30 August 2009

Where to go from here.

So I am supposed to write about that which is the object of my passion(s). I am supposed to write about that which is the recipient of my desires, which is the butter to my bread, the blood to my heart, the frosting to my cake, the Simone de Beauvoir to my Jean Paul Sartre...

In short, I am supposed to write.

When Ernest Hemingway was 22, Paris provided him ample acreage for roaming and plenty of empty chairs to occupy next to the likes of literary luminaries on the verge of lighting up the city with their ex-pat glow polished in the hours spent practicing their verbiage and intellectual mind games that seem to make life more important, if only for the moment.

I've been to Paris. I've been to Mumbai. I've been to Italy and lived in the alps. Although each place held the possibility of a life fulfilled, sustained the hope that is lost suddenly only a few days after returning to a place well known and well lived in called home; although each prospect and realization of being-in-that-place, no matter how romantic or how foreign to a Westerner, never was there a moment to define the rest of existence, to set the next million steps on a clear, flower-lined, mirror-paved path of glory or enlightenment or fulfillment. No, only in the few fleeting moments arising in sudden twinges of joy, by dwelling in the possibility of future prospects where the unknown is romantic and not grotesque, cold or groggy, did that contentment arise. It was before departure, just after the decision was made to leave and usually accompanied by an equally intense fear or loneliness beginning somewhere below the soles of my feet. The hope comes in handy to slice the vines holding the ankles in place and to infuse the mind with some buoyancy so as to lighten the load of loneliness.

What if it's as simple as always holding out hope?

As simple, I should say, as making croissant dough from scratch, as achieving the perfect lightness of hand when mixing biscuits. For if I could awaken to something as angelic as, say, Macrina's buttermilk biscuits with homemade peach jam each morning, well, perhaps I could fall asleep with at least one part of my body wherein hope rests undenied: the tastebud.

These two aforementioned abilities would produce the likes of cinnamon rolls and morning buns and, of course, the biscuits. And with Macrina's cookbook at my side the power seems to be in my range of accomplishment. However, using whole wheat pastry flour produced a lackluster scone and right now the thought of making croissant dough melts me. But there is one saving grace to this mess of not-living-in-Seattle-and-thus-missing-biscuit-by-way-of-Macrina, and it comes from the bible: ginger scones with lemon blueberry filling.

I made these last August and have been thinking about them since. Sporadically, the memory of the scone's thin sugary "crust" which shatters upon first bite and subsequently becomes a crackly reminder throughout the remaining scone to be eaten surfaced, yet the lure of new recipes, new flavors and lack of fresh berries overruled. The cool interior of lemon curd, the chewy bits of crystallized ginger and the burst of berry nestled between layers of cream colored scone add to the multiplicity of texture--cool smooth soft firm--which melts together in the oven but somehow retains original form when the final sitting is reached, at the breakfast table... or hour of tea.
Ginger Scones with Lemon-Blueberry Filling
Adapted from The Berry Bible, written by Janie Hibler
This recipe yielded 11 scones sandwiching the filling. For 22 smaller, non-sandwiched scones and equally delicious results open to condiment variation, omit the filling and bake each disk of scone separately.
Oven: 400 degrees.
Baking Equipment: lightly buttered baking sheet.
Baking Time: about 16 minutes.
Whisk together in a large bowl
3¼ cups flour
½ cup sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda and
½ teaspoon sea salt.
With a pastry blender, cut in
12 tablespoon unsalted butter
until you have a crumb-like dough. Add
½ cup diced, crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon lemon zest and
1 cup buttermilk.
Stir until dough is just wet, then kneed by hand until dough just comes together.

Roll the dough onto a floured surface and flatten to a ¼-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or the top of a glass (should be about 3 inches wide), cut the dough into about 22 circles. Lay half of the circles on the baking sheets and place
1 teaspoon of the lemon curd (1/4 cup total)
in the middle of each circle. Spread the curd and place
5 fresh blueberries (1/2 cup total)
on top of the curd. Top each curd-filled circle with another round of dough and press the edges together to seal. Sprinkle with fine sugar.

Bake scones for about 16 minutes or until the top half of the scone is cooked through. Enjoy warm or let cool to room temperature.

25 August 2009


This is about pine nuts and whole milk and honey. It is about machinery and method. It is taste and consistency and scent and temperature all tied up with bonds too small for the eye to see but strong enough for the body to feel.

This is also about something just as visceral but more ethereal. The bringing back and the leaning forward, coinciding in some odd modernistic dance of the girl who travels far away, lovingly returns home and finds herself propelled and pulled and projected into some other realm where her emptiness might be satiated. She would even settle for another drop in the cavern that has occupied the place just above her stomach and below her chest since she can remember feeling anything; since she could imagine alternate worlds, so far removed from her own yet coinciding with what she knew, what she knows, what she wants to know.

