30 September 2010

Unfolding Florence

About a year ago, I saw a wonderful documentary directed by Gillian Armstrong called Unfolding Florence. It is a docudrama about the life of designer Florence Broadhurst, who's career has often been overshadowed by her untimely murder. In the last decade, however, people like Marc Jacobs, Stella McCartney, and Carly Simon began collecting Broadhurst's prints. After seeing the film, I wanted to see it again, but alas, it is not available in the US (though a DVD is available for Region 4 if you own a multi-format player.)

Broadhurst was far ahead of her time in her designs and how she constructed her wallpaper. Her designs were all hand printed in her studio, which was as technical as it was artistic. She developed a process to print onto metallic surfaces, she developed a washable coating, and instituted a racking system that allowed for drying her wallpapers so they could be mass produced. In addition, she allowed her designs to be reproduced in a myriad of colors.

Florence Broadhurst, Joshua Smith,1968

Broadhurst wanted her designs to be a cure for a disease she called, “ timid decorator syndrome." "You can spot them easily, they are afraid of colour and bold design, she said.”

In 2006, Helen O'Neill published Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Life. Apart from the biographical information which is quite fascinating, O'Neill's book also reproduced nearly a hundred of Broadhurst's designs which only a few people had ever seen in one place.

Here are just a few Broadhurst favorites!

The Egrets

Japanese Flora


Horses Stampede

Circles and Squares

Recently, the Australian rug manufacturer, Cadrys, has licensed a collection featuring the iconic designs of Florence Broadhurst. If you ever get the chance to see Unfolding Florence, give it a look.

27 September 2010

Requiescat in Pace -- Wayne Winterrowd

Wayne Winterrowd was a gardener extraordinaire; a Southern boy who turned his attentions to the great Vermont north. Winterrowd, with his partner, Joe Eck, managed to transform North Hill into one of America's premier gardens. Living Seasonally is a book I often turn to with more than a little bit of envy, yet I never close the cover without being totally inspired. I learned of his death this weekend as I was working on transforming the old chicken house into a greenhouse.

24 September 2010

Famous Food Friday -- Freebie

Today's Famous Food Friday offers up a free gift from Barilla Pasta. Meryl Streep is not the free gift, the gift is her recipe for Penne with Cauliflower, Roasted Pine Nuts and Romano Cheese; and Jimmy Fallon's recipe for Spaghetti Carbonara; and Mariska Hargatay's recipe for Pasta Alla Checca; and more.

Unfortunately for me, there is not a single recipe with my favorite pasta shape, campanelle. And I must admit, it has been hard to find lately and I am not happy about that, but I digress...

In an attempt to bring people together for a meal, Barilla started Share The Table. They are offering their Celebrity Pasta Lovers' Cookbook as a download, so you too, can cook like Julianne Moore.

Celebrity Pasta Lovers' Cookbook is available till 15 October. There is a catch. But it is a good catch. To download, you need to click a button promising to Share a Meal. When you do, Barilla donates $1 to Meals on Wheels Association of America.

Meals on Wheels gets money -- you get a cookbook -- how great is that.

22 September 2010

Wednesday Etiquette

September is National Manners Month*

So remember...

Always say please and thank you

Chew with your mouth closed (especially gum -- really do you need to chew gum in public?)

Ask to be excused from the dinner table (if you do not know where to place your menu card, see above)

Offer food or drinks to guests (or both!)

Open doors for people behind you

Do not stare

Do not point

Apologize to someone if you bump into them (or even if THEY bump into you)

Ladies first (if you are all ladies, try "age before beauty")

Make eye contact when talking to a person



*September is also National Head Lice Prevention Month and National Be Kind to Editors and Writers Month and Subliminal Communications Month. Do you know what I am thinking? Are you scratching your head?

20 September 2010

The Big Flea

I joined up with Eddie Ross and Jaithan Kochar at the Big Flea in DC on Saturday. (Actually, the Big Flea in DC is in Virginia, because it is big, so it needs a lot of room.)

I got lost and was a bit late, but I survived. Everyone was quite lovely and I had a wonderful time.

