Friday, May 29, 2009

hecklewood, tanner and hank built

Good friends over at hecklewood recently posted some photos of their 1st Thursday show, Ch No 2 by Hank Built. Whatever material or detail that's applied to this chair, it's an instant classic. I would love to collaborate on leather bench with these guys.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

when your garden gives you arugula

For me, week night dinners are often difficult. Jevan or I try to make a dinner game plan that involves a stop at the market on the way home. Often our day becomes so busy we forget and both end up at home hungry and impatient. At least that's me. Once home, there's a tiny chance either of us will leave the house to pick up supplies. It's not that we are far from a store, more the principle. If this is the case dinner inevitably involves us standing in front of the refrigerator snacking on whatever crosses our path. Said dinner might include leftovers, cheese and crackers, cornichons and olives. All a plethora of random items that on their own might make for a fine snack but as a whole only fills our bellies and never satisfies the need for dinner.

To bypass this feeling we have a few simple meals that can be prepared on a moment’s notice and involve many ingredients in the pantry. This also helps with any instances of, I Went to the Store and Forgot to Buy ____ Syndrome. A syndrome I happen to be very susceptible of. One of these week night meals is a simple pasta dish with pesto. An arugula pesto at that.

Earlier this month, I showed you my little garden. While very modest, it was just getting started with sprouts of green popping up everywhere. I was a very proud mom. Now that the garden has grown a bit I'm ready to show it off once again. As a matter of fact, we are busting at the seams with arugula and lettuce. So much so we don't really know what to do with it all. A few evenings ago we made a version of pesto with arugula instead of basil and paired it with linguine, tomatoes and red peppers. If the color doesn't make you happy, I'm sure your taste buds will oblige. Pesto happens to be equally perfect in pasta or spread on a piece of bread. So be sure to make a little extra. It will keep for a few days.

The Italians classically toss pesto with linguine along with some green beans and potatoes, but like most Americans, I’ve bastardized the dish: I treat it as a quick dinner fix. A way to get a healthy, satisfying dinner on the table after working a long day. Instead of beans and potatoes I often add thin slices of zucchini, sometimes chunks of salami, maybe even a little buffala mozzarella. Usually it's whatever I happen to have in the fridge. If you don't have pine nuts on hand you could also use walnuts, raw green pumpkin seeds or even sunflower seeds. And, if you want to fancy it up a bit, toss in a little truffle oil. Another nice addition would be homemade breadcrumbs. Now, you have a dinner you can get excited about rather than just something to fill the void.

Makes about 1 cup
Active time:
15 min Start to finish:15 min

cup pine nuts
2 cups
fresh arugula, tightly packed
large garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

course salt

cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Mince and mash garlic to a paste with sea salt.

Pulse nuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic paste and arugula and pulse until finely chopped. Add cheese and oil and pulse to combine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

althea and donna - uptown top ranking

As I type, I’m cringing just a little while thinking how to explain the details of this week’s Music Monday. On paper, this song is against my music sharing ideals. During the year it was released, it was number 1 in the UK Singles Chart. That same year Althea and Donna became the youngest female duo to reach number 1 ranking in the UK charts.

I want you to know I'm not cringing because I'm a music snob. I’m not by any means. I happen to like all genres of music. My reasoning is simple, my place in the blogging world is not about promoting a number 1 single. In fact, it's just the opposite. But, the photo above should shed a little insight in the song of the week. Does 70's Jamaican roots reggae sounds good to you?

Produced in 1978, this one hit wonder of a song, was my summer anthem a few years back. Producer, Joe Gibbs used a re-recording of the riddim from Alton Ellis' 1967 song I'm Still In Love. While I’ve already declared Lisztomania to be my summertime song of 2009. This one will get it's play time too.

Althea and Donna - Uptown Top Ranking

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

the national & st. vincent - sleep all summer (crooked fingers cover)

I'm not sure how it became the middle of the week. Wednesday evening at that. I even double checked. Thinking it couldn't possibly be Wednesday. But in fact, it's true. It is Wednesday and I'm just now posting for music Monday. Maybe it's the short week that has me running mad to keep up. Whatever it may be I truly apologize for the delay. However, you will hopefully be happy that I'm posting a great song on a Wednesday rather than something thrown together to make my self inflicted deadline of Monday. You don't mind. Do you?

I'm sure you all know the National and there's a good chance you also know St. Vincent. Well they did a little collab cover of Denver band, Crooked Fingers song Sleep All Summer, for Merge Record's 20th anniversary CD that is part of the larger "Score!" box set. This compilation includes covers by some of the most popular indie bands encompassing Merge's 20 years. I recommend you pop over to Merge to check out the incredible collection as there are only 7,500 copies available. The best part, all proceeds benefit charities chosen by the SCORE curators.

