"Beautiful, serene photos in a grayish pinkish palette. And writing. The writing seems to be aqua, purple, with flashes of red. But that's just me."LPC. September 13th 2009
I think that this is the nicest thing anyone has ever written about this blog. In fact I kind of want to delete all of the posts and just put that up instead. But that would be reckless.
Please visit this post on Privilege to read what LPC has to say about the blogs she is obsessed with. Among them are some of my very favourites and she describes them so succinctly, so perfectly in words that have been rattling around in my inarticulate brain, desperate to escape just for the sheer pleasure of describing something perfectly.
And then when you're done read the rest, because she's kind of brilliant and funny and clever and wise.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Swedish Cinnamon Whirls.
While I wait and wait for time to create new glories I shall relive past ones. And finally give you the recipe I once promised.
I have been obsessed with cinnamon whirls since I bought one in a fancy Swedish bakery in Edinburgh and dear god was it beautiful. Unlike anything I have ever tasted. There was none of that sugary sickly icing crap that you get on your average cinnamon bun, just a small sprinkling of what I have come to know is called pearl sugar. They were almost chewy, slightly bagelish in texture and they had a hint of something exotic in them, an intriguing taste of something magical, cardamom.
For weeks after that bun I fantasised about it. I daydreamed, I lusted, I poked and needled the Boy to take me back there for another one. And then one day I was struck with the realisation that I had an oven, I had flour, I had yeast and cinnamon. Goddammit, I could make my own! And so I did.
As always I tried to follow just one recipe and as always I found it impossible. One recipe is never enough, never quite right. The method weird, ingredients obscure. Two recipes though? Two recipes is best. Take what you like, throw away what you don't and maybe add a little something altogether new. Mostly this method works (sometimes it doesn't, but let's gloss over that ok?) and this time it was glorious.
20g of dried yeast
250ml milk at room temperature
500g plain flour
100g demerara sugar
150g softened butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
40g softened butter
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp water
pinch of salt
preheat the oven to gas mark 8 (23o degrees c)
mix the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast together in a big bowl (big I tell you, this shit's going to grow)
melt the butter and whisk it up with the milk and eggs and then stir this into the flour mixture
knead by hand, or, if you've just been given a shiny new kitchen mixer use the dough hook attachment thingy and knead until it's all smooth and springy and beautiful
form it into a ball, oil your big bowl a little, put the dough back in and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes
After 25 minutes or so roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick. It should be about twice as long as it is wide
mix up the filling ingredients in a small bowl. You're supposed to use 'softened' butter and make a kind of paste. Our butter is never soft as we live in A Very Cold Country and we don't have a microwave so I melted it in a pan, mixed in the sugar and cinnamon and then brushed the resultant buttery loveliness over the dough. This worked. (make sure you cover ALL of the dough, right up to the edges)
now roll. Roll up the rectangle into a big sausage (long ways. Or is it width ways? Whatever. It should be a long skinny sausage, not a short fat sausage) and cut the roll into 2cm slices
line a baking tray (roughly 20x30cm) with baking parchment and then place in all of the rounds, varying where the big ones from the middle and the littler ones from the ends go, with the swirly sides up. They don't need to be terribly snug as they'll puff up and get all friendly with each other before you know it.
Mix up the egg, water and salt for the glaze and brush it over every bit you can reach
Leave for 15 minutes to get duly puffy and then put in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until they're golden and lovely. It seems quite impossible to cook them without some bits going very dark while others remain only just cooked (see above) but I don't think that matters really. The burnt bits are yummy and it stops them looking too professional which personally I think improves the taste.
Life the sheet of parchment out of the tin straight away once they're ready otherwise they will start to get soggy bottoms and then slide what should now be a whole sheet of pastry off the baking parchment and on to a cooling rack.
While they cool brew up some terribly strong, freshly ground coffee.
Once the coffee is ready get out your flowery china, or if flowers don't do it for you get out your china of choice. Pour the terribly strong coffee into tiny cups and tear a piece of cinnamon whirl from the whole. Enjoy then repeat.
It is ok to repeat as often as necessary as there is no icing on these whirls, which whips them far from the realms of naughtiness into a perfectly wholesome treat. Obviously.
Of course if you feel the need to ice them I won't tell anyone.
The Boy's verdict?
'They taste very professional'
'I know, but do you like them?'
'No, I don't like cinnamon.'
'What? But they're delicious. And they taste professional.'
'Yeah. I still don't like cinnamon'
'pffff. Freak' muttered while walking away, clutching a twirl.
