29 April 2012

apple pie cinnamon rolls


How to make Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls:

- Prepare your favorite recipe for cinnamon buns.

- After you have rolled out the dough, and you have spread the butter or margarine over the surface but not yet sprinkled on cinnamon sugar — take a can of apple pie filling and finely chop the (gooey, gooey) apples. Spread these over the margarine, then pour on that furry cinnamon-brown-sugar goodness. Roll up, slice, let rise, and bake as usual.

- While buns are rising, whip up some delicious cream cheese frosting — but add a healthy glug of bourbon to the mixture. (And vanilla, lots of vanilla.)

If you have a vanilla bean on hand, scrape out one half of it into your frosting instead of using vanilla extract. I dreamed of making an extra-thick icing accented with vanilla bean bits, then topping the buns with cute little melting, speckled scoops — faux à la mode!

Alas, for my batch this was not meant to be, but the rolls still tasted like some scrumptious apple danish / cinnamon bun hybrid with a naughty dash of booze.


26 April 2012

a foodie post: birthday noms



I need to think of some new category for posts that are basically just snapshots from my wanderings. Yes, almost every single one involves food...because that's just the way my life goes...but I wouldn't qualify all of them as "foodie posts."

This one, however, features its fair share of eating. Particularly since my birthday would involve nothing less than exploring via the tastebuds.

March 24 was my golden birthday—and I couldn't have asked for a lovelier one.

There was bahn mi, followed by a concert. There was a Trader Joe's run and a night of cooking.

There was a magical day that involved pie for breakfast, blood orange donuts on the ferry, finding British treats, eating sliders and Guinness milkshakes (omg), and traipsing to bars that featured free popcorn and board games galore.

Sunday we made stuffed French toast, saw a tween-filled Hunger Games (maybe a matinee wasn't the best idea), and feasted at Calexico (cilantro fries with crack sauce and you can't go wrong).

Oh yeah. And we bought birthday cake-flavored Oreos. A fitting discovery!

I am so grateful to the kind friends who took me out, meeting me for both beers and quesadillas — and for a  sweet-as-pie significant other who flew across the country to see me. I feel very fortunate to have had an excuse to celebrate with people I love, to escape the real world for a little while, to splurge on groceries and good cheese, to revel in the little delights and discoveries a new city can hold.


22 April 2012

mix no. 12


Well hello, friends. I hope you're excited, because it's time for my mix magnum opus: a harpsichord mix!

In case you haven't heard of the harpsichord, here's the most succinct way I can think to describe it: You know that instrument they play in movies when things are getting real bougie real fast, Marie Antoinette style? Yeah, that's the one.

But while it was the forte of classical greats like Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann (thanks Dad!), the harpsichord also had a comeback in the 1960s, and has been making rock, baroque pop,  indie ditties, and even rap that much sweeter ever since.

I'm not sure what it is about the harpsichord that floats my boat, but whenever I hear its tinny strains on the radio, I have to grin. (And I notice it hardcore since putting this thing together, let me tell you. I only just realized last week that my favorite Cat Stevens song features the instrument at 2:34!)

It also seems like every great band ever has used the harpsichord at some point, as visible from the eclectic list below (and including several artists not featured here: The Beatles, Tori Amos, Marianne Faithfull, Donovan, The Decemberists...) Maybe after giving this mix a try — if you haven't overdosed on harpsichord, which is highly possible, haha —  you'll start to appreciate and notice its awesome influence as well.


01.  Clover Over Dover - Blur 
02.  Ottoman - Vampire Weekend
03.  Waiting for the Moon to Rise - Belle and Sebastian
04.  Walk Away Renee - The Left Banke
05.  Golden Brown - The Stranglers
06.  (We've Got) Honey Love - The Velvelettes
07.  Village Green - The Kinks
08.  Take Care - Beach House
09.  I Wanna Be Where You Are - Michael Jackson
10.  Half A World Away - R.E.M.
11.  Monday, Monday - The Mamas and The Papas
12.  Peach, Plum, Pear - Joanna Newsom
13.  Ride Easy - Asia
14.  I've Got Something On My Mind - The Left Banke
15.  Wintertime Love - The Doors
16.  Horse and I - Bat for Lashes
17.  Sugar Town - Nancy Sinatra
18.  Biggest Fan - Brendan Benson
19.  Rosemary Rose - The Kinks
20.  For Your Love - The Yardbirds
21.  Too Afraid to Love You - The Black Keys
22.  Teardrop - Massive Attack
23.  I Think I Love You - The Partridge Family
24.  Time Of Your Song - Matisyahu
25.  Leaves That Are Green - Simon and Garfunkel
26.  The Model - Belle and Sebastian
27.  We Live Again - Beck
28.  When I Grow Up To Be A Man - The Beach Boys
29.  Play With Fire - The Rolling Stones
30.  I Want Her She Wants Me - The Zombies
31.  M79 - Vampire Weekend
32.  Heaven Heath - Mellow Candle
33.  Polichinelle - France Gall
34.  Junk Bond Trader - Elliott Smith
35.  Everything Is Sunshine - The Hollies
36.  Hold Me - Fleetwood Mac
37.  Wet Sand - Red Hot Chili Peppers
38.  Black Cab - Jens Lekman

Original harpsichord image via here.

