Friday, December 31, 2010
After my last little foray in advanced baking beyond my skill set, I realized that there were a few simple tools our kitchen lacks. A pastry cutter is one. Imagine cutting 2 pounds of butter into flour with a fork!
And so a second beautiful gift I received this year; my mom gave me my grandmothers pastry cutter. A hearty tool - well made and well worn. Of course I had to test it...and you guessed it! More linzers!!
I'm not one for much Christmas gift giving. The frenzy is a big turn off. I like to give gifts, really I do! I just don't have many people to buy for because I'm a salty old dog. It disturbs me how NPR reports the status of retail sales every damn night in the weeks leading up to Xmas. As they rattle on about the numbers, I envision a big front-end loader dumping garbage and plastic toys into a landfill. Oh well, I'm grinch-y like that. It's because I didn't get one very specific piece of plastic in 1986; The She-ra Princess of Power Castle. (Which is selling on ebay for $219!!!OMG I STILL WANT IT) A plastic castle so beautiful - so magical that only the best children got one. That Christmas morning proved to be a crucial juncture in my childhood - a defining moment - all my potential ambition and motivation in life crystallizing under the Christmas Tree; You want something, you have to get it yourself!
All that said, I did in fact get a few very nice things this Christmas. I've always lusted over the dishes that Astier de Villatte makes, they are so simple and elegant. Eric surprised me this Christmas with a little coffee set - a start of my very own collection! I love them so much and I feel like a princess using them every morning.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
When Mayor Mike called me the other day - not for a date - but to talk city business - specifically to ask my advise on declaring a snow emergency in NYC I was a bit taken aback.
It went something like this:
Sarah it's Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling -
Hi Mike, I know who it is, duh! We've been dating for - like ever. Secretly I mean. Secret dating. You OK? You sound like shit - does this mean we're not goi---
Right. Well I have an emergency and need your advice on how to get the streets of new york plowed and safe after snOprah.
Well Mike, why don't you start with your own block, East 79th street. Since there are so many people on the upper east side who have to go to work and may get fired if they don't show up...No need to declare an emergency! I'm sure that only people who would try to drive in this weather are those with diabetic children in desperate need of insulin or those of us who have run out of gin - by next Sunday the farthest reaches like Red Hook will finally be cleared - but don't worry about us out here, we all have fireplaces, conversation pits, furry kittens and plenty of frozen poultry. It's actually a party! A really fun party that we don't want anyone else to know about and so it's better if you don't plow us out. Wait! - Whoa someone just set up the ice luge in the hallway - gotta run!
Totally snowed in and bored here. I've always been the type to get bored easily. This morning we laid in the shallow snow drifts down at the park. That was the most exciting thing that has happened to me lately and so I include a photo of it here.
Then I came home and was bored. Made tomato soup and grilled cheese. Typical. Looked at stuff on the internet. All the same stuff. I took some pictures of dust in the apartment. Looked at my Christmas pictures. Boring.
Now I'm trying to wrap my head around the Copenhagen Interpretation and the infamous double slit experiment which indicates that electrons behave like both particles and waves - basically implying nothing is real unless we observe it.
Please know that I am real. And right now I am stuck in Red Hook and am very bored.
Monday, December 27, 2010
I have just consumed an ungodly amount of hot chocolate and am now understanding the nuanced variations between a caffeine high and a sugar high - the former being a more focused productive jitterbug (I'll sit down and read my book on quantum theory*, write some bills, make the bed), and the later causing irrational and wholly inadvisable decisions (I'll pull a 15 pound frozen duck out of the freezer and make it for dinner tonight, organize all my spices alphabetically, cut my hair, create my own dance routine to the theme song from Flashdance but first I'll make another cup of hot chocolate where are the god damn marshmallows?) and then of course somewhere in that thought process I figured I'd open the computer for the first time IN THREE DAYS - LOVE TIME OFF and write a quick note to you to say how positively crazy new york city is right now - how the streets in Red Hook haven't seen a single plow truck and how uncomfortable I'm starting to feel as the thought of being truly snowbound for several days crystallizes.
