August 30, 2010

straight off the farm

This weekend our sweet & generous friends, who were going out of town for a couple of days, offered us their weekly CSA share. Driving through the beautiful countryside to the farm stand to find baskets of freshly harvested fruits & vegetables from which we were to make up a market bag was a most satisfying & rewarding experience. At Dwight Miller & Son Orchard, the Miller family has farmed the same land since before Vermont was a state, & investing in a CSA helps ensure they will be able to continue farming their land for generations to come. Our friends' generosity reminded us that even though we support local farms by shopping at our local farmer's market every weekend, a CSA is an even more personal & involved pledge of support, since you share both the benefits & risks of their yearly crop production by signing on at the beginning of the season.

CSAs are available to urban & rural folks alike – while living in San Francisco, we had a CSA share from a nearby farm that would truck in boxes of their delicious organic vegetables to a central location in the city, which we would then pick up weekly. It was always exciting to discover which vegetables were harvested that week, & certainly widened our recipe repertoire & made us approach our menus in a much more creative way since we had to work with what we got, & it wasn't always something we would have picked up in a grocery store.

For the last couple of years we have received a CSA share from Scott Farm, a beautiful orchard listed on the National Record of Historic Places that produces over 70 different varieties of ecologically grown apples, including many heirloom & unusual varieties. This Thursday we will start receiving pecks of fresh & delectable apples, & the anticipation of which varieties we will get to try is dominating my thoughts right now. Next year we will definitely consider a vegetable CSA from a local farm, which we can augment with vegetables from our local farmer's market as needed: a win-win-win situation!

August 27, 2010

weekend DIY

you may have surmised that I like books.

This DIY illustrates how to make custom hardbacks out of old paperback books. Elegant & easy, you can turn your whole collection of trade paperbacks into a very French-looking white-spined library.

from here

August 26, 2010

simple style

I've been perusing freunde von freunden, which I suppose could be described as Germany's answer to The Selby, & finding home after home that I would, well, feel right at home in.

Malin Elmlid's Berlin flat certainly fits the bill. Malin works in sales for the stylish & wearable Wood Wood, lucky lady, & is apparently a bread maker of note. Between her scrumptious leather bag & kitchen utensil collections, gorgeous floors & moldings, & the fantastic rubber light fixture in the kitchen, I could move right in without changing a thing.

from here

August 25, 2010

daydream getaway

With a belly full of French food, it only fits that the mind should follow...

Here is a tiny peak at a gorgeous flat in a lovely neighborhood of Paris, which just happens to be for rent. What better way to experience La Ville-Lumiére than by staying in your own personal Parisian pied-á-terre, complete with kitchen, washer & dryer?

Be sure to peruse proprietress Cecile's other tastefully appointed apartments for rent in the Marais & St. Germain neighborhoods.

from here via here

August 23, 2010

ladies who dine

Oh la la...

This month our taste buds were transported to France with a long stop-over in the Provençal region, via my very own dining room & the culinary skill of ces femmes fantastiques. I popped up some café curtains, we popped open a few bottles of rosé, & immersed ourselves in the fresh, rich, buttery, cheesy, delicious cuisine that is French. From roasted duck with a currant-pomegranate-port reduction, pisadalliere, tourbot en bourride, ratatouille, sautéed tomatoes & green beans Provençal, & phenomenal cheese course array with tapenade, we feasted comme des rois.

I believe we all declared ourselves absolutely stuffed before we proceeded to forge ahead with a dollop of the richest mousse chocolat that I have ever laid a spoon on, an absolutely splendid Beaumes-de-Venise cake with grapes, & a glass of muscat. Bon appetit!

from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child

1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini
A 3-quart, porcelain or stainless-steel mixing bowl
1 teaspoon salt
A 10- to 12-inch enameled skillet
4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (makes 1 1/2 cups pulp)
Salt and pepper
A 2 1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2 1/2 inches deep
3 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper

Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in hot olive oil in the skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.

Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.

Set aside uncovered. Reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.

chocolate honey mousse perfumed with orange blossoms
adapted from Epicurious

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
5 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon orange flower water

Stir 3/4 cup cream, chocolate and honey in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat & stir in orange flower water, then let cool, stirring occasionally.

In large bowl, beat 1 1/4 cups cream until soft peaks form. Fold cream into chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Pour mousse into eight 3/4-cup ramekins, or large serving bowl.

Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
Whip remaining 1/2 cup cream to firm peaks. Spoon a dollop of cream in center of each serving of mousse.

August 20, 2010

this is beautiful

These incredible photographs taken by Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) between 1909-1912 feel both otherworldly & yet more immediate than their dates would suggest, owing to a brilliant technology involving a specialized camera that used red, green and blue filters to capture three black and white images in quick succession, then later recombined and projected the resulting detailed color images with filtered lanterns.

Thanks, John!

from here via here

August 18, 2010

this one goes to 11

Eleven years ago I said I do, & would say it again today. Big love to my husband, my best friend... here's to continuing to grow together!

August 12, 2010

moving like swimming

E. Hopper

I just wasn't made for this weather; heat & humidity make me feel incredibly lethargic & as though my head were stuffed with cotton, so please excuse the lack of posts as of late. I have been inspired insofar as finding interesting topics & links is concerned, but can't seem to get past bookmarking them for later fleshing-out. The weather is breaking, & temperatures are cooling, so I foresee a flurry of posts early next week... thank you for your patience!

August 9, 2010

little paper (& wooden) worlds

I first fell for Kelly Lynn Jone's work when years ago I happened upon Little Paper Planes, a site she founded in 2004 to create a place where she & her fellow artist friends could sell their work. The detailed paintings of little houses & structures floating in a sea of white space made me want to be able to climb inside & explore all of their compelling nooks & crannies.

Kelly's newer work is equally as alluring, collages on paper & wood panel that she sometimes works into installations, all evoking fascinating little self-contained worlds.

Be sure to check out her website & inspiring public projects.

via here

August 3, 2010

hot off the press

music by Green Hill Builders
cover art by Sam Phillips
inner sleeve art, title & layout by yours truly
available here

August 2, 2010

art & home

I like to see the hand in things, not only in artwork, but in the decorative & practical items that I live with in my home. Artist David Weidman & his wife Dorothy have made a lifelong practice of that imperative, having designed & built their Los Angeles home themselves in the 1950s, many of the decorative details & art pieces made by Mr. Weidman. Interspersed are souvenirs from their travels & life together, creating a very lively & personal space, with a flavor that is unmistakably Southern Californian.

David Weidman's silkscreens are vibrant & playful, & now that mid-century graphic styles are experiencing a renaissance, his work is deservedly getting attention once again. Case in point, Urban Outfitters is carrying a line of cushions emblazoned with his vivid prints.

I love how he talks about his art & process, which may be summed up by the title of a book from Ginkgo Press, a career retrospective now in its 3rd edition since 2008, "The Whimsical Works of David Weidman and Also Some Serious Ones."
from here