Friday, January 30, 2009

Design Porn: Blue Potato Parchment Bowls

These. Are. The. Coolest. Things. I. Have. Ever. Seen.

I have a feeling most of you wouldn't believe me if I said the gorgeous bowl pictured above was made out of potatoes. But it's not made of ordinary potatoes, you see--it's made of really gorgeous (and completely edible) purple potatoes. Artist Margaret Dorfman has taken the pretty chip an extra step though, by curing, pressing, and aging potato slivers and artfully layering them one by one to form these exquisite looking bowls. And it's not just potatoes she works with--Margaret is making bowls out of all kinds of vegetables, one more beautiful that the next. Other than the purple potato, I'm particularly digging the thai papaya, beet, and white raddish versions pictured below.

Something tells me this isn't your traditional DIY project, but surprisingly the bowls are fairly affordable, ranging from $28 to $54 for the purple potato, available here, and just $34 for the other varieties that can be found on her site right here. And please, whatever you do, don't try eating them.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

RIP domino

Today I'm really sad to report a tragic, tragic loss in the magazine community. Yesterday brought us the closing of domino, which is--nay, was--my very favorite magazine, whose delivery constantly made my month a little brighter and my space a little warmer.

Conde Nast blames the economy, but for some this was a long time coming. The magazine had its flaws, but the design porn was always too irresistible to pass up. And, let's face it, any mag that's devoted to making all aspects of your life pretty is a winner in my book. Scatterbrained as it was from time to time, domino was a great read while it lasted. I'll miss you, domino :(

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Budget Finds: Elephant Poo Roses

I can't believe how close we're getting to Valentine's Day. With only about two weeks left, it's time for some budget-friendly gift planning. You might remember that a while back, when this little blog was making its first itsy-bitsy steps, I blogged about Poo Poo Paper, a wonderfully eco-friendly line of pretty stationery made from elephant dung. Well, apparently the trend has caught on, because these guys are now selling elephant poo roses at a half dozen for $25--just at the budget finds limit.

I'm not sure I'd want to stop and smell these roses per se, but I'll definitely look at them all day long! Click here for more info.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Encounter with Blowfish, Part One

In Japan, eating blowfish is a big-time delicacy. Flavor aside, the fish contains severe toxins that can kill you if the fish isn't prepared properly. It's part of the appeal, if not the appeal in itself, and I'm not entirely positive of why that is. But either way, blowfish, or fugu, as it's called in Japanese, is a big deal.

Last night I made my first strides towards eating fugu. It had been a month or so since one of my clients started serving it up in his restaurant, and though it didn't warrant a tasting of it's own, I'd been the one nominated to write it up and ensure that the glories of fugu were properly extolled. Every chance that came about, I'd cross my fingers in hopes that I could partake in the excitement--all to no avail.

Why did I want to eat blowfish so badly? It's a foodie's purple heart and gold medal rolled all into one--yes, I'm that badass that I had the guts to try this. And I survived. (After all, fugu is not that dangerous. As bad as the toxins can be, a special liscense is required to even purchase the fish, and you have to prove you're not going to kill anyone.) Only 12 chefs in New York are certified. If I'm lucky enough to work with one, I'd better take my chance while it's safe.

So finally the opportunity came last night. And in the first course of my tasting appeared little bits of blowfish in a square of soy gelatin. It may not sound tasty, but it was--as much as I hate gelatin, it imparted a sweetness that was just right while it gently melted to reveal the crunchy, chewy fish. A great mixture of flavors (in quite unexpected form), it was my first encounter with blowfish.

But what does blowfish taste like, exactly? I couldn't tell you, because the chef ran out of the good stuff before I could try it on its own. At least I survived part one -- here's hoping to a part two, and soon!

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Sticky (Bun) Situation

About two months ago, one of the restaurants that I work with introduced brunch, and with it, an array of freshly baked breads, biscuits and cinnamon rolls—yes, freshly baked cinnamon rolls. They were every bit as delicious as I’d hoped for, and then some. After raving to TWB, I brought him along on my next visit to try them for himself. “Good, very good,” he said, “but not as good as Flour’s.”

You see, TWB has an unfair advantage. Living a block away from Boston’s favorite bakery has spoiled him rotten, and there are some things in Boston that New York’s finest doesn’t beat. It’s a rare occurrence—trust me, I hate to admit that the city would be shy of #1 for anything, ever—but this weekend I found the proof for myself.

