Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jewellery whore

Here is a sampling from the Benaki jewellery collection. Pls. excuse
the glare from the glass-- my lens filters are a little over-excited
by all this gorgeousness!!

Textile whore

I've just spent a few blissful hours seeing the incredible textile and
jewellery collection at the Benaki Museum and I'm totally inspired by
the completely uninhibited layering of colour and pattern!! I'll post
the jewellery pics separately.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cape Sounion

Sunset over Cape Sounion (top), Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
(middle), Tastey Boy takes-in the view (bottom).

Parthenon

In my excitement on Sun, I forgot to post a pic of the Parthenon. So,
here you go.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Delphi

Clouds over the village of Delphi (top), Temple of Apollo at Delphi
(bottom).

Wind-swept Fat Sister

A perfect Ionic capital!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Design geek

The placemat and menu at the restaurant in the Acropolis museum.

View of Athens from the pinnacle of Acropolis

My first semi-clad, headless Greek god

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fat Sister & Tastey Boy go to market

Athens Agora.

In all her glory!

The view of the Acropolis from our hotel room in Athens.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Diva who calms me down

I've been super busy at work this week in preparation for taking-off to Greece on Friday. To calm my stress levels, I've been listening to Massenet's opera Thaïs non-stop for 2 days.

Here is one of my favourite arias, Dis moi que je suis belle, sung by Renee Fleming in the title role of the Egyptian courtesan Thaïs. This was recorded on Dec 20, 2008, and I saw her perform it at the Met a few weeks later in Jan, 2009 with Johnny, Nic and Betts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Book of Needles

Of all the things I’ve sewn and embroidered, this utilitarian holder for my needles is probably my favourite. I made it nearly 10 years ago to organise my various sewing needles and it’s held up to constant use (and abuse) and wear-and-tear beautifully. It’s reminiscent of Victorian needle books, but with a heavy dose of Fat Sister attitude and colour!

 [click image to enlarge]

The cover and the pages of the book are made with wool felt and I embroidered the cover girl (a ‘self-portrait’ I might add) on white muslin using 6-ply cotton floss. I cut a square ‘window’ on the front cover and attached the embroidered muslin to the felt using blanket stitch, and also used blanket stitch all around the edges of the cover to prevent it from fraying. The pages were cut with pinking shears, and tacked onto the inside spine of the cover with a neutral darning thread. I finished off the ‘binding’ with a 4mm grey grosgrain ribbon to tie on the side and keep the needles snug and safe.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pretty thread in my craft drawer

I just activated the mobile email blog feature and this is a test from
my phone.

Emergency Frittata

I had family visiting this past weekend, and when I opened the fridge on Sunday morning to make breakfast, I realized I had only 5 eggs left—not enough to feed 4 hungry mouths. No worries, no panic, my emergency, suits-all-palates, quick-as-a-lark frittata recipe came in handy and saved the day as it has done numerous times before.

A frittata is basically a one-pan egg pie and it’s great filled with leftover odds and ends from the fridge. I’ve tried all kinds of combinations of vegetables, meats and cheeses, and somehow it always comes out fluffy, golden and delicious. The process is super simple:
  1. Fry sausage/bacon in a frying pan or skillet.
  2. Add vegetables and sauté.
  3. Beat eggs with milk (1 cup for every 6 eggs), salt, pepper and any herbs, pour into pan over meats and vegetables, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the egg starts to bubble gently on the surface.
  4. Top with grated cheese and bake in a 375ºF preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the frittata has risen and the top is golden brown. 
On Sunday, I did a combo of sage sausage, pancetta, (leftover) stir-fried lima beans, parsley and parmesan cheese. These are a few more of my favourite variations that I’ve made in the past:
  • Chorizo-Asparagus-Goat Cheese (cut raw asparagus in 2" pieces and after adding to pan, saute for 3-5 mins until cooked through; unless you're using leftovers from the fridge!)
  • Potato-Salami-Chives-Parmesan (this is great way to use-up leftover roasted potatoes)
  • Bacon-Leeks-Gruyere cheese (slice leeks in large half-moon pieces like onions)
  • Spinach-Tomatoes-Ricotta cheese 
  • Prosciutto-Arugula-Parmesan (in this combo, I add the arugula and prosciutto on the top after the frittata comes out of the oven—almost like a pizza topping.)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Ribbon Embroidery

I’ve always admired ribbon embroidery and bought a bunch of books a few years ago to teach myself how to do it. But that didn’t go too well and I put sewing with ribbons on the back-burner until I found out that The City Quilter, a charming and friendly needle-arts store in Chelsea that I've been going to for a while, was offering a class—Intro to Silk Ribbon Embroidery. The class fee was a very reasonable $40 and the supplies were an additional $30. I took the class yesterday and spent a very quick 3 hours learning the basic stitches and how to manipulate the ribbon into forming flowers and leaves. I created a small sampler with the “library” of stitches on a 10” x 10” piece of solid cotton cambric.

