Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fabric Necklaces {A Crafty How-To}

Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

I'd be hard pressed to say which project from the Crafting Community weekend I enjoyed more - this or the paperclip necklaces. These are actually easier in a way, though the prep is a little more intensive with the fabric and all. We started with strips of Splendid fabrics - super soft, thin jersey, but really, anything would work - this would be a great re-use for t shirts and clothes you no longer wear, baby clothes, etc. The large wooden beads can be purchased at any craft store, such as Michaels or Jo-Ann (make sure they have pretty big holes in the center.)
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

There's really nothing to it. You just take two strips of fabric, knot them together and off you go. Add beads, add new strips of fabric, braid, knot, weave, create drops and loops - it's all up to you and there's no going wrong.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

This is Emma's creation - I could not figure out how she did those loops, but I love them.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

This was Caelan's - she went with more of a pendant style.
knotted necklace

This is what I came up with. Being an inveterate tinkerer - I came home and undid it and made a completely different necklace - choker length and symmetrical, but that's another fun thing about these - if you want a do-over all you have to do is untie your knots. People were making really amazing bib necklaces, belts and sashes, head wraps, etc. No clasps, rings or tools are needed because the stretchy fabrics slide over your head - or you just knot them around your neck, waist, wrist or whatever else

To make your own, just cut as many strips as you desire of fabric about 1 inch wide by 12 inches long. Fold one over the other and start knotting - adding beads as you go. To push the fabric through the beads, use a wooden skewer or toothpick. To set up a rack for the fabrics like they did, push the strips through rings and attach to larger rings - then loop around a branch or stick suspended between two poles. You could also rig up an attractive display on a laundry rack for a smaller party using hinged snap rings. This would be a great party activity since it's easy and quick, and so much fun to see what everyone comes up with!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pizzeria Delfina - San Francisco

San Francisco 10.10

I think my favorite thing about Pizzeria Delfina, is that the food just keeps on coming. At least, that's how I like to eat there. Order everything on the menu that sounds good (in other words, almost everything) and let it fly. They always pace the dishes just right, so when the last few bites of one are left on the table, a new one arrives.
Margherita Pizza at Delfina Pizzeria

I've had quite a few meals at these restaurants, in both the Mission and Pacific Heights locations, and in my opinion, there are few more satisfying dining experiences. You get a wide variety of delicious, uncomplicated but perfectly prepared food - in exactly the right amounts for sharing. It's not expensive (though certainly not cheap, if you do it up) and I never leave feeling overwhelmed or over-stuffed. The pizzas, like the margharita - pictured above - are very good, with a thin layer of rich toppings over a just crisp enough crust. My real favorite dishes though, are the rotating list of sides they offer.
San Francisco 10.10

These arancini, above, were piping hot, full of gooey cheese and rice - with a hint of saffron. The tuna conserva salad, below - is a dead on combination of rich, garlicky tuna with olive oil, radicchio,white beans and peppery watercress.

Every so often they feature fresh, house-made ricotta cheese. This was their baked ricotta with shishito peppers and garlic toast. I dream about those garlic toasts. They're saturated with just the right amount of oil, and crisp but not tooth-breakingly hard.
Baked Ricotta at Delfina Pizzeria

This past weekend, they featured baked Hog Island Clams - with olive oil, garlic and sweet chile pepper. I think there must have been some butter in there too. We were told to pick up the clams and slurp them out of the shells like oysters, to get the seasoning from the salt.
San Francisco October 2010

At the California Street location, they offer gelato for dessert. They don't (always) have it at the Mission location, but they do offer biscotti, a cannoli and one or two other rotating or special desserts. You might be tempted to skip dessert at the Mission location - what with Tartine and Bi Rite Creamery on the same block, but you might want to think twice about that. The cannoli is as good as anything I've had at either of those two places.
San Francisco October 2010

Our list of must-have items continues to grow - so far, it features the tuna conserva salad, the prosciutto and/or margharita pizza, the meatballs, the fresh ricotta, anything with shishito peppers, the cauliflower with chilis, and now the clams and the cannoli. It's not really a problem though, as long as we allow plenty of time for lunch, and order plenty of wine!