But back to those cinnamon buns. Having woken up at 10 AM, I thought we’d be in good shape to get some of the highly sought-after treats. TWB warned me and we called in advance so that two could be set aside. An hour later, they were ours. And my, my, my! It was true! Sticky and sweet without being cloying or sugary, these buns are of a whole other caliber. Little bits of crushed walnuts hid between the fluffy layers, creating a subtle balance of flavors. I was immediately convinced (and addicted). The good news? Flour ships their sticky buns overnight! So no matter where you are, there’s still a way to taste these magical little treats.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Food Iconography and Evolution -- Super Cool!

This morning I found a little bit of a treasure trove. I realize that this may not be as thrilling for you as it is for me, but maybe, just maybe, there are some crazies out there who love this stuff as much as I do. There, you have your disclaimer.

Anyway, I'm loving this article on neat-o-rama about the evolution of classic food logos. The Morton salt girl, the Laughing Cow (whose French likeness was strangely pervasive in Morocco), even Aunt Jemima--these are icons that we've grown up with, but what are the stories? Where did they come from? How have they changed and why didn't they continue to evolve past the 1940's?

Whether you want to read those stories or not, you have to check out the incredible montages of images available over here. Did you know that there have been 6 different Aunt Jemimas and that Betty Crocker isn't a real person? If you read, at least you'll score some super oddball food trivia, and you'll win some points in my book!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Link of the Day -- Carrot Flowers

Since yesterday's post-it origami, I've been thinking about the fun ways that I can add creativity and artfulness into the least expected of places. I'll be honest, this isn't an entirely unusual thing for me, but sometimes it just gets kicked into full gear...

On that note, I remembered this nifty idea that I'd seen a few weeks ago on Apartment Therapy (a blog, which, by the way, is edging closer and closer to my ideal mix of food and decor day by day). It spruces up one of my most love/hate vegetables, carrots. They're so tasty in baby form and dipped in something like hummus or ranch, but in any other way they're just so blah to me. Especially cooked. But we don't have to go too deep into that.

Regardless, I'd be far more interested in carrots if they always looked like this. You always hear about adding carrots to a salad for color appeal, but do it like this and your culinary and artistic skills seemingly soar through the roof. Just don't tell anyone how easy it is to do! Check out the step-by-step here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Budget Finds: Origami Post-It Notes

Thought I forgot about you there? Maybe I got too caught up in the inaugural spirit? Don't worry, I would never forget you, dear readers.

It's been a busy day at work and much has been accomplished (sort of), which basically translates to lots of post-its marked up, scratched off, and thrown away. Too bad I don't have a pad of these babies...

Made for people just like me who love crafting things out of, well, nothing, these stickies are a super budget-friendly find at a mere $3.75 a pad. How's that for value?

Pick up yours here, and buy me a stack while you're at it!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obsession du jour: Spoon Necklaces

Sometimes food pops up in aspects of my life where I'm simply not expecting. And as much as those cupcake t-shirts and necklaces last season were just a tacky iteration of a widespread craze (of which I take partial responsibility), I love it when food makes unexpected, edgy, and chic cameos into the fashion world. I know I'm not the only one--Duff Goldman of Ace of Cakes fame has a whisk for a tattoo. That's close enough to accessorizing, right?

Anyhow, these adorable spoon necklaces are dainty and sweet, but with just a little bit of attitude. Modeled after absinthe spoons from decades past, they remind me of the Parisian-retro-glam style of Moulin Rouge. And, quite frankly, how can you go wrong with that?

For more tongue-in-cheek designs by Demitasse, click here, and be sure to check out the witty little moustache necklaces that are cleverly called demistaches!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Link of the Day

My colleague was researching decor blogs when she stumbled upon this. She thought it was ridiculous; I thought it was fabulous!

Perhaps that's because I'm really craving a good burger, though...

Space-Expanding Wall Art

I got a recent tip from TWB about wall decals from a particular website called Infectious, but when I looked at the site I knew there had to be something better out there. At once intrigued by the world of wall art and curious to see the scope of what was out there, I set out to find a few pieces I wouldn't mind putting on my own walls.

These decals, mimicking the silhouettes of antique furniture, would add character and depth to small spaces. I was particularly inspired by this fireplace, which would be so charming and yet so mod in a small living room. Better yet, the site lets you color-customize each decal according to your existing wall colors--clever!

Here are some of my favorites...

Find yours here!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Design Porn -- Dish Up

On the one hand, it seemed like this week would go on forever. Then in retrospect, it seems that yesterday was Tuesday. Regardless, I'm extremely thankful that it's finally Friday.

