Countdown to All Hallow’s Eve

Blue Ribbon Cherry Tart Recipe

Cherry Tart What to do when the cherry tree in your back yard—the one that hasn’t had a good crop of cherries in years—suddenly has a bumper crop of the smallest, tartest cherries you’ve ever tasted? You can do what I did, and wait until the cherries are absolutely ripe, and then pick as many as you can. After pitting them (a cherry pitter is the only single-use gadget I allow in my kitchen!) they freeze well for later use. When you’re ready to use them, simply take the container out of the freezer and let them defrost overnight or all day in the refrigerator. The cherries will have macerated in their own juice. Once drained they’re perfect for this tart or any cherry pie—not too wet. But don’t throw out that precious juice! Use it to make a delicious cherry glaze that will make this tart sparkle.

The beauty of this recipe is that all of the components are prepared separately. Once combined, the layer of chocolate will prevent the pastry cream from making the crust soggy. It’s this contrast of flavors and textures of flaky crust, smooth sweet pastry cream and tart cherries that make this a winner.

This tart is based on several different recipes, combining the best attributes of all of them. For the crust, you can use any sweetened, enriched pie crust recipe (for heaven’s sake, please don’t use a store-bought crust). The vodka or gin (you can use any neutral grain spirit) is the secret for making the flakiest crust—it provides the moisture necessary for rolling out the dough, but it evaporates quickly in the oven, leaving no detectable alcohol or flavor. The recipe adapts well to any berry; try strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

Download the printable recipe here, or continue reading for the online version.

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Every painting tells a story

Working in an art museum allows me to plumb the depths of the collection in a way that would be difficult, if not impractical, for most visitors. While we certainly encourage visitors to pursue their own academic interests arising from what they’ve seen (the Barnes’ art library is free and open to the public during business hours), sometimes the artwork Dr. Barnes collected is fascinating for the stories behind it, rather than the work’s formal qualities. Such is the case with a painting that can be seen in Gallery 23, by Tilly Losch. It’s a fun story to tell, and I’ve chosen to turn it into a Prezi presentation which you can view below. 

This is a rough draft— the real story is so much more detailed than appropriate for a short Prezi— and I haven’t yet drawn up the bibliography which I intend to do, but art geeks should get a kick out of this. 

Best watched in full screen mode. Advance at your own pace by using your keyboard’s arrow keys, or the onscreen arrows. 

30 Day De-Clutter Challenge: Day 26

De-Clutter Challenge: Day 26

Day 26

Woo hoo! Only four more days to go! How’s your own de-cluttering going?

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Mail Art – January 30, 1990: Larry Angelo


Mail art from Larry Angelo Mail art from Larry Angelo

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Mail Art – April 16, 1987: Jon Held, Jr.

Jon Held, Jr. was something of a big-shot in the mail art world. It was just a coincidence that he lived in the same city I did. It’s interesting to note that Duchamp became one of my favorite figures in Art History, and I now live in Philadelphia, where many of Duchamp’s most famous pieces reside (including his Large Glass, which can be seen in the stamps Jon sent me.)


Mail art by Jon Held, Jr.


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Mail Art – January 5, 1985: Rosalie

Mail art from Rosalie to Mr. X

For a short time before I was known as The Lava Guy, my mail art pseudonym was “Mister X”. Continue reading

Archive Dive: Object for Imagining


Object for imagining, 1997. Found object of weathered wood, iron, plastic. 1997

While living in Scotland on the coast of the North Sea, I often collected pieces of weathered driftwood like this. Many of them were incorporated into small boxes, and sculptures a lá Joseph Cornell (1903-1972) whose work I admire. Unfortunately, none of those assemblages survive, as I was not able to ship them home with me. This is the only piece small enough to return with me.

Archive Dive: The Lavaguy Origin Story

Creation and Destruction

I love origin stories. Genesis. Adam and Eve. The Big Bang. The Epic of Gilgamesh. Frankenstein. This is the Lavaguy origin story.

I’ve had the nickname of “the Lavaguy” for over 25 years now. I used to get asked questions about the origin of the nickname so frequently, that I had some cards printed up (circa 1993):

Lavaguy card (circa 1993)

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30 Day De-Clutter Challenge: Day 25

De-Clutter Challenge: Day 25

Day 25

More stuff from the filing cabinet. I’m beginning to view that filing cabinet as a black hole that sucks in every bit of paper that gets too near it.

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