Tag Archives: Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Shared Plate & Thoughts

September 2012

Printed words, sipped drinks, thoughts shared and a shared plate…these elements seemed to slow time in the best possible way…the way that makes me pause and question why more of my life is not this memorably simple. Every now and then, it’s inspiring to borrow someone else’s words to preserve these moments, and in this case, John Muir’s words take me back to that afternoon…

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. 

“Adult Root Beers” with Art in the Age Root
& Charcuterie

With inexpressible delight you wade out into the grassy sun-lake, feeling yourself contained on one of Nature’s most sacred chambers, withdrawn from the sterner influences of the mountains, secure from all intrusion, secure from yourself, free in the universal beauty. And notwithstanding the scene is so impressively spiritual, and you seem dissolved in it yet everything about you is beating with warm, terrestrial human love, delightfully substantial and familiar. 

One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers’ plates. No earthly chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. 

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

-John Muir

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: A Batter Resplatter

September 2012

Ambitious retreat.

When I think of the special cabin in the woods, I think of eating, conversing, wandering, sitting, talking, eating, sitting, warming, reading…. With the slower pace and simpler agenda, I consider each meal an opportunity for a brand new creative endeavor. I let the seasons inspire and try the recipes I’ve stored patiently in my arsenal. The meals link other aspects of my cabin memories, so heating leftovers doesn’t seem to do justice to the special cabin (instead we pack the leftovers for our return dinner). I tend to be overly ambitious in my menu planning, but sometimes a small measure can twist a leftover into the new experience I seek to create.

As my special one waffled his way through the large bowl of batter for our first brunch, his hunger and patience proved to be inversely proportional. Since we had plenty of waffles to eat, I saved the batter for a resplatter, in the form of pancakes, the following morn. Granted, this does not make me the Picasso of pancakes or a kitchen trailblazer by any means, but let this remind and with any hope, slightly inspire. With the addition of roasted kuri squash and a new whipping of cream, we had a new meal with half the steps and risked waste less.

“Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs.”
-Mark Twain

Much like this avocado egg or these harvest nests, these ham cups are a blank canvas awaiting your cravings and creativity. In my case, I used leftover root vegetables from the previous night’s dinner, with a sprinkling of salty cheese, as the secret surprise ingredients beneath the egg top. Mushrooms and leeks would be delicious, par example.

Ham Cups

Ingredients

Organic Maple Ham
Local/Free-range eggs
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Veggies of choice
Cheese of choice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Line each muffin cup with a slice of ham, letting it ruffle up the sides.

Crack an egg into each, sprinkle with a bit of cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the white is set but the yolk is still runny. Serve immediately, on their own on a plate or set in small dishes for extra support.

Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
“I’ll take the one on top.”
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Theresa smiles and says,
“I’ll take the one in the middle.”

-Shel Silverstein

Batter Resplatter Pancakes

This Pumpkin Waffle Recipe + Leftover Roasted Red Kuri Squash = A Brand New Pancake!

Whipped Cream

1 cup organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Dash of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Chill the cream in a mixing bowl in the freezer until the cream just starts to freeze. Remove from the freezer. Add the vanilla, maple syrup and cinnamon. Use a mixer, on medium speed, to beat until peaks begin to form. Add the Snap liquor and continue to mix until combined. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

enjoy!

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Third Time’s A Charm: The Kinfolk Dinner Series

May 2012

Once upon an internet stroll, I happened upon a beautiful, blossoming endeavor entitled Kinfolk.  Beneath a video that admittedly moves my overly sentimental side to watery eyes, was a manifesto that spoke straight to my sensibilities:

Kinfolk is a growing community of artists with a shared interest in small gatherings. We recognize that there is something about a table shared by friends, not just a wedding or once-a-year holiday extravaganza, that anchors our relationships and energizes us…. Kinfolk is the marriage of our appreciation for art and design and our love for spending time with family and friends.

Thus, I made a habit of regularly visiting the pages of Kinfolk.  What impressed me beyond the refined design and the enviable places and products (and they are enviable!), was the way the site seemed to preserve  meaningful moments in time.  Reading Kinfolk feels like a quiet visit to a memory.  

Beyond the awe inspiring posts and publications, Kinfolk began a dinner series tour! When I noticed Philadelphia on the list of cities in the tour, at Terrain specifically, my mind began whirling. Before I knew it, my finger was clicking the option to enter the lottery for tickets. Fortunately, whimsy and practicality worked in a harmony entitled Memorial Day Weekend!

This harmony almost did not come to beautiful, burlap accented fruition. The lottery for dinner tickets did not favor me, but the Monday before the dinner, I received an uplifting email.  Due to a few cancellations, there was room for me and my guest should I still want to attend. Should I still want to attend?!?  Of course I did!