Here's the song. I think you'll enjoy.
The National & St. Vincent - Sleep All Summer

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

for the love of spring

Not that I've been counting, but it has snowed, rained, sleeted or been overall gloomy for the past 6 weekends. It's as if I fell asleep Friday night in my home and woke up in Seattle on Saturday and Sunday. The ironic part over these past 6 weekends, and I promise I'm not counting, is that it never fails, on Monday morning the weather that I am aching to enjoy is back. I wouldn't complain but I live in a place that claims over 300 days of sunshine a year. It just so happens, those lovely spring days have been falling Monday through Friday. When I also happen to be at my desk sitting in front of a computer.

What I'm getting at is I have a terrible case of spring fever. Spring fever that involves strawberries and tarts and sitting on a patio in the middle of the afternoon. It's nearly the middle of May and I have barely had the chance to pick up a few extra freckles. Maybe a couple while out running errands over lunch. But not the freckles I deserve to have by mid May.

While yearning for the perfect spring day, the lovely week day weather inspired me to make a Strawberry Tart. A tart that ideally would be enjoyed on a Saturday afternoon on my patio. That of course didn't happen but let me tell you about this tart. It's a looker. Probably the most beautiful tart I have ever attempted. I could not have been more proud. More often than not my fortune in the baking department has been less than stellar. Actually, I shouldn't be so hard on myself. My previous dessert history usually tastes rather good. But gorgeous is not the first word that comes to mind. Pie soup might be a better description.

But, this strawberry tart, the one on the cover of Gourmet's April issue, is perfect for spring. I didn't have mascarpone on hand but did have an 8 oz package of cream cheese. I think it made a nice substitution and will likely make it with the cream cheese again.

For tart shell:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Rounded 1/4 tsp salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water

For filling:
1 1/2 lb strawberries (about 1 1/2 qt), trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup ruby Port
1 lb mascarpone (about 2 cups) or 8 oz of cream cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

a 10-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom; pie weights or dried beans

Make tart shell:
Blend together flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Beat together yolk, vanilla, lemon juice, and water with a fork, then drizzle over flour mixture and stir with fork (or pulse) until mixture comes together.

Gently knead with floured hands on a lightly floured surface until a dough forms, then gently knead 4 or 5 times. Press into a 5-inch disk. Place in center of tart pan and cover with plastic wrap. Using your fingers and bottom of a flat-bottomed measuring cup, spread and push dough to evenly cover bottom and side of pan. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork and freeze until firm, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

Line tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until side is set and edge is pale golden, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and continue to bake until shell is deep golden all over, about 20 minutes more. Cool in pan, about 45 minutes.

Make Filling While Tart Shell Cools:
Stir together strawberries and granulated sugar in a bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Strain in a sieve set over a small saucepan, reserving berries. Add Port to liquid in saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/4 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, confectioners sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until stiff.

Assemble Tart:
Spread mascarpone mixture evenly in cooled tart shell, then top with strawberries. Drizzle Port glaze all over tart.

Cooks’ note:
Tart shell can be baked 1 day ahead and kept at room temperature.
Add strawberries and drizzle Port glaze over tart just before serving.

Recipe by Andrea Albin
Photograph by Romulo Yanes

Monday, May 11, 2009

elvis perkins in dearland

With a name like Elvis Perkins, you need a great introduction. And a great introduction is what I happen to be lacking at the moment. What I am going to do is give you a little history. Because somehow, that tells the story better than any introduction I could concoct.

Elvis Perkins, affectionately named after Elvis Presley by his father, began playing music at a young age. His father, actor, Anthony Perkins and mother, Berry Berenson, whose photography could be regularly seen in Life magazine, raised Elvis and his brother, Oz, in Los Angeles and New York City. In 1992 his father passed away due to complications related to AIDS. Then on September 11, 2001 his mother was aboard the catastrophic American Airlines flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles that crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. All of the sudden the sadness and the deep rooted need to write Ash Wednesday, his first album, makes complete sense. It was his mourning.

If his first album, Ash Wednesday, was the funeral, his sophomore album across the music review world has been likened to the second line in a traditional New Orleans funeral procession. This second line is the lively troupe of brass musicians who trail behind the mourners, injecting a spirit of spontaneous celebration into an otherwise somber affair. Often the parade attracts a group of followers just to enjoy the music.

