Thursday, May 31, 2012

5-31…Capellini with broccoli and sea scallops

Today is Thursday, which means veggies from the CSA folks, which resulted in a beautiful head of fresh broccoli, which translates to a broccoli laden pasta dish.  A quick look in the freezer revealed a package of sea scallops which will be a perfect companion to the broccoli.


Broccoli Florets
Sea scallops
Olive oi
Anchovy fillets…2, finely chopped
Fresh basil an dill
Fresh lemon juice
Dry white wine, one generous splash


Cook the garlic and anchovies in the olive oil, along with the red pepper flakes.  Add the chopped onion, herbs, scallops and broccoli.  After 2-3 minutes add some wine and cook over low-medium heat while the pasta is cooking.

Add the pasta to the pan and mix well.  Drizzle with olive oil and add the lemon juice before serving.


Patience is a pushover after I serve scallops, broccoli, and angel hair pasta.  I will find out later just how good this dish was.

I thought it was sgreat.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Thanks to our new Midtown Market tonight we are enjoying a classic southern Italian dish that was a staple in our home…beans & greens, Escarole and white beans in a chicken broth, topped with grated cheese and served with thick slices of bread.  (I grew up knowing only two kinds of bread, “bread”, which was any Italian bread, and “American bread”, which was any sliced white bread.)

I’ve prepared this dish many times, but have had to use a variety of other greens; Escarole has been hard to find in Paducah…until now.  Hopefully it will become a staple in the market.


Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
White beans – tonight we had Great Northern Beans
Fresh basil and oregano
Josh’s Ciabatta bread
Grana Padana cheese


Blanch the greens in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.  In the meantime heat the olive oil and add 2 cloves of pressed garlic, red pepper flakes, spices, and the beans (with their liquid).

When the greens are tender to taste add them to the pan and cook for about 2 more minutes.  Serve with the grated cheese and thick slices of bread.


So simple and so good.  In an instant I am back in my mother’s kitchen.

note...I had kind of bad day today, and this made it so much better!

Monday, May 28, 2012


My paintings originate from a variety of sources and inspiration.  Some, like the one shown below, come from a specific scene or structure that I’ve seen and photographed.  Although I often take liberty with surroundings and background, the primary subject is portrayed accurately.

The third barn - from a Livingston Co. farm...acrylic...36x36

Other paintings are based rather loosely on something I’ve seen; I may borrow the composition and create my own mood, or borrow the mood and adapt it to a different composition or setting.

Kent Co. Farm (Delaware)...acrylic...24x30

After so many years of painting landscapes, with and without barns and farms, I am able to paint from memory and imagination, creation my own scenes and buildings.

Somewhere Else...acrylic...48x60

Each category presents its own set of challenges and satisfaction, and I enjoy working in all of them.  But, if I had to pick just one, I would go with painting from memory and imagination; this offers me the most room to explore and look for new ways to express myself.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Harvey is right.  I spend way too much time in my head, ruminating about everything and anything, but mostly about my art.  When I first began painting my biggest concern was that I be taken seriously, and not seen as some doctor dabbling in art on his days off.  I wanted my work to be “serious” art, although I had no idea what serious art was, and still don’t.  But for the most part I was comfortable doing what I did, thinking of myself as a storyteller with my drawings and paintings of city life.

Some thirty years later I find myself more unsettled than ever before, despite considerable improvement in my understanding and execution of my craft.  The questions abound.  What should I paint, large colorful landscapes, small drawings and sketches of the world around me, realistic pastels, abstract clay mono types, or meticulous architectural rendering with watercolor?  Shouldn’t I focus on developing my skills in one or two mediums, rather than working in all of them and being that Jack of all trades and master of none?   Theses concerns may seem silly to others, and I must admit that as I’m writing this, they seem rather ridiculous to me now.  But unfortunately they are very real.

