Wednesday, September 30

upgrade

{a new toy}


{and some takeout}


{a multi-lingual light show}


{and a non-crashing platform that will prevent us pulling out our hair}


b's tweet, leaving the apple store: "I'll see you in hell, bill gates!"


-

Tuesday, September 29

plum gums

{sugar plums ~italian prune plums}

I'm a big fan of these sugarplum candies, distributed seasonally by the goelitz candy co. (of jelly belly fame) and being a cheap-o/hoarder by nature, I buy a pound or more when they are marked down after christmas, and rediscover them periodically throughout the year, tucked among fruit rollups and southwest airlines peanuts in the pantry. this summer, as the cache slowly depleted, it occurred to me their flavor is similar to pâtes de fruits, in the french tradition...just in gummi form. then, serendipitously, I discovered a promising lead in a cookbook featuring san francisco ferry building (farmers' market) recipes.


{sugarplums}


so here's an attempt at the more traditional plum pâtes de fruits. you know, to help a junkie out through the season between fresh plums and holiday candies. don't judge.



lavender plum candy
adapted from the san francisco ferry plaza farmers' market cookbook

4 pounds damson or italian plums, pitted and chopped
2 tbsp water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp culinary quality (organic, untreated) dried lavender blossoms
4 c. (approx) sugar, plus
1 c. (approx) large grain sugar, for dusting

in large, heavy enameled cast iron or other non-reactive pot, combine plums, water, lemon juice and lavender blossoms. place over low heat and cook until fruit is very soft, about 20 minutes.


{straining}


remove from heat. puree plum mixture through a fine-mesh food mill screen, or process in blender, then force it through a fine sieve held over a bowl (a food mill would have been quite handy, but I tend toward generalist tools and a little more elbow grease...not claiming as a virtue. it was a total pain. use the food mill if you have one). measure puree and return to pan, adding equal amount sugar. cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until fruit reduces, thickens and begins to hold together as a mass, (hard to judge exactly what is meant by this — I just stirred until it was pretty thick and bubbles became very large) 20-30 minutes.

line a 9x12 rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment, overlapping edges. pour plum paste onto lined pan and spread evenly with rubber spatula. cool, cover, and allow to stand at room temperature for 48 hours. the paste will firm on standing.

invert pan onto cutting board, peel off plastic wrap, and cut paste into about 36 squares. roll in sugar, for sparkly finished look. arrange in layers on waxed paper and store in airtight plastic container at room temp.

Monday, September 28

hippie propaganda





by godfrey! are you watching ken burns' breathtaking new documentary series on the national parks? really. I know this time last week I asked you to watch dancing with the stars for tom delay...but you can keep the text messages rolling without actually tuning in. burns spent six years making this documentary. catch glee later; it will be on hulu. and you don't reeaally want to watch cougartown anyway, doooo youuuu????

tonight's episode covered the period including john muir's travails, t. roosevelt's travels (with jovial quotes contributed —hilariously imho— by clay jenkinson), and the designation of yosemite as national park (as well as the sad loss of hetch hetchy) made me more than a little bit homesick. damn you, ken burns! and your amazing cinematography!

it's a good thing we aren't watching it in high def, or I'd be packing b & that dog up for a road trip headed straight for muir woods.

thai chili crab



{what a deal, for these little devils}

so remember how sometimes we're suggestible to impulse items at our favorite market? yeah so, wild-caught king crab was $9.99/lb this week (oh yeah...I almost forgot we're in an r month!). we were very good, and only bought one delicate little pound for the two of us...but after sucking the shells dry, then picking our ogre teeth with their dainty little crabby-toes, we skulked back for two more pounds. and that was exhibiting restraint. in attempt to enjoy the sinful treat in a slightly more refined fashion (recalling a certain bourdain episode longingly), we scrounged up a recipe for thai chili crab. there are surely recipes out there deriving the unctuous quality of their sauce from a 1/2 cup of oil (or more) or cream. this one creates a really wonderful texture from the combination of egg and cornstarch. it's velvety without being heavy. to atone for my gruesome ways, I promise the next recipe or two will feature locally sourced, vegetarian (mayhaps even vegan?) meals. scout's honor.


