Saturday, August 28, 2010

Last Day of The Artist's Circle Exhibition; Here are some parting shots of the beautiful exhibition.

The Artist' Circle Exhibition is winding down . The exhibition ran from July 9-28 at the Sharon Art Center, Peterborough , NH. This show is an example of some of the finest work being created today, and it especially interesting that is happening at this moment in time right here in this small state of New Hampshire. Our thanks to all the artists . We will forever remember this exhibition in our minds and hearts.

A detail of a Gerry Williams piece. He is truly our "Living Treasure"

Coastal Oaks, pastel by Elizabeth Johansson

"Great show!" Often people stop us at Roy's Market to tell James and I how much they are enjoying the exhibit. They rave at the excellence of the work and the talent and creativity of this group of artists. I kept a list of some of the words I have heard used to describe this show; breathtaking, inspiring, craftsmanship, passionate,calming and superb.
A big THANKS to the artists for making this possible .

Red to Violet, by Sydney Sparrow
oil on linen on panel

Nasturtiums, Presidential Range, By James Aponovich
oil on linen
Kudos to all the artist, that I am pleased to call friends as well, in putting this exhibition together! The exhibition has been so well received! The Sharon Art Center Gallery has enjoyed record turnouts each day for this show.

Gary Haven Smith sculptures and wall pieces.
Strata, granite & steel and Coming and Going, glacial granite (sculptures)

Susan Pratt Smith, Wellspring, fused ditchroic glass

Low Tide, Cape Ann, Jamie LaFleur
Oil on canvas

By the Time it Gets Dark, by Sean Beavers
oil on linen on panel

Peanut Row Farm , Bob Larsen

Jon Brooks
Citron Alter (table) and Dancing with Yellow Chair, (chair)

Gallery installation
Included in photo:
Table and chair (in corner): Jon Brooks, Paintings:James Aponovich,
Hall Table: David Lamb, Etchings: Peter Milton, pottery (on table): Gerry Williams

Peter Milton Print

Embarkment for Cythera, Peter Miton, etching

Lambovich II
A collaboration by David Lamb (furniture) and James Aponovich (painting)

Gallery Installation
Works shown by:
Sculpture, Morning After Fire,jon Brooks, "Lambovich" secretary, Peter Milton etchings,
Jon Brooks , chair, and Sean Beavers oil on canvas.

Two dynamic pots by Gerry Williams

Gerry Williams pottery (foreground) with works by Elaine Swenson on the wall.

Birdsong #2, by Elaine Swenson
Pencil,acrylic,paper and canvas

Two works on paper by David Carroll
Veritatisil and Lux Stella

The work of 3 NH Artists Laureate
David Lamb , Hall Table ( is the current Artist Laureate), Gerry Williams , pottery, and James Aponovich, painting.
James Bolle, composer and conductor is also part of this illustrious group of NH. Artists Laureate, and was spotted at the Opening of this exhibition.

A look inside the gallery.
Works include: Sculptures by Gary Haven Smith, Pottery bu Gerry Williams, Arm Chair by David Lamb

The Artists
Sydney Sparrow, Sean Beavers, Elaine Swenson, Elizabeth Johansson, David Lamb, David Carroll, James Aponovich, Jon Brooks, Bob Larsen and Gerry Williams ( all in photo)
Gary Haven Smith, Susan Pratt Smith, Peter Milton and Jamie LaFleur (not shown).

Our thanks and gratitude to all the artists participating in the show. We are honored to have the opportunity to exhibit with them in this Artist's Circle.
These photos will be a record to mark this event.

All content in this blog are the exclusive copyright of Elizabeth Johansson.
Art work is the copyright of individual artists and may not be reproduced without written permission of the artist.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Lavender lines the front walk along with peonies. In late May and early June the peonies greet guests on their way to our front door. Peonies are cut and brought in for color and fragrance as well as to be immortalized on canvas! Their large blossoms that we love so much fade and after several days petals begin to drop until finally the vase is empty once again.
Just as the peonies are waning a blue mist of lavender flowers appear at the edge of the walk.
The fragrance is enchanting in the warm afternoon sun. It is impossible for me to walk past without reaching down to run my hand across the plant.
Just before the flowers peak I cut enough to fill several trays to dry. In August, the dried stems of lavender flowers are tied into neat bundles to fill jars, vases, pillows and closet shelves.
It is a nice way to have a reminder of the summer garden throughout the year.

Friday, August 20, 2010

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL THESE GLORIOUS about a pasta dish we learned in Umbria!


Today's basket includes zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. We have been anticipating this moment, the moment when all the tomatoes begin to ripen at once! The basket of vegetables is whisked off to the kitchen where some of the most handsome tomatoes are arranged in a wire basket to become a still life.
Others, we determine, are to made into a sauce and yet others are to be used fresh in some fashion for dinner this evening.