Simultaneously wanting to leave and wanting to stay leaves only limbo to occupy. Bent back at an odd angle with a self-made and socially-perpetuated deadline to make oneself on the chest is the position that lasts too long and exhausts inspiration and beats freedom away with a howl, source unknown. There are day dreams and night dreams and wished-for scenarios yet no simple or obvious path for collecting experiences to create the concoction of last night’s reverie, yesterday’s fervor. Yet there is at any given time an arsenal made of spices, dairy and grain available to the patient, the creative or simply the willing. There is cooking. There is baking. There is ice cream making on a summer afternoon.

My suitcase is unruly. Unfailingly, each time I return from Europe it refuses to accommodate spatial needs. The hand woven, thick yarned, cream woolen sweater from San Gimignano? Rejected. The red wine from Verona? Drink it in Rome. The white leather vintage style Capri car shoes from Siena? Carry them on. My palate, however, is different. Instead of growing smaller by the excursion, it makes room for new tastes, new textures, new memories. Daily habits are flawlessly formed, recorded and deftly executed with a rigidity that only great self-control can sustain. Oh, there are many examples. But for now… gelato. Every night. Rotating gelaterias, varied combination of flavors, sometimes cone sometimes cup. But always, always, the pine nut.

I left Oregon despising peanut butter and I returned with a sudden craving for the nutty spread in a form sweeter and slightly modified. {I also left freshly graduated from college, and suddenly finished with technology, the speed and ease by which people can reach and be reached by a person, turning my nose up at those with iPhone or Blackberry in palm, and returned ravenous for the aforementioned device}. I wish to thank this gelato.

Solid, foundational and warm are perhaps unlikely adjectives used to describe gelato, yet pine nuts have a way of transforming something delightfully cold and refreshing into something akin to that sweater carefully smashed into the corner of my suitcase. Gelato seems to be among the favorite recommendations when it comes to what to eat in Italy and although virtually nothing edible can be recreated 3,000 miles away from the region in which it was first tasted and thus produced, there is always the wild possibility of creating something synonymous and dazzling, something of your region, translated.

It is sometimes enough for the moment to sit down with a dish of sweetness at once provoking a memory and casting a line to potential friends as yet unknown. When the physical can be a symbol of the intangible, when it can calm the highs and lows with a nod to the future and wink to the past and smile in the present.

Pine Nut Gelato
I combined a few different recipes and scoured cookbooks for the following method, roughly based upon this recipe from

Spread roughly 1 cup pine nuts on a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

While pine nuts toast, combine ½ cup honey and ¼ cup sugar in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the just-toasted nuts and process until a consistency of peanut butter is reached. Add 2 whole {fresh} eggs and process until combined.

Boil 2 ½ cups whole milk in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. With the food processor running, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg and nut mixture. The processor will be very full. Keep processing until the milk is incorporated into the nut mixture, about 20 seconds. The liquid should be smooth with a few small pieces of pine nut.

Pour the mixture back into the heavy saucepan and slowly reheat on low for about 10 minutes. Whisk constantly and do not boil. The mixture should thicken slightly. Pour the mixture into a large, clean bowl and cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, whisking until combined. {Alternatively, add 1 vanilla bean [optional] sliced lengthwise to the pan when bringing the milk to a boil. Before pouring milk into nut mixture, scrape seeds from vanilla bean into milk and discard bean. Omit vanilla extract}. Cover bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and freeze after churning.

14 August 2009

new guidelines.

Guidelines for determining design
--both personal and otherwise--
other than the sometimes elusive gut feeling that moves you one way
or the other:

  • Would it fit as a curatorial asset in the town that made its impact on me,
Lucca, Italy

Each day I find a new item to add to my mind's list regarding the benefits of travel,
As each day another is revealed.
Today, this would be it.
Increased self-awareness, facility and
knowing just what it is
that you want.
In short,
decision making
photo snapped quickly before dinner when the town turned lamp-lit as opposed to setting-sun illuminated... in Lucca.

11 August 2009

variations on a theme.

This photo was made by Kari Masterson, a fellow maker of books, in Siena, Italy.

Silhouettes might well become a new theme.

This photo was made by Megan Newell, also fellow maker of books, in San Gimignano, Italy.

10 August 2009

I'm Home!

Still look like Jack Nicholson if I contort my face in the right directions, only now I'm a bit more tan. Six weeks in Italy will do that, I suppose. According to one market employee here in Portland, I also look more mature.

Perhaps. Although I give credit to the tan. Oh illusions.

Or perhaps this is my new look post-graduation.

Give it a few months.

This blog is mostly an amalgamation of images culled from interweb wanderings, falling under categories inspiration and amusement. Please contact me if you would like your work removed from my site.