Beyond the excitement of taking part in a Kinfolk dinner, I was especially thrilled with the choice of location.  This marked my third attempt to eat at Terrain.  Please excuse what will surely sound like the “woe is me” ramblings of first world problems when I say my first attempt to visit Terrain (not just Terrain but a craft beer and local honey festival!!!) was thwarted by the heavy rains of a passing hurricane (on the up side, I prepared this meal for my friends, and they’re still talking about it!).  On the second attempt, I took my good old time meandering through the store then joined my place in line to be seated.  As my turn came, I looked at the hostess hopefully, and she announced my second failure- they were no longer taking names.  Hence, attempt number two was a beautiful fail. As I arrived at Terrain, yet again, the other two fails felt purposeful, as if they had led me to this third time, the beautiful, enchanting charm!

And oh, was it charming!

If you, like me, associated Pennsylvania wines with the taste of communion, then you, like me, will be thrilled to discover a wine that proves us wrong.  From what I gather, what distinguishes Galer wines is the intentional choice of which exceptional grapes are suited for PA soils versus existing PA grape varieties turned into wine. Dr. Galer also sought experts in the field of viticulture when he began his endeavor, which you can read about here.

To Start

Flower Pot Bread:  tarragon honey butter, smoked sea salt

Mixed Field Greens:  sliced radishes, wild strawberries, toasted almonds, micro basil, balsamic vinaigrette

Main

Rosemary Honey Mustard Leg of Lamb

Quinoa:  sugar snap peas, baby carrots, english peas, pea tendrils

Kennett Square Mushroom Skillet:  wild mushrooms, organic eggs

Sauteed Lancaster County Vegetables:  Fiddlehead ferns, garlic scapes, dwarf bok choy

Sweets

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Pecan Pie

To see the beautiful menu in its full glory, click here.  The design came all the way from a talented artist in the Netherlands named Anja Mulder.

Even the napkins added a clean and rustic touch, so I adorned my lap very proper like.

Do you spy the brilliant idea in the photo on the right?  I shall soon try my hand at gardening little pots of soft, fluffy and slightly sweet bread.  Beyond the brilliance of the idea, the bread was one of the most delicious breads I have ever sampled (and I have sampled quite an array of breads!).

One benefit of eating with foodies and photo fiends is the patience given to the documentation of beautiful meals.  These weren’t just any foodies either!  I’ve been a fan of Something’s Hiding in Here ever since I saw the tour of Shauna and Stephen’s Philadelphia loft, so meeting the incredibly enthusiastic and humble couple was much like a celebrity encounter for this dorky blog reader.

Sitting directly to my right was Sullivan Owen, who had adorned the Terrain barn with her floral designs.  Aside from being very friendly and talented, Sullivan offered me lots of business inspiration!  I hope to spend more time learning from Sullivan in the future, and if that time is accented by one of her stunning arrangements, all the better!

That wasn’t all!  Across the table were Andrew and Carissa, the lovely couple behind many a Kinfolk video, specifically the Manifesto video that drew me to Kinfolk in the first place!  I can’t wait to see what they culled from this dream dinner.

Quite the plate!  My favorite main was the Kennet Square Mushroom Skillet. The mushrooms were quite meaty!

One might expect the coffee to be prepared with utmost care at a dinner focused on bringing people together, and one would be right.  Two Rachels served coffee prepared specially for each and every coffee partaker.

They even sent us on our merry ways with a creatively packaged single brew sample.

Additionally, Sullivan offered her floral displays as a generous token of her talents, and the very stylish farmers of Happy Cat Farm bestowed organic tomato plants upon us and an extra pack of seeds in the little totes on a big mission from Nest.  The night just continued to impress!

It was a beautiful dream dinner, and I was so grateful to be a part of it!  My third attempt at Terrain was beyond a charm. Kinfolk shared their own account of the night through the multiple lenses of this talented and personable photographer. I love how dark and saturated Parker’s images are, and I was especially excited to see this photo made the cut.  ;)

Here’s hopin’ many of us cross paths again!

Not An Easy Glass To Fill: Bar Marco

May 2012

On a summery night, I had a hankerin’ for an adult root beer.  “What’s an adult root beer?” you ask? I’m ever so glad you asked because it’s one of my favorites! The adult cocktail is [roughly] a combination of Art in the Age Root and maybe a splash of bourbon and/or bitters, an ice cube specifically fashioned for fancy sippin’ and a curl of orange peel for additional flavor and aroma.  Now that you have those flavors in your mind, imagine biking on a hot, summery night and wanting just one more cocktail, just one specific cocktail- the adult root beer- to cap off the evening.

You’ve cycled joyfully to the corner that introduced you to this delightful adult version of a childhood delight, only to discover a closed sign. It’s not just a closed-for-the evening sign but the type of closed sign with an air of permanence. [I get a little choked up just typing about it.] This, my friends, was the tragic tale of the closing of The Embury, Pittsburgh’s first Prohibition style bar. However, the tragic tale has a happy ending! The Embury shall live again (and I shall surely have more to report on the bar that gave me Root).  In the meantime, I can say with sincerity (and despite my initial skepticism spurred by sadness), if The Embury had to go, I’m pleased with its replacement- Bar Marco.

