Continuing this week with more gift guides! Today I’m featuring gifts for bar and home- perfect for the hosts and foodies in your life!
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?? I can’t believe it is only two weeks away! With that, I’m bringing back my gift guides for nearly everyone on your list. Starting today with gifts fit for the pickiest princess. But some budget friendly items mixed in too!
Hi friends! Just wanted to share that today I am featured on Headbands and Bagels– a wonderful blog penned by my friend Elisabeth! We met in engineering school at WashU, bonding over shared loves such as Gossip Girl, the Yankees and of course- preppy style. Liz is one of my few friends from college that I have consistently kept in touch with- the engineering bond is for life! I am happy we just spent a week together in Baltimore at the Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference- here we are there with our friend Sarah in the middle:
The post features a Q&A about my personal style- with a bunch of bonus secrets and guilty pleasures mixed in. If you ever wanted to know more about me, now is your chance! Some of my favorite features on Liz’s blog are her “Whats on my Kindle” and “Wednesday Wishes“. She also has great food features and stories about her adventures in LA and around the world! Check her out and show her some love 🙂
I am always reading about interesting art exhibits around the world, and while I hardly have the time or budget to visit them all, I have decided to do a series of posts highlighting them here. Maybe you will have the opportunity to visit and report back on these “Museum Mondays” so I may live vicariously through you!
I’m sorry for the lateness of today’s post- you would think I would have had some time to plan ahead while I was home for Thanksgiving- but of course I fell completely off the grid! However, on the train ride home, as I was reading the Amtrak gem “Arrive” magazine, I found an ad for the exhibit “Van Gogh Repetitions” currently on view in Washington DC. It looks fascinating, so of course I had to share it here!
The exhibition is a study of a lesser known side to Van Gogh’s artisitic process- examining the paintings whose subjects he visited multiple times. The term “repetitions” is actually one coined by Van Gogh to “describe his practice of creating more than one version of a particular subject.” The exhibit was originally inspired by the close relationship between the Cleveland Museum’s The Large Plane Trees (the first below) and the Phillips Collection’s The Road Menders (the second one) both dating from late 1889. I think you’ll agree- even the phrase “close relationship” is an understatement! Curators for the exhibit studied the two at length, using microscopes, digital photography, and X-radiographs, trying to decide which is the original and which was created later in the studio. Can you guess? While the colors are a notable difference, it is the brushstrokes that truly sets them apart. The Road Menders has more deliberate and controlled lines, while the spontaneity of the brushstrokes in The Large Plane Trees suggests it is the original field painting.
This curatorial process was repeated for 13 different repetitions- some with as many as nine variations on a theme! I have to imagine it was very fun to try and dig into each piece’s history and uncover the “original”. The Postman Joseph Roulin was one of Van Gogh’s favorite subjects and in real life, a true friend- visiting him in the hospital soon after the artist cut off his ear. Below are Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin, December 1888 and The Postman Joseph Roulin, May 1888
The curators of the exhibition aim to suggest that these refined repetitions are proof in point that Van Gogh is much more of true artist than history might remember him as. While many people suggest that it was only his mental illness creating beautiful masterpieces in frenzied fits of inspiration, these works show the more thoughtful side of the artist.
I know in the past when I have created my own paintings, I can never decide when it is “finished”. “One more brushstroke here.. or what if I added a hint of this color?..” It seems to me that Van Gogh had the same issue- but then struggled to the point of needing to completely start over- to reinvent the work as a new experiment. A first draft, a second draft, etc. Did he ever consider any of them “final” or “perfect”? I guess we will never know, but we can certainly visit and pick our own favorites!
Van Gogh Repetitions will be shown at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D. C., from October 2013 to January 2014, and then will make its own “repetition” at the Cleveland Museum of Art from March 2014 to May 2014. Please report back if you visit either! Van Gogh’s works are definitely ones that must be experienced in person.
I recently read about quince paste (or membrillo as it is called in Spain where it is originally from) and was very curious to try some for myself. Turns out- while very time consuming, it is quite easy to make! The hardest part is tracking down quince- they are only available for a short window of time. So this past weekend when I had a few hours, and I was able to find some knobbly green quince at whole foods, I decided to give it a shot.
Most of the recipes I share on this blog are called “easy entertaining” because they are so quick and easy to make. But sometimes, it is also just as easy to have a pantry full of ingredients that you can plate and serve up at the drop of a hat. (frozen cookie dough in the freezer, an emergency container of hummus, an arsenal of crackers, etc) At the holidays, it is especially important to have a few of these back up snacks because you never know who is going to drop by or when you will be stopping by someone else’s (can’t show up empty handed!!) Quince paste is another great pantry item that you can make in bulk and is good in the fridge forever. Serve it up with a little manchego cheese, a few crackers, glass of wine and you have yourself quite the Spanish themed evening!
Quince Paste (Membrillo)
What you need:
- Lemon- peel and juice separated
- Whole Vanilla Bean
Start by peeling, coring and cutting the quince into 3 inch (ish) cubes. Put in your biggest pot on the stove and cover the fruit completely with water. Split the vanilla bean and add it with the lemon peel to the water. Bring to a boil and keep heat up until the quince is cooked completely through. You should be able to start cutting it easily with a fork. Drain all of the water and remove the vanilla and lemon.
Next, return quince to the pot over low heat and add the lemon juice. Begin pureeing with an immersion blender (my favorite kitchen gadget!!). It will become the most incredibly smooth texture. Now, judging by a rough guess, add an amount of sugar about equal in weight to the amount of puree you have. This is a LOT of sugar. Yes, you really do need that much- quince are not sweet at all. It is helpful to think about how many pounds quince you bought at the grocery store- I added about 2/3 of that in sugar.
Now is the fun part. For the next hour and a half you must continually stir your quince over low heat so it does not burn, and watch it magically transformed from a very loose yellowish liquid to a dark rosy thick paste. Its hard to say when it is “done”. For me, this was when I could barely stir anymore and the consistency was similar to the thickest brownie batter you can imagine- it started to pull away from the sides of the pan and I could almost ball it up- but it was still pourable and spreadable.
Line an airtight container with buttered parchment paper and pour in the quince paste to about a 1-2″ thickness. Use a spatula smooth the surface and let rest until cool. That is it! Cover and put in the fridge- it will keep forever but I cannot promise how long it will last 😉