March 24, 2012

a man with a history

Thanks to my mild addiction to tumbling, I came upon two new finds. I've been wanting to share these nuggets for a short while now. Though they are not on my kindred spirits page, my fondness for their content is the reason for sharing them today. First up, My Daguerreotype Boyfriend, a collection of snapshots of wildly handsome men through the early ages of photography up into the 1940's. How can a girl get tired of browsing through this well curated collection of fellows? And gents, take a note or two here, some themes seen in these pictures never get old or go out of style with us lasses.
Johannes Brahms, circa 1853, age 20

Next up is the Dickensian Dandy. It goes along quite well with the aformentioned link not unlike two peas in a pod. This assemblage of images is a serious nod to dandyism and all the pomp, circumstance, refinery and gallantry that goes along with it. It is a smart mix of men's fashion, dandy icons, old timey illustrations and well crafted interiors. In short, if I were a man it would be a bible of sorts. Seeing that I am a woman I will take pleasure in daily perusal of both of these sweet gatherings of eye candy.
vintage advertisement as seen on Dickensian Dandy

March 22, 2012

classic quiche

Last weekend I had a very dear old friend over for catching up over some bubbly and light fare. I decided to make one of my new favorite dishes-- quiche. It's a new favorite because it is so versatile and I am finally mastering the crust. I have to say, it is not as intimidating as most like to think. I also enjoy making this dish because the leftovers are excellent for days to come! It can be a little time consuming so this round I made my dough the day before and let it chill overnight in the fridge. I based my recipe on one that I found in the delightful, Little French Cookbook. Traditionally quiche that comes from Lorraine never contains onion and purists will omit cheese. I went the way of the faux pas and not only added onion but also two types of cheese!

~1.5 cups of flour
~healthy pinch of salt & cracked pepper
~1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
~1/2 cup of butter
~2 tbsp ice cold water

~1 cup of mushrooms
~2 cups of spinach
~2 shallots
~1/4 cup of goat cheese (half a small wheel)
~4 eggs
~1 cup cream
~salt & pepper
~parsley & scallion as topping

Start by creating your pastry dough. Keep in mind, whenever you are making pastry you want everything to be COLD. Cold makes good dough. So I would pre-chill the stick of butter in the freezer for 5-10 minutes, along with the ice water and even chill the bowl you will be mixing in. Another pointer in making great pastry is use a pastry cutter. If you don't have one, a fork and knife will work. So while you are chilling your bits & pieces, sift the flour, pepper and salt into your mixing bowl. Cut in butter until the mix becomes a coarse meal. Add the shredded cheese. Next, start sprinkling the dough with the ice water mixing it in. At this point I usually begin to use my hands to gently mix the dough into a ball, but before doing so I run them under cold water to bring down my temperature as not to melt the butter too much. Let it rest at least 20 minutes or you can wrap in plastic and leave in the refrigerator to roll out later. While dough is resting, chop your veggies. Next, pre-heat the over and flour a flat, clean surface to roll your dough out on.

Roll the dough thin and lay into a baking dish or pie tin. Blind bake the crust for 20 minutes at 375*F.

While your crust is baking, saute the shallots in a little butter or olive oil. After about 3 minutes add the mushrooms. When they begin to soften a bit, turn off the heat, throw the spinach on top and cover with a lid to let it wilt. Lightly beat the eggs with salt, pepper, goat cheese and cream. Remove crust from oven, first add the sauteed vegetables into the shell and then top by pouring the beaten egg mixture over. Finish by sprinkling the parsley & scallion over the top.

Place the quiche back into the oven and bake this time for 25-30 minutes. The crust will be golden, the filling puffy and a knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Enjoy hot or cold!

March 14, 2012

blueberry jam

This past week I was graced with the pleasure of getting a new refrigerator, the old one being on it's last leg and sounding in need of a large muffler. The new one is small, sleek, black and very quiet. When I transferred my food into the new one I was struck at how I had been hoarding frozen blueberries and my first though was, these have to go. So I started browsing recipes for jam and came up with one of my own. Keep in mind, this was my first attempt and I was interested in making these to be eaten right away (mainly in the mornings atop my yogurt), so there is no canning or pantry storage instructions on these. I didn't even have a Ball jar, I just used an empty pepper jar I had lying around.
empty jar (preferably Ball)
3-4 cups of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup of honey
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Start by pouring the honey over the berries and let sit for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
While the fruit sits, start boiling your empty jar & lid in a pot of water for at least 10 minutes to sterilize.
While your boiling jar is cooling down, pour berries & honey into a second pot with the lemon juice and start to cook over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit begins to break down a bit and it produces a translucent, tacky juice. It will start to cover the back of a wooden spoon at this point. The jam is finished.
I did not mash my berries and they stayed almost whole which is a texture I quite enjoy. You may prefer to crush yours down. After the jam cooled a bit I ladled it into my clean jar. If you were canning, this is the point were the closed jar of jam would go back in the hot water bath and be boiled for sealing. I just closed my jar and put it in the fridge.
Each morning since making this tasty concoction I have enjoyed it immensely on my yogurt or toast. I look forward to trying it again with fresh berries and even having a go at canning. Lovely gift ideas for giving away to friends and family.

March 12, 2012

about face

Coty Airspun powder. I started using it as a teenager. Even at that age I was borderline obsessive when it came to anything vintage, especially clothing and make-up. Perhaps it was the set of faux lashes my mother wore through high school and passed down to me? Wherever this impulse sprung from I studied old photographs, magazines and books fanatically to figure out formulas and techniques. Enter Coty. I was addicted to their super matte red lipstick that came in a gold metal case, their L'effleur parfum and the loose powder. These classic cosmetics were affordable and easily attainable at the local drug store. The fragrance of all three of these products was the defining factor that reeled me in. I wasn't necessarily aware of that at 15. It actually wasn't until this past week when I passed by a display of Airspun powder that this occurred to me. When the trademark design of gold with white cotton puffs on a miniature hatbox caught my eye, I stopped and wondered why did I ever stop using it? I lifted the lid off and the smell instantly took me back. Then, looking down, I realized that most of the powder boxes were of a new smaller, plastic variety and that only about a half dozen were the original packaging. They changed the box! They were phasing out the old! I had a moment of panic where I almost bought all the old powders. I quickly came to my senses, grabbed one and paid happily at the counter. The Airspun powder is actually a very good make-up and I am more than pleased to have this back on my dressing table. In my excitement I compiled a nice assortment of vintage Coty Airspun advertisements. Enjoy powdering your noses, ladies!

If you would like to read a little more about the creator of these old favorites, Fran├žois Coty, click here.