March 2015

Last night’s dinner: Jesse’s splayed chicken

melissa clark roast chicken by jesse peretz

These are the delicious perfectly roasted chickens my friend Jesse made for us recently. They look kind of obscene, but man were they good…

Ok so this isn’t technically last night’s dinner. That particular masterpiece is going to have to wait because I forgot to take a picture of the pot roast as it emerged from the oven. But a lovely plate of lunchtime leftovers makes an equally good (and more attractively lit) photo, so you’ll have your pot roast recipe before long,

In the meantime, I give you my friend Jesse’s take on Melissa Clark’s Splayed Roast Chicken recipe for the New York Times. You just need to pre-heat the bejesus out of a cast iron pan, cut the skin and splay open the legs of the chicken so that the thighs press against the sides of the pan, and abracadabra, you have have an exquisitely cooked 4 1/2 pound chicken in 45 minutes. Suddenly, roast chicken becomes a perfectly feasible weeknight meal.

Melissa Clark’s recipe calls for ramps, Jesse skipped that and used some scallions instead. Ramp season is right around the corner, though, so maybe we’ll have ramps the next time we make this… He also rubbed the chicken down with olive oil, salt and rosemary earlier in the day and left them in the fridge to soak up the goodness.

The chickens were perfect. The crowd went wild. Another culinary victory for my friend Jesse Peretz, the consummate host and server up of some of the best dinners around.

Read on to get the complete original version of the recipe — Read more

Fairytales do come true, or the overnight sensation of painter Claude Lawrence (that was 30 years in the making)

My Old Flame, acrylic on canvas, by Claude Lawrence

My Old Flame, acrylic on canvas, by Claude Lawrence

Once upon a time, there was a creative soul named Claude Lawrence. Born in Chicago, he moved to New York City and lived the artistic life of a jazz musician making music in venues all over the city and absorbing everything that the mythical NY of the 1970′s and 80′s had to offer.

He also loved to paint, and while it was not his main source of income, Claude painted and drew and made art with a dogged persistence, creating visual work which mirrored the lyrical and improvisational qualities of his music.

Eventually, Claude moved back to Chicago, dedicating most of his time to working with paints. He was an outsider, both by virtue of his location far from the center of the art world, and the fact that he was self taught.

Untitled 10, 1991, acrylic on canvas, by Claude Lawrence

Miss Rita, 1991, acrylic on canvas, by Claude Lawrence

But a year or two ago, the wind shifted direction, and a body of his work emerged from a storeroom where it had been hiding for many years. Collectors and galleries took note. Two pieces were shown in the Hamptons. Several more went to a gallery in Santa Fe. And suddenly, Claude Lawrence found himself in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, NOMA (The New Orleans Museum of Art), and The Studio Museum in Harlem, among others.

Which just goes to show you that hard work really does pay off, even if it takes awhile.

The Gerald Peters Gallery in New York is currently showing his work and the sky seems to be the limit. The show is up through March 26 and MOMA is sponsoring a reception and artist talk at the gallery this Wednesday (25 March) from 6 – 8 pm if you want to learn more.

Invasion, 1998, acrylic on paper, by Claude Lawrence

Untitled 190, acrylic on paper, by Claude Lawrence

Yesterday, at some point…

birthday candles

For my birthday, I gave myself the gift of not having to completely clean up after my merry band of party guests (aka my dad, sister and nephew) departed. Which is just as well, as it gives me the chance to memorialize, in daylight, the birthday candles that spell out my name. It took just about a half a century, but finally “BROOKE” is one of the pre-assembled names on the rack-o-candles at Party City.

I’m not sure if this is a good sign or a harbinger of doom, but I plan to take advantage regardless.

Yesterday, at some point is a series of photographs that describe a moment I experienced during the previous day (mostly). 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.

If hell is real…

Just one of the piles on my dining room table right about now...

Just one of the piles on my dining room table right about now…

It might look a little something like this huge pile of receipts that I am boring through right now, trying to get my 2014 financial picture together so that I can file my taxes. Or, to be more honest, so that I can give them (in some sort of organized fashion) to more knowledgeable professionals so that they can get everything ready for me to sign and pass on to the IRS.

I was supposed to be done with this awhile ago, but, as you can see, I am far far from that goal. I will be taking a bit of a break from posting anything up here till I finish the task at hand. Please bear with me.

And with God, (and you guys) as my witness, I will not wait until the last minute to do this ever again.

Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

Zimmerman riot swimsuit

Riot cutout mesh-paneled swimsuit by Zimmerman. Available on Net-a Porter.

Just one day into the slightly-less-than-sub-zero temperatures and I’m already thinking about the beach. Jumping the gun a bit, perhaps, but we deserve it, after what we’ve been through these past few months.

Now I’m not sure I’m ever going to lay down $750 for a bathing suit, but if I were, this little number by Zimmerman would be up there on my list. More modest than my usual two piece selections, and yet totally outlandish at the same time. I’m not 100% sure I could pull it off, but I so want to be the femme fatale that wears this suit, that I’m willing to give it a go. (Maybe I need a wide brimmed hat like this one to go with it.)

Now off I go to the corner store to buy a lottery ticket…

Monday, Monday… or more links about changing the clocks, spring cleaning and Bjork’s cave

Watch the above video so that you can explain to your kids (or your roommate) what Daylight Savings Time really is.

And then before you argue about whether or not changing the clocks is worth it, read about how, evidently, the U.S. economy lost $433,982,548 in 2010 because of daylight savings time and is poised to fare similarly today.

One fact that is indisputable: Spring is around the corner. And with that, the sudden need for spring cleaning. Or maybe you’re like me, and the more pressing issue is that your in-laws are about to come to town. Whatever your motivation, it’s time to get scrubbing. Apartment Therapy has a Floor-to-Ceiling Guide to Spring Cleaning that is bound to make life a tiny bit easier– at least on the planning end of things.

And to get the job done in the greenest (and often most economical) way possible, check out Krrb’s super simple recipes for all-natural cleansers.

Clutter doesn’t just come in the form of magazines and snow globes… probably the most overwhelming pile of clutter in any of our lives these days is the digital variety. Here’s a list of 17 apps to help us all deal with clearing the cobwebs out of our hard drives.

Of course we are supposed to be cleaning up our bodies as well as our bookshelves… but if you’re not feeling up to a juice fast, just take one of these cleansing baths instead. So much more civilized.

Or maybe you just want to get out of your house and not think about this stuff at all. The Bjork show opened at MOMA this week and they built an Icelandic cave for the occasion that looks well worth checking out.

Another thing I really don’t need, but totally want regardless

Petronas Sign, by Brian Alfred. On view at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through March 14.

Petronas Sign, by Brian Alfred. On view at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through March 14.

Hands down, the award for best tittle of a gallery exhibit this season goes to painter and animator Brian Alfred. It Takes A Million Years To Become Diamonds So Let’s All Just Burn Like Coal Until The Sky Is Black is up at Ameringer McEnery Yohe in Chelsea for just one more week (through 14 March) and is absolutely worth the long trek through the cold and snow to go check out.

His (mostly) large scale graphic paintings are inspired by auto racing, but to me they seem more about the thrill of speed and how the regular world is abstracted when you move so quickly through it, and less about showy cars and the road. I say this because I can’t for the life of me imagine ever wanting a painting of a racetrack, or anything to do with one, and yet I absolutely fell in love with one of the smallest pieces in the show, Petronas Sign. I suppose I always did have a thing for signs…

One of these days I am going to be a person who goes to galleries in Chelsea and actually buys things. But for now, I count myself lucky to be able to experience and have my mind expanded by work like Brian’s.

It never hurts to be reminded of the potential diamond in every piece of coal.

Last night’s dinner: White Beans and Wilted Greens Stew

Bon Appetit white bean and greens stew

This white bean and wilted greens stew is a good solution for the wintertime blues.

I have stew on the brain, and what with this endless winter we seem to be having here in the northeastern United States, I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’m even seriously considering getting a slow cooker and becoming one of those smug home cooks who just throws a few things into the pot on my way to work (singing all the while, I’m sure) and then returning with wine bottle in hand, when day is done, to some kind of slow-cooked masterpiece.

But I have yet to take the plunge. Plus I work from home.

Instead, I cook stew the regular-people way. And while I love myself some hearty beef stew on a cold winter’s night, I also have been trying to lighten up on the red meat consumption. Which is why this white bean stew from Bon Appétit seemed so appealing. Plus it so happens that I have an excess of white lima beans (also known as butter beans) from an over exuberant shopping spree at the health food store a few months back.

Now dried beans do require overnight soaking, but if you put them in water the minute you wake up (6 am, in my case) they are good to go by around 1 or 2, so you could easily be eating dinner at 7 pm. I actually soaked the beans all day, cooked the stew in the background during the evening while we ate something else, stuck it in the fridge before bed and let it get all nice and flavorful and ready to eat the following evening.

I also skipped the dried chilli flakes, in deference to my daughter, who can’t deal with pepper of any kind. But I did include the anchovies which I think really deepen the flavor without you even being aware of them once the stew is finished. The recipe also claims that the Parmesan rind is optional, and maybe it is, but boy will you be missing out if you skip it.

Click below to see the whole recipe, and be sure you make enough for leftovers as it makes a most satisfying snowy day lunch as well…

— Read more

Make your own tinted lip balm!

DIY lip balm with crayon and coconut oil

Tinted lip balm, handcrafted in about 10 minutes.

What’s not to love?

  • Pick a color from one of the millions of semi used crayons you have lying around (if you have kids, that is).
  • Peel off the paper.
  • Break the crayon in half and put it in a small container (a ceramic ramekin or a metal measuring cup… just something small and non reactive)
  • Add a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil. (for stronger color, use a bit less oil)
  • You can even toss is a bit of shea butter if you have some lying around.
  • Then heat some water in a small skillet.
  • Once the water is hot, place the bowl (with the crayon and oil) in the water, turn off the heat and wait for the crayon and oil to melt.
  • Mix them up till the color is evenly distributed
  • Pour into a small metal or plastic container.
  • Let it cool down.
  • Use your new lipstick!
  • We used a heart shaped tin from Etsy, but you can use small tin or glass jars, or you can really go for it with lipstick molds and containers.

    Non-toxic, like the crayons. Beneficial, like the coconut oil and the shea butter. Beautiful, like good make up should be. A perfect rainy (or snowy) afternoon activity.

    Another thing I really don’t need but totally want, regardless

    Hand turned glass jars by Boston Bottle. On Food52. Photo by Bobbi Lin

    Hand turned glass jars by Boston Bottle. Available at Photo by Bobbi Lin

    Actually, I do sort of need these glass containers because I am slowly trying to wean myself of any plastic storage for my food. And those ubiquitous mason jars can only take a person so far. That said, there is no gun bearing down on my head forcing me to buy these particular jars. But man are they lovely. And they would look so nice on my kitchen shelves. I might even be more motivated to soak and cook the growing collection of dried beans I am amassing… if only they were stored with the dignity these Boston Bottle hand turned jars afford.

    Or maybe I’m just kidding myself.

    Whatever. I’m sure I’ll cave within the next month and buy one or two.

    At least I know myself.