So I did what any child of the suburbs knows to do in a snowstorm - stock up on unnecessary provisions! I snowshoe-d it down to the Fairway. Inside was positively empty and eerie. Fruits perfectly stacked, ghostlike aisles brimming with untouched dry goods. I played Howard Carter, greedily inspecting and unearthing the hidden treasures of a once thriving supermarket. Hand packed ricotta? Picholine olives? Certainly I'll need these things in the afterlife! After loading my basket with what must be three-day old produce I danced Walk Like an Egyptian over to the cookie aisle and slipped in a puddle from my own melting snowsuit.
Surely you'll hear more from me in the next few hours/days as it seems we're not going anywhere for a while.
*I've recently "found" Schrodinger's cat. A little joke around here as I was reading a book by John Gribbin called In Search of Schrodinger's Cat. Neither alive nor dead, both alive and dead.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
This has always been my favorite Christmas cookie. And you know I try not to throw superlatives around too much. BUT! Raspberry-jam-filled-crushed-almond-crust-latice top? Dare I expand the genre and say the linzer is my favorite of all cookies? The universal favorite?? I will. But truth be told, these jams don't just whip themselves up - The Linzer proved to be a true labor of my love. Especially considering my track record for baking - one which the average toddler could strive to beat. Measuring? Not in my skill set.
The Austrian Linzer's level of difficulty in the realm of Christmas cookie baking is why I chose to make a quadruple batch of them during one of the busiest weeks of the year. Anyone could have measured all the dry ingredients wrong. And some people might be lucky to have a crafty mother to call in a panic when they realize that 16 cups of flour to 1 stick of butter is not an appropriate holiday cookie ratio. My mother - ever the high school homeconomist - reintroduced me to the concept of lowest common denominator and it's application to measuring mishaps. So, the quadruple batch became a 16-tuple batch after the math was worked out and a quick trip to Fairway provided the extra dry goods (which is where I ran into reader Jenny - so nice to meet you!). Do you think anyone has a bowl large enough to mix a x16 batch of cookies? Niet! My assistant recommended using a garbage can. Ah, the creative life of a 25 year old...
So, we're eating linzers around here. As of this morning everyone at the flower market is eating linzers. My neighbors and friends will soon be eating linzers. And when I see you mom on the 25th, you'll get well deserved share as well.
Austrian Linzer Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 slightly beaten egg
1/3 cup ground almonds
You will also need: 1/2 cup raspberry jam, 1 more slightly beaten egg and 1
tsp of water.
Sift together flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon. Stir in
brown sugar and cut in butter.
Mix in the egg and the ground almonds well. You'll have to do this with
Spread a bit more than half the mixture into an 8" x 8" square pan. (If you double the batch which you will want to - use a 9x13" pan)
Spread with 1/2 cup of raspberry jam.
Take the remaining pasty and roll out flat. Cut into strips about 1/2 inch
wide. Lay the strips over the jam in a lattice pattern. Mix egg with 1 tsp
water and brush over lattice.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.
Cut into bars when cool...enjoy!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
We taught a fun Little Flower School class last week over at Nicolette's studio. A coupla repeat students (always fun because I can be harder on them) (joking!)... Also got to meet some new folks, including Nina who owns Bakeri in Williamsburg. So inspiring getting to know a little about her business...have you ever been there? It's my favorite spot ever for a coffee, especially the small nook towards the back garden.
Speaking of baking, I've been getting all my holiday ducks in a row and did a little experimenting in the kitchen today...LINZER COOKIES! You like them? Ever had a real good one? Working on a post with a recipe for you tomorrow.
Lastly - I mentioned that 2011 is bringing lots of good travel tidings... Nicolette and I are off to CALIFORNIA to do some research and flower classes in LA and SanFransisco the second week of March. Details coming down the pipe line in the next few days - I'm so excited I can barely stand it...
AND FINALLY! here's that Saipua Bazaar mix tape for you - a lil something to wrap prezzies to perhaps?
