Maya The Chocolate Labrador Retriever’s Finished Portrait

It took a week to finish the colored pencil portrait of Maya pictured here.  It is a small piece 8″ by 10″ on Bristol paper.  This is a smooth surfaced paper which works well with layering the colors.

The array of colors used in Maya's portrait

The array of colors used in Maya’s portrait

Most of the time, I use paint or pastels to create my own pieces. Using the colored pencils is a fun exercise in the use of color.

Someone stopped by my blog and commented on the drawing of Maya.  There was surprise for me when I visited this person’s blog.  There was a long post about taking drawing classes. It turned out this writer wanted to draw and paint, but suffered from terrible anxiety when it came time to start a painting class.  There were many kind responses to this post. People shared many perspectives.

I studied painting, drawing, photography, lithography, etching and learned countless crafts to teach in school settings.  With each phase, there was what I called the first day of the lesson. All the unknowns would be revealed – the teacher, the students, the lessons.  I wanted to learn.

In my first figure drawing class in college, my professor told me that I drew “like a barbarian”.  As I looked at the drawing he was looking at I realized he was correct.  It took two years of drawing, for four days a week, to learn to draw with expressive lines that I could control.

After studying to be an art teacher and watching students evolve in art classes, I came to believe two very important things: First that anyone who wants to can learn to make art. Second: all it takes is the desire and discipline to learn with an open beginner’s mind.  That means (to me) Be there to try things out and don’t be afraid to fail.  Every learning in life takes practice.

When I learned how to make lithographic prints, I had one of the top lithographers in the country as a teacher. He was very strict. You cannot fudge a process like lithography, which takes many steps before you have a completed print.  In the beginning of my two years of practicing this technique, I made every mistake in the book.  It was a slow process of learning, that taught me the value of learning from my mistakes. The perspective I gained gave me a sense of humor about being human and not giving up.

This attitude has kept me going with my cooking experiments, this blog and anything new that’s worth learning.  I tell myself , “Just show up and see what comes to you.” That’s life.

Many thanks to the people who stop by my kitchen! You keep me inspired.

Four Stages of the portrait process of the pencil drawing of Maya the labrador Retriever

First Stage of pencil portrait of Maya © Ckatt 2-18-15

First Stage of Pencil Portrait of Maya © Ckatt 2-18-15

Second Stage of Maya's Portrait 2-19-2015

Second Stage of Maya’s Portrait 2-19-2015

Third Stage of Maya's Portrait 2-21-2015

Third Stage of Maya’s Portrait 2-21-2015

Last Stage of Maya the Chocolate Labrador Retriever's portrait by CKatt 2015

Last Stage of Maya the Chocolate Labrador Retriever’s portrait by CKatt 2015

Keep on keeping on…woof woof!

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday


Posted in Art and Architecture, Slow food and art in the kitchen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Portrait of Maya = The challenges of foreshortening + Red Wing Mall

On Saturday, I was part of a craft bazaar at the Redwing Pottery Center. It was a fun day and I met some really sweet crafters. The organizer, Ronnie is a very forward-looking person who wants to encourage The Redwing Pottery center to give crafters a local place to sell their merchandise. Retrieved February 18, 2015

There is a candy shop, a Godfather’s Pizza, several really nice antique shops and a potter. Well, I had to stop by the candy shop, Tickle Yer Fancy which is owned by Susan Jasko. They sell Abdallah’s Candy. It was Valentines Day! The woman behind the counter asked me what brought me to the center. “I am here for the bazaar to promote my pet portraits and sell the cards I make.”

In that moment, a connection was made. Susan explained that she really wanted a portrait of her Labrador retriever that she had taken in to her home. A dear friend had suddenly passed away and the lovely four-year old dog was sadly left with out her person. The portrait was a gift for the mother of the friend who died, who loved and missed the dog.

Maya is a large, chocolate Lab and a sweetheart dog. I took photographs of a very wiggly, friendly Maya. Most of the photos had the problem of foreshortening making the dear Maya’s nose look gigantic. Fun for laughs, she was staring at the carrot I was holding over my head! (It’s all about food!)

Maya foreshortened view © CKatt 2-18-15

Maya foreshortened view © CKatt 2-18-15

At the last minute, I took a couple of shots with Susan holding her for me. And snagged a better view. (Phew.)

