Promenade: The Story of This Painting

The beauty of the garden blooms all year long in Promenade, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold. Licensed open edition prints at Great Big Canvas and iCanvasART.

The Story of the Painting, Promenade, at Start Your Week with Steve of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Gardens are good places, whether they consist of vegetables and berries, or masses of flowers. From the beginning of time and the Garden of Eden, humans have been drawn to these oases of foliage, greenery, color, and growth.

The young woman in Promenade is walking through the backyard garden of a close friend of ours. After years of living in an apartment, our friend found herself the owner of a house, and this garden. The previous owner, an inveterate gardener who spent as many waking hours outside as she could, filled the space with flowers and flowering perennials, designed to emerge one after another.

“I had no idea what to expect,” our friend told us. “While I love flowers, I never had the opportunity to work with them before, and beginning in very early spring, things started to bloom. I took photos and showed them to the local extension agent, asking him, ‘What’s this?’ Or I looked through images on the Internet until I found what looked like what was growing in my backyard.

“Many evenings, after work, I sat on the deck and simply absorbed all the color and the growth. This is such a beautiful place.”

The young woman in Promenade walks gently, peacefully through a private paradise. Coyly peeking past the viewer to someone we can’t see, she performs a graceful dance amongst the efflorescence of Nature’s beauty.

Promenade, the original oil painting, is sold. It is available as a licensed, open edition print at Great Big Canvas and iCanvasART.

Read more at Start Your Week with Steve.

Please contact Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com for information on Promenade or any of Steve Henderson’s original and licensed fine art paintings.

For the beginning and intermediate watercolorist, Step by Step Art Success at Amazon.com is a digital workshop that leads to a beautiful finished painting.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

Field of Dreams — The Story of This Painting

Springtime is a field of dreams for many of us, sharing the promise of the season to come. Field of Dreams, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

The story of the painting, Field of Dreams, from Start Your Week with Steve of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Where we live, in the banana belt of Southeastern Washington, spring is here.

A time of change and transition, spring gives us sunlight and warm breezes one moment, and in literally the next moment, driving rain and cold. But on the whole, a sense of hope prevails as new life emerges, trees blossom with promise for summer’s fruit, and the daffodils make their annual grand entrance into society.

Field of Dreams, 36 x 30 original oil on canvas, gallery wrapped, celebrates this sense of wonder, hope, joy and contentment, with a wash of wildflowers beginning in the foreground and extending back into the hills of the background, which blaze coral in the setting sun.

Many wildflowers and herbaceous plants are considered weeds when they’re in a yard, but the countryside embraces all sorts of foliage. Even the humble dandelion has its place and purpose, its roots driving into clay-packed soil and breaking it up for subsequent plants to enjoy.

To some extent, all fields are fields of dreams, because anywhere that plants grow is a place where beauty exists — from the most manicured garden to the unshaped countryside of a field like the one above, life abounds, above and below ground, and it changes and adapts with the seasons.

Happy Spring, everyone.

Contact us at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com to discover how you can purchase this painting, or any of Steve’s works. Join Start Your Week with Steve newsletter to keep up with Steve’s works and activity.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine ArtOriginal paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

You can live happily on less and still make fine art a part of your life. Wise living is a manner of making wise choices. Book and Kindle at Amazon.com.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

Dancer: The Story of This Painting

Color, light, movement, joy — Dancer incorporates a lot of beauty into a small space. Original oil painting, 12 x 12, by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print available at iCanvasART.

The story of the painting, Dancer, by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

A young woman, in a blur of movement and grace, blends imperceptibly into her background, creating a fusion of representational figure work with an abstract background.

Dancer celebrates life, color, and joy in a 12 x 12 original oil painting that does not limit itself to its gold frame.

“This is an especially fun work,” Steve says. “The brushstrokes are bold and sweeping, and the fabric in the back of the dancer’s dress is indistinguishable from the abstract nature of her surroundings.

“She is either rising from the background or merging into it, and either way you look at it there is a sense of dynamism, mobility, and action. 

