Friday, May 29, 2009


So I'm doing this gluten-free thing for awhile to deal with some health issues I've been having. This meant having to find and buy new condiments, pastas, crackers, etc. I just had a lunch involving some rice pasta and I have to say, it was AMAZING. The texture was way better than semolina pasta. Not bad for the first try.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CB2's Draper Sofa

In a nod to Mad Men, CB2's new Draper Sofa actually looks like nothing Don Draper would ever sit on but is still very chic. The description recalls menswear, an attempt to perhaps masculinize something that is anything but:
Bespoke. Mid-century references, apartment-sized profile, confident menswear stripe. Tailored bold in neutral black/charcoal and red/orange with crisp pinstripes of white. Simple lines in armless bench on six recessed legs ( cool is that?) finished in a period mid-tone.

I'm generally amused by this but it is an interesting subcultural text in and of itself. Style is marked in such obvious ways, and CB2 has definitely taken advantage of the recent obsession with Mad Men to both promote its own modern furniture styles and to pay homage to some earlier ones.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ban Black Friday

Black Friday is my least favorite day of the year. When consumerism and excessive crowd sizes converge, you get things like this, where people are TRAMPLED TO DEATH because some idiot consumer thinks they need a fourth flat screen TV. That event is really such a metaphor for the way the general economy and politics of Black Friday operate through the drive to fulfill consumer impulses at any non-monetary expense. Never mind that it is the crowd's own fault for being outraged at standing in line all night when they start the line 12 hours before the store is supposed to open. Never mind that the stores thought it was okay to encourage this kind of behavior without having the proper amount of security to control the crowds.

I am outraged and saddened by the state of a consumer culture in which an employee gets trampled to death by throngs of customers who break through the doors of a store, yells out that he has been hurt, and people just tell him to shut up because they were waiting in line since 9 p.m. the night before. Everyone who was in that crowd that day is a murderer and a participant in a culture that promotes consumption above the lives of people upon whose backs the system itself functions.

I'm not saying that if you went shopping today you are a murderer, but you should seriously still think about why you got up at 6 a.m. to get in a line for stuff that you don't need, just because you wanted to beat everyone else out in getting it. Why is it that all stores have to do to get people running out of their houses to accumulate as much as possible is to put up a sign that says SALE? Why do people feel like their life depends on spending the least amount of money possible?

Screw that, man. I blame the winter holidays, the corporations that sustain them, and the consumers that participate in them.

This year, make your own presents. Write someone a nice letter. Bake something. Knit a hat. Buy hand-made. Or at the very least, don't act like an effing idiot by showing up at the mall hours before it opens just to get $80 off of that overpriced bag you don't need. And if you participate in Black Friday next year, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Duck's Cosmic Kitchen, Decatur

Duck's Cosmic Kitchen on East College seriously has the best bread I've ever tasted on a sandwich. I think it had olives or something in it, but it was just the right thickness and density without being too hard to bite into. I have an underbite so ease of bitage is important to me when choosing breads. My friend had these mini-Calzones and also commented that the bread part was especially delicious.

After lunch, I had a red velvet cupcake and she had a mini-lemon ginger cheesecake on a graham cracker crust. Predictably, both were amazing. What a cute place.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Mercantile, Candler Park

I hit up The Mercantile yesterday with my friend, Christy. The new gourmet food store, located on Dekalb Ave next to San Francisco Coffee, is dedicated to sustainable produce and local foods. They have a deli counter, a sandwich menu, hot soups, various cheeses, and gourmet foods throughout the store. A refrigerator section houses four of the mother sauces, several varieties of humus, and Amish yogurt.

I bought a baguette, a tube of tomato paste (seriously, SO good if you haven't tried it already), and some wild blueberry preserves. The bread was fantastic-it is still soft on the inside and crusty on the outside after a day, unlike other breads that just get hard.

One cool item we sampled was a soda called Ionade, brewed in Germany. It is non-alcoholic, but derives all of its sugars from fruit juice fermentation. It tasted mildly of kombucha, but without the acidity.

I suspect the store will fill up a bit over time. It still has a really beautiful retail space and I'll definitely be back again to check it out.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

No Knead Dutch Oven Bread

The aesthetic qualities of Le Creuset lead many to believe that owning a Dutch oven is somehow essential for any kitchen. I bought mine from Lodge, because they are supposed to be more durable, even if they are just recently doing the whole enameled thing. Until baking this bread, I had only ever used it to make some curry, a task that could easily have been reproduced in a normal pot of any kind.

Upon learning, however, that I could make perfect, crusty bread all by myself without even having to bust out the dough hook on my Kitchenaid mixer, I was pretty glad to own my Dutch oven. Its heaviness, ability to seal tightly, and distribute heat evenly are all apparently perfect conditions for making this kind of bread. I used a recipe from Mother Earth News, which you can find here, sans my additions.

No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups flour. I used an equally portioned mixture of oat, wheat, and all purpose white flours.
1 1/2 tsp salt
4-5 Tbs. chopped fresh herbs. I used basil, thyme, and rosemary from my garden.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Add the herbs to the dough. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

A few modifications I made:
My oven doesn't heat at the right temperature, so I just had to keep an eye on the bread to prevent burning. After I took it out, I poured a bit of water into the pan and put the lid back on to let it steam. This made the outside super crusty.

You have no idea how good this bread is. Make sure to follow the directions as best as you can. A second time, I made it and decided to add some sugar to activate the yeast. Bad idea--it rose high but didn't have the bubbles that the first one had that made it soft inside.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just found at Ikea: Varme teapot

I picked up the Varme today (in black) on my gajillionth visit to Ikea in the last few weeks. How I did not ever notice it before is unbeknownst to me, because this teapot is HOT. The slant in the design also aids in pouring, which makes me like it even more.

$9.99 at Ikea.