Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jose Villa Blog- Beautiful!

 full shoot will be on Ruffled blog soon

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Check out Cannelle et Vanille!

There are stacks of packages and boxes at my door these days. The craziness of the holidays as I call it. But there was a special box waiting at the door for me last week - a box full of goodness. It came from Gilt Taste via Farmer Jones' Farm. Products that I was invited to taste and cook with.

I rushed to the kitchen to see what was in it.

A colorful array of tiny beets, carrots, potatoes, spinach, herbs, microgreens, edible flowers, and the most tender garlic. Fresh, still dirt on, and fragrant. I couldn't wait to start cooking.

"All these beautiful vegetables deserve to be the star of a dish" I said to myself.

Somehow I thought about the special meal I had at Rendezvous in Boston a couple of years ago with Lara, Bea, and Pascale. I still talk about that meal. It was the summer vegetable bollito mistothat left me totally inspired that day. Delicate summer vegetables lightly simmered in a vegetable broth and served over truffled polenta.

The root vegetables could really make a heartier version of that vegetable bollito misto I had then. And so it did.

I steamed the beets separately to keep their color. So gorgeous.

Yellow, white, red, and candy-stripe.

I lightly cooked the purple, orange, red, and white carrots in the vegetable broth I made with many aromatics and the herbs that arrived from Farmer Jones' Farm. Also in that broth went the tiniest red, purple, and yellow potatoes. It reminded me of the menestra de verduras my mom makes, minus the beets.

I served it over brown butter and herb polenta and garnished it with some edible flowers and microgreens.

Can you close your eyes and imagine that smell?

And that wasn't all.

Over the weekend, I made myself a salad of steamed potatoes and beets tossed in a spinach and almond pesto and served over toasted slices of seeded bread (recipe will be in my book) with soft-boiled eggs and microgreens.

A tartine of sorts.

And to top it all off, I made apple and carrot muffins.

Like I said, a box full of goodness.

Vegetable Bollito Misto with Brown Butter and Herb Polenta

serves 4 to 6

4 small beets (assorted colors and shapes), stems cut off, but leave a bit of the top
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 medium leek, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
bunch of fresh parsley
6 cups cold water
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound (450 g) small potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
6 small carrots (assorted colors), peeled and cut into different shapes (some rounds and the thinest ones in half lengthwise)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup quick-cooking polenta
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley)
Microgreens and edible flowers (optional)

Steam the beets until fork tender, about 20 minutes depending on their size. Let them cool. Peel and slice them. Reserve for plating.

In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, leek, garlic, and celery. Cook for 5 minutes until tender, but not brown. Add the thyme, bay leaf, parsley, water, salt, and black pepper. Bring liquid to a boil, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes. This will be the base for the vegetable broth we will use to cook the potatoes and carrots and also for the polenta.

Add the potatoes and cook for 5 to 7 minutes until almost tender. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes or until soft. Do not overcook the vegetables or they will fall apart. Set the broth aside. Measure 3 cups of vegetable broth (without the vegetable pieces) and transfer to a medium pot.

In a small saute pan, cook the butter until the solids start to brown. Remove from heat.

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the polenta in a steady stream while whisking so it doesn't form clumps. Continue whisking the polenta until it thickens, about 1 minute. Remove the pot from heat and add the brown butter and herbs. Whisk to combine.

Serve the polenta immediately on the bottom of a bowl. Top with the reserved beets, potatoes and carrots with their own vegetable broth. Garnish with microgreens and edible flowers.

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

{Words to live by}

Posted: 03 Dec 2011 10:00 PM PST

This is actually an advertisement promoting road safety but the words apply to life in general too, so slow down and appreciate...

Image credit: Advert by 303 Design for Western Australian Office of Road Safety via it's designed via Sense & Grace

Saturday, December 3, 2011

lanalou style - decor, fashion & Cape Town life

Christmas style: natural simplicity

Posted: 02 Dec 2011 10:00 PM PST

I'm not mad about over the top Christmas decor for my own home. I like a simpler look with just a few festive touches. This gorgeous home so appeals to me, I love the real Christmas tree decorated with only a few ornaments and all the greenery throughout the home. They even have a lovely wreath in the bathroom. To me, this understated look is all you need. I spotted another similar and just as lovely home over on Bright Bazaar this week, take a look here.

Image credits: photography by Sveinung Bråthen for Bolig Pluss

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making It Lovely

Making it Lovely

Kathryn's Finished Bedroom

Link to Making it Lovely

Kathryn's Finished Bedroom

Posted: 30 Nov 2011 12:29 PM PST

I've been busy redecorating a bedroom for Kathryn and her husband, Finn. They live in Oak Park with their two kids, and they asked for some help with finishing their bedroom. The space was an attic once upon a time, but previous homeowners had remodeled it. Poorly. They longed to make it feel more put together, but their kids came first and the bedroom kept getting pushed back. I showed the space to you, in progress, last week. Now the room is finished though, and I love the way it turned out! I think Kathryn and Finn are pretty darn happy too.

American Express had provided a $1500 budget, and I used their Prepaid Card to help keep me on track. It was great because I could login to check my balance anytime I wasn't sure, which was so helpful while decorating quickly and on a tight budget.

Kathryn and I swapped the Prepaid Card back and forth a few times as I would send her to pick up things like painting supplies and the wardrobe, and then I took it back to get the smaller decorative details. I was even able to pull a little cash out to pay for the end table I found on Craigslist.

Lighting was my biggest concern when it came to budget. The room is large, but it only has one window. And that window? It directly faces their neighbor's bathroom. Not exactly a room with a view.

I wanted to be sure to provide plenty of light, but nice lamps tend to be expensive. It's fairly easy to find inexpensive furniture that still looks good, but lamps are different for some reason. Luckily, I found some clear glass lamps on sale. They had a clean, simple shape with good proportions, and the added detail of the blue cord gives them some interest.

Originally, I thought I might put one lamp on the gateleg table and put the floor lamp I picked up on the other side, but I thought the room needed symmetrical lamps to balance the mismatched tables. The floor lamp ended up on the other side of the room, next to Kathryn's pair of Eames chairs. A small task lamp that the homeowners already had was perfect on top of their dressers.

I hung art and photos that the homeowners already had in black frames, along with the print at the bottom that I created for them.

The doors to the kids' bedrooms were curtained off. Perhaps Kathryn and Finn will add a sliding barn door in the future, but for now the curtains are a good solution. Such a simple thing to do, but it made a huge difference. Instead of feeling like an open area between two smaller rooms, it feels like a bedroom in its own right. The freestanding closet that we added helps too.

There were already four dressers in the room, but two were used as bedside tables and two were hidden beneath pipe and drape along the slanted end of the room. Pushing all four of them together made them look more deliberate in the space, and it was fun to decorate the top.

I loved working on a room in someone else's home, and I hope to do more work for others in the future. Thanks, American Express for making this one possible. And thank you, Kathryn and Finn, for letting me takeover a room in your home!

* I'll answer questions about where everything came from in the comments, but you can also check my Pinterest board for the room. Nearly everything (and more) is on there!

• You may also like these related posts from Making it Lovely:

  1. Getting Started on Redecorating Kathryn's Bedroom
  2. An Update on Redecorating Kathryn's Bedroom
  3. Book Storage in the Bedroom

© 2011, published by Making it Lovely as Kathryn's Finished Bedroom | 65 comments

A few of my favorite things: part 1.2

This is a blogger who I haven't shared before. I just love the recipes. Can't wait to hear what you think. xoxo


I always have to read a little before I go to bed. I get all ready - brush my teeth, wash my face, put on my cashmere bed socks (the best birthday present a girlfriend ever gave me) - and then I get in bed, adjust my pillow, fluff the blanket and open a book. If I don't read before turning off the lights, I'm guaranteed to toss and turn for a long while before falling asleep, if I'm able to do that at all.

For the past few nights, I've been re-reading Farmer Boy. I can't tell you how many times I've read it, but we can all be sure it's a fairly high number. The Little House series was my reason for living when I was a child (until Narnia came long and then Anne of Green Gables and Diana Wynne Jones and, oh, let's stop this right now, otherwise we'll be here all day) and when I was at my friend Joan's last year, gripped with writer's block and worry, she pulled Farmer Boy off her shelf and handed it over to me. "Remember this?"

The pleasure I get from going back into Almanzo's world is hard to put into words. Every other sentence plunges me back in time to when I was first reading about how the Wilder men cut and stored ice, packed in straw, until summertime, how Almanzo and his siblings made candy while their parents were out of town, using up all the good sugar their mother warned them not to finish, how Almanzo longed to be given the responsibilities of caring for the family's horses while his father continued to command him to stay away. And, of course, how little, 9-year old Almanzo put away in one regular weeknight dinner what most of us could barely manage on a holiday like Thanksgiving.

None of us (well, as far as I can imagine) are doing anywhere near the amount of physical labor that he was at nine years old. But still. Here's what Almanzo ate on one winter's evening:

1. Sweet, mellow baked beans 
2. Mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy 
3. Ham 
4. Velvety bread spread with sleek butter 
5. A tall heap of pale mashed turnips 
6. A hill of stewed yellow pumpkin 
7. Plum preserves, strawberry jam and grape jelly 
8. Spiced watermelon pickles 
9. A large piece of pumpkin pie

And then (oh, you didn't think he was done, did you?), the family retired to the fireplace and Almanzo ate popcorn and apples and drank apple cider, and he took suchpleasure in this and his family and his life that when I read that bit I always fairly burst with the longing to reach out through time and space and dimension to touch his sweet little self or give him a hug. And also eat a handful of popcorn with a glass of cider in the other hand.

