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Seems I've developed a habit of drawing Santa puppies each year.
Last year, we adopted a gorgeous puppy from the RSPCA and my brain had turned to puppy pulp from adoration. So, it was only natural I would draw a Santa puppy.
This year, I'm illustrating a picture book, featuring the cute fur-character above. Everyone else was wearing Santa hats and I didn't want the puppy to feel left out. This sweet, heartwarming Christmas story, written by Lili Wilkinson, will be published in time for Christmas 2017 by Allen and Unwin.
I'm currently up to the exciting colour stage of the picture book and have spent this week preparing and experimenting. Ignorant onlookers may call this part of the process, procrastination.
I've been working out my character colour palette, making my own texture brushes using pastel, pencil and watercolour, and experimenting with some new brushes I recently purchased from Kyle T Webster. I'm having so much fun procrast... I mean, preparing.
The deadline is fast approaching, so I'll be busy working on this book for the entire school holidays. My children have had to make their own fun at home so far. The inside of our house has turned into a paper jungle of lanterns, snowflakes and streamers dangling from windows, ceilings and fans. My husband and I pretty much have to crawl around on our hands and knees, so that we don't tangle ourselves up in it all. FYI - children design Christmassy lands for child height people only.
Our house is feeling festive at least.
|A small section of some final drawings from the book.|
|A small section of my children's paper jungle.|
One of my favorite savory delights is this quick and easy Mushroom Soup. I got the recipe from my mother (I'm not sure where she got it from) and have been making a variation of it for nearly 30 years.
As I've mentioned before
, I pretty much cook to taste, or with what I have on hand. For this batch I started by sauteeing crushed garlic in butter until it is golden. I then added thinly sliced mushrooms (the more the better, IMO. I think I had a couple of cups of mushrooms on hand). If your pan feels too dry, add more butter - I probably used 1/3 cup of butter all told.
Season your mushrooms as they cook as desired - salt, pepper, chili pepper, until they are savory and delicious. I also tend to saute them until they are well cooked and starting to caramelize. You can stop sooner if you prefer them that way.
By now, you should have cooked mushrooms swimming in liquid. To this I add a Tablespoon or so of flour so that the liquid bubbles and thickens up. When it's thick, turn off the heat and add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice so they are tangy and delicious.
While your mushrooms are cooking, you can start the broth part of the soup. You'll need about 8 cups of broth of your choice. I used herby homemade chicken stock, but you can use veggie broth or beef or your choice of bouillon. The more flavorful your broth though, the better your soup will taste. To add some extra richness to your broth, you can bring it to a boil and then use some of the hot liquid to temper a couple of eggs to add (if you haven't tempered eggs in soup before, you can see how to do it here
When your broth is hot and your mushrooms are done, add your mushrooms to the soup base, stirring until everything is well combined.
Taste, and adjust your seasonings. Many times I end up adding more lemon at this point. I like it tangy as well as savory.
Serve with warm, crusty bread and get ready to revel in the yum!
After a lengthy blog break, I thought I'd try to start up again.
After a month of #inktober sketchbook journaling, (you can see them all on instagram.
My instagram name is tlchang37 if you want to see them, or follow along) with requests for things like actual recipes and instructions, so this month, I will attempt to do so.
However, much of my cooking uses things like recipes as a guild line, rather than rules. I'm listing the ingredients I use and some directions that may help, but outside of baking, the rest of my cooking is more by taste and what ingredients I have on hand.
That said, this is what I did for this latest batch of Beef Stroganoff.
Stroganoff happens at my house when we have leftover Sunday roast.
I started off heating some olive oil in a large frying pan and added a few cloves of crushed garlic.
When they turned golden I added a diced onion and continue sauteing until they were golden brown.
Add some butter to the pan, and then add sliced mushrooms. Saute until they are as done as you would like (I like them very done. Browned and starting to caramelize). Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Add roast beef (cut into bite-sized pieces), and just cover with beef stock. If you don't have any stock, use beef bouillon dissolved in warm water. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. (If you are using raw beef, rather than pre-cooked, you need to simmer long enough to cook it through before proceeding further).
While this is simmering start adding the dairy. Many recipes use milk or cream. We like it really tart in our house, so we add sour cream. A bunch. Sour cream is quite thin though, so I also add cream cheese. Up to an entire brick. Stir until it melts and incorporates.
Add a generous splash of Worcestershire sauce.
If this is not tart enough for you (which it never is for us), add lemon juice - to taste. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Play with spices! You can also add other veggies you have on hand.
It will thicken up as it cools. Serve over rice, pasta, quinoa (my favorite) or greens (I had leftover stroganoff over sauteed zucchini tonight).
Let me know in the comments what you do with stroganoff, or let me know if you try this out and how it works for you.
At the very least, let me know if this is a useful thing, and if I should blog more of it in the future..?
Into the Woods. Day 31 of #Inktober2016.
It's the last day of Inktober, so here is my final offering. Happy Halloween everyone!
Maritime Mansion. Day 30 of #Inktober2016.
