July 14, 2016 Black Garlic

 

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A year after McCarty began demanding all of my attention, I’m starting to find some time to get back to the things I love.  The magazine pile is out.of.control.  I have piles of them everywhere, subscriptions have long expired and am now getting around to reading that great issue of Sunset Magazine from April 2015.  It’s crazy talk, but I’m so glad to be getting back in the swing of things!

So, I wish I could tell you which magazine it was that had a lovely little article on Black Garlic.  I’d guess Bon Appetit probably.  Black Garlic is regular old garlic, fermented and aged until it’s black, sticky and almost paste-like.  They sell it at Whole Foods in these little bags, I think it was $5.99.  It’s smokey and a little sweet and has so much flavor!   A beautiful amazing bang of flavor!  I can’t even imagine all of the things that will be so much better with Black Garlic.  Pizza. Pasta. More crostinis.  (I decided to stick to meat, fruits & veggies today… it’s been like 22 hours without a carb and I’m already craving it so hard.)

So, I came home, slathered it on a bit of french bread and died.  Then I put together one of my favorite little salads (which is oh so good on it’s own!) and topped some toasted french bread and the black garlic.  Done.  Done.  Done.  Try it guys!

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Black Garlic Crostini 0002 1024x765 Black Garlic

 

Black Garlic & Summer Salad Crostini

 

Ingredients

Black Garlic (found at Whole Foods)

French Bread

2 Peaches

1 basket of Cherry Tomatoes

1 container of Mozzarella

Olive Oil

Salt

 

Directions

Cut the french bread into slices and toast (I use the broiler function on my oven for about 5 minutes.)  Spread the french bread with black garlic (about one clove per crostini, but more if you really like!)

Cut the peaches, tomatoes and mozzarella into tiny pieces and mix with a few tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Sprinkle the salad onto the crostini.  Enjoy!

 

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July 13, 2016 Summertime

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Oh ya’ll, it’s summertime.  The Valley has hit 108 degree highs so far and I’m sure it’s only going to get worse for us.  When it’s this hot, I want nothing more than a refreshing cocktail!  After a long (ok, longish) “winter” of wine, I’m so excited to get back into the swing of cocktail creating!

This one started with some things I just had hanging out in the fridge…  A whole watermelon & some pineapple juice!  It was so hot and we were hanging out in the “pool” (please see here… I make fun, but it’s been kind of amazing and my husband loves it so much!).  So, pool drinks require rum.  And lots of it.  You guys, it’s real good and so satisfying!   Enjoy!

 

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Summertime

 

Ingredients

2 oz dark rum (I used Whalers)

2 oz coconut rum (Malibu Rum takes me back to the college days!)

2 oz canned pineapple juice

2 oz watermelon juice*

3 sprigs of mint (2 sprigs torn, 1 for garnish)

 

Directions

In a cocktail shaker, mix the rum, the juices and the torn mint.  Shake and pour over ice.  Enjoy!

* Watermelon juice is so simple because watermelon is something like 95% water!  I throw chunks into a blender, blend, and then strain.  There’s not a whole lot left in the strainer, so if you like a little pulp, then skip that last bit!  You could likely do the same with the pineapple if you wanted to make your own juice!

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Bedrooms for babies are kind of the best.  They can be fun and cute and whimsical… all things that I don’t necessarily do in any other room.  I’ve put more color in McCartys room than in the rest of our house combined.  It’s been so much fun playing around here!

This little project was born of necessity… two necessities actually.  We needed to fill some weird empty space between the glider and the closet and start to contain a growing lot of tiny little books.
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It was so simple!  The white ledges are from IKEA, meant for pictures frames.  I could have probably just stopped there.  But I felt like they would just come tumbling off the shelves if I didn’t add something to hold them all in.  I picked up a 10′ length of copper pipe from Lowes, 90 degree joints and little things to attach on the sides (I have no clue what those little guys are called.)

