October 2014

Kettle time

burnt kettle

The latest example of why sleep is really helpful, both spiritually and economically. If my brain would only remember that I turned the water on, this poor kettle might not have been burnt (for the umpteenth time…)

The time has come, as you can clearly see, for a new tea kettle. I don’t want to disclose exactly how many times I have almost burned the house down by forgetting all about the boiling water in the pot… only to be reminded by a sharp and pungent smell of burning metal. This past time, the entire bottom of the pot was glowing a dull red. Let’s just say that this particular pot has used up it’s nine lives.

So on to the next one!

I am, of course, shopping around and taking forever to decide which new model gets the place of honor on our stove top, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to these… Let me know what you think:

Yanagi Tea kettle, from Japan.

Yanagi Tea kettle, from Japan.

Yanagi tea kettle. It just sounds impressive. This is the one my oft mentioned friend Nancy covets, and since, when it comes to choosing stuff for the home, I’d happily follow her off of a cliff, I too am desperately in love with it. Yanagi is one of Japan’s most admired and prolific designers, so it’s got artisan cred, plus it’s made out of durable stainless steel which… well… does not stain.

The Kaico Kettle, also from Japan

The Kaico Kettle, also from Japan

One might think that all good kettles come from Japan, but that is not true. Only most of the really-beautiful-and-slightly-more-expensive-than-I-want-to-pay ones do. Remodelista (a pox on you for being such a treasure trove of lust-worthy objects) has also offered up this lovely kettle designed by Shoei Kogyo. Called the Kaico Kettle, it has a white enamel coating over it’s steel interior, creating a thermally efficient and easy to clean pot. Which is good, because it’s wooden handle means it’s not dishwasher safe (I don’t care as we are dishwasher-free here in Brooklyn, but that may matter to some of you people out there).

Also priceless is the below description of this kettle that I found (poetically translated into English) on the Japanese website Rakuten.com:

To mass consumption in the family in the summer barley, etc Kama in the capacity of a little may be unsatisfactory, but think minutes to consume at any given time to make the just the right size. Size also put at kitchen kettle is also not in the way, love the look is very nice. Using, enjoying the look in the eyes. It may be this comfortable communing daily design leads to attachment.

I mean, who can resist buying the Kaico after reading that testimonial?

The Staub La Thiere tea pot in black cast iron.

The Staub La Thiere tea pot in black cast iron.

But then I think… Hmmm… Should I go back to the white enamel style? Or should I get something made of sterner stuff so as not to worry (as much) about burning the pot again and again? This thought turns my gaze towards the Staub La Theiere cast iron pot, the sturdiness of which I’m sure would have pleased even Ma from Little House on the Prairie. It’s sold on Amazon (of course) but it looks like right now there’s a bit of a sale happening via Remodelista, so it might be worth checking there first if this is your model of choice.

The Dualit cordless electric kettle

The Dualit cordless electric kettle

Or do I just bail on the whole stove top concept and get all modern and European with this electric kettle by Dualit? It’s not bad looking, can hang out anywhere on your counter and evidently has no cord, so you don’t have to worry about trying to run the plug behind the sink and over the spice rack to reach the one outlet in the kitchen. This would constitute a major life change for me, and I admit I am not sure I’m up to it. But I am putting it out there, in case any of you are leaning in this direction.

So there you have it. A few tea kettles to consider. Now the big mystery is in figuring out just how long it’s going to take me to actually make a decision for myself…

Yesterday, at some point…


On the way to the Sag Harbor Ragamuffin Parade

So lets see… we have a wood elf, two dogs, and… is that… Gilligan?

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Monday, Monday– or more links about voting, candy and Ebola…

Hopefully, you’ve already registered to vote. Now we just have to listen to Deee-Lite (from back in the day) and go to the polls next week! Bring a friend– your vote really really matters…

Don’t let the kids have all the fun this Halloween. Make some of these more grown up treats this time around.

Or you can skip the candy altogether and try some of these pumpkin recipes (none of which are for pie).

Enough about fun holiday stuff. Here’s a very thoughtful article about how to talk to our kids about Ebola. Because stressing them out needlessly is not going to help anyone, now is it?

And then I found this on Gawker: “Send us your mom’s e mails about Ebola.” Which is sad, but also funny…

But enough (ENOUGH!!) about Ebola. Kim France thinks we should check out these crazy aerial photos of fall foliage, and so do I.

Oh and apropos of nothing, here’s a course map for the NYC Marathon (happening this Sunday!) so that you can make your viewing plans. It is not to be missed!

Last night’s dinner: Parmesan Lamp Chops

My version of David Tanis' parmesan encrusted lamb chops.

My version of David Tanis’ parmesan encrusted lamb chops.

Today is Food Day here in NYC. Still devoting most of this week’s posts to the topic. Of food, that is. Still cooking all of this week’s dinners from the New York Times’ Cooking website. Still enjoying it very much. And still learning all sorts of things, not the least of which is that it really does pay off to plan ahead for meals.