I've since found a recipe for Schnecken. Which I quote from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess;
"...means 'snails' which is what these German-American coiled buns resemble. They are like Norwegian cinnamon buns, only more so. By which I mean they are stickier, puffier, gooier and generally more over the top. God, I love them.'
I can't wait to try them and this time I might even remember to take pictures of the process. Imagine that?
Monday, September 28, 2009
. an afternoon to bake cinnamon buns
. a day to bake brioche
. an afternoon to go and peruse the stinky cheese
. an evening to cook crepes and stuff them with tomato sauce, spinach and said stinky cheese before baking them in the oven then eating them at a candlelit table with my husband whilst listening to Woody Guthrie sing about plague and pestilence
. a day to shop for winter clothes. A woolly jumper (with sleeves and a length sufficient to keep my kidneys warm), thick tights, flat leather boots that don't leak, black trousers, a black scarf and a warm hat.
. a week to prepare myself for getting my hair cut. (I may need longer for this one)
. a day by the sea
. a weekend to throw out everything in our office that is not useful. Including, but not limited to, the spare computer, the empty fishtank, the pile of CDs neither of us have listened to since we were 15 and the video player that doesn't work because the rabbit ate through the cable
. a week to deal with the world of pain that is shopping for new glasses
. a week to shop for an apartment in New York (Lillian and Leonard go Stateside baby!)
. a month to throw out everything in our flat that is not useful. Including, but not limited to; three garden parasols, never used as we don't have a garden. Every pair of curtains that every member of both of our families have ever bought and discarded because they're horrible. A vast collection of offcuts of wood/chipboard/mdf/plywood that Might Be Useful One Day. Nine years worth of fashion magazines. Five years worth of interiors magazines. Four years worth of fishkeeping magazines. The spare toilet.
. a month to redecorate every room in said flat
. a week to knock down then rebuild my blog. I want to change just about everything
. a week to attend to the needs of my sadly neglected shop and perhaps coax it back into life
. a fortnight to lie in the sun with my husband and do bugger all
. a dog
. photograph by and courtesy of Penelope Jonze
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
While I'm not a huge fan of the monarchy I can't help but love the iconography of Lizzie's head, circa a hundred years ago, on British stamps and this garland by d.sharp is the best use of stamps I think I've ever seen. I want them just to hang them on the wall...
I wonder how helpful our local post office would be if I went in and asked for a stamp in every colour please? Considering that most of the staff look at you like you've just asked them if you can crap on their coffee table when you so much as try to post a letter I don't fancy my chances.
. garland by and photograph courtesy of d.sharp
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Ikea, while wonderful in many (well, some) ways has done bad things for my image of Swedish style. Without my noticing I became quite convinced that our houses are now full of melamine crap because Swedish houses are full of melamine crap. How wrong I was. Since her move to Sweden Chelsea has been helping me see the error of my ways and showing me that the 'white with splashes of colour' thing that I've been hoping to achieve in our house is the essence of true Swedish style. Don't these pictures of Swedish interiors have a little something ikea about them? But I challenge you to find a single recognisable product in any of them...
Labels: Nest Building
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I've never seen one of my pictures in someone else's home before (someone else who is not related to me), so when I came across this picture on Flora's lovely blog of one of my prints nestled amongst such objets of prettiness the feeling of delight was quite dizzy making. My picture! I took that! One cold, blustery spring day in the park. The Boy was there, I was wearing a pink scarf, he scowled at me when I tried to take his picture so instead I turned to the cherry tree, a much more agreeable subject, and took this picture. And now it sits in Floras house (Flora's gorgeous house where puppies live and flowers flourish and car boot sale flotsam and jetsom finds a forever home.) under the dahlias and next to a funny little pretty little bug....
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I don't have many words today. I do however have a headache, sneezes, shivers, shakes and double vision. Oh joys.
In the absence of words I give you this somewhat oddball assortment of pictures of our summer which has been a lovely one. One of cafes and cupcakes, daydreams and sunshine, friends and food...
. pictures, aside from the first one, by me
. first picture taken by Skinnyimages
Labels: My photos
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The young couple first married on August 5, 1744, when Joseph was eight and Sarah six, and first ended their marriage six days later when Joseph refused to believe, to Sarah's frustration, that the stars were silver nails in the sky, pinning up the black nightscape. They remarried four days later, when Joseph left a note under the door of Sarah's parents' house: I have considered everything you told me, and I do believe that the stars are silver nails.
They ended their marriage again a year later, when Joseph was nine and Sarah seven, over a quarrel about the nature of the bottom of the river bed. A week later, they were remarried, including this time in their vows that they should love each other until death, regardless of the existence of the riverbed, the temperature of the river bed's bottom (should it exist), and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed.