The solution of course is obvious; paint whatever I want to paint, in whatever medium and whatever size I fancy, and throw out all the questions because they don’t matter.  And with that sentence I have experienced the therapeutic powers of journaling; the questions that haunted me 30 minutes ago no longer do so and I have managed to get out of my head…at least for a while. 

Yesterday's work:

 Roiled sky...acrylic in progress...24x48"

 Do you know where this is (in Paducah)?...pen, ink, markers...10x8"

Saturday, May 26, 2012


The disaster was inevitable.  I had been wallowing in self-satisfaction, thinking of myself as the complete package, artist, writer, and a kitchen master who could do more than just cook pasta.  Last night I was going to treat my sweet wife, (who has never, ever, even once, complained about all the pasta I serve her), to a special dinner…grilled flank steak with veggies, and fresh beets and beat greens.  She loves fresh beets.

I cut up the zucchini, broccoli, and onions and marinated them in oil and seasoning, blanched the beet greens, sautéed them in olive oil with garlic, and went out to the breezeway to turn on the gas grill.  While the grill was heating up I and placed the veggies in Aluminum pack and placed it on the grill. 

Back in the kitchen I began cooking the beets and seasoned the meat in preparation for grilling.  I returned to the breezeway when my dinner plans went up in flames, literally.  I opened the grill and was greeted by flames everywhere…from the grill, the burners, and the drip pans below.  Turning all burners down to their lowest level I spritzed everything with water; the flames diminished and I thought I could continue as planned.  With a large spatula I turned the veggie pack over and it promptly came undone, spilling half the contents out onto the grill, which quickly caught fire.  That is when I fell to my knees on the hard cement floor and begged the gods for mercy, vowing I would never allow myself to become so inflated with pride if they would save me from this fiery disaster.

Evidently they heard my plea and sent Patience to salvage the dinner while I tried to salvage my pride. Returning to the kitchen I sat and watched her work her magic, seeing solace in a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio.

Patience grilled the meat on the stovetop and saved all the veggies, which turned out to be just right, and in the end we enjoyed a very nice dinner, no thanks to me.

There remains a very prominent streak of soot on the wall behind the grill, a stark reminder of the disaster that would be dinner.

There is a lot more pasta in our future.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

5-22…Fettuccine with chicken, broccoli, and zucchini

I’ve succumbed to the magic of the merry month of May and the green produce in the markets with the promise of so much more to come.  So, tonight’s dinner is Fettuccine with Broccoli, Zucchini, and a little bit of chicken, all of it enhanced by herbs now available in our small herb garden (well protected from the whippets).


Skinless, boneless, organic chicken thighs
Broccoli florets
Olive oil
Garlic and onion
Fresh basil and parsley
Red pepper flakes
Sweet vermouth
Grape tomatoes, sliced


Brown the chicken in olive oil, remove and deglaze pan with the wine, saving the residue with the chicken.  Add fresh oil to the pan and begin cooking the garlic and onion until soft, then add the zucchini and half of the herbs.  You have to judge when to add the broccoli and the rest of the herbs so it doesn’t get over cooked.  I add it about 5 minutes before I expect the past to be ready.  Add the pasta, and the tomatoes and mix well and enjoy.


Patience had seconds…that’s better then anything I can say about this dish.

It's not finished til it's finished

Several weeks ago I posted this painting, The Sentinel, acrylic - 16x40".  I thought I was finished and felt fairly good about the piece, but as always, I kept it on the easel where I could "keep an eye on it".
The more I looked at it the more dissatisfied I became with it, and finally took steps today to see if I could salvage the piece.

I was unhappy with the foreground; it was too symmetrical and boring and the light strip at the horizon began to irritate me.

I created one field in the foreground, incorporating colors from the sky, and I think it improves things considerably.

