Friday, October 8, 2010

Fashion Photography: Grey Gardens

Currently there are not one or two, but three television series on the air dedicated to the psychological phenomena of hoarding; A and E’s “Hoarders”, TLC’s “Hoarding; Buried Alive” and Animal Planet’s “Confessions: Animal Hoarding”. You can also count Style channels “Clean House: Search for the Messiest Home in the Country” which is always about hoarders, but which is less judgmental, and much pushier in the clean up.

These programs feature feces reeking, pest infested dumps filled with the owners’ towering psychological baggage (which, in these cases, are manifested in three dimensions all around them).

These shows are the latest trendy replacements to feed America’s thirst for Jerry Springer-type “psycho-tainment”. Watching the crazies implode under the weight of their own garbage is one way to feel better about your own mess. Or you could just clean up…..

America's original reality show hoarders were featured in a low-budget documentary made by Albert and David Maysles in East Hampton in 1975. “Grey Gardens” exposed the decrepit condition of the home lived in by “Big” and “Little” Edie Bouvier Beale (mother and daughter) along with countless cats and occasional raccoons (dead and alive).

The documentary has always been a cult classic among artists and designers; the bittersweet history of the socialites (from the clan of Bouvier) and their odd descent into the hellhole that Grey Gardens became, speaks to the nostalgia felt for the romantically loopy old bats of literature and film, including; Miss Havisham, Blanche DuBois and Norma Desmond.

ince the documentary the story has been made into both a musical and a film (starring Drew Barrymore as Little Edie and Jessica Lang as Big Edie). Designers continue to pay homage to the faded and dementedly delightful style of the Beales; head scarves (which were worn to cover Little Edie’s hair loss), oddly fitting skirts and dresses that look as though they’ve been concocted from other pieces of clothing, mismatched layers, fur coats and floppy hats all make appearances. 

Grey Gardens During the Documentary
Headwear reminiscent of Little Edie
Little Edie featured in Italian Vogue in her hey day (left), WWD and
Drew Barrymore in costume for the film (right)
Scene from the film (left) and GG inspired Chanel
WWD spread
GG Film Costumes
A poem written by Little Edie (left), Lang and Barrymore in costume (center)
and the gardens circa 1975 (right)
Artwork for the musical and GG inspired Galliano
The Beale's piano room and Big Edie at home in '75
Little Edie before and after (poster from her one-woman cabaret show)

Photography by Rogerio Cavalcanti
Artwork promoting the musical
Layout featured in Zoom Zoom

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Penne With Broccoli And Italian Sausage

As promised....a recipe with actual vegetables! This is adapted from a dish my mom made when I was younger. Some of us like broccoli, and some don't, which is why I used it as a garnish (just on half - like a pizza!).

Penne With Broccoli And Italian Sausage
1 lb fresh Italian sausage (sweet, mild or hot depending on preference)

   remove from casings if needed
4 cloves garlic
1 box Penne

1/8 cup Pine Nuts
1oz Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive oil (2 or 3 pieces)
Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper

extra virgin olive oil
couple of shakes red pepper flakes (optional)
1 TB butter (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. 

Toast the pine nuts in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes (watch them! they burn so easily).
Throw the whole head (with stem)of broccoli in the boiling water for 5 minutes - then remove to cutting board.

Heat 2 TB olive oil in a large skillet and crumble the sausage meat into the oil until it starts to brown. Slice the garlic thinly and add garlic and pepper flakes, sauteeing until all meat is brown and slightly crisp. 

Slice the sun dried tomatoes thinly and add with the pine nuts to sausage. Add a few more splashes of olive oil to be sure there will be enough to cover the pasta - I added a pat of butter at this point as well. Reduce to low heat and stir well.

Cook pasta as per box instructions and drain. Dice the broccoli (florets and stem). Use the pasta pot to combine the penne and the sausage mixture (coating each piece of penne well with oil), reserving a tiny bit of oil in the sausage pan. Throw the broccoli into the garlic-y oil and toss on low until warmed. Salt and pepper both - pasta and broccoli.

Pour pasta mixture into large mouthed bowl or wide deep dish and place the broccoli on top to one side. Top with a generous amount of shaved Pecorino Romano (serve with more at the table).

The penne takes on a great nutty flavor!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kids' Halloween Capes - 101

A cape is the most versatile Halloween costume piece imaginable. Depending on your fabric and color choice they can be used for super heroes, super villains, vampires, princesses/ queens/ kings, knights, Robin Hood, fairy tale heroes and heroines, etc…..

Kids Halloween costume making should be quick and easy, and very customizable. 

I came up with these two simple patterns (one for little kids, and one for big). The most important feature of these is the stand-up collar. It’s much more dramatic (and not any more work) than the ones I’ve seen in Martha Stewart which are collar-less.

