Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Festive Food: Pumpkin Pie

I documented my inaugural pumpkin pie making adventures a while back, at the request of my friend Christine at N'East Style and thought I would let you in on the verdict too. Since this is most traditionally a Thanksgiving dish it is already a little out of season, but well worth the small effort for the unique and tasty result. For the original post, pop over here.

"Before I get to the main event, I just wanted to give my two cents on the topic of savoury as sweet. This seems to be a singularly American tradition that has always baffled me if I am honest. I mean really….parsnip cake, zucchini bread, candy corn (that last one might be stretching my point too far)? I won’t even begin to discuss the confusion caused by dipping a pretzel into chocolate, or …gasp….the pairing of peanut butter and jelly…..ok, ok, please don’t hold that against me. I will concede that tripe, brains, jellied eels, Marmite or pickled eggs are equally as baffling to most non-Brits. Haggis anyone? For the record, I can’t understand sweet with savoury either but I’ll leave that for another day.

I am American by birth (but not heritage) and upbringing until the age of 6, after which we moved to Scotland where I spent my school/college/working years until I moved back to Vermont last year. The duality of my background as an Anglo-American does give me a slightly more objective view of both cultures, and in particular the foods that reflect the identities and traditions of both sides. In addition, food is my career and personal passion so I give it allot of consideration and will try anything. Anyway, I digress…

Pumpkin Pie is in that category of savoury as sweet but is so quintessentially American that you just can’t question it (carrot cake too…I see now that my initial argument is crumbling). I had never baked it before this week and will confess that I was more than a little nervous about tackling this family recipe (my sister-in law’s family). I don’t take cooking disasters well, and I had 8 of these pies to cook for our local Community Dinner (that’s lunch to you and I, it is a Vermont thing). My audience of 60 true Vermonters was adding extra pressure too. A “flatlander” like me couldn’t produce a substandard Pumpkin Pie to finish off their pre-Thanksgiving dinner, it will be the talk of the town for decades!

The following recipe is incredible! The pumpkin filling is mousse-like in consistency and light as a feather. The addition of ginger (and emittance of cloves) gives it a little spiciness and elevates this pie to another level. I am tempted to say this recipe is fool proof. Simple, and completely delicious....I take it all back!

Let me tell you that I am no baker. I generally lack the patience and commitment to follow a recipe, instead preferring to trust my palate and instinct with food. I am also not averse to taking shortcuts. Buy the canned pumpkin pie filling, and a pre-made pie crust. Life is too short.


3 Egg Yolks

1 Cup Sugar

½ Teaspoon Salt

½ Teaspoon Cinnamon

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

1 Teaspon Ground Ginger

1 Cup Scalded Milk

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

1 ½ Cups Pumpkin

3 Egg Whites

½ Cup Crumbled Graham Crackers

9 Inch Pie Crust

  • Beat egg yolks with the sugar, salt and spices.

  • Add in pumpkin. Mix together thoroughly.

  • Combine melted butter and milk in pan on stove. Simmer together briefly. Be careful not to burn the milk! Slowly and gradually, pour hot milk into pumpkin mixture stirring CONSTANTLY. (The idea is for the warm milk to ensure the ingredients blend completely, but not to cook the egg yolks).

  • Beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg whites into the pumpkin mixture.

  • Pour into pie crust. Top with crumbled graham crackers (better if not too finely crumbled, and the more the merrier).

  • Cook at 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Pie is done when the clean fork/skewer test is passed.

Serve with generous dollop of whipped cream or a slug of pouring cream. As my friend Julia would say, Bon Appetit!"

And there you have it, the most uniquely American dish I could muster for a spot about festive cooking. If you are reading this from outside the US, I really hope that you have a chance to try it out. I promise you will not be disappointed with the result.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nutritional Therapy: Food Porn

This short by Jesse Salto, has got to get your juices flowing....a perfectly beautiful vignette set in the 3 Star Paris restaurant of Guy Savoy (found via 10engines). We get a little insight into how the masters do it.

Bon Appetit!

Design Therapy: Oeuf NYC

All this knitting talk (and the start of the bitterly cold winter weather here in Vermont) got me to looking at handmade woollens for little ones. Oeuf is the perfect place to find unique handmade woollens that balance simplicity, character and style in their design.

