Found Frame Part One: A New Classic

A while back I found this picture sitting next to a neighbour’s recycling bin on one of my early-morning dog walks. I picked it up because the frame itself was HUGE and made of solid wood (it weighed a TON) and I thought it would make a great frame for a nice mirror some time. But that will be a matter of finding a mirror to fit the frame, so that’s a post for another day. After staring at it for a while, I kind of started to like the picture that was in the frame, as well. There’s a rural Canadiana vibe to it that appeals to me.

Found Frame Part 1 1

And this wouldn’t be the first mystery painting my family has picked up and invented a story about. Unfortunately any identifying cards on the back have long since fallen off, but we have this signature to go on.

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The frame for the canvas itself had come apart and so the picture was damaged in the corner, but it was nothing I couldn’t fix myself. You can’t really screw up a painting that you found in the garbage, right?

Found Frame Part 1 3

So I loosened the nails and popped the canvas out of the frame. The frame itself will wait for another day.

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You can see that the stretchers have come apart here (you can also see where some sort of card was taped to the inside of the canvas, probably detailing who the artist was or information about the scene painted). The wood has also warped a bit so I suspect this is an older injury.

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I did some cack-handed hammering and got a bit overzealous with the staple gun, but the frame held together after a while.

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Of course the picture itself was FILTHY. I mean I found it in the garbage. Also any painting sitting around someone’s house for any length of time is going to be covered with all sorts of grease and ick. It’s just a fact. Now if this was something done in oils or it was worth anything, I would not have dreamed of touching it. I would have taken it to a professional and they would have cleaned it with spit (literally, I’m not joking) and gotten it all up to snuff.

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But this was an acrylic painting of an unknown vintage by an unknown painter. And I found it in the garbage. So I used some Method all-purpose cleaner to get the first layer of grease off. DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU PAID MONEY FOR YOUR PICTURE.

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I was hoping to remove the yellow stains on the paint itself, but then I started to realize that the painter actually meant for those to be there.

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This other greasy goo on the other hand was better off left on my cleaning cloth. I know: GROSS.

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I also deduced at one point that someone had wrapped this painting in newspaper, as this appeared after a bit of cleaning:

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I also decided to try to lighten some of the age yellowing with some lemon juice, and I think it helped a bit.

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The nice solid frame had an extra frame piece nailed to its innards and rather than build/find a new frame for my brand new free piece of art I decided to pop it out of its moorings and use it.

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It was only held in place with a few finishing nails after all, which were easy enough to remove.

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It did need a good cleaning and sanding, however.

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After that, I painted it. I decided to go with a blue frame to complement the blue in the mountains in the background and also to counteract some of the yellowing in the picture itself.

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I used some small nails to wedge the canvas back into the smaller frame.

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And I attached hanging hardware to the canvas stretchers, as they stuck out farther than the frame insert.

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Then I hung it. I am quite fond of it at this point, and it fills a lovely spot in my basement that gets a lot of light in the afternoons.

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You have to look pretty closely to see that this was the damaged corner.

 

I would normally not hang anything of value in this spot because it would fade in the sun but this was free, so I’m not concerned what happens to it.

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O Canada: Quebec Three Bean Soup with Bannock

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When you type in searches for French-Canadian soups on the internet you get a plethora of results.  “Plethora” is one of my favourite words.  That and the Spanish “desafortunadamente,” which gets me every time.

Jess sent me this beauty, passed down from the Iroquois nation.  I decided, however, that the ingredients were slightly too close to the hodgepodge I made earlier, and I want to give you guys some variety.

There are also a ton of recipes out there for a yellow split pea soup that is quintessentially French-Canadian.  Turn the peas green and you get pea soup from the Maritimes.  Thicken it up a little and steam it in a wee bag and you get pease pudding from the Atlantic.

I dislike all pea soups.  Sorry.  You won’t see one here.

If you happen to Google “French-Canadian bean soup” you get further interesting results.  Apparently, Arthur Flegenheimer (who went by the name of Dutch Schultz), was a rum-runner and all-out nasty mobster during Prohibition in the US in the early part of the 20th century (as a bit of Canadiana for you, pretty much all the contraband booze smuggled onto American soil during that time came from Canada, which wasn’t really into teetotalling).  Anyway, while using the men’s room at a New Jersey hotel, Schultz was repeatedly shot.  It took him about two and a half hours to die of his wounds, and when the police arrived to arrest the dying man, one of the officers recorded his words.  One sentence involved “French-Canadian bean soup.”  Who knew?  These words have been turned into all sorts of literature, most notably that of Hunter S. Thompson.  Weird stuff.

But we’re making soup here, not discussing books.

I cobbled together a recipe from here, here, and also from Jess’s suggestion above.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

First, I got myself some local fall vegetables, some sweet potatoes and an acorn squash.  Use whatever squash you like.  Or none at all.  Soups are pretty fluid, both conceptually and literally.  Ha.  Ha.

Slice up your squash and remove the seeds.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Slice up some sweet potato too.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Roast them until they’re browning at the edges and fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Remember to flip them every once in a while.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Meanwhile, drain and rinse 3 cans of beans.  I used romano, white kidney, and chickpea.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) seem to be consistent throughout these recipes, so I would make sure to use that one.  But other people use cannelini beans and lima beans and whatever else they have on hand.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up an onion.  I have two halves of a red and a white so I’m going with that one.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Chuck the onion in a large saucepan with some minced garlic and some dried herbs, such as basil, and sauté until tender.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up some carrots and celery and add those to the mix.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Plop in the beans as well.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add 1 can diced tomatoes.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When your roasted vegetables are ready, peel off their skins, cube them up, and chuck them into the pot. Don’t fret too much about cutting up the squash super small — it will fall apart and smush itself as it simmers in the pot.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Cover with vegetable or chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the bannock.  As a child, on every field trip we went that involved learning some aspect of Canadian history (the Goldrush, the Fur Trade, the Potlatch, the Salmon Fishery …) we ended up making bannock on green peeled sticks over a campfire.  Every.  Time.

As a result, bannock in my mind will forever taste of ashes and stick.

But you can make it in a skillet too.  To avoid the taste of raw stick and ash.

Apparently, bannock is a Scottish flatbread, stolen from the Romans so very long ago.  If you squint your eyes you can kind of see how the Latin panecium can be bastardized into the Gaelic bannock.  Sure.  But remember that so many different cultures make a form of flatbread.  It’s some form of grain or bean flour plus water and heat and boom – flatbread.   The First Nations people of Canada, in the course of their various interactions with European settlers (good or bad), adopted and adapted bannock such that it is also recognized by many to be part of a bunch of First Nation food traditions.  Because it’s bread.  Everyone eats bread.

Some recipes for bannock use dried milk powder and shortening to fluff up the bread, but I firmly believe that this should be a flatbread, made with the barest minimum of ingredients.

So.  Dry ingredients.  Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add enough water to form a dough and mix thoroughly. This will be dependent on the moisture content of the air and your flour. I added probably half a cup to this one. You want the dough to be slightly tacky.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Divide the dough into appropriate serving sizes and flatten into patties.  Feel free to wrap a patty around a stick and shove it into a fire.

Or you can slip the patty onto a hot buttered skillet and fry, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Serve with honey, butter, jam, salsa, soup, spaghetti … whatever you want. It’s bread.  It’s flexible.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

More Words on Bannock

Art of Manliness: Baking in the Wild

Family Oven: Bannock

M.E.C. on Bannock

WikiHow on Bannock