Amy Artisan

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Month: May 2011

Simple Salads

With my return to life in Chicago, I’m thrilled to resume some produce routines that make meals much better – my weekly veggie box delivery & Saturday morning trips to the farmer’s market. Today’s “10 on Tuesday” topic is perfect with my menus these days: 10 things for a salad…


1… Mixed greens – once again I have a lettuce bowl on my deck & it is very fun to go pick fresh lettuce for the foundation

2… Spinach – I’ve been getting a large bag of spinach @ the market each week & use it in salads or steamed for warmer meals

3… Mushrooms – from my mushroom vendor @ the market

4…5…+ Assorted fresh fruit – this will evolve throughout the season – currently strawberries…then blueberries & stone fruit

6…7…+ Grilled veggies – each week I grill up an assortment of veggies & use them in menus throughout the week – the grilled veggies add a depth to the salad – recent combos have included asparagus, Vidalia onions, sweet peppers, zucchini & yellow squash

8…9…+ Seasoning & dressing – a sprinkle or two from one of many of my spice mixes from The Spice House – a splash of olive oil – a splash of a balsamic vinegar

10…A bit of Parmesan cheese – a sprinkle of cheese can turn the ‘dressing’ a bit creamy

Bonus…a few walnuts for crunch

Bonus…left over grilled meat – recent additions have included pork, chicken & tri-tip

I use a big glass bowl from Grandma’s kitchen to toss everything together & enjoy a taste of the season in a fast, easy & delicious meal!

What are your favorite salad fixin’s?

Berry Nice

Just in time for my “return” to AmyArtisan, Lolly has re-launched Project Spectrum to explore colors in the coming months. For May, the focus is RED. So, I will start this round of color exploration with a favorite red from the kitchen: Strawberry Pie.


Strawberries have always been a favorite fruit and I’m most partial to California-grown berries. Of course, that probably has something to do with the fond memories of delicious strawberries coming out of Grandma’s garden in Orange County. To me, strawberries are best when enjoyed simply. Beyond sliced berries with vanilla ice cream, my “go-to” strawberry desserts are on the easier side of the prep scale: Strawberry Ice, Strawberry Trifle and of course Strawberry Pie. Saturday’s trip to my local fresh market yielded ripe California strawberries…so it was time to make a pie.

  1. Crush 1 pint of strawberries.
  2. Combine them in a saucepan with 1 c. sugar, 3 T cornstarch and 2 T lemon juice. Stir constantly until thickened and clear.
  3. Cool the mixture.
  4. Slice another pint (or more) of strawberries and fold into the cooled mixture.
  5. Transfer to a graham cracker crust and chill until serving. (Excellent when served with whipped cream!)

While I planned to take pictures of the finished result, it turned out a bit runny (um, I had just at 1 cup of sugar in the house & just barely 3 T of old cornstarch in the kitchen when I decided to do this…the Artisan kitchen needs restocked now that I’m back home…) – so, there was no “beautiful slice of pie on the plate” shot to be had. This pie is being eaten in bowls. Nonetheless, it still tastes delicious!

Curtain Call*

Today, I got in my rental and headed south from Marinette for the last time. It has been 535 days since I started this project. The work has been hard; the hours, intense; the stress level, high at times. In 15 years of doing this type of project work, this was definitely a unique project. As I leave, the project is still incomplete and so my departure is bittersweet; however, at this point in time as they are regrouping and planning a new go forward it makes sense for me to transition out of there. I leave “my part” of the project in very capable hands and I know they will do a great job moving forward. I will still be working with them remotely a few hours each week.

a few memories of the time up north

– The people I have worked with are folks I’m glad to have had on my team and many are new-found friends. For the majority of my days up there, I shared an office with my client counterpart (who quickly became a friend). We were in an office that is normally for one person only so it was a bit cozy but we made the best of it. We joked that our team was powered by Diet Mountain Dew, Solstice gum and Advil. But another component of the success was laughter – even when things were especially intense we would find something silly in the midst that would make us laugh. Several people commented that they knew they could always count on us to be smiling. My work was focused on the “people side” of a new system implementation – and a definite highlight of the project was watching my team of trainers evolve from their “current” day assignments into confident trainers of the new system.

– The time “up north” has been good. Being in a small town has meant a change of pace – a time to slow down & refocus. The speed limit in town was 25MPH & I managed to keep to that speed limit and not get a ticket while adapting to that slower speed. While up here, a new routine emerged and a new sense of familiarity. Reading the local paper each day provided insight into the people and the area. After the situation at the high school late last year & being a part of the community in the midst of it, I will always feel a bit “we are Marinette” in me.

– The work days were long.  I had grand plans for knitting during evenings in the hotel – the results were mixed: my Winter Olympic sweater was the biggest project; a slew of small Christmas gifts were knit; some assorted small knits for me; and dishcloths – lots and lots of dishcloths. I hardly made a dent in my never ending “to read” list. But the refocus point that I’m most proud of is the commitment I made to my health and fitness – even while living out of a hotel I made lifestyle changes that will continue (more details in another post).

– Most weekends, I trekked back home to Chicago. But I also managed to spend several weekends up north & being a bit of a tourist: Munising, MI; Appleton; Door County; Washington Island; many hours along the shoreline; and even a tour of “the frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field (indeed I am a Packers fan after this project).

– So now I begin transitioning back to life in Chicago – it’s time to reclaim my apartment from the chaos that has arisen from only being home for a bit on weekends. I look forward to rejoining my book club. I’m ready to plug back into a local church. There are many friends to catch up with. It’s time to think about a bit of gardening & weekly trips to the farmer’s market – both of which will lead to more time in the kitchen!

– And it is time to turn the lights back on here at AmyArtisan – maybe a series of posts from northern adventures that never were shared; definitely posting as the artisan side of life reemerges in the coming weeks. And I’m sure there will be plenty to post after my upcoming summer vacation – 10 days in Italy with my sister, can’t wait!

– P.S. As part of my farewell this week, some humorous stats about my time on the project were shared, among them:

58 round trips = 20+ days in the car
= 29000 miles driven
= driving around the world 1.16 times

(hmm…no wonder I’m tired!)

*Why a curtain call? In some circles, the WI/IL border is referred to as the cheddar curtain. My use of the term in my office brought numerous comments from the WI native that shared the space and became a good friend during these days.

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