Archive for August, 2009

Faux Faux Plates

August 27, 2009


It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Lorena Barrezueta’s porcelain disposables.  Clever pieces that riff on the ubiquitous and mundane, the lowly take out container is elevated in porcelain and gold, down to the flimsy crinkles and dents.  I love them, but they’re a little out of my price range, a distant fantasy of another life, another paycheck.  On sale at Anthropologie, I was thrilled to find a derivative of Barrezueta’s idea – ceramic paper plates.  Not as refined and exquisite as Barrezueta’s pieces, but for $8 a pop, I’m content with it in this life and this paycheck.  I only bought two, since I like not love.  Maybe one day, I’ll be able to upgrade to the real thing.

My Wallpaper, My Self

August 25, 2009


I have been looking for wallpaper to cover the back of the kitchen wall for what seems to be an eternity.  Ideally, I’ve wanted a decorative wallpaper with a little metallic in it.  I’ve looked at abstracts, baroques, pictorials, nature scenes, vintage, and new, keeping a list of resources from my dearly departed Domino.  Nothing has been quite right – too much of a detectable repeat, bad rendering, too flat, not the colors that I want.  Maybe what I want doesn’t exist.

IMG_3217 IMG_3227

Feeling a little defeated on the matter, I never thought that I would get lucky at the flea market.  I found a red hand-painted vintage chinoiserie print with metallic detail, really the wall paper of my dreams.  I did hem and haw for a while, wondering if it was too pictorial for my purposes, ultimately deciding that it could go into the pod, because for $10 I couldn’t afford to let it go.  Trying it out in both areas, I think that I like it best in the kitchen, how it warms up the space, and how it ties in with the vintage cabinet and the red/blue mat.  In the pod, aka my “bedroom”, it sequesters my chinoiserie in one area, or more like against one wall, which I’m not sure if I like.  

IMG_3237 IMG_3238 IMG_3239

For practical purposes, the wallpaper would be ruined if any oil got on it, as a patch test revealed, a strike against having it in the kitchen.  I have a long time to think about it, the hunt for wallpaper was long, but the search for a wallpaper hanger, may be longer.

Not My Chicken Soup

August 12, 2009

IMG_3207 IMG_3208 IMG_3209 IMG_3210

From an ancient pre-century issue of Martha Stewart Living comes Kate’s Lemon Chicken Vegetable Soup.  A chicken soup, for me, is generally a mish mash of what’s about to expire in the fridge or pantry.  I stridently veer from the water-y, salty Campbell’s soup variety of many a disappointing childhood lunches, erring towards excess which becomes something other than chicken soup.  If I was to follow the straight and narrow, my favorite recipe is the Cook’s Illustrated version which is the Cadillac to Campbell’s clunker – a hearty broth and chock full of noodles, chicken and vegetables.  Martha’s/Kates’ version doesn’t seem like a far stretch, if only better with the addition of lemon, herbs, tomato and parsnip – all things that I like.  Unfortunately, it’s not my cup of chicken soup, it’s just too sweet.  More of a function of the parsnips and mint, it’s a bit cloying.  The parsnips were doubly vexing with its spongy texture.  Sorry Martha.  Sorry Kate.

Sworn Testimonial

August 11, 2009



I stumbled across the Chef’n VeggiChop on TheKitchn’s Most Useful Kitchen Gadgets and I’m intrigued.  Somewhere between a SlapChop and a food processor, disguised as a salad spinner, it could be the answer to my small chopping dreams.  Instead of the force of gravity or electricity, the power is drawn from one’s own pull like a string salad spinner.  The more pulls, the finer the chop.  My questions are – how big is it?  how easy does it clean?  does it really work?
Chatting around the water cooler with a co-worker, I found out that she has one, and she loves it.  My questions were answered – it’s about the size of a 4-cup Cuisinart, it cleans up way easier than a blender, and it works brilliantly.  Sold!

Ikea Run

August 10, 2009


With the anticipation of an Ikea run on Saturday afternoon, I restrained my usual fervor at the Flea Market and stoop sales for some long needed (or unneeded) supplies.  For $30, everything that I bought was $3.99 and under.  Three more hermetic jars for the open shelves, more cute paper napkins, slippers, a melon baller (!), an extra set of measuring spoons, a toy for a certain 19 month old, and two pillows for the $1 pillow cases that I got at a stoop sale.  I wanted to get a Grilla pan and the Drommar dual bottom springform pan, but decided to hold of for a little more recon and more funds.  There was also a fancier, chicer version of the SlapChop in stainless steel, but, alas, it did not open up like a butterfly.

