Thursday, April 23, 2009

new digs

While I am very sorry for neglecting the loyal readers of this blog (Alison and Anna), it's for good reason. I started blogging for another lofty and sophisticated internet publication—Zine-Zine. Stop by if you get a chance, and I promise I'll keep this blog updated whenever something crafty falls into my lap.

Monday, February 23, 2009

lemon curd for mr. bird

Seems the only time I bake nowadays is when Mr. Andrew Bird rolls into town, which leaves this blog very sadly neglected. Sorry to my loyal blog readers, all three of you.

Well, that is indeed what happened last week. Bird came and did that thing that he does best—play gorgeous music in gorgeous theaters. As huge as he is these days, Team Bird graciously welcomed a visit with some sweets, so I decided to make lemon curd tarts topped with creme fraîche, blueberries, and candied lemon zest.

Andrea: "You're crazy... do you know that? Crazy."
Mr. Bird: "What are you doing to me?"

Lemon Curd Tarts
(recipe courtesy of the extraordinary Ina Garten)

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch salt

4 lemons, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the tart shell:

Mix the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until they are just combined. Add the vanilla. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into a flat disk. Press the dough into a 10-inch-round or 9-inch-square false-bottom tart pan, making sure that the finished edge is flat. Chill until firm.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter 1 side of a square of aluminum foil to fit inside the chilled tart and place it, buttered side down, on the pastry. Fill with beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans, prick the tart all over with the tines of a fork, and bake again for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until lightly browned. Allow to cool to room temperature.

For the lemon curd:

Remove the zest of the lemons with a vegetable peeler or zester, being careful to avoid the white pith. Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the sugar and process for 2 to 3 minutes, until the zest is very finely minced. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lemon zest. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2-quart saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. The lemon curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat.

Fill the tart shell with warm lemon curd and allow to set at room temperature.

* * * *

What I did was double the recipe and make (1) 8-inch tart and (4) 4.5-inch tarts, just in case you were confused by the photographs. I also garnished the tarts with large dollops of creme fraîche (about a cup of creme fraîche whisked with a tbsp. of confectioner's sugar until soft peaks are formed), blueberries (glazed with warmed and sieved apricot preserves), and candied lemon zest (slivers of lemon zest cooked in simple syrup until translucent).

It's one of my favorite tarts to make. The crust is fairly simple and quick, no chilling or rolling out the dough. The lemon curd is rich and delicious. And it is all easily dressed up for special occasions when garnished to the nines.

Special thanks to my sous chef, Steven (who can zest a lemon with the best of 'em), and Nalin for helping package them.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

my (not so) shortlist of 2008

So here you have it for the two of you that care:

Top 25 Albums

25. Saturdays = Youth - M83
24. Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires
23. Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea - Silver Jews
22. Re-Arrange Us - Mates of State
21. A Mad and Faithful Telling - DeVotchka
20. Youth Novels - Lykke Li
19. Skeletal Lamping - Of Montreal
18. Rykestrasse 68 - Hanne Hukkelberg
17. Nouns - No Age
16. April - Sun Kil Moon
15. Big Star - Haley Bonar
14. The Stand Ins - Okkervil River
13. Attack & Release - The Black Keys
12. Furr - Blitzen Trapper
11. In Ear Park - Department of Eagles
10. Volume One - She & Him
9. Fate - Dr. Dog
8. The Airing of Grievances - Titus Andronicus
7. Real Emotional Trash - Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
6. For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver
5. For Cheap or For Free - The Henry Clay People
4. Dear Science - TV on the Radio
3. You & Me - The Walkmen
2. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
1. Visiter - The Dodos

EP Honorable Mentions

Era - Rademacher
Soldier On - Andrew Bird
Sun Giant - Fleet Foxes

Top 25 Shows

25. Jens Lekman @ The Henry Fonda Theater 3/21
24. Rosie Thomas @ The Troubadour 3/29
23. The Magnetic Fields @ The Henry Fonda Theater 3/2
22. Bon Iver @ The Echo 3/20
21. She & Him @ The Vista Theater 4/29
20. Blitzen Trapper @ The Echo 11/30
19. Nick Cave + The Bad Seeds / Spiritualized / Cat Power @ The Hollywood Bowl 9/17
18. The Henry Clay People @ Spaceland 10/3
17. Sigur Ros @ The Greek Theater 10/2
16. The Dodos / Akron Family @ The Natural History Museum 5/2
15. John Hodgman / Jonathan Coulton / John Roderick @ The Echoplex 11/13
14. Rademacher / Le Switch / Light FM @ Pehrspace 9/6
13. Friendly Fires @ The Echo 8/1
12. Rademacher / Fol Chen @ The Echo 9/29
11. 88 BoaDrum @ The La Brea Tarpits 8/8
10. Radiohead @ The Hollywood Bowl 8/24
9. Daniel Knox @ The Hungry Brain 5/26
8. Of Montreal @ The Palladium 11/22
7. No Age / Titus Andronicus @ The Troubadour 12/2
6. The Henry Clay People @ The Echoplex 11/18
5. The Dodos @ Amoeba Records 4/23
4. Fleet Foxes @ The El Rey 9/22
3. Built To Spill play Perfect From Now On / Quasi @ The Troubadour 9/10
2. Grizzly Bear @ The Walt Disney Concert Hall 3/1 (video below)

(It's like you were there with me.)

...and 1. Andrew Bird / Haley Bonar @ Largo 10/19-20

Best Album Packaging

13 Blues for Thirteen Moons - A Silver Mt. Zion

Song of the Year

Canadian Girl - The Walkmen

Sunday, January 4, 2009

peppermint stick scarf

Honestly, when your day job gets to be so busy that a whole month goes by and you can't get in a single blog post, let alone said month happens to be December (the craft-craftiest of all months), it can make one a bit blue. Not to mention that the pressure is on for holiday crafting and when you're just too burned out to deliver, you feel defeated before you even start. The holiday break has been restful as needed but has flown by so quickly that I haven't even gotten through half the things on my list. No Christmas cards, no baking, no packages sent out (heavy sigh). I go back into my cave, I mean job, tomorrow. And I just had to get in at least one post while I can still get away with something holiday-ish.

So let's just detach ourselves from any sense of time and ignore the fact that it is January 4th of the new year. Here is my crafty contribution to the holidays: the Peppermint Stick Scarf.

This amazingly simple pattern comes from Julie at The Little Knittery, my new favorite yarn shop in Atwater Village (formerly housed in Los Feliz's Steinberg & Sons), who got the pattern from one of her yarn reps (so props to you, whoever you are). I was in there buying yarn for another project and saw this scarf smartly displayed on one of her Danish Modern chairs. I loved that it looked like a vintage child's scarf. The bright red and white, the sport weight yarn, the simple fringe—it looked like grandma knit it for you while you were building snowmen outside your suburban home in 1960 (thank you, Mad Men). Also, there was a certain charm about it not being too long or wide. When I asked her for the pattern, there was no pattern, she just explained it to me verbally and I was ready to go. I kind of love that. It was so straightforward and foolproof that we didn't need to bring ink and paper into it...

Since this is a blog though, I will write out some semblance of a pattern for you (I am not a pattern writer so excuse any incorrect/awkward terminology). And if you'd rather play it the old-fashioned way and have it told to you verbally, you can always call me up. We can chat and catch up too. That's an added holiday bonus to the whole situation.

Peppermint Stick Scarf

(I have since named it Peppermint Stick because Julie did not have a name for the scarf and I have had enough practice looking at Anthropologie catalogs to name it that.)

1 skein Cascade Yarns Indulgence #524 (Red) - 1.75 oz / 70% superfine alpaca / 30% angora
1 skein Cascade Yarns Indulgence #507 (White) - 1.75 oz / 70% superfine alpaca / 30% angora
#9 circular needles 29" or longer

Essentially what you're doing is knitting rows of garter stitch lengthwise and cutting the yarn after each row leaving 10" tails at both ends so that it automatically creates fringe as you go along. Depending on your gauge, you should create a scarf around 62" long.

Cast on 250 stitches of the red. Cut yarn leaving a 10" tail. Join a new strand of red leaving a 10" tail and continue knitting across in garter stitch. At the end of the row, cut yarn leaving another 10" tail. Join another strand of red and repeat. From this point continue alternating between white and red for each row, again, cutting the yarn at the end of each row and joining a new strand for the next. When you have knit to your desired width (I prefer a 4" width total) end with two rows of white and bind off. Straighten out the fringe as evenly as possible and trim to about 6" long. It is normal for the stitches on the ends to become loose.

