Wined & Dined
Lawrence chefs and restaurateurs Molly and Robert Krause are teaming up with Van Go Inc. to put on a Valentine’s dinner for a good cause.
The annual Culinary Hearts Valentine Dinner is set for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Van Go, 715 New Jersey St. Tickets are $125 per person and include a three-course dinner, wine, beer and live music. Attire is “festive.” Seating is limited, and tickets should be reserved by Jan. 25 online at van-go.org or by calling 842-3797.
The dinner is a benefit for Van Go’s Go Healthy program.
According to the organization, 70 percent of its participants live in poverty and, as such, experience food insecurity and hunger. Go Healthy is Van Go’s year-round food, nutrition and healthy lifestyles program that aims to give teens tools they need to fight obesity and stay mentally fit.
Some Lawrence folk from across the pond are collaborating to host Christmas dinner British-style — complete with figgy pudding and a visit from Father Christmas.
Queen Lizzy’s Fish and Chips Shop, 125 E. 10th St., and Brits, 929 Massachusetts St., have planned Traditional British Christmas Dinner events on two dates, Sunday and Dec. 16. For both events, doors open at 5 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Queen Lizzy’s. Tickets, which can be purchased at either business, are $38 for adults and $19 for children 15 and younger.
The figgy pudding, of course, is for dessert. Queen Lizzy’s chef and owner Matt Poulton, who is from England, said the traditional dish is made with raisins, currants and figs then drizzled with brandy butter. He added, "It's a delight."
Also on the menu is wine for adults, an appetizer of cherry and almond baked brie and a dinner of roast turkey, ham, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, honey roasted parsnips, almond roasted brussels sprouts, gravy, sage and onion stuffing, pigs in blankets (British style) and buttered carrots and peas.
Poulton said Tuesday that plenty of tickets remained for Sunday but only a few are still available for Dec. 16.
“I thought it would be fun for a lot of expatriates to come to, and something the locals might find enjoyable.” he said. “We don’t have Thanksgiving in the UK, so our big thing is Christmas.”
Printmaker Patrick Vincent, one of the Lawrence Arts Center’s two artists in residence, is on a quest to turn as many Lawrencians into bugs as he can.
For free, residents can send Vincent their photo and the name of the bug they’d like to be, and he’ll create a print of their face on that bug’s body. Vincent gives an artist proof of the print to the subject, and keeps the linoleum carving he printed it with for himself. The plan is to use those carvings in a later installation.
Last time I checked with him, Vincent said he’d completed a number of bugs but was still hoping for more. Apparently, he says, a lot of people are kind of creeped out by the idea of seeing their face on a bug’s body ... which is part of the reason Vincent, who regularly uses animal themes in his artwork, picked bugs for this project. He says, "The theme of bugs is an invitation for people to connect with a part of the natural world that is often ignored or reviled."
I thought the project sounded fun, not creepy, and sent Vincent my own picture and request to be a praying mantis. (Praying mantises clearly are not smiley bugs, and this was the only demure picture I seem to have taken in the digital age. Vincent left the veil on, which is actually kind of funny given that female mantises have been known to eat their mates.) Here I am:
Here’s Vincent and his own bug rendition of himself, as a honeybee:
Fellow artist in residence Monika Laskowska, incidentally, went with the potato beetle for her bug portrait. To submit your photo for the Bugs project, Vincent provides more information and instructions on his website.
We profiled each of this year’s five Phoenix Award winners in Sunday’s paper and here on Lawrence.com. But there’s another key artist involved with these awards — the one who makes the hardware that the winning artists take home.
The Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission picks a different artist each year to create the actual Phoenix Awards, and this year it was printmaker and Old West Lawrence resident Sally Piller. Piller was commissioned to make six pieces — one for each award winner and one to display at the Lawrence Arts Center with previous Phoenix Awards.
Piller described her process for creating the unique prints-slash-sculptures:
She created six color woodblock prints — using oil-based ink on Japanese washi paper — and mounted each on the back of one of the solid maple color separation blocks used to create the prints (the photo below shows a step in the process). The borders are hand-carved, rolled with oil-based ink and accented with gold-colored leaf.
She mounted the prints using gesso and rice paste, then protected them with floating glass attached with rosette screws. Here are the finished awards lined up at Sunday's reception for the winners.
On Saturday, over in Johnson County, a library is playing host to what has to be one of the more unusual events they’ve had.