I bought a book, (I know you are shocked) and I took some pictures, though virtually none of them were any good. But here are two shots sure to end up on a blooper reel.

Here is Eddie, looking for all the world like he is about to strangle someone. (Clearly it was someone who didn't know the difference between a pickle fork and an olive fork!)

And here is Jaithan who is thinking, "Is this ever going to be over?"

Alas, it ended too soon, but in plenty of time for me to catch the Alabama-Duke game. Poor Duke, when they agreed to play Alabama they thought it was going be lacrosse!

So that was my Saturday -- Eddie, Jaithan, books, Alabama football what more could one want?

19 September 2010

It's the little things...

...that make us happy.

Pink is my signature color. I just love pink (in careful moderation, however.) Last time I was in D.C., my friend Ann presented me with a roll of pink Duck Tape. Actually, to be perfectly correct it was a roll of Funky Flamingo Duck Tape. I have been making lists of things to do with it and I am totally motivated to take hostages.

Thanks, Ann.

17 September 2010

Famous Food Friday -- Ricky Lauren

Fall is in the air and I was looking for a nice cool weather Famous Food Friday when I thought of Ricky Lauren. I like to think of Ricky swaddled in tons of Ralph Lauren clothes, so she doesn't strike me as the summer type.

Several years ago she published a book that was part memoir, part Ralph Lauren add part cookbook. Interspersed between the ravishing views of her house, the ravishing views of the Colorado mountains and the ravishing views of tables were the recipes that she loves to make when she is "roughing" it in The Centennial State. The book is decidedly a prime example of gastro-porn. It is hard to focus on the recipes when staring at the views. I don't care if your grandma sweated over a hot stove, it fades into the woodwork (or should I say the lovely honed beams furnished with Ralph Lauren Home accessories.)

If you can manage to tear yourself away from the stunning photos, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that the recipes are pretty solid and easy to make. I can totally see Ricky rousting her little clan with fresh cooked scones. (Check out Cookbook Of The Day where Ricky rousts her clan with a frittata.)

Raspberry Walnut Scones

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup raspberry preserves

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds.
3. Add butter and blend, using on/off pulses, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3/4 cup cream and blend, using on/off pulses, just until dough comes together.
4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts. Gently knead with 4-5 turns to mix in nuts.
5. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; shape each into a ball. Press each to 6-inch round (about 1/4-inch thick).
6. Spread preserves over 2 rounds, 2 tablespoons per round, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Place 1 plain dough round on top of each preserve-covered round. Seal edges. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and chill.)
7. Place rounds on work surface. Brush each with 1-tablespoon remaining cream; sprinkle with sugar, pressing to adhere. Using a large knife cut each round into 6 wedges.
8. Arrange wedges on prepared sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake scones until puffed and deep golden brown (about 14 minutes). Serve warm or at room temperature.

boejaigjidfoajoaibvmaabababapsa --- I'm sorry, I was looking at the monogrammed dinnerware and rested the book on the keyboard. Well, anyway, this Sunday I want you to get up, throw on your POLO shirt and get baking.

15 September 2010

Wednesday Etiquette

Today's etiquette tips come from Polly Bergen. Well, not so much "etiquette" per se as general life lessons so that one can feel and look young. I must say, something in the book must work as Bergen is still quite the babe at 80! Bergen was a nice Southern girl from Tennessee who moved to big city and became a star. Along the way she made beauty products out of turtle oil and had quite the career. (That is turtle oil, not to be confused with turtle wax, though it might actually work quite well, but I digress...)

In the 70's Bergen wrote several books on "beauty" including Polly's Principles which offers up some sound advice and a good bit of talk about sex. Bergen says of the book:
"This is not exactly a beauty book. It is an intimate conversation between you and me. It may tell you more than you want to know about me, inside and out."

So, here are a few of those things you might not want to know:

Experimentation is the renewal of sexual fulfillment.
It can be small things, like painting your nipples with lipstick.

OK, remember that she was in her 40's when she wrote this book.

If talk during sex is exciting, a woman should learn how to talk.
She should use the vocabulary of explicit sex terminology.