I also learned, this week, that lamb chops are tiny. I am certain that I have been aware of this fact in the past, but I think it finally sunk in when I opened my box from Fresh Direct and discovered three tiny pieces of meat (for like, a million dollars, by the way). Luckily, my husband had a work dinner, so my daughter and I had a bit more to split between us.

Enter David Tanis’ Parmesan Lamb Chops. It’s a super easy recipe… you just dip the chops in cheese, egg, and bread crumbs (I’d forgotten to buy bread crumbs so I just crumbled up a piece of bread and had the brilliant realization that making one’s own bread crumbs is WAY easier than going out to the store to buy some) and then fry them up in some oil. Done.

We ate them with purple long beans sauteed in butter, and the traditional, almost daily romaine salad.


Here’s the recipe, or go to the site for a more multi-media type experience…


1 small rack of lamb, Frenched by a butcher, about 11/2 pounds, or 8 3-ounce rib chops
Salt and pepper
½ cup bread crumbs, preferably homemade
½ ounce grated Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)
½ teaspoon powdered fennel seed (use an electric spice mill or mortar and pestle)
1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
½ cup flour seasoned with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and a pinch cayenne
2 small eggs, lightly beaten
Olive oil for frying (or substitute clarified butter or vegetable oil)
Parsley sprigs for serving
Lemon wedges for serving


With a sharp knife, cut between bones to divide the rack of lamb into 8 chops. Trim chops of any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
In a small bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan, fennel seed and rosemary.
Dip each chop into the seasoned flour, then into the beaten eggs. Lay the chops on a baking sheet and sprinkle both sides of each liberally with the crumb mixture. Press any remaining mixture evenly over the chops to coat well.
In a wide skillet, pour the olive oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over a medium-high burner until the oil looks wavy. Add the chops without crowding. They should begin to sizzle, but not brown too quickly. Adjust the heat so they fry gently for about 21/2 minutes, until crisp and golden. Turn with tongs and fry on the other side for about 2 minutes. (The interiors should be pink and juicy, but not rare.) Blot on paper towels. Serve with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges.


OK Go rocks the primary colors like nobody’s business

LA (by way of Chicago) band OK Go has been making music since the late 90′s and extraordinary videos to accompany said music for just about as long. They even won a Grammy for Best Music Video in 2007 (Here We Go Again aka The Treadmill Video).

The above stop action video (created by OK Go for Sesame Street) teaches kids the basics of color mixing. More importantly, it is evidence of the magic that happens when insanely creative, thoughtful and talented artists put their heads together to transform a potentially pedestrian topic into a multicolored joyous dance party.

Or, more simply, videos for kids don’t have to suck.

Last night’s dinner

A lovely photograph of Emily Weinstein's corn risotto by Melina Hammer

A lovely photograph of Emily Weinstein’s corn risotto by Melina Hammer for the New York Times.

This fall, I am planning on conquering my fear of cooking dinner. Sure, I consider myself a good cook, though I always need some kind of recipe, at least to start out with. I actually didn’t see this as a sign of my obvious inadequacy until I met my make-everything-up-from-scratch-and-it-is-always-delicious cook of a husband. I am still mildly jealous of his abilities, though I have learned to use them to my advantage by cajoling him into cooking as often as I can.

Which these days, what with his late hours and frequent travel, is not all that much. Still, beggars can’t be choosers, and I am determined to reinstate my kitchen confidence by hook or by crook. Especially as I find my problems to be more with organization and time management than with the actual food preparation.

(To be honest, I think the vast majority of my problems are rooted in time management and organizational issues, but I digress…)

So I’ve decided to try and narrow things down a bit, and to make a meal plan… at least till Friday. For starters, this week, all of our meals are coming from the new Cooking site from the NY Times. Which I do love, though at times it feels a bit overwhelming. So many choices (over 16,000!) where does one begin?

I started off the adventure with a celebration of corn, as this is probably the last week we’ll be able to get our hands on any fresh ears. Enter Emily Weinstein’s corn risotto which I prepared last night to rave reviews.

I made a few changes… my daughter hates pepper, so out it went (sob!) and I didn’t have time to make the corn stock, though I did scrape the juice from the corn cobs into the chicken stock I already had and then simmered the cobs with the broth to give it a bit of that flavor. I didn’t use wine, only because I forgot about buying some and was too lazy to go back outside, and I skipped the whipped cream part (also out of laziness). Next time I might do that last step as it does sound amazing.

But even with all of those simplifications and alterations, the dish was lovely. Light, sweet and a bit like a memory of a 9 pm sunset on a summer evening. A perfect way to say goodbye to one of my favorite foods. Today’s lunch will be a salad that includes the leftover kernels of corn (I bought one too many ears– I couldn’t help myself) and then it’s so long till next July.