“Dancer is the perfect name for a work that pulsates energy.”

Dancer is available as an original oil painting, 12 x 12, slightly larger with its gold frame. It is also newly available as a licensed art print at iCanvasART, in various sizes ranging from 12 x 12 to 37 x 37.

Contact us at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com to discover how you can purchase this painting, or any of Steve’s works.

A selection of Steve’s work is newly available at iCanvasART as licensed, open edition prints. Shown is Light in the Forest by Steve Henderson

Subscribe to Steve’s newsletter, Start Your Week with Steve, to keep up on Steve and his art.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine Art. Original paintings – licensed open edition prints – Santa and Holiday.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

Check out, also, Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success (digital DVD workshop designed for beginning to intermediate watercolor students and artists)

Reflection: The Story of this Painting

The ocean has always been a place where one can lose oneself in play, or thought. Reflection, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

The story of the painting Reflection, by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Reflection is a painting of puns and meditation, playfulness and deep thought. A child — small in both age and actual size on the work — is its central figure, with an adult in the background, deep in thought.

The adult figuratively reflects. The puddle, into which the child is about to leap without any reflection at all, literally mirrors, or reflects, the colors and shapes from the sky above and the looming rocks.

The adult stares out to see, wondering, perhaps, at its very vastness, and comparing the impossibility of crossing it to the sheer challenge of facing life. For the child, it’s not a matter crossing the body of water as it is plunging into the midst of it — but that’s okay, because puddles aren’t as deep as oceans, and she isn’t going to sink. 

Which are we — the child, or the adult? Perhaps the best answer is, both. When we grow up, we frequently leave our puddle jumping days behind us, but always, in the very depths of who we are is the child. As we grow into adults and gain in meditative thought and wisdom, we frequently wonder who we really are.

The answer to that is to think back to the child that we once were. That innocent personage, the one who jumped in puddles, never truly leaves us. She, or he, simply gets buried by the issues and concerns of adult life, and in order to find and connect with that essential part of our nature, we spend time in reflection, remembering the days when we jumped in puddles.

The mountains, as well, are a place for reflection and thought. Lady of the Lake, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

We can still jump in puddles, you know. All that will happen is that our feet will get wet.

Reflection is available as an original oil painting, 24 x 30, at Steve Henderson Fine Art. It is gallery wrapped, which means that it is ready to hang without a frame. Reflection is also available as an open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Contact us at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt to discover how you can purchase this painting, or any of Steve’s works.

Read the rest of the newsletter, and subscribe, at Start Your Week with Steve.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine Art. His original paintings are affordable; his licensed open edition prints are even more so; and his Santa and Holiday works spread the joy of Christmas all year round.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

We encourage you, also, to check out Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Recipe: Save Money Pork Stew

A good stew has vegetables in it, as well as meat. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Theoretically, stew is supposed to be a cheap meal, because it’s a conglomeration of inexpensive ingredients — namely vegetables — with a little bit of meat. The idea is to stretch out that little bit of meat to feed more people than you’re convinced that it can.

The problem is, when most people make stew, they build the dish around meat — two or three pounds of it to serve four people — and the few vegetables, swimming forlornly amongst the meat, weakly cry out,

“Here I am. I’m inexpensive. And I’ve got fiber, you know.”

It’s as if we think, “If I don’t put enough meat in this dish, then the people eating it will think I’m poor.”

God forbid that anybody ever think that we’re not insanely rich. They may not see our eternally revolving consumer debt, but they do see the amount of meat in our stew, or the brand of our phone, or the number of days before we have to wear the same pair of shoes.

I’m here to encourage you to free yourself from this trap. Live within your means, and make no apologies — to anyone — if there are holes in your socks, patches on the knees of your jeans, or less meat than conventionally normal in the stew you serve to your family or guests. Being rich is not a virtue, and being poor is not a sin, but being grateful — for food, shelter, clothing, freedom from fear, and the freedom to pray, or not pray, is wealth in itself.

It’s all in the way you look at things.

My dear friend — we have one life to live down here. That life encompasses so much more than worrying about what other people think of us. Riverside Muse, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

Save Money Pork Stew — feeds four

Ingredients

1 pound pork steak or chops (I bought mine in the meat clearance section, so I pretty much picked up whatever cut had the 50 percent off sticker on it. If you want to use beef, use beef, and just change the name of this recipe to Save Money Beef Stew)

1/3 cup oil (I use mild olive oil from Costco)

Flour for coating the meat

2 onions, peeled and sliced

4 cups vegetables (all I had were organic potatoes of varying colors; you can use celery and carrots if you’ve got them; since this is a stew, you might want to stick to the more mild, “winter” vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, and celery)

8 cups water

1 Tablespoon Beef Better Than Bouillon Paste, or equivalent beef bouillon product

1 cup chopped frozen spinach, chard, or kale (optional; I used this to counteract the sheer quantity of potatoes; if you have a variety of root vegetables to put in, you can skip this)

salt to taste

Cut the meat into 3/4 inch chunks (when the pieces are smaller, it seems as if there is more meat) and toss with the flour to coat. Heat the oil over medium heat until hot, then brown the meat, stirring regularly.

While the meat is browning, slice the onions, then add to the browned meat mixture. Pour in 2 cups of water. This will sizzle and be slightly thick because of the flour on the meat. Add another two cups water, stir, and let this cook, over medium heat, while you chop the root vegetables.

Add the root vegetables, bouillon, and 2-4 more cups water to thin out the base, but not too thin. Stir to blend, turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let the stew gently cook for an hour. Stir every 10-15 minutes to make sure it doesn’t stick, and add more liquid if the stew seems too thick. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle bubbling simmer that doesn’t turn into a boil.

After an hour, test the vegetables to make sure that they are cooked. Stir in the spinach, chard, or kale, if using. Heat, then add salt to taste.

Thank You

Of course you can write, and the more you do it, the better you get. Grammar Despair talks about those irritating problems we keep having, and forget how to solve. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I post recipes on Tuesdays.

If you are interested in saving money, keep learning to cook — it is the single most important thing you can do to develop a sense of independence, which is what you need to successfully save money.

My book, Live Happily on Less, is a series of gentle, easy-to-read essays that encourage you on this journey to save money and live well in a rough economy. Saving money is a mindset, which develops into your unique lifestyle, and getting there is a process. Any resource that promises 100 easy bullet-pointed tips to saving money is going to frustrate you, because what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.

I have also written Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” with the same attitude of acceptance. Grammar Despair addresses the common problems that most people have when it comes to writing, and it dispenses with them quickly so that you can get back to the important thing — your writing.

Speaking of writing, you can find my column on Commonsense Christianity at BeliefNet.com. As a Christian of 31 years who has been a Catholic, a Protestant, and in and out of the contemporary corporate church culture (presently out, and happily planning to stay that way), I encourage believers and seekers to trust in themselves a bit more, and in the voices of leadership and authority a bit less.

As far as art goes, I am married to Steve Henderson, the Norwegian Artist, who does on paint what I do at the keyboard — he seeks truth, beauty, wisdom, and joy, and he puts it on canvas. He sells his paints as originals and licensed open edition prints.

This article is linked to We Are That FamilyThrifty ThursdayGraced SimplicityKatherine’s CornerJenny MullinixLive Laugh RoweThriving ThursdayMama BZZZRaising HomemakersHope in Every Season, Wholehearted HomeA Little R and RWalking RedeemedGrowing Home

 

Opalescent Sea: The Story of This Painting

All the colors of the rainbow can be found in the waves of the ocean. Opalescent Sea, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

The story of the oil painting, Opalescent Sea by Steve Henderson

The ocean isn’t blue, you know.

Although on a sunny, cloudless day, the expanse of the sea looks blue indeed, when you get close to the waves and look — really, really look — you see all sorts of colors.

And when the sun is gently setting, its golden rays blending into the translucence of the waves, you see everything from red to blue, from orange to lavender, from pink to green, all shimmering and changing from one second to the next. 

