From a month or two ago, on my way to Bainbridge Island to see friends. Shot on a Canon A-1.
From a month or two ago, on my way to Bainbridge Island to see friends. Shot on a Canon A-1.
...lovely blue-and-white ticking aprons, handmade in Minnesota. (Personally, I've been in desperate need of an apron. So I'm thrilled to no longer have flour all over my jeans.)
...at Dahlia Bakery today, and it was too hard to pick just one. (Of course.) So I opted for three little treats: a fig bar, a flourless cornmeal cake with plums, and – my favorite – a coconut cream pie bite.
I'm guessing that many of you have made homemade granola. (I'd love to hear your favorite add-ins.) Me? I've been meaning to do it for years, but yesterday was the first time I actually got around to it. Here's my recipe...
Cranberry Date Granola (about 10-12 servings)
granola base from Chow
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. chopped dates
Preheat your oven to 300˚F. In a large bowl, combine oats, sunflower seeds, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine honey, canola oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. It's more effective and fun to do this part with your hands.
Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Remove from oven when the granola is light to medium golden brown. (Remember: it will still harden more as it cools.) Careful not to let it get too dark – it will taste burnt!
When the granola is completely cool, break it up and mix in the cranberries and chopped dates, then transfer to an airtight container and enjoy within two weeks.
p.s. for clumpier granola, try adding an egg white.
Listen to this story here:
The thing that drives Zeek the craziest about his mother is that she's always talking to everyone. It doesn't matter if they're in the supermarket, or at Powell Street Laundry, or in the waiting room at Dr. Pinsky's. His mother talks to anyone within earshot. She asks strangers where she can find a nice pair of boots like theirs, or informs them about how bad the traffic was on the drive in, or tells them some humdrum anecdote from her past. When she runs out of the truth, she moves into the imaginative parts of her mind. "I was in the paper once," she might say. "Got my picture taken and everything!" And hearing this, Zeek blushes and pulls on his mother's sweatshirt, whispering, Mom, Mom, stop please.
Other times, he can't stop her, like when he's sitting slumped outside of the womens' dressing room at Clark's, and his mother is telling the dressing room attendant about the diet she's been on for weeks and weeks, though in truth they've had hot fudge sundaes for the last three evenings in a row. There is even still a chocolate stain on the front of Zeek's shirt in the shape of a fox. But his mother is saying, "You get used it, after a while, all the calorie counting," while zipping up the floor length evening gown that she'd carried so happily into the dressing room.
"You must have a special event coming up, I imagine," says the attendant.
"You won't believe this," Zeek's mother says, "But I won tickets to a movie premiere. Hollywood! Here I'm in my forties, and I've never been. But with this dress... it's alright if my son comes in for a second, isn't it? Zeek, honey, come tell me what you think." And though he doesn't want to, he goes in. It feels like stepping through into another world, like being caught in some large, soft web. He sees her standing in front of a three-way mirror at the end of the narrow hallway, blue sequins shimmering all over. Her face is lit up, her cheeks rosy.
"Excited to go on your trip?" the attendant asks him.
"Trip?" he asks, and then, "Oh, right. The premiere." The attendant is still looking at him, smiling, waiting. "I can't wait," he forces himself to say, and for the first time in his life, he feels the thrill of the lie. It unfolds. It beckons him. You can say anything you like, it promises. Anything at all.
The sweetest pink-and-yellow dahlias. (Oh, those petals.)
Judith called his name for what felt like forever, and when he finally took notice, he couldn't believe it had taken him that long, considering the unmistakable way she drew out the a in his name like no one else did. "You finally heard me," she said, running to him, "Hi, James. Can you believe it? Running into me here?" She was panting for air, but smiling in that big way she always had. Ten years hadn't done a thing to her smile or her eyes. After she hugged him – during which he felt his face flush a little, having a sudden flashback to a dark booming gymnasium, slow dancing with her, her body warm – he asked what she was doing here. A conference, she said. Was she here long? No, just a few hours more. Her flight back to Colorado left that afternoon.
As she spoke, he moved his grocery bag behind his legs, obscured from her view. He hadn't really thought about it, until he parted from her and realized that the baby food jars were sitting at the top of the bag, and he also hadn't, somehow, really gotten around to telling her much about his life these days. He had even kissed her on the cheek before they said goodbye, a detail, of course, he would omit when he was at home that evening telling Cecile about running into his old high school girlfriend. At the end of his story, Cecile only responded by holding up one of the tiny orange jars and saying, "You bought squash. James, you know she doesn't like squash." And for a moment, he thought that Cecile meant that Judith didn't like squash, and he laughed, and then the baby laughed, and Cecile sighed and put the little jar back in the bag.
"Well, maybe one day she will," he said, and looked over at the baby.
"And she doesn't like peas, either," Cecile said, holding up another jar.
"Just hold onto them," he said. "She could soon change her mind."