While his eponymous album, still somber, has a glimmer of hope that was nonexistent in his first record. It feels like the perfect following to his much hailed solo debut, Ash Wednesday. Friday night, I had the pleasure to see Elvis Perkins in Dearland live. During that show I was able to get a small peek into what felt like a private moment among very close friends and feel the old soul quality of Elvis' voice. The Other Lives opened and both put on an incredible performance.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

a day for mothers

Named after my grandfather and a lead biblical character my mother, Mary Clyde, grew up on a small dairy farm in a little Tennessee town. On that farm she learned to sew just about anything, cook even more, all the while reading books of far away places fantasizing what life was like outside the south. A life without sweet tea, ripe tomatoes warmed by the sun, shucking just picked Silver Queen corn or breaking beans under the shade tree to prep for canning season.

Eventually she made it out of the south. Like many others who left, it always drew her back. There's something about the warmth of the Southern culture that feels like home to just about anyone, local or not. It could be the friendly nature of the people, the humid air that seems to stop time or the comfort food laboriously prepared with love. Whatever it is, I'm always taken aback when a complete stranger offers a slow drawl of a hello to me as I pass. A hello that will make anyone smile.

Over the years my mom taught me some of the best things in life come through a little patience, a lot of elbow grease and I can do anything, as long as I put my heart in it. Just to clarify, I'm not calling anyone heartless for making a complete flop of something. Because that my friends, has happened more often than I would like to admit. What I really mean by heart is
perseverance. Keep trying until you succeed. And if you do that, you'll soon learn, it requires heart. A good amount of it.

As it happens, my mom has a big heart. Not only is she a loving wife and mother but she also designs and makes some of the most incredible quilts. Quilts that easily take months to complete. I will be the first to admit, I know very little about quilts other than they keep me warm at night. But, her uncanny knack for pattern and color transforms what on first glance I would easily consider an impossible combination into an interesting play on light and shadow. She also co-wrote a quilting book, And the Greatest of these is Love, on wedding quilts.

In the spirit of Mother's Day and slowing down this post wouldn't be complete without a recipe. My mom's foccacia bread seemed the best fit. It's such a simple recipe but not so simple it can be whipped together at a moments notice. This dough needs time to rise. The better part of an afternoon to be exact.

Mom's Foccacia Bread
4 cups of unbleached bread flour
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or 1 package of yeast
1 3/4 to 2 cups water, room temperature

Lightly mix the dry ingredients together. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and mix. Adding enough water to make a soft, sticky dough. Knead until dough is smooth. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a draft free, warm spot for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until dough is at least doubled in size. Punch dough down and divide in half. Place into 2 butter/oiled loaf round cake pans. (I always use glass pans/dishes to bake mine). Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans immediately to a wire rack and cool.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

how does your garden grow

Five straight weekends of either snow or rain have me ready for spring. Especially since March was unseasonally dry and warm. Such a tease of a month really. Things are beginning to turn green in our little garden. Seedlings are popping up and trees are budding.

Seedlings like carrots, beets and snap peas are coming up fast in the garden. Lettuce, bok choy, arugula and Swiss Chard are also doing well thanks to all the moisture. It's going to be another week before we can plant tomatoes or peppers. This is time of year I find myself faced with the difficult challenge of one, being patient. And two, having focus. Two very important traits in adulthood. All I can think about is being outside. I suddenly become a 14 year old without a care in the world. I love the change of seasons. They always do this to me.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

phoenix - wolfgang amadeus phoenix

Phoenix - 1901

I'm tired. I've been working hard all day and am still feeling the aftereffects of last night's mint julep over indulgence. There's nothing like whiskey, mint and sugar water to make for an evil Sunday. Still, I have more work to do and a very early morning tomorrow. At this point, the only thing that is going to keep me going and also let me get some sleep tonight, read no caffeine, is listening to Phoenix's new album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It's true, the album is that good. In fact, it's infectious, dance in your seats good. And it's out in the US on May 26th.

While I'm being honest about the whiskey, and the dancing in my seat, I might as well tell you this album has been on repeat. The thing is, I don't see myself tiring of it anytime soon. I've already apologized to my neighbors for the number of times they will hear it on my back patio this summer. Soon enough they will be singing Lisztomania word for word. I'm sure of it. I'm only waiting for the weather to warm up a bit. After all, it is just the beginning of May.

As with most new albums, bands need to promote. You know what this means, Phoenix is on tour. Don't miss them if they stop by your city. Just don't forget to get your tickets before they sell out, if they haven't already.

Like my new media player? We can thank my hubs for that one!

Friday, May 1, 2009

want to sew?

Then I suggest you take a look at this baby. It looks vintage but is brand new. A nice feature when it comes to actually trying to sew something. You'll know what I mean if you have ever used a vintage machine then moved on to a newer model. Nice work Urban Outfitters and Singer.