Steve has spent hours walking the beaches of the Oregon Coast, listening to the gulls and watching the waves. As an artist, he is fascinated by the interplay of light, shadow, color, transparency, and movement on water, and in Opalescent Sea, he drew all of these elements together.

The painting itself has traveled from coast to coast in the United States, having been seleted by the American Society of Marine Artists for its prestigious, two-year national tour. Because of its integration of color, Opalescent Sea is the ultimate painting for the living room, because no matter what colors are in the sofa, there is sure to be one matching in the painting.

Even whitewater isn’t white — the waves reflect the light and colors of the sky above. Whitewater, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

“I want people to hear the sound of the surf when they view the painting,” Steve says. “I want them to feel the movement and sense the vastness of space that is in the ocean, and experience a sense of freedom and release.”

Opalescent Sea, the original oil painting, is framed and available at Steve Henderson Fine Art. It is also available as a licensed, open edition print through Great Big Canvas.

Read and subscribe to the entire Start Your Week with Steve newsletter.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine Art. His original paintings are affordable; his licensed open edition prints are even more so; and his Santa and Holiday works spread the joy of Christmas all year round.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

We encourage you, also, to check out Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Recipe: Cream Cheese and Raspberry Coffeecake

Yup, that frosting’s pink. That’s because I used raspberry juice as the liquid in the frosting. If you use milk or water, then the frosting won’t be pink. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

The “real” name for this recipe, “real” meaning what I call it, is a Christ-Child Coffee Cake, because it looks like a swaddled baby.  But, since some people might find the concept dreadful, or they’ll  wonder what Jesus and cream cheese have in common, I chose to be conventional in naming today’s cooking project.

Don’t expect me to make a habit of this — being conventional, I mean. If we’re going to survive as free human beings, we must stop worrying about being conventional and fitting in. Ask yourself: when I fit in, what am I fitting into? Whose mold is it, and why do they want me stuck in it? Americans, especially, are far too worried about what other people think about them, and it gets us into all sorts of trouble: instead of living our lives and loving our families, we focus on buying a new car every three years, or a new phone every three months, because otherwise, others might think that we are poor, or backwards, or out of date.

That’s where thinking conventionally gets you.

To make this coffee cake, you’ll want to look up my recipe for Soft Breadsticks and either split it in half, or use half of the dough for the coffee cake, and the other half for bread sticks and rolls. Or make two coffee cakes. Or refrigerate the half you don’t use today, and use it tomorrow. Your options are endless, and the decision is yours.

Cream Cheese and Raspberry CoffeecakeMakes one large coffeecake to serve 4-6 

This picture shows you 1) how the coffeecake is divided in thirds, 2) the cuts along the side, 3) the space in the middle for the filling, and 4) the beginnings of how to start “weaving” the strips over the middle, right to left, right to left. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Ingredients

1/2 recipe for Soft Breadsticks

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, or 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used fromage blanc, a soft cheese, made from our goat milk — that’s why the filling in my photos looks lumpy, not smooth)

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup raspberries (mine were frozen, sort of thawed)

1/4 cup chocolate chips

for the icing

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tablespoons butter

enough liquid — milk, water, or raspberry juice — to make a smooth, creamy frosting (add the liquid slowly, 1 Tablespoon at a time or so, to ensure that you don’t add too much)

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and spreadable. If you want it thinner, add a little milk (my mixture, the fromage blanc, was thinner than what cream cheese will be, but think it through: basically, this recipe involves spreading a cheese mixture on the dough, and dotting it with raspberries and chocolate chips — so you want the cheese mixture to be firm enough so that it doesn’t run all over the place, but not so stiff that you can’t spread it on the dough).

More weaving, getting closer to the top. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Roll out the dough to a 14 x 14 square. You don’t have to be insanely precise about this.

The filling will be spread in the middle third of the dough. On the two sides, right and left, you will cut from the edge to the middle, every one inch, making little “ribbons.” Look at the photo — you’ll see the one inch cuts on the right and left, and the bare part in the middle for the filling. The bottom cut I made thicker so that it can close up the coffee cake; ideally, I should have done this with the top as well. I didn’t but you can.