Turns out, cutting the pipe is super simple! I wasn’t sure how to do it, but you just use a pipe cutter (seems like a duh moment, no?) and it’s so easy!  Spin, tighten, spin, tighten, spin, tighten and then you have two pipes.  We cut long lengths for the front and two short pieces for each side. Attach the 90 degree joints, attach the short ends with the u-shaped clips , super glue it all for good measure and nail the wood to the wall above the photo ledge.  We used redwood, oiled with tung oil, mostly just because that’s what we had in the garage.  Also, it’s real pretty!  I was sad when I put the books onto the shelves and realized you couldn’t see it anymore.  But my friends with older kids informed me that one day McC will make sure that all the books are on the floor and I’ll be able to see the wood again icon smile Babys Room Book Ledges

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McCarty is nine months old and I’m still putzing around in here, changing little things and moving it all around.  I’m hoping to get it to a good place soon!  Fingers crossed, a little baby room tour coming up soon!

 

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The kind of amazing part of having a new baby is that you get little free passes. Because you don’t sleep so much and life is thrown upside down for a bit, you are allowed to slack off on certain things.  This blog, the gym, all the little extras that bring so much joy, but that don’t really fit into the new juggling act of baby, house, work, life.

But, nine months in, we’re really getting this juggling act down (Some days.  Some days, not so much.) and returning to the extras is making me so happy!   Maybe I’ll blog more than two times in 2016!

classpass CLASSPASS, My New Motivation

I love exercise classes.  And if there’s a fancy machine, or sexy lighting, or something weird/unique I’m even more excited to try it out.  ClassPass started to get really popular right around the time I found out I was pregnant, and I didn’t want to try too many new things while I was also trying to grow a human, so I’ve had to wait until now to test the waters.  I just finished up the two week trial and I.Am.Obsessed.  I tried 13 classes in 2 weeks and I loved every single one of them.  Sure, the logistics can be kind of tough… where do you go? where do you park? what do I need to bring? That all gets a little exhausting.  And because you have to sign up in advance, and are charged a fee if you cancel with 12 hours, you are forced to show up.  Some days that is truly terrible, and sometimes after being up more than a few times with a screaming infant, it might be worth $15 to stay snuggled in bed just a little longer.  But the excitement of tackling and conquering something new that’s just for you when you’ve been giving your all to someone else for all those months has been the most amazing feeling for this new mama.  I feel so good about myself and about life, in turn making me a better mother to that darling little girl!

So, thirteen classes in my ‘hood (I guess this is only helpful if you live in the valley!)

Forever Young Pilates – a super tiny studio with 5 reformers, the sweetest teacher and literally blocks from my house. The only class that fit into my schedule that day was a Level 1 class, but it was still a bit of a challenge, while still making me feel so long and stretched!

RPM Fitness Studio, RPM Spin – The first time I tried spin I thought it was spinning around on the floor with ribbon wands.  Seriously.  (I was 16.  So young, so dumb)  Turns out, spin is different!  This class has huge windows overlooking the road, so it was nice to have a little bit of a distraction people watching.  It was a good class, but there were only two others in the class, so I missed a bit of the group mentality in just buckling down and working through it though.

Barrys Bootcamp, Full Body – So badass.  Treadmills and floor exercise that make you want to die.  I walked out and snap chatted “fuuuuuuuck”.  But I’m ready to go back because it was so good.  The lighting is dark and sexy and the music makes you want to work even harder.  I kind of got lost in it all because I was just trying to keep up, but it seemed to be 5-7 minute segments on the treadmill and then switching to floor exercise with weights.  You are a sweaty hot mess when you walk out.  The next day wasn’t super great for walking.  My butt thanks me for it.

Up Flying Yoga, Aerial Yoga – Because you’re suspended three feet above the ground in a giant piece of fabric, you can stretch your body in ways you’d never imagined.  I.Love.This.Class.  I’d originally signed up for Aerial Dance, but got a notice that I needed to take Yoga first (you’ll see why when I talk about Aerial Dance later.).  The savasana, completely suspended in a silk the smells like lavender… heaven.  I literally could have spent the complete hour doing that, it was so good.  But the class itself is so much fun and you feel long and lean and kind of amazing.

