Monday, January 23, 2006

Madonna and Child Planter

Madonna and Cherub PlanterHere's another mystery piece from Jim. When I see a Madonna planter (or Mutter Maria as my mother calls it), I usually think Haeger, and this looks to be a Haeger mold #3264 "Madonna with Cherub Child" planter. It's 11 inches tall, and was originally marked with a foil label which is why there are no markings on the piece.

I found it on page 284 of Dilley's Haeger Potteries Through the Years. Book value is $20.

If you have a planter or vase with a completely glazed bottom with three dots where the piece sat during firing, that's a good hint that it may be Haeger. The apparent crease I see in the photo threw me off, but I think it's just a trick of the lighting. Usually the bottom is flat.
Madonna and Cherub Planter Bottom
The satin white finish was fairly popular on Haeger pieces, as well as Hull, Redwing and other American potteries. Haeger made several other Madonna planters as well, and I have only seen them in that finish.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pink Vase

I got a note from Jim with pics of three unidentified pottery pieces, a vase and two bowls. I didn't think I'd have much chance of identifying the bowls (not something I collect, so not so familiar with them), but I thought I knew who made the vase. Boy was I wrong.

Jim thought the vase might be McCoy, but was unable to locate it in any reference books. From the first picture, I agree: I sure does look like a piece of McCoy.
pink vase

However, looking at the bottom of the vase I was no longer so sure:

pink vase bottom

We looked in our McCoy books but haven't had any luck finding it. The color looks a little bit like Brush (although Brush often has a larger S in the USA) but no luck finding it in those books either. For kicks, we also checked Morton (their look is inconsistent, so you never know), American Bisque (wrong coloration, but who knows?), Shawnee (the mark didn't look right, nor did the color), Watt, Camark, Muncie, Niloak, Robinson Ransbottom, and almost every other book we had.

So I'm stumped. When I see pieces that look as detailed as a McCoy but other parts of the design (like the mark) don't mesh, Ungemach Pottery is a possiblity. Fred Ungemach did work for McCoy (and his wife worked for Brush) before founding his own pottery, so there are extensive similarities. Unfortunately, there aren't any reference books for Ungemach so if it's not marked UPCO then there's no way to tell.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Recipe: Rice Porridge

I'm not a gourmet cook. I'm way to lazy for that. But I like to eat. One of my favorite dishes to get at a Vietnamese restaurant is the rice porridge. Not all the restaurants have it, and sometimes it's only available on the weekends. But I crave it all winter!

I have had the soup with fish, and another restaurant serves it with a variety of meats (shrimp, pork, and chicken). It's good even with no meat at all, and if you're watching your weight you will enjoy that the porridge is thick and creamy without the added fat and calories of actual cream. The only addition to the soup that I consider to be mandatory is freshly sliced ginger root. I would say to julienne the ginger since you want the pieces to be shaped like matchsticks, but I think julienned is way too big (any foodies care to help me out and tell me what this cut is called?). Make the pieces really thin, and 1/2 to 1 inch long.

I won't make any claims about the "authenticity" of my recipe. Like I said, I'm too lazy to worry about things like that. All I know is it's easy to make (but messy! the rice will boil over even if you use a large stock pot) and I really like it.

Rice Porridge

1 cup brown rice
8 cups water
~1/8 - 1/4 cup thinly cut strips of ginger root

4 green onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp. sesame oil
bean sprouts
fresh cilantro
more ginger strips

Combine the rice and water, cover, boil for about 1-1/2 hours. Throw in the ginger toward the end of the cooking time. You may need to add more water as the rice cooks down to maintain a thick soupy consistency. I ended up adding about 2 more cups to mine. Regardless of what you put in the soup, you will probably need some salt.

Sautee the garlic and the whites of the onions in sesame oil with a little salt. I like them cooked until they're brown: this would probably be considered "burnt" for most purposes but it tastes good with this soup. Spoon the porridge into bowls and sprinkle the sauteed mixture on top. Garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, and ginger to taste. Enjoy!