My greatest discovery was taking the shuttle to Ikea from Smith-9th Street.  An easy and short ride over, this is an enable extraordinaire to my Ikea addiction.

Knowing Couscous

August 7, 2009

IMG_3200 IMG_3201 IMG_3202 IMG_3203

From a June 2001 Bon Appetit, I saved a recipe for Minted Mediterranean Couscous.  Years later, I already know how to make couscous and tabbouleh the way that I like it, what could this tell me that I don’t already know?  That I don’t have to cook red pepper if I chop it fine enough.  That olives and feta make everything better.  That mint alone makes a great couscous salad.  Easy enough to make quickly, it’s a keeper.  That I know.


August 6, 2009

IMG_3213 IMG_3212

It took over a year, a minor mental meltdown, and diligent savings, but I finally got my oven.  I have mastered the fine art of procrastination on this one.  In March, I decided that I had enough money to get the oven.  In April, I consulted with an appliance installer who assured me of my decision and to call him when I was ready.  That meeting would require a cabinet fine tuning from my cabinet maker, who told me to call him when the oven arrives.  After a slew of guests in May and June, I purchased the oven which arrived in a matter of days.  My cabinet maker made his adjustments in minutes.  The appliance installer did his thing.  It’s done and it’s August.  I’ve only run it once to burn off the factory smells.  Now that it’s finally summer, it’s too hot to bake.  Maybe I should’ve waited until fall.

My New Favorite Place

August 5, 2009


I’ve taken to going to the Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn with it’s soaring ceilings and more spacious aisles.  But that’s not my new favorite place.  It’s Damascus Bread and Pastry Shop across the street.  A small family run shop since 1930, I am charmed by the specificity and the largesse of the bakery.  Fluffy pita, smoky baba ganouj, fresh feta, and a counter of flaky baklava that goes on forever, it’s just the beginning of the makings of the best urban picnic, even when that picnic is at my desk.  

What I’m having a hard time reconciling is if this Damascus bakery is the same as the brand of pita sold in grocery stores.  Stiff and cardboard-like, it’s hard for me to imagine that they would even be related.  With a quick search on the internet, the two stories match up, of a Brooklyn neighborhood store started in 1930 by Hassan Halaby.  It’s worth it to seek out the pastry shop, as so many other pita pilgrims do.

Damascus Bread & Pastry

195 Atlantic Avenue between Court and Henry Streets

Cobble Hill, Brooklyn


On a Roll

August 4, 2009

IMG_3196 IMG_3197 IMG_3198

Out of the files comes a Stir Fried Cabbage with Cumin Seeds from a 2006 New York Times.  Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey, it’s a simple recipe of cabbage, onion, and cumin that is insanely flavorful for its minimal ingredients.  Cooked within an inch of its life, the cabbage and onion become incredibly sweet together in dialectical opposition to their raw selves.  Lemon juice adds brightness; cayenne and garam masala, yet another layer of flavor.  The consistency is almost an Indian sauerkraut.

IMG_3205 IMG_3204

Essentially, the cabbage is more of a side dish than a main course.  So I’ve tried to be inventive with it. Since everything tastes better sandwiched or rolled in a wrap, I made a kati roll – an Indian version of a burrito.  A paratha serves as the base, a schmear of mint sauce for contrast, the cabbage is the star, and a little feta in lieu of paneer.  It’s harmonious and messy, but a tasty mess.

I Heart Pizza

August 3, 2009


I don’t know if it’s a recession special, but I love Gonzo’s 2 for the price of 1 pizza special on Mondays.  The grilled pizzas are super thin and oblong, with a crust that is crisp and slightly flaky, not brittle or stiff.  Toppings are an adventurous lot – mashed potatoes and corn; arugula, prosciutto, and watermelon – along with the standards of margherita and meatball.  And since you can get two toppings halved on the same personal size pie, there are more combinations to enjoy.  $18 a pie is a bit spendy, but not for two.  There’s plenty to take home, which heat up nicely being so thin.  All for the price of one.

Gonzo, 140 West 13th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues