Monday, November 30, 2009

Print Society

A few months back, I posted a link to Jen Beckman's 20x200 project, a fantastic site for finding great, affordable art. After making numerous purchases there, I started looking around for other sites, and quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of fantastic art that is out there and available. Why would you ever buy another poster when all of these amazing, unique prints are at the ready, and available for comparable prices?

As I said, I was overwhelmed. Until now. The Print Society has just launched as an Etsy for prints. It is an amazing site to get lost on, I can't believe how many prints are available! The editors seemed to have scoured all of those sites out there and gotten the best of the best, it's really a lot of fun to go through some of the works.

I've only surfed for about ten minutes and have already picked out a bunch of things. They also have some neat features - for example, you can get an account and follow certain artists to see when they put up new work. I have immediately jumped on their mailing list and am trying to resist purchasing at least until I get my Christmas shopping done... of course, plenty of these would make great Christmas gifts anyway...

Returning Home

Isn't there something that is so uniform about the evening after you get back from a vacation? I'm always tired, no matter how relaxing the vacation was. My stomach feels a little sensitive from the flight or car trip (yes, I obviously get motion sickness). My arms are weary from dragging my bag around and lifting it in and out of taxis or up and down subway stairs. And when I walk into my apartment, it is eerily still. I put down my things, often just in a pile on the floor, and sit down, letting all of the wonderful memories from the trip overcome the bizarre feeling of returning home. Last night we ordered pizza and ate on the couch, spacing out and watching the end of The Santa Claus on TBS. It seemed fitting as we head into December.

I usually don't unpack right away. That's not a job for a Sunday night, it's part of the Monday routine, wherein you run around like crazy trying to restock your refrigerator, open your mail, do your laundry, and get ready for the week, all the while catching up on your TiVO from the vacation. (Is this all sounding familiar to anyone?)

The Sunday routine is quiet. The Monday routine is not. Especially when you get to work on Monday to find out that your Entourage crashed and all of your email has been deleted. Welcome back to the real world, Calvine!

Wright's birthday is this week, so along with the holiday parties (already??) it seems extremely hectic. Not that hectic really works, since I'm so excited for this week's events. Tomorrow night I'm cooking Wright dinner for his birthday. Believe it or not, he requested Pineapple Upside Down Cake. That is the last thing on earth I expected to hear when I asked him if he had any special requests. Seriously? Pineapple? In December? Anyway, that's what I'll be doing tomorrow night, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, is anyone else wondering where in the world November went? Last I checked it was Halloween but all of a sudden it's Thanksgiving. And I've posted a mere six times this month, pathetic! What has been keeping me so busy? I have no idea. Really.

But anyway, tomorrow I disembark on a family- and sun-filled Thanksgiving trip. It should be wonderful and relaxing, exactly what I need as we head into the holiday season. Is it embarrassing that I'm already stressing out about my schedule the first week of December? Well, whether it is or isn't, it is definitely a sign that I need to slow down. A beach is necessary.

I do wish I were cooking a big Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. I've been reading so many fun articles about preparations and recipes and planning, jealousy has been creeping in. But I know I'll have many years of Thanksgiving cooking ahead (plus a Christmas dinner in just a few weeks - eek!). For all of you who are cooking for Thanksgiving, or sous-chef-ing for Thanksgiving, I wish you luck!

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. I promise to hit the blog running when I return next week!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Orange Honey Glazed Drumsticks

After a week of being thankful that I'd started stocking up on frozen foods (time to defrost the eggplant parmesan!), I was really excited to cook dinner on Sunday night. I had some chicken drumsticks and decided to use my growing pantry to the full extent and make a nice glaze to roast the drumsticks in. A lot of glazes I found in my cookbooks and on websites were loaded with soy sauce, but I wanted something a little more sweet, so I just gambled with what I had in my cabinet. I used Rachel Ray's BBQ drumsticks recipe as a basis for the cooking method/timing and if I do say so myself, they actually turned out to be quite tasty!

As long as you have the above ingredients (plus cointreau, I forgot to put the bottle in the picture), this is really easy to make. I think the key lesson I learned, though, is that making flavorful sauces and glazes doesn't have to be some exact science, nor does it have to cost you a ton as you buy full bottles of ingredients and only use a couple of shakes. Just stick with what you have.

Orange Honey Glazed Drumsticks
Adapted from Rachel Ray, sort of.

