Tuesday, May 11, 2010

bananas, jewelry, epiphany!

I've been stashing about-to-turn bananas in the freezer and today I took three and made banana frozen custard (sugar free). I've probably only made cooked-custard ice cream a couple of times before, and certainly not recently. I may have overcooked the custard a mite, and possibly it needed a touch more Splenda, but it came out pretty well and tasted rich. Also, it scooped soft right out of the freezer; I haven't yet been able to get the hang of a sugar free sorbet or sherbet that scooped soft without some thawing. I might try only three eggs next time. Here's my recipe, adapted from one on the Food Network website by Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (they used to have a great show called Two Hot Tamales, and now Susan is on Top Chef masters):

- 2 cups milk (I used 1/2 skim, 1/2 whole)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup Splenda (the original recipe calls for a cup of brown sugar, and you might want to add a tablespoon of that or honey to deepen the flavor; or else, maybe an additional tablespoon of Splenda)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 3 large, ripe bananas, peeled

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sweetener(s)and vanilla. Stir 1/2 cup of the warm milk into the egg mixture, then pour all the egg mixture into the pan with the milk. Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens slightly and will coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow to boil.

Mash the bananas in a large bowl, add the warm custard, and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Original recipe involves a food processor, but I now use the immersion blender whenever possible, because anything else has to be hauled down from somewhere, and I'm already hauling down the ice cream maker.) Cook the custard to room temperature then process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.


I use expensive organic health-food-store vanilla because I love vanilla, and I do not truck with artificial vanilla. This recipe would probably work well with a number of different fruits, although I'd have to test or research (= look at other recipes) proportions. Probably also good as chocolate, with some melted baking chocolate or cocoa dissolved in water over heat (the latter is what I use for chocolate sorbet). I would also try just using an extract, vanilla or almond, and throwing in some nuts or bits of fruit. And I imagine that if you make this up to the point of adding the bananas, and instead pour it over some cooked rice and raisins, dusted it with cinnamon and put it in the fridge, you'd have a lovely rice pudding. (I actually still have, and still use, my mother's covered Pyrex casserole that she used for rice pudding. I use it for a lot of stuff; it's one of my favorite pieces of cookware.)

Today, I cleared most of the non-jewelry matter off my jewelry table. What I said to Barry was, "I need space to spread out so I can sort jewelry for this weekend," since I'm going to sell at that crafts fair in Chelsea. But I kind of knew without knowing that it also meant I was going to make or start making some new pieces to really put myself back into the jewelry head. I unpacked some of what I needed to start up again, although I was unable to find my sterling headpins, ear wires, or chain, which pretty much meant I couldn't make any earrings right away. I actually do have some of those items in gold-filled, but sterling is pretty much where I live. I went to eBay and ordered some of that stuff, plus some more sterling wire. I'm being very positive that I'm going to earn some money this weekend. Since I have a skizillion beads of all types, I can pretty much get away with buying nothing but wire and findings for a year. But it never works that way, since I always find new beads to fall in love with and to be inspired by.

I hadn't made anything for a year, easily, but I decided very quickly that I wanted to do some wire-wrap, maybe an endless necklace long enough to slip over the head (I've done a few in mixed pearls, both on sterling and on gold-filled, that were really pretty). I thought about maybe using a string of black keishi pearls I had (these are known as cornflake or potato chip pearls, rough and flat and bumpy, but with a lot of colorful surface, almost like raggedy-ass coin pearls). But then I was looking at a bag of Chinese-made millefiore (in imitation of the Italian ones, which are very expensive). The Chinese ones are actually quite pretty, and a big advantage for me is that I can use them a whole lot more lavishly that I could with real handmade Italian glass beads. (I actually have some of them, too, but they are generally reserved for starring roles in mindblowing earrings.) So I had an adorable strand of mixed-color Chinese millefiore in 6mm rounds, and pulled out a few colors of 6mm Swarovski bicones (and one color of 6mm rounds) that would work them, and started to work. I took what I did tonight and took a shot at scanning it with my new incredibly wonderful Lexmark 2670 3-in-1 (I love this printer so much it's not funny), and this is what I got:

I hope you can see this decently well since I'm still getting acquainted with the scanner and photo-editing software and uploading to Blogger (the image I'm seeing the the preview screen seems to bear no relation size-wise to the image I edited).

I've been designing and making jewelry for about eight years by simply making whatever I feel like, or something that seems basic and/or saleable, or using a new technique I spotted in a bead magazine, but I've always thought that I didn't have a particular style or look to my work, that there wasn't a trademark or something that set my work apart. But it came to me tonight: duh, what about wire-wrapping? I love doing it, I've done tons of it, it tends to be what people admire the most, and some of the more elaborate stuff looks like nothing else I've ever seen (hope this not very good photo shows something):

(This picture is kind of fuzzy if you zoom in, sorry.) What that is is a very simple wire-wrap necklace, like the one I'm working on, of big red jasper beads, but with other beads dangling off the wire loops in between the main beads. The beads that dangle off are mostly tube cuts of leopardskin jasper and ovals of brown/black obsidian and I'm not sure what all else. But I included that picture and a couple of others in an e-mail to some friends to tell them about the sale, and if I can find where that puppy is, since I'm pretty sure it's not sold, it's now spoken for. Such is the power of wire-wrapping. Plus, if I decide to be the queen of wire-wrap, that can include natural stones, pearls, crystal, glass, and pretty much anything else; it can also be necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets and rings. Trademark piece would have to be the Y-necklace:

(Sorry about all the crap in the background -- this was just a test of photographing jewelry with the digital camera, some months back.) This piece ought to sell well, since Everyone Loves Amethyst. I must have originally intended to hang dangles between the links, since I put nice big soldered rings there, but I guess I decided that the amethyst was too pretty to gussy up, beyond the Y-connector with the little flower.

So I think that's what I'll do on Saturday: bring only wire-wrap and brand myself that way. I will have business cards by then; a friend turned me on to an excellent deal at Vistaprint).

And in case any of you are in or around NYC, or have a friend here who's dying to buy some jewelry, the sale is is 306 Eighth Avenue (between 25th and 26th Streets), from noon to 7:00 PM. Free to the public, and $10 of the vendor fee proceeds will be donated to Cultivating Our Sisterhood International Association, Inc. (COSIA). "At COSIA, we develop supportive networks that are not limited by age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion; utilize these networks as resources to produce affordable events and programs that promote team-building and the pursuit of personal and professional life goals and objectives; and support through fund-raising and volunteer activities socially-conscious initiatives and programs that benefit girls and women from underserved communities."

1 comment:

  1. Jenn, your jewelry is SO BEAUTIFUL. The photo (or scan) of the first one is really good. Whatever you did to get that shot, keep doing it. practice with different backgrounds, play with the settings on your digital camera, and try to shoot in natural light, not direct sunlight, without a flash. That's what I try to do to photograph knitting and fiber.

    You're making me want to make jewelry again, but I don't think I ever did anything as nice as you do. (or did I inspire you, once upon a time?) I think you own a necklace/earring set that Barry commissioned from me. Malachite and silver? gold? Long time ago, and I don't remember.