Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paradise Found

Yesterday evening I was skipping down the paths at the Denver Botanical Gardens. I'm almost 30, but nothing excites me like a small child more than being surrounded by beautiful gardens, lush plantings, overflowing fountains and humming bees.
I was in paradise. Every where I turned were signs of nature's perfect design; ribs of Swiss Chard that looked like they were painted with vibrant watercolors, sweet layered domes of cabbage leaves, and some of my favorite things in the whole wide world, blooming hens and chicks!

We were able to visit the gardens at dusk and were treated with the most beautiful sunset and flowers that echoed the colors of the sun's final glow. Currently the gardens are showcasing a Henry Moore exhibit of twenty different sculptures. I couldn't think of a Moore perfect place to display such elegant pieces and enjoy a perfect summer evening!
Jessie, via Denver, CO

Friday, July 23, 2010


My library covets the Penguin Classics hardcover series redesign by Coralie Beckford-Smith:
(photos courtesy of jessie abrams baca and anthropologie)

[We went into the house by a side door - the great front entrance had two chains across it outside - and the first thing I noticed was, that the passages were all dark, and that she had left a candle burning there. She took it up, and we went through more passages and up a staircase, and still it was all dark, and only the candle lighted us.
At last we came to the door of a room, and she said, "Go in."
I answered, more in shyness than politeness, "After you, miss."
To this, she returned: "Don't be ridiculous, boy; I am not going in." And scornfully walked away, and - what was worse - took the candle with her.]
-Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, pg 57, young Pip meets the ever-daunting Estella
-Cameron: Santa Fe, NM

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mr. Boo and Miss Nikoniko

Images from the talented Sayaka Minemura

Glad to know that making funny faces with you food can be so beautiful...and that I'm not the only adult that still does it!
-Jessie, Santa Fe, NM

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summertime Recipe: Watermelon Gazpacho

Picking the perfect watermelon can be a crapshoot. I've heard to look for bee stings, minimal yellowing, heavy ones, round ones....
I tend to give mine good slap and listen for a nice hollow sound. It is quite the scene to see me in the market slapping up all the melons. Well this last time, I hit a winner! It was so good I could hardly stop eating it while I was cutting it into big fat wedges.
Of course it is always a wonder what to do if you get a mediocre watermelon. You don't want to eat it, or pawn it off on your BBQ guests, but I think I have found the solution: WATERMELON GAZPACHO. Holy molars, this recipe is a dinger! The magic of watermelon marrying a salty and flavorful mess of a little spice, fresh herbs, garlic and veggies, wooo! If you're in to cold soups, this is perfect for appetizers for a BBQ or even lunch on a hot summer day. I like to sip mine in Moroccan tea glasses for an added touch of flair!
The Recipe:
8 c. Coarsely chopped watermelon (which only is about 1/4 of a big ol' melon!)
1 Large tomato, diced
1/2 Cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 Small purple onion, diced
1 Clove garlic, minced (I did two because I like to sweat garlic...and note, it gets garlicier the more it sits)
2 Tbs. Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 c. Extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c. Tomato juice (like V8)
1/3 c. Water
1/4 c. Sherry Vinegar
2 Tbs Lemon juice (I used limes which worked just fine)
1/2 tsp. Cayenne (a little went a long way and had quite the kick!)
Salt to taste

Mix together in a food processor or use an immersion blender, careful not to splatter! The amount you blend will be determined by how fine you want your chunks. I like a bit to chew on so I just did a quick blend.
Chill before serving.
I recommend preparing this a day before you serve it as the flavors tend to come alive after marinating for a bit!
Num, Num, Num!
-Jessie, Santa Fe, NM

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friday Freebie!

Strawberries must be on the brain because I was surfing around the ol' net and came upon these sweet, little vintage inspired tags on one of my favorite blogs, A Field Journal.Photo Olivia Kanaley via A Field Journal
Ms. Liz made beautiful sticky tags to go on her jam, but if you're feeling like a lazy I sometimes do...go ahead and download these, easy to print, easy to cut, easy to impress tags, for free! Click right here, Friday is a great day for freebies!

-Jessie, Santa Fe, NM

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

then & now: petite boîte

(little box)

1. plain wooden box

2. birch wood bark

3. painting, carving, collaging

4. parachuting birdie box

-Cameron: Santa Fe, NM

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CRAFTERNOON: Taste of Summer Strawberry Jam

Strawberry season is here. I get downright giddy when I begin to see the signs donning a huge hand painted strawberry pop up along the roadsides here in rural Washington. To me, there's something so romantic about buying your food straight from the field - where you know it was picked fresh and fully ripe this morning by hard working hands and you have the opportunity to look into the eyes of the farmers as you haul off that flat of sweet succulent fruit that took so much heart to produce.

This year, I've decided to jar up some of that summer goodness to enjoy throughout the year. I made my own strawberry jam. And a learned a few things along the way. I made my first batch the traditional way, with pectin and sugar. It came out good, but really, REALLY sweet! For some who may not know, pectin is the ingredient that makes the jam gel up. But unfortunately, the ingredient that activates this effect is sugar... and a LOT of it! (7 CUPS for one batch to be exact!!!) That's almost 50% sugar for the recipe. If you start to cut the sugar, you end up with a runny product. I was in a quandary because I didn't want to mask the natural flavor of the strawberries with an overbearing flavor of sugar. I wanted my jam to be pure fruit.

In my searches, I ran into an alternative called Pomona Pectin. This pectin uses calcium water derived from citrus peel to activate the jelling process in lieu of sugar. It requires low amounts of sweetener to make the jam which frees you up to use a touch of whatever you choose to use, preserving the natural sweetness of the fruit. You can find it at specialty stores such as Whole Foods. I like the packaging. ;) For a great easy to follow page that teaches you how to make jam start to finish, click here.

To sweeten this second batch, I used a touch of local wildflower honey from Brush Prairie, the town next to mine, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. The result was a sweet and tangy jam. It tastes like a handful of strawberries straight from the fields, instead of "sugar with a hint of strawberries"....

There is nothing like good jam on a seedy whole grain bread....

The numerous blueberry farms around my town will be open for U-Pick after the 4th. Blueberry jammin' - here I come. I can hardly wait. My kids are going to love the pickin' process as well. I am already thinking homemade Christmas gifts.....

- Liz
Battle Ground WA

Friday, July 2, 2010

Frosty Fourth Treats

Summertime always puts me in the mood for popsicles. A popular trend is to make your own using ice pop molds. I haven't seen those since I was like 8! I think it is funny that this nostalgic treat is making such a great comeback.
Photo via Trendcentral
This weekend to celebrate the fourth, I may try my hand at a few home-made popsicles. Here's the recipe for some fun Cherry Cola Pops.

Happy Independence Weekend!
-Jessie, Santa Fe, NM