Who Is Anastasia?

My photo
New Castle, Indiana Zone 5, United States
When I was 55, I decided to embrace the things I love and hold precious and dear - regardless of anyone else's thoughts and opinion. I am a folk artist who loves flowers - my own flowers, grown by me. I love good, hearty, exotic foods, and I love to prepare them myself. I love the secret garden situated in my backyard, regardless of how junky it gets. No longer able to afford a vacation, this will have to be it for the time being. In the winter months, I still enjoy it. Anyway, here I am sharing my art, favorite recipes, cocktails, gardening tips, and just my usual vents and bantering. After all, I'm old enough to say whatever the heck I want to now ... Oh, the two pictures below are NOT of my garden, although the one with the pink French doors looks very much like the backyard I grew up with. I am searching for pictures of that wonderful place and will post soon.

JEWELS OF MY SOUL

JEWELS OF MY SOUL
My Book Available on AMAZON

Stacey Torres ART Prints

Stacey Torres ART Prints
A very limited selection of reproductions from my paintings can be found here

July 31, 2009

Old Fashioned Tips: Friday Recipes: Peaches

Old Fashioned Tips: Friday Recipes: Peaches

Surprises in the Garden Today










As always, I never know when SURPRISE LILIES are going to pop-up in my garden. I don't even remember planting the one lone bulb that came up four years ago. Today, there are 20 or more, standing proudly among a few Daylilies and Petunias. Across the tiny path is a mound of Blackeyed Susan and Purple Coneflowers, snuggled up in their bed.

End of July Blues


August is almost here, and once again I am faced with the fact that yet again, I've missed the summer. So many life events have occurred in my life this summer, that I was unable to enjoy the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. This week it was damp and rainy; much like October. A warm and hearty meal was in order that would make me think I was at a seaside resort, basking in the sun and being catered to ... hmmm. Here goes:

New England Cod & Scallop Casserole
Makes 4 servings.

1 pint fresh scallops, rinsed and trimmed
1/2 lb. fresh cod
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 can cream of shrimp soup
1 can heavy cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Pepper Jack cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Saute the cod in a little bit of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper until golden. Drain on a paper towel and set aside, reserving butter/oil drippings.
In a shallow saucepan, cover scallops with water, add seasonings, and boil gently until scallops begin to shrivel, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, saving the water, and set scallops aside. In the same pan, add the pan drippings and blend in flour to make a roux; add more butter, if needed. Stir in 1 cup scallop liquid, then the 2 tablespoons of Parmesan + the Pepper Jack + the Cheddar cheeses, soup and the cream. Add scallops and cod and pour into a buttered dish. Top with bread crumbs and the 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

July 25, 2009

Isn't She Lovely?


Isn’t She Lovely?

The first tomato of the season – well, at least in my garden. I’ve been watching this baby for weeks, and finally decided to pick her this morning. Every year I grow tomatoes in containers – all types of containers, including planters, paint buckets, barrels, old pots, watering cans, even a baby cradle. I do this for a few reasons; one, I don’t dig – ever – so, all of my garden beds are raised beds. I plant via the lasagna method of layering. But, I plant my vegetables in containers above the ground so they are easy for me to tend to, to keep the rabbits, as well as my dog, out. They usually do very well.

This year I was cheap. I crowded two tomato plants and two pepper plants in each planter. I even planted morning glory and sunflower seeds in some of those planters. If you’re even remotely familiar with those two, they both can have tremendous root systems, and the morning glory likes to cuddle a bit too much. But, my little tomato plants thrived; they just would not grow tall. Each plant has approximately five to seven tomatoes. This morning, this little darling was aglow with a deep, rich blush. She winked at me, and said, “Pick me, sweetie …” So, I did.

Do you love tomatoes as much as I do? I can no longer stomach the dull, boring pink mush in the grocery stores. I love the sweet acidic taste of the old fashioned heirloom tomatoes. Don’t ask me what kind this is; I don’t know. The seedling was given to me as a gift. The fruit is small; but slightly larger than a cherry tomato.

Imagine the possibilities of a luscious, truly vine-ripe tomato! Since she’s so small, I thought a Tomato Sandwich was in order. So, here are a couple of ideas:

Broiled Tomato Sandwich
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 slice Bermuda onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup sliced ripe olives, drained
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese, divided
4 slices bread, barely toasted
Preheat oven to broil.
Whisk together the oil, onion, vinegar, olives and garlic. Add the tomatoes and let them get to know one another for about an hour, stir them up when needed. In a bowl, blend mayo, parsley, oregano, black pepper and 4 teaspoons Parmesan Reggiano. Spread on each slice of bread, the place marinated tomatoes on 2 slices and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Broil for 5 minutes on a baking sheet until cheese turns golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

After Work Tomato Sandwich

2 slices of white sandwich bread (the kind your mom put in your lunch box)
2 tablespoons of mayo or salad dressing
3 thick slices of beefsteak tomato
Assemble and Eat Rapidly!

July 23, 2009

DIY: Oil Cloth Dog Raincoat


DIY: Oil Cloth Dog Raincoat

Posted using ShareThis

What a fun and cute project for the cold rainy season ahead!

July 22, 2009

Stay-Inside-Ribs


I am told that today is the coldest day on record in Indiana for this date; the high MAY reach 70, and it's been raining since 4 a.m. Cold, damp, nasty, it feels like mid-September ... or worse, October.
But, it's only July, and I want some ribs! After all, it is barbecue season isn't it? I don't have the luxury of a covered patio (my little peach tree is not quite big enough to give shelter and shade yet), so grilling out in the rain just isn't practical. What do you think about some stay-inside-ribs; done in the oven? Yeaaaahhhh!
Well, here's an oldie, but definitely goody ... remember The Joy of Cooking? This recipe was adapted from that good old book. I found it on RecipeZaar, and of course, I re-adapted it to my taste. This is what we call, "Bonin'" ...

OVEN BAKED BBQ RIBS
SERVES 6

4 lbs country-style pork ribs
1 1/2 cups favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup pomegranate juice
1 vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (NOT minced, so don't go mincin' any)
1 tsp habanero sauce
1/4 cup bourbon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Arrange ribs in 9x13 baking dish and top with sliced onions.
Whisk together BBQ sauce, habanero sauce, and pomegranate and orange juices, bourbon and garlic, and pour sauce over ribs and onions.
Cover dish tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil and bake for three hours.
uncover, increase oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for one hour longer, turning once after 30 minutes.
Remove ribs to a warm platter, cover and let stand for 15 minutes.
Spoon fat off the sauce and serve with the ribs.

Now Bone!

July 20, 2009

Maupin Roots Growing in My Garden























I almost forgot, about five years ago I found a new rose bush called Hopie Girl - it's the only one that has been faithful in my garden. It's not very big, pale yellow, and always there for me! I planted her in honor of the grandmother I never knew. I bet she looked like this rose!

HOPIE GIRL HYBRID TEA ROSE: A NEW CERTIFIED ROSE - An ever changing yellow that opens to a deep yellow and blushes to a soft cream. Flowers have up to 40 petals and a light fragrance with good disease resistance. Hopie Girl is a non phototropic exhibition Hybrid tea. With proper pruning it can easily reach well over 6 feet in warmer climates. Fall is the best time of year for this rose.

Maupin Roots Can't Die











Something amazing happened to me this past Saturday. Well, first, let me back up; there's some history here. I often refer to my late stepfather as my Dad, because that's what he was/is to me. My birth father left my mother when I was five years old, and although through the years, she and my family never spoke ill of him - in front of me, I knew there was resentment -- I often wondered about him. Comments were made like, "you're just like your father!" ... "you're as stubborn as a Missouri Mule! (his birthplace)" ... "You look like the Maupins, you look just like your father" All of these things were true, but still I wondered where he was and how he lived. He was a career military man, and I would dream he was off in some faraway land, taking romantic war photos. All I knew was his name was Bill Maupin and his mother's name was Hopie, who supposedly lived in a small house with a garden and chickens, right in the center of the campus of the University of Missouri. I never met Hopie, but always dreamed of what my fraternal grandmother was like; I had no clue! My father was clearly ashamed of his past, and did not like to talk about it. One amusing story I recollect was of Hopie mailing my mother some eggs from her chickens - just mailed them - my father was so embarrassed and angry, he grabbed the box and stuffed the mess in the trash. When I heard the story, the family laughed about it; I, on the other hand, thought it was a very tender and thoughtful act.

I found my father in a very unusual situation. It seems, I had a brother; a real live brother. You have to know, I was raised as an only child in an extended household in Queens, NY. This home consisted of my mother and I (and my father, when he was still there), my maternal grandparents, and my Aunt Thelma, my mother's sister, who had an apartment upstairs. It never occurred to me that I had a sibling. Ray Maupin is my older half brother. In 1974, he came into my life, announced that he was my brother, and he had been looking for me most of his adult life. There was no disputing his claim, because he looked and acted just like me! He also looked and acted exactly like my father, Bill. Ray said my father was in a VA hospital in Manhattan and wanted to see me. It was up to him to bring us together. Reluctantly, I went to see him. The reunion was the most awkward, bittersweet thing I've ever imagined. The 6'5" cigar chewing man was strangely the way I remembered the last time I'd seen him 15 years earlier. Finally, I was able to look into that face that everyone said was mine. No doubt, true enough. I was his.
Over the years, I wondered what this reunion would be like; I always knew it would come. I thought I'd seen him countless times in the subway, driving to the beach or in a store. And, once in the audience of a theatre where I was onstage briefly for one night - I caught a glimpse of a man I believed to be him. I imagined I would be angry, bitter. I really wasn't -- I was curiously unfeeling, and experienced an odd feeling of power, peering down into the face of the man I once called "Daddy," aging before my eyes -- a man begging for the love and affection of his daughter, yet still bathed in the arrogant cavalier manner he was known for. Yep, I was just like him, and he was now 60, and I was 20.
I also learned of a sister who lived with her mother Willa Belle Scott, in Detroit. Virginia (a/k/a "Ginger"), also older than I, was born with brain damage and had some mental disabilities. Gazing at photos of her (Ray had archived everything he knew about us, and brought albums), I again looked into my face. My heart held four solid lumps, one for me, one for my father, one for Ray and then Ginger. Who were we, and where did we come from?
Oddly enough, the first person I called back home in Indiana to tell about my discovery was my "Dad" - my stepdad, Lewis Poindexter. He and I had a rocky start when my mother married him. I was 14, he was 33, at the time, and the culture shock of moving from NYC to rural Indiana was just ridiculous! But, he's the one I reached out to and told. When I moved back to Indiana, a few years later, he took me to Ponderosa for steak, and we talked about Bill. That is when my bond with my "Dad" was cemented.
Over the next year, I forged a relationship with Bill, although I felt it was strained, I wanted him in my life. But the year with him was weird. He would take me places, buy me things, and frequently had me over to his apartment that he shared with his new common law wife named Doris, and a very nasty Dalmation named Gaylord, who liked to pee off of their 25th floor balcony to the street below. Doris was very nice; but I kept feeling she was in the way. My feelings for Bill were twisted and warped. One minute I loved him; the next I was angry for him leaving us; and sometimes I was cruel in my thoughts, trying to see what I could get from him to make up for the past. Of course, you can't make the past up; it's simply that, the past. Gone forever.
On my 21st birthday, he gave me 21 silver dollars, and Doris loaned me a mink stole to take on a cruise with my Aunt Thelma. As usual, he acted as if nothing had changed; as if he had been there all those years. I asked him about Hopie, but he would never answer me.
At some point during the year, he moved to Kansas to live near Ray. I did not realize my father was dying. He suffered from narcolepsy all his life, and even exhibited it when he was with me, falling asleep at stoplights, in the middle of conversations. At the VA Hospital at Ft. Leavenworth, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, where he died in October of 1975.
It was then that my heart began an overhaul. This is when the true anger, resentment and bitterness began to swell inside. I only had him for one year!
Ray tried so hard to remain in touch with me, calling, visiting, sending cards and pictures of his many children. But, it was hard for me. I was afraid of reconnecting, and perhaps losing again. He often asked me about our family; if I knew anything. I knew nothing. And, eventually I lost touch with Ray. I tried often to find him, but never could. Every now and then I would "google" his name or Bill's name; even Hopie's name - looking for a clue ... nothing.

This past Saturday, I googled my father's name one last time, and an unusual link popped up. It was from a post on Rootsweb.com. Apparently, there had been a Maupin reunion last year. I sent an email and asked if anyone knew anything about my family. And wonders of wonders, I received a message back within the hour. A gentleman named "W.A.", from Kansas City, had a "bit of information" ... All I wanted to know was Hopie's name and perhaps my grandfather's. What Mr. "A" advised me (so far) has been mind blowing!
Hopie Ramsey Maupin (my grandmother), b. 1887, married William H. Maupin on Dec. 23, 1911. They had three children; George, b. 1905; Julia, b. 1913; and William (my father), b. 1914.
Hopie had a brother named Henry Wright Ramsey, b. 1872, who never married, and died of liver cancer in 1926. They are the children of Martha Wright Ramsey, b. 1832.
Martha (my great grandmother) was married to Jerry Ramsey. She died on June 11, 1930 from complications from Bronchial Asthma (a condition I have suffered from since birth). Martha Ramsey was the daughter of Melinda Jameson (my great great grandmother), possibly (1808-1850), a slave.

Apparently, Mr. "A" is an expert on the Maupin family, as he himself is a Maupin as well - only he is Caucasian. He explained that most of the Black Maupins did not survive, and he has been interested in that branch of the family for decades. He started climbing the family tree in the 70's. He also also advised that he had found a death certificate for a man named "Boston Maupin," but cannot find any links to him. He somehow keeps thinking he is my ancestor. If this is the case, Ray and I are the missing links - Boston may have been a freed slave, and it is likely that Maupin was the owner's surname.

A couple of years ago a young soldier was missing in Iraq by the name of Keith "Matt" Maupin. I remember how I kept staring at his picture, and once again, I saw my face ... only, he, like Mr. "A", was Caucasian. But, I know deep inside, somewhere, we shared the same blood. When his remains were finally found, I cried for days.
Mr. "A" is continuing on his search to help me find and know where I come from, and I continue to search for Ray and his family. I know this story isn't all that interesting to everyone. We all have our journeys. But, in light of things happening in my life lately -- all the sadness, depression and frustrations, etc. This news has brought so much happiness and relief to me. Saturday was a great, great day!
And the plot thickens ...

July 16, 2009

a bit more sunshine




Well, Angelica was 21 on Tuesday. We had a lovely time on Sunday with a fun gathering around the kitchen table with loads of treats, gourmet snacks and a fabulous Italian Chocolate Mousse Cake!!!! However, my cupcakes were also a hit (all the young girls thought they'd be less fattening than the chocolate ... yeah, right!). I ended up making 21 Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes.

The recipe is so simple. It starts with Duncan Hines Lemon (Supreme) Cake Mix. Instead of water, to the batter, I added a cup of (thawed) Frozen Lemonade Concentrate; 3 jumbo eggs; oil and a bit of lemon zest, and a tablespoon of Raspberry Jell-O, swirled in the batter to form a marble effect. The frosting was simply Duncan Hines Lemon (Supreme) Frosting, blended with 2 tablespoons of Lemon Jell-O and 2 tablespoons of Raspberry Jell-O - blend with a fork to give a marbleised effect. The frosting was piped around the edge of the cupcake, topped with a large, fresh raspberry. I have to admit, it was bliss!

Her surgery on Wednesday went "well" ... it's a matter of wait and see, but she's strong, optimistic and so very lovely! Will post pics soon.

July 8, 2009

sunlight in the rain


I have a stepdaughter who will be 21 on the 14th of July. On the 15th of July, she will be facing surgery for cancer - not her first. We will celebrate her birthday with a party on Sunday, and I will be taking her cupcakes; I don't know what else to do ... in the midst of the morning rain today, I saw this; this lemon yellow orienpet (lily) that has not bloomed in two summers. Think I'll make her lemon cupcakes. Who wouldn't want that?

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot

The Backyard --Today's Vacation Spot
A simple garden meal in the shade. No, it's not my backyard, but it looks identical to the one I grew up with at our home in Queens. Looking for an original pic of it to post soon!

Old Fashioned Tips