The Bar Method – I do love barre classes.  You feel all long and ballerina-y afterwards.  Bar Method is a good one… definitely on the slower end, but on days that I’m all cardioed out, I love the calming feeling of Bar Method.  The holds are killer and the stretch makes me feel so strong!

CrossFit Horsepower, CardioFlex - Oh man.  I’d done CrossFit before and didn’t really care for it.  But my French tutor is a huge fan and encouraged me to come to this cardio class.  Similar to CrossFit, but less lifting enormous weights and more cardio until you die.  People throw up here.  Each class is totally different, but this day we ran through a deck of cards… hearts were burpees, spades were squats, clubs were lunges and diamonds were v sit-ups with a medicine ball.  The number on the card is how many of each exercise you do.  Oh, and aces, 200m run with that medicine ball.  I snagged the only 5 lbs weights in the place, but people around me were killing it with 20 lbs (I literally would have died.)  The heavy exercise part takes about 35 minutes, and that’s about all you can take.  The thing I do love about CrossFit is the camaraderie though… everyone is so friendly and encouraging.  You feel like a part of this badass team, even if you’re the one dragging ass and collapsing on to your mat and praying for it all to be over soon.

Pilates Plus, Megaburn55 – I did this class twice, once in Studio City and once in Encino.  They’re similar, although the Studio City location has fewer machines.  It was sooooo intense!  Hands down, the hardest reformer class I’ve ever taken.  There are lots of moves and accoutrement, so the learning curve is pretty steep.  I’m sure when I get it all down and can focus on the actual moves, it would be even more amazing.  I was sweating and my body felt it for days.

Shift – I actually attended the very first Shift class there ever was and I loved it!  They’ve moved to Sherman Oaks in the last year or so and the new location is incredible!  I forgot how hard this class is, but so good!   It’s a great mix of cardio and strength training on a boxing-style floor with weighted balls, small hand weights and resistance bands.  It’s all very encouraging with a focus on shifting your body into a new and amazing place.  A great class!

Sandbox Fitness, Surfiest Strength – It’s a giant sandbox and you workout with surfboards balanced on balls.  Sure you can do squats, but can you do them on a wiggly surfboard with a heavy barbell?  This class was so much fun, even though I don’t really care for sand and it gets everywhere.  I believe it’s only 45 minutes, which is kind of nice for quick mornings! And if you want to be crazy, it’s next door to Pure Barre, so you could park once and workout two times!

Up Flying Yoga, Aerial Dance – If on a scale of 1-10 Aerial Yoga was a 4, Aerial Dance would be a 372.  This class is so hard and requires so much body strength… upper, lower, core, all the strengths.  My friend Heidi and I took it together and were laughing out of sheer awkwardness… graceful we are not.  At one point I fell out of my silk and onto the floor like a sack of potatoes.  At another point, I wrapped myself into an awkward cocoon while the teacher spun into an incredible aerial split.  BUT, I kind of can’t wait to go back.  Pulling yourself up into this crazy acrobatic display is one of the most gratifying moments.  If you can pull it off, you look AMAZING! I didn’t expect to feel like I worked out at this class, but I was sweaty and I definitely felt it the next day!

Pulse, 30/20/10 – This class is like Barry’s Bootcamp little sister… sweeter and less intimidating, but still pretty badass.  The treadmill portion is pretty similar to Barrys but the floor exercise are much less intense.  The music is great, the lighting is sexy… I do really enjoy sexy lighting when I workout.  This is also in the same shopping center as Shift, so if you want to work super hard one day, it’s a one stop shop!

Yoga NoHo, Yoga Sculpt – This studio is so close to my house and they had perfect afternoon classes.  After a grueling two weeks, I thought this could be a nice stretchy and calming class to end my trial.  I was wrong.  I was sweaty.  I did handstands (what!?).  It was amazing and just what I didn’t realize I needed.  The savasana was so amazing… dark room, the teacher covered us with blankets and spritzed a citrusy spray and I could have slept there all night.