Back home I decided to continue the sampler and I’ve started adding more leaves and flowers around the ones I stitched in class. I’m not following a strict pattern or design—just going along with a free-form floral motif. I’ve also started embellishing the centres of a few of the flowers with beads. So far, so good.


One thing I’ve learnt is that the end product looks much more elaborate than the process actually is. And I can cover a lot of ground very quickly. I think I’ll make this sampler into the top for a small box, and them move onto embellishing some old cardigans.

If any one wants to take the class, the instructor, Polly Whitehorn, is offering it again in the Summer (tentatively July 25), and you can contact City Quilter to get details.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pantry Basics: Chinese Essentials

For the second post in my Pantry Basics series, I decided to tackle Chinese ingredients. I very rarely cook classical Chinese dishes, but always keep most of these spices and sauces on hand to temper my multi-culti experiments. I’ve consulted my dear friend Betty Lew who compiled this list based on her mother’s extensive pantry and her own culinary repertoire. Betty cooks primarily Cantonese dishes at home and uses all these ingredients to maintain a true balance of flavours—salty, sweet, hot and sour.

[click image to enlarge]

FRESH INGREDIENTS
Ginger, ground to a paste (I peel and grind large quantities at a time in a food processor, store a small amount in the fridge for current use, and freeze the rest in small containers for later use.)
Garlic
Scallion 

AROMATICS & SPICES
White Sesame
Dry Red Chilli
Dried Orange Peel
Star Anise
White Peppercorn
Szechuan Peppercorn
Five-Spice Powder (This is a combination of ground Cassia or Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Anise, Szechuan Peppercorn, Ginger.)
Dried Shrimp
Dried Scallop
Fermented Soy Bean
Dried Shitake Mushroom
Black Tea

STARCHES
Long-Grain Rice (like Jasmine Rice)
Glutenous Rice (like Sushi Rice)
Glutenous Rice Flour
Egg Noodle
Rice Noodle 

 [click image to enlarge]

SAUCES, PASTES & OILS
Fermented Bean Curd
Soy Sauce
Plum Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Hot Bean Sauce
Chilli Oil
Vegetable Oil
Peanut Oil
Toasted Sesame Oil (for flavouring only)

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Matter of Loaf and Death

The Oscars are on Sun, Mar 7. I'm not too excited about most of the films in contention this year, but I thought I'd put a shout-out to my favourite, A Matter of Loaf and Death—nominated in the animated shorts category.

Nick Park and Peter Lord are geniuses and I've been a fan of their Wallace & Gromit stop-motion claymation series from their early days. This new film lacks the amazing visual simplicity and, dare I say it, conceptual abstraction, in their early work (A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave), but it's reassuring to see them return to the short format after the disaster of their big Hollywood feature-length ventures Chicken Run, and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. A Matter of Loaf and Death has all the quirky charm that is their trademark and focuses on the core relationship of Wallace and his eternal pup Gromit. And I don't care how good Meryl Streep is, no one can capture as much emotion as Gromit does by simply moving his brows—brilliant!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fat Sister’s Restaurant Pick: Tipsy Parson

Tipsy Parson is one of those perfect neighbourhood eateries that seems too good to be true—but it’s not, it IS that good.

It opened last Fall and between our hectic holiday party-hosting and freezing weather, Tasty Boy and I have been postponing our first meal there for a while. We decided to take a chance without a reservation and popped-in at the peak Sunday brunch hour of 1pm and were pleasantly surprised by a short 10 minute wait for a table. There are two delightful window banquettes flanking the entrance where we waited and surveyed the lively scene at the bar and the tables flanking the bar. We were lucky to get a table in the pretty back room next to the windows.

The menu is a classic brunch selection focused on eggs with an assortment of sides and salads, and a few regular entrées—all with a down-home, soul food kick. I’d especially recommend the Pig-In-A-Poke (poached eggs sitting on a mountain of creamy stone-ground grits and Andouille sausages), Spicy Grilled Shrimp & Grits, Fried Oysters with Scrambled Eggs. The menu also touts the freshly baked bread/pastry selection and homemade condiments. I’d go back every day just for the Pecan Sticky Buns with Lemon Curd and Banana-Toffee Bread with Honey Butter, both of which were served perfectly warm.

The service was friendly and fast. And we weren’t rushed or given the usual Chelsea stare-down by the wait staff after an hour urging us to leave. We’ll be back to sample the mint juleps and Sticky Lamb Ribs.  :)

TIPSY PARSON
156 Ninth Avenue 
(btwn 19 & 20 sts) 
212.620.4545
 

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar