Excuse Me, Don’t I Know Me?

6 10 2010

This year, I started collecting and pressing leaves from some of my best loved Japanese maples, some intricately formed conifers, and a few lovely perennials – and some interesting weeds – and using them as stencils for a series of enamels I call “Garden of Dreams.”  Gardening has been one of my great loves for over twenty years.  It was only a matter of time until my inner plant geek insinuated herself into my art.  I was unprepared for how much more satisfying the resulting work was – how much more it felt like “me.”

Now that I think about it, I am kind of surprised it took as long as it did.  Realizing that it had not just been “automatic” made me recognize how I have artificially and unconsciously segregated areas of my life. What I had viewed as separate cogs in a machine are more like leitmotifs in an opera – the distinct melodies that represent various characters and ideas, but are interwoven amongst one another to create a powerful, complex masterpiece instead of distinct points of contact that move me forward in turn, instead of in concert.

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken,” but it takes a lot to be yourself – there is so much of yourself to be.  What a relief, though, to realize that if I am disappointed in myself, I can shuffle the parts and make myself better. All those separate facets of personality can combine and collaborate in virtually infinite possibilities – and they are all still me.  I just need to get the proportions right.

Speaking of getting proportions right, here is a recipe to honor my sister and her husband on their anniversary this month. They were married twenty-nine years ago and I made this appetizer for their wedding reception.

Spinach and Feta Strudel                             

10 oz fresh spinach                     2 egg whites

2T butter                                   1 t  fresh dill, chopped

¼ c green onion                            salt and pepper

¾ c feta, crumbled                      ½ c melted butter

¼ c minced parsley                     8 phyllo leaves

fresh bread crumbs

Wash spinach and wilt, using just the water that clings to leaves after cleaning, over medium heat in covered sauté pan.  Cool.  Wring out excess moisture, using a kitchen towel you don’t mind tinting money green.  Chop fine – can use knife, processor, or blender.  Sauté onion in 2T butter until soft.  Mix onion, spinach, cheese, 1T bread crumbs, parsley, egg whites and salt and pepper to your taste.  Heat oven to 375º.  Hold thawed phyllo as per package instructions.  Brush a sheet of pastry with melted butter and sprinkle with crumbs.  Repeat to stack 4 leaves of pastry.  Place half of filling across the short end and roll like a jelly roll.  Repeat with remaining 4 phyllo leaves and filling.  Brush tops with melted butter.  Bake on greased cookie sheet for 30 min.  Slice with serrated knife.  Eat at least six pieces to be sure it is acceptable to serve to family and guests. Serve warm or room temperature.



6 responses

6 10 2010
linda billet

MMMMMmmmMMM Spinach and Feta! Thanks, I’ll print for Rob!

6 10 2010

Isn’t it awesome when the separate parts of our lives collide? I have had this happen to me in the classroom this year and it reminds me that I am more than what I sometimes realize. I love learning about the different facets that make you who you are!
Oh, and may I request more recipes please?? I absolutely adore your talents, especially those that come to fruition in the kitchen!

6 10 2010
Bridget S. Aunkst

I miss you!!! I love when I open my email and there is one from you. I can’t wait to read it. You really should be a writer. You are one of a kind. Hope to see your real soon. Go PHILLIES!!! Bridget

6 10 2010

Paula, I completely know what you are talking about here. I feel so at peace when I am being myself and blending my creative side with other parts of my life. I also feel so unhappy when I’m compartmentalizing my life. I love the Oscar Wilde quote, so true. Keep writing woman, you have so much talent when it comes to words too! By the way my friend Cherie was so thrilled to meet you Monday night! Hugs!

7 10 2010
Jean Van Brederode

You really got me thinking about the facets of one’s personality. We are complicated, aren’t we? I see the same thing happening to me too. Then in my artistic ADD brain, I pictured what your enameling would be like if you traded the inner plant geek in your enameling process for your inner gourmet geek. Would we see meatballs & clam sauce in your next series? Oh, the possibilities!

10 10 2010

I get so busy with work, I do not have time to be creative in an “arty” way. I find that my moments come when I am totally on task and am helping someone run their restaurant better. I am married to a loving, caring creative. She has had those moments with her hair design. Some of my favorite times are listening to her describe taking a freshly washed head of hair and creating a wonderful style. She does not get to do it as much now as she wished she could.

Paula, thank you for your love and support. You have made my life and the life of my wonderful wife (to whom you introduced me at the pool table on New Year’s eve 20 years ago) better by knowing you.

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