Whew… two weeks of such good workout!  I wanted to make sure that I got my $19 worth and I’m so happy to say that I did!  I love finding new places to workout and pushing my body to try new things.  I dropped a few pounds, am seeing so much more definition in my body and just generally have so much more energy and excitement for the day. I’ve loved it so much that I’m going to stay on for another month at least!  There are some classes that I can bring McCarty along, so when Chris goes back to work and the Daddy-Daughter dates get cut back, I can still use ClassPass if I don’t make it out before he goes to work!  It’s pricey, but if I use it 3-4 times a week, definitely worth it!

I have a few studios that I still want to try, but if you have any favorites, throw them at me!

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It kind of all started with gestational diabetes. Before week 28, pregnancy was a breeze for me. After a miscarriage in July, we spent the first twelve weeks of this pregnancy kind of pretending that it wasn’t happening.  We were cautiously optimistic, but I was fairly sure that this pregnancy would end the same way the previous one had.  Eight and a half weeks came and went and at twelve weeks, we started to consider the fact that this could be a real thing.  From 12 to 28 weeks, I felt amazing!  I had no morning sickness, no aches, no pains.  It was pretty lovely!

At 28 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.  I was really down about.  I felt that I’d failed my body and that my body was failing me.  My hands & feet were so swollen even my watch wouldn’t fit onto my wrist and I was gaining weight super rapidly.  By week 31 I couldn’t feel the first three fingers on my right hand.  Figuring out what foods would work for me and which ones wouldn’t was a five week process full of experimentation… at one point I stood in front of our fridge at 3 am eating a chicken breast.  I felt like a crazy person.  Eventually, I ended up on nightly insulin injections to control my fasting blood sugars.  It was a long and frustrating process, and I mostly just wanted to eat doughnuts.  So.Many.Doughnuts.  (The day after she was born, I did.  So.Many.Doughnuts.)

McCarty Birth 1 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

Since I was taking nightly insulin injections, I had to start bi-weekly Non-Stress Tests at my doctors office.  I’d go in twice a week to be hooked up to monitors for about 45 minutes.  I’d listen to her heartbeat, count her movements and read a book.  It was a nice way to force some sitting and relaxing time!  Once a week, after the NST, I’d have an ultrasound to make sure she was growing well and that the amniotic fluid levels were good.  At our Week 34 appointment, we discovered that this little girl, once in a nice head down position, had flipped over and was breech.  I spent three weeks doing everything I could think of to flip her back around… inversions, chiropractors, acupuncture, moxibustion, diving into swimming pools, handstands, ice packs and heating pads.  All of it.  If anyone anywhere credited anything with flipping a breech baby, I tried it.

The last ditch effort was an External Cephalic Version.  I was admitted to the hospital and my doctor attempted to push her into position through my abdomen.  I was so disappointed that it didn’t work.  Even when I was on the fence about having children, I knew I wanted to be pregnant and give birth.  It felt like a rite of passage, something that I should do as a woman.  I was so sad to get through so much of pregnancy to have it all end by passively lying on a table while someone else did the work to bring her in to this world.  I spent a day in bed feeling sorry for myself, then remembered that all that mattered was a healthy me and a healthy her.  So I bought some C-Section clothes that would be comfortable on the incision, went back to work editing the wedding I’d shot on Friday and decided to double my efforts to turn this stubborn baby. I had time to do it and this stubborn baby was no match for me.  I have 32 years of digging my heels in on her.

McCarty Birth 5 McCarty Rhone: The Birth StoryOn Thursday morning I went in for my biweekly Non-Stress Test and thought about how ridiculous I was for even going because I was leaving at 11 am to attend a wedding in Santa Ynez.  I did my hair & makeup for the wedding and ate a small breakfast because I was running late.  I almost called in to reschedule because they usually take so long and I didn’t want to be late meeting my girlfriends.  It was all pretty standard and my doctor came in to check the readings.  The conversations went like this…“Are you not feeling these contractions?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’re having contractions every five minutes.”