Pizzeria Delfina
2406 California St
(between Fillmore St & Steiner St)
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 440-1189

3611 18th St
(between Guerrero St & Oakwood St)
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 437-6800

Be prepared to wait, at either location, but the Mission one is much smaller than Pac Heights. We like to go for lunch and show up either after two or right at opening time. I'm sort of partial to the the Mission one because it's the original, but Pac Heights offers gelato and more desserts, and is smack in the middle of the Fillmore shopping area so it has it's charms too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back from San Francisco

San Francisco 10.10

We're back from another all-too-short weekend in San Francisco. We went to celebrate a friend's birthday, with - what else? Lots of eating and drinking. Dinners at Boulevard and Slanted Door, and another fabulous lunch at Pizzeria Delfina - possibly my favorite place to eat, anywhere. (It's pretty much in a three way tie with Chez Panisse Cafe and Zuni. Oh, and Hog Island Oyster Company too!)
San Francisco 10.10

After lunch, we walked around the neighborhood for a bit - until it started to rain. We stopped in the Apartment, a vintage furniture and home decor shop a couple of blocks away. I really liked these red chairs - only $380 for all 4!
San Francisco 10.10

We popped in at Paxton Gate and looked at the taxidermied animals, bugs and garden goods.
San Francisco 10.10

We ran across this fabulous garage sale, with all of the merchandise arranged by color. I bought the little yellow napkin holder on the table. I wanted the table too, but it would have been tough to take home on the plane.
San Francisco October 2010

I also made a pilgrimage to 826 Valencia. I was hoping to see Dave Eggars so I could profess my undying love and propose marriage, but he didn't seem to be around.
San Francisco 10.10

When it started to rain, we hopped in a cab and went to the De Young Museum. The Musee d'Orsay exhibit was sold out, so after a trip up to the observation deck we wound up in the tea pavilion of the Japanese Tea Garden with a steaming cup of tea, looking out at the rain - an experience I highly recommend.
San Francisco 10.10

I'll be back later this week with more specifics. Hope you had a great weekend too!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wendi's Apple Salsa

Apple Salsa

We had our monthly supper club the other night, with the theme of apples. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first. I thought there might be too much sweet stuff, and I was a little stumped for ideas. It turned out to be an amazing meal though. I decided to be clever and made potato leek soup (get it? "pommes de terre"?) which was served with an Apple Cheddar Beer Bread made by my friend Elizabeth, but just about everyone else stuck with the theme. We had Roast Pork Tenderloin with Apples, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Apples and Onions (something like this recipe with the addition of caramelized onions), Waldorf salad, a green salad with pears and pecans - and to top it off, a Barefoot Contessa apple crisp and upside down apple cake for dessert - with soft unsweetened whipped cream. Sooo good.

One of the best surprises though, was this apple salsa my friend Wendi brought. Wendi is hands down one of the best home cooks I've ever met. Everything she makes is amazing, and most it is healthy to boot. She made this apple salsa based on a family recipe. Actually, it's one of those things where there is no recipe, she just found out what was in it from her brother, and recreated it based on memory.

She made the dressing first, to get the balance of flavors right and be sure it wasn't too spicy, Then she chopped some apples (both red and green) red onion and red bell pepper, and a little bit of cilantro. She tossed the apples with the dressing first so they wouldn't brown, and then added the onions, peppers and cilantro. The end result was light but flavorful - sweet, spicy and tart. She helped me come up with this approximate recipe so I could share it here. Just bear in mind it's approximate and feel free to adjust to your taste! I think you'll really like it.

Wendi's Apple Salsa

2-3 small to medium apples, one red and one green, finely chopped (make dressing before chopping)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 Tablespoon very finely chopped cilantro

2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotles
sugar or agave nectar to taste
dash salt

Whisk together dressing ingredients and adjust to taste - you're going for a balance of sweet, tart and spicy.

Chop apples (you should have about 1.5 cups) and toss with the dressing to prevent browning. Add onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt, if desired, and serve immediately with tortilla chips. This would also be great with grilled pork or chicken, and would pair nicely with avocado!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Indulging My Inner Luddite


Lately I've been enjoying getting back to basics - especially in the kitchen. I've been using a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor, cuddling up with blankets instead of turning on the heat, and setting the table with cloth napkins instead of paper. I've also discovered Weck jars for storing and reheating leftovers (especially soup) and I'm drawn to materials like paper, clay and wood instead of plastic. I like the aesthetic, and it just feels good!

From top left - Chalkboard garden markers, Pendleton auto blanket, Weck jars, yellow folk tea towel, ash cutting board, fall tea towel, and rooster "hooray" card from Terrain

Mortar and pestle from
Crate and Barrel

Deroma terra cotta pot from

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making Paperclip Necklaces {A Crafty How-To}

Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a fantastic craft weekend at the Ace Hotel presented by Karen Kimmel of Kimmel Kids and several other Los Angeles area artists. One of the workshops I most looked forward to was this one on paperclip necklaces. These are incredibly easy, and I think they look super cool. To make them, you need a whole bunch of paperclips, a pair of scissors and vinyl masking tape, which you can buy online here. Each roll is about $2.50 and they have a great assortment of colors. If you intend to make shorter choker-length necklace or bracelets, you will also need a set of jewelry pliers, some large jump rings and clasps.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

