My New Obsession: Farro

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I made Lidia Bastianich's 'Farro with Roasted Pepper Sauce' from Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy last week, and me oh my, what a delicious recipe! The sauce is a simple tomato sauce made with canned Italian plum tomatoes, onions, garlic and golden raisins, with chunks of roasted red and orange bell peppers stirred in.

However, one pound of farro cost $10 at my Greene Grape Provisions, my local gourmet market--that is a lot! I mean, I was sort of shocked when I examined the receipt. A little investigation reveals that it wasn't just my local market that charges a steep fee for this grain, farro is pricey.

Lidia actually explains the reason in her books, she writes, "Farro, a variety of wheat also known as emmer, was one of the first domesticated crops. It is a low-yielding grain and difficult to cultivate; hence it feel out of favor in much of the world. But in Italy, farro has always been appreciated." Lidia recommends spelt, barley and other grains as possible substitutes, but I loved the plump, chewy texture of farro.

Anyone know of a place to obtain reasonably priced farro in New York City? I'd even be willing to trek up to Arthur Avenue for a deal.

New Clock Arrived!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wow: L. L. Bean ships things quickly: My new clock arrived today! Here is on my bedside table. Cute, no?

Moonbeam Clock

Friday, April 23, 2010

I just purchased this Moonbeam Clock from L. L. Bean to replace my melted alarm clock. I sort of can't believe I just spent $40+ on a clock, but after a little research, I found that there weren't all that many options for a clock with an analog face and a snooze feature (yes, I need snooze). I like this one for its classic good looks and the dove gray color--can't wait for it to arrive.

Wise Words from Majora Carter on Earth Day

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The April issue of Body + Soul magazine has some excellent words of wisdom from Majora Carter, the super-star founder of Sustainable South Bronx. In light of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which is today, she says:
Before you throw something out or recycle it, take a moment to consider where it's going to end up and how it's going to get there. Chances are it will be placed on a diesel truck and dumped in a poor neighborhood, next to a fossil-fuel burning power plant. It doesn't matter that you are "recycling" or that your banana peel is "organic"--it all ends up in the same place.

Think about how to divert it from the stream of waste altogether, whether by composting or finding a second use for it. And hold that image in your head every time you buy something. Once you can visualize that daily waste stream and all the energy used to support it, and you can imagine the impact on the people who live alongside it ever day, you'll understand environmental justice a little better.
I think those are truly wise words, and I am inspired to go back to composting all my vegetable scraps, which I had given up out of sheer laziness. (Also, for what it's worth, lately, I've been loving Body + Soul, which is soon to be re-named Whole Living).

Yum: La Maison du Macaron

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We had a bunch of friends over for dinner on Friday night, and one of couples brought a box of macarons from La Maison du Macaron/Madeleine Pattisserie. (Why do I say macaron, not macaroon? This article from Departures gives a lovely explanation.) And, oh, what macarons they were!

These were really the most delicious examples of a macaroon I have ever eaten--each one was like a tiny cloud of vibrant tastes. The flavors included things like orange, apple, coconut and cranberry-strawberry.

This box of colorful confections was absolutely perfect gift to bring to a dinner party and wish I lived near Chelsea so I could bring them to all my future dinner party engagements.

Madeleine Patisserie/La Maison du Macaron
132 W. 23rd Street
New York, NY

Do You Fold Fitted Sheets?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I happened across an article about Lisa Quinn, a former lifestyle correspondent for ABC, who has written a book titled Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets: Your Ultimate Guide to Domestic Liberation. The article explains that the book's title comes from a time when a producer asked Quinn to teach viewers how to fold fitted sheets, and Quinn tells the producer she had never folded a fitted sheet in her whole life. The article continues:
In her new anti-Martha, shortcut manifesto, Quinn advises women that folding fitted sheets can only result “in a migraine” and sheets looking like “a huge turban.” “Stop stressing about it. Just wad it up the best you can, and shove it in the closet. Most of the wrinkles stretch out when you put the sheet on the bed, anyway.”
I am just going to say that I find this to be appalling advice. Once you know how to fold a fitted sheet, it takes all of about a minute and a half--and if you know how to do it properly, it looks nothing like "a huge turban." I've heard that years ago Martha Stewart folded a fitted sheets on Oprah and received a standing ovation from the audience. Why is this particular domestic task considered so difficult? I always fold my fitted sheets. What about you?

Kate Spade Picnic Bike Basket

Monday, April 19, 2010

If I were the sort of wealthy, carefree person who would spend a lot of money on a bike basket, I would drop $325 on this Kate Spade Picnic Bike Basket in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, that is a huge and insane amount of money for such a fun and frivolous detail, so it will need to remain a daydream. Oh, it's cute to look out, nonetheless.

It All Comes Back Around

Above are a pair of Sebago Docksides that I am thinking of purchasing this spring. They look almost exactly like a pair I had in about the fourth grade (in fact, everyone had them at that time). This is not the first time I've found myself craving an memory-inducing style: A few years back I bought a pair of fringed moccasins that greatly resembled a pair of shoes I'd had in junior high. Not long ago, I rediscovered the beauty of a Brooks Brothers oxford cloth shirt--in that instance, I was literally wearing the same shirt I'd had for 15+ years.

I guess certain fashions are timeless, they may go in an out of your life (or style), but if you loved them once, you very well may love them again. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that I don't fall back into love with the whole Doc Martens and flannel-shirt-around-the-waist look, shall we?

Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts

Friday, April 16, 2010

Some time ago, I received a copy of Lidia Cooks From The Heart Of Italy, but I never got around to trying any recipes from the book. What a mistake! I've always loved Lidia (in fact, I once waited in line to have her sign a cookbook) and her latest book is a reason all of its own to adore her.

My first test drive meal was Lidia's Chicken with Olives and Pine Nuts, which had appeared as an excerpt in House Beautiful (and reminded me to dust off the cookbook for a dinner party). This pan-cooked preparation is a really simple way to prepare chicken that is flavorful with a crisp skin and moist meat.

I served it with a beet and fennel salad from the A16 cookbook and a straightforward, but dressy enough for guests rice dish from Sheila Lukins's Ten cookbook. Dessert was cut-up strawberries and not-too-sweet strawberry ice cream.

Flowers from Gorgeous Concepts

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's spring and everything is in bloom, which inspires me to share some floral inspiration. Gorgeous Concepts is a New York City based floral design company run by two women who are passionate about what they do--one of them is a family friend. Susan, who is one half of the team behind Gorgeous Concepts, had a very successful career in advertising (which is how she knew my father and became a long-time family friend) before she started Gorgeous Concepts.

When she set out to start her new career, Susan started as an unpaid intern working with some of the finest florists in the city. I was amazed that she was wiling and eager to do this to learn her new craft. Above is a casual bouquet that Susan created as a simple springtime gift--I love that it sits in a formal, silver julep cup and uses traditional pink roses, yet still remains a little bit wild.

I'm inspired by spring blooms, but I'm also inspired by Susan. I hope when I am at an age that I could possibly retire I am brave enough (and creative enough!) to embark on a new career myself.

Brook Farm General Store

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I just discovered the blog Sunday Suppers, and I am totally in love. Through reading the site, I came upon Brooke Farm General Store, which is located on South 6th Street in Williamsburg. Check out Sunday Suppers's amazing photographs of the space. Doesn't it make you want to go shop there now? I am thinking I might need a weekend field trip to check this place out.

A Spring Weekend in Montauk

Last weekend, we went out to Montauk with a bunch of friends to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday and his brother's birthday. I lived (and worked) in Montauk for what may be the finest summer of my life, so it's a place I hold very dear in my heart. Montauk is not the Hamptons, it's a little rough and tumble, a lot salty and still very much "The End."

Above is the lighthouse at the Point and below is a short photo essay of some of the things we did on our fantastic weekend at eastern most part of Long Island.

Every morning we walked to the Montauk Bake Shop for coffee and breakfast. While I didn't eat the lobster cookies above for my first morning meal--I should have.

A trip down to the marina revealed that Gosman's Dock was closed for the season, but we made a new discovery as a result: The Dock. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the tuna melt sandwich, which is a hunk of fresh-out-of-the-Atlantic tuna steak, melted cheddar cheese and a shockingly ripe tomato served on a toasted English muffin. I am so sad that I didn't take a photo, it was worthy of a snap.

We stopped in at Teddy Roosevelt State Park to take a peek at my former home. While we were there, we communed with the horses, who live on the adjoining ranch.

The smoked marlin dip from the fish market just north of the center of downtown (I forget the name) is out of this world. You may be skeptical about serving it on a Ritz cracker with a pickled jalapeno pepper, but trust me, this is the only way to eat it, preferably just before dusk at the Point with a cold beer or a glass of crisp white wine.

Above is a view from the bluffs at the Point just after the sun has set.

Walking on the beach is pretty much the best way to spend an afternoon in Montauk. Pick up sea glass and shells as you walk.

Or, you can lie on a blanket, drink a Miller Lite and take an afternoon siesta, as our friend did above.

Or you can just drink beers and eat potato chips.

Or for the sporty, I highly recommend a game of Pro Kadima.

Belated Easter Post 2: Peeps Sushi

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

As crafty as our egg dyeing project may have been, I was knocked out by the Easter craftiness we discovered at an Easter Sunday brunch. Another couple had carefully crafted Rice Krispie treats, Peeps and Fruit By The Foot into Easter sushi--and it was totally hysterical and amazing and awesome to behold. Everyone who saw it smiled. Eating it, however, was not really recommended. If you did, you got the kind of sugar rush that makes you feel sick.

The clever couple who made the Peeps sushi revealed that is was surprisingly hard to find yellow peeps this year--they said everywhere they went in New York City had either multi-color boxes or purple Peeps. Weird, right?

Belated Easter Post 1: Egg Dyeing

I've been super-swamped with work and family in town the last couple of weeks, so I hadn't had much of a chance to post, but there's tons to tell. First up: Dyeing Easter eggs.

On Good Friday, my sweet boyfriend texted me the following message, "Does dyeing Easter eggs tonight sound good? I could pick up a kit and some eggs on my way over." Having never had a boyfriend who wanted to make crafts with me, I said, sure thing! To which he responded, "I know a dyeing trick or two." I have dyed dozens of eggs for photo shoots, so I wasn't exactly jumping at the opportunity to dye eggs. But you know what? It was a ton of fun (admittedly, the large bottle of sauvignon blanc may have helped).

After we ate dinner we laid down a painter's cloth on the dining table and set to work. The tools for our eggs were a standard egg dyeing kit, crayons, rubber bands and painter's tape. As you can see above, we used jam jars and juice glasses to hold the eggs.

For a drying station, we set a baking rack into a rimmed cookie sheet -- I think it worked better than popping the cardboard box out into a drying space.

Rubber bands made both abstract patterns and more uniform ones. One of our favorites is in the top right hand corner below--we called it the watermelon egg. I made it with rubber bands creating the stripes; I did a long dip in green dye, removed the bands and then did a flash dye in the blue.


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