Our garden contains several types of tomatoes including heirloom Red Brandywine and Yellow Brandywine. These are not the most attractive tomatoes but the flavor is superb both for fresh use and cooked. The San Marzano tomatoes are beginning to ripen and should be ready to harvest soon, then the sauce making really gets put into motion.
For dinner tonight tomatoes will be the star of a pasta dish we learned in Umbria . This dish 'Spaghetti Aldo" is named for the person we learned it from.....more on that later.

On to the stove goes a pot of water that we will bring to a boil.

An ice bath is prepared in a large bowl.

To prepare the tomatoes for tonight's dinner first they must be plunged into the boiling water and after a few minutes rescued and refreshed in the bowl bowl of iced water.
This process will make it easy to remove the skin from the tomatoes without cooking them.

Remove core, skin and seeds from the cooled tomato.
So, now the tomatoes are ready to create 'Spaghetti Aldo'

We were staying, as we often do, in a small hill town in Umbria called Panicale. Central to activity here is Bar Gallo. At Bar Gallo a day can begin with espresso, a light lunch can be found in the afternoon, a prosecco before dinner and after dinner a 'long drink' or gelato to round out the day.
One rather hot day we were at Bar Gallo for a refreshment, and Aldo came to our table. Aldo is the charming and hospitable owner of Bar Gallo along with his wife, Daniella, whom all know is molto bella! We find a conversation with Aldo always leads us to a local and unexpected place for a great meal or an interesting place to sketch. Aldo speaks Italian and a bit of English, so this recipe is written in our best translation . Aldo begins his Italian monologue for this recipe for using fresh tomatoes with hand gestures that are choreographed to the cadence of his words. We listen carefully. Our Italian, at least mine, is survival Italian, travel, directions,marketing and eating, largely food based, we understood most of what he was telling us. The best part of his description however, were his gestures explaining the seeding and chopping of the
tomatoes, cheese and basil. One hand into the other he mimed perfectly the chopping motion," di,di,di....ze,ze, zeee".
It was mesmerizing!
We think of Aldo and Panicale every time we make this pasta.

Aldo at Bar Gallo

Recipe for 'Spaghetti Aldo'
serves 4-6 / serve at room temperature

1 pound spaghetti ( a good Italian type)

3 cups (more or less) skinned, seeded and chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
fresh basil (a good handful)
fresh mozzarella 8-10 oz.( bufula if available)
olive oil ( a good Italian, of course)
salt and fresh pepper
Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

1. Prepare the tomatoes ( as shown above), skin, core, seed, then chop.
Put the tomatoes into a bowl.
2. Remove skin from garlic, cut cloves in halves or quarters. Add the garlic to the tomatoes and stir in. (the garlic will be removed before serving)
3. Tear up a few of the basil leaves, the rest ( a larger amount) will be chopped and added later.
4. Add some salt, stir in the cover bowl. The tomatoes should sit for several hours, I find 2-5 hours works well.
5. At some point, after it has been resting for a time, about 2 hrs., drain some of the' tomato water' out of the bowl. Cover and let it continue to rest.
6. About 1/2 before serving fill a large pot with water and add an ample amount of salt, bring to a boil for the spaghetti.
7. once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti. Cook until al dente. ( save some pasta water )
8. In the meantime, chop the mozzarella. Finely dice the basil (rolling the leaves and cutting , then dicing works well).
9. Drain off any excess liquid from the tomatoes ( leaving a little). Remove the garlic pieces from the tomatoes.
10. To the tomatoes, drizzle olive oil, add mozzarella, basil, salt and pepper.
11. When the pasta is cooked then drain it ( remember to save a little pasta water, I often forget!)
12. Put the cooked pasta into a large decorative bowl or platter, add the tomato / cheese"sauce" mixture and gently stir, mixing it nicely with the pasta. Add additional olive oil or a bit of reserved pasta water as needed.
Grated parmesan or pecorino can be sprinkled on top.

Served as a primi (first) course it will serve 6. Serve as a light meal for 4 with some fresh bread and a good Italian wine.
In regards to serving Aldo told us,"non freddo, non caldo", which we translated to mean room temperature !
Fresh ingredients are the key to the flavor of this dish. Simple and delicious!

Dreaming of Panicale
The people of Panicale are warm and welcoming. The landscape is breathtaking. Somehow the wine tastes different there. Imagine sitting on this terrace with a wine from Montefalco while sampling a local pecorino, that moment lasts forever in the memory bank. I go back to those moments often, delicious and lovely.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Destination Portsmouth,NH: WATERFRONT..... a new perspective, a look from the water, and a stop for lunch!

We board the boat at Prescott Park, a lovely park on Portsmouth's waterfront.