To round out the week, here's a fun little invention that I recently stumbled upon. It's not for me personally, but I know there are lots of weirdos out there who can't stand it when their mac 'n cheese makes contact with ketchup intended for chicken nuggets... or who are driven nuts when the rice gets infused with the neighboring salad's Italian dressing. Me? I get hungry thinking about the accidental damage (I've even been known to purposely induce it on regular occasions).

For you weirdos, here's something to keep you happy. It's a step beyond compartmentalized dishes...

...but if you ask me, the biggest advantage is shallower, stacking storage. And a cool, crisp look!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Microwave-made Chocolate Cake: The

After finally watching my personal appearance on Food Network's Throwdown last night (!!!), I felt my tummy rumbling with quite some vigor. The battle was bread pudding, and the victor, dessert truck, is closed on vacation for another two weeks. What would I do to satisfy my newly awakened sweet tooth?

I had an idea.

Sometime last week, I tucked a link into a drawer full of bookmarks to be explored at a later date. This one--three minute microwave-made chocolate cake--would hit the spot, assuming the whole three minute microwave-made thing didn't turn out to be some nasty illusion.

Well, it wasn't. And if you, like me, are a skeptic that a perfectly decent (even delicious!) chocolate cake can be made without an oven, try this recipe. Here's what it looks like according to its creator, and the recipe can be found right here.

Don't get me wrong--this isn't a substitute for that perfect chocolate cake recipe you've brought to your friend's birthday all those years. No. This is a quick fix that hits the spot. Without much effort. And it's still pretty darn good.

Do yourself a favor--go find out when Throwdown: Bread Pudding will rerun, schedule it to tivo, and sit down and watch my first Food Network cameo with a mugful of this gooey deliciousness.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Budget Finds: Remnants from the First Depression

In light of my uber-budget mindset this week, I've found an uber-special budget find. One of my favorite magazines (with a not-so-budget subscription rate) asked a number of contemporary artists to re-envision poster designs and slogans from the great depression era. The results, for the most part, are really cool, and I wouldn't mind having some of these framed in my home. Good thing, because they're free to print right here. Try a little bit of super-cheap lamination at your local Fed-Ex Kinko's and you'll be all set with some uber-budget (and uber-chic) decor!

See all the designs (and print them free!) right here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Treehouse Restaurant -- Restaurant Design Gone Wild!

If I were to pick one niche category that I'm obsessed with, it's definitely the intersection between food and design. We're talking restaurant design, table settings, food plating and styling, and the different sensory experiences that can be effected through these intersections. No wonder I was totally blown away by this amazing restaurant in New Zealand called The Yellow Treehouse Restaurant. It's just what it sounds like--a restaurant that's actually a treehouse 10 metres high in a forest of redwood trees.

The pop up restaurant opened officially over the weekend, and will be seating guests for lunch and dinner for one month, until Feb. 9th. Curious to see how the menu would interact with the setting, I downloaded the PDF version to find that, as I suspected, you can't cook a whole lot of stuff in a treehouse. But I'm happy to report there are no birds on the menu--how awkward would that be? Worse than boiling a calf in her mother's milk might just be eating a bird in its own nest. Anyhow, the fare seems local, largely vegetarian, and mostly out of convenience for the lack of appliances one can safely use in a redwood forest.

Overall, a very cool design concept, but the food? I've yet to be convinced. If you happen to be travelling to NZ anytime soon, though... let me know!

Monday, January 12, 2009

DIY Madness--Custom Crayons!

This weekend, I took my own advice and tried out one of the ski resorts I budget found last week. With dinners out on either side of my daytrip and other miscellaneous expenses thrown into the mix, the lift tickets and rentals quickly became the most "budget" thing in sight. Exhausted, sore, and not yet ready to start another week, I decided to start the week on the right foot by bringing you a different kind of budget savvy-ness: a DIY project. It's been a while since we've had a good DIY project here on eatmywords, but this one is sure to please.

Now, you have to understand, I love coloring. For at least the last five years, I've always had a coloring book nearby in case I had a sudden craving for pretty colors. This project satisfies those kinds of needs--and gives lots of possibilities for how to do that. See, with a simple silicone tray (like the ones I used for shaping cheesecake bonbons a while back) and some old crayola colors, magic can happen! Just melt, pour, refrigerate, and repeat! Layor colors in rainbow order or gradations for a really pretty end product. Throw them in a mason jar with a ribbon and viola! -- a perfect gift for your artsy-fartsy or five-year-old-wannabe friends.

See a great photo step-by-step here! Ah, if only I could be a professional color-er...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Food Porn: Aebleskiver Madness!

Ok, one last thing and I'll stop reflecting on the holidays and the new year. I promise.