...at the Woodland Park Rose Garden. (Shot on my iPhone.)
A little shop update: two cookbooks! The first is Small Sweet Treats, full of all kinds of sweet recipes, and the second is Tart Love, a guide to savory and sweet tart making. Both are beautiful books (Tart Love was photographed by the very talented Helene Dujardin) and I want to make every single recipe in them. Yum.
We have this one kitchen cabinet that I always dread opening because it's such a mess. Anything that I buy in bulk gets tossed into this cabinet, along with packages of crackers and chocolate bars and so on and so forth. I finally just couldn't take it anymore and invested in a couple dozen wide mouth mason jars (in both pint and quart sizes) and did away with all those saggy plastic bags and half-empty boxes. Now everything looks and functions so much better; it only takes me a moment to find those lentils, oats, basmati rice, popcorn kernels, panko crumbs, or even marshmallows. (Every pantry needs marshmallows, in case of late night s'more emergencies.)
Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
I welcomed September by pulling out my measuring cups and looking for a new recipe to try. This plum skillet cake caught my eye right away – it's baked in a cast-iron skillet, which I love the weight and simplicity of, and it gives the cake such a beautiful chewy crust. (I have a 9-inch pre-seasoned skillet.) Since the cake isn't overly sweet, it would be perfect for brunch or a mid-afternoon snack, especially enjoyed with a hot mug of tea.
Plum Skillet Cake (serves 4-6)
recipe from Martha Stewart
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a cast-iron skillet (8" or 9" works best), dust with flour, then tap out excess. (You can also use a regular baking pan, but the baking time may change.)
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk.
Pour batter into prepared skillet, and smooth top with a spatula. Fan plums on top, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly.
We lived in a house by the sea. Nobody there had seen a family quite like ours before; we had hair the color of fire, and we were so rosy skinned, and so tall. We had to duck under the doorways of our neighbors. "Twins!" people would say. "We thought that was just a myth."
But the Colliers – a retired couple, who had never gotten around to having any children – didn't act surprised. Maybe they had originally come from somewhere else. They had a little thickness in their voices, after all. In their pale yellow kitchen, Mrs. Collier pressed pastry dough into tart shells while we eagerly watched over her shoulder. She let us pour the filling in, then we sat at the dining table until they were ready. "Won't Mr. Collier want some?" we asked as we dug our forks in, but Mrs. Collier shook her head. She said he didn't care for sweets, and besides, right now he was in the woods behind their house, harvesting firewood and hunting rabbits for dinner.
"Oh," we said.
"Hundreds of them out there," she said. "Mr. Collier could bring you along next time, if you'd like."
Our mother had taught us to accept invitations, even when we didn't want to, and so we went with him the following Saturday. We linked our arms together, my twin and I, and we followed Mr. Collier at a cautious distance. "Let's turn back," we whispered to each other, shivering, but then we came to a clearing.
"There!" Mr. Collier said. "You see?" But we didn't see any rabbits. All we saw were stones upon stones, all smooth and gray and speckled with mica. Mr. Collier picked one up, and held it against his chest. He was smiling. We brought the stone back to the house, and then we politely said that we had to be home for dinner.
They watched us go, waving from the doorway. And the next day, they were gone. No house, no trace of the winding driveway, not a crumb. This is what we remember most from our time by the sea, when we were most awake, when we were so young.
Today marks three years since I launched my jewelry collection, and I have a new necklace in the shop made especially for the occasion. It's called just the beginning, designed with three frosted glass beads... and to celebrate, I'm giving one away! To enter, leave a comment below. International readers are welcome to enter. For up to 2 additional entries, tweet and/or blog about the giveaway, then leave a comment with a link to your tweet/post. A winner will be randomly selected at the end of the day on August 31st.
Update: Milynn is the winner. Thank you for your comments, everyone!
I'm also having a 20% off sale now through August 31st. Just use the coupon code "THREE" during checkout (click "apply shop coupon code" first). There's lots in the shop, so go take a peek!
And thank you so much for all your ongoing support – it means the world to me.
Two photos: passing by lavender while on a walk, and taking the ferry over to Bainbridge Island.
p.s. thank you for all your sweet birthday wishes!
This is what I spent my weekend working on... spice labels for Mignon Kitchen Co.! The set includes 40 colorful labels, and for fun, I included the spice's scientific name on each. I also have blank labels in packs of 12 that you can write directly on. The blank labels look just like the regular ones except without any text, and could also be used as little gift labels for homemade treats.
p.s. they'll work with practically any type of spice jar... but the jars shown above are from Target.
Once, when he was fifteen, and August was sweltering, he rode his bicycle from his parents' house on the hill down toward Lake Steven. In one moment he was furiously squeezing the brakes, and in the next he was moving in a kind of squiggle across the road. Then he was lying face-up beside the stop sign, one arm hot with pain. A shadow moved over him. "Young man," a woman's voice said. "You took quite the spill, didn't you?"