Spread the cream cheese mixture in the middle third, from top to bottom. Sprinkle over the raspberries and chocolate chips.

Starting from the top, or the bottom, fold the cut dough pieces, left side, then right side, then left side, and so on, over one another, and covering the filling. Do this until you reach the top, if you started from the bottom, or the bottom, if you started from the top, and pinch the dough at the tops and bottoms to keep the filling from leaking out. (If the filling leaks out, it’s not as if it were radioactive, and there truly is no harm done.)

Now comes the fun part, and you may want someone to help you on this: pick up the swaddled coffee cake and transfer it to a greased cookie tray. If you really don’t want to do this — then after you roll out the dough and before you cut the sides into ribbons, transfer it to the cookie sheet before you fill and shape. If you’re one of these people who does NOT read through a recipe before plunging in, then you may be a little irritated with me for not telling you this earlier — all I can say is this: get into the habit of reading the entire recipe through before you plunge in.

The finished woven coffee cake. I never do know what to do with all the ends ribbons, so once I pinch the top and bottom together, I let the extra ribbon pieces fall where they may. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Cover the coffeecake, gently, with plastic wrap or a clean towel, and let rise at room temperature 30 minutes.

Bake at 385 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, until both the tops and bottoms are lightly browned. I give a generous baking window because if you use Kamut, or another ancient grain flour for the bread recipe, as I did for this particular coffee cake, then you’ll find that the bread cooks much, much faster. If you use the stuff you buy on the grocery shelves, you’ll find that it doesn’t cook as fast.

To frost: cut the butter into the powdered sugar and add enough liquid to make a smooth, not too thick frosting. Let the coffee cake cool for 20 minutes, then spread on the frosting. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Thank You

Make art part of your life — it reflects beauty and makes us think — two elements increasingly missing in modern life. Original paintings and licensed prints by Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I post about Recipes on Tuesdays.

If you want to save money, take a serious look at my book, Live Happily on Less. I give you no secrets or magic tricks, but simple, sustainable, workable thoughts on how to adjust they way you live so that you spend less. It’s like losing weight: unless you find something that you can live with, and do, day after day, you’ll wind up going back to your old habits, and spending the way you have always done.

If you like to write and want to avoid common issues and errors — without taking a full fledged course in grammar — consider my book, Grammar Despair: Quick, simple answers to problems like, “Do I Say Him and Me or He and I?” These are the principles I used to teach my four homeschooled progeny how to successfully express themselves.

If you’re a Christian or a seeker, join me at Commonsense Christianity on BeliefNet, where I look at the difference between what our church culture calls Christianity, and what the Bible says. There’s a bit of a difference there, quite frequently.

This article is linked to We Are That FamilyThrifty ThursdayGraced SimplicityKatherine’s CornerJenny MullinixLive Laugh RoweThriving ThursdayMama BZZZRaising HomemakersHope in Every Season, Wholehearted HomeA Little R and RWalking RedeemedGrowing Home

Lilac Festival

Children represent the beauty and joy that make up what is good in this world. Lilac Festival, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

The story of the painting, Lilac Festival, original oil by Steve Henderson:

Children, and especially this one, have a special place in Steve’s heart.

Having raised four children, and been presented with one extraordinarily beautiful, precocious, and paintable grandchild, Steve looks at the world through the eyes of its smallest inhabitants, and he seeks to portray the wonder and joy that children see.

It is no accident that the time portrayed is spring, the flowers featured are lilacs, and the strong, almost abstract brushstroke treatment gives a sense of new growth, life, and movement.

“Children live in the moment,” Steve says. “When the flowers are out and the grass is growing in its outrageously green fashion, they see this, and experience this, and live this.

“They’re not thinking about what they need to be doing 15 minutes from now, or how they didn’t accomplish some major project 15 minutes ago, they are in the flowers — seeing them, smelling them, touching them, probably hearing them grow — and they remind us that life isn’t something to be endured, it is something to be lived.”

