Sweet pears

January 24, 2011

Two  dessert recipes for two pears, or a pair,  sweet pears in any case 😉

This is my participation in  Scott Thomas Photography’s challenge whose theme is “Food”.

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/assignment-11-food-photography/

Choose a not too ripe pear and peel it without cutting it in slices. Let it simmer gently in some water with  sugar,  star anise, cinnamon and a little lemon juice. In the meantime prepare a chocolate sauce (some  water and chocolate). You may add some light cream before serving, if you like it.

Here is another recipe for a dessert with pears or apples.  Cut the pear in two pieces and cook it at slow heat in a non-stick pan with a little sugar, part of a vanilla pod , a few seeds of cardamone and some lemon juice. The pears should take some colour and a lovely crust but not too much ! Then just serve it warm with a sorbet (or ice-cream). I chose a passion fruit/mango yogurt sorbet. We call this kind of dessert a “chaud-froid” – “warm-cold dessert”.

I had a “bon appétit”, thanks for asking;)  But this second picture was rather difficult to take. By the time I had finished turning around the table to chose the right angle for my picture, as suggested by Scott, the sorbet had melted and the picture looked like nothing at all. Well, not so bad after all since I had another portion of sorbet :)

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African quilt

January 22, 2011

This is one of my favourite quilts. I sewed it some years ago using African fabrics only. It is rather small (1m x 80 cm) and it is made with scraps of materials from various countries in West and Central Africa. A long road along the markets of  Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Congo.Most of its patterns are symbolic. These simple cotton fabrics are textile words. Those who know their language can read the social status, the affiliation to a particular brotherhood,  culture  or the area the materials were designed in and on what particular occasion.

This pattern  was printed on a traditional African dress called boubou. I was told it represented  jewelry (earring ?). The name of this piece of material is : “My husband is rich”. Obviously !

I could not find the designation for all patterns but thanks to a wonderful book (at the end of this post) there are a few I can share with you.

The name of this striking design is “My rival´s eye”… The crosses underneath look like “The turtle doves´feet” (tunfan sen).

This small figure could be the one of  a farmer. The pattern surrounding him (arrow) is called  “The back of the sickle blade” (wosoko). A farmer wanted his effective sickle to be remembered !

“Guinea fowls” running away from the photographer 😉 A design often represented on local fabrics, guinea fowls being very present in African villages and along the roads – unfortunately for them 😦

Women  grinding millet, a daily work in African villages.

Warriors´ signs. On the left there is “The Brave´s Belt” (ce farin jala). A symbol of the belt a soldier or a warrior wears around his waist before setting off for battle. On the right, a mask or a shield.

“Of threads and words” could be the translation for this wonderful book featuring many precious pieces of clothing belonging to kings, heads of tribes, clans or areas of various cultures in West and Central Africa.  Sometimes  symbols have been sewed or weaved on bark or raffia clothing. These unique pieces have been also represented on more common sorts of materials. As on the cotton fabrics I collected here and there.

What I  cannot share with you here is the soft touch of the local cotton. A lot of  materials I used have been worn, washed on stones along a river or  in a pond, then dried in the  hot sun. The original colours have vanished a little but the cotton texture has sometimes become as soft as silk or muslin. So pleasant to sew and quilt !

Photo assignment

January 17, 2011

Do you think this picture is out of Season ?  In my part of the world, absolutely ! But “Food” is not.  It is a matter that concerns us all daily and everywhere.

I chose this summerly image of  vegetable gardens in a mountain village to tell you about a new photo assignment by Scott Thomas Photography  http://stphoto.wordpress.com/ at Views Infinitum.

All about it – with some very interesting information and advice  on Food Photography – is explained here :

http://stphoto.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/assignment-11-food-photography/

Have a look and join us before Midnight (your time), Wednesday, January 26th, 2011. Wish you much fun ! Et “Bon appétit” 😉

At a slow pace

January 6, 2011

Walking  in the garden a few days after Christmas.  I was enjoying a fresh and early morning sun as  I spotted a branch of blackberry, shaped like a heart. A wild and  stubborn bush,  not ready to give in to  Winter.  The persistent branch made me think of this past Summer bounty and of the delicious marmelade waiting on the kitchen table for the family breakfast.

Fleeting images of particular moments during the Holiday Season.  I realize that the grandfather who once was as tall as his grandsons looked now small and frail. Emotion. A moment of love shared between generations, smiles and looks of complicity that belong to the three of them only. A wonderful bond.

My activities will not resume until mid-January.  These days after Christmas are “in slow-motion”. Remembering  family celebrations, animated talk around the table, gifts being offered, a surprise for everyone. Each family member had decided to offer a gift to one person only chosen by drawing lots.   Each one  kept  the secret until Christmas Day. What an excitement as the time for sharing gifts came ! I was so happy that mine was meant for my Dad! I offered him a soft warm fleece jacket in his favourite colour, grey/blue. He loved it and is wearing it almost every day since  Christmas 🙂

Taking time to sit for more reading and leaving aside other activities that can wait a little.

Sidney Poitier’s spiritual autobiography is one the best I have read in a long time. “The Measure of a Man” is the story of his life from his birth on Cat Island in the Bahamas until his recognition as a great actor in  Hollywood. When he was about 12,  S. Poitier told his sister : “When I grow up, I want to go to Hollywood and become a cowboy “. He had just seen his first movie in Nassau, a cowboy one of course. In 1963, S. Poitier was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for best actor for his great performance in Lilies of the Field. He also received the Life Achievement Award for an outstanding career and humanitarian accomplishment.

Reading his memoirs is like having a worthwhile conversation with an older family member, his words are powerful, reflective, generous, humane and so moving. It makes you look closer at the foundations of your own life.

Looking forward to even more reading. Family and friends know me… and I  received several books:

The Amish Quilts,  1870-1930, showing many reproductions of quilts from private collections in Switzerland; there are also some  very interesting chapters about the origin and history of the Amish.

Matthieu Ricard, “Spiritual Paths”, a small anthology of some of the most beautiful Tibetan writings. To be read slowly too.

“Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time. I have already started reading it and can hardly stop…

“The Rothko Chapel” by Domique de Menil. With her husband, John, Dominique founded the inter-religious Chapel in Houston/Texas in 1971. The de Menil’s dream was for the Chapel to promote interfaith dialogue, human rights and the arts. I am so grateful for this gift,  a beautiful souvenir of a memorable visit of this Chapel some years ago.

From Barbara, my English quilting friend, I received the loveliest Desk Diary you can imagine !

More gratefulness. To Marie,  http://ancientcloth.wordpress.com/ my inspiring and creative friend; she  sews and expresses herself  beautifully in  her quilts. Marie sent me those colourful parcels.

See all I found when I opened the pretty wrapping papers!

Wonderful handmade gifts and special fabrics I look forward to sewing  in my quilts. Precious  presents from here and there. Thank you so very much, Marie ! All is  truly appreciated.  My thoughts are with you.

January will be a slow month  for me. As my friend Marah wrote on a beautiful card :  “Never let the urgent crowd out the important”.

This is the first of her 12 calendar cards. Each month I will share a different one with you. I wish you  a lovely start of this New Year. May it bring  Peace in your heart and mind.

A sea of fog

January 1, 2011

A large sea of fog filled the valley for the last sunrise of this year.Slowly but surely it will disappear…Tomorrow morning when the New Year will start, I hope there will be plenty of sunshine for your eyes to shine and your heart to feel warm.HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

BONNE ET HEUREUSE ANNEE