What you’ll need:
Two contrasting fabrics for the inside and the outside.
(These capes are completely reversible.)
My guys chose a super shiny wet-look for one side (one chose gold and the other red) with a black satin on the other. 
 (1 yard each for the small cape, 1 ½ yards for the long one)
1 yard decorative cord or ribbon for the tie
½ yard interfacing (I used black)
1/4 yard 1 inch wide elastic (optional)
Note: Sewing shiny fabric to shiny fabric requires LOTS of pins – get more if you don’t have a ton.

Cape #1:
Measure the width of your fabric folded (it’s probably about 30 inches).
Measure this length along the fold and place a pin on the fold. Cut a semi circle as per sketch (see below).
If you are very bad at free handing, you can tie a thread (30 inches long) to a pencil, hold the thread end at the top of the fold with one hand and sketch a semi circle with the pencil onto the fabric. Do this with both fabrics. 
Cut out the collar pieces – 11 inches long by 3.5 inches high (from both fabrics). Cut a piece of interfacing  11 inches long by 8 inches high and fold (the fold gives the collar extra oomph).

Find the center of the collar pieces, and the center of the cape pieces, and sew the collar pieces to their matching cape pieces (right sides – or shiny sides – together). 

Pin both sets of shiny sides together, and pin interfacing ½ inch below top edge of collar (you won’t be stitching the top fold). Stitch all around cape and collar edge using ½ inch seam allowance (leaving 6 inches unsewn at bottom cape edge).
Flip the cape right side out. Use your scissor points to get the collar tips good and pointy.
Topstitch the open bit of hem closed. Pin decorative cord over one side of the collar seam and topstitch down (leaving enough on either side for tying).

Cape #1 used for this Dr. Jekyll Cape (he has a vest on in photo 2):

Cape #2:
Measure the length you want the cape to be and cut (we did 42 inches long). Do this with both fabrics.

Cut out the collar pieces – 11 inches long by 3.5 inches high (from both fabrics). Cut a piece of interfacing 11 inches long by 8 inches high and fold.

Find the center of the collar pieces, and the center of the cape pieces, and sew the collar pieces to their matching cape pieces (right sides – or shiny sides – together).   

Pin both sets of shiny sides together, and pin interfacing ½ inch below top edge of collar (you won’t be stitching the top fold). 
Note: Alternative tie method - pin two pieces of decorative cord (long enough to tie in front) with 1 inch sticking out, away from the collar, and the long ends going into the body of the cape (you’ll have to be careful to only sew the ends into the collar, and not accidentally sew the cords into the seam anywhere else – pin it to the center of the cape if you have to).
Stitch all around cape and collar edge using ½ inch seam allowance (leaving 6 inches unsewn at bottom cape edge).

Flip the cape right side out. Use your scissor points to get the collar tips good and pointy.
Topstitch the open bit of hem closed. Topstitch the collar seam.
Measure wrists and cut elastic this measurement. Sew ends together to make two cuffs. Tack or sew these cuffs into the corners of the cape for added drama.

Cape #2 used for this Heavy Metal Demon Costume:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sliders and Steak Fries

Let me preface this post with an explanation as to why I cook like a cross between a fifties housewife and a diner fry cook.

I’ve already mentioned that my mother is a gourmet cook (and freelance food writer). My ex-husband was a chef, who cooked for us most nights, and owned and ran his own restaurant for a while. These combined shadows gave me low cooking-confidence, and I rarely delved into anything more complicated than mac and cheese for many years, lest I be judged by the better cooks around me.

After my divorce three years ago, I felt unfettered enough to explore the kitchen on my own. With my two very young boys as my only customers, I developed a kid-friendly style that was rooted primarily in retro pop-culture, combined with what I learned working in my ex’s restaurant (which was California CafĂ© style).

Another heavy influence on my cooking style is The Food Network’s Sandra Lee. My older son (who wants to be a chef) and I love to watch her program “Semi-Homemade”. The name says it all.
She’s a QVC product queen (she invented Kraft Kurtains and 157 other items) whose Food Network bio states she “attended the world's leading culinary art institute, Le Cordon Bleu”.  [So what if it was the one in Ottowa? And if it was just a two week course she skipped out on half way through?] We like her and her 1950’s cooking style; reminiscent of the jam-packed lives of women experiencing the wonder of the dawn of the space age.

Her basic formula involves 70% store-bought, prepared foods (in cans, boxes, packets or frozen) with a sprinkling of 30% fresh from scratch ingredients. While I don’t touch cheez-wiz, or eat canned veggies, I do employ her methods to get that dinner out – every night, hot and complete, whether I have the energy, money or emotional where-with-all or not, and trying, somehow, to make it fun. Almost EVERY night we sit down, all together. Making that happen sometimes takes help, especially on work evenings.

This recipe is reminiscent of White Castle’s sliders. I promise I'll make something with vegetables next time.

I usually make my own slider buns, by baking a tray of white dinner rolls (from the frozen food section).
I happened upon a bunch of Pepperidge farm slider buns at the dollar bread store, so I bought them instead this time (but the fresh baked rolls are MUCH better).

