17.8.14

sunday senses

Palm trees Goliath Ice cream Clouds in concave A succulent A window

eating / I don't know how it hasn't happened until now, but I just discovered in the past week how good ice cream was. I never really understood it when people talked about eating entire pints of it.. well, I understand now. Ice cream is good. It also tastes good eaten with chopsticks, but maybe that's just me.
listening / Still obsessed with Birdy. She has the most beautiful voice. Not About Angels is a good song. I cannot stop listening to XO by BeyoncĂ©. Other new favorites: Adieu by Coeur de Pirate, 9 Crimes by Damien Rice, and The Hill by Marketa Irglova (from the musical Once).
reading / Report on the Barnhouse Effect is a short story by Kurt Vonnegut and it makes me so happy. Which is funny because most of his other novels give you the feeling that everything is either meaningless or a joke. Despite its optimism, Barnhouse isn't lacking in Vonnegut's signature sarcasm. Thankfully, because that's what makes him one of my favorite authors. He also wrote EPICAC—a sadder story.
acquiring / I saw a dictionary of rhyming words at Target in the $1 section and picked it up without thinking twice. Not sure what I'll use it for, but.. it was only a dollar. Just in case I ever get into poetry.
doing / Packing for college. It makes me sneeze, but I love it. I finished most of it within a day, far exceeding my expected time limit of a week. I suppose it's nice, being someone with practically no personal belongings.

13.8.14

croissants

Croissants.

I haven't posted a recipe in the longest time and I'm at a loss for what to write about. Do I describe the food itself? Do I tell an inspiring story about myself and cleverly connect it to the food? Do croissants even need an introduction?

Considering how long the instructions are going to be, I don't think they do.

And considering that the most inspiring thing about myself that I can think of right now is that I'm trying to read Harry Potter in French and that Harry Potter (the English version, at least) makes me nostalgic, it's a good thing they don't need an introduction.

Croissants.

As for the croissants...

They go stale very quickly, so they're best eaten the day of, or at most the day after.
Therefore eat as many as you can when they come out of the oven. They won't be nearly as good tomorrow.

Croissants, before the oven.

Croissants.
Makes around 30

1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, frozen
1 egg, for brushing

Combine the milk and boiling water in a large bowl, then add the yeast and sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until bubbly.  
Mix in the flour and salt, and knead until incorporated.   
Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cut up the frozen butter and shape into an approximately 8" x 5" rectangle. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into an approximately 16" x 10" rectangle.
Place the butter in the middle of the dough, and fold the dough in thirds over the butter, making sure to seal the dough around the butter. (If the butter leaks through, it may affect the flakiness of the dough. You can patch up holes in the dough by sprinkling flour and water over them.)
Roll the dough out lengthwise into a 15" x 10" rectangle (basically, the side that was longer after folding will continue to be the longer side. Fold into thirds. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Repeat this step (roll into a rectangle, fold into thirds, and refrigerate) three more times.

Cut the dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, or overnight.

Roll out into a long rectangle (about 32" x 12") and cut into triangles.
Cut a small slit at the short end of the triangle, and roll up the croissant, pushing the sides out toward either side.
Place 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise for 2-3 hours, loosely covered. (You can also freeze the croissants at this point.)

To bake, preheat oven to 425°F. Brush croissants with a beaten egg.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let cool on a wire rack.

Croissants, dismembered. Croissants.

11.8.14

sunsets and hills

Grass. A tree. Sunset. Blue mountains.
Pictures taken by iPhone from a day I walked my dog.

8.8.14

have a wonderful weekend.

In my beginning is my end.

It's the middle of summer. Is is perhaps beginning to get a little old? Do I start to feel a craving for autumn weather? Or should we hold on to these last bits of summer as if it's the last we'll ever get? Lately, I've been seeing a lot of vacation pictures floating around the web, and it's seriously making me wish I was anywhere but here.

Pretty places I'd like to go:
    Germany
    Louisiana
    Yosemite
    Malibu
    Alaska
    Provence
An interview with Lorde.
Clever greeting cards.
Picnic spinner.
Amelia Earhart on marriage.
Skunks.
A beautiful cookbook.

7.8.14

the getty.

The Getty Center.

Museums are one of my favorite ways to squander a beautiful day. Maybe squander isn't the right word for it; I have to believe that art is more important to us than it might seem.

The gardens at the Getty Center.

I've been to the Getty twice before; I went this time because there was an Ansel Adams exhibit. He's possibly my favorite photographer, although that's most likely because I don't know of any others. Other reasons include that I once read his biography for a school project, and that Yosemite is my favorite place. Even without these partialities, however, I don't think I would have been any less amazed by the exhibit. I won't pretend to know anything about photography, but what struck me the most was the contrast, with bright spots that, coming from my camera, would have looked overexposed, but in his case, looked like they were glowing. Leaves were glowing, snowy tree branches were glowing. Who knew that a reality captured through a camera could look so surreal?

I wish I could have taken pictures of that exhibit, but below are some of my other favorites from the museum.

Minerva.
Minerva, Joseph Nollekens, 1775.

Dancer.
Dancer, Paolo Troubetzkoy, 1912.

Irises.
Irises, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889.

Van Gogh's Irises was definitely the most popular painting there.

Van Tromp
Van Tromp, Going about to Please his Masters, Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1844.

Portrait of Louise Antoinette Feuardent.
Portrait of Louise Antoinette Feuardent, Jean-François Millet, 1841.

Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning.
Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning, Claude Monet, 1891.

Sunrise.
Sunrise, Claude Monet, 1873.

The Grand Canal
The Grand Canal in Venice from Palazzo Flangini to Campo San Marcuola, Canaletto, 1738.

View through the window.
Faces on the ceiling.
Statue and room. White walkway.
Cacti.
Spiny Top, Curly Bottom.

Spiny Top, Curly Bottom, Alexander Calder, 1963.

The gardens at the Getty.

11.7.14

road trip: part 3

From the hotel room.

And the road trip ended in San Francisco, where we spent a day of endless walking (from the Embarcadero to Golden Gate Park). We ended up passing by two farmer's markets, a couple of sea lions, a countless number of runners, walkers, and bicyclers, swans, mansions, among other random things. I suppose that's not too impressive for a city like San Francisco, but it's certainly very different from life in suburbia. Restaurants around every corner, the streets full of people, and people of every sort. I wouldn't mind living there.

By the embarcadero.
The streets of San Francisco.

I think I realized by the end of the day that I had barely taken any pictures, and so walking through the botanical garden, I tried taking as many pictures as possible, just so that I wouldn't come home with inadequate photographic evidence. Yes, that is a legitimate fear I have while I am on vacation. I hope that these pictures of plants are enough to hold up as a memento of the time I once went to San Francisco on the 26th of June 2014.

Pink flowers.
Maple leaves.
Clovers.
Leaves.
Clovers.
Poppy.
Veins.
Fennel.