Friday, December 17, 2010
Just returned from doing a flower delivery tour around Manhattan (including to John winner of the free flowers who was super duper cute and gave us a box of macarons, REALLY? people are so nice).
In case you missed it - I posted some anemone/xmas tree farm pics over at the LFS blog yesterday. Our citrus class is tomorrow and we just - thank god - got an emergency shipment of citrus-on-the -stem in from California. Florida has been having had a brutal frost this past week, and the citrus has been non existent at the market this week. If it didn't pan out we were going to just serve OJ and mandrine vodka and stick cloves in tangerines if the box didn't arrive...
And gang, I am so excited for the new year. I've got so many ideas going for it - tons of travel - tons more floral research - flower GROWING (!) and finally going to start writing the book I've been meaning to work on forever.
I hope you've all got a fun weekend lined up kittens - I'll talk to you next week. OH! and before I forget - we're extending store hours here at our Red Hook studio - Saipua open every day through December 23rd; 12-6pm ... so maybe we'll get to see some of you who work weekends out here Monday or Tuesday?
Thursday, December 16, 2010
where do the weeks go, geeze louise! it's Thursday and time again for...
THE JUST BECAUSE INITIATIVE in which we select a commenter at random to receive flowers delivered to them on Friday in Manhattan or Brooklyn.
You have comment to win kids!
(At first I wrote "You have to pay to play" which has such a nice ring to it, but in fact is not true. NO MONEY EXCHANGED IN THIS PROCEDURE, PROMISE! You do, however, have to pay attention to what day it is, a problem which I have been having trouble with lately. Nutty week here - but I did manage make the first batch of carrot soup last night, which came out so good and tangy, it almost reminding me of a tomato soup - and so we made grilled cheese to go with it - trying to put a dent in the embarrassing stockpile of half-eaten pieces of cheese in my refrigerator.
But hey, this carrot soup was different and even easier than the last one, and so I'll write it down here. If you had kids, and they like tomato soup, they will eat this and not know the difference - swear!
Easier Carrot Soup
Skirting the guilt of copious amounts of grilled cheese consumption with a psuedo-vegetable. A lesson in balance.
Half a bag or more of carrots, chopped
1 or two onions, chopped
[put those in a pot with a knob of butter, a glug of olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt, and maybe some cumin as I did]
Cook for a while till vegetables brown, then add 2-3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock and 2 cups of water
Cook till carrots are very tender
Process till smooth with a food processor or stick blender
Return to pot, season with salt and pepper, thin with water and then add the juice of one whole lemon (very important - do not deviate from the lemon step!)
Reheat and serve!
Monday, December 13, 2010
A totally crazy week is finally over. Saturday showed us three weddings and flowers for a S&M Santa party. (We didn't ask.)
Then the Bazaar on Sunday, which we somehow pulled together in the 11th hour - meaning we wrapped soap frantically from 8-10am and then cleaned the studio in a whirlwind - eventually opening the champagne around 1pm. So much for being on time.
Today I wish I had:
a personal masseuse who did house calls.
then a bit of my particle physics reading over a lunch of warm roasted kabocha squash with lentils, hazlenuts and goat cheese on a bed of micro greens.
While we're at it, I'll take a loft apartment with a great big modern bathroom the size of Rhode Island. With a tub that fills in no time. Actually I'd be happy with just a clean tub.
Then later I'll mosey over to my mirrored bar and stir myself the perfect martini. turn on my soundsystem and what's playing?
now we're relaxing!
Hope you had a great weekend.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
getting ready for Sunday's Bazaar..taking our mixtape s s s s s se se serious
when we get it all assembled, I'll post it so those of you who can't make it out can hum along..
[HERE IT IS!]
otherwise our wreaths are made, glitter glittered, cocktails planned.
soap wrapped. candles bagged.
and the geodes have been dusted*
and now we got FAY onboard selling her wares, so the plot thickens.
I CAN'T WAIT.
