EVOLUTION OF A GARDEN


Sachi
“Sachi” watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The Japanese period began with teaching my Campfire Girls troop about children’s holidays in Japan. There were many little Japanese friends while growing up in Long Beach, California, and it was fun to hear about “Girls and Boys Day celebrations. When a CampFire Girls troop opened up it seemed like a good project to teach them about children’s customs in Japan, so a lot of study began on my part first.

What started with the CampFire group, extended to studying the language, and to the decoration of a new home and garden.

Japanese screen
Antique Japanese Screen

Japanese Lady
“Japanese Lady” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

While we tore the house apart and rebuilt, restored and re-imaged it, we began to tackle the flat, uninteresting patch of grass in the backyard. We suggested a swimming pool, but our girls said they would rather go to the two neighborhood pools where their friends swam.

San Francisco has a world famous Japanese garden which we frequented often getting ideas for a garden of our own. It had to begin with a pool of course, and Dr. Advice spent many evenings after work digging. The hole was soon about 4′ deep, 12′ long and 8’wide, so I suggested he stop. Ultimately, there was another pond with waterfall at the other end of the yard, and a red moon bridge over the larger pool, leading to a small teahouse among the trees at the other side. A wooden finial on the top of the roof was carved by a woodcarver friend. We were indebted to our late brother-in-law and another friend for joining us in all the digging, hammering and celebratory beer drinking after the job was finished. Our good friend Tak Fudenna helped us get rocks and offered suggestions.

gete Japanese garden

J Garden 2 (2)

J Garden 2 (1)

J Garden 4 (1)

J Garden 4 (2)
The bridge had a slight accident a few years later when it groaned under the stress of about 15 high school girls posing for a photo-op before graduation. Dr. A groaned a bit himself when he called home from a business trip and heard the news.

A visiting Japanese friend who came during a home and garden tour, said “It’s lovely now, but wait another ten years and it will be spectacular.” I visited it several years ago, and he was right.

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AMAZING GRAZING~~~~Beer Cheese Soup


A tuckedaway corner

I took my second cuppa out to this little corner of my back yard this morning, recipe folder in hand trying to think of something for dinner. This recipe for “BEER CHEESE SOUP—COBURG INN” fell out, making me wonder where I had originally found it at least 45 years ago. I made it often in the cold, rainy days in Seattle, Washington, along with good solid rustic bread and a crisp green salad, but it has remained hidden in the mess of clippings and scribbled notes till it hit the ground today.

Coming in to my computer, I Googled “Coburg Inn, and found that the recipe came from the Coburg Inn in Coburg, Oregon near Eugene, in 1877. But the really exciting thing for me is that a good friend of ours is from Coburg, Germany. I don’t think he knows about beer Cheese Soup, but I will make it for him. He is more of a sausage and kraut man, but I think he will like this one. It’s rather touching to see place names given to remind people of former homes. Of course we see that all over the States since everyone has come from somewhere else.

Coburg, Germany has an impressive history as the birthplace of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who married Queen Victoria of England. (It is not known if they ever ate Beer Cheese soup.)

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Ehrenburg palace, Coburg

Our friend Bill and his twin brother were twelve years old when the war ended, and the Americans marched through town. They were enthralled with the chocolate bars and conviviality of the American soldiers, and at the age of twenty they sailed for the “New World” with twenty hard earned dollars between them. For many years they made an annual migration back to Germany for the Octoberfest celebration in Munich, and of course, a trip down memory lane to Coburg.

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Schloss rosenau, 1900 Coburg

BEER CHEESE SOUP, COBURG INN

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup 1/8″ diced celery
1/2 cup 1/8″ ” onion (Trader Joe’s has cartons of Mirepois, which saves the chopping)
1/2 cup 1/8″ ” carrot
1/2 cup flour
2 1/2 pints chicken stock (5 cups)
2 Tbs. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
6 oz. grated cheddar cheese
12 oz bottle beer
salt and pepper to taste

Saute vegetables until done, but not browned. Blend in flour, dry mustard and chicken stock; cook 5 min. Blend in cheddar cheese and beer. Let simmer 10 mins. Season and serve.

This recipe for JALAPENO CORN BREAD fell would go well with the soup.