“No”

“If you’re dilating, you’re going to have this baby today.”

“No.  I’m going to Santa Ynez today.”

“I’m going to give you twenty more minutes, then we’ll check you.  If you’re progressing, you need to go to the hospital.”

“Um, we’ll talk about it”

I called Chris, told him he definitely needed to meet me before heading in to the office. Turns out, I was progressing and my doctor wanted me to go directly to the hospital.  There was a solid round of blank stares from Chris & I.  We hadn’t installed a carseat.  We didn’t have hospital bags.  I didn’t have an out of office reply.  We were totally unprepared.  I negotiated with our doctor… I needed to go home for a few hours at the very least and she gave in. If a foot started to dangle, we’d drop everything and get to the hospital.

McCarty Birth 3 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

So, we went home.  I called the girls to tell them I couldn’t drive to Santa Ynez.  I called my mom to let her know what was going on.  I emailed out the gallery for the wedding I shot on Friday and set out of office replies for email. I cancelled massage appointments, waxing appointments and family shoots for the following week. I shot the last image for my maternity series.  The girls stopped by on their way to the wedding for hugs and good lucks!  Chris & I wandered around the house with blank looks on our faces and complete shock that this was actually happening.  This couldn’t be real.

We checked in at the hospital, and then we sat.  And we waited.  For hours.  Nothing happened.  I never felt a contraction.   I did feel exhausted and so hungry!  A light breakfast and no coffee had been a really poor choice nine hours ago.

McCarty Birth 4 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

At 5:00 pm they were ready for us.  I walked, ass out and boobs bared in those terrible maternity hospital gowns, past the nurses station where everyone waved at me, into the  freezing cold OR.  From there, everything gets a little blurry, and I’m so happy Chris had the foresight to video everything.  I remember being so tired and thinking that I should really be awake for the birth of my daughter.  I remember staring at the bright overhead lights thinking that this couldn’t really be happening.  And I remember wishing that everyone would stop asking me if I was OK, because I just wanted to take a nap.  I yawned.  A lot.

McCarty Birth 6 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

Chris came in and sat next to me and I saw my doctor walk in.  Some time passed where I mostly tried to fight sleep.  Chris stood up, holding my hand and then looked down at me with tears in his eyes and said “She has so much hair!” and I replied “They started?”

She was 6 lbs 6 oz, 18 inches with a full head of hair.  After some resuscitation to get her breathing, she was placed into my arms and I could only stare at her, trying to convince myself that this was real.  That not only had I grown a person but that she was here, in my arms, and she was perfect.

 

McCarty Birth 8 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

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McCarty Birth 14 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

McCarty Stomp 1428 McCarty Rhone: The Birth Story

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I’ve been doing a lot of entertaining lately, and I really enjoy it!   But I want it to be fairly easy, and I want to be able to prep it all ahead of time so that I can spend time with my friends as opposed to working while everyone else is relaxing.  It’s more fun to sip rosé with them than cooking!

That Ina Garten again… she makes it so easy for me.  I pulled two recipes from her How Easy Is That? book, which has a whole separate chapter for lunch options. They’re lighter, simpler and absolutely perfect for a quick lunch.  I sliced up some bread, sprinkled on salt, pepper & olive oil and then broiled it for a few minutes.  Chicken salad on a bit of arugala and served it.  Easy, delicious and because I was able to prep it all in advance, I could enjoy the time with friends.

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Healthy Lunch 1 Easy Casual Lunch: Mustard Chicken Salad & French String Bean Salad

 

This chicken salad was so good, and I was able to make it the day before!   I’d never thought to roast the chicken, but it was so good and so easy… just takes a little bit more time.