In addition to bringing out the beauty in the world, children bring out the best in the people around them. Seaside Story, original oil painting by Steve Henderson, sold; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Read and subscribe to the entire Start Your Week with Steve newsletter.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine Art. His original paintings are affordable; his licensed open edition prints are even more so; and his Santa and Holiday works spread the joy of Christmas all year round.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

We encourage you, also, to check out Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success – DVD digital workshop for the beginning and intermediate watercolorist.

Recipe: Hot Chocolate — the Real Thing, not the Powder

Hot chocolate — the real thing — is worth the 15 minutes it takes to make it. Photo courtesy Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Those of us who grew up in the 1970s know that it was not an era of of high taste — be it in food, fashion, or home decor. The latter brought us avocado green appliances and brown and orange plaid sofas. As far as “fashion” went, there were bell bottoms. Case closed.

And for “food,” we entered the era of boxes and pouches with a vengeance. My mother’s favorite product to attack was the box that promised dinner in no time — all she had to add was the hamburger or chicken. “So inside this box is basically a little pouch of noodles?” she demanded. As years went by and grocery shelf space for these products increased, she’d give a little sniff of approbation every time she walked through that aisle.

“People are losing their commonsense,” she observed.

(That’s for sure — and not only in their unwillingness to cook. As a Christian, I throw my hands up in the same frustration my mother did over a small bag of noodles in a box, when I see the packaged products of the pews that too many Christians accept as a substitute for the real thing. You can find my observations on this in my BeliefNet column, Commonsense Christianity.)

Back to things in boxes, bags, and pouches. The 1970s, too, was the time we began to fall in love with instant hot chocolate — which is basically a mixture of a little cocoa, some dry milk powder, lots of sugar, and the usual list of unpronounceable ingredients one finds in packaged food.

Frequently, we long for and hearken back to a simpler time — but we can make our lives simpler and sweeter today, with little things, like a cup of decent hot cocoa. Lady in Waiting, original oil painting by Steve Henderson.

The few times this product was allowed into my childhood home — not through the instrumentation of my mother, I assure you — I was fascinated by how fast it was. I don’t believe I noticed the flavor, which isn’t surprising since there pretty much isn’t any flavor. It’s just sweet.

Years later, instant cocoa is considered the norm, and a generation of children is growing up without any idea of what the real thing can taste like. Worse, when they do taste the real thing, they reject it because its primary flavor is not sweet, it’s . . . chocolate. But you’re a grown-up, with tastes that can go beyond sweet, and I encourage you to make the real thing — which uses four ingredients and takes 10 – 15 minutes — and shake up those taste buds.

That’s what good food does, you know — shakes up our taste buds, intrigues our brain, demands our attention.

Let’s make hot chocolate — the real stuff:

Hot Chocolate — makes 6 cups

Ingredients:

6 cups milk

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I buy organic, fair trade cocoa in a 5 pound bag through Azure Standard, but you can get the usual stuff in the 8-ounce brown container in your grocery baking aisle)

1/4 cup sugar (my favorite: Wholesome Sweeteners organic fair trade)

1 Tablespoon real vanilla

In a 3-quart saucepan or larger, start warming the milk over medium heat. As it’s warming, add the cocoa and sugar and whisk them into the milk with a whisk; if you don’t have a whisk, use a spoon — it’s just a bit more difficult.

Dance to your own music, not the sounds and voices imposed upon you by others. Jubilee, original oil painting by Steve Henderson; open edition licensed print at Great Big Canvas.

Now it’s going to look lumpy and disheveled at first; the cocoa powder does not mix in smoothly instantly (which is why people were fascinated by the little pouches, perhaps). Just keep whisking over the next 10 – 15 minutes as the milk mixture warms up, and eventually, the cocoa powder will give a little sigh and dissolve into the warmed liquid.

Keep whisking and warming until the cocoa is as hot as you want it. Sometimes, a little “skin” develops on the top; this is normal and the skin is actually edible, but if it grosses you out, toss it out.