19 April 2012

the rekindling


Recently — I don't remember why — I got a craving for England. I craved a place, a land and its scents and the foods that flavor my memory — Crunchie bars, scones with clotted cream, tuna melt paninis, cider, caramel slice.

I've tried to bake my own caramel slice (to no avail), but I can't very well make Cadbury confections at home. And then it dawned on me: "You reside in the place that probably has more international foods available than anywhere else in the United States. What are you waiting for?"

Over my birthday weekend the boy and I found our way to Myers of Keswick, a shop that smells of home-baked savory pies. We left clutching imported chocolates and Roast Chicken crisps and felt like winners (it's okay if you're laughing at me right now, UK readers) — and I also felt like a new world was opening to me.

Now I dream of having cream tea at Tea and Sympathy. I want to explore Asian supermarkets to admire the pretty packaged treats, to look for ever-elusive Japanese Kit Kat bars. I've heard of Scandinavian grocery stores in Bay Ridge, abundant Indian spice shops, and an overwhelming candy aisle at Fairway. Next up I want to sample Australian fare at the Tuck Shop (Tim Tams here I come!).

I guess I continue to be amazed at how small things can inspire us. Finally, after a rough winter, I feel like my curiosity, passion for discovery and trying new things, and lust for life are back, thanks in part to one simple adventure. It began with a handful of candy and hopefully ends with cherry-blossom hunting this weekend, with tackling my New York to-do list in earnest, with satiating my wanderlust by taking a virtual world tour through the city.

(For further reading...I also wax on the splendors of international grocery shopping here.)

07 April 2012

three favorite: nineties teen comedies


1999 was a good year. Three of my favorite guilty pleasure teen comedies came out in 1999, films so endearing that whenever they come on USA or some other rerun channel, I stop whatever I'm doing and watch them for the hundredth time.

They're classic formulaic films, each complete with some bet or ruse and the inevitable hook-up of the "unlikely" couple. (And a prom!) But each climaxes with a romantic, melt-worthy line and a euphoric song heralding realized love—which, apparently, gets me every time.

I didn't comprehend just how much these movie moments have cemented themselves in my subconscious until I noticed that half of the songs on my recent love mix are from films! It's funny to me that whenever I hear the opening chords of "Don't Worry Baby," I get butterflies that are probably as equally due to my associations with the happy final scene of Never Been Kissed as to the innate beauty of the song.

Thanks, '90s.

(Warning: Spoiler alerts...or are they?!)

(Honorable mention: "Cruel to be Kind" by Letters to Cleo. You know you love it.)

The scene: Patrick and Kat are finally falling for each other. They play hooky and go on the best date ever: paintball, except instead of painful little pellets they're lobbing paint-filled balloons at each other. WTF? Why can't this pastime exist where I am?! They adorably splash each other with paint before a literal roll in the hay. I'll admit this is my favorite movie kiss of all time. I go all wobbly when he touches her face and her arm curls around him.

The scene: Popular Nicole and indie boy Chase were pretending to date to make their S.O.s jealous—until they started to actually fall for each other. Uh-oh! At prom they reconcile and begin to dance, and continuing the sarcastic repartee that I think makes this a standout among '90s comedies, Nicole says, "So, who are we making jealous this time?"
Chase: "Everyone, Nicole...everyone."

The scene: Josie has just publicly apologized and proclaimed her love for Sam, and she's hoping he'll prove his forgiveness by giving her her first kiss for all the world to see. We think he isn't coming, and it's all so sad—until he comes jogging cutely onto the baseball field, sealing the deal with the happiest, sappiest soft-lit spin-around kiss I could imagine.

Sam: "Sorry I'm late. It took me forever to get here."
Josie: "I know what you mean."

(Zooming-out-camera makeout scenes galore!)

Some other good ones:  Bridget Jones's Diary ("Wait a minute...nice boys don't kiss like that." "Oh yes they fucking do."), when young Jenna kisses young Matt at the end of 13 Going on 30 (aww!), and When Harry Met Sally, but that's not even a guilty pleasure, I will watch that whole movie through any time o' day, no shame.

Now that I've (embarrassingly?) revealed my favorite romantic comfort films...what about you? What have I been missing out on?!

Have a happy weekend!

(Screencaps courtesy of here / here / here.)

06 April 2012

cottage in dordogne


I can't say I'm that into real estate...but upon those rare occasions when I come across vacation rental listings, I can't help reading them with relish. Two sets of bunk beds? Oooh. Bikes in the garage? An ice cream shop within walking distance? Yes, please. I guess they remind me of the good old days, when my family would daydream of renting a beach house every couple of years or so.

So when I came across this listing for a converted-barn-turned-vacation-home in Dordogne, France, I couldn't help but sigh with both nostalgia and the usual wanderlust. It's so bright, so stone-walled, so orchardy, I mean come on man, is this even real?

The first thing people seem to notice when they arrive is the peace and quiet. The barn faces south-west and looks out over a meadow and then woods. Depending on the season there are masses of wild flowers (literally hundreds of orchids in the spring), animals and butterflies. Lizards scamper up the outside walls and we have seen deer in the garden and wild boar in the woods.

All images and rental information available here.


04 April 2012

windmill windmill


It's been an exhausting week already. Good coffee and the ukelele skills of this kid have gotten me through. If you share my love for covers maybe these videos will cheer you too.

The first one is a little terrifying yet hilarious (who hasn't babysat a ham like that before?), but underneath the laughter I could tell he was really good. The second song just proves it.