(how many reality tv stars died for our sins?)


thai chili crab
found here
serves 3-4

2 lbs king crab, shelled or cut into manageable-sized pieces

sauce:
mise en place (items grouped together may be pre-measured and ready-to-go):
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 fresh red chili, minced
1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, sliced into matchsticks
3-4 tbsp white wine

2 tsp to 2 tbsp thai chili sauce (sriracha or sweet chili sauce, depending on who you ask)
1/4 cup ketchup or tomato sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot,
dissolved in 4 tbsp water
1 egg

3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
or a handful of cilantro, chopped

our crab came pre-cooked, from the seafood counter (and really, I've never purchased raw whole crab before...only in sorted, "lump" meat). if purchasing steamed crab, you might also request the shells be given a whack, to make the sorting out easier at home. if purchasing raw, place into a steamer for 7 to 9 minutes, careful not to overcook (think: rubber-calamari).

for sauce: add 2 tbsp fresh oil to the wok, plus shallots, garlic, red chili, and galangal/ginger. stir-fry 2 minutes over medium high heat, adding white wine to the pan when it becomes dry.

add chicken broth, chili sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, and fish sauce, stirring briskly over medium-high heat. add cooked crab, and gently turn the crab in the sauce as you cook (about 2 more minutes).
break the egg into a cup and combine it with the arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in water. stir with a fork, making sure yolk is broken.

add egg mixture to the wok, stirring well to combine and thicken the sauce. reduce heat to low, but continue to mix crab and sauce. taste and adjust seasoning, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, or a squeeze of fresh lime to balance too much salt. if there's too much heat, a little more tomato will balance chili oil .

serve family-style on a platter, sauce poured over, garnished with scallion/cilantro. don't forget the jasmine rice and (if not previously shelled) tons of napkins, and tools for cracking and extracting crab. we weren't going for the fully authentic experience, so we pre-picked the crab and added it sans shell; it just seemed likely that stubborn, spiny legs, paired with hot chili oil could make for fingerfood nightmare.

we enjoyed this with a glass of gewurztraminer (for me) and a frosty spaten (for b).


weekend piccys

{a little more rainfall}


{new fall fruits up for grabs ~ open call for persimmon recipes}


{summer produce on a slow decline}


{fall counterpart to spring redbud ~ on the isle}


{more proof to the neglected drawer-baby theorem?}


{mexican olive ~still need to smuggle a cutting to mom}


{covert ops ~ the pick-up}


{the set-up}



{the trap is sprung ~ a veryverysneaky visit home for the doc}



{up late with some terrific company}


{and a check-up...}


{...and fall wardrobe update}


Saturday, September 26

the cookie grail

{needs scale ~ a half-foot diameter of decadence}


I can't stand it anymore. it's time to post this, even though my mailman might be chowing down on that texan's care pack for breakfast this very moment (bastardo!). perhaps when asked "anything perishable in this here box?" a different answer might have prevented it getting "lost." priority mail my ass. umm...unless the box arrives today, in which case another batch will be baked immediately and surrendered willingly to the very kind folks at my station.

this recipe has been making the rounds since the ny times posted it in july, and there's collective agreement that it may be the best chocolate chip cookie anyone has ever encountered. adding my hear-hear, I would just like to add that they are ungodly split-one-for-dinner-go-to-bed-still-full-but-very-amped-up good.




biding my time — awaiting an occasion for a 20-dollars'-worth-of-chocolate-chips cookie recipe — gave the advantage of crowd-sourced knowledge. pim and deb both attempted the recipe to delicious, but deflated results (orangette had better success). chilling the formed cookie blobs seemed the solution to their problem. also, this summer, chocolate makers have released more budget-friendly (and karma-friendly, happily) products to make this recipe (almost) an every-day expenditure. but what's that quote from sideways — something about the day you open a '61 cheval blanc...that's the special occasion? these cookies are the special occasion (and also genesis of weekend carepack-ing). mixing movie metaphors, if you build them, they will most definitely come. and they'll come back until every single crumb disappears.

david leite's complimentary piece covers the institution of the cookie itself, as well as the theory behind creating a perfect cookie. spend a moment with it; you won't regret it...if only because it offers fortification for the 36 agonizing hours' wait from dough to baking phases (imagine my pride at pulling back the parchment to discover none of the mouse-bites I expected ~ b&I were absolute angels).




chocolate chip cookies
adapted from jacques torres' recipe, here
makes 1 1/2 dozen ginormous cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
sea salt

sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into bowl. set aside.

using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. stir in vanilla. reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. press parchment against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

when ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees f. line baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and set aside. chilled dough is very firm, but 30 minutes at room temp makes it possible to chisel out large hunks for forming.

scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up, and maybe nudge external ones into the dough; it will make for a more attractive cookie. gather formed dough-balls and chill again for 10-15 minutes before arranging on baking sheet. Only six will fit, unless you've got industrial equipment (like the sin fairy might). sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.


mr. leite recommends eating them warm, with a big napkin. pour a big glass of milk (or milk-like substitute), too.

