Archive for October, 2015

A Season of Change

October 29, 2015

 

A look from Lanvin's Spring 2016 runway show

A look from Lanvin’s Spring 2016 runway show

The fashion world has been turned upside down in recent weeks, with high profile departures taking place at some of the most revered French houses. When Americans Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang handed over the reigns at Parisian brands Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga respectively, the moves raised several impeccably groomed eyebrows. This week’s news however, has rocked the world of fashion in a more profound way.
Raf Simons, the Creative Director at Christian Dior announced his resignation earlier this week, in a suprise move that stunned the industry. Mr. Simons had spent only 3 1/2 years at the house, yet was a driving force in reviving the venerable brand which he took over after the very controvesal departure of John Galliano.
Yesterday, Alber Elbaz, the longtime creative chief at Lanvin, announced his departure, apparently pushed out after a disagreement with the current owners.
When people of this calibre from labels this important are forced out, it is time to re-evaluate the role creativity plays in fashion.
In fashion, the creative team is often manipulated by the money people, who restrict the ability of the designer to move the product forward. Playing it safe often trumps great ideas, and the bean counter who looks at the past gets a bigger say in the outcome than the visionary who is looking at the future. Nobody is right until the customer votes by buying the product at full price. A quick glimpse at the sales and discount emails flooding my inbox tells me that isn’t happening. The art of fashion has been replaced by the art of the deal. Meetings take place to outline promotional strategies, not creative ones. Have we finally reached a breaking point?

Christian Dior Couture

Christian Dior Couture

As the fashion world undergoes a change at the highest levels, how will this trickle down to the high street brands? Will we finally begin to celebrate innovation over moderation, or is this the end of great fashion as we once knew it? Does the public care? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photos: Vogue.com

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Everything Is NOT Better With Bacon

October 27, 2015

 

4093601285_compThe World Health Organization has officially classified processed meats, such bacon, ham and hot dogs as carcinogenic to humans. They also state that other forms of red meat probably are too. No sugar coating, no beating around the bush, just a clear, concise statement that the consumption of these products could, in fact be deadly.

The group cited sufficient evidence that consumption of processed meats can lead to colorectal and stomach cancers. Eating red meat in general has been associated with pancreatic and prostate cancers.

The average American consumes what is now known to be extremely dangerous quantities of meat, as do other cultures. The release of this information, if the warnings are heeded, could lead to a significant decrease in cancer cases annually.

I personally am not a meat eater, but I will certainly be cutting back the amount of meat my family eats, starting today. Will you?

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Egg Salad

October 26, 2015

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Lately, my go-to lunch has been either a salad or chopped roasted vegetables with 2 poached eggs on top. Its fast, easy, low in calories and high in nutrition. Recently, an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that I may be on to something. The report contends that adding eggs to a salad helps the body absorb carotenoids, a substance found in red and yellow fruits and vegetables. The most notable ones are lypocene and beta carotene, which help fight inflammation.

In a study highlighted in the report, participants who ate 3 eggs with their salads absorbed 3.8 times the caretenoids than those who did not eat eggs. It is thought that the fat in the yolks is what is responsible for the increased nutrient levels.

Who knew my lazy lunch was a perfect nutritional storm?

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Eat Your Vegetables

October 23, 2015

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We all know that we should eat our vegetables; specifically 9 servings of fruits and vegetables, or about 4 1/2 cups per day. The USDA suggests that 3 of those cups be vegetables. The problem is, only about 1.7 cups of vegetables are actually available to us to consume.

Of all of the vegetables and legumes readily available in the United States, a whopping 50% of them are potatoes and tomatoes. Lettuce comes in at 3rd place. Of these amounts, 1/3 of all potatoes and 2/3 of all tomatoes were sent for processing. With these statistics, it is no wonder that the average American thinks eating their vegetables means french fries and ketchup.

The federal guidlines perscribe a variety of vegetables in a rainbow of colors, including dark leafy greens, yellow and orange vegetables and beans all of which help us stave off heart disease, some cancers and strokes.

According to an article on NPR, only 13% of American adults were eating the recommended amount of vegetables each day. That number varied by region, with only 5.5% of those living in Mississippi getting their fill. California, thought of as a healthier state, had only 13% meeting the requirements.

A recent report by the USDA states that the U.S. needs to up its supply of vegetables by 70%, mostly in the vegetables other than potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce, in order to meet our nutritional needs. The real question remains, will the people eat them if they are more readily available? Unfortunately, the supply will not increase without the demand.  Many people stick to the few foods that they know, and have not developed a taste for other vegetables.

The CDC reports that since 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed, there are more schools serving two vegetables and more whole grains than previously. A Rudd Center study of kid’s food habits showed that they are eating more fruit, throwing away less vegetables, and eating more of the healthier entrees being served to them. Hopefully, these children will develop a taste for healthy vegetables beyond potatoes and tomotoes, and the demand for more variety will serve to increase the amount of these more nutritious vegetables grown in the United States. For now, it is a self fulfilling prophecy.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Pan Liners

October 20, 2015

When baking a cake, the recipe usually requests greasing, or greasing and flouring the pan for easy removal after baking. Butter, a hefty squirt of cooking spray, or a slick covering of coconut oil usually does the job. Even when the pan is properly treated, a layer of parchment paper facilitates a clean removal of the cake.

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Last weekend, I started watching the Great British Baking Show on Netflix, where amatuer bakers congregate in a huge tent tricked out with kitchens to compete for a title of Star Baker. During a cake challenge, I noticed that most of them lined their square pans with parchment paper that hung over the sides. When it was time to remove the cake, they simply grabbed the over-hanging paper like handles, and lifted the cake right out of the pan.

By doing this, they avoided the cake getting stuck, or deflating a bit as they flipped the pan over and banged on it a bit to get the cake to fall out.

While I have used this technique before on specific items ( like my marshmallows,) it is now going to become common practice on all of the cakes, brownies and bar cookies that I bake in square or rectangular pans. No more scars in the bottom of cake where a little piece got torn. No more fighting with the caramel that clings steadfastly to the side of the pan when making pecan pie squares. I am a little embarrassed that I haven’t been doing this all along!

A squirt of cooking spray in the pan helps to keep the parchment smooth and in place, and another squirt on top of the paper keeps things from sticking. The rest…pure genius!

Photo: Good Life Eats

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Unrecipe of the Week: Quick Tiramisu

October 19, 2015

 

4556800185_compLast weekend, I hosted a party for my husband’s birthday. I served cocktails and dinner for about 20 people, offering a variety of foods to please just about any palate. Around 3:00 on the day of the party, my husband asked for a tiramisu as one of the desserts. Time was of the essence, so anything that required too much prep work, or actual baking wasn’t advisable at that point.

For those who may not know, tiramisu is an Italian dessert consisting of layers of espresso soaked sponge, and creamy layers containing sweet marscapone cheese.

Most of the recipes incorporate eggs into the cream mixture. Not one who likes to serve raw eggs to my guests, I needed to find a way to make an egg-less version, and to make it fast!

This ended up being so easy, that you could whip it up after work and it enjoy it later that evening, although the longer it has to chill, the better it will hold together when you take it out of the pan.

The flavors melded well, and the espresso soaked cookies functioned beautifully as the sponge layers. The rest, as they say, is history. Try this yourself and see how quick and simple it really is to make.

Quick Tiramisu:

Select a pan that is deep enough to house 2 or 3 layers of cookies and cream. I used an 8″x8″ square baking pan, but you can use a small cassorole pan, or a loaf pan.

Line the pan with either plastic wrap or parchment paper so that it is smooth along the bottom and sides of the pan, and hangs over the top. Place the wrap in both directions. This will help you ease it out of the pan later.

Brew a pot of espresso, or very strong coffee. Pour some in a bowl and allow it cool enough that you don’t burn yourself when dipping the cookies. You can add a little Marsala wine for authenticity if you like, or a bit of rum if you have it. I didn’t use any alchohol, and it was still very tasty.

Quickly dip store bought (yep, I went there) lady fingers into the strong coffee. Make sure they are fully saturated, but don’t let them soak, or they will fall apart. Line the bottom of the pan with the coffee dipped cookies. Be sure to cover the whole area, even if you have to use broken cookies to fill in the gaps. The wet cookies will start to merge together and you will not be able to tell if a cookie was placed in the opposite direction or broken once you are done.

Beat about 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with about  1 1/4 cup of powdered confectioner’s sugar, until the cream forms soft peaks. Beat in a 16 oz. container of soft, room temperature marscapone cheese. Spread a thick layer of the sweet cream over the cookies, and repeat. You should be able to stack 2 or 3 layers of cookies, and cream in the pan. End with a cream layer on top.
Dust the top liberally with unsweetened cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.
To remove from the pan, use the over-hanging layers of plastic or paper to lift it out. Place it on a serving dish, cut it into squares, and enjoy!