Mustard Chicken Salad

Ingredients

2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (3 pounds)

Good Olive Oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cups small broccoli florets

1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Discard the skin and bones and dice the chicken in large bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the broccoli florets to the boiling water and cook fro 1 minute only, until crisp-tender.  Drain, and place the broccoli into the bowl of ice water until cool.  This will stop the cooking and set the bright green color. Drain well.

For the dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.  Add enough dressing to the warm chicken to moisten well.  Add the tarragon, broccoli and cherry tomatoes and mix gently to combine.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to develop.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve at room temperature.

 

French String Bean Salad

Ingredients

Kosher Salt

1 1/2 pounds French string beans (haricots verts), both ends trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup good olive oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Directions

Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.  Add the beans and cook for 1 minute only.  Time it carefully!  You want the beans to be crisp-tender.  Drain the beans and put them in the ice water until completely cool.  Drain the beans again, dry on paper towels, and place them in a large bowl.

IN a small bowl, whack together the mustard, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper.  While whisking, slowly add the olive oil to make an emulsion.

Pour enough dressing over the beans to moisten them well, reserving the rest for another use.  Toss with the dill, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.  (If the beans aren’t served immediately, refrigerate them and add a little extra vinaigrette and a sprinkle of salt before serving.)

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March 18, 2015 The Dining Room

 

The front of our house was originally built in 1929 and ironically, needed the least amount of work.  The additions and renovations done in the 70s, 80s and 90s were the most terrible.   But, the original work was pretty incredible.  The dining room didn’t need much work at all, just some paint and it was good to go!   Originally we painted it eggplant, and Chris hated it.  So a few years ago, we just continued on the Urban Sunrise from the studio into the dining room.  It’s a smaller room and doesn’t get much light at all.  Lightening up the walls made such a big difference!

The dining room is the connector for my studio and the kitchen.  This archway was one of the originals, and Chris has duplicated it throughout the house.  It’s one of my favorite features of the house.
Dining Room Renovation 0001 The Dining Room

The table is a floor sample from Crate & Barrel, we got an amazing deal on it!  The plan had always been to replace the plain white top with a piece of marble.  The plan had also been to replace the chairs, a Craigslist find from our condo.  The chairs are actually different now, it took two years to find a set that I liked!  The wall sconces are from Circa Lighting and the painting is a flea market find.   I liked it, knew it looked familiar, but couldn’t quite place it.  The seller went on and on about how it was signed by the artist and a unique piece.  I looked closer.  It’s signed by Renoir.  HA!

Eventually we’ll replace the door above with one of the originals we have, maybe even on barn door hardware so that we can have full use of the swinging area.
Dining Room Renovation 0002 The Dining Room

Most of the glassware and flower vessels I use are vintage, found at flea markets over the years.  But the plates are from our wedding china collection from Crate & Barrel and the silverware was my grandmothers!  The rug is from Rugs USA.
Dining Room Renovation 0003 The Dining Room
Dining Room Renovation 0004 The Dining Room

The bar was one of the first renovations we made.  It was originally an entrance into a porch we think.  But it was a really weird room off of the dining room, with no real use. Chris dropped the floor down to the original placement and built a bar… so much more useful!  It’s been so great for storage, I don’t know where we’d store all of my finds if we hadn’t built the bar.  Now that we have the kitchen all finished, we don’t really use the bar for entertaining anymore, but it’s real pretty to look at icon smile The Dining Room
Dining Room Renovation 0005 The Dining Room

 

Photography: Heather Kincaid

Florals: Floral Crush

Hair & Makeup: Moira Taylor Paris

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I love cookbooks.  I love the weight of them and I love the pictures.  I love flipping through them and I love the way they look on a shelf.  This pretty one, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi was a birthday gift and I couldn’t be more obsessed with it.  I love Dorie Greenspans books… The ease, the writing, the pictures.  They’re all great and this one is going tobet a whole lot of good use!
JH2 1234 1024x681 Dorie Greenspans Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

 

I needed a little dessert for a lunch I hosted last week, and I was so thrilled to pull out this book.  I started at the beginning, and pulled the very first recipe, a weekend cake.  I love this concept… a simple but versatile cake that should last you through the weekend.   You can eat it for dessert or with your morning coffee.  It’s even better on the second day actually.  And I imagine if it makes it to day 3, it would be really delicious toasted, with a little butter.  Ahh, those French, they get me.