Friday, September 25

for goodness' sake

this month maira kalman's blog, and the pursuit of happiness, talks about city infrastructure. she's so sweetly wonky.

...and — eeeep! we were just there! picnicking in city hall park!


{really? that's so...nice!}


{here.............is where I sat to take this picture}


{yep...saw him too}


{mmm...contrary to post-trip interrogations, this is one part of city hall we didn't visit}


{I think it would be lovely to be maira's friend ~ she seems so nice}

Thursday, September 24

crazier than sarah palin

"bloody hell! what's going on!?"

I couldn't have said it better than bruno. pleasepleaseplease vote for tommy, to keep the public shaming rolling (hey, it's better than the pillory)!

Wednesday, September 23

marking off days

when I was 12, my prize-winning (not the 1st place of the year previous, but 3rd...hmph) science fair question involved paper/pigment chromatography. my coffee filter and magic marker display was nowhere near the wickedcool of this calendar.

just try to say this isn't the coolest calendar you've ever seen in your life.

seriously:

"Ink Calendar" make use the timed pace of the ink spreading on the paper to indicate time.

The ink is absorbed slowly, and the numbers in the calendar are "printed" daily. One a day, they are filled with ink until the end of the month. A calendar self-updated, which enhances the perception of time passing and not only signaling it.

The ink colors are based on a spectrum, which relate to a “color temperature scale”, each month having a color related to our perception of the whether on that month. The colors range from dark blue in December to, three shades of green in spring or oranges, red in the summer.

The scale for measuring the “color temperature” that I have used is a standard called ‘D65’ and corresponds roughly to a midday sun in Western / Northern Europe."



photo ~ oscar diaz




Tuesday, September 22

but who will be the dwight?

not hu...who. no really, who will end up playing dwight?






I knew there was a reason for supporting this journalistic endeavor. hilarious.

squash cassarole


I have a confession: sometimes I eat ugly food. as much as I resisted the acceptance of southern-style food — moving to the south for the rigid, pre-teen years after having been a ravenous, open-minded kid in the far east (that was jellyfish!? whaa?) — and as much as I hate admitting to being such an a-hole, I was flat wrong. southern food is really quite delicious. but no matter the taste, cream gravy and stewed collards are just not photogenic. and there's not much that can be done to make them so. the standards can be made healthier, with less saturated fat and salt...but they're still just not that pretty on the plate. now, as a fully-reformed open-minded omnivore, I sometimes order a plate of just the un-pretty side dishes ("step sisters")...3 or 4 of them: collards or jalapeno creamed spinach, black eyed peas, okra and tomatoes...and yeah, probably the mac-an-cheese or cheese grits (which is okay because I don't eat the deep-fried-battered-steak, right?).

this weekend, we had 7 or 8 yellow squash wasting an entire crisper drawer, and this recipe called me. some more traditional recipes for squash casserole cook the veg until it's entirely broken down and, well, squashy. generally, I prefer a vegetable's original texture...but hey, I also don't cook collards for two hours at a time. call me inauthentic; I'm at peace with it.



summer squash casserole
adapted from the lady who received a sculpted bust of herself in butter, with a little bit of my own flair
serves 4-6

2 lbs yellow squash, sliced
1 c. chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce, or to taste
1 tbsp brown or dijon mustard
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 c. panko or breadcrumbs
1/2 c. milk
1 c. cheddar cheese, shredded (supplementing a tad with goat cheese is wonderful, if it's lying around)
1/2 c. parsley, chopped
1/4 c. panko or seasoned bread crumbs, mixed with
1/8 c. parmesan, shredded

in large skillet, sautee onion in butter or oil, until golden and translucent....or caramelized to your taste. add squash and garlic, salt, pepper, mustard and worcestershire sauce, sauteing until wilted and nearly tender, but still al dente.

butter 1 1/2-quart baking dish. stir breadcrumbs, parsley and cheese into the squash mixture, and turn into buttered casserole dish. pour milk over squash and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese and additional crumbs. bake at 350°, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until milk is absorbed and the squash casserole is bubbly. garnish with another tbsp or so of parsley...to attempt giving it a little color.

otherwise, just eat it in a dimly lit room.



