thekitchn
food + drink

ELIZABETH GILBERT’S MAGIC HOMEMADE CHAI

I love Elizabeth Gilbert. I read her books, I follow her on social media, I generally think she’s wonderful. So when she posted this magical-sounding chai concoction on her Facebook page the other day, I immediately made a mental note to try it someday. Chock-full of spices and a soothing mixture of coconut oil, honey and turmeric, it seemed like just the thing for a late December evening.

Turns out it is. Rob and I have been sick for the last week–first me, then him–and on Wednesday night, we were both feeling blah, despite the fact we’d gone out for a nice dinner to celebrate our wedding being just one month away (!!). On the way home, we stopped at the grocery store, and I decided to grab the spices to make the tea. After I’d steeped and strained everything, I frothed up some almond milk and sprinkled on some ground cinnamon.

Friends, I am happy to report that this drink is just as lovely as it sounds. It’s creamy and spicy and slightly coconutty, and the honey adds a nice sweetness. I’ll be making this again and again–it’s like a warm hug in tea form.

Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to try it yourself–we’re staying in for New Year’s Eve, and I’m looking forward to another cup of this while I snuggle up on the couch with Rob and Rambo. Happy 2016, friends. xoxo Continue Reading

chocolatebuttercreamfrosting2
food + drink

PERFECT CHOCOLATE FROSTING

This was originally supposed to be a post about the chocolate-caramel layer cake I planned to make from the September issue of Cooks Illustrated, which turned out perfectly except for the fact that I kept burning the caramel filling. It wasn’t until Rob went out at 11:30 p.m. in a futile attempt to look for heavy cream after I’d burned my second batch that I threw in the (kitchen) towel and decided to turn my chocolate-caramel cake into a chocolate layer cake.

The cake itself, though it turned out perfectly, is kind of unremarkable–it’s your basic chocolate dump cake. But the frosting was amazing–thick and creamy and intensely chocolatey, thanks to the addition of both cocoa powder and melted bittersweet chocolate. And best of all, you just throw everything in the food processor to make it–it comes together in less than 5 minutes.

The frosting was perfect on the chocolate cake, but it would also be great on vanilla cupcakes or sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies or to top off brownies. I’m sharing it here in case you need an easy, go-to chocolate icing recipe–I have a feeling a lot of you will be doing some holiday baking this weekend, so I hope this helps you out. Continue Reading

Citizen Jane Jewelry
shop talk

SHOP TALK: JUSTINA SOTO OF CITIZEN JANE JEWELRY

Today I’m thrilled to share the first of what I hope will be many interviews with talented, creative businesswomen–and we’re definitely kicking off the series on a high note. I was introduced to Justina Soto’s jewelry line, Citizen Jane, earlier this year, and was excited when she told me she recently expanded her collection to include earring, bracelets and necklaces (her Gate cuff and Moonburst necklace are my favorites). Justina, pictured above, crafts all of her pieces using a centuries-old technique called sand casting; I asked her to tell me more about it, as well as her creative process and where she hopes to see Citizen Jane in five years. I hope you enjoy!

How did you first discover your love for making jewelry?

I studied ceramics and sculpting in college and quickly became enamored with working with my hands. After college, I worked at few jewelry companies in New York City and learned everything from general jewelry engineering to soldering, casting and polishing. I reached a point where I wanted to create a brand for myself, and found that it was gratifying to branch out and build something for myself.

Citizen Jane Jewelry

What was the first piece you ever made, and why was it meaningful to you?

The first serious piece I ever made using traditional metalworking was a silver oxidized ring. I made it while working for a small company in Brooklyn, and although it was for their line, it gave me confidence in metalwork and the push to pursue other forms of casting on my own.

How does sand casting work and what made you choose that technique?

Sand casting involves pressing your wax mold in between your flask pieces with the intention of creating an identical ring. The idea is to make a pathway in the flask so that once you remove the wax ring, you have a space to pour the molten metal. Nine times out of 10 you’ll have a replica of your original piece. I use this method because the rings all end up having a super organic surface that I find really beautiful. Sand casting is also ideal when you’re working in an urban environment where your surroundings can be limiting. With a minimal set-up, you’re able to create interesting pieces—despite those limitations.

Citizen Jane Jewelry

You’ve recently expanded your line to earrings and necklaces, in addition to rings. Can you tell us a little about the new collection?

The new pieces are made entirely of recycled brass and cast bronze, and represent the inspiration I find in aged, antique jewelry; more specifically vintage Mexican necklaces, as they are often statement pieces yet remain timeless. Several of the collars, for example, are minimalist approaches to those inspirations and aim to be an accessible and modern way to dress up everyday looks. The line is a contemporary take on typically tribal and archaic textures and colors, and because I love the fact that jewelry-wearing is such an old and long-lasting tradition, the pieces definitely aim to pay homage to that.

You’re a musician as well as a jewelry designer, and you’ve got a sculpting background–what does a typical day look like for you?

