Odds and Ends

Has anyone seen the Fall #Resort365 preview that Lilly Pulitzer linked to on Instagram? I LOVE the “Under the Palms” pattern. LOVE. Another blogger (Maryland Pink and Green) posted a few pictures on her FB profile from the look book, and it seems there will be a lot of jewel tones in the new line, especially vibrant greens, which are a great (and favorite) color for me. There will be a Beckett dress in emerald green (swoon) and potentially even in black (sign me up)! My favorite time of the year is definitely fall now that I am an adult, mostly because of the clothing choices. Is that reason enough? I think so. The Pink Pelican will have the line up on July 28th, and I assume Lilly Pulitzer will about that time, too.

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I got a  FitBit flex! I am positively obsessed with it. I love being able to track my activity level; it really helps me create self accountability. Another great benefit is being able to set a silent alarm to wake me up in the morning. Oftentimes I get up earlier than Tom, so it allows Tom the extra time to sleep without a loud alarm going off (this is why I got the flex, as opposed to one of the other models) I set an aggressive goal of 100 oz of water a day for myself, which is also tracked through my FitBit dashboard. The only disappointment I had is that there is no altimeter in my version. I would have liked to track flights of stairs because I do a lot of stairs every day, but it was more important to have the silent alarm. Mostly, knowing my activity level for a day helps me to push myself a little further than normal. David Sedaris wrote a funny piece for the New Yorker about his experience with the FitBit, and it rings true now that I have one myself. I am not beyond march or running in place to get extra badges or steps, or even just to stay ahead of my friends who also have a FitBit. 😇

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Afternoon (Book) Tea at the Grand America

GrandAmericaTeaMy friend Kami and I started a (Book) Tea once a month at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. We (Me, Kami, and Kami’s sister) pick a book to read during the month, and then meet at the Grand America to discuss the book.

Usually, the conversation devolves into how much cream Kami takes with her tea cooking conversations and how much we love food and cooking, but generally we go to enjoy each other’s company, and catch up about the last month.

As you can see they have an extensive tea menu, and the wait staff is great about always topping your tea pot off. They serve “Mighty Leaf” loose tea, which is delicious (coming from a person who has tasted tea bag tea and thought it tasted like dirty grass water).

You start with clotted cream with fresh berries, while they take your tea order. First course is finger sandwiches and scones with (more) clotted cream, lemon curd, and sieved strawberry jam. Second course are pastries all made on site, usually involving in season fruits. Of course everything is served on beautiful china, and a harpist plays for each session.

Go on an empty stomach, and put on a nice dress! It’s a great opportunity to do something special with the gals in your life.

Oh, and make a reservation — they are usually booked up in advance.

 

Afternoon Tea at the Grand America | 155 South Main St, Salt Lake City, UT

Daily, 1:00pm and 3:30 pm seatings | 801.258.6707

The Important of Details: A Lesson in Baking (or, why you should sift)

Whenever someone says to me “Oh, you’ve gone to too much trouble”, I always reply with a Julia Child quote “…nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should”

For a long time I’ve been trying to make the perfect Sacher Torte, a fabulous chocolate-y dessert hailing from Vienna. Alas my cakes always turn out dry and never leaven. It occurred to me that it was because I wasn’t taking the care that I ought to have taken to attend to every small detail of the baking process.

Living in the Mountain West the dry air often creates a challenge when baking if you aren’t careful with your ingredients.

While I can’t find the cookbook at the moment for the recipe to add here, the moral of the story is don’t just stick your measuring cup into the flour jar to scoop out your flour. Well, maybe to start. Scoop it into a sieve over a piece of wax or parchment paper. Sift your flour until it is a powdery mound, and then spoon it into your measuring cup. Level it off with a knife, bench scraper, spatula, whatever. Once you have the amount you need, sift it one more time to make it nice and light.

And sieve your preserves too! That is more personal preference. Of course if you are baking it’s easier to spread, but it’s all the flavor without the chunks.

So here is the difference: Just scooping what I needed from the jar and leveling it yielded 5.2 oz of flour. Sifting it, and then spooning it into a measuring cup, and leveling it yielded 4.1 oz.

That is a big difference! When you are baking in an already dry environment, you don’t need more flour to dry it out and weigh it down more.

You know what? My end result was well worth the effort; it turned out just the way it should have, and served a reminder to never cut corners. I hope you will try this technique to achieve just the results you want, too!