Monday, September 21

weekend piccys

{fun with muji cutouts}


{first of the fall veggies}


{unexpected visitors on the porch}


{shots and exam for t. kitten ~ had enough of waiting}


{recovering from shots}


{redbud isle}


{at the water's edge}


{care packaging ~ you don't want to know about why my highschoolchemteacher's name is on the stapler}



henri

{few cats come when called ~ he just preferred hearing his name in french}

what a great kitty he was...aside from the unfortunate, foul, "acid-reflux" problem, rendering him garage-bound but not friendless. thanks, mom, kev, lil' sis, neighbors, for giving him such wonderful care for the last 14 years. his borrowed time was lucky and his rusty purr will be missed.

Sunday, September 20

hottest. summer. evar.


as a collective community, we may have overreacted about the significance of the heat experienced this summer (or not). but now it's time for moving forward into fall!

and that is all I will say about the topic.

...at least until we all tire of the rain/flooding.

Friday, September 18

fall vegetable soup

it's fall, it's fall, it's fall! what that means here in texas, following a helluvu summer, is it's under 100 degrees. yep. and we're so elated, soup becomes fair game anytime nighttime temps began falling below 78 degrees. normally the summer denouement is a little sad for me, but it's hard not celebrating the departure of this year's parched, brutal heat. seriously. when rain finally returned last friday, neighborhood kids danced in the street. I wish the camera had been at-the-ready, but honestly, it was nice just enjoying their glee.

this soup is a flavorful and hearty, but not heavy, addition to the fall repertoire. sweet butternut squash balances the savory flavors of pancetta and rosemary. we added a cup of wild rice blend, cooked in stock. next time we will probably also double the veggies (carrots and tomatoes, at least) and add red peppers. really though, we're tinkering with a pretty darned perfect recipe.


{not a very good pic ~ weeknight cooking, sometimes I forget to shoot along the way}


fall vegetable soup
from the little card thing the sample lady gave out at central market
serves 6 generously

1/2 lb. pancetta or bacon, diced
1/2 c. yellow onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into 1/2" pieces
1 c. canned chopped tomatoes (we used fresh, having let dry provisions deplete)
8 c. (64 oz — 2 boxes) chicken or veg stock
1 bunch kale, stems removed, cut into strips
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

heat 6 qt stock pot over medium heat; add pancetta and cook until beginning to brown. add onion, celery and carrot, cooking until veggies wilt and begin to brown (about 8 minutes). add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

add butternut squash, tomatoes, stock and herbs, bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer; cook 10 minutes then add kale and cook another 10-15 minutes or until veggies are soft and fully cooked.

season with salt and pepper.

garnish with good olive oil and parmigiano reggiano.

Thursday, September 17

thrift thursday ~ travel edition pt. II

{the hanger does it little justice ~not actually lopsided, just asymmetrical}

a few doors down from pippin, this dress was discovered at the angel street thrift store sample sale. the one-shoulder look is pretty trendy, but marked down from $325 to $15, it's an affordable indulgence. we may be done with the unfortunate string of 107 degree days, but sundress weather usually continues on into november. sometimes later. angel street purchases fund programs supporting families affected by substance abuse, hiv/aids and mental illness.

forever young




this project wasn't really intended to become a steady stream of eulogies, but it's just such a remarkable time. crap, y'all. mary travers' voice defined my childhood. an era ends, and the only thing to do is carry on.


Wednesday, September 16

that's hot.


fashion week has taken itself so seriously it's looped back into irony.

proof: the snuggie runway show. yes, seriously. consider this is your notice, sin fairy.
Amid the glitz and glamour of New York Fashion Week, Snuggie™ will host a runway show of its own, taking center stage to showcase the latest colors, fabrics and patterns. Celebrity host Ross “The Intern” Mathews will dish about the sexiest looks in blanket-wear and adult, kid and even canine models will hit the runway.

...seriously.

Tuesday, September 15

the high line

{brunch with laynie at locanda verde, where they have very clean awnings}


{on the way to chelsea ~ talk of these strollers, and the possible psychological damage derived from unlovable drawer-baby status}


{on the high line ~ plantings among the old tracks}


{what's the fun in staying on the path ~ despite signs requesting "keep it wild"}


{all the cool kids were there, attending to business}


{business}


{among the cool kids}


{high line and skyline}


{10th avenue redevelopment ~ a few still-broken windows}


{hard to imagine a more pleasant walk to work ~ for a portion of the commute, anyway}


{nor a prettier view once arrived ~ an editor worked on his laptop, at the bank of windows looking toward the empire state building}