I served it with a little marscarpone & strawberries, because that’s what I happened to have in my fridge.  But plain, it was so good.  Or with vanilla ice cream.  Or with creme fraîche and any berry.  I don’t think you can go wrong at all!

JH2 11651 1024x681 Dorie Greenspans Brown Butter and Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

 

Brown Butter & Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

Ingredients

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 moist, fragrant vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped or 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons dark rum or amaretto

Directions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Pull out an insulated baking sheet or stack two regular baking sheets one on top of the other.  Line the (top) sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  Butter a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan, dust with flour and tap out the excess (or use baker’s spray).  I suggest preparing the pan this way even if it’s nonstick.  Set the loaf pan on the baking sheet(s).

Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally.  Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep honey brown, 5 to 10 minutes.  Don’t’ turn your back on the pan – the difference between brown and black is measured in seconds.  And don’t worry about the little brown flecks in the bottom of the pan – they’re a delicious part of the process.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and the vanilla-bean pulp in a large bowl and rub them together until the sugar is moist and fragrant.  If you’re using vanilla extract, you’ll add it in later.  Whisk the eggs into the sugar, beating for about 1 minute, or until they’re throughly incorporated.  Still working with the whisk, beat in the extract, if you’re using it, then the heavy cream, followed by the rum.   Continuing to whisk or switching to a large flexible spatula, gently and gradually store in the dry ingredients until you have a thick, smooth batter.  Fold in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Take a look at the cake after it’s been in the oven for about 30 minutes; if it looks as if it’s browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent.  When the cake tests done, transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then unmold it and let cool right side up.

ENJOY!

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I hate the word mocktail.  It’s terrible, and kind of defeats the purpose, because it sounds like something children should drink.  I’ll come up with something better and let you know.

So, theres no alcohol in this cocktail.  And I don’t even care.   I can guzzle this all day long.

It’s blackberry & blood orange & mint & heaven.  All together.   I bet if you add some vodka or gin, that would be pretty delicious too.   Let me know!
Blood Orange Mint Mocktail 0001 Blood Orange & Mint Mocktail

 

My dear friend Jen is on maternity leave after having her second baby and I’m doing a little filling in for her!  Head over to her blog Sun + Daughter for the recipe and the cutest pictures of her little ones!

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March 6, 2015 Its My Birthday!

 

Birthdays aren’t a super big deal around here.   We’re pretty boring about them… maybe dinner out or drinks with friends.  If we’re really going to do something, it’ll be a trip somewhere or some kind of experience.  Our birthdays are just a few weeks apart, so if we do it, we do it well.  And if we don’t, we don’t really do it at all!

I think because getting older hasn’t been such a big deal for me, the celebration of it didn’t need to be a big deal.  Thirty was hard.  And weird, because I’d never really cared how old I was.  But thirty seemed, well, like a clear mark in time.   Thirty was big.  And I was torn on what to do, I never figured it out, so we did nothing.  But 32 feels like just another day.  Although, 32 does feel big in that it will be a big year for us, the year our family grows into three.  And that feels enormous.  Perhaps we’ll spend it building shelves in her room icon smile Its My Birthday!

This year will be pretty low-key… a quiet weekend since Chris has been on the road for the last week.  A little socializing, a little sleeping in, maybe some cake (because what’s a birthday without a little cake!) and taking in our final celebrations before it’s no longer just about us anymore.  Before we’re going to start celebrating birthdays hard… with parties and bounce houses and super amazing fun times.

In other news, my friend Heidi Ryder and I took a little photo field trip out to see the almond blossoms.  She snapped a few photos of me and I’m really hard in love with them.   That girl, she’s the best.

Almond 1 Its My Birthday!

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