From “Marco” directly…

Bar Marco serves simple but hearty foods sourced from local purveyors, with a focus on small production and natural wines along with craft cocktails. Located in the Strip District, one of Pittsburgh’s most unique neighborhoods!

Being the tree hugging brand of foodie I am, I was impressed with Bar Marco’s mission to focus on local ingredients. Being the design critic that I am, I would be remiss not to critique the window display. The hand painted window graphics made the place look unfinished. Conversely, the interior exemplified a great deal of consideration. The bar’s creators excavated the building to reveal its bright white bones and a light, open space. Even on a gray and rainy Sunday, the bar filled with light.

The bar features a contrast of industrial elements-stained wood, a sealed concrete floor, metal- with antique whites- the shiny brick tiles, the tin ceiling and the marble bar tops. They completely opened the interior from its past life, and the large, front window and wine bottle reflections illuminate what used to be subdivided and purposefully dark and brooding. They sold me on the refined interior.  As for the brunch…

If an aspect of alcoholism is a constant “craving” for alcohol, Bar Marco may soon be responsible for many alcoholics or at least my own imminent battle with the disease.  The root of this is the Bar Marco Manhattan (seen here in a long, tall, lovely shade of red-orange)- a combination of rye, carpano, aperol, angostura and “bubbles!” That’s right- bubbles! Champagne in a Manhattan?!?! Are you salivating and signing up for AA with me, or am I the only one? I doubt I’m the only one!

The other long tall lovely catching your eye was a Spicy Mango Bloody Mary made from vodka, mango and cilantro, and that was one spicy Mary!!! It was not a cocktail for the faint brunchers (myself included). Luckily, my dining companion is as feisty as they come at the early brunching hours, and she power sipped through the spiciness.

Lastly, that squat fella was an Aperol Spritz bursting with the citrus from fresh oranges.

Just to repeat though, try the BAR MARCO MANHATTAN! While you’re at it, buy one for me too!

Plantain Pancakes w/ Local Honey & Cinnamon Butter

I love a light and thin pancake, and the plantain element lent extra moisture to each bite.

Bone-in Pork Chop w/ Rhubarb Compote & Potato Pancake

Adding a fruit contrast to a pork chop is no secret, but rhubarb! What a splendid idea!

Those who know me, know how much I like to share at meals (even though Phil can recall a time when “family style” baffled me), which explains the multiple plates I am sharing in this post.  However, it is worth noting, Bar Marco’s servings are on the lighter side, a stance I support, but when sharing, it’s worth having a few more options than you might at your average Pittsburgh-portioned brunching nook.

Cranberry French Toast w/ Bourbon Maple Syrup

Bourbon maple syrup. French Toast. Why would I continue to type?

You did it, Bar Marco.  The Embury did not leave an easy glass to fill, but you impressed me with a refined design in both the menu and ambiance.  You convinced me! See you again very soon!

The Cake Comes First (Easter, Part I)

April 2012

Around these parts, dessert is a priority, so when it comes to planning a meal, the finale very often comes first! Thus Easter scheming began with this friendly carrot face and a bright orange cakeventure!

I have a love affair with the color orange (as does Pantone this year!), especially when orange comes undiluted from nature.  Easter was the perfect occasion to use my juicing powers for good [cake coloring]!

Easter inspired the carrots.  My chocolate cravings inspired the chocolate.  The beautifully rendered video for Snap inspired the blackstrap molasses, and lastly, the special occasion inspired the layers! There you have it…

Chocolate Gingerbread Carrot Cake!

Chocolate Gingerbread Carrot Cake
w/ Snappy Frosting 

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamum
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

1 cup turbinado sugar
5 large eggs (local/free-range)

3/4 cup organic frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup unsulphured blackstrap molasses
3/4 cup organic sour cream
1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups carrot pulp from juicing (or shredded carrot)

1/2 cup all natural, unsweetened raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Filling

Chopped walnuts, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter and line a 13x9x2-inch glass baking pan.

Combine cup whole-wheat pastry flour, almond meal, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, ground cardamum, ground cloves, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.

Use an electric mixer to beat the turbinado sugar and eggs until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes.

Add the orange juice concentrate, honey, molasses, sour cream and olive oil in large bowl until smooth.

Beat in dry ingredients.

Stir in carrots, raisins, walnuts and chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

Cool cake completely in pan.

Snappy Frosting

1 8-ounce package Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
1 cup (2 stick) organic unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
4 Tablespoons AITA Snap
1/4 cup fresh carrot juice
1/4 cup organic powdered sugar

For the Frosting

Use an electric mixer to whip the Neufchatel cheese and butter until creamy. Add the vanilla, honey, Snap, carrot juice and powdered sugar. Continue to beat until all blended and creamy.  *If you want to have a similar two toned cake, reserve some frosting before adding the carrot juice.

Top with a natural sour gummy from your local Whole Foods or natural grocer.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Easter fête!