I used the yarn that Julie used, but you can pretty much use any soft worsted weight yarn that you see fit (and actually the angora in this blend drives me crazy so maybe find something that sheds less). This scarf is also great for leftover yarn since the yarn is cut each row (no worries about having enough) and you can alternate as many colors as you like.

Happy knitting in the new year!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

buttercup beret

The adorable Buttercup Beret by Sweet Sassafras that I've been working on since September? Done and done. It was a lovely pattern to work with and though not the fastest knit with all the cables involved, it was fun and challenging. Perhaps the color in Sarai's pattern picture was off, but I thought she was using a marigold-colored yarn and I was all over it, as you can see. Upon looking at the other pictures of the beret on her blog again later, I saw it was more of a softer yellow which I think is also quite fetching. Ivory would be splendid as well, don't you think? In the queue for the next round...

The original yarn that Sarai worked with was Crystal Palace Creme in Butter, but I couldn't find it at my usual yarn shop. What I did find though was a similar Malabrigo wool/silk blend in Sand which I was ecstatic about since, as we all know, Malabrigo is my yarn of choice. (Side note: The wool/silk is actually a lighter weight than the Crystal Palace Creme so maybe the slightly heavier weight Malabrigo wool blend would work better for this pattern.) As it turned out I only needed one skein... which means I have an extra skein of this yarn lying around as the pattern originally called for two... erm, buttercup beret, anyone?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

the little owl made me do it

She told me to answer these questions in one word (apparently all the cool blogs are doing it), so I did:

Where is your mobile phone? Kitchen.
Where is your significant other? Exactly.
Your hair colour? Natural.
Your mother? Funny.
Your father? Brilliant.
Your favourite thing? Laughing.
Your dream last night? Fuzzy.
Your dream goal? Vandercook.
The room you're in? Comfy.
Your hobby? One?
Your fear? Mediocrity.
Where do you want to be in 6 years? North.
Where were you last night? Here.
What you're not? Certain.
One of your wish-list items? PowerBook.
Where you grew up? Eastside.
The last thing you did? Dinner.
What are you wearing? Exactly.
Your TV? Netflix.
Your pets? Someday.
Your computer? TV.
Your mood? Pensive.
Missing someone? Friends.
Your car? Sexy.
Something you're not wearing? Crocs.
Favourite shop? sugarpaper.
Your summer? Change.
Love someone? (shrug)
Your favourite colour? Depends.
When was the last time you laughed? 6-ish.
When was the last time you cried? Obama.

p.s. YES, my Camry is sexy. Super sexy.
p.p.s. They were tears of joy.
p.p.p.s. I want to see your answers too in the Comments.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Yes, I did sew my own costume. No, I haven't been slaving away with tulle and feathers for the past couple of weeks with grand plans for a Halloween blog post. I made it 4 years ago and many of you have already seen it, so there isn't much crafty surprise to this post as would be expected. I know, I know (sigh)... Halloween... really... I'm sorry. I just got busy (busy being lazy) this year and donned the ol' Björk swan dress to two parties in Silver Lake (for most of the night as the bottom half of the swan with my friend Nalin as the upper half because he didn't have a costume)... and didn't even dress up for a third party in Historic West Adams last night (total loser move, it was the best party by far). No pictures from the parties either, I left my camera in the car (another total loser move). But random strangers took pictures with me so I'm sure there will be a couple floating out on the interweb in the next couple of days, including one where "Tim Gunn" is critiquing my outfit. That should be a good one, I'll keep my eyes peeled.

Secretly, my favorite part of the costume is the Viking Compass tattoo on the left arm. I'm a sucker for details, I am. And I've always thought that if I had a tattoo it should definitely be on my upper arm... because that's just classic. Let it be known that it is difficult to draw a tattoo on one's own arm. Luckily, Nalin was there to draw it for me this year. Graphic designers of the world, unite!

Top Halloween costumes of 2008:

4th Runner Up (because I just met her and love her and she put it together about an hour before the party which was super impressive): Jen as pregnant Renaissance Fair worker on smoke break complete with fanny pack.

#3: Hamburglar from the Historic West Adams party.

#2: Gandhi from the second Silver Lake party.

#1: MC Hammer Pants from the second Silver Lake party. Yes, just a pair of gold lamé pants that enveloped the entire person... crotch down at the knees... dancing around. Absolutely.