Asheville, dyeing, Local food, Marvelous meals, Western North Carolina

Asheville/Black Mountain weekend

State Street Black Mountain

Continuing the tale of the past weekend:

Of course, we spent too much money, even though we spent two nights in the Super 8 motel in Black Mountain. It isn’t bad for the price. Our first stop was at Nice Threads Fiber Gallery on Cherry St. in Black Mountain, where I showed Leslie several of my small tapestries. She is taking them and two scarves on consignment through the end of August. At that point, I hope to figure out somewhere else to foster them, if they don’t sell.

We had drinks and ate at Black Mountain Ale House. I had an appetizer of fried eggplant sticks, mmmmm, and Sandy had shrimp and grits. Someone at the bar steered us to Pisgah Brewing Company that night to hear Hyrider, a Grateful Dead/Phish tribute band. They were really good, the beer was organic, and a cute guy with dreadlocks flirted with me. The cooks in Lovin’ Tenders, the food truck, let me sample a grilled turnip slice. It was pretty good! So that was a pleasant evening.

Lovin' Tenders

Sandy wandered around on his own while I was workshopping with Dede Styles. He bought a dulcimer kit in Black Mountain. We went to the Wedge Brewery after the workshop and enjoyed their craft IPA outside in the best weather possible.

One reason we love Asheville is that it was a Slow Food place before most places started paying attention to local food, so there are lots of places to get wonderful local meals.

We ate a marvelous meal at Chestnut on Biltmore Ave. near Pack Place. Again, I forgot to take photos. I’m such a bad food blogger these days. Sandy had molasses glazed pork loin and I had cream of broccoli soup and a salad with roasted beets and goat cheese.

This morning we had brunch at Louise’s Kitchen in Black Mountain, in an old house with a big wrap around porch, perfect for sipping coffee and easing into Sunday. They had a couple of rooms for rent upstairs for office space, and I actually took a semi-serious look, even though I knew I’d never make the three hour drive on most weekends to make it worth the cheap rent. I said to Sandy when he gave me that look (you know the look), “When opportunity knocks, you need to at least open the door to see who’s there.” That made him smile. We can’t afford it when you add in the gas and time, but it is fun to daydream about renting a room in the area.

louises-kitchen-brunch

Then we went to a street art/craft fair in Black Mountain where the artists were starting to pack up in anticipation of a line of thunderstorms heading east. I bought a pair of earrings from a young woman making very attractive jewelry with recycled magazine paper beads. Another mixed media artist used tubes wrapped with different papers and fibers in woven-like structures and collage. Resolved: will take an old National Geographic, some straws, and a tube of white glue to work for slow days.

Back to Asheville, where I abused my credit card at Earth Guild by buying a variety of mordants, along with madder root, cochineal beetles, and indigo. I ordered thiox (a color remover) and a digital scale from Amazon today, since I missed that I needed the thiox for indigo dyeing, and the scales at Earth Guild were more than I can afford right now. I’m quite tempted to buy a used turkey fryer with a propane kit to dye hot baths in, but I am a little bit afraid of cooking with gas. My first apartment had a gas stove and I called the gas company every time the pilot light went out. I’ll make do with an electric burner for now.

art retreats, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat Days 4 & 5

Lake Waccamaw Sunrise

I mostly relaxed with a novel yesterday. My hands needed a break. The lichen tea dyepot was the last art project, and it was a success, although it produced almost exactly the same color as the onion skin dye, which was a tad disappointing. However, I was thrilled to get any dye at all since I’ve never tried lichen and it is unpredictable, and I did it with just the lake water, so next time I’ll try some mordants and additives and see if I can manipulate the color.

The biggest difference was in the silk. Below, from left to right:
Onion skin silk
Lichen silk
Onion skin wool
Lichen wool

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat 2013

We went to Dale’s Seafood for lunch again, where I got a veggie plate with double fried yellow squash again. Man, I could eat that for every meal. They fry them just right – thinly sliced with a light batter, sweet and tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. It is one of the small pleasures of coming to Lake Waccamaw.

I sat for Sandy to draw a charcoal portrait of me. He complained about not being able to make it look just like me, but really, my features are not very distinguished in any way except for my very blue eyes, so considering that it is black and white and the small amount of time he spent on it I think that he did pretty well. He was too kind to my jowls, though.