JALAPENO CORN BREAD

2 cups yellow corn meal
2 cups cream-style corn
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2 cubes melted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/4-1/2 cup drained, canned green chilies
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp baking soda

Mix it all together
Melt 1 Tbs butter in each of 2 cast-iron or some other heavy baking pans. Divide the batter between. Bake for about 45 min Serves 10

THE WARNING OF THE WATERMILL


THE WARNING OF THE WATERMILL

Poem by Richard Holding

Vitruvius Molinus made me,
With wheel and stone and leat,
While cohorts marched against the tribes
Westward on Watling Street.

Four generations tended me,
Till the Legions recall to Rome;
But a Molinus stayed to work my mill—
He knew no other home.

When invading hordes had settled down
And village life was born,
The sokeman and villeins needed me
To grind the Saxon corn.

I was listed in William’s Domesday book,
As were five thousand more;
I tendered my tax in “sticks of eels”,
According to Norman law.

For centuries have I worked away,
Whatever line was in power;
I garnered the local harvest
And ground it into flour.

Men said then that the power of steam
Was a more efficient way;
So my weir, my leat, my wheel collapsed,
And I began to decay.

Then a “property developer” rebuilt me,
With deal and glass and point,
He turned me into a restaurant,
Described as “rather quaint.”

He took out all my machinery,
Hung my artifacts on the wall,
Displayed my sluice behind plate glass,
As a “picturesque waterfall.”

Perhaps when you’ve used all your North Sea oil,
And your fossil fuel is done,
You’ll remember I was once a watermill,
And rivers will always run.

Proverb: “The mill cannot grind With the water that is past.”

Kendall Mill
This grist mill was built by my ancestor Francis Kendall for grinding corn in mid 1600’s, near the town of Woburn, Massachusetts for which he was a founder. He and his brother arrived in America in 1630.

BAREFOOT HUMMINGBIRD


beato_harris_1

She lived a life that would have been considered outrageous even by today’s standards, but Beatrice Woods began her life in 1893 as a daughter of a wealthy, socially conscious family in San Francisco. Ultimately, it was her exposure to the arts that ruined her mother’s hopes for her in 1912, when Beatrice rejected plans for a coming-out party and decided she wanted to become a painter.

Supervised by a chaperone, Beatrice went to Paris to study, but it was in Giverney, home of Monet, that rebellious Beatrice ditched the chaperone and moved into an attic with her painted canvases.

220px-Beatrice_Wood_and_Marcel_Duchamp

Moving to Paris, she decided to become an actress, and while taking acting lessons, Beatrice became became part of a Bohemian group of artists, and where she was introduced to the artist Marcel Duchamp. “We immediately fell for each other,” Beatrice recalled. “He was an enchanting person.” Duchamp introduced her to Henri-Pierre Roche, a French diplomat, writer and art collector, who became her first lover. He was also the first man to break her heart. Beatrice had found herself surrounded by Bohemian men who thought little of bourgeois morality. During this time she became known as the “Mama of Dada”.

“Marcel shocked me because he said that sex and love are two different things,” Beatrice later recalled. Yet she fell into a relationship with both men, and remained life-long friends with Duchamp. In 1953 Roche wrote a semi-autobiographical novel called Jules et Jim, about a threesome, which some some erroneously suggested may have been inspired by the association of Woods, Duchamp and Roche.

In 1948, Beatrice moved to Ojai, California, to be close to the Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti. She built a home in the small peaceful village of artists a little south of Santa Barbara and surrounded by lovely rolling hills. There she taught and pursued her art for the next sixty years. At age 90, at the urging of her friend Anais Nin, she became a writer. Her most famous book is “I Shock Myself”.
220px-Beatrice_Wood_Luster_Chalice

I first became interested in Beatrice in 1985 while teaching a class in conceptual art and Marcel Duchamp, and when I learned that she was living in Ojai, I welcomed an opportunity to visit her.

If you want the local lowdown in Ojai, California, a resident says “People rarely ask what you do—they ask, ‘what brought you to Oja?’ I love that. Ojai is a beautiful sleepy small community of artists, farmers, and a few people who simply want to relax and enjoy life.

The prospect of seeing poppies drew us up into the green hills above the town. We had been graced with the sight of enormous 5 inch wide white flowers along highway 101, and Ojai thought enough of them to name a park Matilija—Ma-till-a-hah.