It’s Not Everyday (Bourbon Root Milkshake)

March 2012

It’s not every day a highway journey becomes a safari…

Nor is it every day you have the chance to spend all the afternoon long with someone special, lazily watching British comedy.  Both of those occurrence have merit in my book ["on my blog?"].  On those lazy British comedy days, we deserve a milkshake, and that milkshake should come with a kick!

He can now cross “slice ice cream container in two” off his life’s to do list.  Why that was on his list?!?  Not sure but congrats all the same.

Though I recommend our milkshake madness, I do not recommend our method (a kitchen mixer and an ice cream SPLATTER).  This experience taught me (and especially taught him), I need something like this minty beauty added to my kitchen collection.

Our special milkshake formula:

Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream (we like our vanilla ice cream to be pure & simple)
A generous splash of Buffalo Trace Bourbon
A generous splash of Art in the Age Root
Organic whole milk

While you’re at it…

Break off a piece of specialty chocolate such as this A’Chocolypse bar with popping suga’ from my favorite chocolatier and yours, Sweeteeth Chocolate.  Add a chunk to the top of the milkshake (who needs a sickeningly sweet maraschino cherry anyway?!?) and eat some extra bites along the way too!

As the sun is shining more and more, it’s the perfect time for an adult milkshake!

Happy milkshake season (and highway safari-ing?!?)!

xoxo,

With The Grains

Once Upon A Sticky Toffee Time in London

November 2011/March 2012

In the back of my mind- in the very back of my mind- I knew he was going to London with his family.  The front of my mind [clearly this post is steeped in "neuroscience"] was focused very intently on escaping my home base, adventuring and feeling very, very far from certain sad gray clouds hovering over me.  I looked at flights to Paris very longingly, but I concluded I owed it to myself to try a new locale.  That’s when London popped into my mind, and once I get an idea like that in my head, all the best to you should you try to stand in my way!

I had already set my idea into motion when the back and front of my mind began working in conjunction again [even more neuroscience].  Oh yeaaaah… he‘s going to London too! The “coincidence” of my destination choice seemed questionable since I had joked about wanting to be a member of his family (whose travel history included a family vacation on the Amalfi Coast!!!  Pick me!!!), but I am sticking to my story- his trip was unrelated to my planning!

The motives of my story became all the more questionable as the two of us grew closer.  At first, we were two friends who happened to be traveling to the same major metropolis at the very same time.  We thought we’d meet up and maybe share some London sightseeing, but as the trip approached, our friendship became something far more significant!  I had unknowingly arranged to travel to London with my SigFig to be and his entire family!

Who does that?!?  This girl!

So it was I came to spend the Thanksgiving holiday in a foreign land with my new boyfriend’s family.  With any other family, this may have been odd or intrusive, but my special one comes from a tremendous family who generously included me in their wanderings and explorations of one of the most captivating cities on earth!

Thanks to the sister/tour guide, who had been exploring London for an entire semester, I came to experience a phenomenon called “sticky toffee pudding,” which isn’t all that sticky, nor is it really pudding.  Oh those Brits!

My first sticky toffee encounter occurred at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub, which is notable for a few reasons:

1.  Its age!  It was rebuilt in 1667 after The Great Fire of London, meaning some semblance of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub existed even earlier than that!

2.  The entrance is quietly tucked away from the commotion of the street, marked by a beautiful sign and surrounded by beautiful brickwork.

3.  To arrive at the cellar requires an acute awareness of one’s body in space, as the winding stairwell is narrow, and the ceilings are quite low.

4.  The rustic wood!  There was wood everywhere, and “rustic” does not do justice to the age in those dark wood grains.

5.  The concept of the British pub is brilliant in general- good drinks and comfort food in a unique and dignified setting!  To eat and drink at a pub is like eating mom’s Sunday dinner in the den of an old fashioned gentleman (It’s the style I channeled for this shoot).

Why, oh why America, do you not adopt such a concept en masse?!?

The sister/tour guide was wide eyed and very nearly drooling as she ordered “sticky toffee pudding” at record speed (try saying it five times fast!).  Her eagerness was intriguing. Beyond my bowl of creamy corn soup (again..such delectable food for a bar!) was the answer to my question, “what is sticky toffee pudding?”  My bite from the shared bowl provided the answer:  warm, spongy cake in a pool of custard with a sweet surface layer.

Part of why I travel is to be inspired creatively and culinarily, and that bowl of sticky toffee pudding sure did inspire!  The special cabin in the woods was the perfect place for my first attempt, and my special one was the perfect partner for sharing dessert.  Not surprisingly, the recipe inspiration came from the delicious photos of one of my favorite blogs, Tea With Me.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Recipe adapted from Tea With Me. 

Dates!  Who knew?!?  Dates are one of the prominent ingredients in sticky toffee pudding, so it’s really a wonder this traditional dessert did not come to be known as “caramel date cake.”