To make the necklaces, start by cutting approximately 2 inch pieces of tape, and sticking them around the edge of a bowl, tray or plate. (I actually decided after a while that it worked better to stick a long piece to my lap, and cut pieces as I went, so you can do that too!) Wrap your first paperclip by placing the paperclip off-centered on the tape. Roll the short end around, line up the edges and make contact - sticky side to sticky side. Then roll the longer end around the paperclip. Hook your next paperclip onto the first one and wrap the same way. It doesn't work very well to make your design and then wrap it - the paperclips flop around a bit too much, but of course you could play with designs and then take them apart and wrap them. You can do some pretty elaborate things by interlocking them - check out a couple of really cool examples here.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

To attach the jump rings and clasps - just bend the rings open side to side like a door, and slide the paperclip ends onto them, then close. This helps keep them from opening up and letting the clips slide off. If you purchase these things at a bead shop you can have the staff show you how to use them. I predict you'll be bitten by the jewelry bug in no time. :)

The paperclip wrapping can get a little tedious after a while, but it's very medatitive, and something you could easily do sitting around with a group of girlfriends. In fact - I think a paperclip necklace party sounds like a fine idea!

Monday, October 18, 2010

DIY Halloween Decor from Martha Stewart


I love these clever invitations and decorations - all made with free clipart templates available on the Martha Stewart website. All you have to do is print! Check out the full collection here.

photos via Martha Stewart

Friday, October 15, 2010

More about the Kimmel Kids Crafting Community Weekend

crafting community

Can you find me in the photo above? I'm up there... making a macrame keychain! I'll be doing some posts over the next few weeks featuring some of the craft projects and the artists who taught them. They were all fantastic and do great work.
pool time

These pictures really show off the Commune, the event space at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs where the Crafting Community was held. There's a pool, a large room that opens entirely to the outdoors with fold up doors, a grassy area, a large pool deck, a fire pit, bar and food service and restroom - and it's all fenced and self -contained, which makes it really great for kids. On the first night, when we arrived, there was a taco dinner by the regular pool, and a s'mores night at the Commune. The first thing we did eat, the second thing we did was go in the pool. It was glorious.
smores night

During the weekend Splendid had a popup clothing shop set up near the front of the hotel. They're known for their ultra-soft jersey fabrics and simple but elegant styles. They did a blanket in the schwag bag (see below) that is just delicious. I never had a blankie as a child, but I would have if I'd had this one.
splendid popup store

They also did a great, fun giveaway for the event - everyone was encouraged to come into the store and pick out four fabrics, selected by stapling swatches to a card - and they made scarves by sewing the four fabrics together in a loop.
splendid ii

People put together some creative combinations. It was really hard to go wrong - all of the patterns and colors looked great together.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

I wasn't able to get a photo of our schwag bag (put together by Kids Concierge) before my nieces tore into it, but here's what it looked like - there was a choice of two bags, decorated with Karen Kimmel's stencils (we got the green.) Aside from the blanket, there was a nice California Baby starter kit, a couple of fun craft projects, some note cards, key chains, hair bands, a Vans wallet, snacks, vitamin water and other goodies. California Baby, Vans, Clif Bar, Vita Coco and Vitamin Water also supplied sunscreen, favors, and refreshments throughout the weekend, and iced tea and lemonade were available at all times. I drank a lot of Arnold Palmers.
schwag bag

The weekend ended at 2:30 PM on Sunday. Saturday and Sunday were divided into morning and afternoon crafting sessions with several tables set up for guests to rotate among. Each session featured different activities - jewelry making, macrame, crochet, God's eyes, felting, potting succulents, felt boards, knitting forks, envelope making, cookie decorating, even mixing your own scent of California Baby lotion - there were so many great options it was impossible to do everything. There were sign ups for popular activities like the lotion mixing, underwater photography and skateboarding, but it was come and go as you please for everything else. The girls especially loved the DJ instruction on Saturday, where the fine fellows of the Scratch DJ Academy in LA put earphones on the them and taught them how to "scratch."
emma scratching

Half of the Commune indoor space was dedicated to the crafting, and the other half was set up with long tables called the Commune Cafe - where they served a limited special menu all day - breakfast in the morning and lunch in the afternoon, for nominal prices. Saturday dinner was an optional barbecue buffet for an additional cost. After the Saturday dinner they had a "dance party" for the kids with those neon glow in the dark rings, and then a communal story time. Other than meeting some friends for lunch at the Parker on the first day, we really didn't leave the hotel, and hardly left the area during the entire time we were there. I actually kind of wished we could spend another night, to get some more relaxation time at the hotel.
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel

I guess the best indicator of what I thought of it all though, is whether I'd go back - and my answer to that question is an unreserved hell, yes. In fact, I can't wait. It gave me a chance to spend some great quality time with my nieces, it was a fantastic mini vacation, it was a chance to meet and hang out with some really cool people, and it rekindled my long-dormant crafting bug. I haven't done anything like that in a long time, and I really hope I won't have to wait long to do it again!

photos 1-5 and 7 by event photographer Steven Visneau

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

red beans and rice
I made this tonight for dinner, and it was so good I literally wanted to stand in front of the stove and slurp it straight out of the pot. It's practically a miracle, the way a $2.00 bag of beans, a few teaspoons of seasoning and a little cured meat turn into a meal fit for a king with just a little simmering. With the creamy beans and savory, rich pot liquor full of smoky, umami flavors from the bacon and parmesan rind, it's a great dish for a Monday night (when it's traditionally served in New Orleans) or any night of the week. Thanks for the beans, Margie!
Red Beans and Rice

New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
Adapted from various sources. Serves 6.

One pound New Orleans red beans or kidney beans, soaked and drained.
(I used Camellia brand, supplied by a friend who lives there.)
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp hot chile powder or cayenne pepper (does not make it spicy)
1 tsp dried oregano
leaves from 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into thirds
a 2x2 inch piece of Reggiano Parmesan rind
1 quart chicken stock (low salt)

salt and pepper to taste

handful of chopped flat leaf parsley or green onion tops for garnish

hot cooked rice

Saute the onions, bell pepper and garlic in a little oil over medium heat until softened. Transfer the onion mixture to a slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients through the chicken stock, plus enough water to cover the beans by one inch if needed. (Do not add salt, it will make the beans tough.)

Cover the slow cooker and turn on low. Cook for 8-10 hours, until the beans are tender - stirring occasionally if convenient. If the mixture seems too liquid, open the slow cooker for the last hour or so of cooking and turn it up to high.

At the end of cooking, season to taste with salt and pepper (should take around 1-2 tsp of salt, and a good healthy grinding of pepper.) Remove bacon pieces, parmesan rind and bay leaves.

Prepare your favorite fluffy white or brown rice according to package directions.

Press the rice into a ramekin, press down, and unmold into a bowl. Spoon red beans and plenty of broth around the rice. Garnish with sliced green onion tops or chopped flat leaf parsley. Or just spoon the beans over the rice and eat!

Canal House Cooking

The Canal House - Windows Internet Explorer 1022010 121541 PM.bmp

I first ran across the Canal House books in a Williams-Sonoma store in Rancho Cucamonga (of all places) several months ago. They had the first three volumes out on display, and as I flipped through them, I was immediately reminded of the Zuni cookbook and other similar volumes. The photos are magazine-quality beautiful, and the recipes were thoughtful and reflected the kind of food I love to cook and eat - bountiful and flavorful dishes featuring lots of fresh produce and simple but effective techniques. I was a little bit overwhelmed at the time, and wasn't really in the market for new cookbooks or recipes, but with the change of seasons, I've been feeling the need to change it up a bit in the kitchen - so I came back to explore these books a little further.

canal house paella

What I found out is that the books are actually a series, with three volumes published per year. The publishers are two former Saveur magazine editors. Melissa Hamilton was the food editor there, as well as, at various times, an executive chef, food stylist, and recipe developer, and Christopher Hirsheimer (a woman) was a food and design editor for Metropolitan Home and a founding editor of Saveur. The mission of the editors/publishers is to share recipes they like to cook at home - both for entertaining and every day. The books remind me a little of the Silver Palate cookbooks of the late 80's - they seem to update that same idea for today's sensibilities. I just ordered a subscription - as well as a back issue from a year ago with Fall and Holiday recipes - and I'm really looking forward to their arrival. Now I just need to get out there and do some work in the garden!
canal house cooking ii

For more information visit their website.

photos from and Canal House Cooking

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Some Scenes from the Kimmel Kids Crafting Community at the Ace in Palm Springs

Crafting Community at the Ace HotelCrafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
Crafting Community at the Ace Hotel
I am utterly exhausted, having worked my fingers to nubbins this weekend making paperclip and fabric necklaces, traditional Mexican dolls, and macrame key chains (macrame!) Then there was all that time in the pool... and just keeping up with those kiddos is hard work. Parents, I don't know how you do it!

I'll be back soon with more about the weekend (it was pretty freaking fabulous.) In the meantime, here are a few photos featuring some highlights...

Hope you had a great weekend too!