Thursday, March 31, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake, Lemon Curd: A twist on the citrus classics

Lemon Curd & Lemon Pound Cake

My husband recently had to take a sweet treat to work. This is what I sent him with: A classic lemon pound cake, fresh lemon curd, and a stick of butter.

Why a stick of butter? Well, because it's what turns these two seemingly normal confections into one of my favorite desserts of all time: Grilled pund cake with hot lemon curd.

Directions:

1) Take the pound cake and slice it relatively thin.

2) In a hot griddle melt butter - and I do mean the salted kind - about a teaspoon pat per slice.

3) Fry/grill the pound cake to a lovely golden brown crispness on the outside set it on a plate.

4) Warm your lemon curd until it is nicely viscous/slightly runny then spoon the warm lemon curd over top of the pound cake.

Amazing.

Sure, you could add ice cream if you wanted but the combo of the sweet-tart lemon curd, on the salty-sweet, dense pound cake? Killer.

Lemon Curd & Lemon Pound Cake 2

This was the lemon curd recipe I used. In the future I'll be testing many more. I can't say it's my all time favorite though it is very, very good.

For the lemon pound cake I used a recipe from a cookbook we were given for our wedding - one I, admittedly, thought was a little simplistic but quickly grew to completely adore: The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook. The truth is no one knows how to make everything - it's so helpful to have any easy to use, completely accessible guide. This was, believe it or not, my first time making pound cake from scratch and I knew I could find a reliable recipe in the America's Test Kitchen cookbook. I was right and the pound cake was perfectly lemony, poundy, and cakey. Funny enough? This has become one of my favorite wedding gifts as well.

Do you have a favorite dessert that is a twist on a classic? What about a favorite lemon curd recipe for me to try?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

52 Pickup: 12/52

Remember, all 52 pickups are open to interpretation. My interpretation might not be the same as yours - make it yours, make it a mantra, make it life lived well.
This week the pickup is:
Last week we re-tuned: eliminated clutter to clear the path for the self we've evolved into, allowed ourselves to say farewell to that which no longer serves us. This week, we ignite, or reignite, depending on your journey.

While clearing out a bit did you remember something you love, identify something that is missing, dream a little again? Did you start to think about a plan you've had for ages but never done anything about? Did someone or something remind you of a version of you you might have forgotten about, or even liked a little better?

yoga

Last week I started yoga again. Truth be told, I have pre-paid classes that needed to be used up before they expire (a great motivation to get thee to a gym when one is on a tight budget!). I've been wanting to go back to yoga for some time now. 

Back. Key word. 

I loved yoga. I used to practice as much as 6 times a week. I went from not being able to touch my toes to being able to bend into some amazing (and amazing feeling positions) (for instance). Was I a little overboard? Maybe. I mean sure, I would bust out a yoga move, on command, in my best friend's kitchen...but then again, friends allow that sort of thing. 

Here's the thing. Life got in the way. I moved, we moved, we welcomed a baby, I changed jobs, my husband changed jobs, I tried to go to a new yoga practice, I went with a friend even - but it didn't stick. For one, I fell in love with the Ashtanga style of yoga - that isn't offered anywhere around here. For another, I wasn't in the frame of mind or physical place to be committed. 

Have you bought into my excuses yet? I did.

But there are certain things that leave in imprint on us: music, movements, passages in books, things we know will forever be a part of us. For me, yoga will always be part of my soul. It is part of my sense memory, my muscle memory, my memory of a better self. 

So I went back. A different practice, a different style. I had to fight my own body even in the very first session, to ease, to not immediately skip into deeper poses and harder positions that are engrained in my memory, to experience the moment, more slowly, more deeply.

That first class back my teacher started class asking us to open our hearts, telling us that we would be doing movements to open ourselves (read: open the chest, move the shoulders back, counteract slouching and slumping forward). She then asked us, "Who is in your heart? Who lives in your heart?" 

My answer was immediate, it was an "of course" answer: My husband, my child, my family, my friends.

We went through practice. It felt good. Actually, it felt great. For a moment I was the me I wanted to be: a combination of the former physicality I loved with my more current mental mind. I found myself smiling...beaming, even.

Then we slowed down. We began to go into the more meditative area of practice. My teacher asked again, "Who is in your heart? Who lives in your heart?".

It hit me, no, more like lifted me. Of course my family, my friends are in my heart...but I wasn't. The simple act of doing yoga, of moving in a way that brought me joy began to put me back where I needed to be: in my own heart. That's when it happened. I couldn't stop it. I didn't try to (it was dark): huge, swollen tears fell down my face as I lay there, looking up (at an Om symbol, no less), each on crying out "oh!" and "I remember!" and "of course!". 


