Sunday, November 29, 2015

MAKE // Gilded Wrapping Paper

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Growing up, my grandparents alway put so much care into wrapping our families gifts. We each had our own wrapping paper, complete with matching bows and carefully written gift tags. The gifts were always wrapped well in advance and sometimes even put under the tree a few days early.
I've always admired my grandmothers attention to detail, and my grandfathers eagerness to maintain tradition. Whether it was brand new pajamas on Christmas eve or even the tiniest stocking stuffer, everything was wrapped with care.

I'm a firm believer in the notion that "it's the thought that counts" and I think that wrapping something nicely shows exactly how much you care about what you are giving. Additionally, as someone who often gives handmade gifts, I want my work to be taken seriously. Handing someone a hat I spent hours knitting wrapped in a plastic shopping bag really robs both the giver and recipient of the ceremony.

We plan on moving in the new year, so this will be a "use what you have" sort of holiday. We have rolls of brown paper that I use for just about everything, but wanted it to be a little more special for the holidays. This idea came Martha Stewart's very first Christmas book (in which 80% of the projects involve some sort of gold leaf). It's our very favorite holiday DIY book--probably because it features her Turkey Hill Farm so much--and I have been dying to try this.

I used Martha Stewart Liquid Gold Gilding and splattered it on to a precut piece of kraft paper. The liquid gild isn't cheap, so I made sure not to waste any.  At first, I really didn't like the aesthetic but once it dried and the gift was wrapped, I was really happy with it. I'll definitely do a few more this way.

Do you have any gift wrapping traditions? Have you ever designed your own wrapping paper?


Monday, November 16, 2015

LISTEN // Caleb Groh "Let It Groh"

Caleb and I have been internet pals since the dawn of time--babies with hot glue guns and Flickr accounts. I watched him build such an exciting creative life across the expanse of social media. Christmas albums, felted animals, music videos; each thing even more amazing than the last. His album "Mammoth Moon" was forever on repeat until I lost my ipod a couple of years ago.

And now this.

Caleb Groh "Let It Groh" from Jordan Bellamy on Vimeo.

Such an inspiring guy! What are you listening to?


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

BAKE // Spiced Custard & Pear Tart


Most of what I know about cooking has been taught to me by my mom, but almost none of that concerned baking. She prefers working with malleable dishes that she could be more spontaneous with; the more exact science of baking never appealed to her. The only time I could count on her to bake was at Thanksgiving, when she would make apple pie. Every year I volunteered to help so that I could steal brown sugar coated apples while I waited for dinner.

My mom, like me, is always disappointed by Thanksgiving dinner. When she cooked Thanksgiving dinner, she hated being confined to the traditional dishes that people associate with the holiday. She thought it should have been an opportunity to be her most creative, but most of my family rallied for cranberry sauce out of a can. I realized this year that pies are the solution to this dilemma.

Most Thanksgiving dinners have at least two varieties of pie; any good Thanksgiving dinner will have at least three. Everyone will expect an apple and a pumpkin pie, but the third pie can really be completely up to you. Have someone bring the apple and pumpkin pies or buy them at the store yourself, and be creative in making your third choice. This Thanksgiving I decided to make a tart instead, featuring autumn's unsung hero, the pear.


Pear Tart with Spiced Custard

for the tart crust:

1/3 cup of white sugar
11 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 egg
1 1/3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt

for the filling

11 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar
2 cups of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, seeded
zest of 1/2 a grapefruit
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of allspice
1/4 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon of clove
5 bosc pears, halved, cored and cut widthwise into 1/4 inch slices

for the glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter for the crust on medium speed until it is a pale yellow color. Add the egg a mix until incorporated. Turn off the mixer and add all of the flour and salt. Starting on the lowest speed, mix the flour into the butter until the dough has come together. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work it into the shape of a disc then wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.

3. After 45 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it out 1/8 of an inch thick. Line a 9 inch tart pan with the dough and line the tart shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with dry beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. Fill the tart shell with your pear slices. Fan the slices of each pear half together to maintain the distinct shape of each pear. Bake for 25 minutes.

5. While the pears bake, start the custard. Add the heavy cream to a saucepan with the vanilla bean seeds, grapefruit zest and all of the spices. Bring the mixture to a boil. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Slowly but gradually add the hot cream mixture to the eggs and sugar while constantly whisking until all of the cream has been incorporated  Adding too much cream at once, or not whisking will cause the eggs to scramble.

6.  Pour the custard over your pear slices, filling your tart. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard has set. While the tart bakes, mix honey with just enjoy water to give it a thin consistency. When your remove the tart, brush the honey gaze over the top of the tart. Allow to cool completely before serving.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

DRINK // Snap and Cider


November is my favorite month for so many reasons. The leaves are just barely hanging on to their branches, and their hues are at their most beautiful. The air is cold enough that I can start wearing my favorite cabled sweaters without hiding them under winter coats. I've finally have the time to make apple everything from pie to hard cider. In a few days we will celebrate Robbie's birthday, and in a few weeks it's also my birthday! Both followed by Thanksgiving. Conceptually I love this holiday; family and friends gather around for a cozy feast without any of the stress or expectations of Christmas, ensconced in gratitude. In reality the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is my least favorite holiday meal (give me an Easter ham any day). So this month, I've decided to share some recipes that I'll be using to make our Thanksgiving dinner a little more enjoyable. Feel free to use them to make yours even more enjoyable, if you're already enthusiastic about this meal.



I personally believe any great meal should start with a great cocktail. Whether you and your family sip on these while you cook, or you have one before you move to the dinner table, this is a great cocktail to start your autumnal feast. The base of the cocktail is Art in the Age's Snap liquor. At this point I've made it pretty clear that I'm obsessed with their products; I used Sage this past spring and Rhubarb in the summer. I've been dying to get my hands on Snap for quite a while, but I held off until it was more seasonally appropriate. Snap is distilled with all of the flavors of a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch ginger snap; molasses, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and clove give this spirit a dark, spicy flavor.



The red wine float that tops this cocktail was as much an aesthetic choice as it was a decision about taste. I loved the plum red dissolving into burnt orange in a way that mimicked autumn foliage. Pinot Noirs from the Pacific Northwest work best for this cocktail. They tend to be smoky and spicy with flavors of dark stone fruits. Don't worry about all the extra wine left over, no one will turn it down on Thanksgiving.



Snap and Cider:
2 oz Snap
2.5 oz apple cider (unsweetened and with no spices)
1 oz red wine

Combine Snap and apple cider over ice and shake. Strain into a coupe. With a spoon face down over the glass, pour the red wine over the back of the spoon. This will spread the wine over the cocktail, lessening the impact and allowing it to float on top of the drink.