Saturday, July 31, 2010


Inuit yo-yo.
An object that originated as the bola -a hunting tool made of sinew and bones. When the gun began widely replacing traditional hunting implements the bola was more commonly used as a toy or ritual object. Materially it changed as well -seal skin and stroud became characteristic along with embellishments of beads and fur. The skills required to use one (dexterity, speed, aim, coordination, strength, stamina) are still keen in areas where people continue to subsist off the land.

Friday, July 30, 2010


A selection of nurses's uniforms worn through the 19th & 20th century.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

a midsummer supper

Green & Canellini Bean Salad


I put this recipe together after looking over a half-a-dozen Gazpacho recipes online and reviewing the few that appear in my books. It's a simple and tasty mid-heatwave variation that will satisfy a desire (that you don't even know you have) for full flavors, and at the same time bring your core temperature down. Of course it will taste best if the ingredients have come right from the garden -at least the onions and tomatoes- or from the gardener's garden who sells at your local market. Check the cucumbers to make sure they're not at all bitter. And if you can make it several hours or the night before you plan to serve it the flavors will have time to meld and be their true selves.

3 medium garden cucumbers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 ripe, fragrant tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 medium sweet peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), well seeded, cored and coarsely chopped
1 small red onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small Spanish onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove very fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
a small handful of fresh parsley, stemmed and coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp fruity, extra virgin olive oil
sea salt to taste
1 500ml can tomato juice

Divide the vegetables into 3 equal groups. Place the first group in the blender with a Tbsp of the olive oil, 1/3 of the tomato juice and 1/2 tsp sea salt. Purée to a super smooth consistency. Check the salt and adjust if necessary. Transfer to a large bowl and continue puréeing the next 2 groups of ingredients and transferring to the bowl. Give it a thorough mix with a spatula, check the salt and flavours one more time and adjust by adding more onion, garlic, olive oil, salt. Pour into glass jars and refrigerate several hours.

Green and Canellini Bean Salad

Another simple improvisation.
One note (from Peter Berley): don't shock the beans with ice water! They become water-logged. Instead steam until they give in easily to a fork, then drain and gently lay out on a towel. Slightly warm, very dry beans take wonderfully to dressing.

2 lbs fresh green beans, washed and tipped and toed if necessary
1 can canellini beans, well rinsed
1 can hearts of palm, sliced into rounds

In a small jar, place the following
1/8 cup olive oil
1/8 cup walnut oil
1 tsp prepared Dijon mustard
1 sprig fresh thyme, stemmed
1 fresh basil leaf, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
Screw the lid tightly on the jar and shake 5 or 6 times.

Toss the dry green beans with the rinsed canellinis and add the dressing. Ever-so-gently add the sliced hearts of palm. Chill the salad in the refrigerator for a few hours. Like the soup, it will be much tastier with time to integrate.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

a few photographs

of the frozen compost. I'm kind of thrilled with these. The fruits look as if they've been flocked.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

a snack

Sangria and dips with pita, taken on a rooftop late one warm afternoon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

the druggist

The time is returning when the drug store carries it all, including straight pins.
These photos were taken here in June. Being in that type of historical / museological organisation made me think of this and this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


one yellow bud.
Thanks to Linda and Ernie for the lovely plant from which this beauty came.

E & A

Eryngium & Alium.
Two stunners in the world of flora. The alium's once bright purple faded to a super pale pink after standing in water over 2 weeks. These beauties last.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


The little robed and noseless guy, hanging out on my chesterfield for a few days. He's been dear D.'s for a long time.

And there's news in the world of Steiff.
Pictured above is Margarete Steiff and her nephew Richard, without whose persistence the company, and perhaps teddy bears, would not have materialised.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Olive Oil Orange Flower Cake

Happy 2nd Birthday, Alice!

The basic recipe is from from Deb Madison. I made a couple of changes and added a glaze:

Olive Oil Orange Flower Cake
from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. p 702.

When baked, olive oil has a rich and somewhat mysterious flavor. This cake is high and handsome, much like a chiffon cake. In fact, call this a chiffon cake - people often balk at the idea, but not the taste, of an olive oil cake. Serve this delicate confection with a dessert wine or sherry and accompany with sliced nectarines, pears, berries and whipped cream flavored with apricot preserves.
Makes a tall, 10-inch cake, serving 10 to 12.

4 eggs, separated, plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 teaspoons orange flower water
Finely ground zest of 1 large orange and 1 lemon
1.2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups milk
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform or bundt pan.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then gradually add 1/3 cup of the sugar and continue beating until firm peaks form. Scrape them into a large bowl and set aside. In the same mixing bowl -don’t bother to rinse it- beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and light coloured. Lower the speed, add the flavorings and salt, then gradually pour in the oil. The batter will be thick, like mayonnaise. Slowly add the milk, then whisk in the flour and flour and baking powder. Reach thoroughly around the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well mixed. Fold in the egg whites. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees F and bake for 30 minutes more or until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides. (It’s better to err on the side of overbaking than underbaking this cake.) While the cake is still hot, pour the glaze over and around the sides. The cake will absorb most of the liquid, so let it sit and do so for a minimum of 15 minutes while it cools in the pan.

Place a saucepan on the vented burner of your electric range or in front the vent on top of your gas range.
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Juices of both the orange and the lemon zested for the cake
1/8 cup amaretto or cointreau (optional)
Stir to combine and periodically stir throughout the baking process as the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.
Pour over the hot cake soon after taking it out of the oven and before removing it from the pan.

Remove the rim of the springform pan or invert, if using a bundt pan, onto a cooling rack. When cool, gently transfer to a cake plate and dust with powdered sugar.

Monday, July 19, 2010


A stairway from Belgian firm Stam.

A stairway in Scandinavia, via Skona Hem.

A stairway in a Martha's Vineyard cottage by Hutker Architects.

A bannister painted pale blue/gray in London, via 1st Options.

A pale blue entryway in London, also via 1st Options.