For Channukah, TWB's mom bought me a nicer version of the aebleskiver pan that I budget found a while back (see how I turned that into a verb?). Anyhow, I've been experimenting with it quite a bit, and to (what I have considered) great success! So far, I've made a breakfast variety with caramelized apples as well as dessert varieties with chocolate and whipped cream.

I've done chocolate outside and cream inside, and I've also done the reverse--both have their pros and cons, but they're beautiful either way. With that, here's some food porn for your weekend--and the recipe follows!

Aebleskiver Batter

What You Need...
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp sugar (add more for dessert varieties)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • About 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
What You Do...

In one bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In another, melt the butter and add the wet. Combine and bake with very low heat in a special, cast iron aebleskiver pan like the one shown here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Totally Chic or Totally Geek?

I was flipping through a rather unremarkable magazine when I saw an image that caught my attention--it was a piece of fabric, but illuminated with all the colors of the rainbow. It was flat and flexible, but an obvious source of light that glowed in gorgeously vibrant hues. Immediately, I googled LED-embedded fabric and sought something similar to share with you.

What I found was monochromatic, but perhaps more practical than a piece of fabric that is every color all at once. The all-white light is more elegant and chic, just like white-colored Christmas lights in comparison to the tacky multicolored ones. Would I want this in my house though? I'm not sure. And would I want an LED-embedded headboard, like the one you can see through the LED-embedded curtains below? No thanks.

I'd love to see how designers incorporate this into a room--next season of Top Design, anyone? Check here for more images and info.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Budget Finds: Ski Deals and More

Today's Budget Finds exceeds the normal $25 budget, but with good reason: a ski trip is virtually impossible for less than even $100. But believe it or not, it is possible to ski without breaking the bank, even without a car, a lodge, or your own pair of skis.

You see, it was only last year that I learned how to ski. I imagined I'd enjoy the speed and adrenaline factors, but I never thought I'd have sufficient coordination or--gasp!--athleticism to get off the bunny hill. I'm still not fully convinced about my athleticism (let's not kid ourselves), but I can safely say that I picked up the sport swiftly and committed myself to making up for lost time. By my counts, I still have 20 years of not skiing to account for!

Clearly, the budget factor kicked in. And that's when this link right here saved my life (and my new-found hobby). With a list of one day ski packages from NYC (including transportation and lift tickets) that all clock in at under $100, this is a real golden nugget to keep on your favorites bar. Some resorts even feature lodge accommodations as low as $99 for a four-person suite, which comes out to our perfect budget finds number: $25 a pop.

Plus, a little bird told me that Megabus is giving away free bus tickets! Use the promo code "greenbus" to get access to free fares between January 14 and March 23. I just booked a few for myself! Talk about budget finds...

pssssst! If you decide to plan a ski trip, will you please invite me to come along? I'd just love to join you :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Eames Elephant Chairs -- so perfect!

Not long ago, I stumbled upon these adorable chairs by Charles and Ray Eames. It doesn't fail to fascinate me how these two created designs a half a century ago that still look so strikingly modern today. And though there are many Eames designs that have stayed popular through the decades, I'd never seen these before. How could I have ever missed them? Elephants are my favorites.

And who is to say that they wouldn't make cute endtables, too?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Good Enough to Eat... Again! -- Chickpea Deliciousness

It's a new year, and that means that many of us have made resolutions that we won't try hard enough to keep. Mine? To keep cooking, and to expand my repertoire of healthy, light dishes. Goodness knows I eat indulgent meals often enough, so I think a bit of balance will go a long way. To kick off the year with such a start, I tried out this fantastic chickpea-based recipe--it's vegetarian, but packed with protein nonetheless. And with some chicken on the side, it's a hearty meal for strict carnivores. Packaged up in tupperware, it reheats quite nicely after a day or two, too!

Lemony Chicken Stirfry
closely adapted from Serious Eats

What You'll Need...

4 tbsp. olive oil
3 shallots, diced
2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
2 cups chopped kale (spinach would be fine too)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced and halved
1 lemon

What You Do...

1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and sautee chickpeas with a hearty pinch of salt. Add shallot and sautee until the chickpeas start to turn golden in color. Add in the kale and cook until wilted; remove from heat. (Note: the more you cook the chickpeas, the more they develop this wonderful nutty flavor... it's an unexpected treat!)

2. Heat remaining oil, sautee zucchini and red pepper for about 3 minutes or until just cooked. Add the chickpea mixture, zest from most of the lemon, and juice from half the lemon. Mix them all together, remove from heat and finish with salt and pepper to taste.