Blessed Moon Artifacts

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Making art out of a broken dish

I had a terra cotta candle holder that was like a square plate with corners that had an upward rise to them. Over the years it became discolored, the edge of one corner got severely chipped and it started to crack from years of heat and candle wax.

I cleaned it up and put it in a bag and smashed it up. I then ground it up to get rid of any large pieces and then used it in my paint to give my paint a wonderful texture.

You would be amazed at what wonderful textures and additions you can achieve by adding something interesting to the mix! In addition I had found a piece of fuzzy string on the street when I was in the process of creating this piece and it ended up in the piece as well.

Piece is entitled "Earth Textures", acrylic, recycled fiber and recycled texture on canvas, by Valerie Arena 2008

If you like this concept and/or this piece, check out this contest at:

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As a Reiki master, touching something gives me an exchange of energy. The trees have a wonderful energy and this photo and poem express my feelings about trees.

Photo taken in Sedona, (Oak Creek Canyon) Arizona. Poem written by me, Valerie Arena.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mexican Food made easy!

Ok, I live in Pennsylvania, but I spent over thirty years in Arizona. I have travelled across the United States and through Mexico and I would have to say that in Arizona you will find the richest selection of Mexican style food and you will find that there are many "varieties" of "Mexican" food. Most variations are regionally influenced. For example here are some of the varieties I am familiar with:
  • New Mexican
  • Mexican/Mexican American
  • Latin/Latin-American
  • Southwestern
  • Sonoran
  • Tex-Mex (Texas/Mexico)
  • Oaxacan
  • Spanish
  • Cal-Mex (California/Mexican)
I have always loved Mexican style food and often my cooking has shown this influence. Let me share with you a very simple Mexican influenced recipe that takes few ingredients, little time and is relatively inexpensive. I am providing two recipes, one for 20 enchiladas which is great for potlucks or family gatherings (trust me you will be getting compliments!) and one for an enchilada casserole for a family of 4 (simple and inexpensive!):

(Note, these recipes are strictly the meat version: you can substitute or add in refried beans in place of or in addition to the ground beef. The taste will be significantly altered but if you enjoy refried beans, you may wish to try. Substitution guide: same ounces of refried beans to substitute for same ounces of ground beef.)

BUDGET and Time SAVER RECIPE: Enchilada Casserole
1 can 24 oz red enchilada sauce ($1.50)
1 lb ground beef ($2)
1 pkg 8 inch (8 ct) flour tortillas ($1.70)
1 8oz bag of mild cheddar cheese - shredded ($2)
Costs: $7.20 - feeds four
Salt and pepper to taste

Possible Add ins (whatever you have on hand: garlic (fresh, minced, dry, garlic powder), onions, green onions, scallions, cilantro, fresh or dry parsley, rosemary, oregano, fresh tomatos chopped, whatever you like and have handy)

Take a deep pan (preferably 2 inches deep, 6 to 8 inches wide, ten inches long)
Spread 4 oz enchilada sauce on bottom of pan.

Brown your ground beef in a pan, add in 6 ounces of enchilada sauce, salt, pepper, other add ins as you like, 4 oz of cheese (certainly optional if you don't dig cheese) and cook thoroughly making sure all meat is browned and all cheese melted and seasoned to your liking. Turn heat off and get ready to assemble your casserole:

Take 2 tortillas and place in bottom of pan in a way that covers the whole bottom of the pan. You can use an additional tortilla to fill in any gaps or break the tortillas to fit the pan. Spread half of your meat mixture on top of the tortillas, cover with 2 additional tortillas, covering the meat fully, spread the other half of the meat mixture over that layer of tortilla, covering again with 2 additional tortillas, covering the meat mixture entirely. Pour the remainder (14 oz) of the enchilada sauce over the top of that level of tortilla, covering completely. Cover with the remainder (4 oz) of cheese and any other items you wish (scallions, sliced tomatos, ?)

Heat for 30 minutes at 350. Take out of oven, let cool for ten minutes, cut into squares, serve and Enjoy! Optional garnishes: lettuce, tomatos, green onions/scallions, avacado, sour cream.

LARGE QUANTITY RECIPE: Yield 20 enchiladas
2 cans enchilada sauce (red, 2 - 24 oz or larger) (Walmart has them for about $1.50 each)
3 lbs ground beef (75% - 90% will work best) (purchased on sale at $1.87/lb )
2 eight ounce bags of shredded mild cheddar cheese (typically cost $2 a bag)
20 flour tortillas ( 8 inch works well - typically 10 to 12 in a bag $1.99 a bag)
Costs: under $20
Seasonings for the meat: Here is where you can make your own decisions; I typically enjoy cilantro (fresh) or chopped green onions or scallions, salt, black pepper, oregano, Trader Joes 21 Seasoning Salute, Garlic (fresh/minced or chopped or powdered garlic or garlic salt if you have no fresh garlic) You can really choose what you want here but I'd suggest no sweet spices!

Cooking the meat filling: For convenience I pick up two aluminum lasagna pans that can be left at the family event/potluck if need be. If you are cooking at home, you can use any pan that will accomodate what quantity you are cooking and preferably one that is at least 2 inches deep to keep your enchiladas nice and moist.
I use my Wok to cook this large quantity of ground beef. I start out with three large tablespoons of minced garlic, three large tablespoons of either Oregano or Trader Joes 21 seasoning salute, 6 chopped scallions (greens included) in the wok as it heats and I stir the seasonings around. I then start adding in my beef seperating it for thorough cooking. As it's cooking I add salt and pepper limitedly (1 to 2 teaspoons of each) and 12 ounces of enchilada sauce.
When it's completely browned I taste and add more salt and pepper to my liking. You will then dump one bag of mild cheddar cheese (8 0z) into this mixture, stir and let melt completely. Turn off the heat and get ready to assemble!

Assembling your enchiladas:
Spread 4 oz of enchilada sauce on the bottom of each of your pans, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Place an individual tortilla on a plate (paper plate works fine) spoon enough meat mixture towards one end of the tortilla, spreading horizontally, creating a 1 and a half inch to 2 inch wide and approximately 4 to 5 inch long strip of meat, take the bottom curve of the tortilla that is closest to the horizontal strip of the meat and begin rolling with the first roll covering the meat entirely, continue to roll until the enchilada becomes a large cigar-like tube. place in the pan. Continue until you have filled your pan tightly. In a typical rectangular cake or lasagna pan (9x13) you should be able to fit 10 enchiladas. Once the pans are full, pour approximately 14 oz of enchilada sauce over each pan, taking your spoon and spreading the sauce thoroughly over the entire enchiladas (this keeps the tortilla from getting hard while cooking.) Spoon excess sauce from the sides up over the ends and sides of enchiladas until you have covered them thoroughly.
(Optional but adds yum factor: Spread 4 oz of shredded mild cheddar cheese over the top of the enchiladas, feel free to sprinkle any excess meat mixture over the top of the enchiladas as well, and possible some chopped scallions if you like.)

Cook at 350 for 30 minutes, enchiladas should be hot and bubbly. (Leftover refrigerated Enchiladas can be easily reheated in the microwave on a microwave safe plate approximately 2 minutes for a plate with one enchilada on it.)

Seeking writers - Pennsylvanian topics - National Day On Writing

Hello, I am curating a gallery at the NCTE National Gallery of Writing. The gallery is called Natural Pennsylvania. Submissions should reflect on the natural resources and beauties of Pennsylvania. Poetry, articles and any applicable media are acceptable. Submissions are subject to approval and acceptance. Please read gallery submission guidelines at the site.

Must focus on the natural aspects of Pennsylvania; i.e. coal industry, other industries, nature; i.e water, land, foliage, forest, etc. Entries should be educational and descriptive in nature.