Notes: The finished, chilled product should hold together well and easily come out of the pan. If you don’t want to take it out of the pan, or don’t have several hours to let it chill, use a large spoon to serve it. Put it in a nice glass and make it look like a parfait. Put a strawberry on top, and make it look like you planned it. Its all good.

I used store bought lady fingers, which I found in the cookie aisle at the grocery store.

Marscapone is a spreadable Italian cheese, similar to American cream cheese. It is found in the refrigerated dairy area of the market.

You can adjust the amount of the cream mixture to suit the size of the pan. This amount worked for my 8″x8″ pan, but you could cut it in half for a smaller loaf pan, or increase it for a larger rectangular pan. Just make sure the sides are high enough to build the layers.

The sides of tiramisu will be as smooth as the pan liner. If you don’t get the plastic or paper smooth, there will be creases in the sides of the cake. You can spray the pan with cooking spray before lining it to help the liner stick to the sides so it can be smoothed.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Hemming and Hawing

October 16, 2015

Jeans are a staple in everyone’s wardrobe. These days, they can go almost anywhere depending on what they are paired with. Rolled or frayed hems add a unique and authentic air to jeans. While some of these ideas we created in the “wet processing” of the jeans ( a term used in the industry which refers to the washing and treatment processes used to emulate the look of natural wear and fading,) some you can achieve at home.
Here are a few of our favorite hem treatments, and a little DIY inspo for leveling up your denim game:

WTF

Honestly, WTF

Unevenly cut raw hems highlight footwear in a casual way. To do this yourself, cut your jeans higher in the front and longer in the back, and simply let them fray. Trim any super long fringe after washing so you don’t trip!

FASHIONISTA

Fashionista.com

Denim hems are generally double rolled and topstitched. The part that is folded deeply inside the hem stays darker than the more exposed areas after washing and wearing. When you let the hem down, you get a multihued effect, as well as a raw edge. Bonus points for tall girls, who also gain about 3/4″ or more in the length of their jeans when they let the hem down. To achieve this look, carefully pick the stitching from the bottom and unroll the hem. Toss them in the wash to relax the fabric and press the bottom to get them to lay flat.

VOGUE

Vogue.com

Don’t try this one at home kids… This multi-hued and distressed look happened at the factory, and took some mad technique to execute! Best to buy these from the pros that created them; Genetic Denim Los Angeles.

HWTF

Honestly, WTF

This technique is hard to achieve yourself, as the darker part was likely either protected from fading during the manufacturing process, or the bottom of the jeans were dipped in pure indigo after they were made. To fake it, cut a few inches off the bottom of a pair of dark jeans, and sew it a pair of lighter colored jeans. Be sure that the leg shape of the jeans are the same, so that the piece you are sewing on matches up perfectly. Leave the bottom raw to get the perfect fray.

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Paige Denim

The cuffed jean is the easiest look to re-create. The newest cuff is wider, and turned up only once. Fold your straight leg jeans up and make a wide cuff. Feel free to mess it up a bit, for a more relaxed, authentic look.

 

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Dinner on Demand

October 14, 2015

 

IMG_4416Don’t you sometimes wish you could order up a fresh, homemade dinner instead of your regular repetroire of takeout? Well, New York City friends, now you can!
We are excited to announce that we just partnered with a new app called Homemade, which allows you to order featured meals and food items from local cooks around the city. You can arrange to pick up your dinner to enjoy in the privacy of your own home, without the shopping, cooking or dirty dishes. Delivery options are also available.

We will be offering full meals, as well as select baked goods starting next week. Let us know what you would like our first dish to be in the comments below, and then head over to the app store and download HOMEMADE. We’ll be there next week as Indigo Jones Eats. 

We can’t wait to make dinner for you soon!

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How Not to Make Almond Milk: An Unrecipe

October 12, 2015

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Nut milks have become an important part of our diets, providing us with a plant based, lactose free alterative to regular milk. Almond milk, as well as soy and coconut milks are among the most popular choices of non-dairy milks.
In reading the label on the almond milk carton, I was shocked to see that it listed several ingredients, other than almonds, and water. There really isn’t any reason to have additives if you consume it quickly enough, as it is persishable. Carageenen and locust bean gum aren’t necessary ingredients to make almond milk, so why would we want to consume them? It is possible to make your own pure almond milk,( or any other nut milk ) and with the right tools, it also easy. I made a colossel mess the other day trying my hand at making homemade almond milk, so you don’t have to. Don’t worry, I got this one down now!

