Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Speaking of Italian...

(from the Sartorialist website)

I've been watching the Milan fashion shows. ai yi yi. I feel like I'm reverting to my twenties-something self when I was all about fashion (like, it was my career.) This isn't supposed to be happening in mid-life. You are supposed to be developing the soul. (Okay I kind of was into that from 40 - 56.) Now, I'm back to developing my closet. Whatever...here is my favorite from Milan. Dolce and Gabbana. Sexy, strong - what age couldn't wear this? You could be 20 or 60.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dreaming Italian

A charming Milanese - love the sox! (from Sartorialist 9/24/10)

Miuccia Prada (from Sartorialist) after her recent show in Milan

Lee is viscerally sensing the change of seasons - this is not a pleasant thing for a melancholic. He noted tonight that Santa Monica has 3 extra minutes of sunlight in the evening than we do. THREE F...ing MINUTES! He's counting 3 minutes and making it a significant thing. It's a bummer and why he lived in LA for 3 years.

Don't get me wrong. Although I love Minnesota most of the year, you don't want to be around me in March - I despise it. I loathe it. I actually even loathe April. I lived in Charleston South Carolina for eight years and March and April in Charleston is something like heaven on this earth. it is jasmine and camelia and azalea, bursting like fireworks. It is soothingly moist and warm and something akin to new life, to birth. It is the opposite of Minnesota with its gray melting hills of ice, sloppy puddles and salt stained cars, coats and ruined shoes, soot-colored trees and chalky skies. And, did I mention the dampness that chills to the bone.

Could I be more clear? I HATE March and April in Minneapolis.

But....I don't anticipate my hatred. I can remember it, but I don't feel it before it comes. Lee feels it COMING. Before it arrives, he feels it. I don't.

So, as a woman who loves her man, I am workin' it to find a way out this winter and spring. Thinking LA in January and Rome in March. I've never been to Rome. And isn't that where all roads lead? How could I have missed it? I'm 57. Thinking we'll leave on his 60th birthday on March 14.

Keep you posted. For now...here's a little Italian inspiration. How good is this?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Change is in the Air

Ilse Crawford Project in Stockholm. Look at this wall!

Ilse Crawford project, above.

I have that back to school thing going - that sense that I need a change of wardrobe, of looks (thankfully NOT of husbands!)of the food I eat. A cleaning of the closets and shelves bulging with catalogs I no longer use for my business

I had our apartment in Minneapolis painted this week and it is so glorious - so fresh and calm; it was a long time coming. that change feels really good. I'm into this painting style right now that I really first saw in Ilse Crawford's projects (www.studioilse.com) - painting the trim / casings / baseboards the same color as the walls. I love how calm it is and sort of old world. So that is what I did in our apartment. Painted the trim and walls the same Ben Moore color (Ben Moore 1555 - Winter Orchard.) Now, Lee loves it, but I can't possibly fess up to the name of the color. He gets very blue in this winter climate (thus a 3 year stint in Santa Monica!) and if I told him he was living in a color called Winter Orchard....well, I don't want to imagine it. I guess I could tell him it is called Spring Lilacs - his favorite thing in the whole world next to his grandson and possibly moi.

I'm doing the same thing for two design projects right now....I think it is really great. Now...on to the next change.....

Carine - can we pull that off here in America in our mid- late 50's??? She is 56.

More about changes....I want to change my look - so here is my inspiration -Carine Roitfeld - French - editor of French Vogue and only one year younger than me! Thinking I like her simple, even slightly stringy hair. I have this fine hair, too. What do you think of her look? How do French women look so chic? She is clearly channeling the '70s with the kohl eyes and this hair (or she just stayed out too late last night) but it so works on her. Anna Wintour, the American Vogue editor known for her incredible style and bitchy ways, seems a little stiff by comparison. What do you think?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I am not French

Clancey's Meats and Fish in Linden Hills

The BB during preparation.

On the plate....please pass the parmagianno reggiano.

Feeling inspired by the cooler autumnal weather and guilty about not cooking one meal in the last week AND missing the experience of cooking, honestly (it relaxes me if it is not mandated by a family, but rather motivated by my own interest) I decided to cook my very first Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. What could be better, I wondered, for a husband who is basically a cave man eater - meat, meat, meat. (Okay, he likes my fish, too, but he's a protein machine.) And, how romantic! Lingering in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon with wine - some of which makes it into the casserole - some in my mouth? I love learning new things, so this must be a good idea. Besides, I've been so nutty busy at work that something which requires a whole other side of me seems healthy!

So, on Saturday, Lee and I go to Clancey's in Linden Hills for the cubed chuck from the Thousand Hills Farms (grass fed beed and local.) I waiver between chuck and round because I barely know beans about meat. I haven't eaten much of it for 30 years. I'm not a veggie, but just don't need it so when I was alone, I just never ate it - only when I was with Lee. Then...I can love a piece of lamb or a great tenderloin, perfectly cooked. I buy the cheap red wine it recommends. I buy the veggies.

