Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Morning Musing

Life lately has been full of conundrums that need to be figured out.  The problem with conundrums, is that they are comparable to a jewelry box full of fine chain that has been allowed to knot up; it is not going to be easy to untangle the whole mess.  I am sitting here musing, with my third cup of coffee, about this worlds tendency to obsess about health and to sacrifice living for the sake of health.  At the same time I am looking at networking invitations and wondering what the point is.  Yes, I realize to a sane person those two things are not connected, but my brain is way too busy to be sane.

Keep up, we are moving on, back to the networking thing...

I have met some great people at the networking events I have attended over the last 5 or 6 years.  I can count the amount of business I have gleaned from them on one hand.  I've handed out business cards and stumbled through the explanation of what I do, because my being an art photographer confounds a lot of people.  I have defended my small business and tried not to make excuses to why I can't go to this other networking thing, or work with this other group because I have three munchkins at home. I try not to bring up the fact that I have kids because then I get the look of, "Oh, you have young kids, why are you even here?"  or "Wow, I can't believe you're here?"  or "I want kids, but I'm too busy right now."  Then the conversation pretty much dies or turns into a discussion about munchkins.  It never seems like much networking to me, and the bigger the event, the more I am going to just be standing there not knowing what to do.

I am probably just going to the wrong events.  I need to be talking with interior designers not Realtors, boutique owners not financial consultants... 

As I am pausing to think about this, making plans for researching and calling people to set up meetings...

oh wait, I have kids. 

Deep breath. 

Sit back and wait. 

Maybe one day.

For now, I can manage to work at home, on my computer, because I do not have those kinds of kids who I can take with me to anywhere that requires them to sit nice and quiet.  I have kids who want to talk with everyone and who play and move and do what kids do. 

And there are three of them, which I know is not six or eleven, but it's enough. 

They poke and prod at each other until the other does something: giggles, snaps, yells, says something inappropriate. Oh yeah, and then there is the part where I have to discipline them in public because sometimes, their behavior is just not appropriate and, like dogs, if you tell them later on, they lack the reference point to fully understand what you are talking about. (Yes, I know I just compared my kids to's not the first time).  I know there are people out there who do not appreciate the fact that I speak "harshly" to my children and not in some overly patient voice (I ran across some in a parking lot the other day).

My kids have personality and spunk, which means they are nowhere near those perfect kids who sit quietly with their hands folded and only speak when spoken to. My kids are also polite, mostly respectful (I say mostly because the 5 and 2 year old are still working on it and even the 9 year old sometimes forgets his manners) and intelligent munchkins.  They are munchkins though and the only reason why they are such polite and respectful children, is because they are taught to be.  I am sure there are ways to raise children without a harsh tone but I don't have the patience for that, beyond the fact that I have seen kids work the system.

Where am I going with this?  I don't know, just ranting I guess.  Maybe another mom who works at home will read this and realize that she is not alone.  Maybe a young woman who is wanting to start her own business and a family will see that no matter what society wants to tell girls, kids do change your life and make doing what you want to do, more challenging.  I just got up this morning with an urge to write/rant.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist and Jewelry Designer

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Evolution of Cheesecake

How is it that I do not have a single picture of a cheesecake?

Since When Did Making a Cheesecake take Four Days?  It normally takes a good full day.  I mean, I always make them the day before so that they can chill in the refrigerator overnight.  This one, sheesh, is going to take four days, but I guess I have to blame the cheese.

I started making cheesecakes back in 2002/2003.  It started out as a refrigerator variety, because I didn't own any spring form pans.  I wanted to re-make the Jello ones that I had made when I was growing up.  Back then, most recipes for refrigerator cheesecake involve Cool Whip, gelatin, or sweetened condensed milk, non of which I use. This meant I had to make a new recipe. 

No Bake Cream Cheese Pie

1 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup melted butter

16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, beaten until thick
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(add 1/2 cup cocoa powder to make chocolate)
Mix together crumbs and melted butter and press evenly into a pie plate.
Beat heavy cream until very thick.
Blend together cream cheese, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla until smooth and fully incorporated.
Pour filling into pie crust and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

The creation of successful execution of this recipe, started me down a path that has resulted in over twenty recipes for cheesecake ranging from vanilla to Chocolate Covered Strawberry Port Wine (I think that is the longest title I have in my collection).

Changes have occurred over the years.  For a long time I used Honey Maid graham crackers for the crust, but then I learned how to make graham crackers so I started making my own.  I make cookies before I make cheesecake if it is a cookie crumb crust.  I try to use as many ingredients as I can that have been processed as little as possible.  The one thing that I thought I would always buy was the cheese.  Then I started playing around with making cheese.

This is how a simple chocolate cheesecake for an 11 year old's birthday takes four days to make.  Today I made the chocolate cookies that will bee the base for this cheesecake.  I am also waiting for the light cream mixture to reach room temperature so that I can add the starter culture that will eventually change it into a big lump of curdley goodness (about 12 hours).  That will have to drain for an additional 12 hours.  Then the magical mixing and baking comes into play, followed by the cooling process which consists of about 4 hours in the oven and overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day it gets topped and served to our little gathering of family and friends.

Chocolate Cheesecake

1 3/4 cup chocolate cookie crumbs*
1/3 cup melted butter

24 ounces cream cheese
1  cup sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipped cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Heat oven to 325 F.

Mix together crumbs and melted butter.  Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch spring form pan. Bake crust for 15 minutes at 325F and then set aside to cool.

Blend together cream cheese and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, waiting to add the next one until the first is completely incorporated.  Add in the sour cream, whipped cream and vanilla extract.  Mix until well blended.  Add in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.  Mix until combined and pour into cooled crust.

Put a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven and fill it 1/2 full with water.  Place cheesecake on top rack and bake at 325F for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, reduce the heat of the oven to 300 degrees and cook for approximately 1 hour. The cheesecake should still be a little jiggly in the middle.  Turn the oven off but leave the cheesecake on the top rack.  Prop the door open with a towel and let the cheesecake slowly cool.  Once it is room temperature, remove the cheesecake, cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

*Chocolate Cookie Recipe
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and the sugar together then add the egg and vanilla.  Mix the flour cocoa powder baking powder and salt together and then add to butter mixture until combined.  Scoop tablespoon sized mounds onto parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool. Makes about 20 cookies.

add 1/4 cup finely ground dark roast coffee and 1/4 cup rough chopped coffee beans along with 1/4 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate

Thanks for reading,

Sarah McTernen
Photographic Artist and Jewelry Designer

Monday, August 6, 2012

Proctor Arts Fest - Fun in the Sun

I am sitting here this very cloudy Monday morning, recovering from the very hot and sunny weekend that involved what is becoming my favorite Arts Fest of all time:  Proctor Arts Fest (  I have never walked the festival or seen much of the great entertainment that is provided, but I have had a booth there for two years in a row and it is always a busy day.  I love meeting people and sharing the stories of my jewelry and photography.  Thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat and shop.  You made the time go by so quickly.  I am looking forward to next year.

In the meantime, I am looking for some holiday shows to do.  If anyone has a suggestion for me to check out, leave a comment.

Thanks for reading,
Sarah McTernen