Thursday, December 12, 2013

winter weekends

Winter is the most bittersweet of seasons.

There are times when it feels like magic. When the snow is falling softly and you're walking in the woods and the world looks untouched. When there's a house to return to with a toasty fire and strong coffee.

But even the most magical winter days feel shrouded in a sort of sadness that I can't really explain. I suppose it's the knowledge that this cold, dark world will continue for months.

I spent the weekend making things. I went to my mother's house in the country. It's on a little spring-fed lake, which is particularly scenic when it's frozen over.

Saturday, we canned dill pickles and made marmalade.Sunday morning, we ate cornmeal waffles with bourbon syrup. We went into town and traipsed about the antique stores. I bought tiny old-timey tourist trinkets that remind me of people who are too far away. As if drinking from a frosted glass could somehow bring them closer to me. Later we gathered herbs and pine boughs and made tiny wreaths.

I returned to Detroit and hung a tiny wreath on my door and listened to a Bing Crosby Christmas record I found at an antique shop. I settled into the sort of peaceful sadness that winter seems to bring.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

simple autumn wedding cake

Alcohol often leads to a surge of confidence in people. So it's no surprise that I agreed to make a wedding cake for my friend Holly after a night at the bar. I woke up the next day with the sinking feeling of making a promise I couldn't keep. But I decided to stick to my word and go for it.

I'm incredibly fortunate to have laid back friends. Over the last few years, I've been in quite a few weddings and all of the brides have been wonderful. Rather than throw high-pressure, high-maintenance events, they've had simple, beautiful, non-traditional days that I will remember forever. So with no direction and knowing that any attempt would be appreciated I went forth. 

My first attempt was a ginger, carrot cake. Another girlfriend and I tried it out one Friday evening a few months before the wedding in her new house.

It was an utter disaster.

We made the cake and put it in the oven. Then we talked in the kitchen over a few glasses of wine while it was baking. At some point, I leaned back against the oven and the door fell off. We scrambled to keep it in place, at least as long as the cake was still baking and managed to rig it to stay on.

We managed to scrape through disaster number one only to find that the cake was super crumbly and fell apart when we removed it from the pan.

So we scratched that recipe.

My second attempt went far better. This one, a carrot apple cake, didn't break anything and stayed together wonderfully. I brought a taste to the bride and groom and they gave it the green light. So that was that.

I have been utterly in love with naked cakes lately. There's something so simple and natural looking about them and I prefer the sparse frosting. I made the cakes the day before. The morning of the wedding I frosted them and headed to Eastern Market to buy fresh flowers to decorate. The reception was at the Gaelic League, so I brought the cake there and threw some flowers on top.

It wasn't perfect looking, but it didn't have to be. Love is always a little flawed.

simple autumn wedding cake

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups granulated cane sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups grated granny smith apple
1 cup chopped raw walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and coat in a light layer of flour. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine oil and eggs in a small bowl, then add to dry mixture. Add the carrots, apples, and walnuts until just mixed.

Divide the batter into the three pans and cook for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from pan to cool completely.

*I frosted these cakes with a simple buttercream. The recipe will make a three layer cake. I made two batches to get four layers. I had no extra frosting, but two leftover layers of cake. Fortunately, this cake is still delicious without frosting.

Friday, November 8, 2013

where to begin?

When I moved to Michigan I thought all of the change was done. I was engaged and had a job and a tiny house with a garden. But life is never that easy. And I was miserable.

It took me far too long to realize it. I hurt people who didn't need to be hurt and made promises I couldn't keep. And when everything fell apart I had an overwhelming sense of guilt that seemed to crush my entire being.

But I'm not a villain. What I did was incredibly brave. It is often easier to just let life happen to us than to make the choices that will make us happy. I've finally realized that what other people think or feel about my choices doesn't mean a whole lot to me. They don't have to live my life. I do.

So I'm beginning again.

This time in Detroit proper. And I'm in love with this city.

I live in a tiny sparsely furnished flat with my cat. I can walk and bike anywhere I want to go. And the city has so many things to offer.

My favorites:

Exploring the labyrinth that is the main branch of the Detroit Public Library. Going in without a plan, getting completely lost in the stacks, and leaving with an armful of books I would never have planned to read.

Wandering the galleries of the DIA and being brought to tears by every painting of the moon.

Waking up early on Saturdays to get fresh produce, flowers, and coffee at Eastern Market. Having little girls there tell me I'm pretty and they like my flowers. Giving flowers to said little girls.

Late-night drunken fires and archery tournaments in backyards full of chickens and gardens.

It's lovely. It's perfect. It feels like home.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

bourbon & ginger

We spent a long weekend wandering through Kentucky. It was the first time we'd ever let ourselves be spontaneous on a road trip. We went without a schedule or reservations. It was amazing. We did more in four days than I ever would have thought. We saw cities, small towns, and the country-side. We ate some of the best southern food I've ever tasted. And we drank loads of Kentucky Bourbon.

I'm a beer drinker, but I will occasionally drink a whiskey drink. My drink of choice is Whiskey & Ginger. This homemade version was inspired by all of the amazing cocktails I had in Kentucky.

Bourbon & Ginger

bourbon & ginger

Ginger Ale recipe from my photo journal

1 ginger root, peeled & thinly sliced
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
club soda
2 limes
Kentucky Bourbon

Heat ginger, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and strain to remove ginger from syrup. Allow syrup to cool. Mix 1 part bourbon, 1 part ginger syrup, and 3 parts club soda. Squeeze a bit of lime juice into the glass, and garnish with a slice of lime.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

coffee ice cream with cacao nibs

It's unofficially summer.

We sort of skipped spring altogether. It's so hot in our tiny attic bedroom that it's hard to sleep at night. But I never do in the summer. There's too many reasons to stay up. All I want is to travel, eat ice cream, drink beer, and visit with friends. Everything else is an obstacle.

I kicked off my summer trips last weekend with an impromptu trip to Cincinnati to help my very talented friend, Jodi, to help her at a craft fair. Although, I was only there for a short time, I really enjoyed the city and will be passing through again in a few weeks.

I can't wait for more adventures. I already have plans to go to northern Michigan, to explore caves in Kentucky, to go to Pitchfork in Chicago, and to hold our annual craft camp in teepees in Ohio.

I have also started making homemade ice creams. I refuse to break down and buy an ice cream maker, so I'm sticking to no churn recipes for the time being. When I was in Cincinnati I picked up a growler of cold brew coffee from The Coffee Emporium. I had never seen a growler of coffee before. What a cool idea! I used that to make this coffee ice cream and it was stellar.
  coffee ice cream with cacao nibs

coffee ice cream with cacao nibs

recipe from The Vanilla Bean Blog
  coffee ice cream with cacao nibs

Monday, May 20, 2013

new music monday

If you haven't listened to Acid Rap yet. You are seriously missing out. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lemongrass Udon Soup

There is something about a bowl of noodles that's inexplicably comforting.

For me, udon tops the list. Biting into those thick, chewy noodles is the food equivalent of falling into a bed made with a giant comforter and so many down pillows that you feel you are sinking. A bowl of udon soup is the perfect compliment for a melancholy mood. The kind that is painful

but beautiful too

so you sort of bask in it while it's around. Those are the sort of days when a noodle shop is the most splendid thing you've ever seen. It's better still if it's raining. You watch the fragments of light caught in drops sliding down the window. You are lost in the steam from the bowl in front of you.

My udon is never comparable to the stuff found in a good noodle shop.  And the noodle shops here aren't comparable to the noodles I had in Japan. Old men hanging around a counter. Picking out your bowl from a vending machine that shoots out colorful chips. Not knowing what you are ordering, but certain that it will be amazing.

I just found out that my dearest friend is coming to Michigan from Japan on holiday this summer. It will be this first time back since he moved there 7 years ago. I am elated. I only wish he could bring me a bowl of noodles in his suitcase.

Lemongrass Udon Soup

Lemongrass Udon Soup

Recipe adapted from Food, Pleasure, and Health

4 cups of vegetable broth
1 package of udon noodles
4 scallions
1.5 tbsp fish sauce
1.5 tbsp soy sauce 
1 lemongrass, chopped
5 cremini mushrooms, sliced
bean sprouts and cilantro, to garnish

In a medium sauce pan bring broth, scallions, lemongrass, fish sauce, soy sauce, and mushrooms to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Cook the noodles seperatly according to package instructions. Add cooked noodles to broth and serve. Garnish with bean sprouts and cilantro.

Lemongrass Udon Soup

Thursday, May 2, 2013

earl grey tea loaf

A few weekends ago I went on a bit of a Virginia Woolf kick. I have never read any of her novels, though I intend to. But I'm currently engrossed in reading her letters, which are collected in six volumes. I picked up one of those as well as a book of correspondence between Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, with whom she had a love affair which simmered into a friendship.

The letters are enchanting, from both women. I can't stop reading and re-reading passages more beautiful than anything anyone could ever say. And I can't help but feel a yearning to be privileged and English in some other time. As if it would make me a better writer or more desperately in love. Take this passage from a letter from Virginia to Vita.

I try to invent you for myself, but find I really have only 2 twigs and 3 straws to do it with. I can get the sensation of seeing you—hair, lips, colour, height, even, now and then, the eyes and hands, but I find you going off, to walk in the garden, to play tennis, to dig, to sit smoking and talking, and then I cant invent a thing you say—This proves, what I could write reams about—how little we know anyone, only movements and gestures, nothing connected, continuous, profound.
It's Perfect.

At the end of that rainy, English weekend I made an Earl Grey tea loaf, which seemed fitting. I am terrible with conversions, and completely botched the correct measurements for the tea loaf. Somehow it turned out well enough, but I won't bother with sharing my flawed directions here. I found the recipe on Vanillyn.

Earl Grey Tea Loaf
Earl Grey Tea Loaf

Saturday, April 20, 2013

cherry & whiskey upside down cake

 Stiff Peaks

Whenever I read these words in a recipe I have a panic attack. I can never get stiff peaks to form. I'm not even sure what constitutes a stiff peak.

I made this cake for Trevor's birthday and I was able to form half of the required stiff peaks. That is, I successfully made homemade whipped cream. Whiskey whipped cream at that. I'm not a huge fan of whipped cream, but a little whiskey can make anything amazing.

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Recipe, nearly verbatim, from Endless Simmer

Almond Meal:
1.5 oz salted almonds
1/2 cup flour

1 cup sugar
6 tbsp water
6 tbsp butter
9 1/2 oz cherries, stemmed, pitted, and halved

1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teas baking soda
1/4 teas salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 teas vanilla extract
1/4 teas almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whiskey

Whiskey Whipped Cream: 
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp whiskey

To make the almond meal, place almonds and flour in a food processor until the mixture resembles sand.

To make the topping, place sugar and water in a saucepan and stir until dissolved. Let the dissolved mixture come to a boil, and, using the handle, swirl the occasionally. Continue to boil until the mixture becomes a medium amber. Remove the pan from heat and add butter. Stir until combined. Pour the topping into the bottom of your cake pan and place the cherries cut-side down into caramel mixture.

To make the cake mix the almond meal, flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined. Beat the butter until fluffy (using a stand mixer, if you are so fortunate, but I did it by hand in a pinch). Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Add half of the flour mixture, followed by the buttermilk, followed by the other half of the flour mixture. After each addition, beat until just combined.

Place the egg whites in a clean glass bowl. Beat until foamy and soft peaks form. The mixture should triple in volume. Slowly sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix until combined. Pour in the whiskey and beat until combined. Fold a third of the egg mixture into batter with a wooden spoon. Gently fold in the remaining egg mixture.

Spread the batter evenly over the fruit topping. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

To make the whipped cream, place the wipping cream in a cold bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Slowly sprinkle the sugar onto the cream and beat to combine. Slowly pour the whiskey down the side of the bowl and beat to combine. Do not overbeat.

Cherry & Whiskey Upside Down Cake

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

pistachio & currant camping bars

When I was around 7 years old my best friend and I made an elaborate scheme to run away to the woods. We marked the date on my calendar and planned everything down to the most minute detail. We hoarded jugs of water and snacks. Our bags were packed, our red wagon was loaded. I don't remember what stopped us from going. Perhaps we were discovered by a perplexed parent. Maybe we always knew deep down that we weren't really going to go.

Even as a child I loved camping. In the summers, my dad would set up his giant green army tent in the back yard and we would sleep outside. When we took family camping trips it always rained and the people next to us always jammed to CCR and drank cheap beer around the campfire late into the night.

Lately, all I can think about is camping. Days spent hiking through the forest and reading on the beach. Stopping in your tracks to gaze at the stars because you forgot how beautiful they are without imposing city lights. The wafting scent of a campfire from your unwashed hair. Subsisting on only bison jerky, trail mix, and beer.

This year I thought we could expand our camping food repertoire. I love larabars and I've seen a lot of homemade versions floating around the 'net. I love a pistachio, so I thought I'd make some with those. I liked the bars a lot and will definitely be trying different combinations of fruits and nuts.

pistachio & currant camping bars

Pistachio & Currant Camping Bars

1/2 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried currants
1/2 tbsp water

In a food processor, blend the dates, pistachios, and almonds until a crumbly dough is formed. Add the currants and process until combined. If the mixture seems too dry, add a tiny bit of water at a time until it begins to stick.

To shape the bars, put 1/4 of the mixture into wax paper and press into a bar shape. I used a small cutting board for the top and bottom and a large knife to flatten the sides.

Store in the refrigerator.

Makes 4 bars.

pistachio & currant camping bars

Thursday, April 4, 2013

vanilla coconut ice cream with dark chocolate chips

I am not religious, but I have the overwhelming guilt and love of altruistic abstinence that comes with being raised Catholic. So, I celebrate Lent. This year, I gave up gluten and animal products.

I think I enjoy the challenge of not being able to have a lot of foods. It makes you try new and unusual recipes that you might not if you have an easier alternative. This ice cream was one of those recipes.

I had never cooked with real vanilla beans or coconut before. This was mostly due to being a starving student living in an expensive city. It turns out that these items are both expensive and difficult to work with. The vanilla wasn't so bad, but the coconut had to be pounded open with a hammer and nails. Yikes!

The result was worth it. Lovely, animal and soy free ice cream without the need for an ice cream maker.

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

adapted from This Rawsome Vegan Life 

3 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 3-4 hours
1 1/2 cups coconut meat
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup raw agave syrup

Seeds from one vanilla bean
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
Chopped organic dark chocolate, to taste

In a blender or food processor, blend all of the ice cream ingredients, except the chocolate until smooth. Once, you ice cream looks creamy, add the chocolate until just blended.

Place in a sealable container and freeze. Remove your ice cream and defrost for 20-40 minutes. Place back into a blender or food processor and blend again. Spoon back into container and re-freeze. Remove from freezer at least five minutes before serving.
Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Chips

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Why do we dwell on what is lost?

I once thought if I left this place I would shed the layers of sadness that I sometimes seem to cloak myself in. As if never laying eyes on anything that reminded me of the past would erase it from existence. What I learned was that you cannot run from what is inside of you. All of the sadness you've ever felt will always be with you.

But you can forgive yourself.

And you can forgive others.

And mourning the dead forever won't make them come back to life.

My memories are always yellowed and scratched and filmed on a handheld camera. They are melancholy but lovely. Margarette Mitchell put it perfectly when she said,
I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken -- and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived.

Monday, April 1, 2013

new music monday

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

orange carrot beet juice

I've started juicing again (not steroids). I've been trying to rise early and make juice for breakfast. This time of year I always feel a little downtrodden because I'm ready for fairer weather. Every time it snows is like a slap in the face. All I do is daydream about camping and running outside and swimming and friendship bracelets. Something about drinking fresh juice makes me feel like it should be warm outside. Maybe I can fool myself into thinking it's springtime.

Orange Carrot Beet Juice

Orange Carrot Beet Juice

2 oranges
4 carrots
1 beet 
Fresh ginger, to taste (I use around two inches)

Peel your oranges, beet, ginger. Carrots only need to be peeled if they aren't organic. The outer layer will contain pesticides in conventional carrots that should be removed. Juice and enjoy.

Orange Carrot Beet Juice

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

diy yoga mat spray

Last week I tried Bikram yoga for the first time. I had previously done hot yoga, which was just a Vinyasa flow in 95° heat. I had only heard rave reviews from my sister and friends who have taken Bikram, so I was excited to finally try it.

Here's how I like my yoga. The instructor is a little on the hippie dippy side. We listen to calming music. Hell yeah I wanna hear Bon Iver while I'm doing sun salutations, so what? The instructor makes corrections so you know you are doing the postures without fear of injury.

Here's Bikram yoga. There's no music. The instructors yell into microphones to push harder into poses. You are in the personal space of a very sweaty old man, who is only wearing tiny shorts and is better than you at Bikram. You feel like you are going to vomit, faint, or both. The instructor stands at the front of the room and does not make any corrections.


I had to leave my third class because I was pale, cold, and seeing stars. I want to give it another chance, but perhaps Bikram and I are not made for each other.
When you're sweating all over your yoga mat, it needs a serious cleaning after class. In lieu of buying expensive mat cleaner, I decided to try making my own. I was pleased with the results.

DIY Yoga Mat Spray

DIY Yoga Mat Spray 

1 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
10 drops tea tree oil
20 drops essential oil of your choice (I used a pine wild scotch oil)

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. To use, spray your yoga mat liberally and allow to sit for a moment. Wipe down your mat with a damp cloth. It will take 5-10 minutes to dry completely.

DIY Yoga Mat Spray

Monday, February 25, 2013

new music monday

Now that I'm living in Hamtramck, I have the pleasure of hearing CBC Radio when I'm driving. I have a long history of love for Canadian music (think Sloan, not Barenaked Ladies). I heard Dan Mangan performing live the other day and it made me cry.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

loser unplugged

The last week was overwhelming. On Thursday, we picked up the keys for our tiny house. I spent the weekend painting, cleaning, and moving things in. There have been some surprising problems with the house, such as a bathroom light that does not work. But, other than putting on my make-up in the dark, living in our own house seems to diminish those little flaws. 

We haven't had the internet set up yet, so no blogging for me. I went through serious withdrawals. It was sort of an eye opener to see how "plugged in" I have become. I still can't wait to have internet again, but maybe I will look a bit harder at how much my life revolves around it from now on.

On Monday, I started my new job as an interactive graphic designer. I'm finally using the skill set I went to school for. It's exhilarating and scary at the same time. When you're doing something creative for a living, it's difficult to detach yourself from the work you're making. You don't have complete artistic control and you may be asked to do things that aren't aesthetically pleasing to you. It's a challenge every day, in a way that I've never experienced in a job before. 

This weekend, I'm back in Brooklyn, watching my mom's dogs while she's on holiday. We are taking a day trip to Allen, the antique capital of Michigan, to look for some furniture for the tiny house.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

lettuce wraps with peanut sauce

As of today, I'm moving out of my mother's house. There are so many things I'll miss: television, sleeping in, ice skating, playing with my nephews, etc... What I won't miss is all of the junk food. It's been a constant battle between trying to be healthy and eating with the family. I'm looking forward to having complete control over my kitchen again.

For my last lunch with my mom, I made these Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce. They were easy and relatively healthy. 
 Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce 

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons natural creamy peanut butter
4 teaspoons soy sauce or Braggs
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 package of faux ground beef crumbles
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons soy sauce or Braggs
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha 

1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots

1 cup matchstick-cut red peppers
2 cups hot cooked quinoa
8 lettuce leaves 

To make the sauce, heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add minced shallot and saute for 2 minutes. Add water, peanut butter, soy sauce, and red pepper and whisk until blended. Bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in lime juice.