Butcher and charcuterier Alex Pope will butcher half a hog (like a side of beef, only pork) in a public demonstration beginning at 2 p.m. at the Johnson County Central Resource Library, 9875 W. 87th St., Overland Park. Pope owns Kansas City, Mo.’s, Local Pig, an artisan meat-cutting and sausage shop dedicated to locally and humanely raised meats including beef, pork, chicken, duck, turkey, quail, rabbit, lamb and goat.
The library promises real knives, real meat. All ages are welcome, though parental discretion is advised. The event is free, and registration is not required.
But wait — there is a connection between beast and books. Pope “learned his trade in the best way,” the library announcement says, “by reading books.”
During the event, Pope is expected to talk about how meat makes it from farm to table, demonstrate his butchering techniques and share what he learned about the trade from reading books.
The library provides this link to some of Pope’s favorite food titles.
Fact: Some glass pipes are fancier than others.
And a good number of folks who create the fancy variety would prefer their work be called art instead of just, you know, paraphernalia.
At 7 p.m. Nov. 16, the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 New Hampshire St., is screening a documentary titled “Degenerate Art: The Art & Culture of Glass Pipes.” The film explores the culture of glass pipe-making from the origins of Bob Snodgrass’ famous “color-changing” pipe to what filmmakers describe as the “radical emerging art movement it has become today.”
The trailer includes video clips of pipe-makers with torches and their completed Chihuly-esque glass creations — multicolored, sculptural, elaborate and in some cases a yard or more tall. It also includes shots of pipe-makers being arrested in a paraphernalia sting several years back, which of course the film decries.
“This subversive art challenges our right to free speech and expression, as well as reflecting the nature of the people who make and collect the pieces,” says the film’s synopsis. “One of the last true underground American scenes, glass pipe art remains invisible to mainstream culture.”
Here’s the arts center’s event listing: www.lawrenceartscenter.org/film
And, for the trailer and more on the film, the “Degenerate Art” website: www.degenerateartfilm.com
It only took one touch from a piece of misplaced tape for me to realize my gray-on-white Chevron Pumpkin — looking promising after a flawless basecoat of glossy white spray paint — had turned the corner and was headed straight down the road to Craft Fail City.
Without primer, it turns out, paint doesn’t stick to real pumpkins’ waxy skin all that well. It hangs on fine if you handle the pumpkin carefully, but pressing on and peeling off painter’s tape does not, apparently, count as handling carefully.
My other chevron pumpkins for this week’s Go! story worked (apply tape to pumpkin skin, paint gaps a single color, peel off tape). But me and my West Elm-happy self were dead-set on pumpkin No. 3 being white and dove gray, no orange.
Obviously if my basecoat chipped off in the taping process, peeling off tape to reveal the final product was going to be a real problem. Yet the optimist in me pushed on, hearing “Keep going anyway, you can touch it up with a paintbrush and it won’t be a failure after all!”
Then, when the gray paint was dry and the tape peeled off (along with most of the white paint, of course), “This is kind of cool, like I was going for a textured look!”
Then, “Get real. This is a bona fide pumpkin craft fail. Your husband may have sweetly told you that pumpkin crafts aren’t meant to be perfect, but you cannot use this in your story.”
So gray-on-white (and orange) Chevron Pumpkin made the blog, where others can learn from my mistake. A few pointers on the other pumpkins from the story:
• Hot-gluing nearly 400 individual rhinestones on a pumpkin takes for-ev-er — don’t bother if you’re not really excited about the Black Widow Pumpkin (it's on my desk right now, and I’ve heard “awesome,” “soooo cute” and “kinda tacky” from officemates). With a low-temp glue gun, you can only do a couple stones at a time; with a high-temp gun you’d have to use tweezers or small pliers to avoid burning a finger.
• I freehanded Mr. and Mrs. Pumpkins’ mouths — but used a black ballpoint pen and had to apply two extra-thick coats of paint to cover up my lines. Should’ve just used a pencil.
• Black Stocking Pumpkins beg the question of what to do with the stem? Start by not buying a pumpkin with a short stem (like we did on one of ours), then you’ll have something substantial enough to tie a ribbon around for a more finished look.
Of course, it could be much, much worse. The official CraftFail website has plenty of projects that will make you laugh — and realize maybe you're not so bad at crafting after all. Also, we got a picture from our "Pumpkins and More Pumpkins" Pinterest board repinned ... to a board entitled, "WHO THOUGHT OF THIS? not I." I guess she didn't really like the Cozy Wrapped Pumpkin. Fair enough.
While Go! editor Katie Bean was out shopping for materials to create the Stocking Pumpkins in today's Go! cover story, something else caught her eye: No-carve pumpkin decorating kits.
Katie might have been tempted by these all-in-one options, but she stuck with her mission to find patterned black hose for our original plan.