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat 2013

Lake Waccamaw Art Retreat 2013

This morning I was awake before 6 a.m., mainly due to itchiness. Forgot my Claritin. So I had no excuse not to photograph the sunrise once the fog lifted. The best one is at the top of the post and here are the others.

Lake Waccamaw Sunrise

Lake Waccamaw Sunrise

Lake Waccamaw Sunrise

Lake Waccamaw Sunrise

art retreats, critters, dyeing, Lake Waccamaw, Marvelous meals, Wilmington

Lake Waccamaw Private Art Retreat Day 3

IMG_3014

Yesterday was a full day of mixed emotions. I mixed up three colors of Procion dyepots, then combined some to get a variety of colors on a variety of rags, fabric remnants, and silk and wool skeins. I didn’t get the purples that I wanted, so I’ll take that up at home. The dyepots were too red, but I was working with a turquoise dye and that color is difficult.

I like the colors that I got on Sandy’s old khaki trousers and my old pajamas. These will go into the rag rug project. I haven’t decided about the fabric remnants. I’m thinking shibori and overdyeing on those.

The wool skeins have very muted colors, which I expected (and wanted) because wool needs a hot dye bath. The silk skeins were fun and unpredictable. Lesson learned – do not use twist ties on skeins. What a mess to untangle.

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The afternoon and evening became caught up in the small drama of trying to rescue an abandoned mallard duckling. Baby D was with a mama duck and three other ducklings at our house earlier in the day, but I noticed that Baby D kept her distance from the others. Mama Duck did check her out now and then but she swam away from the rest and Mama Duck abandoned her. We picked her up and she seemed exhausted and I really expected that she would die. We brought her/him onto the screened porch to protect her from predators and when the duck family did not appear again, we started researching wildlife rescue groups in the area. Skywatch Bird Rescue in Wilmington was willing to take her that night so we jumped in the car with Baby D (or Henry/Henrietta as Sandy named him/her) in a big box with a towel. As we were entering Wilmington she started freaking out and scrabbling around under the towel, pecking. She did that twice, and then she died just before we got there.

I had already gotten attached and Sandy was sort of considering taking her home, which we both knew wouldn’t work. So sad. Her feathers were so soft and she relaxed when we petted her – it was obvious that she enjoyed it.

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So we drove back to the riverfront and had a pint of Smithwick’s at Slainte Irish Pub on Front St., then walked across the street to Circa 1922, where the food and service was amazing. Sandy had on shorts and flip flops and I know that I probably reeked from sweating over dyepots outside all day, and nobody seemed to notice or care. I had scallops over carrot spaetzle with pea sprouts and Sandy had chicken orechhiette with a cream sauce – both dishes were incredibly delicious, and the restaurant itself was full of huge reproductions of Hopper paintings on old brick walls. A fascinating ambience. I want to go back there because there was so much to choose from on the menu. They use local foods too. The carrots were obviously not from a store.

I didn’t bring my camera or there would definitely be some food porn here.

buying local, consumerism, Marvelous meals

Thanksgiving and Buy Nothing Day

Thanksgiving 2012
Pecan and pumpkin pies, by Lisa

I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends like we did. We have four great Southern cooks in my family – Willye Kate, my mother, Lisa, my sister, me, and Brooke, my niece. Here are a few photos from our dinner. Note the cornbread dressing (only my mother’s is acceptable) and the many casseroles, butterbeans, and deviled eggs. This is how we roll in North Carolina.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Here are my two grand-nephews. Jake is the one modeling the gas mask. He has a great talent for antique and thrift store picking.

Thanksgiving 2012

Zeke was lost for two years once. His human mama finally gave up and went to the shelter to adopt another cat. She saw a cat that looked just like him. The animal shelter worker told her that he was not adoptable because he was mean and he was about to be euthanized. The cat was Zeke. I’d love to know what his story was. Believe me, this is NOT a mean cat.