My responsibilities change depending on the day and time of year, but around the holidays I’ll split my time between preparing for holiday performances, getting my pieces out to trunk shows and reaching out to taste makers. So basically a lot of learning new songs, making pieces and emails! In between all of that, I hang out with my cat and partner, and also drink lots of coffee!

Citizen Jane Jewelry

What’s your goal for Citizen Jane Jewelry–where do you see it in five years?

Although I love the idea of creating collections, I’m also interested in eventually moving into the world of custom wedding rings using fair-mined fine metals and conflict-free diamonds. I’d love to bring the skills that I’ve obtained in this specialized field and create interesting, contemporary, high-end pieces, all while valuing sustainability. So in five years, I’m interested in seeing the most growth in that field!

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to someone just starting out?

The only way to get better is to think big and to constantly learn new things about your craft. If you’ve mastered one thing, move on to the next and learn as much as possible about it, because that will be your greatest resource. There will always be things that seem intimidating, but the worst that will happen is that you’ll fail—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s definitely a reason people say that failing can be a positive, as you are guaranteed to learn at least one important lesson.

Thank you so much, Justina! 

giftguide205
holidays

2015 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE!

And now for this year’s gift guide! I have so much fun putting these together, even though I always feel like I’m buying into the feverish consumerism of the season a little bit. That said, I base each on these gifts on someone I know personally, and each one is something I really would buy for each of my friends and family if budget was no consideration.

So here are 10 great gifts for every person in your life–I hope you love them as much as I do.

1 For the coffee and tea lover: This Rifle Paper Co. coffee and tea calendar is beautiful–you could bundle it up with a bag of your favorite coffee and a cute mug, but it’s perfect on its own, too.

2 For your most irreverent friend, who loves to drop the f bomb: Enough said. (I saw this on The Stripe and am seriously considering buying it for myself.)

3 For the stylish dog lover in your life: This awesome Puppy Uppers treat jar from Jonathan Adler.

4 For your favorite cat lady: Charlotte Olympia’s Kitty flats are perfection–adorable and stylish.

5 For your best friend, the consummate hostess, who always lets you come over and hang out: A candle that smells gorgeous and will look lovely in her living room.

6 For the new or soon-to-be mom: This amazing illuminator, which will enhance that gorgeous pregnant or new-mama glow. (I own this and cannot recommend it enough.)

7 For your brother, who loves a great cocktail: The Carry-On Cocktail Kit, which means he doesn’t have to sacrifice quality when he travels.

8 For your father, whose love for Star Trek is unwavering: This Enterprise cheese board and some of his favorite cheese. (I’m buying this exact thing for my dad this year.)

9 For your mother, who has helped you plan your entire wedding and is basically your rock: A skincare set that will allow her to pamper herself a little (which she totally deserves).  

10 For your soon-to-be husband, your favorite person: An original piece of art by his favorite comic book artist. I did this for Rob and pretty much won Christmas/our wedding with this one (and followed my own pro tip, too).

P.S. Last year’s gift guide, as well as 2013 and 2012.

dlf
weekend links

WEEKEND READING!

Aannnndddd Sunday! I’m having a hard time believing it’s December 13 already–we’ve got 47 days until our wedding and just 12 (12!) until Christmas. Luckily, I’m finished with most of my shopping–local shops + Amazon Prime = the best combo–and from here on out it’s just counting down.

We also got a Christmas tree this weekend, which makes me so happy–I’ve never had a real live one in my own home as an adult–and while it’s a tiny bit Charlie Brown-ish, I love it and we’ve decked it out with white lights and sparkly gold and silver ornaments.

I hope you all are having a great Sunday so far; if you’re online, here are some fun links for your reading pleasure.

My big holiday baking project for 2015: A yule log. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m reading Ruth Reichl’s new (cook)book and it’s great. So many recipes bookmarked.

Darlene Cole’s art is lovely.

Lots of people think complete nonsense is profound. (Sigh.)

I want to make this pumpkin bread with chocolate chip streusel right now.

This nighttime routine is lovely (and reminds me that I should get into one of my own).

Eggnog waffles!

I’m trying to pick out my wedding heels, and these (in gold) are officially No. 1 on the list.

26 things every person should do for themselves at least once a year. Some good stuff here.

How cute are these socks?

I’ll be back next week with a (belated) gift guide and more. See you then. xoxo

Photo via designlovefest

letter
misc

TRUE ROMANCE

In case you need a little love today, I thought I’d share this letter, written from my paternal grandfather to my grandmother in 1943. My grandfather was deployed–he eventually went overseas, to France–but when he wrote this, he was in Fort Pickett, Virginia, while she was in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It’s so lovely and romantic–you just don’t see things like this anymore. I’ve transcribed it below (minus the couple of words I couldn’t understand and a spelling correction or two) as much for your reading pleasure as mine–I’m glad the letter can live in this space now.

Darling mine,

How precious those syllables! Mine! Mine! All mine! The very thought makes me shiver in delicious ecstasy. 