Sacher Torte

 

 

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen

My husband and I are always on the look out for a new burger or pizza joint to try out. A great fan of the Wasatch Front Farmer’s Market, we had heard through their Facebook page that the vendor who made wood fire oven pizzas at the farmers market had just opened a brick and mortar restaurant in Draper.

Of course we had to try it.

My husband had heard that their meatball sliders were to die for, but we had no other context for the restaurant.

OAKI think there are definitely some pizza places that try to hard. Overly fussy pizzas with Alice Waters quotes in chalk on the wall. OAK is definitely not one of those places. Casual but elegant with elbow room to spare. Simple ingredients at their freshest, which always leads to the best results.

Can we just talk about the calamari for a moment? It’s really hard to get good calamari — calamari that hasn’t been overcooked to a rubber band consistency. OAK’s calamari was just divine. So tender, and so flavorful with that sauce they serve underneath it. Just a shade of heat to thrill your taste buds, but not so much that you are clamoring for a pitcher of water.

The meatball sliders were everything my husband had wanted them to be

And then there is pizza, if you even have room for it by the time you get it. The sides are meant for sharing, which we hadn’t anticipated, so we left with leftovers of our pizza. I ordered a white pizza, which you don’t typically find our west, being a New York staple. Most pizza places don’t get it right, losing the balance too much vs just enough cheese, but OAK’s was just right. Delicate, and not cloying, but still full of flavor.

The wait staff is great. Attentive without hovering. Very friendly, with fast service. And they will tempt you with a cookie in a cast iron pan swathed in vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, and caramel. I don’t care how full you are – get one and share it.

Chef David Kimball’s OAK does not disappoint, and the price point is just right. You’ll find yourself a regular if you give it a try!

 

OAK Wood Fire Kitchen | 715 E 12300 S Draper, UT | 801.996.8155

Monday – Thursday 11am – 9pm | Friday, Saturday 11am – 10pm

Wipocalypse, April 2014

Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been 2 (?) weeks since I last stitched. Frankly I do not know where thee time has gone!

 

The only project I have worked on is my mystery project, and am now onto quite a bit of confetti stitching. Blech.

 

Since I don’t have a picture to show you, I thought I would at least partake in the question of the month: “How do you keep your stash organized?”.

 

In shoeboxes.

 

No, literally.

 

I have scads of fibers lumped into shopping bags and shoeboxes with no organization whatsoever. It’s actually a big goal of mine to get that all organized. Even though I don’t really have any place to put it once it is organized! (Container Store, I’m looking at you once you open!)

 

Take for example my projects. My wipe are fairly well organized. I use an Iris scrapbooking box for each project. I wait until Michael’s has a sale and then buy them usually for $5 a piece. LOVE THESE.

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However I usually have them stashed in random places, usually under furniture like so:

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I also have these boxes for pattern/fabric, etc… storage in my closet, but it is a PITA to get to, and there is no rhyme or reason to it except to say that one drawer is for fabric, one for patterns, and so on:

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I have committed to improving this all… It has worn on my last nerve! BUT! It will be fantastic when it is done. I would throw myself at the mercy of the Organization Gods (OG) if Container Store would like to give me a large gift card to their store.😇

Mad Men – Time Zones – a few tidbits

I, for one, loved how they started out the episode — Freddy Rumsen in a straight on shot, pitching Accutron. It’s a pitch about how people live their lives: “Do you have time to improve your life?”. Not only is the pitch undoubtedly setting the stage for the new (and last) season of Mad Men, it really brings the audience in, as if we are a part of the story too. Who among us isn’t working toward the same end? Of course the show ends on the same note as the commercial on Don’s TV asks “Haven’t you ever dreamed of a place where there was peace and security, where living was not a struggle but a lasting delight?” This will be an interesting season, for sure.

The new guy — the guy who replaces Don (hopefully temporarily) seems more Mr Rogers than the does Ad exec. He seems to settle for mediocrity (not that Mr Rogers does) more than Don ever did. He’s relaxed in his cardigan, as opposed to Don’s sharp and freshly pressed suits and shirts of previous seasons. He doesn’t press his team for better.

Did anyone else think that Ken Cosgrove looked like a younger version of “The Governor” from (also) AMC’s “The Walking Dead”?:

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(I couldn’t find a picture from yesterday’s Mad Men, where Ken’s hair was all over the place, much like the Gov wore his)

Anyway, we hear tyrannical ranting and think it is Pete, only to find Ken. Like The Governor, his happier days have passed him by just to be replaced by seeming lunacy.