1 tablespoon of olive oil (or less)
Six drumsticks, leave the skin on
4 tablespoons cointreau
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of one orange
A few shakes of Worcestershire
A few shakes of hot sauce
Salt/pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a sauté pan large enough to fit all of the drumsticks on the stove top. Once hot, add olive oil and let heat on medium.
2. Brown your drumsticks in the olive oil. This is a loud process. Heat each side for 3-4 minutes, or until crispy. Set drumsticks into small, oven-proof dish (I used a 9x9) and cover with foil to keep warm.
3. Pour cointreau into pan to deglaze and let boil/simmer until reduced by half. Use a whisk while reducing to scrape the bottom of the pan and get all of the flavor infused.
4. Add remaining ingredients to the pan, incorporating with the whisk as you add each one. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it reaches a glaze consistency. Taste the sauce to see if it is the right amount of orange/sweet/hot for you. Adjust if necessary.
5. Pour the glaze (all of it) over the drumsticks, turning them to make sure they are covered. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, turning the chicken once or twice.
6. Place drumsticks on plates or platter, and spoon some excess glaze over them if desired.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pete and Dexter

One of my new favorite writers is Pete Wells, in particular his series "Cooking with Dexter" that appears in the New York Times Magazine every few weeks. The articles describe, lightheartedly and touchingly, his adventures in cooking with his five year old son, Dexter. Wells does a fantastic job at pinpointing the wonderful things about children in the kitchen, as well as children in general - this week he discussed Dexter's affinity for the two movies The Last Waltz and Ratatouille, each of which he has watched upwards of 100 times. I don't know about you, but I definitely remember latching onto certain movies - often completely random ones - and watching them over and over and over again. And let's be honest, it is pretty cool that Dexter likes The Band!

Anyway, I am always thrilled when the magazine has another one of the series, so I wanted to be sure and point them out. The writing is good and the message is better: cooking with others is fun and important. And children can be pretty funny (see the "Punch Line" article where Dexter learns to bartend)!

For the articles, click here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Taste of Maine

Tucked away in a tiny spot on East 7th street, a new haven for lovers of Maine has arrived. Luke's Lobster is small and simple: it serves fresh lobster, shrimp and crab rolls, straight from Maine. And that's it. There are a few stools and you can get a root beer and a pickle if you'd like, but otherwise the place is really about the lobster, and by that I mean fresh lobster from Maine.

Luke grew up near Portland, ME, and his father owns a seafood business up there. This helped him get the right connections to make his restaurant happen - the shellfish are steamed right away after being unloaded from the dock, and then transported safely to New York and right into the lobster rolls that they serve up at Luke's. A mini roll costs $8 and a big guy $14 - extremely reasonable for fresh Maine lobster rolls in the city.

The rolls stay away from too much mayo or seasoning, and are top-loaded into a buttered and toasted bun. I had my first bite of Luke's Lobster at the New Amsterdam Market a few weeks ago, where we were able to meet the famed Luke. I practically ran to the East Village for more. And let me tell you, do not let the approaching winter deter your lobster craving - the taste of summers in Maine was the perfect antidote to last night's chilly New York air.

For more information, visit Luke's Lobster is located on East 7th Street between 1st avenue and Avenue A.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kandinsky at the Guggenheim

I am so sorry that I have been missing for the past week! A ton of work at the gallery collided with a small fever and all of a sudden I realized that it had been forever since I've posted. Feels like it's been forever since I've had a minute to sit down and relax, as well. I'm looking forward to adjusting back into my normal routine of not working 7 days a week plus evenings, and doing things like cooking, organizing, reading... ah even laundry sounds appealing at this point!

Anyway, I'm dying to tell you about the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim. In college, Kandinsky was one of my favorite artists, and going to this show reminded me why he still is. The colors, movement, passion, creativity... ah! It is all just so wonderful!

The show is extensive, filling the entire rotunda with his paintings plus a large side gallery in the Tower with works on paper. The show works its way up the rotunda chronologically, which works perfectly for an artist like Kandinsky. It is fascinating to see how his art develops, becoming looser, then tighter, then non-objective, then more objective, colorful, then dark, etc. Plus all of this is going on through two world wars, and the affects they have on his art as he moves around Europe really pulls everything together for the viewer.

I saw the show for a second time with an old friend of Wright's, who pointed out that the truly amazing thing about Kandinsky's work is his ability to bring together so many art forms into an image. The influence of music, history, painting, theater, dance and architecture can all be seen in his paintings. Creativity is projecting from each canvas in such a beautiful way - and in the Guggenheim's curving galleries it was just the perfect storm.

