Upmarket Oil

canna Low-grade olive oil comes in metal canisters, but the decent stuff comes in nice glass bottles.

So do all the many other specialist oils: walnut oil or raisin or whatnot – except Sunflower oil, which refuses to go upmarket, still selling in the same old, time-proven but nevertheless unappealing plastic bottles.

One would have thought the sunflower oil people would want to open a door into a higher price segment with better quality and nicer presentation.

I use Sunflower Oil only for those jobs that don’t agree with the sharp flavour of a good olive oil, and for mundane tasks such as oiling a wok or a frying pan, and I can’t really see myself changing this practise, even if sunflower oil suddenly came along in a nicer presentation and with a claim of superior quality. The mind boggles nevertheless.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

When the Milk Goes Off…

When the Milk Goes Off - lowres You may have seen the ArtRage sketch a few days ago. There’s not much more to say about this, except that you can now come and see the real thing, in oil on canvas.

Click here, or the thumbnail, for a larger version.

When the Milk Goes Off

Oil on canvas, 12×16″
November 2008
Medium: Daler-Rowney’s Alkyd Flow medium, linseed oil, turpentine

I hope you like it.


Not a Health Food Store

I went into the local health food store to buy some whey, which had been suggested as a natural preservative when making mustard.

I didn’t get what I was after, but I did find Egg-free Mayonnaise.

I guess this disqualifies them as a health food retailer, and as a food retailer. Mayonnaise is, by definition, an emulsion of egg yolks and oil. Take the eggs away and you have oil. I didn’t venture to determine the substitute ingredients, but shudder at the thought alone.

Can’t be healthy. Can’t be tasty.

Handyman Alert

Dr. Zoggs
I mentioned the deceased colour slide projector last week (see here). It’s a simple yet tragic tale: some piece of equipment fails, and you might find yourself in the proximity. Say, for example, the piece of equipment was a colour slide projector, and you was I.

"Easy," you’d think, "I’m a trained expert in what-not. Piece of cake." And out comes the toolkit. The wife smirks sympathetically.

Take the device apart and hunt down that tiny spring which sprung away as you opened the lid (retrieve from the distant corner under the sofa in typical cases). The wife smirks insightfully and sympathetically.

Look insight the unit. Knowledgeably diagnose the problem, apply a drop of oil here, clean some dust there, and consider the repair a success. The wife smirks.

Re-assemble the unit. No, part B must have gone under part A first, and the other hand needs to hold onto the spring again while the third hand twists this buckle slightly while the fourth hand gently squeezes the holder which no longer seems big enough…

At this point, the wife smirks knowingly.

New colour slide projectors are available from a variety of reputable retailers, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, should you require any recommendations or, indeed, my personal services to your present device.


Rubber Duck

Rubber Duck (Detail)
You think I might have been lazy but nothing could be further from the truth. I might have taken a bath in company of a little Rubber Duck, though.

I hope you like the third in the bathroom series.

Rubber Duck, oil on canvas, 12×16", dated April 2006.
Medium: linseed oil and alkyd flow media (in parts).

Click here or on the thumbnail for the real thing.


The chef, at age 3 (?)
During my 2005 Christmas Dinner, I served an Escabeche as the third course. This is a simple dish from cold, pickled, white fish. Light and refreshing. Nice:

Skin 800g white fish fillets. Drizzle generously with lime juice and set aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile:

Cut one large onion into fine rings. Chop 3..4 cloves of garlic. Fry this gently in olive oil, then add 150ml Olive oil, 100ml white wine vinegar, 50ml rice vinegar, 150ml hot chicken or vegetable stock, one teaspoon of honey. 4 bay leaves, a tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns, half a tablespoon of crushed allspice, 6..8 crushed juniper berries. Juice from 2 limes, a teaspoon of dried red chillies. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes, but do not allow to boil.

Dry the fish and fry gently. When cooked, place in a flat dish. Pour the marinade over
the fish. Cover and keep chilled for 24 hours.

To serve, take the fish out of the marinade and sprinkle with coriander greens. Serve with salad and white bread.

Why I Won’t Need Buffy

The delights of simple food are twofold at least: simple meals are quick and easy to prepare, and the kitchen is very quickly clean and tidy again. Oh, and the simplicity of a recipe, in my opinion, often benefits the taste. Elaborate stuff can be exquisite without a doubt, but often, the additional effort is disproportionate to the overall improvements.

Following is a good old, and simple, stable that has, in its many variations, fed us on many a Sunday evening through the years. It also keeps your veins clean and vampires away, sometimes even work colleagues on the following Monday:

Spaghetti al Pesto: Bring strongly salted water to the boil for the Spaghetti – since you’ll be eating nothing else, 175..200g per person (225g for teenagers) is your rule-of-thumb figure. Following amounts for 2..3 people:
While the water heats up, peel all the cloves from a bulb of garlic and toss them into the blender. Add a small onion, a large bunch of basil, a handful of pine kernels, a tablespoon of freshly crushed black pepper, a teaspoon of salt, and 4..6 tablespoons of good Olive oil. Run through the blender. Without a blender, chop very finely, put everything except the oil a freezer bag, and crush with a rolling pin. Or, buy a blender.

Place the spaghetti into boiling water and cook until al dente. (Under no circumstances whatsoever use the express or 5 minutes spaghetti, those have an artificially increased surface and end up tasting watery.) Drain with hot water.

Just a minute or so before the pasta is done, heat 200ml Olive oil and briefly fry the pesto that you made earlier. Toss with the pasta, serve with red wine and freshly ground Parmesan cheese.

Simple yet delicious.

A Bare Bear

Bare Bear (Detail)I am pleased to introduce you to A Bare Bear. What started as a sketch on October 17th, has now been completed in oil on canvas, 500x400mm.

Thanks again to Misty for suggesting the name to this painting.


BlackouttrafficOK, I only commute once in two weeks or so, but when I do…

I hate drivers!

I hate those speed-camera-aware drivers who slow down to at least 15 mph less than the current speed limit at the sight of a speed camera, while staring at the box as if hypnotic means would help.

I hate those constant-speed drivers who cruise the motorway at 50mph, and continue driving through a village at the same speed.

I hate those smarta* drivers who need to overtake on the hard shoulder or otherwise outsmart and endanger the remaining traffic.

I hate those idiots who, sitting in a perfectly normal daily traffic jam, have nothing better to do then waking up the neighbourhood by honking their horn, as if that would move the rubbish collection lorry any faster.

I hate those morons who make all cars in a 100 yard radius aware of their disgusting taste of music.

I hate those drivers who cannot show patience and let someone make a u-turn, as if they never were lost or in need for some help.

I hate those falling asleep at the traffic lights, driving while holding a cut of tea in the left, a fag in the right and the mobile phone with the shoulder, driving while burning one litre of oil every 10 miles, driving too fast, too slow, or anywhere where I want to drive in the first place.

It’s a lack of intelligence, common sense, and consideration. That’s what it is. Yes.

/rant. Feeling much better now.

Alfred’s Finished!

AlfredheadAlfred has arrived, in oil and proper.

Not sure why this fellow ended up with the name "Alfred", but there you are.

The technique used for the background didn’t quite work out the way I anticipated, but the mess it made certainly exceeded expectations: the background us made from Alizarin Crimson and Damar Varnish, applied in multiple layers and distributed by gravity. I ended up having to help with a brush in some places, and one can still see running traces in some other areas, but a technique worth exploring. In any case, I find the brilliance of Alizarin Crimson with Damar Varnish, applied over a white primer, just stunning.

Alfred itself is painted with regular oil paint, using Linseed oil as a medium.