Today, I go back to Clancey's Meats and Fish for the beef broth - which was just being made yesterday when I was there. Trip two for the perfect broth.

At 3:00 p.m. I started making the BB. I was enjoying myself - I hadn't made anything new for over a year, I swear - just my old standbys. I enjoyed being engaged and not thinking of the emails I needed to return, just being away from my desk! By 4:00 or so, it was in the oven. By 7:00 it was out and I was thickening the sauce and Lee was off to Broder's to pick up the freshest of the baguettes. I dressed a simple mixed greens salad, heated the bread and served the plates.

I took a few bites.

All I could think of was my mom's Sunday roast beef dinners. Her dinners were fine, but I am not such a fan of meat that I want that "woodsy" meat taste (mushrooms, red wine, onions, long roasting.) I didn't like the cut of the meat. I didn't like the "dirty" taste. I wanted to top it off with parmeggiano reggiano! I wanted some tomato. I don't like bay. i don't like thyme, even. What was there to like about this dish????

I realized i don't like those saucy dishes - especially saucy meat dishes. Just give me a good leg of lamb on a grill with a little oil, rosemary and pepper. I don't need it to stew with 30 other things. I told Lee, "I'm Italian. I'm not French. This doesn't do it for me. I ate three bites and set it aside while I inhaled the bread and butter.

"Good," he said. "Better for me. It was a little heavy. Reminded me of my mom's pot roasts."

For the cost of this stupid meal,it should not remind someone of a Sunday potroast from 1958, but in the age of Mad Men, we thought maybe it was just the right thing - just about the time Julia made it famous. However, I'm much more interested in all things Italian, in pasta, in a Bistecca Fiorentina (just a delicious organic slab of beef on a grill with a little olive oil, salt and pepper) - all with more time for other things and less clean up.

Sorry, Julia. You rock, but I'm not into Beouf Bourguignon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Spinich Lasagne

On Friday night, I had my three designing women and one man friends for dinner. I hadn't had a dinner party for more than 2 for so long (and then the two are our closest friends.) My dining chairs were shredded from years of use - the horsehair stuffing poking your legs. My bedroom was a joke since we moved furniture to new york - just a mattress on the floor on an old Chinese rug like a hippie flophouse. So, nothing like a party to make you pull it together. I had some orange velvet fabric sitting around and got the chairs recovered. Got a frame for the bed so it looks like grown ups sleep there and got 2 side tables from Room & Board ($179 each! http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product/detail.do?productGroup=3194&catalog=filter&menuCatalog=room&menuSubcategory=201154)

I added some nicer bedding from Restoration Hardware (their linen collection is just great!) So, I finally felt good about having guests and sat at the table for dinner (instead of around the coffee table) for the first time in about 3 years. It was a lovely evening with oodles of laughter - provided primarily by dear friend Andrew Flesher. (His comment when he walked into my kitchen....and saw the "Ivy" wallpaper..."Oh, wow...is that vintage Waverly?" Yes, it is. :-)

Here is my lasagne recipe which they asked for. Cin cin to my dear friends.

These first ingredients from Broder's Deli in Minneapolis:

3 sheets of fresh egg lasagne pasta

3 containers (pints) sugo betti (their house made red sauce)

3 containers (pints) shredded mozzarella

2 pints ricotta fresca

1 of the Broder's packages of parmaggiano reggiano

1 of the pesto if you like it added.

Then, I get from the coop

1 very large bunch of spinich or two smaller ones

Italian parsley


How to put it together:

Use a deep 9 x 13 pan.

Drain the ricotta. I used about 1.5 - 2 containers. Mash it up.
Add 3 eggs and whip it together with a wooden spoon.
Add the bag of parmesan. (about 1/2 cup)
Add some chopped parsley.
Add pepper - a bit more than usual.

Put a bit of olive oil in bottom of baking dish.
Put the first piece of pasta down - you will have to cut it to fit. But make it a little big because it will shrink slightly.
Cover it with a really thin layer of pesto if you want (a little goes a long way) or you can skip this entirely.
With a big metal spoon put the ricotta mixture in a thin layer - use about 1/3 of it.
Now layer spinch - (washed, de-stemmed and only slightly chopped - not too much)
Add one container of the sugo betti.
Add about one container of mozzarella.

Repeat 2 more times.

I add a drizzle of olive oil to the top. you can add a little pepper or parsley if you like.

COVER WITH FOIL - but make it like a tent so it does not stick to the cheese.

Put in 350 for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
Then raise the temp to 375.
Take the foil off and cook another 15 min until it looks perfectly browned.
Take it out. Turn the oven off and let the temp start to go down.

I put it back in the oven to just sit for an hour as the oven is cooling. (JUst don't leave it in when it is super hot = you don't want to burn the cheese.)

When you warm it up again, cover it with foil. Warm in 350 oven for about 20 = 30 min.