This is truly one of the best shows I've seen in the past few years, for many reasons, and I'd highly recommend you hightail it to the Gugg before it closes in January.

For more information, see All images courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. N.B. The Guggenheim is closed on Thursday.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Cold Season

I woke up on Sunday with a bit of a cold, which seemed very appropriate given that it was November 1st. There was a chill in the air, and after sniffling my way up and down the east side of Manhattan, I buckled down Sunday afternoon to make some chicken noodle soup and lay low. I went a little bit overboard with the soup.

Yep, pretty much made enough soup to last for the next four winters. And this is after I had my bowl that afternoon! I put one big guy and the little guy in the fridge to last me through the week, and the others went right into the freezer. I can only hope they'll be pulled out because I'm being lazy at some point, not because I'm sick again!

I don't know about you, but I like my chicken noodle soup crammed with lots of stuff. Plenty of roasted chicken breast and pasta. I don't like to use actual noodles, because that makes it difficult to eat with a spoon. Instead, I use small pasta, this time I had some mini bowties lying around.

Of course, I also cram veggies in there - carrot, celery, onion, garlic, and even some leftover potato I had lying around. All adds to flavor as well as health benefits!

I can't say I was feeling that much better after making all of this soup, but I do know that it was the perfect lunch today - what a soothing meal to break up an otherwise hectic and sniffly day at the office!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Guest Post: Halloween Soup

Editor's Note: While I was handing out cider and donuts at a children's Halloween parade on Saturday, Wright took over the kitchen and made this Halloween Soup. He even decided to take pictures during the process and write a guest post about it...I guess sometimes boyfriends get jealous of their girlfriends' blogs! -- Calvine

A Halloween inspired soup with seasonal ingredients and extra garlic (it is vampire season after all)

5 large “fatty” carrots – cut into fries
1 celeriac root – cut into fries
1 potato – diced
2 yellow onions – diced
1 bulb of garlic – preferably from keith’s farm
2 cups fresh chicken stock
Crème fraiche – a few dollops for each bowl
1 bunch of lovage (herb)
Olive oil, salt and pepper, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne pepper
Splash of Armagnac (optional)

Roasting tray
Emulsion blender

French baguette – toasted

Start by procuring your ingredients from the Union Square greenmarket. The “fatty” carrots, celeriac root, lovage and garlic are all from Keith’s farm, which has the best garlic on the planet. For a nice touch, use fresh chicken stock versus store bought. Hopefully you have a girlfriend who prepares fresh chicken stock on a regular basis.

Begin making the soup by decapitating (continuing with the Halloween theme) the carrots. No need to peel the carrots, just make sure you wash off all the dirt. Next, you need to clean the celeriac.
Use a knife to cut off all the unruly roots, and then grab your peeler to shave it down to a smooth orb. Here is the clean-cut version.

Cut both the carrots and celeriac into fries, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put onto a roasting tray. Throw this in the oven for about 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Roasting the veggies will help caramelize the outside and bring a really deep flavor to the soup.

While you’re waiting, you can dice your onions, crush your garlic and begin to heat up some olive oil in the pot. Sweat your onions and garlic for about 5-7 minutes on medium. Make sure not to burn either, or you may as well start over. While they are sweating, peel and dice your potato. The potato won’t add too much flavor, but will help thicken the soup.

When the carrots and celeriac are done, you can let them rest, or add them to the pot if you are ready.

Once you have the onion and garlic sweating (slightly translucent), add the potato, carrots, and celeriac. Let them sauté for about 5-10 minutes before adding the chicken stock. After adding the chicken stock, you want to bring the pot to a simmer (less than a boil, but still bubbling) and let it meld for about 20 minutes. This is when you should add the lovage (herb) and spices – cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper. There’s no correct amount. It all depends on what you like.

Also splash in some Armagnac. This is an apple liquor, but the biggest benefit is having alcohol break up some of the flavors in the caramelized carrots and celeriac.

In the meantime, toast your baguette rounds. These are clutch for a good soup and the only way I feel full from basically a liquid meal.

When your soup is ready, grab your emulsion blender and start blending. By the time it’s nice and smooth it’s ready to be served. Spoon into a bowl, add a couple of dollops of crème fraishe and enjoy.