Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bake Well.

Dear Tarts,

Life will imitate art, or rather craft, eventually.  You can either bake a Bakewell Tart, or you can knit one.  The knitted is based on a pattern in Knitorama, by Rachael Matthews.  Her book also gives instructions for a crocheted sunny-side up egg, a knitted chocolate cake, and many other delights.  I knitted this Bakewell Tart several years ago.  Just recently, I baked the more edible Bakewell below, in a fine new French-made oblong tart pan- like this one, from Fante's. 
Bakewell Tart comes to us from Britain- it is a delicious dessert, and almost as charming a dish as Battenberg Cake- which is pure poetry to speak, and elegant to make.  We'll bake it one day, you and I.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet's Sweets- Desserts for Every Occasion, Conde Nast Books, Random House, New York, 1998.

Bakewell Tart

Pastry dough:

1/2 cup cold butter (if you use unsalted butter, add a 1/4 tsp. of salt to the dry ingredients)
1 1/4 cups flour
2 to 4 tbs. cold water

Cut the butter into the flour in the usual way- trickle in the cold water, once it holds together, wrap it up and chill it in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Roll out the dough, fit it into your tart pan (an 8 or 10" circle, or an 4" x 13" oblong), prick it on the bottom with a fork, and then line it with foil and fill it with rice, beans or pie weights.  Bake it for around 10 minutes- then remove the bean laden foil.  Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or so.  You want it to look pale golden, and not wet.  Cool the shell while you make the filling.


1/2 cup butter (if unsalted, add a dash of salt to the filling)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup almond flour
1 whole egg
3 egg yolks

1/3 cup raspberry jam

Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg, then beat in the yolks, one at a time.  Add the flour and almond meal- mix just until combined.

Spread the jam on the bottom of the tart shell- then spoon the filling on top.

Bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.  Cool in the pan.


1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract- or a mix of the two

Mix the sugar with the extract and add water until the consistency is drizzle-worthy.  Maybe, 2 or 3 teaspoons of water.  Get it onto your tart in any way you see fit- Gourmet uses a icing filled Ziploc bag with a cut corner, but it looks good if you just ladle it, or let it fall from the tines of a fork.

Serves 10- ha!  It serves 10 people who don't like tart- tart people will have this eaten in 6 to 8 ecstatic slices.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Build Your Boat.

Ahoy Mateys,

It's elemental: Take a thing, add another- make something.  Make use of our oft-celebrated opposable thumbs; Honor the ancestors- build something.  How about a boat?  *As usual, we open with a song.

My family made all sorts of things:  Additions, pools, gingerbread houses, fountains, gardens, tables, sheds, policies, dresses, dolls, bicycles, tablecloths, ponds, bread & jam, pickles, ice cream, kites, & sail cars.  My Dad made rubber band powered paddlewheeled tugboats with me and my brother- later, my Dad and I built a wood strip canoe- naturally, here at the Dodo we continue this fine tradition of boat building. 

The boat you see here being made is a Car Topper, from Harold H. "Dynamite" Payson.  Who doesn't want to follow the instructions of a person known as "Dynamite?"

You can make one too, here are information and plans.  Want to begin a little smaller?  Here is a paddlewheeler plan, and a very nice toy yacht plan from Make.  If you want to make something else entirely with wood, try this website with many links to free plans for all kinds of wonderful things.

*I hope you recognize this phrase, from Jeff and the I Love Toy Trains video series.  If you don't know the series, here is a small taste.  Read all about all their films here.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gloss on my Lips.

Dear Lovelies,

I'll be brief:  A Girl-Power two song set for today, and a place to buy good clothes from nice women sewing it all together for you in North Carolina.

Song #1.

Song #2.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Eat at Joe's.

Tempera painting by Charles K. Wilkinson- 
depicting the Astronomical Ceiling of the Tomb of Senenmut,
1479, BC. From the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hello Humans,

My home just got a new name-  I have been calling my place "Twittering Patch;"  I painted it on the rail fence that was here before I arrived.  On the inside of the fence, I painted this message: "Happy Trails."  That's what you read when you leave. 

My home, and probably yours, too, is now featured in a galactic map, and the name they give our home in a cavern, in a canyon, in a super cluster, is Laniakea.  That's all very nice and poetic, but I am going to call it Joe's Place, and I invite you to join me;  or go me one better, and give it another name of your own.

Here is another way to consider our ever-expanding knowledge of the other, of "not-us," from author T. E. Lawrence, from his memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom.  You might be familiar with his story as having been the basis for the film Lawrence of Arabia.

          Nasir rolled over on his back, with my glasses, and began to study the stars, counting aloud first one group and then another; crying out with surprise at discovering little lights not noticed by his unaided eye.  Auda set us on to talk of telescopes- of the great ones-  and of how man in three hundred years had so far advanced from his first essay that now he built glasses as long as a tent, through which he counted thousands of unknown stars.  'And the stars - what are they?'  We slipped into talk of suns beyond suns, sizes and distance beyond wit.  'What will now happen with this knowledge?' asked Mohammed.  'We shall set to, and many learned and some clever men together will make these glasses as more powerful than ours, as ours than Galileo's; and yet more hundreds of astronomers will distinguish and reckon yet more thousands of now unseen stars, mapping them, and giving each one its name.  When we see them all, there will be no night in heaven.'
     'Why are the Westerners always wanting all?' provokingly said Auda.  'Behind our few stars we can see God, who is not behind your millions.'

Here's a little song that beats around this same bush; and here is a beautiful film that always delights me,  from Ray and Charles Eames.

Happy trails to you, until we meet again!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Come; See Brigadoon.

Dear Space-Conscious,

Today I want to direct you to a wonderful ceramic artist:  Toshiko Takaezu.  To put us in the right frame of mind to appreciate her beautiful vessels, imagine first, the poetic and wonderful paradox of a container that cannot be empty nor can it be filled.

At the Crocker Museum, in Sacramento, I saw some of these lovely pieces, and they were so very right.  They were like the Sisters of Mercy.  These containers answered all of my questions:  I hope you run into them soon.  Learn what messages these containers have for you, at your own languid pace, in this beautiful book..

They were overflowing with feeling and presence.  Here is another song that seems an apt metaphor for the contents of the containers:  The Whole of the Moon. 

Now, let's listen to what Ms. Takaezu has to say about her work.

An Interview with Toshiko Takaezu from D.B.Long on Vimeo.

How about a little reprise?  And another?