Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Spectacular Greek Luncheon and Recycled Metal Garden Art

The Merry Weather Garden Club met at the home of Carla Snider on Thursday 18th July, 2013. Cohosting with Carla were Erma Jean Brown and Mary Beth Tsoukalas with assistance from Phyllis Daniel.

Tsoukalas, of Irish-Polish descent, met her Greek husband on a cruise to South America and jokingly said she would learn to cook Greek if he learned to speak English. The garden club was amazed at her dishes that were unusual, delicious, and thoroughly Greek. The goat cheese torte really allowed the pesto and sun dried tomatoes taste to shine through. The tzatziki was a lovely light cucumber and garlic dip. The pink taramasalata dip was a type of caviar or roe blended and salty.  All the appetizers were served with freshly made pita chips, Calamata olives, and peppers.

The entrĂ©es which many club members enjoyed on Carla’s back porch overlooking her new garden area included dolmathes, a rice and beef combination stuffed into grape leaves and served with a tangy lemon sauce; kefthedes or Greek meatballs served alongside souvlakia or meat and onions on a skewer or kabobs. Spanakopita was a delicious spinach and feta cheese pastry. Tiropitakia was a phyllo cheese triangles served with tomato and feta salad.

For dessert, Tsoukalas served Jordan almonds, baklava made of phyllo pastry, walnuts, and honey, plus Kurambiethes, or a delicate light butter cookie. The delicious meal made everyone feel transported to another hemisphere and country. 

Carla began the program by explaining the work she had done on her garden since she last hosted the meeting during which members helped her design and offered suggestions for her outdoor spaces.  The newest acquisition was the outdoor fireplace built by her neighbor Ryan Mattocks. The garden was lovely; her new sod is being helped by the frequent summer rains, and the Sniders had finished the outdoor construction of the pool cabana.

Snider introduced the program, artist Kathy Walton of Marietta. Walton uses recycled steel to make her garden art and she has added ceramic sculpture to her work. Walton is a humorous speaker and told of her beginnings in central Illinois where the roads are laid out by engineers (four right turns and you were home) versus moving to Georgia where roads began as animal trails. Her work in Chicago and Long Island where winter temperatures were six degrees made it easy to say yes to Rich’s when she got the job in the jewelry department in Atlanta.

Now retired, Walton and her husband do construction jobs on high end hotels needing renovation. The construction workers working for them often borrowed money and would pay them back in equipment. Because she acquired a welding outfit, she learned to weld. Walton liked the fact that welded art held together better than a glue gun, and she began studying enhanced line drawing and experimented with flat patterns. She welds old filing cabinets into cowboy hats for outdoor display, musical instruments like guitars that use bicycle sprockets for adornments. Her garden animals are whimsical, sophisticated, fun and will make you smile which is Walton’s goal. She gives her work catchy names too like Zippy Mosquitoes and Psycho Sunflowers. Her largest piece is a full sized horse made of tire rims and curved pipe from a bowling alley for the neck. Making the eyes for the horse takes her about four hours.

Walton has recently added ceramics to her list of talents and she studied raku or the Japanese technique which includes fire and flame to make the pieces. Her tables and statuary were most impressive and sophisticated, useful pieces.

The next meeting of the garden club will be the second Thursday in August and will be hosted by Patti Acheson and Ellen McEwen.