* Yes, I bought some geodes at the NY Gift Fair last year. Got a little trigger happy, k? Don't judge me! Some sold, some didn't. A girl can have her geodes and ... keep them too. But I might just put some on sale come sunday. So if you've been dreaming of a hot pink agate geode book end set then...girl, I got chu!
Leave a comment to win anemones and ranunculus delivered to your door in Manhattan or Brooklyn on Friday. I will personally deliver it. We don't have any heat in the studio and so any opportunity to ride in the car is hotly pursued around these parts...
Monday, December 6, 2010
my favorite wreath from this past weekend. isn't there a poem about birds and blackberry pie? that would be a fitting name for this. except these berries are not edible. I should just say that right up front. I have to familiarize myself with nursery rhymes because Eric and I have a new little niece and her name is Inez Famisan-Robertson - born Friday under the sign of Sagittarius!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I crawled out of bed tonight for a late bachelors supper of toast* and wine around 10pm. My book is getting good and I came home after the longest day, took a hot shower, and retreated to bed to read. This never happens, and it was actually rather nice. Sweatpants; who knew?
Up now with strange energy, I am trolling the internet, desperate for some entertainment. At this point little can top the patty-caking kittens on youtube. The bar has clearly been set. I revert to answering emails.
Trying to find some photos for a client, I got lost in a wistful perusal of unedited Iceland pictures from September. Unedited meaning there are 3000 of them. I'd like to write more about that trip sometime. For now it's better left encapsulated in the confines of my iphoto.
I did find these (and lots of other pictures of sheep). The top photo reminds me of me and my mookie. We're in a big fight right now, but I still love him. On good days it's us against the world.
*my friend Jenna has brought to me a loaf of rosemary bread from the promise land. (OK, Buffalo) And it is the most ridiculous thing, toasted with butter and a dab of my mothers tomato jam. You're like loosing it right now just thinking about it, right? Well this loaf is almost done, finito, toast (ah, intended?) and I almost cried tonight about it. I considered emailing her mother in Buffalo and asking her to barter this bread for soap, an elaborate UPS trade criss-crossing NY state - a sort of honest fishes and loaves sort of scheme transpiring, (except with soap, not fishes obviously) the film cuts to quick cut footage of artisans making bread, soap, the line of travel dis-dashed on the whimsically drawn cartoon map...
Friday, December 3, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
The drumbeat keeps up marching on around here, day after day arranging, candle delivering*, wreathmaking, yule log eating (thanks to Joelle)...
I got my elves busting grooves here to the hot 97 around the clock.
Eric and I, in an attempt to learn to dance like Rihanna in time for our Holiday Bazaar, both pulled muscles in our quads. Can't stop.
I got a wreath with your name on it Brooklyn or Manhattan - leave a comment to win it and we'll deliver it tomorrow (Friday). Actually tell me what color/kind of wreath you want too...
*In a bit of a mad rush yesterday before our wreath class at Nikki's in greenpoint, we did a made a mad-dash tour to lots of our Brooklyn stores delivering the new candles. You can now find them at: Stuart and Wright, GRDN, Bird (on Smith Street), St. Kilda, and Cloth.
It was nice to see all of you guys!
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
It's effing bananas outside here in nyc with 50mph winds and practically hot rain. The first of December, can you believe it?
I ran into someone this morning who commented on the "insane" weather we're having and it brought me right back to brooding about the environment and how royally fucked up it is.
That, combined with all the overwhelmingly annoying retail jargon going on in the mainstream media (cyber monday hit a new traffic record!) has led me to my own little holiday gift guide which is almost 100% earth friendly:
PLANTS! Why not wrap a little begonia or african violet in burlap and ribbon or newspaper and twine and write out a thoughtful card including instructions on how to care for it. I'd like to get that. I mean, if I had room for another begonia. Which I don't.
Or a tree? Or some bulbs. Tulip bulbs. No? Paperwhites?
Pet rock perhaps?...
I love to hear your thoughts on eco-gifts. Is it just another way of selling shit lately? By calling something eco-friendly. Sometimes it feels like it to me.