To make the filling, heat olive oil in a large skillet of medium heat. Add the green onions and saute for 1 minute. Add the faux ground beef and saute until cooked. Add soy sauce, ginger, sugar, and Sriracha and saute for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in cucumbers, carrots, and red peppers.

Fill each lettuce leaf with about 1/4 cup of quinoa. Top with about 1/2 cup of the filling. Drizzle with peanut sauce and serve.

Prepping Vegetables
Prepping Vegetables
Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I went old media for my Virginia Woolf text + image project. These words break my heart.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

tiny house

I alluded to a lot of changes last week without going into much detail. They are now set in stone, so I can be a bit more specific.

First, I got a job.

Second, I am moving into a tiny house.

We found the tiniest carriage house in Hamtramck and we move in this weekend. I am ecstatic about having my own tiny home, without all the caution and irritation that comes with sharing ceilings and walls with neighboring apartments.

I'm starting to paint the place the minute we get a key. I have already decorated everything in my head. I spent much of my weekend scouring the internet for the perfect paintings and furniture. In the spring, I can have a tiny garden in my tiny yard. My head is swimming with all of possibilities of tiny house renting.

Monday, February 4, 2013

new music monday

It's usually difficult for me to like new music that isn't rap. But, anything that sounds like it's from another time is more likely to win me over. Hence, my new found love for Foxygen. Shout out to Caylee of If You Seek Style for tweeting about them.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

diy embroidered sweatshirt

Embroidered Sweatshirt

I love grey fitted sweatshirts. I buy every one I find when I'm thrifting. I would wear them everyday if I could. Recently, I saw a pin that had a grey sweatshirt with an embroidered collar. I figured it would be a way to spruce up my collection. I am so happy with the results!

Embroidered Sweatshirt

Thursday, January 31, 2013

a change is coming

My life transitions have usually been slow. Mapped out in advance, like a family vacation.

The last two months have been getting in the car and driving. No maps. No destination. Just grab your sunglasses, put on your favorite mixtape, and drive.

It's scary to do something without a plan. But it is also liberating. I think it can be so easy to fall into a routine, even if deep down you know it's not the right routine for you. Eventually, you either succumb to being eternally unhappy or take what feels like impossible risks to secure happiness. Take the risk. Playing it safe never got anyone anything, except boredom.

Sorry for the inspirational jargon.

My funemployment is likely nearing its end. My initial reaction was mixed. I didn't have enough time. I had only scratched the surface of my plans. But I'm not dead. I can still do projects and write.

The end is only the beginning. (Is that a line in a Semisonic song? Yikes.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

maple buttermilk pie

It's a ridiculously beautiful January day. I had my breakfast on the back porch overlooking the lake. Only two days ago it was completely frozen over and I tried ice skating for the first time in years. Now it's melted and the grass is showing.

Part of my reasoning for moving to Michigan was to eventually open a pie shop with my fiancé. At this point, we need to completely rehab the space. He loves woodworking and building things, so that's his job. I have the hard job, practicing making pies so that we have an good-sized repertoire when we open.

This weekend I made a Maple Buttermilk Pie. I was expecting a strong maple flavor, but the results were surprisingly fruity due to the lemon zest. I think I would call the pie a Lemon Buttermilk, so as not to mislead people. Whatever you call it, it was tasty.

Maple Buttermilk Pie

maple buttermilk pie

from 101 Cookbooks

Flaky Rye Pie Dough:
1/3 cup rye flour
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon fine grain sea slat
1/2 cup salted butter
1/8 cup cold water

Maple Buttermilk Filling:
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

For the crust, mix flours and sea salt in a food processor. Cut butter into 1-inch cubes. Add butter to flour mixture and pulse until pea-sized crumbs form. Add the water one tablespoon at a time until a ball forms, taking care not to overmix the dough. Turn the dough on a flour dusted cutting board and form into a 1-inch thick, flat disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour up to three days.

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out your pie crust on a flour dusted surface, flipping once or twice. Line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough. Cut around the edge of the dough with scissors, leaving a 1-inch rim of dough extending past the edges of the pan. Tuck the overhang under itself and flute using your fingers. Here's a nice reference video on fluting. Prick the crust a few times with a fork. Refrigerate the dough for 10 minutes.

For the filling, combine lemon zest, brown sugar, egg yolks, and flour in a mixing bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Slowly add the maple syrup, stirring the whole time. Then add the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt.

Remove the pie crust from he refrigerator and line with parchment paper. Fill the crust with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchement paper and continue to bake for 10 more minutes.

Lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Allow the crust to cool completely. Fill with 2/3 of the filling. Move into the oven and add the remaining filling. Bake for about an hour until the filling is set. Allow the pie to cool completely. This is something you could make a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate, as it tastes great cold.

Maple Buttermilk Pie
Maple Buttermilk Pie

Saturday, January 26, 2013

dressing on the dole

pretty in pink

I found this amazing sweater for 60 cents at a second-hand store! It reminds me of something Molly Ringwald would wear in Pretty In Pink. With all of my extra time and complete lack of funds I have become obsessed with thrifting again.

pretty in pink
pretty in pink

Thursday, January 24, 2013

my home gym

Funemployment has meant giving up certain things I once took for granted. I had a membership at a gym walking distance from my apartment in Chicago. Here, I have to make do with running and exercise videos. I bought a Biggest Loser DVD over the holidays. I've never seen the television series, but the workout kicks my ass every time. Also, the helpers are all people who have actually appeared on the show. So even though they are certainly thinner than they once were, I am still thinner than them, which is uplifting.

Otherwise, I do a lot of yoga.

I've been doing yoga with my mother nearly every other day. Often, her dogs try to join us by crawling all over her and her mat. Who says they can't do yoga too? Downward Dog had to get it's name from something.

In my quest for meaningful employment, I briefly considered moving to a yoga retreat in northern Michigan in exchange for room and board for a few months. It included vegetarian meals, deep discussions of a spiritual nature, and daily yoga and meditation practice. Unfortunately, they do not allow pets and I can't bear to be separated from my cat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

kale caesar salad

Food is the thing I think about the most. I don't mean simply thinking about what I want to eat for dinner or the next recipe I'm going to try. It's more of a never ending inner monologue about the ethics and health benefits of the food I'm eating. It's an effect of living in a society where food is a mass-produced commodity. We have so many choices about how we want to eat, that it causes an endless debate about what is ethical and what is healthy.

Prior to moving in with my mother, I rarely ate meat at home. I'm not comfortable with preparing it or with where most meat comes from. For the last month I have thrown my beliefs about food out the window, eating a variety of frozen meals and more meat than is ever necessary. Fortunately, my mother appealed to my vanity last week, telling me what an amazing cook I had become and asking me to make more meals. I agreed and now there is a plethora of healthy, vegetable based meals in my future. I started out last night with a Vegetable Tart with Gruyère & Fresh Thyme and this Kale Caesar Salad.

Kale Caesar

kale caesar salad

from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson
4 slices of day old bread
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon herbes de Provence

Kale Caesar:
3 garlic cloves
6 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 heads kale, center stems removed
⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, toss the torn bread with the olive oil, a pinch of salt, and the herbs. Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minute, flipping halfway.

To make the dressing, grate the zest from 1 lemon. Cut the lemon in half. Place the garlic, anchovies, and lemon zest in a mortar and pound with a pestle to make a thick paste. Add the egg yolk, a pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice and stir thoroughly to combine. Continuing to stir, pour in 1/2 cup of the oil drop by drop. The mixture should look smooth and creamy, a sign that you are building a stable emulsion. Continuing to stir, begin adding the oil in a slow stream. The dressing should thicken. Periodically stop pouring in the oil and add a squeeze of lemon. Taste the dressing and add more salt and lemon juice to taste. Add water, a small spoonful at a time, stirring to thin dressing to the consistency of heavy cream.