Over and over I repeat to myself, “It is impossible, a fallacy, a trick of imagination.” I could not be so worthy as to possess an angel. God has been good. Too good.

To say I love you seems so incomplete. Adoration, complete […] worship of your every feature, your every thought. I can only partially describe my feelings.

I am yours alone, darling. Please ask of me any task, no matter how menial […] All of me belongs to you completely.

Your Jack

Sigh.

Happy Wednesday, friends. xoxo

audrey3
fashion and beauty

MY HOLY GRAIL BEAUTY PRODUCTS

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my Holy Grail hair products (which reminds me–I need to get some more of that Shu Umera shampoo!). So this week, I thought I’d share my favorite beauty products–the ones I use day in and day out, buy again and again, and would recommend to anyone.

Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation I started using the Tarte line earlier this year and I’m in love. In addition to being a clean product, the color I use (Fair Beige) matches my skin exactly and evens everything out without making me look like a geisha–which, when you’re as white as I am, is a legit concern when it comes to makeup. Plus, a little goes a long way.

Diorshow mascara I’ve always been a fan of drugstore mascaras, but I was handed a Saks gift card at an event a few months ago and impulse-bought this while prowling around the beauty counters. You guys, I’m obsessed. It lengthens and curls and it almost makes it look like I’m wearing eyeliner, even when I’m not. I kid you not: When I went to get my eyebrows done the other day, the aesthetician exclaimed, “Your eyelashes are so long!” Will definitely purchase again.

RMSBeauty Lip2Cheek in Demure I’ve written about this before, but it’s been a few months since I started using it and I’m really happy with it. It’s incredibly clean, with an organic coconut oil base, and it’s easily buildable. Demure in particular is also the perfect shade of pink, and while you can use it as a lip color, too, I almost exclusively use it as a blush because it gives me that I’ve-just-been-out-in-the-cold flush that I think is so pretty (and, let’s be real, hard to achieve in Florida).

What beauty products have you been loving lately? I’d love to hear!

biscuits
food + drink

THE BEST BISCUITS

Every year, I bake a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving. I only do it for Thanksgiving because it’s so rich, and it’s kind of become my signature. But this year, I wanted to make something else so my mom wouldn’t have to worry about every other dish on the table–and so I landed on biscuits.

Initially, I wanted to try Nancy Silverton’s all-butter biscuits, which sound 100 percent amazing, but the thought of grating five sticks of butter and using a yardstick to measure the dough sounded a little too daunting for Thanksgiving afternoon. So I turned to my favorite standby, Smitten Kitchen, and found a super-simple recipe for cream biscuits. They have six ingredients, took five minutes to come together and baked up perfectly. Plus–as you would expect from a recipe that contains a cup and a half of cream and ends by having you dip your biscuit dough in melted butter–they taste so good; they’re rich and light and flaky, and yet they still feel substantial. We had them fresh from the oven at dinner, then ate the leftovers with scrambled eggs and bacon the next day. Here’s the recipe, if you’d like to make them yourself–and you really should.

Cream Biscuits
Adapted just slightly from this recipe

3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave-safe bowl and set aside. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little. (I ended up using the entire 1 1/2 cups, but humidity, altitude, temperature, etc. will definitely be a factor and you may not use all of it.)

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 2 1/2 inches in diameter. (I used a tall drinking glass.) Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds. Dip the top of each round in melted butter and arrange on the baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

P.S. Gingerbread cookies with vanilla glaze and chocolate crinkle cookies, if you’re in the holiday baking mood.

whoopingcrane-2326
weekend links

WEEKEND READING!

Annnnnd Sunday! How were your Thanksgiving weekends (if you celebrated)? We spent Wednesday night, Thursday and most of Friday with my parents, which was nice–my mom cooked a big spread and we basically all ate until we achieved food-coma status. Then, on Saturday, I picked up my wedding dress (!), which–coupled with the fact that I also ordered Rob’s wedding ring this weekend–made this whole marriage thing seem really real. (61 days!)

I’ve actually got a bunch of stuff to share this week, but until then–if you’re online and in the mood for some reading–here are 10 fun links.

Choose to be grateful.

Loved this interview with Deb of Smitten Kitchen on The Great Discontent.

The hyperbole of Internet-speak.

25 percent off everything at Anthropologie right now with code SHOPTOIT. (My picks: This top and this dress, which are both already on sale, this shirt and this sweater.)

An adorable, delicious and inexpensive gift idea. 

Love this coffee and tea calendar from Rifle Paper Co. (and it’s 30 percent off right now).

The bows on this striped top are perfect. (It’s also 30 percent off with code HOLIDAY.)

Rude texts from your anxiety made me chuckle, but also TRUTH. (via Cup of Jo)

What a beautiful tablescape.

And finally, five things we can learn from Julia Child’s kitchen. 

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Photo by Catherine Truman Photography via Design*Sponge