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Monthly Archives: April 2014

strawberryscones2

i read this post the other day, about the pervasiveness of the boring blog, which got me thinking about whether my little corner of the internet has any real worth, about whether anything i’m doing is original. here’s where i landed: very few things are truly original these days. what is original about something – be it a recipe, or a moodboard, or a story – is that its yours. that it’s told in your own voice, which is a voice no one but you can convey.

take, for example, the above recipe for strawberry scones. i riffed off this one, from annie’s eats. for all intents and purposes, it’s annie’s recipe, not mine. but when i made it, i added vanilla. i squeezed a bit of extra lemon juice into my batter instead of just adding zest. i used my hands to cut my butter into the flour mixture, instead of putting it into the food processor (a tip my mother taught me long ago). do those few things make it “mine enough” to warrant a post? i suppose that’s up for debate.

what i do know is that i made this recipe, and made it my own. and it was delicious, so i’d like to share it with you. it’s as simple as that.

so, let’s do this, shall we?

scones are one of those foods that people seem to imagine are difficult to make (i put risotto into this category as well). in fact, when i made these on saturday, the first thing my roommate said was, “scones? aren’t those really hard to make?”

guess what? they’re not. scones are actually uber SIMPLE to make. which is what makes them so magical. they’re a breakfast/brunch standby, and you can whip them up in under 30 minutes. generally speaking, it’s likely that you already have all the ingredients you need on hand, which is always nice. these ones, which are spiced with a hint of lemon zest and feature fresh strawberries, are like a pop of spring in your mouth, which is a good thing on a sunny day when it feels like mother nature is finally letting go of her grasp on the warmer weather we were promised almost a month ago.

what you’ll need:

1 large egg

¼ cup greek yogurt, plain (i used chobani)

½ cup milk

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1 tsp. lemon zest + the juice of 1/2 of your zested lemon

2¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 heaping cup diced fresh strawberries

strawberryscones1

what you’ll do:

preheat your oven to 425.

in a small bowl, whisk together your yogurt, milk, vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

in a larger bowl, mix your dry ingredients. set aside, and cut up your butter. i like to cut mine into sliced (the way you’d slice up cheese), then quarter those slices.

add your butter to dry ingredients. with clean, dry hands, begin to smush the little bits of butter into the flour. you can use a pastry cutter, or a food processor, or even two forks, to do this, but i find using your hands is a) most effective and b) most relaxing.

{the warmth of your hands helps to melt the butter ever so slightly, and there’s something incredibly calming about running the mixture through your fingers, smoothing the lumps and turning the ingredients into a crumbly bowl of goodness. my favorite thing about baking is how tactile it is, whether you’re measuring flour or kneading dough. whenever you can, choose to do things with your own hands, instead of letting a machine do them. it’s worth it, i promise.}

once the butter has been mixed into the flour (it should resemble pea-sized crumbs), toss your strawberries into the mixture. {this is an important step! coating the berry bits with flour ensures that they won’t get too mushy.}

once you’ve folded in your strawberries, add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix lightly with a spatula or wooden spoon, until all the wet has been incorporated into the dry. {don’t stir vigorously, you’re not trying to mix concrete here. over-mixing your batter is the biggest mistake you can make in baking. big mistake. HUGE.}

transfer your dough to a well-floured surface (i like to use these cutting board mats), and pat it down to flatten a bit. if you’d like, you can shape your dough into a circle, and cut into wedges. i got these cute biscuit cutters at the williams sonoma outlet last year, so i always opt to put some nice fluting details on my scones when i can. what can i say? i’m fancy like that. anywho, you can basically shape your scones however you damn please, so long as you make them all somewhat equal to ensure even cooking.

to bake, place your scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or silpat, if that’s your jam) for 13-15 minutes. they should be golden around the edges, and have risen considerably. when your kitchen starts to smell like fruity spring goodness, they’re done.

eat ’em as soon as you can, because sadly, the strawberries get a bit mushy after a day or so. eaten hot out of the oven, with a pat of butter, these are positively stuff your face delicious. happy eating!

*i packaged most of mine up and dropped them off to my ladies at blackstones – my favorite hair salon in the city – as a thank you for prettifying me and giving me some serious blonde ambition the night before.