In a large bowl, combine the kale and croutons. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan, toss again, and serve.

Kale Caesar
Kale Caesar

Saturday, January 19, 2013

brooklyn bros

Since moving in with my mom, we've been spending a lot of time together. We've even been doing yoga together! The mother-daughter bonding continues with a spa day today. I called to make the appointment yesterday and the telephone conversation was just bizarre. When I call a salon I expect to be speaking to a woman or a gay man. Not in Brooklyn. The phone was answered by a bro. He needed to place me on hold several times to figure out how to book two simultaneous pedicures. By the end of the call, he had somehow fished out my entire life story.

Bro: How do you like Brooklyn?
Me: It's small.
Bro: What do you do?
Me: I'm unemployed.
Bro: What did you do in Chicago. Chasing the dream?

I was waiting for the moment he would drop a "You sound hot," but I ended the call unscathed.

I miss the anonymity of the city. There are so few people here that a new face or even a new voice causes a lot of questioning. It doesn't help that there's a complete lack of young women, as anyone with half a brain would run screaming the moment they turned 18.

Friday, January 18, 2013

dressing on the dole

floral + floral

I once went a year without buying any new clothes. I was supposed to spend less than $365 on used clothes, which I got nowhere near. I don't plan on repeating that project, but I have forbidden myself to buy anything new while I'm unemployed. I'm fortunate that the thrift shops in Michigan are piled with amazing, cheap finds. I'm obsessed with this floral corduroy shirt I found yesterday.

floral + floral

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

cats on pink

Funemployment is awesome. It means making great art like this.

Cat On Pink
Cat On Pink

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I'm a sucker for those inspirational quotes you find on pinterest. I decided to start working on my own series of type and image compositions. Here's the first.


Monday, January 14, 2013

new music monday

I escaped to Detroit for the weekend and it's a cold reality being back in the countryside. I picked up some ice skates at the thrift shop last week. I hope the lake freezes again soon so I can try them out. Here's my very own Ice Capades soundtrack.

Friday, January 11, 2013

wasted winter week

The first week was rough. Moving into my mom’s house has been like culture shock to me for several reasons:

1. TV
2. Sauna (with built in cassette deck!)
3. Free time

It’s like my own personal spa. I roll out of bed at 9ish. Look at the internet. Read. Do some yoga. Take a sauna. Then comes the lure of television. I’ve watched an entire season of Game of Thrones in a week. Yikes!

When you’re working a nine-to-five there’s so much pressure to be productive in your spare time. You’re constantly battling the clock. But when your day is wide open it’s easy to get all Scarlett O’Hara and “think about that tomorrow.”

Fortunately, excessive free time gets trite fast. I’ve had my fun and now I’m feeling inspired to create. I’ll chalk the wasted time up to a well needed rest.

I'm off to escape the wilderness for the weekend. When I return, it's time to apply myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

baked apple chips

Last year, for the month of January, I did a cleanse. No gluten. No alcohol. No caffeine. No dairy. No meat. Etc... I was super into being healthy and it went spectacularly. I celebrated by going on a cruise where I proceeded to break out in hives every time I ate or drank anything bad for me. This year I had big plans to try another cleanse, but I just wasn't up to it. I am still trying to cut out sugar and refined foods. 

I have a major sweet tooth and was going through withdrawals after all the treats I ate over the holiday season. I decided to try my hand at making apple chips. They only have two ingredients: apples and cinnamon. They turned out delicious and are relatively healthy.

Apple Chips


baked apple chips

2 Gala apples
Cinnamon to taste 

Preheat your oven to 200°F. Slice the apples into the thinnest slices you can. A really large potato peeler would work great, but I did it with a knife. Put the slices in a large bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon to coat. Place the slices, in one layer, on a cookie sheet. Bake for two hours.

I didn't use any oil on the cookie sheet, but many of my chips stuck. I would suggest using a spray olive oil or putting them on parchment paper to avoid that problem.

Apple Chips 

Apple Chips