And Peggy – I truly feel bad for her. She has a boss that doesn’t care about her, and has reduced her place on many levels. Abe is gone, and she is constantly reminded of her affair with Ted. She has annoying tenants. I don’t blame her for crying in a crappy apartment. She wanted to live on the UES, but Abe convinced her otherwise.

Joan started out the series as a strong sassy woman, but we see less and less of that as time has passed through the series. I’ve been watching the series over, and her role is so drastically different than it was 5 seasons ago. She seems so… meek… these days. Life has definitely taken its toll on her. Though I did love when she put that marketing guy in his place – that is the Joan we know and love. Most don’t give her a chance, thinking she only has sex to sell, but she is so much more of that, and I am glad to see that peek out again.

Don. He seems so out of place. His gray suit in LA. Shaving in the airport makes him seem like a transient. His gray suit in that cluttered hippie-like macrame-styled cabin his wife keeps, as opposed to the open, clean MCM lines of his apartment in NYC. Taking meetings in a cheap diner as opposed to a swanky restaurant. And then, of course, we see him having some kind of break down on his snowy balcony at the end. Hmmm… Frankly, I am glad his marriage to Megan is on the skids. I never liked her. Some blogs like Tom and Lorenzo have even mentioned that her reference to the sounds of the canyon up in the Hollywood Hills is a direct reference to the opening of the book about the Manson killings (Helter Skelter), but I don’t think it is a direct tie-in. Anyway, Don’s scenes seem so awkward and uncomfortable, which is understandable considering how we left the end of last season. I mean, he even turned down the tete-a-tete from the plane, which is unusual for him. Instead you hear him directly address his failings as a person and as a husband.

Lastly, we see people that we would least expect experiencing his new thought process of the sixties — Roger’s daughter, Margaret, as well as Pete. Roger, of course, is practically in full on Hippie love-in/commune/drug induced mode. I wonder what toll this will take on his health — he has had several heart attacks! Glad to see Pete happy for a change, though. I think we have seen very little of Pete actually happy; normally we see him scowling over being displaced or cast aside (or keeping Don’s secrets).

All in all, I am excited (albeit quite sad) to see where this season goes. I hope Don rejoins the fold sooner rather than later — he can’t go much lower than where he is. Also, I hate the new guy and prefer to see him go, with him cardigan-wearing, mediocre ways.

 

 

Apple Pithivier

Almost a month ago I made an apple pithivier for my DAR chapter birthday party, because I almost always like to show up everyone else. There. I said it. I like to make fancy food because it impresses people, and I can do it well (plus it is delicious)! There is the added benefit of learning new, and practicing existing technique.

 

I used this recipe by Joanne Chang who worked at Payard Patisserie in NYC, and then went onto open her own place “Flour” in Boston.

 

In complete honesty, it is a multi-part recipe between the frangipane and the apple butter. This recipe is impressive, but takes time.  I will also admit to using Pepperidge Farms puff pastry dough since I made this impulsively, beginning at 11 pm after I got home from work. It’s not the first time. However, it will make enough for two pithiviers, as long as you make two batches of puff pastry.

 

It is incredibly important that you make this the day before you plan to serve this. Especially the first batch. Ideally you will take overnight to chill your pithivier once it is assembled. The multiple layers of butter allow the dough to flake well when baking, so you need to chill everything overnight to make sure that your dough puffs and flakes while baking. The moisture from the butter steams and creates the layers of pastry. If it (the butter) is already melted you will achieve a flat flakeless pastry. Also, chilling it will help you to make your paring knife decorations easy to accomplish before you bake it. If the pastry dough is too warm you won’t get a clean decorative cut.

 

I will also share that I fretted enormously over the apple butter. It took far longer to cook the apples down than I anticipated (and the recipe stated),  and I had to monkey with the temp to get it just right. They say a watched pot never boils, but believe me, I stood there staring at it anxiously to ensure it was cooking down well. I am pretty sure that I pulled it off before it was “done”, even though no one would have guessed. I pulled it when it began to caramelize on the bottom of the pot.

 

At the end of the day, doing your decorativce cutting prior to baking off makes it look incredibly impressive. No one could fathom how I could make it look so pretty, which is to say this desert gives you big bang for your buck, if you are willing to be patient. It is incredibly delicious and delicate. I will definitely make this again!

 

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