Saturday, December 26, 2009

lost & found: old xmas photo

here's an old christmas card picture i procured at some point. i highly recommend clicking on it to see a closer view of these peoples' faces. it needs a good caption - so leave a comment if you think of a good one. peace, love and ...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

evergreens, lakes, sideways light... and finding peace.

the time between thanksgiving and christmas has been non-existant as far as i'm concerned - or is it just me? with all seriousness, i'm stunned as to how fast the world seems to spin sometimes... i've been busy to say the least.

when i'm in the midst of craziness i have to remind myself to stop. take a breath. and look around. i was able to sneak out to a gorgeous place near syracuse called green lakes for a quick hike the other day. that's where the following shots were taken.

the thing that's so wonderful about living someplace with actual seasons is experiencing joy in simply witnessing a complete transformation of your landscape. now that fall's vibrant colors have faded, there is a whole new palate out there - equally gorgeous. bare branches give way to stunning silhouettes, evergreens stand regally alone, and sideways light never looked so good against a blank canvas. taking a minute to look at things brings me peace, which is truly the best gift you can give yourself - especially this time of year. and so, in the words of ferris buller:

{ life moves pretty fast. if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. }

* may you find peace this holiday season...and in the new year to follow! *

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

some bright pink christmas flare

behold, my one and only christmas decoration (as of yet). i figure, you better make it count if you only have one - hence the bright pink factor. i know the color isn't that christmasy but a poinsettia is the ultimate flower of the season. plus, i couldn't resist the purchase when i saw this totally unique color. oh the simple pleasures...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

big huge pastry time.

now that winter is here, its time for down-home-comfort food. and nothing says "comfort" more than a mouthful of cheesy, gooey, flaky goodness. methinks it's time to share my potato-leek galette recipe. basically "galette" is french for giant, delicious pastry - at least that's my interpretation. there are many variations on galette styles. the way i construct them results with something between a quiche-y tart and a calzone.

may i add, this savory wonder has amazing meal versatility. a galette is most popular for brunch but because they are so massive you'll most likely end up with leftovers. not a problem since they save quite well. you could appropriately eat a galette for dinner and absolutely as a late night snacky-snack. plus, they taste way better than those frozen pizza bagel bite things.

the possibilities are endless when it comes to filling your galette. you could put any combination of vegi-cheese or add eggs, meat (bacon) or not. or you could go to the sweet-side and fill with fruit and perhaps... nutella.

the thing that's great about this
rustic, free-form style tart is that you don't have to fuss with a pie dish. this means you don't have to roll the dough into a perfect circle and ultimately you'll have one less dish to clean. if you don't have a food processor, or the time/patience, a store bought 9-inch pie crust will suffice. but i'm telling you, a homemade crust will take things to the next level. and truly, making a crust is not rocket science. however, it takes more effort than opening a box. the good news is most time spent is unattended. here, i will demystify the pastry crust for you:

ze crust:

1¼ cups all-purpose flour - plus extra for rolling

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

10 tablespoons frozen/very cold butter - yes that's right. how else do you think pastries taste so good?

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons ice water (or a tad more)

1. combine flour, salt, sugar and pulse a couple times in food processor. add 8 tablespoons of butter cut into chunks and process until uniform. (the extra 2 tablespoons will be used in the final stages of galette construction.) add egg yolk and process for a couple more seconds.

2. transfer mixture to a bowl and add ice water. work into a ball with your hands adding a little bit of ice water if too dry, or more flour if too wet. wrap the ball in saran wrap and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 30 before proceeding.

3. sprinkle parchment paper with flour and roll out the crust to about 12 inches in diameter. by no means do you need to make a perfect circle - this is the beauty of the free-form approach. transfer parchment paper onto a baking sheet and set aside.

{ crust recipe adapted from "how to cook everything" by mark bittman.}

my savory filling of choice:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced into circles or half-moons

1 medium zucchini or summer squash cut into half-moons

8 ounces thinly sliced potatoes (roughly 1 large, 2 medium, or 3-4 small), the little red 'taters are best.

4 eggs, beaten (you can make it healthier by using egg-whites.)

¼ cup dairy: milk, half & half, or cream. hell, yogurt will work too.

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, de-stemmed

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

¼ teaspoon mace (preferably) but nutmeg will do

a couple dashes of cayenne pepper (less than ¼ teaspoon - depending on your spice tolerance)

¾ cup shredded cheese - many cheeses will work: cheddar, mozzarella, feta... here i used "pepato" which is an aged sheep's cheese embedded with black peppercorns - oh yeah.

salt & pepper to taste

galette construction:

1. prep ingredients and preheat oven to 400°. beat together eggs and your dairy product of choice in a separate bowl.

2. heat the oil at medium-high in a large skillet and add the vegetables, salt and pepper. cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. turn heat to low and add the egg mixture along with herbs, spices, and roughly half of the cheese. stir and let cook for about 3-5 minutes, until there is virtually no liquid yet eggs are still quite soft.

3. spoon skillet ingredients onto center of rolled out crust, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on the edges. fold the bare edges over onto filling mixture and lightly crimp as you go around. (as you can see in the top picture, perfection is not necessary - some filling will inevitably want to burst out the side.)

4. pizzaz time: melt those remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush on the folded edges. sprinkle the remaining cheese over galette . if you want to add some flare, garnish with a sprig of thyme or sage.

5. bake for 35-45 minutes, until crust is golden brown and potatoes are tender. (hint: covering with tin foil will prevent crust from getting too dark.)

and thats pretty much it. ain't it purdy? enjoy! oh and don't feel ashamed if you want to eat this with ketchup.

Monday, December 7, 2009

more from my stamp collection.

who still collects stamps? i do! the way i see it, stamps embody 2 of my favorite things: travel and art/design. stamps are like these tiny little travelers, each with their own story. in the case of old stamps the design tells not only of origin, but of time period as well. in this way they are kind of like time travelers, thus old stamps are pretty amazing. i've shared part of my stamp collection before. today seems like a good day to bring the green stamps to show and tell. so here they are:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

nearly wed: adventures in out-of-town wedding planning

for the past week the fiance and i have been in springfield, illinois where we will have our june wedding. there certainly are disadvantages to having a wedding out of town, mainly you can't just meet with your "wedding people", i.e. vendors, whenever. so when we roll into springfield it's a little like wedding camp. meaning: we tend to devout ourselves fully to the task of wedding planning for the entirety of a couple days. yes it can get a little intense but there is a hidden advantage. it works better to submit yourself to intensity for a short amount of time for the sake of not having to deal with the wedding all the time - if that makes any sense.
so on that note, here are some shots of me frolicking in a park with my mother's wedding veil. i'm pretty sure i was singing "goin' to the chapel" loudly and rather badly at the time.