Matilija Poppies
Matilija Poppies, watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Winding up through the hills we came upon Beatrice’s little house where she lived, worked and had a small gallery of her work. The door was answered by a diminutive Indian man who introduced himself as “her humble servant.” Beatrice was momentarily engaged in another room but we saw her as she darted past the doorway like a barefoot hummingbird. Draped in colorful sari and Native American jewelry, she was an iconic figure, even better than I had thought

When she floated into the gallery and found my interest in art, her “humble servant” brought cups of tea and she described the art displayed in the room. She was quite open about her relationships with Duchamp and Roche, and introduced us to her German Shepherd dog,
Roche” who wandered into the room in search of a pat on the head.

Her sculptures were funky, funny and engaging and told a wry story of her life. One large piece was of a brothel on fire, with girls leaning out the front windows while a variety of men were pouring out the back doors. Beatrice explained that the men were “the mayor, the police chief, etc.” It was plain that her way to get even with the men who had hurt her throughout her life was to put them all in erratic or hazardous situations in her art.

To what did she attribute her longevity? Her stock answer was “I owe it all to chocolate and young men.” Beatrice Woods died in Ojai at the age of 105 in 1998.

Her personal and artistic style intrigued me, and I developed a number of pieces as a dedication to Beatrice.

Out Of The Woods
“Out Of The Woods” clay sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Beatrice Lives
“Beatrice Lives” clay sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

AMAZING GRAZING~~~~The Perfect Hostess


Ladie's Tea

In 1946 the Westmoreland Sterling Company put out a free booklet teaching newly married women how to be a perfect hostess. and since my parents had supplied us with a full assortment of their silver, I set out to learn the rules of perfection.

Setting the stage was important, and the first pages were filled with pictures of table settings which used their silver and china, appropriate centerpieces, decorations and menus. Pages were devoted to what to serve at various functions every young wife might be hostessing. Luncheons, Bridge, When friends drop in for tea, midnight snacks, After Theater suppers, and of course an afternoon tea party.

It included a section on ways to serve: family service, which was all either of us knew, Russian service, which they hastened to tell was seldom if ever, used in the typical American home today except for strictly formal occasions when the host and hostess assume no responsibilities whatsoever. This section was difficult to accomplish anyway in a tiny three room apartment on the third floor when one of the rooms was a bathroom.

They even suggested games one might want to play to entertain their guests, such as Battle of the Sexes, Balloon Race, and I’m sure you get the idea. Times were simpler in many ways in those far away days. I was amused even then at the choices of party suggestions, considering that I, as well as all my friends, were working wives, with no time to create these marvelous parties.

However, since we were now grownups, and since family and friends had gifted us with lovely knick knacks and more silverware, I chose to show them off with an afternoon tea party. My mother did not do tea parties, but as a child while living in Bremerton WA, she took me to tea parties put on by the Admiral’s wife, where large silver coffee and tea pots sat at either end of long tables, and important looking ladies filled cups as people moved around the table grabbing cookies on their way.

I felt confident having read the Westmoreland Silver Company’s brochure though, so after preparing all week long, our little apartment filled with female relatives from both sides all marveling that someone who had shown no interest in the culinary arts, had somehow pulled the affair together. A free booklet from the Culinary Arts Institute in Chicago provided the dessert recipes.

Desserts

Yesterday we were guests at an afternoon tea party hosted by our good friend from England. Her garden, abloom with roses and butterflies flitting amongst various flowers, was a hubbub of happy friends fortunate to see how a delightful English lady presents a truly authentic afternoon tea party—liberally laced with wine and spirits of course.

A mainstay for afternoon tea parties, or any other time is a good cooky recipe, and cookies happen to be one of my fortes. This recipe was one I served at my initial tea party, and every Christmas since then. It has been called by many names: Mexican Tea cakes, Russian tea cakes, etc. but I use its most basic name; Butter Balls.

BUTTER BALL COOKIES

1 cup butter
4 Tbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans. I toast them a little first, it brings out the flavor)
Cream butter, add sugar, and continue to beat until light. Add vanilla. Add sifted flour and mix well. Fold in nuts. Shape into small balls. Put on ungreased pan. Bake at 350, only 7 – 10 min. Butter burns quickly so watch them. Roll in powdered sugar wile hot, and then again when cooled.

THE TECHNOLOGY OF RECAPTURE


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Sunset in San Juan Islands photo by KSR

Two weeks ago I was typing away, minding my own business, decided to empty my recycle bin, and suddenly with no warning, over 4,300 files slipped rapidly away in front of my eyes. What did I do to deserve this? Not even the clever tech people could say what happened, but they were smart enough to fetch it back; for a price. The only things worthwhile to me were Art records, so yes, it was worth it to me.

