Monday, March 29, 2010

I left my heart [and charger] in Brooklyn

This past weekend was spent in New York yet again for an engagement shoot.  My time there was pretty great and jammed packed full of things to see and do.  Before the engagement shoot (which took place in Chelsea), Shinay and I had a few hours to kill before hand.  We decided to finally go to Williamsburg in Brooklyn and check out a few thrift stores that we had always talked about going to. 

For me, Williamsburg and I have this love/hate relationship.  Every time I go, I find something that I love love love about it.  Things like the old brownstone buildings that make you ache for warm summer days when you can just go outside and sit on the warm steps reading a book, letting time and people go by.  I like that the people there rid bicycles in skirts and the trees are nice and big with ample shade.  Things there are a lot more calm and quiet than what you normally would think of in the big city. 

And other times, I hate hate hate Williamsburg.  This usually comes about when I see over-priced vegan food or men in skinny jeans walking small animals that are supposed to be dogs?  You don't need to look very hard to find the air of pretentious-ness that seems to permeate certain areas of Williamsburg.  (Side effects include an eye roll and sound of exasperation)
This trip around was more of a love relationship, probably because Shinay and I were doing what we jointly love, thrift shopping.  We visited a few thrift stores and all were a little bit different to not get monotonous.  One, called Monk, was probably the most organized and cleanest thrift store I could have possibly been to.  Now I realize that organized and thrift store don't exactly coincide but I swear that everything from hats to shoes were put in a proper place.  That alone made the store a great place to shop at, the prices on the other hand, weren't exactly thrift store appropriate.  I almost bought a lovely khaki colored button-up dress for the same price as retail but I couldn't really see buying something that I could just as easily pick up at H&M, brand new.  
Monk Thrift Shop, 579 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215-5432
Interesting shoes

Old 45's
Another that stood out in my mind was called Buffalo Exchange.  This thrift store is actually a part of a small chain of stores set up all around New York and along in some other bigger cities across the country.  So I liked the fact that it was very popular.  This meaning that new clothes were constantly coming in.  Buffalo Exchange has a buy/sell policy were you can not only buy used clothing for cheap, but also sell your gently used clothing for some quick cash on the spot.  (This was extremely useful during my later college years)

Buffalo Exchange, 504 Driggs Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11211

Finally, one other store I liked was a thrift furniture store called Junk.  And really, that was all it held...junk.  Knick-knacks and odd bits and ends littered the basement store.  What separated it from other junk stores was the unique quality in the items.  For example, the BF happens to collect cigar boxes and I happened on quite a few choice boxes while there.

Junk, 197 N 9th St (between Bedford Ave & Driggs Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11211

So in the end, my journey to Williamsburg left me feeling the love and wishes of moving to such a lively neighborhood.  Unfortunately when I left New York, all together, I also left my computer charger, so further updates and posts on the engagement shoot will be halted until later this week when I get my charger mailed to me.  (Eye roll at my own foolishness).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Stromboli is an island in Italy

Tonight I tried another great recipe that I tweaked a bit from my new recipe-photo book, Frame by Frame Baking, recipes by Christine France and photography by Mike Cooper.  Since the whole book is on baking and creating doughs of all kinds, I was aware of the time truly needed to bake and create the bread.  Unfortunately I didn't have the patience and/or time.  Instead of making the dough, I ended up buying Wegman's refrigerated pizza dough instead.  Honestly, I had to because well, it was a Monday evening and let's all be realistic about how "Martha Stewart" we can all really be on a Monday evening.  (I'll save my baking-capades for weekends...) 

I also tweaked the filling too.  Along with the simple ingredients of mozzarella, basil, roasted red peppers and a kind of Italian meat, I added sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and for a spicy kick, red pepper infused tomato sauce for dipping. 

I suppose I can now become a person that "swears" by a food because my stromboli was amazing!  The basil (which is home-windowsill-grown) infused the whole pocket with its clean and lemony taste.  The mix of the sweet roasted red pepper and salty prosciutto paired very well. The spinach and mozzarella were a modest and humble binding holding it all together and of course, the added spicy red pepper tomato sauce gave my stromboli that extra kick.

Results felt by others?

Positive responses and smiles...yet again.  Bon App├ętit!
The recipe

Fresh Basil

Store bought pizza dough

Sweet red peppers

I dusted and rolled out the pizza dough

Along with the other ingredients shown, I added sun-dried tomatoes, prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and spinach

Left over flour from the board

Before baking, I had to pierce the dough and brush it with olive oil.


Everyone loved it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Happenings

Yesterday was a fresh Saturday, meaning that I had the opportunity to go home and see my family and younger sister.  She goes to school in Vermont, so actually seeing her is few and far between, unless I spontaneously decide to drive up to Vermont.  So when an opportunity arises to go and see her, I do. 

So that is what I did.  Before I went though, I ended up baking a cake for her.  And since I haven't been keeping up with my blog in this month of March, I thought I'd put something down and do a photo story on my baking-capades.  I don't really bake and when I do, usually the outcomes are met with polite and tiny approval rather than the rants and raves that I hope for.  This time though, I think my baking turned out fairly well.

The book I used was one that I happened upon at Barnes & Nobles in the bargain section.  When I saw it, I immediately smiled.  The book called, Frame by frame baking, recipes by Christine France and photography by Mike Cooper, creates a lovely harmony with both baking and photography.  Each recipe holds step by step photos that beautifully capture the proper steps and processes.  I know that I have already blogged about my respect for food photography, this only adds to that respect.  The recipe book makes me want to get out my mother's old mixing bowl and bake until my heart's content.  (Thank goodness for that new gym membership) 

So I ended up baking a sponge layer cake, something I had never truly done before.  I thought that box brownies were tough enough...joking.  Perhaps my only down-fall with this cake was not by the recipe or baking method itself but rather the transportation method.  I suppose trying to straddle a cake on a glass plate and heavy cover between your legs on the car floor, isn't the best method in cake transportation.  Having just awoken from a brief nap in the car and groggily unaware of a sudden turn left, my poor cake slid along for some imaginary second base and let gravity break it's perfectly set layers, letting lose a few strawberries and plop of whipped cream.  Thankfully the cover itself caught the whole mess and the [brand new]car remained unscathed.  O well, at least I had gotten it to look lovely during my photo-session as opposed to later on the dinner table. 

In the end, the result was met by pure dessert happiness felt by all.  You know a dessert is good when it's eaten happily, there are no left-overs and there's a call for seconds!  ;-)
frame>by>baking, Recipes by Christine France, Photography by Mike Cooper, Published by Parragon Books Ltd

The recipe, sponge layer cake

I let the cakes cool as I prepared the filling.

The recipe called for whipped cream, so I whipped some heavy cream with beaters.
Next I added the whipped cream and raspberry jam on the cake as the filling.
Then I halved some strawberries to place on top of the filling.

Here is the bottom layer of the cake.

Lastly I added the second cake and sprinkled some powered sugar on top.
A close up.

Ready to go!