Sunday, September 25, 2011

Come Set A Spell

Come on up to the porch and set a spell. Here's a chair just for you. You can set and visit, or you can set and watch leaves touched with golden autumn spiral to the ground. Set and drink in the quiet. Set and let your mind rest, recharge.  And no, you don't 'sit'.  You 'set'.  

Come Set A Spell

And after you set a spell and your mind has had a chance to refresh itself, create something.  

You may want to start with a 1 to 2 page short story about pumpkins.  Hey, there's a contest just for that!  It's the Write That Photo Contest!   You have until September 30th to send in your pumpkin-fabulous creation.  

So come set a spell.  Then get writing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Write That Photo Contest!

It's contest time!  Like to write? Want a free 8x10 ready to frame print of your choice from Kara Stewart, Art in Photography? Win the contest and that print is yours!

A few weeks ago, in my blog post A Beautiful Convergence, I featured images that make your creative genie imagine their back story - images that don't just tell a story, but those that spur the viewer on to create a story for them. Janet McQueen's image of extraordinary pumpkins at the door of an ordinary house was one of those featured.    

Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to write a story for Janet's mysterious image. What has transpired in this scene? How did those pumpkins get there? Why are they there? Why are they so huge? Who lives in the house? What is about to happen?

If you are a photographer, this will be a great exercise to help you see the possibilities in an image and develop that mysterious quality that is so difficult to capture. If you are already an author, this will be a great creativity refresher. If you are not already an author, but love to write and are intrigued by Janet's image, this will be a super jump-start to tapping in to your inner author!  As J. Darroll Hall, owner and founder of Fantasy Island Book Publishing says, "Every person has at least one good book in them."

Guidelines are:

  • 1-2 pages (2 pages maximum, less than a page is fine), typed, 12 point font, 1" margins all around 
  • G Rated only, please
  • Could be an entire short story, could be a part of a story . . . whatever you feel makes the best story surrounding that image
  • Send entries here now through midnight, September 30, 2011
  • Winner will be announced no later than October 16, 2011

And browse Kara Stewart, Art in Photography to pick out the print you want for when you win! Just hover over 'Galleries' at the top for a bucketload of photo galleries!

Happy creativity!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pie Love

I love pie. There is something so comforting and homey about pie that draws us in. Pie soothes and hits the spot. Pie can be creative and modern as well as traditional, passed down through generations. Problems can be solved and hearts healed over a good piece of pie and a cup of coffee. So this week, I’m devoting my blog space to pies instead of photography and writing.

Labor Day weekend marks the traditional Sappony Homecoming. The seven families of the Sappony tribe come together for a massive reunion in an annual chance to see far-flung relatives and loved ones, hug necks, press cheeks and reminisce.  This year, we did not have a Homecoming committee, so Tribal Council members (of which I am one) were asked to organize and/or run an activity each. Saturday of Homecoming is usually packed with a morning walk and parade, activities on the Tribal grounds, and ends with dinner and an evening gospel sing at the church, Calvary Baptist. The activities on the Tribal grounds vary each year, but always include lunch, voting for Tribal Council and a Tribal update meeting. This year, other activities were crafts and a bouncy castle for the young ones, corn hole games, and a pie baking contest.  Organized by . . . me.   Did I mention I love pie?

I was not a judge for the pie contest, but I wrangled up judges and organized the contest. This year, we had seven pies entered and I hope to have more next year. From the top left down, coconut and lemon meringue. From the top right down the line, sliced sweet potato, fruit pizza, sweet potato, crustless coconut, and chocolate chess.

(No, no fabulous food shots in today's blog but you can always find them here and here.)

And the winner was: Fruit Pizza Pie by Julia Martin Phipps!  Julia’s Fruit Pizza Pie won high points for creativity and taste.  2nd place was a tie between Musette Martin’s Sweet Potato Pie and Dorothy Stewart Crowe’s Coconut Pie – both delicious and traditional. Several of the judges vowed to practice their pie judging skills throughout the year to be ready for next year's contest, and all of the judges vowed it was a hard job, but someone had to do it. I’m always in awe of those who can make a good homemade pie crust since that is something that has so far eluded me.

Here is the winning Fruit Pizza Pie recipe, followed by two of my all-time favorite pies – Chocolate Chess (rich and chocolaty) and Strawberry Glace (cool summery burst of fresh strawberry in every bite). First place prize was a ribbon with bragging rights and a pack of 20 of my cards, 2nd place each received a pack of 20 of my cards. Many thanks to the judges and entrants. Happy pie-making (and eating)!

Julia Phipps’ Fruit Pizza

1 roll of sugar cookie dough
8 oz. cream cheese (you can use low fat, and/or whipped cream cheese if desired)
4 oz. Cool Whip (you can use sugar free or low fat, if desired)
Variety of sliced fruits for topping
Glaze* (see below)

Spray a round pizza pan with cooking spray.  Press cookie dough into pan. Do not worry about gaps. Bake cookie dough according to directions and cool.

Blend the cream cheese and Cool Whip together.  Spread cream cheese mixture onto cooled cookie layer.

Top with variety of fruit (your choice).

Spoon/spread/drizzle glaze mixture* over fruit.  Eat within 2 days (crust gets soggy after that).  Keep in refrigerator.

Glaze mixture*
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Dash of salt
½ cup of orange juice
¼ cup of water
2 Tablespoon lemon juice

Cook mixture for 1 min (bring to boil and boil for 1 minute-stirring constantly). Allow to cool slightly, then spoon over fruit.

Strawberry Glace Pie
6 cups fresh, medium strawberries
¾ cup sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch
1 9” baked pie shell

Use fresh, ripe strawberries, not frozen, and not huge ones. Dry them off after washing – if they are too wet, the pie won’t set well. Cut stems off.

To prepare strawberry glaze, in a small saucepan crush 1 cup of the smaller berries (you can puree in a food processor); add 1 cup water. Bring to boiling, simmer 2 minutes. Sieve berry mixture.

In another saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, stir in sieved berry mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened and clear. Spread about ¼ cup of the strawberry glaze over the bottom and sides of the baked pie shell.

Arrange about ½ of the berries (whole), stem end down, in the pie shell. Cut smaller berries to fill in spaces as needed.

Carefully spoon ½ of the remaining glaze over the berries, thoroughly covering each berry. Arrange remaining berries, stem end down, atop first layer, cutting smaller berries to fill in spaces as needed. Spoon on remaining glaze, thoroughly covering each berry.  You may want to make slightly more glaze than is called for to make sure you have enough to fill in everywhere to hold the pie together.

Chill pie at least 3-4 hours. Great garnished with whipped cream or ice cream!

Chocolate Chess Pie
Unbaked 9” deep dish pie shell
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted  (butter works best)
3 eggs (room temp. works best)
¼ cup milk  (skim is fine)
2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Place oven rack in lowest position.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together sugar, cocoa and flour in large bowl until no lumps remain.
  3. Stir in melted butter. 
  4.  Mix in eggs, on at a time, until smooth.
  5.  Stir in milk and vanilla. 
  6.  Place pie shell on oven rack and pour mixture into pie shell.
  7. Bake on lowest rack in preheated 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 mins.  Cool on wire rack. Serve  at room temperature or chilled.  Garnish with whipped cream or ice cream.  Store in refrigerator.

 Makes 1 9” pie.

Chocolate Chess Pie