Monday, July 25, 2011

this past weekend i...

-ran 12 miles on the lakefront as part of my marathon training.
-helped clean up my church's flooded basement (from the 6" of rain we got friday night).
-drank some leinenkugel's.
-watched the cubbies win three in a row at home.
-went to foster beach and had a picnic with friends.
-witnessed a friend's baptism in lake michigan.
-had my first near miss dooring incident while riding my bike back from the beach.
-saw bon iver in concert for the first time.
-experienced the most phenomenal night of live music.

honestly, i can't get over how great justin, sean, mikey and the rest of these boys are live. i get shivers just thinking about sunday night.

Friday, July 22, 2011

more from the sketchbook project

bre's sketchbook wasn't the only one i took the time to flip through during the 2011 sketchbook project tour. to be honest, most of the books i checked out were very disappointing. maybe that was a fluke. a few of them looked like the artist wasn't even trying. one in particular only had pencil scribbles in it. and not the good, interesting, purposeful, artsy kind (if you know what i mean).

however, there was one lovely sketchbook that made me smile.

uk illustrator lauren peppiatt submitted this sketchbook and it completely made my day (well, besides bre's book, of course). lauren's style is so playful and happy; i was glad i happened upon her book when i inquired about the theme "in 5 minutes."

i love how creative ventures like the sketchbook project bring together people who otherwise might never have connected. here i am in chicago, paging through a sketchbook by an illustrator from the united kingdom. how cool is that?! the randomness of it all still boggles my mind.

my favorite part about lauren's sketchbook was the opportunity to participate! how brilliant! i was all too happy to add my answer to the question: what would you do "in 5 minutes"?

"put on some music and DANCE!"

obviously. i mean, what else would i do??

wonderful job, lauren! thank you for sharing your art with the world!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the sketchbook project

during the summer of 2008 i spent five weeks studying abroad in italy with 19 other interior design students. it was by far the most influential experience of my educational career. it not only increased my knowledge and appreciation for art, architecture and design, but it also deepened my love for italian culture, food, language and traveling in general.

one of the girls from the trip, bre, emailed me last fall to let me know she signed up for something called the sketchbook project. we did plenty of sketching while we were abroad so i was excited to see what she was going to do with this project. her theme was "down your street" and she had the brilliant idea to have her friends from all over the world send pictures of their streets so she could do something creative with them. i jumped on board right away.

bre finished her book and turned it in earlier this year. her lovely sketchbook is now touring the country and this weekend the tour stopped in chicago. yesterday i made the trek to the hyde park art center and saw it in person.

leah and jessica were part of our italy group and they also helped with this project. holding bre's sketchbook in my hands and seeing the sketch of via ricasoli, our home in florence for five weeks, made me miss italy so, so much. i haven't seen these girls in three years but flipping through the sketchbook brought all of us back together in a way. oh, what i wouldn't do to be back in firenze, sitting on the steps of the duomo, drinking cheap red wine and talking about the amazing works of art and architecture we had seen that day..

to ease my longing for all things italian, i stopped by the istria cafe (next door to the art center) and enjoyed a piccolo cup of strawberry gelato. sure, it wasn't as good as the gelato i had in italy but it got the job done.

bre, congrats on a beautiful sketchbook! so glad i could be a part of it.

Friday, July 15, 2011

basil? no really, basil?..

when i first saw that basil was an ingredient in these cookies, i balked. why would anyone put basil in a shortbread cookie? that's crazypants. but then i thought more about it and i became intrigued. so this past saturday i made sure i came home from the green city farmers market with a bunch of basil.

i can't even tell you how hot it is in my apartment right now. my apartment which does not have air conditioning. we're in the middle of the standard chicago style july heat wave. we are hot. we are sticky. but we want cookies. the last thing you want to do in this weather is turn on the oven but what did i do sunday afternoon? i turned it up to 375 and made these cookies.

worth iiiiit.

these cookies have a great shortbread texture: firm, dense, not too crumbly. and the lemon-lime combination makes for a subtle zing when you bite into them. the hint of basil is a treat too, bringing these cookies from a standard shortbread to something special.