The computer came home clean, with all 4300 files home again, this time in incomprehensible computer language. Being a determined woman of a certain age, I muddled my way through all of them and now life is again running along as it should be.

Among much-loved photos, I found this one of a sailboat at sunset, taken one evening several years ago in the Canadian San Juan Islands. We had pulled into a small secluded cove and dropped anchor for the night. Shortly afterwards this boat pulled in with the same idea and as the sun was setting, presented this lovely scene. A friend aboard with us, unwrapped his bugle and gave a tender rendition of “Taps” to end a perfect day of sailing.

AMAZING GRAZING~~~~Tacolicious Si!


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“Mexican Grandmother”, stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

A woman’s kitchen is like her lingerie drawer—don’t try to rearrange it! No sensible “abuela” (grandmother) would tolerate someone such as a recently retired husband with no culinary experience entering her kitchen with the primary idea of change. The kitchen is her domain, where she rules unchallenged.

I have been fortunate, but I know people who, coming home from work or an afternoon away, find their kitchen completely turned around. It takes a lifetime to find the most efficient arrangement in a room used so often, but apparently only an afternoon to change it. But as Norman Cousins once said: “Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” So an occasional foray into unknown waters is OK. Most husbands are excellent dishwashers.

My family moved to Quadalajara, Mexico in the ’60s, my mother learned to speak Spanish and my father didn’t, and they found that what we had been calling tacos and enchiladas were strange and exotic food to the average Mexican. Sitting in a lovely shaded outdoor restaurant in Tlaquepaque surrounded by happy people drinking pitchers of sangria while tapping their feet to the rhythm of a mariachi band, we ordered tacos, and were puzzled after waiting for sour cream and grated cheese to arrive with our order. Our waiter was quick to tell us that what we had been eating for years was “Tex-Mex” tacos. Not that it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t “authentic” Mexican.

Mexico was good to my family. People came to visit, some even stayed awhile. My daughter came to climb a mountain by moonlight. My aunt and uncle moved there too, so they had their own little commune complete with shared maid service and barber.

People have been eating food wrapped in tortillas for more than 1,000 years, but the first known meaning of the word “taco” was seen in 1895. The taco is the best known street food—something you can pick up and eat with your hands. As such, it can contain anything you like; meat, cheese, fish, chicken, scrambled eggs, whatever.

Having a taquisa or taco party is the easiest way to entertain. Line up tortillas, 2 to 8 per person,, and keep them warm, have dishes of 3 or 4 fillings and let everyone make their own. This type of party has become very popular, and is really quite simple. People take a flat tortilla, put whatever they like on it, and fold it over.

Shredded chicken, pork or beef moistened with a bit of sauce, a big pot of chili beans and another of rice are good accompaniments, and beer to wash it all down with.

Making your own tortillas is easy, but if you live near a Mexican market or tortilla factory, they are a lot easier. Tortillas come in either corn or flour depending on what you like. I like the flour ones if you are going to fry them, but otherwise I like the corn. Sauces are all over the place. The El Paso brand sauces in the market are OK if you don’t want to make your own. The idea of a taquisa is to keep it simple and have a good time.

Now let’s cool off with a nice lemon dessert, PARFAIT PIE. I first made this about 45 years ago and loved it. It was delicious but I misplaced the recipe until last week. While screening for a lemon cheesecake recipe, there it was! So I’m sharing.

PARFAIT PIE

Butter crust:
Combine 1/2 cup butter with 2 Tbs. sugar (do not cream). use pastry blender.
Add 1 cup flour and mix just until dough forms. Place 1/4 c. crumbs in small pan. Press remaining crumbs evenly in a 9″ pie pan with well floured fingers.
Bake at 375 until light golden brown. Crumbs 10-12 min (mine took 7) pie crust 12-15 min. Cool
Filling:
Combine in small mixing bowl 1/3 c. (1/2 of 6 oz. partially thawed frozen lemonade. Add several drops yellow food coloring
1/2 cup sugar
1 unbeaten egg white. Beat at high speed until soft peaks form.
Beat 1 cup whipping cream until thick and fold into lemon mixture.
Spoon into cool baked shell. Sprinkle with crumbs and freeze until firm 4-6 hours covered.

NOW LISTEN TO ME: When it says 4-6 hours that’s what it means if you want to serve it for dinner, otherwise it gets too hard. I left it in over night and it was frozen so hard we had to wait awhile to enjoy it. Just freeze it and then put it in the fridge covered until you can’t stand it any longer.

OLE!