Zeke

Today is Buy Nothing Day, a day that I used to celebrate here with much fanfare. Now I am more in favor of supporting small local businesses and supporting your local economy. But there is a lot to be said in favor of rejecting the travesty that the winter holiday season has become. Driven by sales, some people actually claim that they ARE spending family time by camping with the kids in front of Walmart or other big box stores on Thanksgiving in order to be first through the doors at midnight. This craziness is a family ritual that they want to pass on to their children.

People, let’s please not go further down this road.

The positive thing is that the Buy Local movement has spread and the Black Friday nonsense has gotten so nuts that I hear more and more that people are rejecting the pressure to buy buy buy for the holidays and returning Thanksgiving and Christmas to their original meanings. Of course you won’t hear this much in the news. There might be a token reference to the simplicity movement or the local movement. I hear this from friends and family and it makes me feel better.

Remember how the news media did their best to convince you that the presidential election was still too close to call when quite a few polls and trustworthy, impartial analysts indicated otherwise? It is in their best interest to keep the frenzy of consumerism whipped up in the same way.

The longer I live, the more I would like to get rid of most of my stuff and just spend my money on the essentials and experiences. Really, how much do we need? I live better than probably 95% of the world and I am probably considered to be lower middle class in the United States. If you’re thinking about giving me a present, please donate the value of my gift to a charity who will truly spend it to help the needy. I will be much happier if you do!

Asheville, Marvelous meals

Asheville is for foodies

Another thing that I love about Asheville is that it is a Slow Food city. Its restaurants, for the most part, take supporting the local farmers and food artisans seriously. I ate at a variety of places in Asheville, including a bowl of Cheerios at the Days Inn, where Juanita loudly groused, “You don’t like how I do my job? Hey, I’m 80 years old. I’m outta here!” and the poor girl from the front desk kept saying, “Nobody’s upset with you, Juanita.”

So that was a real world experience that I enjoyed. And I was reminded that I really do love Cheerios.

On Saturday, I lunched at the White Duck Taco Shop in the River Arts District. I wish that I had taken a photo of my duck taco and watermelon side, but I was too busy scarfing that bad boy down. I recommend it, and there was a long line at the counter, so obviously it is popular for good reason.

On Saturday night we picked Cúrate, a Spanish tapas restaurant near Pack Square on Biltmore Avenue. It was a delicious, beautiful, and unusual experience for us. We sat at the bar and watched the chefs bustle through their orders. Next time I will definitely try their ham, which is their specialty. And cheese. I love manchego cheese.

Menu at Cúrate

pimientos de padron

pimientos de padron

berenjenas la taberna“peppers from smoking j’s farm served with bonito flakes “unos pican y unos no” translation “some are spicy and some are not,” will you take the challenge?”

Sandy liked these better than I did although I did like them, and they were right about the surprise factor in hotness. It’s just that I was diggin’ the eggplant, to the left:

berenjenas la taberna

“fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain apiaries honey, garnished with rosemary”

I never considered putting honey and rosemary on fried eggplant. Mmmmm.

The big hit was the

pincho moruno

pincho moruno

“lamb skewers marinated in moorish spices”

When we were outside trying to decide on a restaurant, a woman walking out recommended this dish with gusto. It made up our mind and she was right. Even those pickles were good and I am not a pickle person. Although I do occasionally get pickled.

vieiras con pimiento del piquilla maestro julian

vieiras con pimiento del piquilla maestro julian

“seared scallops with roasted red pepper sauce”

Wow. Yes, these were delectable. They also cost $6 per scallop. A seafood vendor recently told me the government controls the price of scallops. I don’t know whether that is true, but this price makes me think that maybe he was correct.

The next day, we had brunch at Solace, also in downtown Asheville. I don’t know, is 2 p.m. still considered brunch, or is it lupper/linner? Sandy had a pastrami sandwish, and I had antelope and polenta and most refreshingly, mimosas.

Brunch at Solace, Asheville

It was a fun, partly rainy day of shopping. We went to the Folk Art Center (future post) and I bought cotton flake mill end cones and other supplies at Earth Guild. We hit the Himalayan Import store where I picked up a patchwork bag and a game store where Sandy loaded up on his passion and, of course, a used book store and Malaprops, Asheville’s awesome independent bookstore. We ate dinner with my niece at Eddie Spaghetti’s, a little Italian place on the outskirts of Asheville.

Gosh, I love Asheville. I really, really, really do.