Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Directive: Hire an Architect.

photos by Anthony Cotsifas for T Magazine, June 30, 2010

This modernist house post from the New York Times T Magazine just popped up in my reader a few minutes ago.  It's a weekend home for NY based creative director Sara Rotman, and was designed by David Mann to be entirely off-the-grid.  The slideshow didn't particularly inspire me, but the video did.  Lovely views of the house, nice music, and a charming dialogue between client and architect.

So, if you are building or remodeling, seriously, hire an architect.  Your house will be better for it and they all need work right now.

(Also, I chose the photo on the lower right to ask the question, what is up with that little silver pig showing up everywhere?  Did you see it here on Monday?)

Summer Dusk

At the back of our property the sky is framed by a ring of trees.  It's particularly pretty at night, and over the last few years I've become a little obsessed by taking photos at dusk.  Last night a single star sat in the bowl.  I'm terrible at remembering constellations or anything star related, but that star has been in relatively the same position for months.  As for sounds, imagine lots of crickets, dogs, and the voice of one of my neighbors, all in the distance-- or take a listen for yourself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Decoration progress: Need a coffee table

Do I like this coffee table?  I think so, although the in situ photo on the Wisteria site is so opposite of what I'd want my house to look like it throws me off a bit.  I like the materials, it fits the small-ish and round criteria, it could work inside or outside... it's cheaper at $500 (!!) than the other new coffee table that I want, yet still way more than I'm willing or able to spend.

I've been on the hunt for a vintage round coffee table for quite awhile now and can't seem to find one I like.  I'll keep looking, but meanwhile if I found an affordable new table I'd totally go for it.  I'm sort of considering this kid's table from Target, seen in Gweneth Paltrow's Nashville apartment.
Why is finding a coffee table so hard?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vintage Kitchen: Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls

I'm a collector of old cookbooks.  I pick them up at estate sales and thrift stores, and a few have been passed down through my family.  There is no rhyme or reason to the collection, I'm attracted either to the graphics, the recipes, or the kitsch factor.  Sometimes its an inscription that wins me over.  I also love old church cookbooks.  Short little recipes contributed by the ladies' membership with funny old fashioned business ads interspersed.  Long ago (in blog terms, like 1999 in real life) I had an online journal where I featured some of the recipes from these old cookbooks.  It solicited lots of comments at the time, and I've been meaning to start doing it on this blog.  Here is the first entry.

Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls, 1957 (reissued in 2003)

This cookbook belongs in the category of family hand-me-down.  Well, not quite, since it's yet to be handed down.  My mom has had it since childhood and still uses it occasionally.  I have to borrow it from her shelves when I want to use it.  I learned to make chocolate pudding cake from this cookbook, as well as butterscotch brownies.  When I was little I loved the cheesy comments at the bottom of the pages from children of the day, as well as the sage advice of Betty Crocker.  I also loved the photographs of the food, particularly the cakes.  Our book has now seen better days with a broken binding and missing pages.  I think it would definitely be worth my while to buy a new copy.

Last week I had a craving for butterscotch brownies (or blondies as they are sometimes called).  I added chocolate chunks to the recipe and used pecans for the nuts.   I think I'd skip the chocolate next time.  I like the classic version better.

Some other gems...

Weekend Edition: Dinner from the Garden

Artichokes from the garden, before and after.  Dipped in a sauce made with mayo, chipotle chile and garlic.  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Culinary Chronicles: A Quick Lunch

I was in the throws of an Illustrator drawing this morning, lost in the details that only I can see when zoomed in to 800%.  As a result I kept putting off lunch even though my stomach was telling me to eat.  By the time I read my friend Deirdre's post about her search for the perfect fish taco, my mind was clearly open to culinary suggestion of any sort.  Not having any meat in the house that wasn't frozen, I was left to concocting these veggie tacos.

They went perfectly with a glass of agua de jamaica and my kitchen curtains in the background.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Edition: Typical Summer

This weekend was pretty typical of summer weekends.  Up early to get the chores done before the heat and sun become too much each afternoon.  When that happens, close the curtains, all of the south and west windows and retreat to the couch to watch movies or read a juicy novel.  

