creme brulee catastrophe

I'd just like to begin by saying that my title is a little dramatic... nothing got set on fire and no one died. I just wanted alliteration.

Yesterday I spent half the day cooking. I made a mild nectarine cilantro salsa and a spicy habanero chili salsa that made my fingertips burn for hours. I made mini fried eggplant parmigiana slices. I made an eggplant chorizo tomato casserole that looked like vomit but tasted not-too-bad. I made some raspberry lime puree to mix into some champagne thus creating a delightful and refreshing beverage.

I also made (healthy-ish) chocolate creme brulee. I quartered the recipe because I did not want eight servings. I also did not have ramekins or custard cups, so I crossed my fingers that my glazed pottery-like soup bowls wouldn't blow up in the oven. The recipe was surprisingly easy, just time consuming with all the cooking and chilling. Unfortunately, the result was a little ridiculous. The burnt sugar coating hardened upon contact so there was no chance for it to spread out on the surface. And there was about 1/2 an inch of dessert in each huge bowl. It was completely edible and tasted pretty good, but I was still disappointed with the presentation. Before I make these again, I think I'll get proper cookware. Here is my sister torching her badass creme brulee creations at Thanksgiving last year. Apparently I am the baking challenged one. I can live with that, because she's pretty much challenged in every other way. (!!)


Technical Difficulties

Our computer has been acting up for the last few days. Very irritating. I hesitate to say it's functioning properly now, because the last time I wrote that it crashed immediately after "now". UGH!
Last weekend was great. We went to a great Japanese tapas restaurant in Atlantic City and then played with money I don't have. Gambling is a funny business. The chandelier in the Borgata is amazing, though. Saturday we went to Sea Isle. It was a perfect, beautiful day for the beach. I almost got laughed off the beach for applying SPF 70 four times in five hours, but I care not. I didn't get burnt!

A few unrelated items:

Mark Bittman's list of 101 Simple Salads is basic but clever. It inspires me to eat more salads and get more creative in their making.

I saw BrĂ¼no the other night. Not a good movie. I'm wondering what the point was... social commentary? Were they making fun of middle America or of homosexual Austrians? Did he REALLY go to the Middle East in those get-ups? Is Paula Abdul REALLY as dumb as she acts? There were a few funny moments but a lot of it was legitimately offensive. Did anyone see it and enjoy it?

Amanda Blank is on the cover of City Paper this week. I had no idea who she was before I skimmed the article, but I really picked it up because the photo shoot for her article was at my very favorite ice cream parlor and chocolate shop, Scoop Deville! Anyone craving sweets in Philly should head here first. Contact me if you'd like me to wax poetic the wonders of Scoop Deville. I love it there.

Have a great day. Cross your fingers that my computer is still working tomorrow!


Wishful Thinking

We're headed to the shore this weekend. We haven't been all summer, and Joe is aching to go to the beach. I could live without it, but it is a fun way to occupy the weekend I suppose. Hopefully the rain holds off!
I am loving most of the Marc by Marc Jacobs swimwear line. They are just more unique than the other available suits.

Now all I need is a flat stomach and a lot of money...
Unfortunately I don't have either of those so I'll be wearing my old swimsuit and focusing on the importance of a good body image and self esteem. And sucking in my stomach.
Photos Marc by Marc Jacobs via Bloomingdales


CSA Week 9

We joined a CSA this year after hearing about it from friends. A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, and the gist of it is that consumers pay a farmer at the beginning of the year and collect produce each week throughout the growing season. Each place organizes their CSA differently, but at Greensgrow, dairy, cheese, and meat are also included with each week's pick up. I don't know how we lived without it until now! Most produce at the grocery store is overpriced, flavorless, full of chemicals, and from Chile or somewhere really far away. I had grown to expect tomatoes and strawberries that were more white than red inside and I had never seen an onion with the stem still attached. The food we get from the CSA spoils faster since there are no chemicals, but it tastes AMAZING. Another delicious benefit of belonging to a CSA is the variety. I think of myself as a relatively adventurous eater, but when shopping for myself I never really thought to buy produce I wasn't familiar with. We have been (happily) forced to create meals out of beets and parsnips and more. This week's bounty included bok choy, corn, beets, cantaloupe, basil and sun dried tomato chicken sausage, garlic and chive cheese spread, 1 dozen eggs, and 5 "Greensgrow bucks", with which we purchased a pint of chocolate cherry goat milk gelato sweetened with agave syrup. Yum Yum.