Making art and cooking have some similarities of process. As time and my research into cooking have taught me it’s the quality of the materials (foods) and the skill of the artist/cook that makes the difference. Preparation and good tools are important to any plan. This brings to mind, when Zen Master Dogen wrote “Instructions to the Cook”, a guide on the duties and responsibility of the head cook in the kitchen, he was giving guidelines not only for the cook but also for life. He recognized the essential nature of preparing food was taking care of one’s life. It could be done thoughtfully.

Instructions To The Cook


by Eihei Dogen zenji

translated by Anzan Hoshin roshi

and Yasuda Joshu Dainen roshi

In the meantime, I am shifting my focus to making art again. Here is the first phase of Maya’s portrait.

The progressed beginning view emerges, after deciding what paper, pencil colors, and lighting to use this is the first phase of drawing.  To start, deciding the layout and the building of color layers for the next stage is essential.

First Stage of pencil portrait of Maya © Ckatt 2-18-15

First Stage of pencil portrait of Maya © Ckatt 2-18-15

Second stage Maya © CKatt 2-18-15

Second stage Maya © CKatt 2-18-15

Second progression bringing the colors into balance.  Details start to emerge.

To be continued… Retrieved February 18, 2015.

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Happy Valentines Day! Uwingu a Unique Valentine Gift

This Valentine’s Day I sent my cousin a special valentine to honor her grandson.  So far I have done this for three kids, whom I know.  What did I do?  For a nominal fee, I named a Mars crater for them!

It’s real.  Here’s the information on the site and links. to all the information. A group of scientists have started this effort to raise money for science education.  These names on Mars are really used by NASA.

From Uwingu:

Valentine’s Day is Saturday!

“Running out of ideas for a thoughtful gift for your sweetheart? Or, need a little extra something?

Pick a crater name on our Mars map to melt their heart!

For example, name a crater for:

• Where you first met your sweetie

• The location of your first date

• A special Valentine’s day memory

• Your engagement proposal location, restaurant, or date

• After a the dream vacation you’ve been planning

• His or her name!

Our Mars map is the official map that will be used by the Mars One mission and will land on the red planet with their first unmanned mission, to be launched in 2018. Mars One also hopes to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars with crews of four departing every two years, starting in 2024.

Have fun naming a crater for that special loved one Valentine’s Day 2015, and make a difference by funding grants for space education, research, and exploration!”

After I read the information on the site about their goals and the scientists who are running the effort, it seemed like a fun way to gift!

You sign up to make a certificate. Then add the name and details that you put in for the certificate. The fees start at $5.00 US and go up from there.  Read the instructions carefully.  You select the style for you certificate from the choices (There’s other special days than Valentines Day to choose from folks.) Select your crater; name it check out and pay for it. Then your certificate is added as a downloadable link.  If you have any questions, there is a contact person, who is very helpful. (Please note: this gift idea is a suggestion.)

I am bringing this idea to Fiesta Friday as food creativity has been put on the back burner (HA!) for a project that’s in the works, which was inspired/instigated by a humor writer, whom I follow through WordPress: Arthur  Brown

Lars Larsson from the National Squirrel Investigation Munificent Society CKatt February 2015

Lars Larsson from the National Squirrel Investigation Munificent Society Copyright CKatt February 2015

Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie of The Novice Gardener this week along with  Suzanne @apuginthekitchen and Sue @birgerbird as our co-hosts.  Many thanks to all the talented cooks who contribute to Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

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Dessert It Is – Old Standby Brownie Recipe for Fiesta Friday Celebration

The Old Standby Brownie Recipe for Fiesta Friday

I spoiled myself last night after making the main dish for the Fiesta Friday celebration of Broccolini, Sausage, Beans with clams. I craved this brownie and made it in literally minutes.

This recipe for brownies is the only one I had for many years. It is economical to make. Besides it is a quick recipe that is very forgiving.

For Fiesta Friday I dressed it up with some chocolate chips and raspberries with a side of raspberry jam sauce. (Gotta’ a theme going lately.)

This brownie recipe is from page 87 of the “Kitchen Kompanion: Recipes by Members of the Lansing Michigan Reformed Church”; Ladies Christian Fellowship. I have had this book since 1985, when I found it thrown out! It was my first church ladies cookbook, which has served me well.

Old Standby Brownie Tradition January 2015 © CKatt

Old Standby Brownie Tradition January 2015 © CKatt




1 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa

2 eggs

½ cup of melted butter or oleo (margarine)

¾ cup sifted flour

½ cup of chopped nuts

1 teaspoon of vanilla


Cream sugar, cocoa and butter together. Add eggs and vanilla. Then add sifted flour and nuts – mix well. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Notes: I used baker’s sugar and substituted about ¼ of the white sugar with brown sugar. Instead of nuts, I used maybe ¼ cup of dark chocolate pieces, 

Grease an 8”x8” square pan and pour the batter into it. Tap bubbles out gently like you would for a cake.