Our Captain for the day

All on board with sun block, hats, fishing poles, food, drink,( including lots of water), sweaters, shorts and a camera. One would think we were headed out for a 3 day cruise!

The historic Wentworth Coolidge Mansion is on Little Harbor. The 40 room mansion was the home of Benning Wentworth, New Hampshire's 1st Royal Governor. The mansion dates to the 1700's and is a fine example of a colonial home.
The first lilacs imported to New Hampshire were imported in 1750 by Royal Governor Wentworth, from England., and planted at this site. The lilac is now the state flower of NH.
There is a lilac festival held at the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion every May.

A lighthouse off New Castle

Fort Constitution, New Castle, NH

Fort Constitution sits on the edge of the Pisquatua River, the remains of one of 7 forts built to protect Portsmouth Harbor. Originally Fort William and Mary, an earthworks fort dating to 1632, it was renamed Fort Constitution in 1791.

The First Mate

Tugboat Alley
The famous tugboats of Portsmouth Harbor, a real working harbor.

Time for lunch!
There is something about salt air that seems to make everyone hungry!
Our Captain and First Mate suggest Heberts in Kittery (Badger's Island). There we can dock up and get our lunch to go or dine at their picnic tables.

We have all had terrific lobster rolls here in the past. Today we are all tempted by the fried fish sandwiches, clams and shrimp. Hey, we can't always eat fresh zucchini and poached chicken breasts! The lightly battered shrimp was fried perfectly and good size ( not those tiny shrimp that are barely detectable under heavy coating). The clams were whole and tender......YUM!

Back to the boat, we head over to Great Bay for some fishing, then slowly make our way back to the dock at Prescott Park.

Without any freshly caught fish we will have to make alternative plans for dinner!
A lobster boat is in sight! Hummmmmmm.

Wentworth Coolidge Mansion, Little Harbor Rd, Portsmouth
Mansion guided tours: 603-436-6607
Art Gallery
Lilac Festival in May

Fort Constitution , New Castle
Open to the public

Prescott Park, Portmouth
Concerts, and performances throughout the summer.
Gardens (open to the public)

Places to Eat By Land or Sea:(dock available)
Heberts, Badgers Island, Kittery, Me.
Recommended: Lobster rolls, fried clams, fried shrimp, fish chowder, cole slaw

Chauncy Creek Lobster Pier
Kittery Point Rd, Kittery Point, ME
(207) 439- 1030
Recommended: Steamed Lobsters, Clams, Mussels and chowders

Hotel with a dock:
Wentworth By the Sea, New Castle NH

Places to dine in downtown Portsmouth if you do not catch any fish!
Jumpin' Jays Fish Cafe
150 Congress St.,Portsmouth

Tugboat Cruises:
Tugboat Alley, 47 Bow St., Portsmouth

Monday, August 9, 2010

FROM ROME TO OUR TABLE: we find joy in the simple goodness of food

Summer Bounty!
This basket is heading right to our kitchen.

On a very warm, late spring evening in Rome we were at a dinner party. The primi course was pasta with pesto. The hostess declared on this warm evening,
"summer has begun and dinner must include fresh pesto". With that a plate of perfectly prepared pasta with pesto was served. (By the way, the pesto was a beautiful green color, not the blackened version too often seen).
Our hostess then urged us to drizzle the olive oil from her olives, grown in her grove in Tuscany, on to the pasta.
Well, of course!
The secondo was a carmelized chicken breast served with the best sauteed zucchini we ever ate!
I must get that recipe and grow that variety of zucchini!

In our garden we grow many heirloom and Italian vegetables. Costata Romanesco is a zucchini, and yes, is a favorite in the garden his summer. I know zucchini has a bad reputation, it can be watery and squeeky to the bite. There is a saying that in the summer if you have to buy zucchini you don't have any friends! At the workplace and at the sides of roads overflowing baskets of zucchini with a "free" sign attached can be found. This season in our vegetable garden zucchini takes the prize! Unlike those dreaded zucchini that people freely shower upon us every
August, Costata Romanesco is different; it is an Italian
variety, ribbed, thin skinned with a 'nutty' flavor and silky texture. The other great thing is it's beautiful flowers and the attractive leaves on the plant itself.

from a dinner party in Rome

Small Italian type zucchini / about 3-4 small zucchini for 4 people
Olive Oil (best quality/EVOO)
Salt & fresh ground pepper

Start with small zucchini (Italian type if possible)
slice thin about 1 /16 inch
Heat a saute pan, add olive oil , enough to coat the bottom
Add butter, a tablespoon or two depending on quantity of zucchini.
Let butter melt and begin to sizzle.
Add slices of zucchini, let cook until they are soft , but not mushy. (do not brown)
Add additional olive oil as needed
Season with ample salt and pepper and serve