For chronic craft-failers or people who are too busy for the whole crafting thing to start with (nothing to be ashamed about), she shares some of the easier options to be had out there.
I’m a fan of DIY, but I don’t always have time to do the projects I want to do.
As I was shopping for supplies for the stocking pumpkin I made for our Go! cover story this week, I found that stores have anticipated the trends in pumpkin decorating we saw online. There were several examples of pumpkins like the ones we had discussed for the story pre-made and many kits that eliminate the running around for different supplies. Here are a few examples from my shopping trip.
I was most surprised to see full kit options. Some seem to involve painting; others just have pieces you stick on. Here are a few examples I saw:
There were also pre-decorated pumpkins available in the same styles we saw on Pinterest.
There were many faux pumpkins available in different shapes, sizes and colors. If you choose to invest the time and money (they were a little more expensive than fresh pumpkins), you can have a decoration that will last for years. We do not recommend keeping real pumpkins for years — they have a long shelf life, but not that long.
However you choose to decorate your pumpkin, take a picture and share it with us and other readers in the decorated pumpkins of Lawrence photo gallery.
Free State Brewing Co. calls it a beer fit for a blacksmith — and apparently beer festival judges.
Free State’s Iron Man Imperial Stout nabbed a bronze medal in the American-Style Stout category at this weekend’s Great American Beer Festival in Denver, touted as the world’s largest commercial beer competition.
“It’s kind of a testament to the craft of brewing,” brewer Geoff Deman said of the beer, named in honor of a local blacksmith who frequents the brew pub.
With ten malts and five hop varieties, Iron Man starts with deep roasty flavors and finishes with a slight malty sweetness, according to Free State’s description. The beer tips its hat to history, as Imperial Stout was a key British export in the Baltic trade that elevated art and industry in Russia and England during the 18th century.
Two other area breweries joined Free State on the medal list, according to results from greatamericanbeerfestival.com. Boulevard Brewing Co. of Kansas City, Mo., got two gold medals — one in the Belgian-Style Witbier category for its ZON, and the other in the Other Strong Beer category for its Reverb Imperial Pilsner. Topeka’s Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant took gold in the German-Style Kolsch category for its Capital City Kolsch.
This year’s festival, which ran from Thursday through Saturday, drew its largest competition field to date, with 4,338 entries from 666 breweries across the United States and Guam. The festival awarded a total of 254 medals for the best examples of each style beer.
Free State's Iron Man — a small batch brew — is not on tap at the brew pub, 636 Mass. However, bottles are expected to be shipped to select area liquor stores at the end of this month.
In other crafty beer news, 23rd Street Brewery, 3512 Clinton Parkway, just tapped a 2010 Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout, according to their Twitter account. And Free State is playing host to its first-ever happy hour Thursday night (it's only been legal for, oh, almost four months now, so I'm sure Free State fans will be glad the brewery's finally on board!). The pub is advertising $2 select pints from 9 p.m. to midnight, plus chances to win Free State stuff.
I’ve undoubtedly eaten more than my fair share of Nutella on its own — on ice cream, toast, crepes, fruit, by the spoonful and (I confess!) straight off a knife — but never baked with it.
On the one hand, I’ve always thought, it’s kind of expensive and so decadent, why waste it by mixing it with other things? On the other hand, I mulled as I recently dipped crackers in it for the first time, wouldn’t some kind of salty-sweet dessert with Nutella and pretzels be awesome?
Envisioning gloops of Nutella and chunks of pretzels just needing some kind of something to hold them together, I pulled up a handful of Nutella recipes online but found none like what I had in mind. So I came up with my own.
These cookie bars (inspired by the Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from September’s Kansas University tailgating food story) have mini pretzels and white chocolate chunks in the cookie dough. Not wanting to dilute the Nutella by stirring it into anything, or risk it being smeared away from the top or bottom of a cookie, it’s scooped straight out of the jar and sandwiched safely between layers of dough.
This probably goes without saying, but these are extra good with a glass of milk.
PRETZEL-NUTELLA BARS WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
Start to finish: 45 minutes
Servings: 18 bars
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup canola oil
2 1/2 cups mini pretzels, broken
6 ounces white baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 jar (13 ounces) Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together cake mix, oil and eggs. Mix in pretzels and white chocolate chunks. In a greased 9-by-13-inch pan, press three-fourths of the dough into the bottom. Bake 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes.
Spread Nutella over top of partially cooked dough. Drop remaining dough over the top. Bake 20 minutes more, or until top is lightly browned. Cool and use a sharp knife to cut into bars.