Books, man. They kill me.


We think Thanksgiving is such a busy time and we overwhelm ourselves with grocery lists and cooking strategies and forums on whether to brine or not to brine (actually, this ladydoesn't), so reading about how the women in Almanzo's family did that kind of work every day, in addition to churning the butter and curing the ham and dying their own wool and cloth so they could sew their clothes and their own rag carpets, among a hundred other daily chores and duties, well, it's humbling.

The resourcefulness and thrift and sheer doggedness is particularly inspiring, as well as mortifying, of course, because I think nothing of throwing out a stale heel of bread or letting those two stray carrots in the fridge whither into sponginess. While I'm far away from ever wanting to move to a house in upstate New York and become a self-subsistent farmer, what I'm trying to say, I guess, is that Farmer Boy is as enchanting to the adult me now as it was to the little me then.


I made pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving feast (we celebrated on Saturday instead of Thursday), but due to a little, er, mathematical error, I roasted about six times too much squashin preparation for the pie ( this one, in case you're wondering, which was once again demolished in one fell swoop, but with this crust recipe, the second half of which I used for this tart, which was eaten even faster than the pumpkin pie).

I froze some of the squash, but with all the Advent tea times ahead of us in the next month (the Germans are big on Advent Sunday tea time), I decided to get resourceful and bake something to have on hand during the next few weekends. Pumpkin breadfrom a monastery in Los Angeles that sells loaves for $9 a pop seemed like a good place to start.

The recipe hasn't changed since the early 1970's, which is a pretty good pedigree, if you ask me. It's a basic sweet bread or tea cake or whatever you'd like to call it, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg (I also added some cloves) and is quiveringly tender and moist. If you, like me, use Hokkaido (or red kuri) squash, your batter will seem practically fluorescent.


I promise, though, that it will mellow in the oven, turning an agreeable, gingerbread-y brown. The crumb is velvety-soft and fragrant with sweet squash and the spices, while the crust gets all caramelized and toothsome. Some bits of it even crunch. It's a lovely thing to eat. I wanted to add walnuts to the batter, but mine were all rancid, so I threw in chopped pecans, the last of a precious stash from the States, instead. Their earthy crunch is a nice thing to happen upon as you work your way through each soft slice of bread.

My only advice would be to try and make as many loaves out of this one batch of batter as you can. I crammed all of the batter into one 13-inch long loaf pan and ended up having to bake the loaf for an hour and a half, nearly burning the edges. If you bake it in smaller loaf pans, the baking time reduces to one hour.


I let it cool completely, then I wrapped it carefully in plastic wrap and foil and put in the freezer where it'll rest until this Sunday when we have friends over for tea in the candlelight.

But next Sunday, I've already decided, there will be popcorn and apples and cider. And in addition to being grateful for my family's good health and my good fortune in life, I'll be saying a little gratitude prayer for books, my constant companions in this life.

Tell me, readers, what were the childhood books that you loved the most?

Monastery of Angels' Pumpkin Bread 
Makes 1 13-inch long loaf or 2 smaller loaves 
Original recipe here 

3.5 cups of all-purpose flour 
3 cups sugar 
2 teaspoons baking soda 
2 teaspoons cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 
1.5 teaspoons salt 
4 large eggs 
1 cup vegetable oil 
2/3 cup water 
2 cups puréed pumpkin or squash 
1/2 cup chopped pecans tossed with a spoonful or two of flour

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour loaf pan(s). Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, combine eggs, oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until the batter is smooth and there are no streaks of flour left. Fold in the pecans.

3. Scrape the batter into the buttered and floured loaf pan(s). Bake for 1.5 hours or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the pan(s) on a rack for half an hour before turning the loaves out to cool completely. Wrapped tightly, the bread keeps for at least three days.

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A few of my favorite things: part 1.1

David Lebovitz does it again! Mouthwatering pictures!!! Yum...


When I was in Australia, a couple of interesting things happened while I scooting around Sydney. One was that I went on the hunt for Lamingtons, and a number of people offered to send me recipes, but didn't. And two, I got quite a few messages from people asking if I was coming to Melbourne. Then a food festival there rolled around and even though I woke up at all hours, checking my messages night and day, an invite to that city never landed in my Inbox.


But instead of being tough and bitter, I decided to dive into something tender and sweet, and was compelled to whip up my own recipe for Lamingtons. (And it's hard to remain mad at anyone in Australia because, truly, everyone was exceptionally nice to me during my visit to Sydney.) I did call upon one of those nice folks, the master of the Lamington, Matt Rothman, when deciding whether to go with a cocoa powder icing or one made with chocolate. And he responded that he makes either, depending on whether he wanted the glaze to soak in to the cake a little (cocoa powder) or for it to be more of a thicker icing (chocolate).

Continue Reading Lamingtons...


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