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Kitchen Basics, No. 3: Washing and Storing Spring Produce

Ernst Benary - Album Benary

Can you believe it? I'm almost too superstitious to say it, but I will. Spring has sprung in New York. At least that's what I assume (err…hope) all those mid-afternoon rainstorms are about. Right?

Just thinking about all the warm, sunny and light-filled days that lie ahead gets me so giddy. I can't help but be uber-excited... and hungry. It's safe to say that spring delivers my favorite foods.  Asparagus? Strawberries? Yes, Please!

As the days draw close, it's seems appropriate to share with you some tips and techniques on handling these precious ingredients with the care and tenderness they deserve. Spring is a time of renewal, and after a harsh, long, and cold winter; we could all use a little freshness in our lives. 

This season we can look forward to the seemingly infinite assortment of delicious leafy greens available. Spinach, arugula, watercress, mustard, baby lettuce, chard... yum!

The best process to clean greens is to remove them from their stalk first. Then, fill up a sink or large bowl with cold water.  Place the greens into the water, and let them soak for 5-10 minutes. Periodically swish them around to dislodge any dirt or sand that may be stuck. After the time has elapsed, drain the water, and check the bottom of  the sink (or bowl) for leftover residue. If there happens to be a lot, it's smart to repeat the process one more time. Plan on using up all your leaves immediately - if you do not - wrap the remainder in damp paper towels and keep them in your vegetable crisper drawer until ready to use.

To naturally satisfy your sweet tooth, look out for strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Since berries are super sensitive, it's best to wash them only when ready to use. To do so, place them in a colander or strainer and rinse them gently with cold water. Then, lightly lay them on doubled up paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Store pre-rinsed berries in the refrigerator and away from humidity to keep fresh. If you're like me, you shouldn't have any trouble eating them all up in one fell swoop.   

Spring brings us roots and tubers too - new potatoes, carrots, celeriac, and turnips are just a few. These vegetables should be scrubbed individually under cold water with a hard-bristled brush. Do so even if you plan on peeling off the skins. Potatoes and celeriac should be stored in a cool, dark place (away from onions - as they emit gases that can spoil each other). Carrots and turnips are to be removed from their greens, and kept in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator. 

Photo by Bobbi Lin
* For those of you who prefer to clean with something stronger, I would suggest using a 1 to 3 mixture of white wine vinegar to water, rather than the commercially-made vegetable sprays.  

* Certified organic produce need to be washed too! Oh, and same goes with those bagged salads that claim to have been "triple-washed." Yep, sorry, there's no getting around this one! Once you take your first delicious bite, you'll forget all about it. 


Just a Little Breather

Jack at his first (but probably not his last) photo shoot yesterday
Hello, friends! At 4:27 AM last Wednesday, I gave birth to a handsome little devil named Jack Thurston Fraser.  Once he decided he was ready to make his entrance, he tried to race into the world as quickly as possible, making his birth a pretty wild event.  I'll skip to the happy ending/beginning when he arrived safe and sound, I was healthy and elated, and we went home to a nest full of loving family (how lucky am I that my sister and mom are here to share this experience with us?). 

Miya and I are so truly lucky to be working on such fantastic projects right now, but that combined with my new arrival means we're just a little swamped.  After gazing at Jack, breastfeeding him every couple hours, and helping Claire get to know her baby brother, there are only so many available hours during the day.  Then there's poor Miya who is working extra hard to pick up some of my slack.  I hope you'll understand if our posting is a little spotty for the next few weeks while we get in a new routine.   

Thank goodness we also have Meg to keep you well fed (did you see last Thursday's recipe for homemade gremolata bread crumbs?), the Jackalope girls to fulfill any cocktail needs you might have (like Bloody Marys), and Mary Ellen to share both kitchen basics (homemade ricotta anyone?) and design inspiration.

What may be lacking in quantity of posts will be completely overshadowed by the quality of what will be coming your way over the next few weeks.  In addition to our phenomenal contributors, there are so many projects we've been dying to share with you! 

I hope you all get the chance to cuddle up with your family and/or pets tonight--that's what I'll be doing.


Is Tuesday too Early to Start Preparing for the Weekend?

Good Afternoon You+Me* Readers! Many many apologies for being late posting today. We are about a month out from opening our brewery and are so busy that we honestly sometimes we forget what day it is. Before we go any further, we want to send a big congratulations to Elisabeth for being able to drink again… and for the whole baby thing!

Now, back to the drinking. I don’t want to make anyone jealous, but on Sunday they’re predicting that Nashville is going to get its first 80 degree day of the year. Yay! Which means it’s the perfect time for one of our favorite activities here at Jackalope: day drinking. Not just any day drinking, we’re planning on throwing a brunch that has as much emphasis on the drinks as the food – Drunch ,if you will. I’m going to be making these scones, which Miya has talked about before and are so delicious, along with these scones from the Barefoot Contessa. I love her. I love her as much as I love Martha, choosing between them would be too hard so I’m glad I’ll never have to. Bailey on the other hand, will be focusing on the drinks portion of the drunch. Something you should know about Bailey, she’s not just a great brewer, she also makes a phenomenal bloody mary. I think it’s something in her genetic make-up. Her tried and true bloody mary recipe (which has indeed turned former naysayers into bloody mary believers) goes a little something like this:

1.5 oz vodka (Bailey personally likes Beefeater for a bloody mary, but whatever suits your fancy)

5 oz V8 juice

1 tablespoon chopped horseradish

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

A splash (or two or three, if you like the spice) of Tobasco sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

1 lime wedge

Celery Stalk

Just mix the ingredients over ice, squeeze the lime wedge into the beverage, and stir with the celery stalk. If you’re feeling adventurous, replace the celery stalk with a pickle spear, pouring some pickle brine in as well (you won’t be sorry). And remember, these measurements can all be adjusted for your personal taste…cocktails are meant to be fun, after all!

** Note from Bailey: One important rule I would like to impart though, lest my grandmother never forgive me, bloody marys are purely a daytime drink and should only be consumed before 4:00 pm (or you may turn into a Gremlin).


Designer Spotlight! Sanna Annukka

I came across this lovely Finnish/English designer while perusing the stationary collection over at 1973. I was immediately drawn to her usage of bold geometrics, and unusually fun color combinations.

The artists name is Sanna Annukka. She is a supremely talented illustrator and print-maker based in the UK. 

How great would it be to get a present wrapped up in this?

Just lovely! Happy weekend everyone!


Queenie Cooks: Homemade Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Let's talk frugality. I'm all for indulgence, especially when it comes to my food budget, but that doesn't mean that one need be wasteful, does it? Celery tops should always find their way into the soup pot, beet greens into your stew and the ends of loaves of bread into your food processor.

It's one of life's great twists, actually, that one of the cheapest things on earth - homemade breadcrumbs - are also one of the tastiest. There's very little out there that gives the richness and texture you get from a freshly toasted batch of breadcrumbs. The Italians, masters of use-it-up cuisine, sprinkle them everywhere, including on top of pasta. What could be more indulgent than that, right?

I'm currently in lust with a recipe I spotted on Food52, which mixes Japanese panko crumbs with lemon zest and parsley to yield a gremolata breadcrumb, the perfect topping, for, well, anything. The recipe pairs the crumbs with roasted cauliflower, but I think they'd be just as luscious on top of buttered pasta, steam broccoli or roasted sprouts. I'm obsessed, to say the least.


Gremolata Breadcrumbs

Heels of one loaf of white bread, preferably baguette
1 tbs. olive oil
Zest of one lemon
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs. parsley, finely chopped

Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor (large or small) fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse several times until the bread has formed uniform, somewhat fine crumbs.

Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast for a few minutes, until they are golden. Add the lemon zest and garlic and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is fragrant and the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

Remove from the heat to a small bowl and toss with the parsley. Use like mad on everything in sight. The breadcrumbs will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for a few days.

Makes 1/2 cup or so of breadcrumbs.



We interrupt our scheduled programming to tell you that Elisabeth welcomed sweet baby Jack into the world last night. Both mama and baby are doing well, and we're all in love with him already. 
(has anyone ever looked so chic on their way to the hospital?)


Happy Wednesday!

Hello lovelies, I hope you're having a nice week, and just want to start off by telling you that you DO NOT want to miss what Meg's got cooking for tomorrow. Because we're in need of a deep breath, let's all dream of having a room like this in our house for a second, shall we? Found it on pintrest, and haven't been able to get enough since.

We hope you're all having a lovely week, and we can't wait to see you back here soon! We hope you'll understand if the next few weeks' postings are a little light; we promise it will pay off with lots of fun stuff later!


Picky Eatin'

Dear YOU + ME*,
I am currently feeding a toddler and she is picky, to put it nicely. I want to make her happy (and not aid in her starvation), but if I have another macaroni and cheese dinner, I am going to scream. Any suggestions for how to make meals that we'll all enjoy?
Thank you,

Dear R.,
From what we've experienced and from what our friends also say, feeding a toddler is not the easiest of all of the parenting tasks. We've never known a faster turnaround from "I like it!" to "I hate it!" and back again. But! We've found a few ways to make it so that you only have to make one dinner to feed all of the members of your family. We've found the secret to cooking only one meal to be lots and lots and choices at said meal.

First off, consider using recipes that entail cooking a few different components and then putting them together at the end. Then you can serve the ingredients separately to let each family member put together a meal that suits his or her palate. Tacos and burritos are a perfect example of this. If you serve tacos with all of the ingredients separately, your toddler can pick and choose from the spread what he or she wants to eat, and all of the other family members can have a meal that's suitable for the over-four set. More ideas for meals like this would be a mezze meal (hummus, tabouli, pita, yogurt with optional cucumber, dill, and lemon juice to mix in, greek salad, falafel--definitely use this recipe--it is so yummy) or a salad bar (greens, toppings, and plenty of croutons and cheeses).
Maybe also consider meals that entail individuals picking out the components of their meal before cooking. This pizza-in-a-bowl recipe allows everyone to pick their own toppings for their pizzas. Your toddler can pick just cheese, while your partner goes crazy with peppers and chili flakes. Another option along these lines is shabu-shabu, where you pick ingredients to cook, and then cook them in a shallow pot of broth.
We hope these suggestions help; if you're looking for deeper reading, Miya's really into this book and this one as well (anyone else have books on the subject they like?). Happy Tuesday!


A Monday in Blues and Yellows

Happy Monday, friends!  Despite the rainy Sunday, it was still a lovely weekend.  There was outdoor fun in the 50+ degree weather on Saturday and tons of organizing for the baby (thanks for the help, Mom!).  Claire arrived fashionably late, so there could still be another week and a half of waiting, but I forgot how exciting the anticipation can be in the final days.  I really can't think of anything comparable in my adult life. 

Since I've admitted to being just a little distracted by the brand new human being about to make his entrance any day now, I hope you'll excuse me for a gathering post that is just a tiny bit random. Let's call it a nursery in blues and yellows.

House Stringing a Banner Pillow by Olive

This pretty little pillow made me think of our home just sitting here ready to welcome a new baby.  [You hear that baby? We're all prepared. Feel free to join us any time now.]  My other favorite is this one. You can customize the fabric background and the message.  Wouldn't it be the cutest prop for a proposal? And then it could hold the rings in the wedding--awww, makes me want to get married again (to the same wonderful man, of course). 

Equilateral Triangles Crib Quit by Carson Converse Studio
I know they have a lot of fans, but I've never been too into triangles (just a little too pointy for my taste). Maybe it's the color combination or that the backside speaks to my irrational adoration of stripes, but I love, love, love this quilt.  I'm kind of dying to use it as a wall hanging in Claire's soon-to-be-shared room, but it seems just a little bit splurge-y right now.  For now, I'll just avert my eyes and call it restraint.

Scattered Showers, stiched cityscape by Laura Amiss
This town looks so much cozier in the rain than what I'm seeing outside my window right now.  I love a little texture on canvas and when it comes in the form of felt roofs and stitched raindrops, I'm pretty sure my little one(s) would feel the same way.

I hope your Monday is just the beginning of an absolutely fantastic week!


For Your Favortite Stargazer

Happy Friday, everyone. We're shooting today for one of our very favorite clients, and can't wait to tell you more about that project soon. I don't know what it is about springtime, but every year it rolls around, and I get really into stars. Not like "ooh, who wore what to the Oscars" really into stars, but like astronomy really into stars. Maybe it's the memories of going backpacking over spring breaks in middle and high school, or the anticipation of being able to actually enjoy going outside again. Whatever it is, here are some gift ideas if you have a stargazer in your life.
(Ana Montiel Cosmic Mantra Print; Little Paper Planes)
(Christopher Kane Mystic scarf; Opening Ceremony)
(Astrological Cuff Bracelet, Orion; Julie Nolan)
Also, here's a total aside: have you ever looked at Google Sky? It's incredible. You can explore the universe from your desktop, and you can overlay different information. Really. Go see it
That's all for now, chickadees. We hope you have a lovely weekend full of stargazing, even if it's just from your desktop. 

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