Monday, May 21, 2012

5-21…Fettuccine with Scallops and Asparagus

I was impressed with the produce selection in Paducah’s newest food market, the Midtown Market but a little disappointed in the absence of any organic products.  However that did not stop me from leaving with some good looking asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes, and a package of sea scallops I could not resist.  I had one of the tomatoes for lunch today and it was quite good…better than the winter tomatoes at the other supermarkets.

Tonight I’ll work with the scallops and asparagus.


Fettuccine - Sea & Land from Al Dente Pasta
Sea scallops, cut crosswise into discs about ½ inch thick
Olive oil
Garlic minced
Fresh oregano and parsley, chopped
Red pepper flakes
Lemon juice


While waiting for the pasta water to boil remove the dense lower portion of the asparagus spears.  Place them in a shallow bowl with a drizzle of water, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for about 2-3 minutes.  Remove and cool with cold water, cut diagonally into 2-3” pieces and set aside.

Cook the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until it begins to turn color, add the herbs and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the scallops and asparagus. cook until the scallops become opaque.

Add the pasta to the pan, mix well and add the lemon juice.  Serve with a grated cheese of your own choice.  We are currently working on a wedge of Grana Padana.


This was wonderful, easy to prepare and open to a lot of variations.  The scallops were very good; I will go back to the midtown market for more.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Who we are…what we are

I just turned 73, and when I think about it, the words of my dear mother come immediately to mind.  She just turned 70 when she said, “Billy, I don’t feel seventy”.  At the time I mistakenly assumed she was referring to how she did or did not feel physically, however, as I now look back on seventy I realize what she really meant.

As a young man I assumed that as I aged physically, I would also age mentally and emotionally, seeing and responding to the world with a mind-set that was unique and characteristic of the elderly, because old people were different from young people, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally… or so I thought.  I have since learned otherwise.  Yes, the years take their toll on our bodies, and the accumulation of our experiences undoubtedly affects our attitudes and belief systems, but at our core, the essence of who and what we are remains unchanged.  We see the world through the same eyes, we receive and process the input from daily living with the same hopes and fears that have defined us for all of our years.  I don’t look the same as I did ten years ago; I have aches and pains that I’ve never had before, and I am keenly aware of the fragility of my future, but beyond that, I don’t feel like I am seventy-three.  



Saturday, May 19, 2012


Formaggioria...mixed media drawing on clay mono type...6x16"

When I left my medical practices to devote more time to art I left behind people who trusted me with their medical care; relationships and friendships that were forged from that trust ended because of the choices I made.  I still feel the guilt and remorse over the disruption I caused, leaving the noble work of medicine to “become and artist.”  Perhaps it was an effort to compensate for this that I silently promised them I would never stop trying to be the best artist I was capable of becoming.

This year will mark our tenth year in Paducah, ten years to totally immerse myself in my art.  Have I achieved the best of my capabilities?  Probably not, in every journey there is always the opportunity for one more step.  But I have kept my promise to try to take that ever-present next step.  Art has become the defining purpose in my life and my commitment to it has never wavered.

Do I believe art is as noble a calling as medicine?  No, I don’t; a physician has the responsibility to serve others, directly, whereas the artist works in solitude, touching the lives of others indirectly, through the finished work. But it was a call, one that I could not turn away from. I have no regrets about the paths I have followed and would do it again in spite of the consequences.  The alternative would have been to live an unhappy life filled with regret and unfulfilled dreams, always wondering…what if….?

I’ve learned a great deal about the craft of making art since my first gallery show in 1977, and over the year have become comfortable working in several different media.  I’ve become familiar with the basic principles of color, composition, and perspective, and the importance professionalism and the rudiments of self-promotion.  Finding answers to the many technical and professional questions I encountered was not very difficult, but the one question I have always struggled to understand is why I paint and draw what I do.

  Black at sunset...acrylic...10x30"


Friday, May 18, 2012

5-17…Pasta with fresh peas

Coming home is always good.  My 8-day trip to MD and PA ended with uneventful flights from Philly to Chicago to Paducah, where dear friend and neighbor Keyth picked me up at the airport.