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happyweekendwell, the weekend is over, and though i meant to publish this post on friday, here it is, sunday night, and i’m just going through my drafts and making it happen. alas, time simply got away from me. maybe it was the fact that both yesterday and today, the weather was positively glorious, and i simply couldn’t think of sitting at home. after what has felt like the longest winter ever, new yorkers were out in FULL FORCE today, soaking up the sunshine, dabbling in coatless outfits and sipping iced coffees like there was no tomorrow. i always forget how wonderful spring is here in new york, how the city literally comes alive again. the grass comes up greener than it did last time around, the daffodils seem to peek through the soil and wink at you on your way to work, the trees grow lush and full. and as nature reboots itself, so too do the denizens of the concrete jungle. i swear, it’s like seeing signs of spring reinvigorates our love for the city and all those who live within its borders. everyone who was out and about this weekend just seemed so darn HAPPY. there was a spring in their step. literally. oh, spring, i’m just so happy you’re here.

so, the weekend: mine was pretty low-key; highlights included a deliciously lazy brunch with some of my oldest girlfriends at edi and the wolf (bacon aioli. that’s all i’m going to say.), and a backstreet boys vs n*sync theme ride at soulcycle. i’ve got a busy few weeks coming up, so i’m trying my best to get my life in order and take it semi easy before things kick into high gear. i happily got my taxes out of the way last weekend, paid my dues (thanks, freelance gods), and now can start saving for my next adventure. i’ve got my eyes on tulum, as mentioned here, and i’m pretty sure i convinced my girlfriends to come with me over bloody marys yesterday. funny how some vodka and tomato juice can work magic like that.

speaking of vodka, i spent friday night drinking a few too many sweet tea vodkas at double wide, where i was celebrating my friend katie’s 28th birthday (god damn, we’re getting old!). katie is, like me, a HUGE fan of SVU, and her best friend amber had the genius idea to make her surprise party SVU-themed. there were life-size cardboard cutouts of liv and elliot in attendance, which was pretty much the best thing ever. or at least, it was until the bartender told us that the ACTUAL OLIVIA BENSON (okay, i know her name is mariska in real life, but you know what i mean) had been at double wide the weekend before. that’s right folks, detective benson likes to throw ’em back at double wide. if i wasn’t already a fan of the bar, lord knows i am now. if you enjoy yourself some sweet tea vodka, or are jonesing for a benson sighting, get your booty over to 12th and A. stat.

in other unrelated news, here are the things i loved this week:

a connecticut landmark purchased by mario buatta falls into disrepair. this was brought to my attention by one of my absolute favorite bloggers (and writers, actually), erin gates. this gorgeous connecticut home was purchased by revered interior decorator mario buatta, who started fixing it up only to let it fall into serious disrepair. now, according to the times, it may be torn down, and residents of the town are fighting to save it. gorgeous architecture like this is hard to come by these days – it makes me sad to think such a beautiful space could be replaced with yet another mcmansion.

james franco tried to pick up a 17 year old girl on instagram. you guys, this made me feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS. the first feeling was “ew, james franco is a dirty old man.” but that feeling was immediately replaced with, “i would so say yes if james franco hit on me on instagram.” it’s kind of disgusting how hard he goes after this girl, but i have to admit, it gave me hope that my one night celebrity stand might just come true if i show up to a performance of of mice and men. (just kidding) (sort of)

miley broke down at her boston concert while singing landslide. in college, i was a HUGE miley cyrus fan. my friend jess and i went through a phase where we (i can’t believe i’m admitting this on the internet) smoked a bowl each night after we finished our work and watched the 11pm showing of disney’s hannah montana, on which miley and her real life dad billy ray cracked ridiculous jokes and sang honky tonk country songs. mary jane or no mary jane, we could not get enough of miss miley. and when she released “see you again”… forget it. i have an insanely vivid memory of the night i first heard that song played in a bar, out in public. i lost my shit. that song, to this day, makes me so happy, as does hannah montana‘s “nobody’s perfect.” over the years, miley’s image has soured, and i can’t lie – i don’t love her new music as much as i loved the pure pop perfection of “party in the USA” – but i still consider myself a pretty diehard miley fan. weird haircuts and weird performances aside, the girl has a SERIOUS set of pipes, and when you strip away all the strange hollywood bullshit and just listen to her sing (take, for example, this cover she did of “jolene”), goosebumps ensue. not convinced? watch her singing “landslide” in boston last week. it’s incredible. if you don’t tear up a bit, you’re not human.

and with that, this human is going to start paying attention to the ACM awards (#teamtaylor), and get ready for bed. here’s to a good monday!