Sophie Demenge and Michael Ryan are the husband and wife team (French/American) who created Oeuf with the mission to design and manufacture beautiful products for children that were practical, functional and of high quality. The seed was sown in 2002 after the birth of their first child, and the couple have now realised their dream to bring practicality and style to the nursery essentials of a modern family, without compromising quality and safety. Read more here.

Oeuf has a strong commitment to the environment and fair trade, with all furniture being made in Latvia and knits created in Bolivia, the people working on each piece being guaranteed a fair pay and good working conditions, whilst using sustainable materials in their manufacturing. Oeuf tells us "our knits are made in Bolivia by a self-managed community of indigenous women. In line with fair trade principles, our artisans are paid a living wage, which enables them to afford healthcare and education for their children. This product is made from soft, luxurious alpaca wool which is hypoallergenic and eco-friendly."

Oeuf's latest collection of furniture and children's clothing is intended to be a paired down selection of essentials, pieces of high quality and often multi-functions, allowing parents to minimise "stuff" and maximise style. Who doesn't believe in that? Here we go....

Knits for Babies...

Nursery Furniture

It is NOT fair! Kids get all the cool stuff!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Handmade Therapy: Knit one, purl one....

Everyone knows by now that knitting is all the rage. No longer the domain of your granny, this craft is taking over. Stitch 'n Bitch anyone? At primary school in Scotland we had a sewing/craft class for many years, but I don't recall ever completing a knitting project although I did try my hand at it. I preferred the sewing projects, until I drove the needle of the machine clean through my finger....another time.

Anyway, the ladies in my family have all been knitters and both my Grannies were into it. Granny Fox managed to knit full outfits for us all from our own wool provided by a couple of sheep in our back garden in Vermont. I am talking rompers, cardigans, footed leggings, hats, scarves, gloves.....I am allergic. The latest of the clan to resurrect this craft is my mother. Her philosophy is to keep it simple, and create pieces that will have lasting use and a uniqueness to them that just couldn't be bought. Her signature is the baby blanket, and she has created a beautiful piece for each of her 4 grandchildren, most recently for Isobel who arrived less than two weeks ago. I love that they all have a piece of De Oma (her Granny name) to snuggle up with.

I'll let her tell you more...
"I learned to knit at primary school in the north of Scotland (Distant memories of grey woollen socks on different needles -not the easiest thing to start on but we had a stash of sweets in our apron lap bags to keep us going!). I didn't get back into knitting again until the prospective arrival of the first grandchild and thought I would have a go at a patchwork square blanket."

For Oliver, the first born.

"Knitting was becoming fashionable again and I was inspired by my mother-in law who could knit a pair of bootees by tea time and made all the hand knits for our children. Leggings and hooded coats with rabbit ears and bonnets and mittens on a string as well for sleeping outside in the big pram-those were the days!"

F is for FOX, for Noah. Seriously..monogramming? Love it.

"Knitting is a kind of Meditation for me, something centred that I can always pick up and go back to. I knit in soft cashmere or cotton mix as I like the feel of this wool particularly with wooden needles for smaller projects. You can knit on a train (though no longer on a plane), take it with you to fill in the hours wherever you are and the latest pattern is always something to look forward to-a few rows at a time is the rhythm."

A touch of Pink for the first Granddaughter, Honor (the addition of colour was saved until the birth as we didn't yet know what sex she would be).

"I stick to simple garter, stocking and moss stitch but have just mastered cable! Start with something simple (no point in labouring over a complicated cardigan you can buy in Baby Gap). A white silk Lavender sachet with ribbon or cosy hot water bottle cover are both within the grasp of first time knitters.

A simple knitted square pinned to a New Baby card is the equivalent of baking home made cookies wrapped up in a paper bag with ribbon - your time and effort make a gift money cannot buy. Simple knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight is a constant inspiration and worth it for the photos alone."

Hot off the press! The latest blanket for the latest Grandchild, Isobel.

"Now that baby blanket 4 is finished, I am on to the next project- cashmere wrist warmers -first time on 3 needles for a while so watch this space!

Happy Knitting "

One of the first books my mother bought in recent years on knitting was Debbie Bliss's Baby Knits for Beginners. That was where she got the patchwork pattern for the first blanket (below).

