Past, Present, and Future!
Gary Dawson Designs is very pleased to announce the launch of two new products, both now in production and sitting pretty in the available now page on the site. The development of the Janus charm is detailed my last blog post. The Greek God Janus, brought into contemporary consciousness via the movie “The Tourist” with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie has come to have special meaning to me personally as the God of new beginnings and portals. Janus is a two-faced persona, but the meaning is not that of duplicity, as one might assume. The ancient symbolism is that of being in the moment of change, looking both back to the history that brought one into a particular moment and to the future that this moment of change (or new beginning) will bring. And as the beautiful irony of chaos would have it, that’s just what this site represents to me. I look to the future with great pleasure as I watch this site grow into the vision that we had for it and attract new friends and clients. And interestingly, I had a recent opportunity to revisit my history with the two most important catalysts in my very early beginnings as a designer/goldsmith.
Dave, the guy on the left, is the fellow that first talked me into taking a jewelry class as I wound my way through a liberal arts degree at the University of Oregon. Dave introduced me to Pat, the guy on the right, as he and I set up our first studio in Pat’s garage. Dave is now a wine distributor near Boston, and Pat lives nearby here in Eugene. He and I mountaineer together frequently. Pat and I hadn’t seen Dave in some 30 odd years when he called me up to say he was unexpectedly here on business and was sitting in a local tavern with just a couple of hours to spare. Needless to say, I called Pat, we dropped what we were doing and went to quaff a brew with our old friend. The couple of spare hours turned into a butterfly-grilled leg of lamb with an awesome mushroom risotto and an overnight at my house with Dave eventually sleeping in my tipi.
Dave put the risotto together while I tended the lamb with thyme and lemon marinade and lots of hickory smoke. But that evening is a whole other story!
I developed this other piece, the grape cluster, in my association with the Umpqua Valley Winegrower’s Association and their event, The Greatest of the Grape. An annual event to which I am usually invited as an artist.
Sterling Silver Grape Cluster with chain...$123 includes shipping!
I am proud to offer both of these new production pieces at what I think are very reasonable prices in both Sterling silver and any gold alloy of your choosing. And I am enormously grateful for the full history of my evolution and the bright future that stands before me as we evolve this site into fruition.
Coupla neat new projects…
This first project illustrates the evolution of a custom, hand-carved pendant or charm. In this case, a client that likes the work he sees on my website approached me with the idea of re-creating the bracelet that Angelina Jolie fondled while dining with Johnny Depp in the movie “The Tourist”. Apparently the client’s wife had fallen in love with either the movie or the symbolism of the charm, which featured the Greek God, Janus; God of beginnings and portals. Heck, why not? I’m not one to “rip off” a design idea but I like the symbolism of the Janus charm myself, and I’m pretty sure that whatever patent the Greeks may have had on the image of their God has expired long ago. And since I was interested in reproducing the project, discussions with the client led me to reduce my normal custom fee to him and go through a couple of extra steps so that I can continue to produce this or some minor variation of it in silver or gold. Red Box provided the movie and I was off and running.
First thing was to slab some carving wax and rough out the image…
Then add some detail…
From this finished carving I made a mold from which I could work to add the remaining detail of the charm as pictured in the movie. The charm in the movie had beading around the edge and a red gem on the back side. Here’s the finished wax model with beading…
The rough casting…
And the finished pendant…
In this case we selected a peridot for the back because it was the client’s wife’s birthstone. This product has become available for purchase on this website, here!
This next project came from London…through the client’s vacation in Italy! It’s fun working with people from all over the world. This is a color suite of corundum (sapphire and ruby) with a diamond. This project is also executed in 18K yellow gold.
Sorry to Spoil You…
Meat loaf may not have much to do with handmade custom jewelry but (despite what you may be thinking) it can have everything to do with excellence…and there’s the connection.
I have this friend; call her a close friend. Actually, the same friend of the previously mentioned food fight. She grew up vegetarian but at some point in her life decided that she was going to eat meat. One could almost say that now she’s an animal protein advocate, especially if bacon is involved. Not that animal protein is the only kind of protein that she eats, I’ve had some very excellent Tempeh dishes that she’s prepared and we’ve shared many meals of many types and enjoyed them all…from vegan to vegetarian to downright meaty.
I’m not sure how our conversation got onto meat loaf but if memory serves we were eating a meal at my house of skirt steak with Chimichurri, roasted herbed potatoes and grilled peppers with steamed brocolli. The geopolitical origin of most of that meal is Argentina, a place that I’ve been scheming to visit for a long time and it’s one of my staple meals. We were discussing food as we often do, along with our passion for food and maybe life in general. I think wine may have been involved though it was likely an Oregon local. We have pretty good wines here in Oregon, especially if you like the Vitis vinifera grape but that’s another story. Her 8 yr. old son was participating in the discussion and when meat loaf came up, he seemed interested as an adventurous sort that hadn’t yet experienced meat loaf of any type. She however, turned up her nose a bit. My own kids smiled in a knowing silence when I promised the boy I would soon make him meat loaf and make a believer out of his mom as well. I had a secret.
And I wasn’t going to give the details of the recipe I use but when I did a search for Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Meatloaf from his cookbook “Louisiana Kitchen”, I found over 9,160 references, many of which already share the recipe. So I guess I’m ok sharing it here. My recommendation however is buy the book. This isn’t the only truly great recipe within the pages of my battered and stained copy.
Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Meatloaf
2 medium bay leaves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup ketchup
1½ pounds. ground beef
½ pound Ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cups very fine dry bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Combine the seasoning mix in a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture starts sticking extensively, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the saucepan frequently. Stir in the milk and ketchup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to return to room temperature.
Place the ground beef and pork in an ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan. Add the eggs, the cooked veggie mixture (removing the bay leaves) and the bread crumbs. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. In the center of the pan, shape the mixture into a loaf that is about 1½” high, 6″ wide and 12″ long.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then raise the heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking until done, about 35 minutes longer.
Now, there’s no reason why you can’t serve the meatloaf just as it is here, but Chef Prudhomme recommends, and I second it, that a good accompaniment for this dish is his “Very Hot Cajun Sauce for Beef” from the same cookbook. I took the time to prepare this also.
Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Very Hot Cajun Sauce for Beef
This sauce is excellent with Cajun Meat Loaf (above).
3/4 cup chopped onions
1-1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 bay leaves
1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers (see Note)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups beef stock
Note: Fresh jalapenos are preferred; if you have to use pickled ones, rinse as much vinegar from them as possible. Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a small bowl and set aside while you start the roux. (Note: Unlike the roux in most other recipes, the roux we use here is light brown. Therefore, instead of heating the oil to the smoking stage, we heat it to only 250ƒ – this prevents the roux from getting too brown.) In a heavy 2-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium-low heat to about 250ƒ With a metal whisk, whisk in the flour a little at a time until smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly; until roux is light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to let the roux scorch or splash on your skin. Remove from heat and with a spoon immediately stir in the vegetable mixture and the red, white and black peppers; return pan to high heat and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaves, jalapeno peppers and garlic, stirring well. Continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (We’re cooking the seasonings and vegetables in the light roux and the mixture should, therefore, be pasty.) Remove from heat. In a separate 2-quart saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the mix mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce reduces to 3-1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Skim any oil from the top and serve immediately.
As it turned out, and despite many cool and rainy weekends here in Oregon early this summer the day we planned for this was sunny and hot. Not a bad thing for Cajun food, necessarily, but I wasn’t particularly anxious to fire up my Wolf on that hot day. So playing the innovator and really preferring almost any food with a smoky flavor I did this in my Kettle grill.