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