It usually takes me a day or two to get back into my routine, except where pasta is concerned, and last night there was a bag of fresh peas from the farmer’s market just waiting for some attention.  I set out to reproduce (I use that term loosely) one of my mother’s standard dishes…peas and pasta


Spaghetti, broken into 3-4 inch pieces (just like mom did)
Fresh peas
Olive oil
Garlic and shallots
Dry Oregano, Basil, and red pepper flakes
Dry white wine


Coarsely chop the bacon, cook, and remove to drain.  Discard the grease, add olive oil, and cook the garlic and shallots with the red pepper flakes.  While they are cooking, place the peas in boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes…don’t over cook.

Drain the peas and add them to the pan, along with a splash of wine and the seasoning.  Cook a few more minutes if needed, then remove from heat and cover until the pasta is ready.

Add the pasta and the bacon to the pan and mix well, adding pasta water if needed.  Serve with good grated cheese.


It wasn’t moms, but it was very good, thanks to the fresh peas.  There were no leftovers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


bothered, and bewildered, am I.  (With apologies to Cole Porter)  Strange things happen in my head when I escape the familiar comfort of my routine, as I have done fro the past 6 days.  I suddenly find myself harboring an endless bounty of ambition and energy, dedicated to pursuing one great idea after another that flows ceaselessly from my brain.  I can do anything and everything once I get back to the comfort of my home and studio. There will be no stopping me. 

Unfortunately these insights? Fantasies? notions? Must be shared with others, derived from the same separation from routine:  Am I really an artist?  Is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?  Am I spending too much time on facebook and my blog?  I should travel more…do I want to travel more…I spend too much time away…and on and on and on.

A lesser man than me would become undone by this torrent of rumination, but fortunately I am a tiger, and experience has told me that this too will pass.  I will return home soon to my loving wife, nine happy dogs, and a studio just waiting for my attention.  All of the questions, well…most of the questions will disappear, and sadly, so will most of the ambition, and things will pick up just as the were when I left.  And life goes on.  I will leave again sometime in the future, and the cycle will repeat itself, and there is a sense of comfort in knowing that.

 Wild Eyes...clay mono type...20x14"

This has nothing to do with the narrative.  I simply like to have an image for readers to look at.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Sentinel

The Sentinel...acrylic...16x40

I finished the painting just before leaving on my nine day trip to Maryland, NJ, and PA.   I don't have to be here very long before appreciating what we don't have in Paducah...traffic that seems to get worse with every trip home.  It is impossible to go anywhere without battling cars racing to get to the next red light.  I know; I'm sounding like the old fart that I am, but it's true.

Traffic aside, I've completed my presentation in Philly, and I'm looking forward to spending the rest of this trip visiting daughters, grand children, cousins, friends, and a gallery in Lancaster PA where I will be showing my work next spring.  Along the way I expect I'll stumble across some pasta and wine.

I return home on the 18th, in time for the Art and Music Festival.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

5-7…Farfalle with mixed veggies and chicken

Tonight was a “clean out the fridge” night, and this resulted in a counter filled with a variety of veggies.  It didn’t take too long to come up with a way to use them all,.  The secret?   PASTA…everything goes with this food of the gods.

Farfalle pasta
Boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
White mushrooms
Bok Choy
Olive oil
Garlic, shallots
Dry basil and oregano
Sweet vermouth
Sun dried cherry tomatoes


Brown the chicken in olive oil, remove, and set aside.  De=glaze pan with the wine and add to the chicken.

Saute the garlic and shallots in oil for several minutes before adding the mushrooms and zucchini, cover and cook over low-medium heat,

Blanch the greens for 3-4 minutes in boiling water, drain, and add to the pan, along with the chicken, asparagus, and tomatoes.  Caver and cook over low heat.

When the pasta is ready add it to the pan, mix well, and serve with grated cheese.


