Wednesday, January 21, 2009

french guiana

For the next month I will be traveling in French Guiana, a tiny country with the population of 200,000. French Guiana is an overseas department of France, located on the northern coast of South America. It is part of the European Union, and the currency is the Euro. The climate is 80 degrees consistently throughout the year, with the rainy season raising the humidity to 100% during 6-9 months out of the year.

The country is mostly an impassable rain forest, and that is exactly where I will be spending most of my time. More specifically, I will be helping Alec disassemble a walking bridge suspended between two trees at one of the CNRS science stations. Here is a link describing this organization and the two stations I will be visiting, Inselberg and Pararé. Inselberg is armed with a satellite internet connection, and I will try to send updates from there.

Alec has been at the stations since October, and I am pretty fortunate to join him there. Only scientist are allowed. Click here for an entry from Alec's blog describing some of the environment. Being an Earth Monkey under the Chinese Zodiac, this is the perfect place for me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

chartreuse, not just a color

For my B-day, my friend Lauren gave me a gorgeous bottle of Green Chartreuse. The bottle is stamped and sealed with wax, very Medieval. We discovered this liqueur together while hanging at the bar of Thee Fez, one of the few places in Providence that carries this extraordinary drink. Green Chartreuse, 110 proof or 55% alcohol, is a naturally green liqueur which is flavored with extracts from 130 herbal plants. Its color comes from chlorophyll. It is named after the Grande Chartreuse monastery in France, where it was formerly produced by monks. It is now produced, under the supervision of those same monks, in a factory in the nearby town of Voiron. You can read up on its full history, which is quite fascinating, on Wikipedia.

If you Google "what does Chartreuse taste like?" one answer you will get is, "Nyquil". And that is because it was originally developed as medicine. A medicine for long life. As I sip some of it now, and trust me, you only need a sip of it, its herbal essence radiates its way through my body. I feel warmer already, which is helpful since its 12 degrees outside. The green glowy color is truely stunning. For freezing winter days, it's a cozy companion.

Here is the official website, you must be of legal drinking age to enter it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

sustainable and local ingredients

It is important to me that I do as little damage to our planet as possible. I reclaim (use again) all my discarded clay bits and leftover glaze. None of the clay materials I work with end up in our water. It is equally important to me to support local farmers, and eat real food, not packaged. I love food that sings with its natural flavors, and that means buying food that is organic.

I picked up the book "Simply Organic" because I liked the title, and the way it was designed (I once picked out a VCR because I thought it was cute). "Simply Organic" is much more than a good title and a pretty cover, it's filled with delicious, easy to make recipes that use seasonal ingredients. The author, Jesse Ziff Cook, has a great eye for combining the most unusual items; like the pear, brie, and olive tart (which I made, it was delicious). I am cooking my way through the "Early Winter" section, with delicacies like chard and feta pie, and roast chicken with mashed celery root (I never knew what to do with celery root before) and potatoes. Everything turns out yummy.

This book inspires me to have dinner parties, I love cooking for other people. This weekend I am going to make the pot roast with winter vegetables. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, January 12, 2009

christiane perrochon

I have been a fan of Christiane Perrochon's work for some time, one of her bowls was always present on my photo shoots. Perrochon's ceramics has the simple elegance and subtlety of form that touches the soul. Her glazes and colors are complex and multi-layered. Her website is just as compelling as her pieces.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

simple and beautiful

I would like to spend my winters in a house like this; minimal, cozy, with stunning views. More photos here and the full article in NYTimes.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

what's in your pantry...

An excellent article in the NYTimes about what to keep and what to toss from your pantry. Now that I have all this free time, I have been cooking much much more, and loving it. This article gives me great simple pointers.


An Australian-based blogger, Ms. Gourmet, of Gourmet Worrier, revels in hunting down exceptional cooking ingredients while exploring gourmet food stores, cheese emporiums, boutique bakeries, gorgeous cafes and exclusive delicatessens. She found my little shop on etsy, and has written an amazing review of my work. Ms. Gourmet describes herself as being "Food Centric", revolving her blog around everything food-related, including what food is served in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a field of butterflies

The north-east coast is about to be hit with more snow over the next few days. Ah, winter. It's a good one this year. For those dreaming of warm summer days, here is a field of butterflies, my new line of bowls.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

valenki, my valenki

I have to laugh that these traditional Russian peasant boots keep popping up in the style section of the NYTimes. I wore these all through my childhood, treading through St. Petersburg snow to school, never as a fashion statement. There were just not many other alternatives when it came to foot wear during Soviet times. They are indeed warm, and with galoshis, water-proof. If you are looking around to buy some, here is a link to a traditional Russian clothing store. Peter the Great supposedly favored these as they are rumored to help with flu, rheumatic disease, and offer a scratchy feet massage. Hmmmm.

P. S. My mom, after reading this post, reminded me that socks end up sliding down into the toes of these boots as you walk. This is due to valenki's aerodynamic design. So wear tights!