they're even better a day or two after you make them because the basil has time to make its presence known a bit more. just try them.

lemon-lime basil shortbread cookies
adapted from bon appetit magazine, july 2011

these cookies are so easy to make, all you need is a food processor. you dump all of the ingredients in and hit the pulse button a few times and bam! you gots you some cookie dough. they don't make cookies any easier than that, my friends.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
     plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
sanding sugar (optional)

preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. place flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zests, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor. pulse until large, moist clumps form. measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll between your palms to form balls. place on a large baking sheet, spacing 2" apart. (or place them around haphazardly as i know you really do. or at least that's how my mom does it.)

press cookies into 2" rounds. (i just used my fingers, but the original recipe says to coat the bottom of a measuring cup with powdered sugar and press down the balls of dough but that was too complicated for me. your fingers will work just as fine.) sprinkle tops of cookies with sanding sugar, if using.

bake until edges are brown, about 20 minutes. transfer to wire rack; let cool.

yield: the original recipe says about 16 but i only managed to get 12 out of one batch. plus i ate three while they were cooling, so my yield was considerably lower.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

arizona: instagram'd

i'm still working on organizing all of the pictures i took while in the desert. so to hold you over even longer, here are some pictures through the lens of instagram. enjoy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

go with the oats

the beaches may be open and the wrigleyville streets filled with rowdy cubs fans, but it doesn't officially feel like summer until i have the smell of sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb making its way through my apartment. crumbles are wonderful because they're typically easy to put together and difficult to mess up. at least that has been my experience.

every time i make one of these i have to resist the urge to eat the whole thing. luckily i have friends who come a runnin' when the mere possibility of my making a crumble is mentioned. those are good friends to have.

this is my all-time favorite summer crumble recipe, so take care of her. she is a recipe to be cherished and made over and over again until there are no more stalks of rhubarb to be found at the farmers market.

and yes, i do have a favorite fall crumble recipe, in case you were wondering. just wait until november rolls around. i will be happy to introduce the two of you.

the best part of this crumble is the topping. the oats add a lovely density that i find other non-oat recipes lack. i recently tried a different recipe without oats, because i could not for the life of me remember where the following recipe was hiding, and i was greatly disappointed with the outcome. thankfully i remembered to look through my old bon app magazines and this recipe and i were happily reunited. 

so trust me, go with the oats. 

strawberry and rhubarb crumble
adapted from bon appetit magazine, may 2010. original recipe by tamasin day-lewis (daniel day-lewis' sister. seriously.)

the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of husked hazelnuts (toasted and coarsely chopped) instead of a full cup of oats. the first time i made this crumble i wasn't in the mood for nuts so i left them out and haven't felt like putting them back in. so if you want more crunch, by all means use the 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. i use an extra 1/2 cup of oats instead.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar (one for the topping and one for the filling)
large pinch of salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup old-fashioned oats (or 1/2 cup of oats + 1/2 cup of chopped nuts)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (or 1/2 vanilla bean as the original recipe suggests. however, i know not all of us have vanilla beans at the ready.)
1 pound strawberries, hulled, halved (about 4 cups)
12 ounces rhubarb, ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
vanilla ice cream (most important)

combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. add butter. rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. mix in oats and nuts (if using). cover and chill. topping can be made 1 day ahead, if ya want.

preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. place 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl. add vanilla extract (or vanilla bean seeds); whisk to blend well. add strawberries and rhubarb to sugar in bowl. toss to coat well. scrape fruit filling into prepared baking dish. sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.

bake crumble until filling bubbles thickly and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. let cool 15 minutes. spoon warm crumble into bowls. serve with ice cream. (highly recommended)

yield: about 8 servings (or less depending on how hungry you and your friends might be)

Friday, July 8, 2011

vacation in the desert (preview)

i just got back from a vacation visiting my parents in arizona, or as i often refer to it, the desert. it was a week full of sun, 100+ degree days, grilling out, redboxin' it, and laughing at my crazy/weird/wonderful family. 

we also got caught in the massive dust storm. did you hear about it? apparently it broke a few records. as you can see, my sister and i were very scared.

more photos and stories to come!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...