The images are the cutest (don't you just want to eat that baby up?) and the projects seemingly simple. They almost make me feel like picking up the needles again. Although I am inclined to leave it to the experts! Thanks Mutt. x

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pretty Plates

Whether you cook and entertain with them, or use them as decorative elements in your home, there is no shortage of beautiful and unique pieces perfect for any occasion. If you think these are too beautiful to use, think again. True, they are a piece of art in themselves but the delight is making each piece a part of your life. Use them carefully and enjoy them.

Lucinda the Giraffe Plate by Beat Up Creations

Tapas Plates by Louche Lab

Edinburgh Big Wheel Plate by Esther Coombs

French Cafe Plate by Rae Dunn

Selection of Plates from Nina Invorm

I have always secretly yearned to have a collection of gorgeous plates mounted on my wall, and pay homage to the retro decorative feature that would make most think of commemorative plates of the Royal family. These would make for a beautiful display. Then I would serve afternoon tea with macaroons and french fancies on them...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Kiki and Polly

The work of Lisa Golightly (don't you just love that "Breakfast at Tiffany's" name?), is beautiful, thought provoking and ethereal. Working under the name Kiki and Polly, Lisa creates subtle yet striking portraits and images that invoke childhood memories, instantly taking you back to a nostalgic time of innocence, wonder, joy and intrigue. Her work often allows you to set the context of the image, and invokes a sense of wistfulness. We can literally see ourselves or our children in her creations, where you can fill in the context and detail for yourself. Read more here.

Girl at the Swings

I took many things away from my years as an Art History major at college and one thing that I always held true is that your own personal perception of an image is one of the most valid and forceful elements in your appreciation of a piece. We want to feel an emotional connection to an image and often that is an intense impulse when you find a picture that really speaks to you. For me, Lisa's work invokes that kind of feeling and I can lose myself in her images.

For the perfect personalised Christmas gift, why not have a custom sketch created by Lisa. Visit her website for more information.

Daily Remedy for...stamina and fortitude.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's a Girl!!!

We are currently celebrating the arrival of a new baby girl in the Fox family and could not be more excited about this wonderful news. We have a perfectly balanced spread of wee ones, with two boys for one brother and now two girls for another. I am one happy Aunty.

Naturally this calls for a celebratory round up of baby goodness...
From Polarn O. Pyret, Swedish simplicity and style.

From the incomparable No Added Sugar, the British label that delivers attitude and style for your little ones.

From Hannah Andersson, cozy, cuddly, cotton sleepwear.

Welcome to the world Isobel Catherine Robson Fox! This one's for you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Retail Therapy: Practical Pretties

If you are like me, you will be looking for a new season Winter coat or boots right about now. Actually, you probably already have that on lock down. Thanks to my stellar purchases from L.L.Bean last year (a down coat and pair of shearling lined Bean Boots) I really do not have an excuse to buy anything new for the next 20 years. But a girl can look, right? Here's what is catching my eye this fall/winter season, for that practical purchase that ticks the swoon box too.

From Sorel...
1964 Premium™ Boots in a gorgeous rich plummy color (cinder). You can't beat patent in my book.

Tivoli™ Boots in a classic houndstooth check.

Tivoli™ Slip Boot (the pinstripe/ticking fabric pays homage to the work uniform of the fabulously iconic, Rosie the Riveter). Don't you just love the "brogue" detail at the front of the toe?
Don't make me choose between these two colors. I want both!

From Joules...taking a major chunk of inspiration from Barbour.
The Byland quilted jacket in Saddle (I have a weakness for this style of jacket, beloved of the British upper class and the Eurotrash set). The floral lining is a beautiful twist.

The Chase wax jacket in Saddle again (this is a decidedly horsey clothing line!). Love the subtle femininity of this take on a classic British staple.

Sperry Top-sider/J.Crew Tweed Buffalo Check Shearwater Boots (heritage/collaboration pieces like this can often disappoint, but here there are so many reasons for this to be right). Steep price tag though...

Damn my long lasting, hard wearing, lifetime guaranteed, sensible purchases last year. I would love to own any of these....surely I can justify another pair of boots?
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