Thursday, December 3, 2015

Art Show of paintings by Jeanette Arax Melnick - here's some images and a Plain Dealer news story about it.


Here's a link to the YouTube video about the paintings: .

Beachwood artist explores Armenia, geometry, Sid Vicious and folk art in exhibit

zz art lowres.jpg
Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick, who will exhibit her works at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. (John Petkovic/The Plain Dealer)

John Petkovic, The Plain DealerBy John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer 
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on December 03, 2015 at 2:15 PM, updated December 03, 2015 at 2:35 PM
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick.
Yes, there is a personal side in works by the Beachwood artist, who will exhibit her paintings at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library during the month of December.
(The show opens at 2 p.m. Sunday at the library, 25501 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland. For more info, go to or call 216-831-6868.)
You can see it in "The Quince Tree," a work that was inspired by a photo of her and her father, taken when she was a little girl, in 1946. The photo is in the work itself, along with photos of her grandchildren, children and husband.
But her relationship with the world is as much spatial one – in which she absorbs aspects of it through the senses or through patterns rather than just the heart or mind.
"Sometimes I just look at the world and see all these geometric shapes and I see aspects of my paintings in them," says Arax Melnick. "Like right now I'm sitting in a room looking at pillows or I could be looking at an oriental carpet and finding interesting patterns."
There is little pattern when it comes to divining the Fresno, Ca. native's style – which shoehorns folk art and "museum type art," as she likes to say.
"Art was always my companion and I never sought out to follow a particular style or painter," she says. "I started to study painting at (University of California, Berkley), but I switched to history because I realized that I wanted to be my own painter."
She delved into medieval history, along with the "flatness" found in its art.  She has created in the shadows of a family history that extends back to the Armenian genocide of 1915 – which led to her family settling in California.
"Armenian history is very complicated, especially with Turkey denying the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians," says Arax Melnick, whose husband Daniel Melnick recently released a novel that honors the memory of the genocide. "And yet that complication has given me a feeling for the suffering of all mankind."
"As a child, I was inspired looking at old Armenian manuscripts and seeing these people with big brown eyes and soulful looks," she adds. "They look like they've suffered and yet survive and go on."
Sid Vicious -- the English punk from a much later time, 1970s London – captivated her in a very different way.
zz art 2 lowres.jpg"Sid Vicious," one of works by Jeanette Arax Melnick that will be on display at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. 
"I never listened to his music, though I know Aaron and Lennie have," says Arax Melnick, referring to her sons, co-founders of legendaryCleveland hardcore band Integrity. "I just loved his face and the zippers."
For years, the painting hung at the old Arabica on Coventry. Arax Melnick received a number of offers for it, but chose to hold onto it.
"It's hard to give up on that Sid Vicious," she says. "I've never looked at the money side of it."
It's all matter of perspective, even when it comes to art.
"I tend to avoid perspective and I think it's given my work a certain character," she says. "I'll have a table that looks like it's floating and could see it as an illusion, but to me it's just how I see it and see the world. So I guess you could say the world is an illusion, too."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mustard Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries

Quick meal for family and friends
        Oh dear, friends coming for lunch on the same day an appraiser comes to look over our condo.  Straightening up and cooking at the same time.  Out go my plans for a fancy lunch, in comes an old standby which we also have at dinner. It's quick,easy, and perfect with a green salad and bread.  Mustard chicken, which I greatly simplified from an old Julia Child's recipe - and oven sweet potato fries.

Mustard Chicken
       A whole chicken cut up in parts, or 6 chicken thighs, or 6 chicken breasts, or a 
             combination of favorites (skin or without, as you prefer)
       1 cup Dijon mustard mixed with 2 tablespoons water
        I cup bread crumbs(we like fresh  breadcrumbs so I simply toast some wheat bread and  
               process it or grate it to crumbs)
  1. Lightly salt and pepper your chicken
  2. Place in metal baking sheet ( lining with foil makes it easier for cleanup.
  3. Place chicken pieces upside down in pan.  Put half the mustard over the pieces. Turn pieces over and cover with the remaining mustard.
  4. Sprinkle the bread crumbs all over the chicken.
  5. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes. 

Oven roasted Sweet Potatoes Fries
      4 medium sweet potatoes
       3 tablespoons olive oil
        Salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary dried ( Rosemary optional; a bit of 
               cayenne if desired)
1.Peel and cut potatoes lengthwise, 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick pieces.
2.Put the potatoes on parchment lined rimmed cookie sheet (can omit parchment).
3.Drizzle with olive oil, then I mix with my hands. Best to have one layer of potatoes.
    Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding rosemary and cayenne, if desired.
  4.Bake in 425 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until fork tender.
       Very yummy, even for people who don't ordinarily like sweet potatoes (which are often sold as yams at the food market).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Balti Chicken Curry and Roasted Apple Sauce

Balti  Chicken Curry
     A couple of months ago, I cooked my first Balti curry.  So delicious, but the recipe was quite elaborate, toasting and grinding many spices.  I simplified the recipe and it was delicious as well, perhaps as delicious as the more elaborate version.
     Balti curry is simply a curry type stew that is wonderful served over a bed of steamed basmati rice.  Balti curry may have originated in a region called Balitistan in northern Pakistan and spread to England where it is very popular.  Or it may have been invented in Birmingham, England.
     Balti curry is named after the steel pot in which it is cooked.  I prefer to use a large stainless or cast iron frying pan with lid.

Chicken Balti Curry
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil not so good here.  I usually use canola.
6 chicken thighs with bone(I used the skin, but skinless is fine.  Also can  
    use half breasts instead of all thighs
3 Tablespoons curry powder (I used Penzey's "Balti" seasoning with excellent   
     results. Divided use, one tablespoon for the chicken, the other 2 when you  
     add the rest of the ingredients
1 teaspoon salt, sea or Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, up to 1 teaspoon
1 medium onion or shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes,14 to 15 ounce can
2 cups garbanzo beans, drained
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch cube

1 cup fresh cilantro , minced as garnish ( chopped fresh Italian parsley may
   be substituted for those who dislike cilantro and feel it has a soapy taste.
   I love cilantro now, but must admit my first encounter with it in my youth 
   was unenthusiastic) .

1. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the curry powder (or Balti  seasoning). Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. Brown chicken in frying pan over medium heat, ten minutes each side.  Remove most of the oil in the pan, leaving enough to sauté the onions( or shallots ) .  Add the garlic after five minutes and sauté another three minutes. 
Deglaze the pan with a cup of water .
3. Return the chicken to the pan, then all the rest of the ingredients, except for the sweet potato and cilantro.
4.  Add enough water to mostly cover the chicken.  Bring to boil, then turn down to simmer, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Then add the sweet potatoes, cover, and simmer again for another 20 or 25 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.  Transfer to serving bowl, sprinkle with chopped cilantro.  Serve over rice.  Basmati works beautifully with the Balti curry.

Roasted Apple Sauce
      One of Papa's dishes.  A sort of apple pie without the crust or guilt, if you are so inclined.  Need I say, gluten free?
Recipe for Roasted Apple Sauce

3 pounds apples ( variety of crisp good eating apples works well, such as 
   Golden Delicious, Jonagolds, Pippins, or Galas)
Pitch of salt (do not omit, seems to make a difference .
Up to a Tablespoon of sugar, if needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

1. Cut the apples into quarters after peeling and coring them.
2. If apples are quite sweet, no sugar is needed.  Toss the apples with the pinch of salt.
3.Spread the apples in a shallow baking dish, trying for a single layer.
4. Dot with small pieces of butter.
5.Cover with aluminum foil tightly. 
6. Bake in oven (preheated to 375 degrees) until apples begin to soften, approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
7. Remove foil (careful it can be steamy),turn oven heat up to 500 degrees and return pan to oven, uncovered.  Bake for another 10 or 15 minutes until apples have dried out and have a bit of color. 
8.Put apples in a bowl,can stir them a bit to make a bit of a chunky mash.  May also add a bit more sugar if desired.

Note:  today papa made the dish for a friend who cannot eat sugar, so he left it out completely.  It was delicious hot.  Yummy warm too.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Armenian leeks and rice

Enjoying the summer bounty with ease 

Long time no see.  But this summer has been a great time for the easy, healthy dishes we so love.  This dish is great with fish or grilled meets.  A great side dish and fast too. I was reminded of how yummy this recipe is last week when our son called me for the recipe, remembering from summers with grandma in california.
           Enjoy, mama metafora

Mom's Armenian leeks and rice
       A great summer side to eat at room temperature or cold
       Prep time:10 minutes       cooking time:20minutes.  
2 tablespoons olive oil
I medium leek
1/2 cup rice (I used basmati )
3/4 cup diced tomatoes -canned fine, though August tomatoes are wonderful
Salt and pepper to taste (3/4 teas. Salt.  Aleppo or other hottish pepper if  
I cup water
Fresh squeezed lemon, to your taste.  Optional
Rinse leek, then cut in 1/4 inch slices .  When reaching the green part cut a bit wider and use only about half of green, up to what looks really edible.
Put in bowl and soak in cold water , changing water until all sand is out.(in recent years leeks seem to be less full of dirt or sand) . Strain and pat dry with paper towels or spin in salad spinner.
Warm medium large frying pan( with lid), add olive oil and leeks.  Sauté for about five minutes .  Add rice and sauté a few minutes more, stirring a few times.  Add chopped tomatoes, water, and seasonings.  Bring to boil.  Turn down heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 20 minutes.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Some fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 1/2 of a lemon, gives it that Armenian touch.