 

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i’m head over heels for this upstate new york home, which is available as a rental in the hudson area. the entire home has been designed in a neutral palette, with lots of whitewashed wood, unfinished plaster walls, and fluffy white bedding galore. the furniture is comfortable and cozy – all of it looks like the perfect place to snuggle up by the fireplace – while the styling is remarkably, beautifully simple.

according to the listing:

set on 1.5 acres of lawns, with mature trees and picturesque stone walls, shipley corner is a destination unto itself, where  cares are left at the door beneath the cool green awnings, and rejuvenation of body and spirit can happen, all in a tasteful, peaceful environment.

when considering the renovation of shipley corner, a spirited 1800’s farmhouse in upstate NY, the owners chose celebrated designers Jersey Ice Cream Company, with whom they had previously collaborated on redesigning their brooklyn apartment. So they knew how the family lived, and that meant creating an attractive, efficient kitchen where family and guests would like to hang out, making cooking a pleasure.

 

just cooking a pleasure? how about the entire home being a pleasure?ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

dreamy, right? a house like this could convince me to leave the city behind…

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ONE  | TWO | THREE | FOUR | FIVE | SIX | SEVEN | EIGHT | NINE 

this week’s wishlist is a bit all over the place. there’s a comfy tie dye t-shirt dress that’s perfect for spring (and would look great with a leather moto jacket), a pair of d’orsay flats from madewell that give the look of jenni kayne without the price tag, a marble pastry board that will pretty up my food posts (the fugly granite in my kitchen does me no favors), a pair of sparkly supergas that ring in at just $70 buckaroos, and the cutest filing cabinet i’ve ever seen.

i’m still trying to figure out if i can pull off reflective sunglasses, and i’m pretty sure that bb dakota dress above isn’t exactly suited for my body type, but hey, a girl can dream, right?

also on the list: adorable earrings, and a cult favorite hand cream. i’ve yet to make it to the aesop store in soho, but now that i’m working in the neighborhood, i think a trip there is in order. my crackly gross hands (that, no joke, were so bad that my manicurist scolded me. scolded me!) could benefit from some loving now that winter seems to have finally released us from her grasp.

in other happy news, tomorrow is friday, i have the day off (!!!) thanks to a “comp day” my wonderful boss gave me in exchange for working through the weekend a few weeks ago, and i’m getting my hair cut (shorter, please!). hip hip hooray for the weekend!

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ever since my trip to nicaragua in december, i’ve been feeling this insatiable itch to pack my bags and just go. on a whim, to a warm, sunny destination, a place with aquamarine waters and the scent of coconuts and palm trees that swish back and forth in the wind. as a child, i hated the beach. the ocd neat freak in me didn’t like getting sand everywhere – in my books, in my discman, in my bathing suit. but over the past few years, (especially since moving to new york), i’ve really come to appreciate the beauty of the ocean. the open horizon, the hot sand burning the bottom of your feet, the scent of sunscreen and the feeling of slightly crisped skin. there’s something about escaping to the beach that allows all your problems to melt away.

there’s this quote i love – you’ve probably seen it floating around pinterest – that reads, “the cure for anything is salt water. sweat, tears, and the sea.” living in a place that’s constantly go go go (and being a person who isn’t very good at slowing down) has taught me the true value of getting away, and doing so in a place where all i’ve got to do in a given day is sit on the sand, fry in the sun, and read my book.

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in nica, my phone didn’t work unless i had wifi (which was hard to come by). there was no email. there were no text messages. there was no beeping, no buzzing, no ringing. there was just the hot air tossing my hair around my shoulders, and the sun waking me up each morning, and the feeling of total and utter freedom. my week in nica gave me back a piece of myself that i think i’d lost in the past few years in new york. the piece of me that couldn’t care less about shoes, about clothing, or makeup, or material things. the piece of me that appreciates natural beauty, and the art of just being, of good conversation and friendships that make my heart grow a few sizes bigger each day. i love this city, but anyone who’s lived here knows it’s a trial to do so, and that new york can drain you. it’s such a shame that vacation is a luxury that only some can afford, because it’s oh so important to get the fuck out of the city and out of your head every so often. going away for the week taught me that, now that i’ve been blessed with a salary that allows me to escape, i need to do so. often.

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i’ve got a trip planned to LA the last week in april, but i’ve still got the travel bug crawling through my body – the urge to cut myself off from what i know and get back to the basics. so much that i actually considered splurging on tickets back to nica for memorial day weekend. this post, from grace atwood (who has, in the past few months, become my favorite blogger – i like to think she and i would be friends if we were ever to meet in real life), featuring shots from her latest trip to tulum, has me dreaming of that turquoise water and a stay at playa papaya. i also happened to look up flights to tulum for memorial day, but they’re uber pricey, sadly. i’m secretly hoping they’ll go down last minute and i can hop on a plane and be touching down to sunshine and sand in just a few hours. i’ve never been to mexico, but grace has put tulum on my list, big time. it looks like my sort of place, the kind where it’s not just optional to disconnect, it’s mandatory.

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a few nights before i left nica, my friend martha’s friends (locals), drove us down a long, bumpy, winding road to a secluded beach where baby turtles are rescued, raised, and released back out into the ocean to find their lives. 30 minutes through the woods, through waters and fallen trees and into the black, we came out the other side. a short walk away was a beach unlike anything i’d ever seen. white light hurts the turtles, so there was no light to be seen. all there was to lead our way to the water was the moon, and the stars (along with tiny little red flashlights we could use to ensure we didn’t step on any of the babies, which were approximately the size of a reese’s cup, if not smaller). i tell you, those turtles may have been tiny, but i’ve never felt so small. the sky stretched higher and wider than any i’d seen, and i swear the stars in nica are the brightest stars around. the natural beauty literally vibrated around us, the silence elevating the enormity not just of the beach itself, but also of the moment. it was a magical moment, and one that i think reawakened in me my desire to see the world, to go. Image

we need to be reminded that we are small, and the world is large. and the best way to do that is to travel. tulum, here i come. also on my dream list: istanbul, santorini, the dominican republic, and marrakesh.

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sometimes i think about how skinny i’d be if i didn’t eat carbs, or really, pasta in particular. i love rice, but i could give it up. i’d miss bagels, but i could do without them. i could care less about traditional bread; i’m not a sandwich girl. but pasta. pasta i could not live without. those paleo folks who shred zucchini and call it pasta? kudos to them, but i ain’t buying that shit. pasta is pasta, and i’m not going to cut up some veggies and call it a carb. hells to the N-O. i eat more pasta than i should, that’s for sure – so when i do eat it, i try to make sure it’s relatively healthy, and not doused in some disgustingly fattening sauce (alfredo, i’m looking at you). i always toss my pasta with a) homemade pesto b) homemade meat sauce or c) fresh veggies and herbs. the canned stuff makes a rare occurrence when i’m feeling uber lazy, but i do my best to ensure that if the pasta is boxed, whatever goes on top of it is fresh.

such is the case with this easy-as-pie recipe, for lemon parsley spaghetti with garlic and parm. when i made it the other day, i was craving greens, so i tossed some broccoli in as well. all you need are lemons, garlic, butter, italian flat leaf parsley, olive oil, parmesan, and spaghetti. that’s IT. and trust, this stuff is good. you could whip it up for a dinner party and impress your guests.

what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (you could sub linguine or any other thin pasta here)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ( i use trader joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped (make sure you don’t get the curly kind! italian parsley is flat leaf)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • salt + pepper
  • parmesan cheese

what you’ll do:

boil water for your spaghetti. while it boils, slice and dice all your goodies. grate the parm, chop the parsley, dice the garlic, zest your lemons, and squeeze ’em of their juices.

once your water is boiling, toss in your spaghetti with a pinch of salt. while the pasta cooks, throw your butter and olive oil into a skillet, and let the butter melt. turn the heat down to medium, and throw in your garlic. saute for a few minutes, until your entire kitchen smells like garlicky goodness (the best smell on earth). when garlic browns, turn off the heat.

drain your pasta, and toss is with the garlic/olive oil mixture. next, mix in your lemon zest/lemon juice/parsley. top with parm, season with a bit of salt and pepper, et voila! a delicious, easy, springy and oh-so-pretty meal!

ps: if you wanted to add protein, some lemony shrimp would be perfection on top of this dish.

pps: if you wanted to add veggies, simply chop them up and throw them into the pasta water for the last few minutes to cook them up, then drain them with your spaghetti.