If you're counting "Points," I estimate that the entire recipe is about 14 points: 12 for the rice, plus 2 for the sesame oil. Depending on how much water you add, you'll end up with 6-8 cups of soup.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

We're still alive and have all our teeth!

Doug and I went ice skating last night with a friend of his from work. Doug hasn't attempted to ice skate in oh, about 30 years (longer than that friend has been alive!). I tried it once when I was a kid, but it was on borrowed skates that were too small, and on a flooded baseball diamond (that's what they did up in Wisconsin), which made for a rough surface. Needless to say, I wasn't very successful.

There is also the Texas mindset that I need to get out of. I feel that if the weather is cold enough to freeze water solid, especially solid enough to walk on, it just seems smarter to spend the evening curled up under a blanket with a nice glass of brandy reading a good book or watching tv.

Both of us did a lot better than we thought (feared) we would. We didn't fall at all, although Doug does have a nasty blister on his ankle. I haven't done much roller blading lately, but I used to do it a lot and found ice skating to be a lot like that. One difference from my prior experience might have been the skates themselves. My first try years and years ago was with figure skates with leather boots, and my ankles weren't strong enough to keep me upright. We rented hockey skates last night, which are stiff-booted and provide a lot more ankle support.

The skating rink had weird taste in music: a radio station that plays all '70s tunes. I asked Doug's friend if that was just to please the old folks on weeknights, but he said they always play that. Scary thing is, I knew most of the songs. Among the musical artists were Meatloaf, ELO, the Doobie Brothers, Donna Summers, and the Bee Gees. Wow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Recipe: Red Pepper Dip

We found a Greek restaurant that serves a wonderful red pepper dip. I don't have their recipe but have been able to come up with a reasonable representation of the dip on my own.

Red Pepper Dip

2 red (or orange) bell peppers, diced
9 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in 1/2
3 oz. feta cheese
olive oil

Put the peppers and garlic in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat everything evenly and roast in the oven at 450F. After some of the pepper and garlic tips brown, add 1-2 tablespoons of water, put on the casserole lid, and let it cook covered for awhile to further soften the peppers. Total cooking time was about 30 minutes in a convection oven... for a standard oven it might take somewhat longer. Don't salt the pepper-garlic mix: when you add the feta cheese the dip will have a salty taste.

Lightly process the roasted mixture, along with any liquid it generated, in a food processor or blender, just enough to break up the garlic cloves and the pepper pieces a bit. Mix in the cheese. If the mixture is too dry, add a little olive oil.

Serve with pita slices. Yummy!

Optional: you can sautee the peppers and onions on the stovetop instead of roasting in the oven. This method will require more olive oil since any liquid generated during cooking will likely evaporate.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cat Motivators

My favorite posts over at This Blog Is Full Of Crap are usually the "Ask the Cats" ones, and Laurence certainly didn't disappoint with this one. He has hooked us up with a Flickr tool to create motivational posters featuring your cats (or anything else you please). Here are mine.


Felix and Casper:

Create your own posters here.


I love plants, but this is the first time I've ever forced bulbs indoors. Probably the main reason that I haven't done so before now is that I never remember to water. The only houseplants that stand a chance with me are desert plants, or plants that are so huge they can go for a month with very little moisture.

Our new house has a perfect place for smaller houseplants; there's a large window over the kitchen sink with a windowsill deep enough to hold pots up to 6 inches or so. It's here that I put the paperwhites and amazingly enough, I've remembered to water them! The bulbs were a Christmas gift from our friend Diane, and every time we see them we are reminded of her.

Monday, January 09, 2006

I have become a cliché

The screen on my laptop gave up the ghost last Friday, and I had to get an emergency loaner so I can send mine out for repair. Most of the deliveries I had over Christmas didn't come until noon or so, so I was a little surprised to see DHL at my door at 10.

When I answered the door, I probably confirmed every stereotype anyone has ever had about people who work from home: old t-shirt, pajama bottoms, hair in a ponytail, and smiling ladybug fuzzy slippers.

ladybug slippers

Oh well, at least I have a working laptop now.