The sneaky Bear-Pig tried to nab the dates as they soaked, but his attempts were foiled!

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

1 cup dates, pitted
2 cups boiling water
1 tsp baking soda

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup organic, unsalted butter
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 egg (local/free-range), beaten

1 Tablespoon AITA Snap

For the Sticky Toffee Pudding

In a separate bowl, pour boiling water over dates and baking soda. Let sit until all or most of the water is absorbed (ideal time for a forest wander).  Add a splash or two of AITA Snap for an extra kick.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream butter and sugar until lighter in color and fluffy. Beat in egg gradually.

Fold in the flour mixture.

Add the date mixture.

Mix in the Snap.

Pour in a greased oven proof glass baking dish.

Bake on the middle rack for 250 degrees F for 40 min.

Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup organic, unsalted butter
1 cup organic brown sugar
4 tbsp organic heavy cream

For the Caramel Sauce

Melt butter in a pan, add sugar and cream, stirring all the time for about 3 minutes.

Cut a slice of pudding, serve with a dollop of whipped cream and drizzles of caramel sauce.

Snap Whipped Cream

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons AITA Snap

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

More To Come…!

I’m not about to offer the sister/tour guide my first ever attempt at sticky toffee pudding, especially since this version reminded me more of my mother’s banana bread than my afternoon at that wooden table.  Thus I see much more sticky toffee experimentation on my horizon.  There is also so much more of my London wanderings I intend to share, so…

Stay tuned!

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One For You & One For Me (Cabin Weekend, Part II)

March 2012

There’s a certain quiet that is felt.  This type of quiet is not defined by a lack of sound.  This type of sensory quiet is defined by a calm… a slower pace… a lack of “shoulds” and “woulds.”  This type of quiet accentuates small details… the endless appeal of a flowing creek, the rapid changes of the sky, the flickers of light cast on an array of textures and minutes marked by light and not by schedules.  I’ve only felt this type of quiet a few times, but they have been magical, memorable times, and this cabin weekend was one of them!

Like a long, quiet scene in a film, I watched myself float through the weekend with my special one.  We swayed back and forth on that swing, with its perfectly framed view.  We watched the flickers of light, felt the warmth of the sun and sipped slowly on drinks that added their own textures and patterns to the moments, as we quietly escaped reality.

One for Him

Negroni
1 part gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part bitters

One for Me!

AITA Snap + Organic Birch Beer + Organic Orange Slices

For Us!

A French wine connoisseur once told me tasting wine is not about elitism or fancy terms.  Wine tasting is about remembering your grandmother’s kitchen or recalling a meadow in spring.  It’s about memory and experience.

Smoky ash on goat cheese and fingertips.

The creamy taste and smell of asparagus?!?

A bite that made me think of eating the real deal at a port, while watching sailboats prepped for a major journey.

These were the characteristics of cheese tasting on a sunny afternoon, and future hints of asparagus in a creamy cheese will recall a weekend quietly slinking by a window view.

A Cookie For The Kind of Man I’d Be (Snap ‘Staches)

February 2012

If I were male, it’s pretty safe to say, I’d have obnoxious facial hair, channel the Prohibition era in my fashion choices and fantasize about having a dimly lit den, where my male counterparts would gather, perhaps even smoke some cigars (though I generally find this habit disgusting), drink brandy and discuss the world.  If I were male, I’d channel the quintessential high society, manly man (minus the misogyny) of yesteryear.  In a distilled manner of speaking, I’d be one of those Brooklyn hipster types.  If I were that man, these would be my cookies, and this would be my coffee!

Presenting another collaboration between yours truly on the baking/styling front and the ever talented man behind the camera, Adam Milliron, who has now entered the twittersphere!  Three tweets for Adam!  Tweet tweet hoorah!

Strong Black Coffee + Snap Whipped Cream

Strong black cuppa joe, prepared as you see fit (I generally press my beans in the French style)

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup, to taste
2-3 Tablespoons AITA Snap, to taste
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized, chilled bowl.  Use an electric mixer to beat until peaks form.

Add in heaping dollops to a cup of joe.  Political debates to ensue.

Snappy Gingerbread Mustaches
(Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 cups chestnut flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamum
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly milled organic smoked black pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large egg (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons AITA Snap

Directions

Combine the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light in texture and color, about 2 minutes.

Beat in the molasses, egg and Snap.

Using a wooden spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture to make a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into two thick disks and wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours. (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.)

Position a rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

To roll out the cookies, work with one disk at a time, keeping the other disk refrigerated.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until just warm enough to roll out without cracking, about 10 minutes. (If the dough has been chilled for longer than 3 hours, it may need a few more minutes.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick.

For softer cookies, roll out slightly thicker. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and transfer to a baking stone lined with parchment, placing the cookies 1 inch apart.

Gently knead the scraps together and form into another disk. Wrap and chill for 5 minutes before rolling out again to cut out more cookies.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are set and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.

Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cake racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be prepared up to 1 week ahead, stored in airtight containers at room temperature.

The Method To Our Madness & Make Believe

Want to see how obsessive Adam and I are about arriving at the perfect shot?  Here’s a glimpse into our madness.  It may seem petty to some, but finding that perfect spot for a sugar cube really makes our day!  Hopefully, it makes your day in some way as well!

Fin.

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Valentine’s Day Observed: The Finale

February 2012

From the dinner, we settled onto the couch, to put my birthday present projector to use. You see, part of the present was a video, to him, from me!  (Did you catch that wee little rhyme?)

ps:  I really like almond croissants!

p.p.s:  That J.R.M is pretty special! On the grossest, grayest, NJ-spitting-upon-us day, he helped make my mecca come true even though this is how he feels about New Jersey. Why?  He knew how much that giant, lovable elephant meant to me!

World Nutella Day Commemorative Brunch

February 5, 2012

Someday I’ll have a calendar marked with all the quirky, commemorative food “holidays” (does that calendar already exist somewhere?).  Last year, I discovered I had just missed World Nutella Day, but I did what any modern girl on a mission might do:  I marked my Google calendar and let technology take care of the rest for me!  Last year, I also discovered what I had always thought was the result of a flash of French brilliance was actually an Italian invention.

Fast forward to 2012, and my calendar reminded me I had a celebration in store!  When Italy is due kudos, it’s my time to queue Nina, the best gift Italy ever gave me (albeit it via America, but she does have the passaporto)!

I am not one to argue against the flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnut, but I do have a few objections to some other items on the Nutella ingredient list.  Thus, I made my own version…my own “rustic” version (my food processor is a bit on the tired side) and then put it in between layers of panettone bread for a really rich flavor and an additional nod to Italy.

Look what happens when we pretend!!!
(click on the image ↓ below ↓ to see us in action!)

We channeled the best of Italy- the curvaceous women of Fellini films, donned our sunglasses for a spell and proceeded to pretend we were sitting at an Italian cafe.

Little trays with a view certainly help the Sunday morning game of pretend…

Brunch beverages…

One Village Coffee (with a dollop of homemade whipped cream, perhaps?) and a cinnamon swizzle stick for a touch of fancy and spice!

Blood Orange Bellini and a toast… to our inner Sophias!

World Nutella Day Baked French Toast

I had some egg nog approaching its final days.  Being the daughter of invention, I used that egg nog for a really decadent milk source in the custard sauce.  Waste not, eat creatively!  Feel free to use regular milk instead.

World Nutella Day Recipe:  Baked French Toast

Ingredients

Organic, unsalted butter
1 loaf Panetonne bread in 1-inch slices,
1 cup homemade nutella
pure maple syrup
Goat cheese (Soignon), sliced
Mixture of cinnamon, raw sugar and cocoa
3 cups organic egg nog
2 eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons Frangelico
1 Tablespoon AITA Root
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Generously grease a 9×9-inch baking dish with butter.

Arrange bread in a tightly-packed layer in the pan.

Smooth a layer of homemade nutella over the bread, followed by maple syrup and the slices of goat cheese.

Use the remaining slices of bread to complete the top layer. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon, raw sugar and cocoa.

Whisk egg nog, eggs, vanilla extract, Frangelico, Root, brown sugar and salt. Pour over the bread. You probably will have extra liquid, but make sure the mixture seeps into the top layer of bread.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

Cut into squares and serve with maple syrup and homemade whipped cream.

Homemade Whipped Topping

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream, chilled
1-2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons Kraken Rum

Directions

Step One:  Release the Kraken!

Step Two:  Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl.

Step Three:  Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.  Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Step Four:  Heap onto French toast and maybe even add a dollop into your cup of coffee!

Felice festa di Nutella!

[Mi dispiace io non parlo italiano.]

Finale.

Header_oh clementine

Oh My Darlings!

A Post Birthday Brunch/Introducing Kira!
January 2012

Unlike poor Clementine, my darlings were not lost and gone forever.  They were closer [and brighter!] than ever, and there was even a new darlin’ in the mix!  The thing about great friends is they can introduce you to other great people, and so it was we came to add one Kira to our regular cast of characters…and boy, were we characters on that sunny citrusy Sunday following my day of birth!

The Salad:  Citrus & Beet Salad with Hazelnut Oil

It’s a salad.  A salad recipe shouldn’t be complicated.  This salad went a little something like this…

1 bulb of fennel, sliced thinly
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
2 roasted red beets, sliced
2 roasted yellow beets, sliced
clementine slices
blood orange slices
grapefruit slices
fresh lemon juice
fresh lime juice
cilantro
Himalaya pink sea salt
Hazelnut oil

I’m the last person to mandate how to cut something, so just have fun with it and make it aesthetically appealing!

Brunch is Ready…!