I definitely recommend joining a CSA to everyone who can. If there is no CSA available to you, try to get your produce from a farmer's market. If that isn't available, try to at least buy products that are in season. That way it is slighly more likely that your food will be local and taste good! Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is an incredible book that provides a lot of insight about the importance of local, sustainable agriculture. There is also a lot of information to be gained from their website.

Have a great day!


Creative Laziness

I'm feeling really creative today but I'm having a hard time making anything concrete. I started making a necklace this morning and got distracted. Started embroidering and got distracted. Started sketching and got distracted.
Does anyone have any secret tools to producing results? I did have a more productive day today than the past few, but I still feel like I didn't accomplish anything important. I think I make my to-do lists too long and get discouraged before I even start. I am feeling really overwhelmed with all of my thoughts.
I think I need some chocolate.


Bastille Day

Saturday was Fairmount's annual Bastille Day celebration, and since this is our first year living in the area, we were quite excited to experience the festivities first hand. I spent Saturday morning stitching us up some revolutionary hats, and then we headed out for some lunch and, of course, French beer. We ate lunch and people-watched at a local restaurant for awhile before the real action began. There were some people milling about in French Aristocracy costumes, along with a cardinal and some fellow revolutionaries. I'm not sure if these people were the event organizers or just really into Bastille Day, but they were REAL costumes.
As compared to our costumes, which did boast home-made hats but were lacking in most other aspects. However, Joe and I were really the only other people we saw dressed up.
Several local businesses had booths set up along the street with dunk tanks, cheese and wine pairing lessons, food, and face painting. I loved the intricate airbrushing and rhinestone details of the face painting. What an amazing way to transform silly cartoon characters on a child's cheek to a work of art! We decided to enter a costume contest and pushed ourselves to the front of the crowd, only then realizing that the other participants consisted of professionally costumed aristocrats, a General Lafayette, and a little kid dressed like a pirate. Those of you who know me can attest that standing in costume in front of a huge crowd on a public street with a cup full of beer is not something I do often. Apparently Saturday was exception, because there we stood. The announcer yelled out descriptions to the crowd and voting was cheer-based. Here we have an aristocrat with a heart shaped mole, General Lafayette, etc, etc, and two drunk Parisians! The crowd went wild and we ended up winning two bottles of wine and some Philly t-shirts!
With all the class of revolting French peasants, Joe used his keys to open the bottle of wine. He may have sprayed a few white shirts with red vino, but I think after a few sips from the bottle no one really cared.
So for the main event, a local restaurant owner dresses up as Marie Antoinette and gets on top of the "Bastille" aka Eastern State Penitentiary and banters back and forth with the executioner, who is the owner of another neighborhood restaurant. Eventually Marie yells "Let them eat cake!" and her army throw 2000 Twinkies over the wall of the Penitentiary. What a hilarious sight.
The army surrendered and Marie was brought out to the guillotine.
The crowd was surveyed. I believe "off with her head" was the chosen option, but instead they cut the head off a watermelon wearing a wig. It was such a crazy fun day!
P.S. Several people have asked me why this event exists. Duh, for fun!


Love me, Love me

I got up on Thursday morning to find an Emily love-fest waiting for me! This cute note from Joe (my wonderful boyfriend) and Ashley (my wonderful roommate) was on the white board in our kitchen when I came downstairs and there were more than 15 new comments on my blog! Aunt Kate posted some of my sketches on her blog here and many of her friendly readers came to check me out. It feels like cheating a little to have an established blogger advertise me, but I really appreciate everyone's kind messages. It is such a pick-me-up. What an uplifting day!

Tomorrow I'll tell you all about our crazy Saturday Bastille Day celebrations, but for now I'll leave you with just a little taste.Our neighborhood's very own Marie Antoinette, standing atop the Eastern State Penitentiary AKA Bastille, sipping champagne from a can, and speaking to the angry peasants gathered below.

Have a great rest of the weekend!


Julie and Julia

I saw a preview this morning for the new movie Julie and Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. The movie is based on the book (which is based on the blog) Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, and it is interspersed with scenes from Child's life.

I am SO excited to see this movie! I read My Life in France, Julia Child's autobiographical collaboration with her nephew Alex Prud'Homme, not too long ago, and I loved it so much I was inspired to purchase her ever-so-famous first cookbook, The Art of French Cooking. I made her recipe for garlic soup as soon as the book arrived, but unfortunately my effort was deemed by both Joe and myself as a dismal failure. I'm looking forward to getting back into it and trying some more recipes.
via better world books and cookbook village

A little shout out to blogs, because apparently this is the first movie based on a blog, or so says the New York Times here.
Have a beautiful day!



