Monday, December 7, 2015

2015 Gift Guide, Holiday Foods with Sweet Paul Magazine, Where Women Cook, and The New York Times

This year's gift guide is streamlined. Just the essentials. I curated these objects with the idea you could use them on a daily basis.  Nothing better than living a truly functional and beautiful day-to-day life.  

I'm still on the ceramics kick that seized me a year ago, but what has really come to the foreground is the human, animal, and earth issues which need us more than ever. If any of these appeal to you, they are certainly worthy of your help. 

1. Farm Sanctuary - factory farming is a terrible fate for any animal. What they experience in industrial "farms" is actually torture and imprisonment. Their treatment is so despicable, I stopped supporting that industry as soon as I learned what the animals endured. The Farm Sanctuary rescues these animals and gives them an opportunity to live out their days in beautiful pastures and meadows, as Nature would have intended. You can adopt an animal, make a visit to volunteer, or donate to their general operations - lots of ways to give!

2. Marité Acosta ceramics - this potter makes delicate, organic pieces. No two are alike. Marité often includes little details of spontaneous gesture in her glazes and textures. Her work is a regular favorite in my stories.  

3. March carafe and glass set - I discovered March while on the hunt for props for a shoot a while ago. I love their unfussy and timeless designs. This handblown duo says "drink!" What you fill it with is up to you… ;)

4. Food52 coddlers - I make and store sauces in these, as well as bake eggs to custardy perfection. This coddler design is one of those which has stood the test of time - since the Bauhaus, in fact. Smart, functional, great.

5. Sea Legacy - Sea Legacy uses incredible imagery to awaken us to the urgent calls of climate change. These astounding images, used with conservation and science, can help hold off further destruction if we participate. The oceans are one of the first places to measure what has and what will continue to transpire: disappearing sea ice. Flooding of low-lying coastal areas. More frequent super storms. Less than 2% of the oceans are currently protected. Preservationist and photographer  Paul Nicklen is the founder of Sea Legacy, and renowned contributors such as Cristina Mittermeier, Brian Skerry, and David Doubilet visit the farthest and remote areas to document climate-caused change in hopes it will trigger us all to act. Be a part of the growing numbers of people who say "We must change. We must all live differently in the hope to share a livable future."

6. Doctors Without Borders (Medecins San Frontiers) - Heeding the call for urgent care in war and disaster zones, Doctors Without Borders work in austere circumstances to save the lives of people too remote or poor to receive the life-saving care they need. The recent bombing of their facility in Kunduz is just one more reason to offer your support to these incredible and hard-working people who give their lives to help others.

7. Jessie Lazar ceramics - A NY native, Jessie's hand thrown pieces are easy to love. Her work is bright, functional, and pleasing to hold…I keep her pour spouted bowl nearby for making pesto and sauce, and I even use it as a bowl to eat soup. You'll definitely want to make these vessels central in your life. 

8. Jord watches - I was a watch-lover a long time ago and opted against wearing a timepiece for the last 20 years or so. I liked being left with more wrist space to accessorize with treasured family heirlooms and jewelry pieces I’d made in my days as a metalsmith…However, the stunning appearance of Jord’s modern, handcrafted watches brought me back. I love their designs. Each showcases a different richly-hued wood that, over its life, gets conditioned with your specific skin chemistry. Jord also makes a lifestyle statement in bringing us back to the physical object, and places an importance on craftsmanship with their precision Swiss movement. As an added bonus, they custom sizing for your own wrist so that when you receive your new piece, it's ready to wear! It’s easy to fall in love with both men’s and women’s lines - see for yourself.

9. Dwell Design totem candles - These made in the USA candles are iconic and yet super simple. I love that they are made from natural beeswax - both for their hue as well as their scent. I've become more sensitive to the blaring notes of synthetic fragrances over the years, and the earthy scent of beeswax is subtle and inviting. Plus, they enhance any space: whether lit, or simply as sculptural forms. 

10. Colleen Hennessy ceramics at Quitokeeto - I discovered Colleen's work a while back through a Quitokeeto shop update and have been in love since. Simple forms, clean lines, easy care It is fun weaving her work in with others' whom I treasure. I especially like finding the similarities which make them all a "family" of pieces as I produce new stories for my clients, or eat from them after a long day's work. 

Before the full throttle of the holidays sets in, we strolled around our neighborhood this weekend, soaking in the brisk day and warming sun. Photo by sweet husband and fellow photographer, Jim.

Whatever your tendencies as the year winds down, I hope there is something special here for you and your loved ones. The individual makers - as well as the animals, and the Earth - thank you.


Out now, I produced a new and delicious story in the Holiday issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. It started with an interest to produce Julia Child's beef bourguignon and grew into a heady mix of savory layers, to be displayed upon antique books and objects I collected over the years. In addition to the delectable beef bourguignon,  I made a fantastic crispy skin porchetta (tied before cooking into a bundle, below), as well as juniper-encrusted venison backstrap with a dried cherry-green peppercorn beurre rouge, an umami ragu with fennel, anchovies, and nutmeg, and cornish hens roasted with tiny onions and lemons. 

You can see the full story by purchasing the PDF version, here

And, just before our over-the-top-epic long distance move (thankfully, now behind us!), I produced eight stories in the lead-up to Thanksgiving for the New York Times: two turkeys, three stuffings, and a creamed spinach! NBD.

I can assure you each and every one was quite edible, worthy of any special meal. 

This terrific bone-in turkey breast

Simple and great cornbread

Pierre Franey's creamed spinach (I doubled the nutmeg and loved it)

An intoxicating, buttery dressing

Perfect way to use that cornbread? In this delicious stuffing...

Cranberry jelly with Lillet and juniper berries

Juicy spatchcock turkey from Mark Bittman

Sourdough morel stuffing with dried cherries and walnuts
Perhaps one of these will make an appearance on your Christmas menu!

The winter 2016 Where Women Cook contains the first of a new column I am producing.  It is called Creating from the Bounty. To soothe and nourish you, I made a savory winter strata - it's an excellent holiday brunch to serve guests, and versatile enough to make for a simple weeknight dinner.

I also produced a feature with Kristen Farmer Hall, of Birmingham's Baking Bandits. It was so much fun to showcase her pastries and highlight another woman doing it right. 

Here's to making quality time, even if a few moments at a time, to slow down and be with the ones we cherish. Our challenge seems more than ever to allow the holidays to actually replenish our spirits. Doing it, though, makes all the difference. Thanks for your love and support! xxx