Once upon what feels like a dream, Sandra and I went to Puerto Rico.  When we saw this fluorescent shirt in a gift shop/grocery, we collectively heard that shirt scream, “NINA!”  I knew Nina had the perfect skirt to match (a DIY conversion of swim trunks, no less!!), so it was only a matter of time before the shirt-skirt combo made its bright brunch debut!  This was the fated time.  The shirt matched the pink bubbly!

The Cocktail:  The Blood Orange Rhubellini
A Recipe Of Sorts (we tend to play it by ear around this table) 

A generous pour of Sparkling Rosé…

A generous splash of Art in the Age Rhuby (we’re all about generosity at this table)…

Top it off with organic blood orange soda and a clementine garnish…

Time for a toast…AND A GIF (Nicole really brought her A game)!

Blood Orange Muffins + Honey Clementine Compote + Rhuby Whipped Cream

Blood Orange Muffins
With Rhuby Whipped Topping + Blood Orange Clementine Compote 

Makes 15-20 muffins.

Ingredients

Butter for greasing pan
2 small organic oranges
2 blood oranges
1 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/3 cup organic Greek yogurt (2%)
3 large eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons Rhuby
1 1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Honey-blood orange compote, for serving, optional
Whipped cream, for serving, optional
(Recipes below)

For the Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pans.

Grate zest from 2 organic oranges and place in a bowl with the grated ginger and turbinado sugar.

*Supreme the blood oranges:  (see this useful video for more visual instruction) Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4-inch pieces.

Halve the two organic oranges and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. You will have about 1/4 cup or so.

Add yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether.

Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well.

Whisk in eggs, then Rhuby.

In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Gently whisk dry ingredients into wet ones.

Switch to a spatula and fold in oil a little at a time.

Fold in pieces of orange segments. Scoop batter into muffin pan.

Bake muffins 12-15 minutes, or until golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from the tin and cool to room temperature

Serve with whipped cream and blood orange & clementine compote.

Blood Orange & Clementine Compote

1 blood orange
4 Clementines
2 Tablespoons Rhuby
1-2 teaspoons Sage Honey

Supreme the blood orange according to directions in muffin recipe.

Peel clementine and slice clementine into chunks.

Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons Sage honey.

Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

Rhuby Whipped Topping

1 cup organic heavy cream
2 Tbs Rhuby
3 Tablespoons maple syrup

Combine all of the ingredients in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form. Chill until ready to serve.

That’s Black Forest Bacon in the background.  The BEST bacon I’ve yet to experience.  Available at your local Whole Foods if you are bacon blessed.

I used to do a similar move when I acted out the 12 Days of Christmas in elementary school.  Fiiiiive Golden Rings!  I couldn’t tell you Didi’s motive, but interpretive dance moves around the table are always encouraged in my world!

Nina always makes a special plate presentation for me.  She has definitely earned her With The Grains intern stripes!  This plate strikes me as muffin Moses parting a citrus sea to the promised salad.

The clean[ish] plate club also dabbles in theatrics.

Aren’t the lingering colors beautiful?

Go ahead and put a dollop of that Rhuby Whipped Topping (recipe above) in your cup of coffee.  The result is akin to a delicious cappuccino with a little taste of gems!

I had to put on my ridiculously bright sunglasses to block the brilliance of that bosom…

*Fin in the sense of the citrusy chapter only.  There will be plenty more of these antics to come!

It’s Still Winter. Might As Well Be Cozy.

Another Adventure with Root!
February 2012

More and more, I prefer a cozy winter weekend.

The more nestled I am under a blanket with a certain someone special… the better the weekend.  The more the fire flickers and sends warmth my way… the better the weekend. The more time spent working our way through Twin Peaks with a projector… the better the weekend.

As the weather oscillates oddly between seasons over the course of days, one has to make the most of the cold snowy times that can otherwise be so demotivating.  It’s best to dwell on how those snowy days justify cozy weekends.  Furthermore, those snowy times lengthen the egg nog season!  I am quite an egg nog novice, since that combination of words repulsed me when most kids were forming their first nog mustaches.  Little did little me know, egg nog is the delicious equivalent of a melted milkshake!  Why didn’t the adults tell me?!?

While I long for sunshine, bare shoulders and warmth like the next vitamin D craving lass, I embrace these remaining wintry days with a glass of egg nog and something sweet.  To make the cold beverage something worthy of a cozy weekend, you need a “heat” source- enter the magical pipette and one’s volitional release of the “warmth” of one’s choice!  In my case, I turned to one of my favorites… Art in the Age Root Liquor.

Since my photographing phenom friend Adam Milliron is a seasoned egg nog aficionado, this venture into drinks and dessert pairing was the perfect opportunity for another collaboration!

Root Nog

Ingredients

4 egg yolks (local/free-range)
1/3 cup organic brown sugar, plus 1 Tablespoon
1 pint organic whole milk
1 cup organic heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites (local/free-range)
Cinnamon, cocoa, nutmeg garnish
+ Pipettes of Root

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color.

Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved.

Add the milk, cream and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks.

With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Keep chiled.