When the cocoa is as hot as you want it, pull it off the burner and stir in the vanilla. Pour into cups and serve.

This particular recipe makes an extremely chocolate flavored beverage, mildly sweet. Feel free to add more sugar, but give it a try, first, with less, and shake up those taste buds.

By the way, hot chocolate would pair well at breakfast with Pancakes, another simple, good food that doesn’t require a mix to make.

Thank You

Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I talk about simple food and recipes on Tuesdays.

Those of you who read me know that one of my favorite mantras is this: if you want to save money, one of the first

Learning to live, happily, on less enables you to stand up and be more independent. Paperback and digital at Amazon.com.

and easiest steps you can make is to learn to cook for yourself.

Another thing you can do is look at my book, Live Happily on Less. Living on less, whether we like it or not, is a lifestyle being imposed upon us by financial and political powers who think that they are greater than they are. The first step is to not allow people to control and dictate our lives — so we stand up, speak up, and speak out. The second step is to learn to stop being so profligate with what money we do have: the more control we have over our own lives, and our finances, the less control others can exert over us.

I bet you never thought that cooking could be such a political subject. But it is — anything that empowers us and promotes our individuality, protects us.

This article is linked to We Are That Family, Thrifty Thursday, Graced Simplicity, Katherine’s Corner, Jenny Mullinix, Live Laugh Rowe, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Thriving Thursday, Mama BZZZ, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, Wholehearted Home, A Little R and R, Walking Redeemed, Growing Home

 

 

Ocean Breeze

Freedom, joy, happiness, and hope — Ocean Breeze takes its viewers to a better place. Original painting by Steve Henderson; licensed open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

The story of the painting, Ocean Breeze, by Steve Henderson

This particular sentence is one we regularly hear from viewers of Ocean Breeze, a fusion of color, warmth, movement, sunset, and light. The open edition licensed print of this work at Great Big Canvas consistently posts number 1 in Steve’s art sold at the site, and in the broad, general category of Figurative Art, Ocean Breeze sells in the top 2 percent.

Ocean Breeze is filled with warm reds, golds, and oranges dancing with cool blues and lavenders. One can feel the mist on the breeze, the warmth of the sun’s rays on one’s shoulders, the gentle touch of the waves on bare feet.

“I wanted to capture a sense of freedom and joy,” Steve remarks on this piece, ” and the place, to me, that pulses with those feelings is the seashore. People are happy when they walk along the beach.”

As a fine artist with a broad background in commercial illustration, Steve has always enjoyed painting the human form, and in Ocean Breeze — as in all of his works of young women and children — Steve focuses on the postive elements of joy, happiness, meditation, thought, freedom, innocence, and hope.

“There are a lot of definitions about what art is,” Steve says. “But one aspect that is frequently discredited or looked

Catching the Breeze, featuring the same color palette, makes a nice companion to Ocean Breeze. Original painting sold; licensed open edition prints available at Great Big Canvas.

over is art’s ability to provide hope and celebrate beauty. Too often we are assaulted by darkness, gloom, depression, and despair — and we’re told that this represents ‘real life.’

“While these are aspects of real life, so are their opposites, and those opposites are what I choose to paint.”

Ocean Breeze embodies joy, peace, freedom, and hope.

The original painting is gallery wrapped — meaning that it is ready to hang on the wall without the need for a frame — and is available through Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Read and subscribe to the entire Start Your Week with Steve newsletter.

Check out Steve’s artwork at Steve Henderson Fine Art. His original paintings are affordable; his licensed open edition prints are even more so; and his Santa and Holiday works spread the joy of Christmas all year round.

If you are a manufacturer who would like to use Steve’s artwork on your products, please contact his agents, Matt Appelman (matt.appelman@artlicensing.com). You can see Steve’s Art Licensing page here.

We encourage you, also, to check out Steve and Carolyn’s products at Amazon.com:

Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle (paperback and digital book)

Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say Him and Me or He and I?” (paperback and digital book)

Step by Step Watercolor Success – DVD digital workshop for the beginning and intermediate watercolorist.

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