Joe bought an old Polaroid camera for $5.99 at Jomar (a fabric and clothing/housewares warehouse that has several locations in and around Philadelphia) the other day, and he has been quite taken with it ever since. This type of camera was in production between 1967-1969, and it is questionable whether or not this particular one actually functions. Once we find some old school film and a 4-volt battery on ebay we can figure it out. Nonetheless, pretty much every time we have gone out since that joyful day of purchase, the Polaroid has come with us. "Say cheese!" Joe prompts friends sitting with us at a restaurant. They pose, and catch on when he creates the "clickclick" sound effect himself. My over-the-top eye rolls may also clue them in, but you never know. While I may think Joe's Polaroid crush is a little unfounded, I do admit that it is a cool looking camera. The colors and the lines are simple and elegant and rather inspiring. I can see putting an outfit together with that color scheme, making a dress with mitered tucks or accordion pleats, or many other applications.
P.S. The irony of taking awful, blurry pictures OF A CAMERA is not lost on me, but I do the best I can. Have a photogenic day!


Bits and Pieces

I saw Away We Go last night. It wasn't as much of a goofy indie movie as I expected it to be and I really enjoyed it. There were a few little details that bugged me, but it made me think and it made me feel extra gooey for my favorite guy.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has some interesting exhibits now, both in the Main Building and the relatively new Perelman Building. I'm looking forward to taking a little field trip there soon.

Speaking of exhibits, Judith H. Dobrzynski of The WSJ just reviewed the new exhibit "Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence," on display in Williamstown, MA now through Sept. 7. I like the recent popularity of the type of exhibit that compares two or more artists, like "Cezanne and Beyond," which ended in May at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This compare/contrast style really gives viewers an art history lesson so everyone leaves a little smarter and more informed rather than being overwhelmed and intimidated by such outstanding work.

This is really cracking me up. This guy sends over the top made up replies to Craigslist ads and posts the absurd conversations on his website. What a jerk but pretty funny.

Mike Albo reviews the kitschy cheap-gift mecca Pylones in his latest Critical Shopper article for the New York Times. I love his wit and informative yet informal writing style.

Have a fantastic day!



When I was in high school I doodled all over my notes in class, I brought my sketchbook to parties, and basically I just drew all the time. When I went to college, I had to do a lot of drawing in class and I was so busy all the time that my for-fun sketching kind of fell by the wayside. Unemployment leads to a lot of free time, so recently I've started sketching a little more. I want to make it more of a habit because I really believe that daily sketching, no matter what it is, increases your drawing abilities and creativity in general. Here are a few excerpts from my sketchbook.


Discovering my neighborhood

We planned to go to Winterthur yesterday but by the time the riveting Wimbledon final was over, it wouldn't have been worth the drive. Instead, we went for a long walk and relaxed on a blanket in a woodsy clearing. On the way back, we walked down a street I haven't been on but is so close to our house. Here are a few things that caught my eye along the way.
Pretty flowers. Does anyone know what these are called?
Mosaic Deli that sells sushi for $4.99. Doesn't sound promising, but the exterior is beautiful.
Very art nouveau-y.
Relaxing in the grass, doodling and reading and snacking.
Looks french to me for some reason. So classic and pretty.
Love hydrangeas!
Interesting door detail. Nice paint job, too.
This house reminds me of The Little House. What a cute little book.
Train tracks to nowhere.
View of the sky from our blanket.
Have a great day!



We had people over last night to watch the fireworks on the roof. It's our first fourth of July in this apartment, so we were crossing our fingers that we'd have a good view. At first we were sitting on the little deck, but who knows how much weight that sucker holds so I spread out some blankets on the actual roof and we waited for Sheryl Crow to finish singing so the fireworks could start! It was a really beautiful night. The mini fruit pizzas were disappearing quickly and so was the beer. I was getting nervous with all the sparklers being set off on our roof (apparently we are really into fire hazards around here) but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and staying safe...
It ended up being a great view and a great show. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed fireworks so much. Hope everyone had a relaxing holiday and is enjoying the rest of their weekend. I think we're taking a little day trip to Winterthur today. I'll let you know how it goes!