I guess I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in fresh apples…

Monday, Monday– or more links about getting in shape and eating right…

SoulCycle polaroids

A few images from my first day of creating a new Polaroid installation for SoulCycle

I have started working on a new (black & white!) Polaroid installation for my friends over at SoulCycle. Being around all of those fitness fanatics has got me back into a bit of an exercise routine. And not a moment too soon, as my summer was not super sporty, to say the least. Below is an assortment of the types of links I am suddenly interested in these days…

Step one of any get-into-shape program is an evaluation of where you are now, right? To find out where you stand, answer these questions and the computer will magically crunch some numbers and spit out the result. Here’s hoping you are 50 and as fit as the average 20 year old, rather than the other way around…

And then there is the question of joining a gym, or trying to fit exercise classes into your already overbooked days. Fear not! The answer is here in the form of the intense 7 minute workout (made famous by the NY Times article) that Huffpost blogger Sarah Klien wrote about not too long ago.

Most importantly, here’s where you go to buy really dope kicks online…

Evidently, this Thursday is National Food Day. I’m not sure how a person is supposed to keep track of all of this stuff, but at least in this particular case, we can now all consider ourselves in the know. Here’s how to find related activities in your area, should you feel the urge to be part of the official celebration.

Perhaps something else one might do, for Food Day, is consider ingesting something altogether unfamiliar. Like crickets.

And while we’re on the topic of food… In an effort to get it together and not be paralyzed by the daily chore of dinner-making, I have decided to cook entirely from the NY Times Cooking site this week. I figured limiting my options would be a good thing (if one can call over 16,000 recipes limited). Tonight we’re having corn risotto, to celebrate the very end of summer corn season…

Yesterday, at some point…

bug trap at the milk pail

A bug trap in disguise as an apple at the Milk Pail orchard in Bridgehampton, NY.

You should all go there to pick apples (and pumpkins) through the end of the month, and then lose yourself (and eat some popcorn) in the corn maize at Fairview farm across the street!

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day. The posts are meant to be stand alone images, though at times I can’t control myself, and I end up expanding the caption into a more lengthy bit of text. Hopefully the extra information is useful, or at least interesting. If not, feel free to ignore it.

Pictionary for real

webster's picture dictionary

The little red dictionary that fits into your (slightly oversized) pocket

The other day, after a trip to my favorite neighborhood hardware store (Crest, on Metropolitan Ave. The only hardware store I know of with it’s own beautiful Tumblr…), my daughter and I stumbled into Desert Island, a quirky shop overflowing with art/comic books. We quickly lost ourselves in all sorts of illustrated worlds and would probably still be there, were we not so hungry for dinner.

I managed to escape with only one purchase (see above)… and how can a mother say no when her kid is actually begging to buy a dictionary? The Pictorial Webster’s Pocket Dictionary is, in it’s own words (or rather, the words of author John M. Carrera) “a collection of G & C Merriam dictionary engravings of the nineteenth century printed alphabetically as a source for creativity in the human brain.” If you see several seemingly unrelated images on the same page, he reasons, you will inevitably begin to make associations, and from these all sorts of inspiration can and will occur.

An interior page of the dictionary, selected at random.

An interior page of the dictionary, selected at random.

Or, you’re a six year old, and you are first excited to see a drawing of a Heron (“Grandpa’s favorite bird!”) before becoming distracted wondering what kind of space alien the Holothurioidea (on the opposite page) might be.

Suddenly the dictionary is transformed from a somewhat outdated tool, into a visual and literary experience that changes and grows with each viewing.

But I digress. Lets just say, it’s a great book with beautiful reproductions of old fashioned engravings. While it is not technically a kids’ book, there is an equally profound experience awaiting readers of all ages, as long as they are willing to dive in. And if you can’t make it over to the east side of Williamsburg (which you should, because Desert Island is a treasure of a store) you can of course just order one of these up on Amazon and be done with it.

Monday, Monday on Tuesday (again) or more links to help get you through Halloween

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens (bhg.com).

Take a break from the traditional leering Jack O’Lantern and check out these alternatives for the pumpkin you are about to pluck from the patch and plop on your doorstep (or table, or shelf…)

Planning on making your kid’s costume? Martha Stewart has some ideas for you (of course). She’s got some plans for your own costume as well…

Or there’s always this eagle mask (hat?) I saw on Pinterest…

Looking for an alternative to that plastic pumpkin basket? A ghost bag could work, or this embroidered one, or this little black-cat-on-burlap number…

If anyone is interested in being a Native American, or Robin Hood, or an elf, this is the bow and arrow for you.

Kids like their candy, but the adults need a little something else to survive this holiday. The people over at Saveur have gathered up these 13 cocktails that should fit the bill perfectly.

Last but not least, give your kids a non-candy alternative with these 13 healthy Halloween treats. And if that ain’t enough, here are 64 more!