Sunday, September 25, 2011

Market Baskets - Vienna Style

My style morphing

The wonder of any craft or art form lies in its many expressions.  It morphs and evolves as environments change. 

Color forms

I love making baskets because of the countless expressions these forms can take – shapes, colors, even functions shift.

Here in Vienna folks like to go to the market carrying their own bag or basket.  With that in mind, I have come up with a couple of new designs for my own version of a market basket.

This first one is "Jen's Basket".  I made it for my friend, Jen, who grew up by the sea.  I choose colors and patterns that reminded me of our oceans...

Jen's Basket

Jen's Basket - close up

This second design is called, "Vienna Market".  It is the perfect basket for that jaunt down the street to the market.

Vienna Market Basket

Vienna Market Basket - close up

What do you think?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mango Ginger Granola

Mango Ginger Granola - just add milk!

I feel fall in the air today.

When the warm days of summer slip away and the cool days of autumn come to visit, my tastes look for something hardier for breakfast.  Granola is a favorite – a little nutty, a little sweet… Oh yum!

Here is a tropical take on crunchy granola (called muesli over here in Europe).  I make several versions of this recipe, but my husband likes the ginger-mango flavors the best.  Here you go…


½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup honey
2 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups rolled rye
1 cup wheat germ
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup sesame seeds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup almonds
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped dried mangos
½ cup chopped dried ginger
½ cup raisins
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup dried currants


  • Preheat the oven to 330 Fahrenheit (about 165 C). 
  • In a large baking pan, slowly heat the honey and oil on your stovetop.  Your setting should be on low.  (I like to use a large cake tin, but a lasagna pan would work too.)
  • Mix the oats, rye, and wheat germ into the honey and oil, stirring slowly.
  • Once the grains have been added, put in the seeds, continuing to stir the mix.
  • Place the baking pan into the oven, setting the timer for 7 minutes.
  • While the first items are baking in the oven, coarsely chop the walnuts and almonds.

Adding the nuts

  • At the 7-minute bell, take out the baking pan and add the nut mixture, including the pine nuts.  Mix thoroughly. 
  • Place the pan back into the oven and set the timer for another 7 minutes.

Dried mango and ginger

  • While the grains and nuts continue to toast, chop the dried mangos and ginger.  Then add the raisins, dried cranberries, and currants to the mango and ginger mix.
  • Set the dried fruit aside for now.  (It will be added after all the toasting is done.)

Dried fruit mix

  • At the next 7-minute bell, take the baking pan out of the oven and add the shredded coconut.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Place the pan back into the oven and set the timer for another 7 minutes.

  • While the grains, nuts, and coconut toast, take a break! (To be honest, I am usually doing dishes and general cleanup at this point.  Yikes!  My mother taught me well...)
  • At the next 7-minute bell, take the baking pan out of the oven and give the granola a good stir.  Then put the pan back into the oven and set the timer for another 7 minutes.
  • By now you should begin to smell the wonderful toasty grains.  Oh yum!  Take a peek into the oven every now and again to make sure the mix is not burning.  You want the grains to be a light golden color.

It is looking ready!

  • At the next 7-minute bell, take out the pan and see if it has reached the golden point.  If not, give it a stir, put it back for a few minutes more and then check again.  My oven usually toasts the grains in about 30 minutes total.

Adding the fruit

  • When the granola has reached that golden color, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5-7 minutes.  Then pour the granola into a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit.  
  • Let the mix cool.  Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.

It's finished!

You and your family will be glad to have this delicious high-energy breakfast when the cold weather comes your way.

As always, please let me know how this recipe comes out for you.

Also, check out additional recipes here in my blog.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Luis Solano - Inspiration at play

Painting by Luis Solano

If you ask what inspires me, my first thought might be paintings – colorful, passionate pieces.  Rich.  Almost wasteful!

Oh, I do love soft subtle paintings.  But when they are loud and happy and playful, well, I sing!  Perhaps that is why I love Gauguin, Van Gogh, Klimt.  (Perhaps that is why my baskets are so colorful.)

Painting by Luis Solano

One Californian artist has inspired me lately.  His bright pieces evoke the symbols and icons of his Mexican ancestry – Aztec gold, ancient gods.   His name is Luis Solano.

Painting by Luis Solano
Painting by Luis Solano

My mom and I recently met Luis near his studio in Moss Landing, California.

Artist, Luis Solano, with my mom

Luis is not only talented and prolific; he is a really nice person.  If you are ever near Moss Landing, check out La Galleria Uno and La Galleria Dos, where he shows a number of his pieces (and where I took these photos).

What do you think of Luis' work?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Discovering a San Francisco Landmark

View from Geary St.

When you find a fabric store with character, history, and wonderful variety, you just want to talk about it.  I recently visited Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, California. Wow!

The first floor

Britex is a San Francisco landmark.   The family-run store first opened in 1952, and has been in its current location at 146 Geary Street since 1962.  Walk in and enjoy four floors of neatly arranged fabrics – everything from cottons and woolens to linens and synthetic blends.  The third floor has a large notions department – a gadget lover’s dream!

Fabric finds!

Britex’s cotton selection was particularly impressive.  I discovered some lovely holiday fabrics from Japan.  The collection can be pricey, so if you’re looking for bargains, head up to the fourth floor and check out the remnants section.  I found some beautiful batiks there.

Thank you!  Come again...

The next time I am in San Francisco, you know where you will find me!