Thursday, April 17, 2014

the south rim trail (a photo essay)


“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature–the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
-Rachel Carson



















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Friday, March 28, 2014

friday favorites: tea towels, napkins & aprons


What can I say? I’m addicted to tea towels. They’re fun and quite practical too. And who couldn't use a good apron? Or nice napkins for that matter?! Here are a few of my favorites…
Enjoy your weekend. See you on Monday!
Xo,

Batya

1. Cactus Tea Towel from Amelie Mancini
2. Vegetable Garden Dishtowel from Anthropologie
3. Constellation Napkin Set from Leif
4. Classic Linen Halter Apron from Quitokeeto (Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks)
5. Denim and Stripes Apron from Stitch & Hammer
6. Woodpile Napkins from Skinny La Minx
7. Pecan Orchard Pleasantries, monogrammed from IceMilk Aprons
8. Brooklyn Brownstone Tea Towel from Claudia Pearson
9. Waves Tea Towel from Leif
10. Ink Blot Tea towel from Pigeon Toe Ceramics
11. Mountains Tea Towel from Fine Little Day
12. Linen Napkins from Coral & Tusk
13. Cotton Apron- Café Stripe from Universal Expert by Sebastian Conran for West Elm

Please note: I have no affiliation with any of these companies and these recommendations are wholly my own. The principle of the firm I work for does have a working relationship with Universal Expert (No. 13), but she was not involved in these selections. 
Thanks to my colleague, Carly Loman at DLD PR, for help with the collage! 
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Monday, March 24, 2014

palm trees in LA + jerusalem's swiss chard with tahini, yogurt & buttered pine nuts

So here’s the thing about being a mother that's taken a bit of time to get used to: I’m very, very rarely alone. I’ve got two awesome boys who depend on me for pretty much everything, and as much as I love them, I was hitting a wall. I needed a break. Not a night off, but a true break—for a few days, at the very least. Thankfully, I had a little cache of frequent flier miles squirreled away, so I booked a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles. I was excited to go back to a city I haven't been to in years, and even more excited to see one of my closest friends who lives in L.A. with her wonderful girlfriend (and gifted cook). But before we get to Los Angeles, here's a little something that happened just before the trip
* * *
The morning of my departure was anything but smooth. My husband and mother-in-law (visiting from NY) had taken Otis to school, and I was left with Theodore and my father-in-law in the house. My father-in-law, Dave, was quietly reading his book in the living room and Theodore was actively engaged in story telling with his new action figures. I saw this as a good opportunity to wash a load of laundry and tie up some loose ends for a work project. I would be taking the entire weekend off-- there'd be no work emails and I wasn’t bringing my computer, so I thought I should wrap things up before I left for the airport. This vacation was going to be all down-time…completely. 

Everything was going according to plan, well, right up until a pigeon  decided to fly down our chimney (no, they aren’t capped) and fly around the dining room for over 45 minutes- crashing into windows and excreting everywhere. PigeonGate was a total mess. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but let’s just say I couldn’t wait to get to the airport...

The flight was a breeze and I landed in L.A. a few hours after departing Denver. I was feeling a bit hungry and an incredible meal was waiting for me at Min's house. There was  freshly baked challah, sweet potato gratin, charmoula tempeh, cucumber salad, and Meyer lemon pie. We made one more dish, a Swiss chard and tahini recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook (below), and dinner was on. We drank, we laughed, we ate, and after cleaning up we walked the dogs for well over an hour. Then I slept like a baby…
The rest of the weekend looked like this...
  • I read the morning paper (leisurely) and noshed on homemade granola (another Ottolenghi recipe) with yogurt.

  • We walked around historic Downtown L.A. and wandered through the Grand Central Market, where I got pupusas for $2.99 and a killer cappucinio from GB. We stocked up on DTLA cheese—and even purchased one with green chiles from Colorado's Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy!

  • We stopped by The Last Bookstore (where I picked up a Martha Rose Shulman cookbook for $6.99), walked around the Old Banking District and then inadvertently wound up on the set of Glee. (How Los Angeles is that?!)
  • We dined at Elf, an wonderful Echo Park spot that serves vegetarian food with Middle-eastern and North African flare. The dishes were flavorful and spicy-- it was my kind of food.  Then we checked out Mohawk Bend, a former theater-turned-bar with an awesome patio, just for a moment. 












  • We made our way to the Pacific Ocean, and then strolled around Venice and Santa Monica. Having worked up an appetite, we stopped by Malo for a delicious Mexican dinner... 

  • And we walked around Silver Lake...a lot.





Being back in Los Angeles was awesome, but the best part was spending time with someone I truly love and respect. As the years tick by, I’ve come to understand that not all my friendships will survive distance or time. There has to be effort on both ends of a relationship. There are lots ways to keep touch, but at the end of the day there is simply no substitute for seeing someone face-to-face. And I'm so glad I got a chance to reconnect.
I'm incredibly grateful that my husband is the kind of partner who supports my independence and acknowledges that we are two people who can't be (and shouldn't be) tethered to each other all the time. There is a value in having your own experiences, in addition to, and separate from, those you share with your family. I also think that my absence made my work in the home, and the things I do with our boys on a daily basis, even more valued and appreciated...or at least I'd like to think so!
Palm trees, friends, walks, art, the beach. Yeah, I could’ve stayed on for a few more days, but two little monkeys in Colorado needed me back home... 
* * * 
Thank you Min and Hil. You are gracious and wonderful in all sorts of ways.
Xo,
Bats
Swiss Chard with Tahini, Yogurt & Buttered Pine Nuts Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Ingredients
2 3/4 pounds Swiss chard (I used two bags of Trader Joe's Kaleidoscope Chard and it was the right amount. I also used 2 large bunches of chard from Whole Foods and that worked too.)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
5 tbsp pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine (I've made it with and without)
Sweet paprika, to garnish (optional)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tahini & Yogurt Sauce
3 1/2 tbsp tahini paste
4 1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tbsp water

Prepartaion
Start with the sauce: Place all the ingredients in a medium bowl, add a pinch of salt, and stir well with a small whisk until you get a smooth, semi-stiff paste. 

Separate the white chard stalks from the green leaves (using a sharp knife) and cut both into slices 3/4 inch wide. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add chard stalks. Simmer for 2 minutes, add leaves, and cook for another minute. Drain quickly and rinse well with cold water. Squeeze the excess water from the chard with your hands and allow the chard to dry completely.

Put half the butter and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the pine nuts and toss until golden (about 2 minutes). Remove the pine nuts from the pan (with a slotted spoon) and then throw in the garlic. If you're using wine, carefully pour in the wine. Leave for a minute or less, until it reduces to about one-third. Add the chard and the rest of the butter and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chard is completely warm. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and some black pepper, to taste.

Divide the chard into serving bowls and spoon some tahini sauce on top, and scatter the pine nuts. Finally, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, if you like. 

ALTERNATIVELY: You can make the buttered pine nuts in a separate pan by gently toasting them in a little bit of butter or oil. Then heat 2 tablespoons of oil or butter on a medium flame and add the Swiss chard. Trader Joe's carries bags of Kaleidoscope Chard that is pre- chopped-- we used 2 bags- and added all of it (stems and leaves) into the pan, omitting boiling step. We sautéed the greens, stirring occasionally, and covered the pan till the leaves and stems were soft. Then we added the minced garlic and stirred for about a minute more. We decided to drink the wine instead of adding it to the dish (the first time I made this recipe). Then we added salt and pepper to taste. We removed the chard and placed it in a large serving bowl. Then we drizzled it with tahini sauce, pine nuts, olive oil and paprika. Enjoy!
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