The wonders of Salt in culinary creations

November 23, 2010

coarse grey salt I discovered how fantastic salt can really be –and how vital to flavor– when I first sprinkled coarse grey salt on a hubbard squash from my local Greensgrow Farm. Combined with a little rosemary, olive oil, and garlic, and roasted to perfection, I felt I had come across one of the most delicious foods *ever*, but the key to this roasted bliss was the salt! An absolutely critical ingredient, it shattered my previous snobbery about not “needing” salt to achieve flavor in favor of herbs and spices. Now, I wisely combine wonderful salts with herbs to great ends.

Fleur de Sel caramels by The Caramel Jar: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCaramelJar

Fleur de Sel caramels by The Caramel Jar: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheCaramelJar

Usually thought of as a savory addition, salts are often fabulous additions to sweet foods as well.  Artisan-made caramels sprinkled with Fleur de Sel (the “caviar of salts”) abound, and with good reason, because they are absolute heaven on earth. In fact, just in writing this, I remembered some dark chocolate caramels I had recently received and quickly paired them with some Celtic grey salt for a special treat. Yum! But specialty salts are increasingly found used in baking recipes such as this rhubarb upside-down cake.

Fortunately, Herb Companion recently published a wonderful article on “Perfect Pairings: Marrying Herbs and Salts” that doesn’t need to be re-written by me! Not only does author Tabitha Alterman outline every kind of salt you may come across, but she tells you the herbs that make the best pairings for complex herb-salt blends. Creating a seasoning like this will not only ultimately reduce your total sodium intake by increasing flavor with herbs, but the taste of better quality salts will also encourage the use of less total salt. Herb Companion helpfully lists resources for such special finds as Hickory smoked salt and gourmet salt blocks. During a recent visit to Boulder, Colorado, I fortuitously came across Savory Spice Shop and found myriad herb-spice blends (as well as plenty of salt-free butcher’s rubs, etc), sold to my by the nicest sales person on the planet. One blend I am really excited about is their County Clare Seasoning Salt, which brings happy thoughts of my favorite Irish county, and lots of exciting possibilities for future culinary creations.


Looking for something unique? One of a kind art

December 5, 2009

Lilith, by Clayrew

One of a kind fiber arts are not something I set out to find, but somehow (and I’m not sure exactly how), I came upon this amazing artisan, Robin E. Whiteman of Clayrew (etsy), who makes unique, one of a kind fiber art pieces, such as this lovely rendition of Lilith with her animal familiar, the owl. Lilith, the inspiration for my business, has a magical aura about her, just as Robin’s artworks do. I wanted to share her work with my readers, as this time of year I tend to blog a bit more about amazing material finds and one of a kind wonders. Robin’s pieces include fiber and ceramic sculptures seemingly drawn from Jungian psychology, the archaeology of Marija Gambutas, who pioneered the concept of goddess religions pre-dating patriarchal religions and culture in human history, bits of human artifact (such as leather from crete) and her own intuitively creative inspiration and sculptural musings.

Fetish art piece

Fetish 1

For instance, the Fetish 1 piece, pictured here, is at first glace a representation of fetishes favored by paleolithic and early neolithic cultures, but a closer examination reveals a face emerging from the belly of the female form, a surprising revelation that lends further mystery to the piece.

Dark Goddess ceramic art piece

Dark Goddess

I also love her ceramic Dark Goddess, a piece that I would love to have in my fantasy home, one with hallways with quiet niches where such pieces could be properly and reverantly placed. The Dark Goddess is coated in bronze encaustic wax, a material favored by Jasper Johns that has always fascinated me as a material I would love to work with. Encaustic provides a textural effect that adds another dimension to two-dimensional art, such as many of Johns’ paintings. In this piece, the bronze encaustic on ceramic provides a sense of ‘the ancient’ (that ellusive, undefinable ‘ancient’ that we can’t even really pinpoint except in the minds of Jung and in the texts of myth) that gives it the not-quite-tangible aura of an artifact of an ancient goddess religion. Just the kind of chills I love to get from a material object. Maybe this is why I married an archaeologist. Hmmmm


Winter Spirit…The Gift Guide

November 13, 2009
GrassHopper from Grazim's Shop on etsy

"Grasshopper" by Grazim

 

The autumn already seems to be ebbing away, though there are still a few wee tomatoes on my urban-dwelling vines. Still, many of autumn’s bright and colored leaves have fallen. Though I don’t usually create a treasury of beloved handcrafteds for this most herby of blogs, I was perusing through etsy favorites and felt inspired to share these lovelies with my dear readers. You may not want to spend that much on a chandelier, but you must admit….it is amazing! And if that is out of your price range, you might invest in a wee felted grasshopper, such as this one created by Grazim, and etsy shop located somewhere in Europe, and also the home of the sweetest felted slippers you’ve ever seen. 

Peaceful afternoon dress by SarahSeven on etsy

"Peaceful Afternoon" by SarahSeven

 

The Peaceful Afternoon dress, and other poetic creations, can be found in sarahseven‘s etsy shop. One must pay for luminous handmade creations, but would we artisans have it any other way? 

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree on etsy

"Safe Keeping" by The Haunted Hollow Tree

 

There are many beguiling images by The Haunted Hollow Tree etsy endeavor, but this one demands a frame and prized wall space at my humble abode. 

"mutant bunny" mask by Alma Pottery

"Mutant Bunny" by Alma Pottery

 

Alma Pottery claims to have art + attitude in the shop’s clever creations. I think this absolutely bizarre-fairytale-meets-the-surreal Mutant Bunny mask certainly fulfills the claim. I love it! 

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

"Cherry Root Chandelier" by Fiko Arts

 

Well, this is that (albeit *slightly pricy*) chandelier by Fiko Art I was talking about. I wish I lived in a house that could handle it! Maybe a converted one-room schoolhouse? Well, you’d need some lofty ceilings for this magical centerpiece. Take note of the absolutely amazing details, including the carving. This is an absolute work of art, and probably museum quality as well. 

Raven Terrarium by Doodlebirdie on etsy

"Raven Terrarium" by Doodlebirdie

 

I find terrariums absolutely enchanting, I have to say. I recently made a few without reading any directions as to the actual process (duh) and needless to say they didn’t work out that well. The keys are 1) not letting the moss touch the glass (fog), and 2) using charcoal to absorb moisture and also making sure there is some rocks at the bottom for a bit better ‘drainage’. Next time I’ll get it right! But in the meantime, check out Doodle Birdie for some lovely creations. 

Branch necklace by After Winter on etsy

"Branch" by After Winter

 

Ok, so let me send a subtle message into the ether. *I want this necklace for Christmas* Too bad my husband doesn’t read my blog! Alas. But still, this has been a favorite since it first appeared on the scene, at least a year ago. After Winter’s proprietress makes these absolutely amazing molded pieces using nature + pure sterling silver to create the most gorgeous pieces of adornment. These are heirlooms. 

"Tire Swings" baby booties by Wooly Baby on etsy

"Tire Swings" by Wooly Baby

 

I absolutely adore the vintage look to these handmade wool baby boots, complete with leather sole for those new walkers. I mean, I either have to buy these for some random baby I come across, or I need to have a new baby so I can shod its feet in these grey woolies. Either way – these booties must be worn by a baby that I know. Thank you Wooly Baby. Thank you for subtley pressuring me to have another baby so I can pay another $12,000 a year in child care costs. 

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren on etsy

"Tree Sisters" by Sarah Ogren

 

Is this a save the best for last moment? I’m not sure, but I can say, from one Sarah to another, Sarah Ogren is one of my absolute favorite etsy sellers. I do often wear a necklace creation, not unlike this amazing image, but I adore all of her animal headed Victorian creations equally, and someday soon, I want one for my walls (or at least my three year old daughter’s bedroom, where it would be most precious). Hint, Hint. 

You know, most etsy officianados like the lovely Scoutie Girl blog (thank you, Tara Gentile) create things called ‘Gift Guides’. Even etsy has its own Gift Guides to help overwhelmed and confused shoppers. I create Give-me-this Guides, apparently. I’m laughing out loud here because I’m not serious (but kinda am). I will say this. Nobody needs to buy me the Chandelier or the $500 frock, but…my three year old, Maeve, could try her hand at making a terrarium perhaps? Daddy? What’dya say?


Support Local! Trenton Ave Arts Fest (Phila)

April 28, 2009

poster1I’m still riding on the high from the fabulous Fishtown Shad Fest this past weekend. Awesome weather, great bands, wonderful location in the historic Penn Treaty Park.
Next Up: The Trenton Ave Arts Fest on May 16th!
This street fair is a fabulous event with great local bands, food vendors, and artists and artisans galore, including Lilith’s Apothecary.

Come out to support local vendors, including members of the Handmade Philly team.


Featured Blog & Featured Etsy Seller

January 26, 2009

I think its time to feature some other bloggers and artisans out there with amazing blogs and etsy shops and/or products. For instance, check out The Alchemist’s Garden for early 20th century herbal pharmacopeia & wisdom, such as the Cocoa Essence: http://herbalwitchcraft.com/blog/I could spend ages checking out this blog, full of all kinds of interesting notes, gardening experiences, tidbits, and lore

As for etsy sellers, I would love to highlight an old favorite: Fairy Tale Fibers, based in the US’ Northwest
http://www.fairytalefibers.etsy.com

Wee Fairy Hood from www.fairytalefibers.etsy.com

Wee Fairy Hood


I have one of these magical fairy hoods and love it! I have gotten many comments on it, of course, and living in urban Philadelphia, it gives me a bit of deep, dark forest feeling (much needed).


Indie Craft Market – holiday craft bonanza!

December 3, 2008

Well it’s happening again ~ another Indie Craft Market at the 941 Theatre in the Northern Liberties. This Saturday, DECEMBER 6
I hope to see some Lilith fans perusing all of the wonderful, handmade artisan goodies to be had. The best way to shop for this holiday is to shop Local and Handmade. Come and get a Lilith’s Apothecary gift basket made up for your loved one!

Sat., December 6
11-6pm
@ Backseat Conceptions 941 Theater:
941 N. Front Street Philadelphia, PA (Northern Liberties)

http://randomsquirrellab.com/


Trunk Show at the TLA on South Street

November 25, 2008

Lilith's Apothecary Facial Mask Kit

Lilith's Apothecary Facial Mask Kit

There’s going to be a City Paper Trunk Show on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) this week. It’s going to be held at the TLA (Theatre of the Living Arts) on South Street in Philadelphia between 3rd and 4th. Check out http://www.citypaper.net/trunkshow for more info about this awesome event, of which Lilith’s Apothecary will be a part!

“The Greatest Trunk Show on Earth”
featuring 50 local boutiques and artisans
November 28 :: 10-3pm


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