reading at the time.

For some reason I've been putting it off. My blog used to be about everything creative I was doing, which included knitting, sewing, crocheting, cooking or baking. Or travel. Or what I was reading. Or whatever else delighted me.

Lately it has become pretty much only about my art and while there is nothing wrong with that, I miss documenting all the other parts of my creative life. So, here's some knitting for you. I have had this beautiful sock yarn in my stash for a few years and it just begged to be turned into socks. The Pattern is the Misti Alpaca Sock Family, which is a basic sock and quite simple to follow.
The yarn is so soft and a joy to knit with. And those colors! They remind me of the colors I use in a lot of my paintings. This is going to be a pair for Daniel for when it finally cools down. Right now, it still feels like a hot and humid summer, but I have high hopes for some fall temperatures in October.
And what am I reading? I'm on the fifth of the Harry Hole series, an excellent Norwegian crime series. Because we first discovered them on a trip to Germany, we are reading the entire series in German. I find that during the long and hot southern summers, I read a lot of books that take place in Scandinavia, the British Isles or Iceland. It allows me to cool down ... at least in my mind.
Tomorrow, I'll be back with a recipe for pretzel buns (Laugenbrötchen) and on Friday I'll have some art to show you!

Have a beautiful Wednesday and I hope you'll enjoy whatever it is you have planned.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Charcoal Love

Dear friends, I know I've been quiet as of late. I've been busy enjoying the rest of the summer with Daniel before he starts teaching again. And...I've discovered a new love: charcoal!
Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know that I've always had a fascination with portraits and it seems I'm getting back to that (while still doing my colorful animal paintings).
I've had such a yearning for working with charcoal in a style that's been in my head and is finally finding expression.
Here are four larger charcoal drawings I did in their various stages of development. Enjoy!

Even though this isn't painting in the strict sense of the word, I am still linking to Paint Party Friday, a wonderful place to gather creative inspiration of any kind!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!