Since I'm not currently that inspired by what I'm reading, this weekend it was all about dvds.  Specifically Crazy Heart, Broken Embraces, and Season 1 of The West Wing.  If you are an Almodóvar fan and haven't seen Broken Embraces yet, get to it!  It's got a cyclical element to the plot in that the film that's being made in the movie is more or less Almodóvar's Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.  There are even cameos by some of the stars of that film, now playing older characters.  Plus, as in all Almodóvar movies the sets and locations are fantastic.  This movie has a lot of gold and blue backgrounds, and the main characters escape to Famara on Lanzarote-- an amazing volcanic island which is one of the Canary Islands.  It has just jumped to the top of my travel destinations list.  (Seriously, those volcanic vineyards are the coolest thing I've seen in ages-- I just didn't want to steal anyone's photos to post here... it's worth clicking through).

Most of the weekend chores revolved around gardening.  The beans are getting tall enough for the trellis, and the lettuces are really starting to get somewhere under their protective covering.  

Its rewarding to see vegetables grow after all the hard work of sowing, watering, and building raised beds.  I can't wait to actually eat beans and lettuce!  Yet, after those vineyards on Lanzarote, my beds aren't very aesthetically pleasing to me.  Sigh.  Has anyone actually been to the Canary Islands?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Musings

Gala Darling always has interesting links (lots and lots of interesting links-- she's prolific!) in her end of the week Carousel feature, and today this one made me laugh out loud.  500 Days of Summer re-cut as a thriller.

I made these "Batty Cakes" for breakfast this morning (cornmeal pancakes).  I had a bunch of sage, rosemary and garlic chives in the frig that needed to be used, so I added them and served along side an egg.  The recipe made about a dozen pancakes, so those leftover from breakfast were stuffed with goat cheese, arugula, and avocado at lunch time.  Great with chipotle salsa and iced mint tea.  (Isn't that table cloth the cutest?  It belonged to my grandma).

The cookbook was given to my mom for Christmas one year, probably right around that 1967 publishing date.  I've now made two of the pancakes from it, and they've both been among the best pancakes that I've ever made.  So, the recipe for "batty cakes" verbatim:

Batty Cakes

No flour in these.  They taste plenty good by themselves or along with fried chicken at the dinner table.

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp honey
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 egg, well-beaten

Mix 1 cup yellow cornmeal, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt thoroughly.  Add 1 well-beaten egg, 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, and 1 tsp honey.  Mix only until uniform.

In another recipe they say that if you don't have buttermilk, you can use milk that you sour with lemon juice or white vinegar.  Four tsp lemon juice to the one and a third cups of milk.  Let it sit at least five minutes before adding.

From Uncle Jim's Book of Pancakes by James E. Banks; Filter Press, Palmer Lake, CO, 1967.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Musings

My photos always look a bit washed out after I "save for the web" in photoshop, which makes sense I suppose.  Anyway, here is a shot of the new-to-me rug next to my bed.  Its a threadbare Persian(?) carpet that was cast-off by a friend.  I took it because the colors are nice-- rusty red and blue.  It was really dirty and I didn't want to shell out the big bucks for professional cleaning since it's so worn, so I washed it myself.   Take note, I am not recommending this to others.  Wash your rugs at your own risk!  That being said, it worked out fine for this carpept.  I washed it in cold water in the bathtub.  I used Woolite and let it soak for a couple of hours, and then I rinsed and stomped it several times in the tub, before taking it outside and doing an extensive final rinse with the hose.  It definitely bled a lot of color during the wash, but it didn't look visibly faded once it dried.  At least not any more faded than it already was.  I moved it from the tub to a large galvanized bucket in order to catch the drips as I carried it from the bathroom to the backdoor, and also because I was afraid that I'd drop it or drag an end on the ground by accident and undo all the cleaning.  It was awkward because its large and heavy when dry, but even heavier when wet.  I rinsed and dried it by draping it over four very sturdy outdoor chairs because I new my clothesline would probably collapse under the weight.  I left it out in the sun for a couple of days to make sure that it dried throughly and then voilá-- I had a new (old) rug.  I like it and it looks surprisingly good with the different shades of blue in the bedroom.