Housing Development. Day 29 of #Inktober2016.
Ogre. Day 27 of #Inktober2016.
Split Ends. Day 26 of #Inktober2016.
Birds and Trees. Day 25 of #Inktober2016.
Aide-de-Cramp. Day 24 of #Inktober2016.
Tangled Relationship. Day 23 of #Inktober2016.
Tank Bike. Day 22 of #Inktober2016.
Ponderer. Day 21 of #Inktober2016.
Round the Neighbourhood. Day 20 of #Inktober2016.
Suburb Slant. Day 19 of #Inktober2016.
Neighbour. Day 17 of #Inktober2016.
Autumn. Day 17 of #Inktober2016.
The final item in this History of my Archive in 10 Objects found in my father's loft are two sketchbooks from my earliest days in Japan in 1987.
Just after I arrived in Tokyo in January 1987 I bought a number sketchbooks of various sizes and spent a lot of the first year in particular being the sketching tourist, drawing, painting and photographing downtown Tokyo, the people around me, the whole experience of being in Japan. I didn't think any
sketchbooks from early days in Japan had survived, I had a series of major purges for one reason or another over the 21 years I was there, the biggest down-size being at the very end when I left most of my belongings behind and threw away much of my commercial illustration artwork.
These two sketchbooks survived because I brought them back from Japan in the early '90's after buying a house in London, they stayed there until I later gave up the house, then found their way with a few other items to my dad's loft.
|Iidabashi, 6th May 1987. This old building stood near the West exit of the station (the Kagurazaka side), and was I believe demolished in the early '90's development of the area. pen & ink. |
|Street vendor's cart, Yotsuya, 6th May 1987. pen & ink|
There are so many memories wrapped up in these pages, that first year in Tokyo was a roller-coaster of experiences - I had a sponsor when I first arrived in the country, they had no real work for me but nevertheless required me to sit in their dingy downtown office every day, doing literally nothing except breathe in the permament fog of tobacco smoke (I was a non-smoker) and hope the editor would come back to the office and give me permission to go out. Initial joy at being in Tokyo was soon replaced by deep unhappiness, after six frustrating months of this our relationship finally unravelled, and I was out on my own in Shitamachi, free but penniless, fraught with fear over the future. These two sketchbooks cover that period.
|The office, waiting for permission to leave, 17th June 1987. ballpen|
Because I was under-employed (and yet tightly under the watchful eye of the sponsor), I leaped on any opportunity to slip out of the nicotine stained office in Iidabashi and study Japanese in the quiet of the British Council building, or go walk-about in downtown Tokyo. When I eventually found my own place to rent in Yanaka and parted company with the sponsor these sketchbooks were both a comfort and way to come to terms with Tokyo, it's architecture, atmosphere, details, all things that would serve me well later on.
|Roppongi, 18th April 1987, ballpen|
|On the Hibiya Line, 8th October 1987. ballpen|
So these drawings were at a point of change for me, initially a creative escape from my sponsor's office, they then became a comfort when I was on my own in Yanaka, it was a time just before things started to move for me, so looking back at them now brings a mixture of nostalgia and vivid memories of the turmoil I was in then.
|Mishima village near Sendai, painted during a volunteer weekend with UNICEF, Summer 1987. watercolour|
With these drawings I come to the end of the 10 pieces from my archives. Discovering all of these things in my late father's loft has made me very contemplative about my current position in life, especially after his passing. If there's any lesson looking through these old archive things has taught me, it's that change is generally good, and provided you keep moving forward, things will most definitely get better!
I'd not heard of "Inktober" before, but after a few recommendations, one of them from everyone's favourite anthropologist @DrAliceRoberts I thought I'd give it a go this year. The idea is to post on social media an ink sketch every day throughout October and tag it with #inktober2016 and #inktober. I wasn't sure at first whether the sketches have to be created the same day you post them or can be older, for the first five days of October it overlapped my series on Archives, which included ink drawings, so I just tagged those posts, but this week from 6th October onwards I've been tweeting fresh sketchbook doodles.
|Day 6 |
Looking at the splendorous work from other artists tagged with Inktober some has clearly been laboured over for several hours, but I'm keeping very much within the spirit of the idea and just posting coffee-break doodles, and other down-times grabbed during the day, so these are very rough around the edges.
In case you don't follow me on Twitter here's a summary of the last few days worth of Inktober
sketches. Anyone can join in, and it's not too late to start now... here's more information
|I was offline on Day 8, but this for Day 9.... feeling somewhat adrift perhaps|
|Day 10. In retrospect I think I might have been subconsciously channelling Mervyn Peake's Captain Slaughterboard|
|Day 11 - messing about with faces on the TV last night|
I'm thinking, well, if I'm going to do it I shouldn't just limit to Twitter, let's put them on my blog, so for the remainder of the month I'll post one a day. Provided I can keep up that is .... lots to do, so few hours in the day....
Read the rest of this post
Today's sketch for #Inktober2016.
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Day 15 of #Inktober2016. Last night's sketchbook while half-watching the telly.