Her name was Lalani, and she substitute taught at his high school. He might have had her for math, but it was hard for him to think of anything clearly right then. In her car, as she drove him to the hospital, he had to keep his feet out of the way of a stack of books on the floor of the car.
"My son's name is David. You must know him?" asked Lalani.
"Oh," he said. He hadn't made the connection before, but now it seemed obvious: the caramel colored skin, the sharp eyes.
"He said you've made fun of him," she continued, and now her voice was lower. "You can imagine I didn't like hearing that very much."
"I don't–" he started, and then stopped. He moved one leg over on the seat, peeling it slowly from the hot leather. They were at a five-way intersection now, and Lalani had taken her hands off the steering wheel and placed them in her lap. He could feel her staring at him. The car behind them honked.
"Calling him fat, pushing him in the hall – that's what my David told me you did. You did do it, didn't you?"
The car behind them honked again. For a moment, he considered opening the door and running for it. He could find a pay phone, call his mother at work, have her pick him up. If he cried a little, she would feel sorry for him instead of lecturing him about his bike. But the bike was exactly the problem: how would he explain its disappearance? It would still be back there, crumpled in Lalani's trunk.
She was waiting for him to answer. In the side mirror, he could see the line of cars growing behind them.
"It's your turn," he mumbled.
"Yes," said Lalani. "It is, isn't it?"
I've mentioned how bad I am with houseplants, right? But I keep on trying anyway, because a house without plants feels too sad. These are my newest ones: tiny succulents that I bought individually and then arranged in a pot. Maybe these little guys will fare better since they have each other for company? I'm crossing my fingers.
A French 75 is one of my favorite cocktails to order with dinner, and recently I learned how easy it is to make it at home. You don't even need to own a cocktail shaker – just use a travel mug instead. Here's the recipe...
Classic French 75 (makes 1 drink)
recipe from Saveur
1 oz. gin
½ oz. simple syrup*
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
brut champagne or a dry sparkling white wine
lemon twist, to garnish (I used this technique)
Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.
*you can buy simple syrup, but it's very easy to make your own. Put equal parts sugar and water into a small pot, bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Store the extra in your fridge for up to a week.
Jeez, buying new furniture is daunting, isn't it? We had an area in the living room that needed filling, and after a lot of hemming and hawing, I bought this chair from West Elm, in "honey", although it looks caramel in person. It's the first piece of furniture I've ever bought that I would actually call beautiful.
"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second." – Marc Riboud
iPhone photos, processed w/ VSCO.
Do you have a favorite month? August has always been mine. My birthday is near the end of the month, and when I was little, I would make a paper chain at the beginning of the month and rip off a link every morning as I counted down the days. And now, so many years later, even though I never have birthday parties or make a big deal of it, that month-long excitement is still ingrained in me.
From last month's weekend trip to Ocean Shores. It was either rainy or overcast the entire time, but we went to the beach anyway, wearing raincoats. Indoors, we ate popcorn and salt water taffy and I tried to read The Sun Also Rises but didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. Oh, and the deer. There were deer everywhere.
It took Anna Maria longer than they had hoped to learn their ways. A month passed before she could prevent herself from talking about the things they didn't want talked about. They forbade talk of science fiction novels, but Westerns were okay; in fact, they liked to hear retelling of lawmen heading west, of confrontations in saloons. They asked her to tell these stories as they repeatedly bleached her hair until it was as white as bone. Each time, afterward, they braided it tightly, smoothing back stray strands with the gel they kept in small silver containers. They had used the same gel to heal her wounds after one of the expeditions, and even the scars had faded.
It took her longer than they had hoped to learn the dress code (long pants were not to be worn with long sleeves, and she was to always wear at least two layers of clothing) and it took her longer to learn the correct way to cook the fuga how they liked it, soft and undercooked, still green around the edges. One, spitting his fuga back into the bowl, claimed that Anna Maria was purposefully acting dumb in order to be sent back home, but no one took him seriously; he had claimed the same about others before.
But on Friday afternoons, when she was allowed on the viewing deck, no one had to tell Anna Maria how to act. This part she understood perfectly right from the start. With the others, she stood silently behind the thick wall of glass and pressed her fingertips gently against its cool surface. Until she was whisked back to her room, she remained utterly silent, unmoving. She simply stared out into the speckled black landscape, and without a coherent thought in her mind, watched the earth rotate.
A visit to Freeway Park, which almost feels like walking through an M.C. Escher drawing.
For those of you who are curious about how film looks on the Mamiya RB67 (120 film, not instant film), here are a few shots from my first test rolls. I love this camera – the only disadvantage is that it's huge and heavy. But still, it's such a pleasure to use. I love the manual controls, and the loud satisfying slap of the shutter, and the waist-level finder, which makes everything look more beautiful. It's like holding the world in your hands.
If you have any questions about the camera, feel free to ask in the comments – I just didn't want to clutter up this post with lots of technical stuff.