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Archive for the ‘culinary’ Category

I’m changing “Link Lot” to “Friday Finds.” (I apparently love alliteration.) And I’ll be expanding on the links round-up, adding more photos and slightly longer descriptions.  I hope you’ll enjoy the Internet finds that have made me smile, laugh, cry, cheer, and otherwise be inspired this past week…

1. This new “Black Label” collection by Ban.do is gorgeous, but wow, do these photos add something! That hair is to die for. And the model is Alison Sudol from A Fine Frenzy, which is one of my favorites. This really can’t get any better. [Photo layout via Oh Joy!]

2. Cartoonist James Sturm is quitting the Internet (and blogging about it, ironically). Catch his bi-weekly installments of words and pictures on Slate.

3. Patchwork pillow lust. Must have this. Made by The Sometimes Crafter.

4. Author Donald Miller asks, “What If?” The same question novelists ask of their characters when writing a story is the most important question you should ask yourself in writing your life story. Do it.

5. Nomnomnom. Actually, I might not be able to eat cookies this cute. The little white nonpareils send me over the edge. [Via Oh Happy Day]

6. Imagine The Matrix with Will Smith as Neo. Now go see what the movie poster would have looked like, along with many more posters of movies as they were originally cast at MovieFone. [Via PopEater.]

7. Ever heard of anyone knitting graffiti? To promote Art Week Austin, the Knitta Please crew is yarnbombing light posts, street signs, and businesses. I love this lamppost in pink and green argyle.

8. The future is here, and it includes sewing machines that match thread to your fabric. Seriously. The technology combines white thread with CMYK color processing. Sweet, right!? [Via Craftzine]

9. I was heartbroken this week to learn of the death of Alicia Parlette, the 28-year-old copyeditor at the San Francisco Chronicle that had bravely blogged her journey living with a rare form of cancer. In an early post, she wrote: “If I get through this, this story will help me remember the important moments along the way, the details, the dizzying emotions. And, in the worst of all circumstances, if I go through this life-changing ordeal and my body just wears out and I die, I will die a writer. The one thing I’ve always wanted to be.” Alicia, you were a beautiful writer and a lovely person. Thank you for sharing your story.

10. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a million times already, but I love looking at wedding blogs. They’re always packed with beautiful photographs, stunning dresses, creative decor ideas, etc. If you’re looking for creative inspiration, I highly recommend hitting the wedding blogrolls. Anyway, I adore this rustic Washington wedding featured on Style Me Pretty. A barn, homemade jam, and loads of DIY touches… wish I could have been there.

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As a treat to share with family for Easter, I did a little cupcake decorating for “thing” number twenty-three.  I got the idea to use Starbursts as fondant-like accents from Lisa Leonard’s blog.  You just spray a plate with Pam, arrange several unwrapped Starbursts, and zap it all in the microwave for 10 seconds.  The candy becomes soft enough to flatten and cut with cookie cutters.  I used a small flower-shaped fondant cutter (which I stole from my little sister’s pastry-chef stash… hehehe… thanks Lindsey!)  Cute, no?

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My sister Erin gave me some cinnamon Amish Friendship Bread starter, saying it would make a good “thing” for my project. So, for the past 10 days, I’ve been kneading a Zip-lock of mush, letting air out as the bag inflated, adding ingredients on the days specified, and otherwise trying to keep it away from the kittens as it sat and fermented.  Today was the day to add the final ingredients and bake. (One of the ingredients is instant pudding mix. Instant pudding mix? Doesn’t seem right for something named after the Amish.) I have to say, it looks beautiful, glistening with cinnamon-sugar and cracked across the top. At first, however, I wasn’t particularly in love with the taste. Somehow, it tasted like banana bread, and if you know me, you know I don’t consider that to be a good thing! But, I kept eating it, and I’ve now consumed a big, thick slice and it’s kind of addicting…

I now have four Zip-locks of bread starter to pay it forward and fulfill the whole “friendship” angle. If you’re in the Bay Area and want some, please let me know. I won’t promise it will not taste a little like banana bread.

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Mardi Gras Feast

My whole family loves New Orleans and Cajun/Creole cuisine, so for Mardi Gras this year, we spontaneously threw together a feast at my parent’s house, with each of us cooking one of our favorite dishes.  What we ended up with was a lot of fried food and carbs! Hush puppies, fried okra with spicy mayo dip, fiery Cajun shrimp (with the extra juices as a bread dip), chicken and sausage jambalaya, red beans and rice, and beignets.  Everything was so tasty.

I made the beignets, which was quite an adventure.  While making the dough after work, I realized I was missing an ingredient (shortening) and sent Paul for an emergency trip to the grocery store.  By the time he returned, we were running late to dinner, and in my hurry I mixed everything together in the wrong order, resulting in a ruined mess.  So, we tossed that batch, gathered up the rest of the ingredients, and headed for my parents’.  While they fried okra and hush puppies, I made the beignet dough a second time (correctly).  Before letting it rise, the recipe called for kneading the dough.  It was so wet and sticky, kneading was nearly impossible, but I did what I could.  Rising took two hours (which is why I was supposed to make the dough ahead of time… hehehe), so we watched the Olympics after dinner while we waited.  The dough did rise and roll-out nicely, but it was just as wet and sticky.  Instead of cutting perfect little dough squares for frying, I made all kinds of crazy shapes.  My mom and I laughed over pieces that resembled rubber chickens and shrimp with tails.  But, I have to say, by the time we fried them up and bathed them in powdered sugar, the beignets were phenomenal.  Totally Café du Monde quality.  I can’t wait to make them again.  And I’m looking forward to future themed family feasts.  We have ideas in the works…

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On my 30th birthday, I convinced my husband to take me to see Julie & Julia. I’d read the reviews—how Julia Child’s storyline is enchanting while Julie Powell’s is, well, less so—but the trailer was intriguing and, after all, it is written and directed by Nora Ephron. (I’ve seen You’ve Got Mail about 23,461 times, and Sleepless in Seattle only slightly less.)

It was absolutely fantastic.  Seriously.  Easily top five of the year for me.  It was funny and sweet and moving.  I adored the relationship between Julia and Paul Child as it was portrayed in the film, and if their relationship was anything near as lovely in real life, this couple is a model for marriage.  They were consistently loving and respectful, honoring each other’s passions—and never forgetting to be silly along the way.

In contrast to the reviews, I saw Julia and her storyline as muse.  She is commanding and infectiously joyful, and for the film’s purposes: a flawless character.  She is who Julie Powell wants to be.  The Julie storyline, by contrast, is more realistic, showing the ups and downs of life and the tough work of finding passion and purpose.  And it is an honest portrayal of life as a blogger—the many hours, the narcissism, the loneliness, and wondering if anyone out there is even reading.

Both storylines were great, and on the whole, the movie left me wanting to… COOK!  The boeuf bourguignon, the pile of chopped onions (I love onions!), the baguettes, chocolate cream being poured slowly into a pie crust… mmmm… those close-up food shots were so beautiful and delicious.

Julie Child famously said, “I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate.”  That’s very good to know, because at 30 I’ve mastered little more than lasagna, grilled chicken, and tuna casserole.  I’ve always had, however, a great appreciation for good food.  I am blessed to live in the Bay Area, where you can get some of the best meals in the country, thanks to seasonal (and local) produce, fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, and almost any kind of ethic food imaginable.  It’s time I explore the creativity of cooking… stay tuned…

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