These brownies are served slightly warm and could be even better with some ice cream or raspberries.


Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

This is dedicated to all the folks who make Fiesta Friday the place to be! Nancy of Feasting with Friends & Selma of Selma’s Table

Selma’s Table

Angie of is our fearless leader and serves as an inspiration.  Part 2 of the Fiesta Friday Anniversary Block Party Celebrations


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Ragout of Broccolini, Beans, and Sausage Recipe with Clams

Plated Broccolini, Chicken Sausage, Cannellini & Clams Ragout January 2015 CKatt

Plated Broccolini, Chicken Sausage, Cannellini & Clams Ragout January 2015 CKatt

This time I bring  a recipe to your attention, from Jacques Pepin’s televised PBS series Monsieur Pepin’s “Fast food” cooking.  As a learner, I am a big fan of one pot cooking. This ragout recipe is a one-pan quick and easy recipe.

I watched this episode from public television of Jacques Pepin preparing the Ragout of Broccolini, Beans and Sausage. The link to the episode is well worth watching.  Jacques Pepin takes you through the steps.  Watching a master makes me feel less intimidated to try something new. Watch the full show and see Jacques Pepin put a four-course meal together in a no fuss and fascinating way. He makes each course bread, appetizer, main dish and dessert look manageable and easy for when guests stop by for a visit.

Monsieur Pepin’s recipe also calls for a can of clams in the video, which is why I am attracted to this recipe. It sounds like a really excellent combination of earth and sea flavors.

This meal inspired me so much. I am bringing this Ragout of Broccolini, Beans and Sausage (and Clams) to Fiesta Friday for the big celebration of 52 weeks – one year’s worth of recipe sharing at the Novice Gardner’s and other wonderful hosts of Fiesta Friday! It is such a pleasure to share with all the cooking talent who give their time to bring people together with tasty food from around the globe. Many thanks to Angie at for starting the party and introducing all the folks to each other.

Jacques Pepin’s Ragout of Broccolini, Beans, and Sausage Recipe with clams “White beans, sausage, and broccoli are a classic Mediterranean combination. Instead of broccoli, I use broccolini, because it is tender and the stems don’t need peeling. Preparing the dish with canned cannellini beans makes it a cinch to put together for a meal.” – Jacque Pepin.

This recipe is adapted from Monsieur Pepin’s recipe.


4 Servings

2 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more for drizzling (optional)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup 6 ounces hot Italian sausage meat

1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans

1 small bunch (8–10 ounces) broccolini

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Pour the oil into a large skillet or saucepan and add the onion, sausage and garlic. Cook over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking the sausage meat into small pieces with a fork or spoon. (I am using chicken sausage with red wine and four cheeses, and taking the casing off the outside.)

Sausage Onion & Garlic with broccolini in bean and clam juice January 2015 CKatt

Sausage Onion & Garlic with broccolini in bean and clam juice January 2015 CKatt

Add the liquid from the can of beans (and the clams) and bring to a boil.

Prep ahead of time – wash and cut the broccolini tops into 1-inch pieces and the stems into 1 and 1/2 – inch pieces. Add to the pan with the garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes and return to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the broccolini is tender but still a little crunchy.

Add the beans, (add the clams) mix well, and return to a boil. Boil, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors together. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve as is, or sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and extra oil.

Broccolini Sausage Beans  & Clams January 2015 CKatt

Broccolini Sausage Beans & Clams January 2015 CKatt

Notes: If you are a clam lover, here is the clam portion of the Ragout recipe. Monsieur Pepin used 1 can (15 ounce) of minced clams. He adds the clam juice to cook everything along with the bean juice. I used a small can of Maine Cherrystone clams (6.5 ounces). This amount worked perfectly for me.  

The red wine chicken sausage with cheese flavor worked out well with the clams because it added enough spice. It is a marvelous combination of flavors.  The recipe for Ragout of sausage, beans and broccolini is a keeper.  As Monsieur Pepin says: a recipe is a guide, but you can change it to make it your own.

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday #2

“Happy Cooking!” – Jacques Pepin

Repose - Maine Summer August  © 2014 CKatt

Repose – Maine Summer August © 2014 CKatt

Posted in Slow food and art in the kitchen, Stew | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments