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Savoring the Seasons

Savoring the Seasons: Feast your eyes


One of the joys of my work as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College is writing about the talented students, faculty, and staff that make GCC such a community treasure. One of those students is Susan Valentine.

Remember that name. In a few years, when she’s become a national art phenomenon, you can say, “Susan lives in my community, I first saw her paintings when she was a student at GCC. I remember her recipe for mushroom soup.”

I wrote a “GCC Page” article in February about Susan after she’d been recognized in “Artist Magazine’s” national art competition for “Daylily 2,” a painting she created less than two years after she started painting.

I emailed my friends a digital image of “Daylily 2” and heard back immediately with as many variations on “Wow! That’s fantastic!” as you can imagine. My enthusiasm for Susan’s art started with just seeing her website and interviewing her on the phone for that GCC Page article. Check out Susan’s paintings at www.susanvalentineart.com/gallery.html or www.facebook.com/susanvalentineart.

Remember all those variations of “Wow! That’s fantastic!” my friends said when they saw the image of “Daylily 2”?

If you’d been standing in the painting studio at GCC last week, you would have heard even more variations coming out of my mouth as I stood gazing at the powerful new Hydrangea series Susan is working on now.

Susan is too humble to let me gush with appreciation the whole time we were chatting in the GCC studio. I learned about her painting process, and, as with many great conversations, we talked about food. The recipe for mushroom soup Susan had just enjoyed can be found below.

Want to see Susan’s paintings in person? Mark April 18 to May 10 on your calendar and go to the Student Art Show in the South Gallery at GCC’s main campus. The Show’s O pening is 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, April 18. I’ll be there, feasting my eyes, and hearing more variations on “Wow!”

This week we’re eating. . .



By Susan Valentine, Leverett

Since I started painting (read: since I no longer have a moment of spare time) I try to cook only a couple of times a week and just serve leftovers. This soup was a departure from that (though it did work for lunch the next day, too), but it was pretty quick and simple.

Lots of mushrooms, diced (In winter, I use Portabellas. Summer brings foraged varieties from farmers markets which add more interesting textures and flavors)

Handful of cook’s favorite dried mushrooms

1 diced sweet potato

1 diced large yellow onion

4C. milk, from Upinngil (or High Lawn or other milk from grass-fed cows) (it works well with no or low fat just as well as high test)

1 diced red pepper

1 T. ghee

1 T. herbed olive oil

1 T. White Buffalo Herbs Spicy Daily Dash (http://whitebuffaloherbs.com)

3 T. corn starch

Salt to taste

This recipe’s quantities are approximate, at best. I go for whatever feels right at the time. Sauté veggies in olive oil and ghee until onions are transparent. Dissolve corn starch into milk and add that. Stir until thick and let it set for 10 minutes before serving.

Herbed Olive Oil: As many organic, savory herbs grown in your garden or can get in the market go into a half gallon tin of Filippo Berio Virgin Olive Oil. Add to that 8 cloves of your best garlic and at least as many Kalamata olives. Let it infuse for two weeks, then pour it off into bottles or jars. If you leave herbs in the bottles “because it’s pretty” it just turns a gooey, unattractive color, which I assume is mold’s way of growing in oil, within a month or so. For gifts, you can get pretty bottles and just leave an olive or two and a clove of garlic behind.

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