Serve with a dusting of spices and a pipette’s worth (or two…or three) of Root.

There are multiple benefits to pipetting the alcohol into the egg nog.  You can add one full splash of Root (or two or three…no one’s counting), refill the pipette one last time and then submerge it into the beverage.  Should you be so inclined, you can slowly release the alcohol as you drink, creating a higher concentration toward the last sips.  More importantly, it’s just plain old fun using “science” for non science purposes, especially if, like moi, you are surrounded by scientists and engineers during the day job hours.

And of course, Root Nog is better with a Chocolate Root Cake!

Chocolate Root Cake + Orange Root Infusion + Chocolate Root Buttercream

Root Infusion

Ingredients 

1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup Root
Organic orange peel

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to thicken slightly.  Set aside.

Chocolate Root Cake

Ingredients

2 cups cream soda (Virgil’s)
1 cup dark, unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup organic unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (local/free-range)

Directions

Preheat even to 325 degrees F.

Spray the inside of a 10-inch round pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter generously and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted.  Add sugar and molasses and whisk until dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten.

Whisk the eggs into the cocoa mixture until combined.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture.  The batter will be slightly lumpy, but don’t over beat the batter or the cake will be tough.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Use a fork or a skewer to poke several holes in the surface of the cake.  Remove the orange peel, and pour the Root reduction sauce over the cake, spreading it over the entire surface.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then loosen edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a cake plate.

Chocolate Root Beer Frosting

Ingredients

3 ounces 86% cacao (Ghirardelli), melted
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Root
4 ounces Nefuchatel cheese
3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
¼ cup Root Nog

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder.

Once combined add the melted chocolate, salt, Neufchatel, Root, maple syrup and Root Nog.

Beat together until smooth.

Spread on top of cooled cake.

Garnish

Organic orange slices dipped in melted dark, dark, dark chocolate with a splash or two of Root!  Once dipped in rich chocolate-y goodness, set on a piece of wax paper to harden.

Best enjoyed while cuddling with someone special, under blankets, by the warmth of a fire, awaiting the impending plot twist!

Baking, Mixing and Styling by With The Grains.  Photography by Adam Milliron.  Edits conceived from our collaborative vision!

Art in the Age of an Autumnal Brunch

October 2011

The cinnamon roll craving hits me like clockwork as my sweaters make their seasonal debut, and I find myself hovering more and more by the warmth of my oven.

ie:  Last year’s cinnamon roll recipe

Since this craving hits me as the red and yellow leaves begin to hit the ground, I seek to intertwine seasonal twists with the traditional cinnamon center.  Enter cranberry, pecan and pumpkin with a little whipped gem on top!  With Philly guests on the horizon, the mixology’s roots made for a symbolic brunch spotlight (more on that brunch to come).

Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
with Rhuby Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Frosting

Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
with Rhuby Pumpkin Maple Mascarpone Frosting (such a mouthful!)

Dough Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) whole-wheat pastry flour, divided
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 local, free range, large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick olive oil spray

Filling Ingredients

3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
zest from 1 organic orange (about 1 ½ teaspoons)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 cup chopped pecans, plus pecans for garnishing
½-1 cup natural, dried cranberries
1 cup organic cranberry sauce
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

Frosting Ingredients

½ cup pumpkin puree
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Rhuby
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

For the Dough

Combine milk and butter in saucepan over medium-high heat until butter melts and mixture is just warmed.

Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt.  Beat to combine.  Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add 2 1/2 cups flour.  Beat until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by the Tablespoon until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes.

Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For the Filling

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest in a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, and punch down the dough.

Roll out to 15 x 11-inch rectangle.

Spread half of the butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border.

Sprinkle  ¾ of the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over butter.  Set the remainder aside.

Spread a layer of cranberry sauce, maintaining the border.

Sprinkle on a layer of chopped pecans and dried cranberries

Starting at one long side, roll dough into a log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up.

With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 12-18 equal slices.

Grease a 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

Combine the remaining butter, maple syrup and remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture and pour into the bottom of the glass baking dish.

Position the rolls next to each other, cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls).

Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F.

Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

Dear Art in the Age,

This is where you enter the scene!  Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for not only introducing high quality, historical libations to the world but for doing so in such an artistic, beautifully packaged way.  I have already forayed into brunch and lunch time with your cocktails, but this is the first time to include one of your lovelies in my spatula’s whirlwind path.  This is only the beginning!  

Sincerely,

With The Grains

ps:  Sorry for the twitter tease.

Without Further Ado…

Art in the Age Enters Stage Left 

Frosting Ingredients

½ cup pumpkin puree
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Rhuby
2 Tablespoons organic brown sugar
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

For the Frosting

Combine all the ingredients in a medium, mixing bowl.  Beat to combine.

Pipe the icing onto the cinnamon rolls.

Garnish with pecans and dried cranberries.

P.P.S:

3 Tablespoons was a pretty modest gem addition.  I’d go bigger and bolder next time, but this was a delicious start!