They ended their marriage one hundred and twenty times throughout their lives and each time remarried with a longer list of vows. They were sixty and fifty-eight at their last marriage, only three weeks before Sarah died of heart failure and Joseph drowned himself in the bath. Their marriage contract still hangs over the door of the house they on-and-off shared-nailed to the top post and brushing against the welcome mat:
"It is with everlasting devotion that we, Joseph and Sarah L, reunite in the indestructible union of matrimony, promising love until death, with the understanding that the stars are silver nails in the sky, regardless of the existence of the bottom of the river, the temperature of this bottom (should it exist) and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed, overlooking what may or may not have been accidental grape juice spills, agreeing to forget that Joseph played sticks and balls with his friends when he promised he would help Sarah thread the needle for the quilt she was sewing, and that Sarah was supposed to give the quilt to Joseph, not his buddy, ignoring the simple fact that Joseph snores like a pig, and that Sarah is no great treat to sleep with either, letting slide certain tendencies of both parties to look too long at members of the opposite sex, not making a fuss over why Joseph is such a slob, leaving his clothes wherever he feels like taking them off, expecting Sarah to pick them up, clean them, and put them in their proper place as he should have, or why Sarah has to be such a pain about the smallest things, such as which way the toilet paper unrolls, or when dinner is five minutes later than she was planning, because, let's face it, it's Joseph who's putting that paper on the roll and dinner on the table, disregarding whether the beet is a better vegetable than the cabbage, putting aside the problems of being fat-headed and chronically unreasonable, trying to erase the memory of a long since expired rose bush that a certain someone was supposed to remember to water when his wife was visiting family, accepting the compromise of the way we have been, the way we are, and the way we will likely be. May we live together in unwavering love and good health. Amen."
. image from The Craft Department, via Lovely Morning
. text from Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer via Pink India Ink (who is bloody hilarious. Go, read, if you don't already)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Beautiful French women, with dark hair and dark eyes and fiery personalities.
Many sisters, also as above.
Couples in love, standing by fountains.
Sleepy children, dressed as children should be, in spotty sun dresses with nary an inappropriate slogan on a pink velour tracksuit to be seen.
Very small brides and grooms, stationed to stand guard over very large mounds of towering patisserie...
And so you have the reason that we were in France, a beautiful wedding high in the Alps. Lillian and Leonard's first international assignment (but as of last week, not our last. I have plenty more to tell you about that soon...)
I can't believe that we're being asked to travel across borders and time zones to photograph weddings, but let's not question it, ok?
. photographs by us
I kind of want the whole shoes, not just the clips. Could the colours be any more perfect together?
. shoe clips by B.Poetic, who also make non-shoe flowers, for putting on your lapel, your wrist, your waist, your bag, not your hair.
. via east side bride
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Motorbicycles, very old.
Bunnies, very young.
Shutters, painted pretty colours.
Fellas, playing the accordion in the streets (yes, really)
Cheeses, big and smelly.
Macarons, almondy. Yuck.
Peaches, local and cheap and delicious.
Husbands, in stripes.
Colours, so pretty.
Piglets, spotty and hungry and adorable.
Headlamps and horns, quite fabulous.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
It is a little known thing (here anyway) that I grew up on an island, a little island off the Atlantic coast of Scotland with big waves and big winds and white beaches and no trees. I moved there when I was 12. I told my Mum that by taking me from the city I loved she was ruining my life and that the only good thing about moving to The Island was that we would finally have to go somewhere else on holiday. I was a tad dramatic at that age, and wrong.
It wasn't always heavenly, it could be cold and desolate and inhospitable. The wind blew hard, relentlessly and sometimes fatally. The winters were long, the religion extreme and for many years you couldn't get a Sunday paper until Monday afternoon.
But when it was good it was very very good. When the sun shone, catching the silver shores or the golden grass it felt like heaven was within your grasp. When friends gathered on the beach for a barbecue with locally caught seafood or to fire handmade pots in peat fires then camped under skies filled with more stars than you could ever believe existed, even when the sky darkened and the wind howled and it was undeniable that you were the tiniest, most insignificant speck of life on a the tiniest, most insignificant speck of rock and sand and field, that was enough for your breath to catch in your throat and your heart to beat so fast you knew, really knew that you were alive.
And now, so many years later, having left for a life of opportunities all it takes is one piece of music that reminds me of days spent driving over never ending moors and nights spent twirling and whirling in the local hall, one picture shot somewhere that just might be my island or one faint smell of salt and seaweed and wind on the air and my heart is home again.
. images from the Autumn/Winter Toast catalogue.