Is it a little embarrassing to tell you I cried in yoga? Maybe. But I needed to: if that kind of catharsis can't motivate you to commit to something that makes you whole I don't know what can.

I felt reignited. Alive with fire, passion, commitment, and goodness. 

For me, my grounding is in mindful movement: my drive from being where I need to be physically and mentally, strong, centered, and willing to commit to loving myself as much as others. For you it may lie somewhere else. You may fill yourself up when you perform, when you create, when you cook, when you write, garden, dance, listen to jazz...whatever it might be. Have you forgotten something that made you whole along the way?

Is it time to reignite that part of yourself? Time to let that light, that godliness inside of you, that part verging on sublime out again?

I say yes. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recipe: Mustard, Maple, Horseradish Pork


Well friends, I've entered another recipe in a Food52 Contest. Luckily when they asked for best recipes with horseradish it just happened to be what we were already having for dinner. No point in not entering that contest! Below is my recipe and some background, which you can see on the Food52 site:


Mustards_Horseradish


  • I happen to love things that have a tangy, spiced depth to them - mustards, horseradish, something with a hit of vinegar or a layer of heat, pungent and savory. When spice and sour meet perfectly to create a full flavor that dances on tastebuds but doesn't overwhlem, that's my perfect food.

I'm also not a fan of pork chops.
In order to combine something I love with something my husband loves I decided to use my favorite condiments to flavor pork chops (though this works equally well on a roast, or even lamb). Originally I started with a bunch of mustards I had made, but then I added in some local maple syrup and horseradish to find the depth I was really looking for - rosemary rounds out this marinade to form a grounding savory note.
So now I can have my favorite flavors and my husband can have his pork chops, and we can continue to have wedded bliss - at least at the dinner table.


SERVES 4
  • 2-3 teaspoons Extra hot horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon Yellow Mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Stone ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Dried rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • Pork chops or 1 Pork roast
  1. Season meat with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Grind rosemary with a mortar & pestle, with a clean coffee grinder, or with a food processor until smooth.
  3. Combine horseradish, mustards, maple syrup, and rosemary in a bowl - mix thoroughly.
  4. Slather the marinade on pork chops or roast. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins - 3 hours.
  5. Cook pork until internal temperature is 160F. For roast, preheat oven to 350F and bake, preferably on a rack, for 30 minutes per pound. For pork chops grill or pan fry until done.
  6. Excellent with mashed sweet potatoes, fresh asparagus and a citrusy white wine.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Paper, Scissors, Rockin' Art: The Book as Metaphor and Medium


I've had a tab open to Brian Dettmer's website open for an embarassingly long period of time. I just can't bring myself to, um, bad pun, close the book on it.


I've been intrigued with the concept of a book as alternate medium for a long time - thus, I find myself incredibly attracted to the use of a book as a vessel, metaphor, art form, etc. I think some of this fascination truly came to a point of import with the advent of digital readers. The seemingly unchanging, ever present format of a book - in it's physical form - was suddenly, strikingly altered and threatened with extinction.

This is no small matter in the history of humanity; The invention of the printing press (thank you Gutenberg) could be considered the spark for the entire way of life as we know it. Printing enabled faster communication, the spread of ideas, leading to revolutions - scientific and religious - that have informed our entire current systems of education, market economy, business and so forth. I won't bore you with things you already know or can surmise - this is just to say, a book is a serious matter...even those trashy novels (as much as it pains me to say). If you are interested in the implications of the printing press there are some excellent resources, in book format, of course.


Brain Dettmer's pieces are always thought provoking. I find myself ruminating on another thought each time I pause on his work: how is a book altered by it's presentation/cover/posture, the implications of physically placing the human image into pages, the concept that to see the depth of a book you have to remove all the linguistic depth - the outright statements that provide knowledge related depth, and so forth. Needless to say, I'm impressed.


Alternately, but related, I've also had a tab opened to a  page for Jonathan Safran Foer's newest book, Tree of Codes. I might have mentioned it before but indulge me - Jonathan Safran Foer is probably my favorite author. Ever. Which, I think, is saying something. But I to tend value my own opinion - I'm humble that way. 

Well, never failing to beat any expectations I might have, good 'ol JSF knocked out another doozy...but he didn't write it at all...well, not exactly. He interpreted it, you could say. Here's the reactions it gets:


Why? Because he took his favorite book and then excavated it, removing language, changing orders of words, manipulating the pages, context, and physical structure to form an entirely new story. 