This was better than I expected, and I think will be even better as leftovers tomorrow.  The sun dried tomatoes was a good addition to the mix.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Or...square 48x48.

After a few adjustments suggested by the in-house art critic the piece is finished...I think.  No, it is done, finished, completed, caput!  (is that even a word?)

Oasis...acrylic...48x48"   detail below

Not one to rest on my laurels, the next canvas is already in progress.


5-4…Fusilli with chicken, mushrooms, and broccoli

I’m currently making an effort to use up the miscellaneous ingredients that tend to accumulate in the freezer over time, meats, seafood, and frozen leftovers.  Last night I uncovered two chicken breasts, which led to the following concoction.


Chicken breasts, boneless
Portobello mushrooms
Broccoli florets
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Dried oregano and basil
Fresh dill
Dry red wine


After seasoning the chicken, brown in olive oil, remove, and set aside.  Deglaze pan with wine and add to the chicken.

 Sauté the garlic in olive oil and add the sliced mushrooms to the pan and cook over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and add to the pan.  About 5-7 minutes before the pasta is ready, add the broccoli to the pan.

Add the pasta to the pan, mix well, and serve with your preferred grated cheese.


The timing that I've mentioned is very flexible, and the mixed "sauce" can be made ahead of time and reheated when the pasta is ready.  The two key elements are: 1. be sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked, and 2. cook the broccoli last to preserve the fresh green color.

Friday, May 4, 2012

5-3…Fettucine with Kale

Our CSA friends provided us with a large bag of fresh kale today and I knew immediately what we would be having for dinner tonight.


Kale, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
Green onions
Red pepper flakes


Sauté the garlic and onion in olive oil until soft. While cooking the kale in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.  Drain the kale well then add it to the pan with the olive oil and garlic and continue cooking for about 10 minutes; the time depends upon whether you prefer the kale crunchy or “cooked down”.  (I went for crunchy.)

In the meantime cook the pasta in the same boiling water, drain, and add to the pan with the kale.  Mix well, add some pasta water if needed, drizzle with olive oil, and serve with your favorite graded cheese.  We are currently enjoying Gran Padana which I purchase online from


My original plan was to add bacon to the dish but I completely forgot about it.  We decided it was not needed. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012


My plan for this current series of paintings is to move to a different shape and size canvas with each painting.  Currently on the easel is a 48x48' canvas; the square shape lends itself to large sky landscapes, although I seem to find a way to do that regardless of the shape of the canvas.  I enjoy working with a square canvas, almost as much as I do with the horizontal ones (24x48 or 16x40).  The most challenging, and often the most fun, is the extremely horizontal 12x48'.  (I work only on pre-stretched canvases - have no interest in stretching my own)  The one shape I have not been able to handle is the extreme vertical. progress...the next step - work on the foreground, then render the focal point of interest, once I decide what that will be and where it will sit on the horizon.  I don't always have these things worked out before I start; I like having the painting show me the way.  It's great when it does, and very frustrating when it doesn't.

Here are 2 details from yesterday's painting, Dark Sky:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Dark Sky...Acrylic...24x36

 I will keep it out where I can look at it for the next week or so before deciding whether or not it is finished.  I've already started work on the next piece, in my head while I lay awake at 3:30 this morning.  It is amazing how much work I get done just lying there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


has quietly come to an end with David and I sharing a dish of Penne with sausage, mushrooms, and whit e beans.  (Patience was working and would join us later.)

The Pasta Quest began May first, one year ago, and during that time I recorded 198 dishes, and estimate another 30 to 40 that were not logged in.  I also gained 5 pounds!

Although the project is officially over I will continue to post recipes when I have something new to share.  In the meantime I will begin to review the results of last year and try to organize everything into a form that could eventually become a book.

I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this year long project, especially the feedback from so many of you.

 Good food, good wine, and good friends...what more can one ask for.