Since my friday musings are always just a compilation of some of the things I'm thinking about throughout the week, here are a couple of things totally unrelated to carpets.  Our Spring planted raspberries are fruiting!  We have just a couple of fruits forming on two of the seven plants (one cane totally bit the dust).  Exciting!

And finally, I got two discs in the mail from Netflix and had to laugh-- Maggie, if you are reading, my weekend viewing is dedicated to you-- Crazy Heart and West Wing: Season 1, both raved about on The Freckled Citizen this year.  

(Image via here).

The third movie is a classic film from 1946 called Without Reservations in which John Wayne and Claudette Colbert meet on a train trip to Los Angeles, apparently have a lay-over in Albuquerque and stay at the Alvarado Hotel.  I'm watching just to see scenes of the Alvarado, a Harvey House Hotel that was demolished during urban renewal in 1970.  The city has since built a cardboard copy version on the same site, minus the quality craftsmanship, details and building materials of the original.  It houses our downtown transportation center-- or city bus hub.  The building interior is largely unused.  At least it fills in the urban fabric better than the empty lot that fronted Central for 30 or so years.  Still everytime I really look at it all I can think about is how much better it would have been to have stopped the demolition of the original.  I mean, really wouldn't you rather be sitting on this patio sipping a lemonade and watching people get on and off the Southwest Chief right now?  I would.  [Edited to say that the Alvarado is not in the movie at all!  They do drive into Albuquerque and under the railroad bridge on Central, but the hotel scene is obviously a set, and not based on the Alvarado at all.  Bummer.  Misinformation led me to watch, but no Alvarado.  It was entertaining nonetheless.]

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Back to Bed

Would love to just crawl back in here today.  I'm feeling a little run down.  Despite having a vivid dream about a chameleon on an oriental rug (amazing! REM sleep is where you have vivid dreams isn't it?), I awoke this morning feeling very groggy and the feeling has yet to abate.  I tried to get a photo of my favorite Mexican bedspread (tablecloth), the blue table and my new (old) rug, but the rug didn't really make it into the shot and I just couldn't be bothered to keep trying.  Yes, I do need a new bed frame seeing as how I don't really have one, but I'm just super picky and I know exactly what I want, but I can't find it.  Meanwhile, crappy futon base for bed.  Big yawn... so tired.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weekend Edition: Memorial Day

The aforementioned croissant and pain au chocolat.  The batch in the afternoon worked out much better than the morning.  (More proofing).  Definitely learned a thing or two, so I'll improve them with more practice.

I baked early on Sunday morning so that the house would cool off again before the temp outside got too high.  Rosemary olive oil cake from 101 Cookbooks and lemon lavender cookies based on a basic vanilla refrigerator cookie from the Joy of Cooking (their recipe plus the zest of one small lemon and a teaspoon of ground lavender).  I was curious about olive oil cakes because I kept reading about them over the winter on various food blogs.  The cake turned out perfectly, and tastes great.  Good crumb and nice and moist.  Definitely has an olive oil and rosemary flavor.  I think it would be a good recipe to tweak by replacing the rosemary with lemon peel, or lemon verbena or both since I've never had a cake that was too lemony.  Lemon cakes are my all time favorite.

Besides baking, there was a lot of gardening to be done.  We're still preparing the beds, and so every vegetable is going in only as we finish prepping a row.  The garlic, which was planted last fall, had produced scapes and I picked them to cook somehow.  Anyone have a good garlic scape recipe?  Last year I made the garlic scape soup from 101 Cookbooks (my fallback favorite recipe site), but I was underwhelmed by it.  Anyway, aren't the scapes amazingly curly?  I could slip my wrist through and wear them as bracelets all the way back to the house.