From the Visual Editions site (go peek through the pictures to see how it all works together): 

Our early conversations with Jonathan Safran Foer about Tree of Codes started when Jonathan said he was curious to explore and experiment with the die-cut technique. With that as our mutual starting point, we spent many months of emails and phone calls, exploring the idea of the pages’ physical relationship to one another and how this could somehow be developed to work with a meaningful narrative. This led to Jonathan deciding to use an existing piece of text and cut a new story out of it. Having considered working with various texts, Jonathan decided to cut into and out of what he calls his “favourite book”: The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz.

And here's a peek at the Making Of:

I can't wait to get my hands on this book! I can't even begin to wrap my brain around how long, and how much work this too - the die maker alone must have worked, tirelessly for ages. It is truly, a work of art - and such an interestingly masterful manipulation of the medium, yet entirely accessible to the public at large. Pretty darn awesome...you know, in my opinion.

Be sure to check our other Visual Editions books as well - they have more visual writing books in the works and a great Flickr pool collection of visual writing (you probably already know Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer as an example - if not you should check it out for the visual style as much as the story).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Kind of Love: Mail

We forgot to get the mail yesterday. It was worth the wait.

WeHeartPaper_Notecards

WeHeartPaper_Quote

Beautiful letterpress cards from We Heart Paper. Thank you Janie - they are gorgeous!

DinerJournal_Spring2011

DinerJournal_Spring2011_2

DinerJournal_Spring2011_3

DinerJournal_Spring2011_4

Spring edition of Diner Journal. Decadent.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Reads

First up? Not a read at all. A listen more like. I'm in love with The Sixty One. Essentially it is new artists and music - where you can vote on what's good. It cuts out the distribution middleman and pays artists higher sums per sale. But besides that, it makes for amazing background music - and you can skip what you don't like, or favorite what you love - and yes, some songs you can even download. I'm loving The Asteroids Galaxy Tour right now...literally, while I type. The XX is pretty amazing too. Oh shoot - most of it is great. More info here. (Update: FYI there is an app for the iPad if you happen to have one: Aweditorium )

Christoph Niemann's "My Illustrated Life" amused me more than once this week. Awesome cartoonist/illustrator/graphic artist with a brain...makes for a great read/viewing experience. If you think you recognize his name that's because you do. He's the master mind behind Abstract Sunday on the New York Times - which is always a great read.

And that is, literally, all I have for this week - but hey, take your time with them. Or don't - and go out and enjoy a little "real life".

Happy weekend friends!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I've got a bad case of Jayme Dee



The song "Love Whiplash" has been knocking around in my head for some time now. Can't get it out of there and that's ok - I like it, it can stay, because I've got a bad, bad case of Jayme Dee!

I can't even lie - she's ridiculously cute so I'm only a little jealous of the cute+talented+catchy trifecta. Just a little.

Even better (worse if you are the jealous type, I suppose)? She's had a few rounds of photographs taken by the crazy talented Trever Hoehne.

Best yet, for all of us? If you're a super-sleuth (which I am), you can get not one, but two free downloads of her music. First: sign up on her site jaymedee.com to get a copy of "Honey". Second: lose yourself for a while on Trever's blog treverhoehne.com/blog...somewhere on there is a free download of "Love Whiplash"! That's right, I'm being cruel and making you find it yourself - because I really want you to see his awesome work (oh come now, it's not that hard to find).

Super, super sleuth update: There are ton more free downloads on Jayme's YouTube Channel - check the video descriptions out.

Now all we have to do is sit back and pretend not to be impatient while waiting for an album to drop.

Umm...Tic-Tac-Toe anyone?

For a little audio preview:



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

52 Pickup: 11/52

Remember, all 52 pickups are open to interpretation. My interpretation might not be the same as yours - make it yours, make it a mantra, make it life lived well.

This week the pickup is:

This week we retune. We reevaluate where we are and what surrounds us - does it serve us? Is it aiding our life, our path, our goals? Is it a vestige of a time past? Is it a burden or a "it's been there so long I forgot to notice it" type thing? 

We're constantly growing, changing, evolving into and out of the person we want to be: we are never not on a path. Even when we pass on the lore and legend of our selves is passed around through stories and memories. At any given point we surround ourselves with what makes us passionate, the people we associate with - physical and virtual spaces filled with definers of "who we are".

The problem is, we forget to tuck things away in boxes, create real or virtual scrapbooks, cut ties, or otherwise move on. Especially now, here and now, in this forever remembering space of the internet, we are even more laden with the moments, memories, and cues of our past selves. We forget to retune our spaces to the station of where and who we want to be and keep listening to the music of the past.