1 ½ pound ground beef
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400

Mix and pat into a 9 x 12 cookie tray. Meat should be about ¼ inch deep. Use a chop stick or straw to poke holes (a la White castle) into the meat every inch or so. Bake for 15 minutes. Take out and add cheese slices to top (the meat will shrink – but it will still be rectangular). 
Bake 5 minutes until cheese melts. Use a bit of math and a pizza cutter to slice equally sized burgers, about 2.5 inches square.

Place each on a bun and serve with sliced roma tomatoes, lettuce and pickle chips.
Makes 15 sliders.

Steak Fries
4 of the longest russet potatoes you can find in the bag
2 cups Cooking oil (I use canola, but safflower or
    vegetable is fine)
Popcorn salt

The secret to restaurant style fries is par-frying. It’s how you get the fries just golden and crisp on the outside, but perfectly cooked and soft on the inside.

Everyone in my house likes the skin on the fries so I don’t peel them (but you can if you wish). Cut your russet potatoes in the fry shape that you prefer. 

Pour enough oil into the pan so that it is about ¼ inch deep (deep enough for one fry to be almost covered).
Heat on medium heat.

Place the raw fries on one paper towel covered plate on the right side of the pan, and a second paper towel 
covered plate on the left. You’ll be doing these in batches.

When oil is heated, cover the bottom of the pan with one layer of raw fries. Fry for one minute (may need less time for the first batch). If even one fry begins to change to a gold color – take them all out right away! 
They should still look raw at this point. Transfer with slotted spoon to left hand plate. Repeat until all fries are par-fried.
 Replace oil to bring it back up to depth and heat up for a few minutes. 

Now cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of par-fried fries, and fry until all are golden all over (may have to turn a few). 
Remove to empty paper towel and salt immediately. Popcorn salt is finer than regular salt and will cover the hot fries better. Let oil heat between final few batches. 
Continue frying and salting until all are done. 

You can freeze leftover sliders (bun and all) - wrap two together in plastic wrap (no one ever wants just one). Once frozen microwave 1 - 2 minutes to heat.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spookily Dainty and Eerily Sweet.........

Night birds, apparitions and pretty creatures lost in the woods populate the oil paintings of Kelly Louise Judd (from Swan Bones Theatre).These pieces seem to reference the fairy tales our mothers didn't read to us....

MWKA Monday - Jen Frischknecht

This is the second in a series of interviews with moms who inspire. If you or someone you know would like to participate in this project please contact me.

Work-from-home mom Jen Frischnecht talks about juggling three kids, a marriage, home and her career, the remembered angst of getting through high school and how important humor is each and every day.

Name: Jen Frischknecht
Age: 38
City: Warwick, NY

How many children do you have and what are their ages and names?
Three kids:  Kyle 10, Ryan 8, Holly 3.

Tell me about their names, and why you picked them.
I wanted to name my firstborn after my Dad - but Dad's name is Orville. So Kyle got his own name when Steve hit on it in a names database while walking to the car after we had the ultrasound where we saw he was a boy.  His middle name, Benjamin, was chosen by my Dad in lieu of having a direct namesake.
With Ryan we just keep trying out names until someone suggested Ryan and it was just right. Ry's middle name is Steven - after his father.
Holly's name was a wrong number; we couldn't decide . I had always wanted to name my little girl Christine, after my sister who we lost just before her 6th birthday ( I was 2). Steve had always thought he'd name his little girl Samantha.  I couldn't imagine a girl named Samantha Frischknecht - too many letters! So we'd try out a bunch of names and not find anything that worked. And then one day the phone rang and it was a wrong number. The name on the caller ID was Holly - and it was the right name. We chose Christine as her middle name.

Are you married or have you ever been?
Married - we just celebrated 15 years.

Do you work outside the home?
I work for a company that exists outside my home, however I am very fortunate to do it without leaving the house.

What is your position?
I’m a Software Test Lead.

Are you doing what you want to be doing, or is it a stepping stone to something else?
That's not straightforward. I think a short answer is that I'm doing what I want to be doing  - now.  It'd be really nice to not have to work, but then I'm not sure what I'd do with my time. Probably bake all day and get really fat.

Did you go to school? When and for what?
I have a Bachelor's from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY in Computer Information Systems in '94

How did you end up in the city you reside in?
After living away for about 12 years we've just moved back to our hometown to be near family and friends.

Where else have you lived?
We've lived in a few different towns in Massachusetts, and a few towns here in Orange County, NY.

Where have you traveled?
Some domestic - Florida and California.
My favorite travel by far has been to cruise - we've now been to Bermuda, St. Martin, St Thomas, Nassaua Bahamas, and Cocokey Bahamas.
What was a typical day for you when you were 20?
I would have been a Junior in college for most of that. So I would have gotten up without having an 8:00am class having learned how to avoid those early on. Would have walked to classes, eaten lunch probably in the cafeteria, spent time with my bestest bud and then roomie Deanna, and probably some time with the boyfriend. If it was a Friday there would have been something - either heading to the mall, or out to a party. It was college life on campus.

Describe a typical day now. [continued]