What’s Cooking? Trash Talk!

The tradition of recycling in America dates back to the 19th century. Pieced quilts, dolls and rag rugs from old clothing, weathervanes made from scrap metal and wood, and windows made from re-fired used glass are a treasured legacy of our historical practice of recycling, upcycling and repurposing. With increased environmental concerns in recent years, salvaging and reusing discarded, broken and worn out materials has gained new respectability.

Artists have always seen lots of creative possibilities in found objects and recycled materials. Picasso fashioned a bull’s head from an old bicycle handlebar and seat. Alexander Calder made whimsical animals from coffee cans and wire hangers, while Louise Nevelson created evocative sculpture from scrap lumber. Using items as diverse as plastic or glass containers, discarded metal, reclaimed wood, used paper products, cast-off fabrics, bottle caps, tag sale jewelry and cracked pottery, a marvelous alchemy can be achieved as familiar substances transform into something unexpected. So, let’s talk trash!

clockwise: Frann Addison; Karen Hibbs; Lauren Pollaro; Mimi Kirchner; Jillian Greg; James Kitchen

All of the metal in James Kitchen’s imposing sculptures come from local farms, antiques stores, scrap yards, and occasionally a neighbor who leaves a pile of interesting objects in his driveway. Jillian Greg collects textured shells containing remnants of the sea, patinaed coins, ancient bells and tribal beads to fashion bold, one-of-a-kind jewelry. Karen Hibbs builds stunning glass panels around 350-million-year-old fossils – creatures like ammonites left over from the Cretaceous Period, as well as fossilized scarab beetles, fish and ferns. For pure whimsy as well as sophisticated folk art, take a look at Mimi Kirchner’s dolls, which incorporate cast-off fabric and found objects. The Sabbath candlesticks pictured here were fashioned from vintage china salt and pepper shakers and combined with polished pewter by Frann Addison. Lauren Pollaro could be the queen of repurposed materials, layering them in her jewelry and her abstract wall pieces.

What else is cooking at Paradise City? Make your own dry rub and taste the difference. Our recipe for Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken Legs is fast and simple, with incredible depth of flavor.

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This Week’s Recipe

What did we ever do without dry rubs? Whether it’s used for roasting in the oven or grilling outdoors, a spice rub gives intense flavor and tenderness to just about anything. There are lots of decent store-bought rubs out there, but it’s really easy to make your own from scratch. This is one of our favorites. If you want to spice it up by adding more or hotter chile powder, go right ahead! Since it’s a dry rub, you could make up a bigger batch to tuck away in a jar.

Grilled Ancho Chile Chicken Legs

4 whole chicken legs, skin on, trimmed
Olive oil
Lime wedges for serving

For the rub:
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ancho chile powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. ground allspice
¼ tsp. garlic powder
2 bay leaves, torn into tiny pieces

  1. At least an hour or two before grilling, rub the chicken legs with some olive oil. Run your fingers under the skin to loosen it.
  2. Mix all the rub ingredients together. Coat both sides of each chicken leg well with the mixture. Put a sprinkling under the loosened thigh skin, too. Refrigerate until ready to grill.
  3. Preheat gas grill to about 400°. Oil the grates or use cooking oil spray.
  4. Place the legs skin side up on the grill. Lower the flame most of the way and close the grill cover. Grill for about 15 minutes, checking often to make sure it isn’t burning or flaming up.
  5. Look to see if the “down” sides are nicely browned. If so, turn the legs over and grill for another 15 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink inside and the skin on both sides is browned. It may take longer or shorter depending on the size of the legs and the heat of your grill.
  6. Serve with lime wedges. Corn on the cob, especially cooked on the grill, is a perfect side dish.