Monday, March 14, 2011

Midwest Blues

Got back from Milwaukee last night. It was quite the trip. Miles upon miles of barren, minimalist landscape dotted with stark industrial horizons. Just beautiful. We pulled in to a little sleepy town named Wausau where the central hub was the paper mill and I took a photo. It made me think of Harlan County USA and everything I think I know and love about the heartland. 

I drove and DP Lisa documented the passing landscapes as well as me.

Rigging camera ghetto style. On this trip I acted as teamster, production assistant, assistant camera, key grip and assistant director. 

Suspicious person... Me? Apparently.

In the elevator at the ├╝berhip brand spanking new hotel Iron Horse in Milwaukee where we spent 2 nights. Yikes can you say outta place? 

In the lobby of our other abode, the Motor Lodge in Boulder Junction - the musky capitol of the world, dontcha know. Don't know if I'm more or less outta place here...

Checking the effectiveness of a polarizer. I think we'll use it.

And what do you take home from Wisconsin? I couldn't take a cow so I had to settle for the next best thing - cheeeeeeese. Of course.

So dinner tonight is MAC N CHEESE. Of course.

With smoked ham and green peas. I looked up a sort of overly fancy recipe but I like cooking so I'm always looking for a bit of a challenge at least.

Here's what went in the pot:

Boil 2 cups of macaroni

Melt 3 table spoons of butter
Add 3 tablespoons of flour and 1 tablespoon dry mustard
Simmer and stir for 5 minutes
Add 3 cups milk, 1/2 cup shredded onion, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon paprika.

Then I had to temper an egg for the first time and I botched it. Not bad enough to toss the whole mess but enough to want to toss the whole mess. I cracked the egg in a separate bowl and whisked it good. Then I added a spoon full of the hot mixture and mixed it. When I added the egg to the big pot it got slightly scrambled. Hmmmm. Anyway, I went ahead as nothing had happened. 

In goes 1/2 pound of shredded cheese! And salt and pepper.

I mixed this with smoked ham and green peas and poured in a big oven pan. 

Melt 3 table spoons of butter and toss 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs in it.

Top off the mac n cheese with another 1/4 pound of shredded cheese and the breadcrumbs.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1/2 hour!

It was the treat of a lifetime to sit back on my couch after my midwestern adventure. Feet up, fire going, some wine, music and my man. Mmmmmmmmm.

I saw this picture in a design magazine in the early stages of house planning and fell in love with the fabric (it also makes up the long luscious drapes behind the chair). Rosemary did some research and found the exact match but in a cheaper knock off. Anyway, for  a second I thought we would use it for drapes in the living room but then we realized that the cleaner look with the wicker shades was better. Right?

(Funny thing is the little spotted Rosemary pillow on the right chair is almost the exact fabric of the one on the magazine chair.)

But I really wanted to use it somewhere...

And this is it! I ordered the fabric (from Calico Corners) and Rosemary is going to sow drapes for the blue room/pastry shop/music studio/Linda's creative headquarters. It's gonna look gagagagaga amazing. We still have a lot of painting to do and a floor to lay but it's fun to jump ahead and get started on detailing.

Oh and since I already ruined my reputation of brassy punk broad...


and have now become someone who orders things from places called Country Curtains I might as well show you the fabric that is becoming drapes for upstairs. Don't get me wrong - it's gorgeous and THANK YOU to Rosemary AGAIN!!!  and will make the bedroom look GREAT but we may have to throw in some token skull ornaments or an Iron Maiden poster to balance it all out. 

I'm mostly joking of course - I want all this beauty and I want it now. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let there be light! And soup.

I'm making a pit stop in Clintondale between random midwestern gigs. Cleveland was lovely. Worked on a commercial for a brand new hospital. I love shooting in hospitals because we can roll our gear everywhere and the elevators are BIG. We also tried the best of Cleveland dining and ate at Michael Symon's Lola's. Holy guacamole. Sam, Niki and I did it up with oysters, deep fried bone marrow and Asian style pork belly as appetizers. My entree was smoked Berkshire pork chops on top of cheesy polenta. The desert - mini donuts and cinnamon hot chocolate and mini french toast with bacon ice cream. Fun as a novelty but in the end, you got bacon and you got ice cream and they should never really be together. The rest of the meal - out-frikkin-standing. So everything that was made GOOD by fasting was made BAD by this meal. And it was worth every calorie.

Next week I head to Milwaukee with Lisa Rinzler to help shoot B roll for a new Alex Gibney documentary. I'm excited to be a part of this VERY important project.

My favorite thing to eat in Mexico was Sopa Azteca. Catering served it a couple of times and whenever we had dinner at our Zapatista coop this is what I ordered. Of course I had to learn how to make it! Turns out I needed some special ingredients but it also turns out I got a super special Mexican grocery near the apartment, Tehuitzingo. Most importantly - dried Guajillo chiles and Epazote leaves.

So with everything in  place I made yesterday my Sopa Azteca day.

I roasted 2 big tomatoes in the oven. Just made a little cross hatch on the bottom and poured some olive oil over them and put them in the oven for about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Meanwhile I chopped 1 small white onion and 2 garlic cloves and placed in the blender. I also softened 2 Guajillo chiles in warm water. Once they were soft I used scissors to open them up. Deseeded, deveined them, clipped them into small pieces and put in the blender. Once the tomatoes were nice and soft I took them out of the oven, peeled the skin off and deseeded them. They also go in the blender. I heated up 1 quart of chicken broth. I added a little broth to the blender so it would puree easier and the rest simmered in a separate saucepan. The puree then goes in a sauce pan along with 1 tbsp of corn oil and simmers for 15 minutes. After 15  minutes add the chicken broth and let it simmer for another 15 minutes.

During the 2nd 15 minutes I got my fixins together. There's fried tortilla strips, feta cheese (which should be Oaxacan cheese or queso fresco but a mild feta also works), fried Guajillo strips, crema, which is NOT sour cream, more like creme fraiche and avocado. Other possible fixins are shredded chicken or pork rinds.

I finished off the soup with salt to taste.

I wish I could have stored the flavor of my Chiapan Sopa Azteca experience and compared it to my own making but I think I got real close. Improvements would be fire roasted tomatoes and home made chicken broth.

While I was in Clevetown, our electrician Rene came in and hooked up the electricity in the pastry shop and bedroom. Yes we are sosososos close and it's looking oh so beautiful.

We finally have light by the little porch. In the  back is a little lamp in the box window. Cute cute and cute!

And by the new side entrance.

And this is one of the bathroom fixtures in place.

A test patch of Farrow and Ball's Citron. Very lovely indeed.

It's been a year now with this renovation. We are due for some reflections back in time I think. The J's (to whom we these days refer to as: REALLY?!) started gutting the pastry shop and the new bedroom around this time last year. Around the same time as we spotted our first Robin in the yard!

Last year we had no idea what was going to pop out of the ground come spring time. This time around it will be like seeing old friends. I'm just hoping everything survived the winter. It was the first one for our Hydrangeas, dappled willows and Rhododendrons. 

Our little pink Dogwood is already budding.

So is the Star Magnolia.

The daffodils are on time.

At least the Rhododendrons are looking healthy. 

I've been quiet about the birds lately but that doesn't mean they're not hanging around. We've been feeding them throughout the winter and they've stayed faithful to us. The other morning I saw 5 Lady Cardinals at one time.

There's still a little snow on the ground but it is disappearing quickly. We are very ready for spring. And for our GREEN HOUSE!