Don't get me wrong: memory is as powerful an agent of change as anything. Memory helps an addict think past that first drink/dose to reflect on what choices to make, or rather to not make. Memory connects us with family, friends, shared moments and intimacy - it can be a tool for empathy, reigniting love's flame, drawing us back to the person we want to be when we stray from our path. Memory is absolutely, inextricably tied, as much as goals and dreams to becoming who we want to be. What we keep says as much about us as what we let go of though - mindfulness matters, in all spaces and places that define, refine, promote and restrain you.

But. Caveat emptor. What have you bought into or brought into your life that has no purpose there? Where? Why?

By not being mindful we can find ourselves stuck listening to musak: safe, but uninspired. Choosing to retune our stations, our frequency, to associate with people, places, things that drive us forward, incite excitement, humble us we retune our souls and serve the whole of humanity better with our new song. 

Is it time for you too retune your station or song? Which ones? Why?

Radio Dodge Truck Vintage

As many of you know our journey to simplicity has not been easy or fast. Thankfully though the house, the physical space is beginning to feel completely manageable, devoid of excess (starting to, there is always more). That freedom though, that feeling of stress being lifted, made the virtual boons more obvious. How many blogs do I have stored in my reader that I have no true interest in? How many people am I following on twitter that I ignore, or worse yet, kind of annoy me? Same with facebook, bookmarks, junk on my desktop - you name it. Why?

Why?

Why am I following along with people on twitter for instance? Because they are supposedly influential? Because someone mentioned them/cares about them? How is that serving my path? Especially if that is no longer the path I want to take? No, I will never be someone that follows 7,000 people on twitter - I simply cannot process that much information, I cannot build meaningful relationships with nearly that many people. That's ok. I am ok with that. 

I'm retuning. I've chosen to actively involve myself with people and products that remind me of the best parts of me that have been forgotten or have yet to fully shine. I've been quietly, yet actively removing, reorganizing, and reevaluating. Meanwhile, I've also been adding. I've been adding back in books and authors I have read or want to read, influences that challenge my mind or creativity, art that pushes boundaries in me. It isn't a matter of overcoming averse moments or influences, it is more a purposeful mindfulness, an active choice to turn up the song I want to hear in myself instead of the deadpan radio that I let play. I'm retuning.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rainy Tuesday

It's World Water Day - and boy, do we have rain!

How to keep dry and warm on a rainy, cold day? Well, here's what I've been doing:


Wax Seal


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'd vouch for them: Eco-Products worth knowing about

EcoProducts


Since deciding to be more friendly with ourselves and the earth we've tried a lot of products - some good, some terrible. Let's be honest, the process of transitioning from mainstream to off-the-beaten path isn't always easy and the process of removing toxic chemicals from our house has been a slow-going road.



It's taken us about 3 years to really transition fully into new cleaning, beauty, personal care, and household products. Why so long? Well, first of all, to not be wasteful. We wanted to make good choices but not waste a ton in the meantime. Secondly, it took that long to search out and find solutions we really like - some we found right away, some took trial and error. Third, the process of educating ourselves about toxics - all the chemical names and what they do or don't do, what makes things work (what makes soap foam, for instance) and what needs to stay or go - takes some time. It's ok to take your time. Real change takes time.


Just in case you are looking for alternatives I thought I might let you know about a few products that were a little more difficult to pin-down for me - but, where I finally found something I truly love.


Toothpaste
We've tried them all...at least I'm pretty sure we have. Toothpaste is not a bright spot in the land of toxic-free living - it usually tastes a little strange, is chalky or has a weird texture and while you can get used to it you never really love your toothpaste. Until now.


Burt's Bees recently unveiled a toothpaste line that is far and away the best toothpaste we've had in years. Not only are there selections for adults and kids, they also have whitening or not, a gel or paste, and customer service that blew me away.


When we first tried this toothpaste I was in awe, shocked, but it was hard to find - so I bought 6 (yes SIX) tubes where I finally found a Whole Foods that carried it (over an hour away). Problem was the tubes are, or were, mmm, weird. The tubes cracked up the side and toothpaste seeped out. It was gross but I could deal. For some reason though, the other day, I thought I should mention it - I was promptly given a few replacement tubes and told about improvements to the packaging. So far, no problems at all, and the commitment to customers was heartening. So basically, I'm never switching brands again when it comes to toothpaste.


Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant
Remember I mentioned that some toxic-free products can take some time to transition into? Deodorant is, far and away, the most irritating to transition to/from. It can take, literally, weeks to months to get your body reacquainted with a "normal" production of sweat, etc. It's not that you sweat more, necessarily, but that scent or feelings of moisture can be something more than you are used to...and it's gross, frankly.


The Tom's of Maine Long-Lasting selections are a great place to start in your transition. They do contain propylene glycol (PG) though, which can be linked to a few things (click on the link if you want to know more), like skin irritation. The scents are nice and light, the product doesn't leave a nasty white buildup, and it's aluminum free. Overall, it's a great start and a good summer stand-by.


If you are trying to go further or someone who is needing less in terms of strength I've had success with the Alba Botanica PG and Preservative Free options. Alba's line is super hypoallergenic and great for sensitive skins - and they are methylparabenpropylparabenaluminum and propylene glycol free. If this is where you decide to start you may want to pack it in your purse though, as you might need a re-application sometimes while your body makes the transition.


Moisturizer
This was another one where I tried a lot of products - most too watery, some way too thick, and then I found Desert Essence Daily Moisturizer. This stuff is the best. The best, I tell you - great for everyday and so cost-friendly (as in around $5-7!). The packaging has changed since I last purchased the one pictured but the rest is the same - and for those with very sensitive skin (me), it doesn't irritate, redden, or otherwise hurt. 


Lip Care
I love Aveda products, though I will admit they are sometimes pretty cost-prohibitive, as well as location-prohibitive. Since photographing the image for this post I've also found out they no longer carry the one product I was going to feature. 


That said, I do like some of the Burt's Bees line in the lip department, but luckily, finding something you like is usually a matter of color-preference more than anything when it comes to the "natural" department - this is one area where, I think, the formulas are as good, if not better than the main-stream products.


I should note, for those of you wondering, that the Cosmetics Database is an excellent search-tool for finding, identifying, and understanding what chemical are in your products - search by product, chemical, or company to find information about allergens, cancer-links, and other pertinent information. I highly recommend taking some time to find out what is going on 'behind the scenes' in your favorite products!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

52 Pickup: 9/52

Remember, all 52 pickups are open to interpretation. My interpretation might not be the same as yours - make it yours, make it a mantra, make it life lived well.

This week the pickup is:



Have you been aching for more time? More money? More rest? More excitement? Looking for something to fulfill where you feel lacking? Always. Right?

What do you treasure? How can you seek it out and find it? 

Want more entertainment and culture? Have you checked out your local library? They often have free programs for music, museum passes and free movies. What about the symphony? You would be shocked how inexpensive tickets can be (especially as a student). Still saying no because you need a babysitter? Can you set up an equal share system with a friend - you watch their kid(s) one night, they watch yours?

Want more money? Are you really using what you are paying for? Can you trim your bills in new and unexpected ways?

With a little creativity, some patience, and an open, honest heart you can find the treasure you are looking for – probably right in front of you.

The Money Shot

As some of you already know we finally went smart-phone free this week. "Finally" because we meant to do it a month ago but the process was a bit laborious, and, "free" being a relative term. What we realized was that we weren't using our cell-phone minutes, not even barely. Further, we are almost always in places with wireless internet connections. Even more, we didn't want the distraction that smart-phones were bringing to our family – being able to connect socially was taking away from real social connections. So, not using full value + access anyway + not being tempted to check email while being together = bye, bye smart phone.

We switched to, of all things, prepaid phones. No contract was an especially appealing option and, with as few minutes as we were using, we could use, combined, in one year, just over what we were paying per month. That adds up (as in, estimated savings: $1,500). Since our old technology still works, we just popped out the SIM card, disabled data downloading and we can still surf on the couch or wherever there is WiFi. 

Recap: We turned our iPhones into iPod Touches. We got prepaid phones.

What I learned was this: I could achieve many goals with one action (in this case: more money, less distracted time with family) and I could create value in the process. Now that we have the prepaid phones I think of the time I spend on the cell phone in terms of monetary value - before I didn't and I wasn't valuing where our money was going. At all. Further, there is no distraction from trips to the zoo or the grocery, no temptation to check email while at a stop light (terribly dangerous anyway), no escape from being aware and engaged, i.e. the elimination of ubiquitous, omnipresent behavior. I call this a win.

Even more? I challenged my own perceptions of self and ego. I will admit, I had a stereotype of who the target market was for a prepaid phone. I never considered them because we "didn't fit". Foolish and so conceited. But sometimes that is what it takes. A buried treasure is buried for a reason: because you haven't found the solution, you can't see it, or you didn't remember it was there.

Maybe your treasure is in your storage boxes, a literal forgotten find. Perhaps your treasure is metaphorical, or one of eliminating thoughts that hold you back. Or perhaps your treasure is simply still waiting to be found.

What is your buried treasure anyway? Found any recently?