Homemade Almond Milk:

Soak unsalted, raw almonds in enough water to cover them fully and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. The almonds will get soft, but shouldn’t stay soaking long enough to sprout. We recommend using filtered water.

Drain the water and rinse the almonds with clean water. This will rinse off the phytic acid which has accumulated in the water, and  inhibits the body from absorbing nutrients.

It all went well up to this point. Then all hell broke loose!

Place the nuts in either the blender, or the bowl of the food processor. [*Tip #1: If you don’t have a Vitamix or other high powered fancy blender, use the food processor. I used both, which started the messy portion of this project]. Add clean, preferably filtered water. For 1 cup of nuts, add 2 cups of water or more. Next time I will err on the “more side” and probably use closer to 2.5-3 cups. Process for about 3 or 4 minutes until the nuts are ground into a fine meal, and the water is milky white.

SPOILER ALERT: Here is where the really big mess comes in. Pay attention, so this won’t happen to you.

Strain the almonds into a bowl, using a sieve lined with a cheesecloth, or a nut bag. [Tip#2 I didn’t have a cheesecloth, but I did have a lot of sterile gauze from a previous injury, so I used that. Don’t. Just don’t. The meal squirted out of the holes, and splattered on the counters, walls, floor and me. It is thick and gloppy and has the ability to go projectile. It is not pleasant to clean off of everything it spattered on. Which was pretty much everything.] Although the fine sieve will filter out the almonds, you need to have a cloth that you can wrap the almonds in and twist and squeeze to get the liquid out. I ended up using a kitchen towel, which was more absorbant than you want it to be. Do yourself a favor and invest in a nutbag, or at the very least a cheesecloth if you plan to do this. It will make a big difference not only in the mess department, but also in the yield of the almond milk. More on that in a minute.

Once you have extracted the liquid from the almond puree, pour it into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid, ala a Mason jar, and sweeten as desired. You can add a little agave, honey or maple syrup to give it some flavor, or just leave it plain. You should get about 2 cups of milk from 1 cup of almonds.
I used a 16 oz. bag of nuts and due to my ineptitude, I only got a full Mason Jar of milk, with a little extra to spare. That is until I pulled the funnel out of the full jar and knocked it over, spilling the entire contents down the sink. That left me with about 2 gulps of almond milk and a colossal mess.

Homemade almond milk has a very short shelf life of about 2 days in the refrigerator. Make only what you can consume. All those additives in the store bought type makes it last longer.

If you do this properly, you will have quite a bit of ground almond meal. You can store this in the fridge for a few days, and it is a great addition to smoothies, hot cereal, or an additive in muffins and sweet breads. It has healthy fats, protien, some bulk, and a nutty taste. It can also be dried by placing it on a baking sheet in the oven at a low temperature for a few hours until it is completly dry. Dried almond meal can be used in baked goods and in some cases can be a substitute for all or some of the flour in a recipe.

Verdict: I would do it again, and go straight to the food processor to grind the nuts, since my blender was not up to the job.  I would use a bit more water so that the meal is not so thick that it is like wet cement and hard to strain. You don’t want it to be too watery, but a little more liquid would have helped. I will buy a nut bag. It is made for this purpose, and was likely designed by some poor sod who had an experience similar to mine. I had never heard of this invention before, but for about $6 bucks, it could be well worth it. I will be careful when removing the extremely long tubed funnel from the jar so I don’t knock it over again. But I am not one to cry over spilled milk, although I may have said a few choice words I prefer not to publish here, I am willing to try, try again. I think the second time could be the charm!

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: How to Ripen an Avocado

October 6, 2015

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We all love avocados. They are a source of healthy fats, yet taste creamy and decadent. They can even be a substitute for butter in some recipes. But what do you do if you are craving avocado and they aren’t ripe yet? We’ve all been there…the pile in the market is heaping with either rock hard avocados, or they have already turned to guac. No worries, you can ripen it in the oven.

Peel and slice the avocado, toss it in lemon juice and a little salt. Bake at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until it starts to soften. Take care not to over-do it, and enjoy!

You’re welcome.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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