A profound flaw in the book occurs now when Bergen FAILS to provide the gentle reader with a vocabulary list to try out.

Later in the book, Bergen does offer up a list of "Do's and Don't's" for protecting one's hide.

DO use ample bath oils.

DO fight tension and stress.

DO drink lots of water.

DON'T eat improperly.

DON'T expose your skin to too much sun.

All valuable points, indeed. Though not as satisfying as a vocabulary list would have been.

After lamenting on several failed marriages and psychoanalyses, perhaps the best thing one can learn from Bergen is this:
I realized that nobody else can make me bad or good or guilty or unattractive. Only I can do that. If others make me think that way about myself, its because I gave them that power.

13 September 2010

Music's Modern Muse

It appears we had two bad picture here, so we tried to get it right.

I am quite fond of modern classical music from the early 20th century, so I have been quite taken by Sylvia Kahan's weighty and scholarly biography of Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac, entitled Music's Modern Muse. This book trumps the rather salacious Food of Love by Michael de Cossart which emphasized Singer's love life while giving short-shrift to her considerable contributions to music in the early 20th century.

Winnaretta Singer may have been number 20 of the 24 children of sewing machine entrepreneur and bigamist Issac Merritt Singer, though Singer didn't keep really great records of all of his children, nor of his "wives" for that matter. At 22, Winnaretta was sent to Europe for "good marriage" making her part of group of mockingly dubbed "Dollar Princesses", rich Americans who married for titles.

Winnaretta Singer's coat
from an exhibition Dollar Princesses at the American Museum in Britain

While such marriages worked for some of the American heiresses, Winnaretta was not happy with Prince de Scey-Montbeliard. When he entered the bedchamber on his wedding night he found his bride crouched on the large armoire brandishing an umbrella and shouting, "If you touch me, I will kill you." After five years of wedded chastity, the marriage was annulled. (At this point I should say that while her husband never touched her, she did manage to touch quite a few women in Paris and the surrounding areas.)

Her next Prince, Edmond de Polignac, had no desire to touch Winnaretta and they lived happily ever after, untill his death in 1901.

Winnaretta Singer put her wealth to good use funding many modern composers and artists. Composers aided by Singer are a virtual Who's Who of modern music: Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Kurt Weill, Germaine Tailleferre, Nadia Boulanger, and Ethel Smyth.

At her Salon in Paris she entertained not only composers, but writers and artists like Marcel Proust, Isadora Duncan, Jean Cocteau, Claude Monet, Serge Diaghilev and Colette.

Music's Modern Muse weighs in at over 500 pages full of musical nuance. It is the relationship with the music that is the key to this biography. My only regret is that there is no accompanying CD tucked in the back of the book!

11 September 2010

Tomato Confiture

I always hoped I would get to do the list of "10 Things That Make Me Happy" in Domino, but alas Domino folded before my article came out. One of the things on my list would have been my eight issue run of Taste Magazine. In 2000 Williams-Sonoma decided to publish their own "cooking" magazine. It was exquisite. Truly exquisite. But it only lasted 8 issues before it folded.

The last issue was dedicated to Paris. Chuck Williams wrote about his first trip to Paris in 1953. He had his first croissants, his first crepe and his first soufflé. His most amazing first was a dessert of fromage frais with Tomato Confiture. Since I have been facing a glut of tomatoes, this seemed like a great time to give Williams' recipe a try.

Tomato Confiture

2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb. ripe tomatoes, cored and the bottoms scored with and X
5 cups of sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split

1. Blanch tomatoes in batches until skins loosen, about 15 seconds. Drain and rinse with cold water. slip off skins and cut each tomato in half crosswise. Gentle squeeze out seeds, then cut tomatoes in small pieces and set aside.

2. In a nonreactive, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 1 cup water and the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring carefully until sugar dissolves. Add tomatoes, reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently for 30 minutes.

3. Add vanilla bean and continue simmering until thickened and beginning to jell, 25 - 30 minutes. A candy thermometer should register 220-225F. Alternatively, spoon a little jam on a chilled plate and let stand for a few minutes. Slide a finger through; if the surface wrinkles, the jam has jelled.

4. Skim any foam from top, discard vanilla bean, and pour into sterile jars with tight fitting lids.

After filling, I processed the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes as I had quite a few jars.

The final product is a thick, sweet, tomatoey... well, jam. Paris in a Jar.

03 September 2010

Requiescat in Pace -- Bonnie Blue Butler

Actually, Cammie King, the actress who played Bonnie in Gone With The Wind. She was 4-years-old when she played Bonnie and a year later she was the voice of a doe in Bambi. She was often quoted about her career:

“I peaked in show business at age 5.”

Famous Food Friday -- Helena Rubinstein

Graham Sutherland (1903-1980)
Helena Rubinstein in red brocade Balenciaga, 1957

There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.
Helena Rubinstein

Today's Famous Food Friday is Helena Rubinstein. In mid August, The Peak of Chic brought back one of my favorite features on her blog -- "What's In Their Library." Fittingly, The Peak of Chic changed it up a bit and produced "What's In My Library -- Jennifer Boles." One of the books from her own library was Helena Rubinstein's cookbook, Food For Beauty and since it is in our library, too, we thought it would make a great Famous Food Friday.

Marie Laurencin (1885 -1956)
Helena Rubinstein wearing a yellow shawl, 1934

Helena Rubinstein was the eldest of eight daughters of a Polish merchant. In 1890 she headed off to Australia giving up her study of medicine to find a husband. What she found was the appalling skin of Australian women. Rubinstein began selling a cream of almonds and tree bark to help with dry, flaky skin. Within three years her creams had earned her $100,000 and she headed to Europe. In 1914 she moved on to New York. She wrote of her first impressions of American women:
"It was a cold day,and all the American women had purple noses and grey lips, and their faces were chalk white from terrible powder. I recognized that the U.S. could be my life's work."

In 1938 as a supplement to her cosmetics empire, Rubinstein wrote a cookbook based on the Bircher-Benner diet in Zurich, Switzerland. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, much like John Kellogg, set out to changed the 19th century diets. He chose fruit, vegetables and nuts over meats and breads. His ideas combined controlled nutrition with spartan physical discipline. His most famous idea was muesli.

Food for Beauty is filled with beautiful sounding recipes. One would be hard pressed to figure out what the ingredients are but who wouldn't want to partake in Lotus in Sunlight,Citrus Sunwheel, Tropical Radiance, Imperial Garden, or Sun Shaft?

Here is her recipe for a light soup.

Essence of Tomato

2 lbs. ripe tomatoes
1 bunch green celery tops
2 leeks (entire)
1 small potato
6 outside lettuce leaves
1 cup empty pea pods
2 quarts cold water

Wash vegetables thoroughly but do not peel them. Chop coarsely. Place in a large enamel, copper or glass kettle. Cover with cold water. cover kettle. simmer for 2 hours. Then mash through a fine sieve. Serve hot in bouillon cups.

Now don't be lazy, whip up a batch of Essence of Tomato and settle in for your own Day of Beauty.

Read it again at Cookbook of the Day.

02 September 2010

The Audacity of Taupe

Usually, I don't read much of Arianna Huffington, but I have to say her quote about the "new" Oval Office was perfect. She wrote:

It’s very cautious, neutral, inoffensive, neither one thing nor the other — the Audacity of Taupe.

Let me state here that I am not know, nor have I ever been a decorator. I never even played one on T.V. but I think this room looks like a Sears clearance sale. This is not the next Design Star, it is the third week elimination room.

Margaret Russell, formerly of Elle Decor and a personal friend of decorator Michael Smith was quoted in the New York Times after hearing some less than flattering comments:

“She said someone said it looked like a law office in a strip mall,” Ms. Russell said later. “I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, that’s just mean.’ Everyone is a critic and everyone is a decorator. That room is quintessentially American. America is not gilded or glitzy or fancy-pants. Although it is a public room and everyone feels the need to comment on it, it is also the president’s office and he can do whatever he wants to it." And anyway, Ms. Russell added fiercely, “In our business, the client is always right, and from what I’ve heard, the client is happy.”

Well, I am glad he is happy.

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