Tuesday, December 23, 2014

gunnison's black canyon + ina's salted caramel nuts (perfect for hiking, the holidays, or any other time!)



Some of my fondest memories of childhood are those of the travels we did together as a family. There were trips overseas, an Amtrak ride from New York to Orlando, and a vacation whereby we drove down California's coastal Highway 1. But my favorite had to be the “Great Stepelman Family Road Trip of ’86.” We flew to Phoenix, rented a motor home, and my dad drove us around the Southwest for a few weeks. My brother and I  had a blast discovering New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah. It was really the first time I saw the beauty of our National Parks system and I knew one day I'd be back... 

Travel and exploration are things Otis and Theodore enjoy too, but after a failed Aspen weekend followed by a victorious Rocky Mountain excursion, Matt and I decided we should end our hiking season on a positive note. The original plan was for us to drive down to Gunnison's Black Canyon National Park in October. But after taking a moment to think about whether or not that was prudent, we determined the lengthy car ride and the strenuous hiking inside the canyon should be saved for next spring or early fall. The boys will be almost a year older by then and better equipped to deal with the trip.

So on the weekend following my husband’s birthday, I gave him the gift I knew he really wanted: 5 days of solitude. Unlike me, an extrovert who craves only minimal alone time, Matt loves having time to himself and he found peace and quiet in the Black Canyons of Colorado. I can't wait to see this canyon in person; it's been shaped by the river for over 2 million years and it's home to some of the steepest cliffs and oldest rocks in North America. Who knows, maybe the trip to the canyon will become one of our children's  fondest memories

Here are Matt's photos. Enjoy!



















A few weeks ago, my friend Jayme and I went to hear Ina Garten speak at the Paramount Theater in Denver. I loved listening to her talk about her transition from policy paper-pusher at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to food gourmand and business owner. I've always credited Ina as the person who got me inspired to cook unfussy seasonal dishes that are big on flavor, so it was interesting to hear how her recipes go from concept to print. 
Anyway, this recipe for Salted Caramel Nuts comes from Ina's most recent cookbook "Make It Ahead"- which, if you couldn't guess, really works well with my current lifestyle.
A caveat for those of you making this snack at altitude: watch your caramel closely, as it boils faster at higher elevations (like Denver). I had to throw out the first batch before getting it right in the second go-round, so don't take your eyes off the stove! 
Enjoy!
xo, 
Batya

Salted Caramel Nuts from Make It Ahead by Ina Garten, via the Barefoot Contessa
Makes 8 cups
Ingredients
1 cup each whole roasted salted cashews, whole large pecan halves, whole unsalted almonds, and whole walnut halves (4 cups total) 

1½ cups sugar 

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1 teaspoon fleur de sel
Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 


Combine the nuts on a sheet pan, spread them out, and roast them for 7 minutes, until they become fragrant. Set aside to cool. 


After the nuts are cooled, place the sugar and ¼ cup of water in a medium (10-inch) sauté pan and mix with a fork until all of the sugar is moistened. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar melts—from this point on, don’t stir the caramel, swirl the pan! Don’t worry—the mixture may look as though it’s crystallizing. Continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture becomes a clear golden brown, swirling the pan constantly at the end. (Careful—the caramel is very hot!)
Off the heat, quickly add the vanilla (it will bubble up!) and swirl the pan to combine. Working quickly (the caramel will continue to cook in the pan), add the nuts and the kosher salt and toss with 2 large spoons until the nuts are completely coated. 



Pour the nuts and any extra caramel in the pan onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spread the nuts out in one layer, pulling them apart with two forks. Sprinkle with the fleur de sel and set aside to cool. When they’re completely cooled, carefully break the nuts into large clusters with your hands, trying not to break the nuts too much. 
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

mark mothersbaugh's myopia at the MCA

 Attending a parochial preparatory school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan during my teenage years probably wasn’t the best thing for me. But in a renewed effort to find the positive in things, I’ll admit that I got a great education even if the school wasn’t the right fit. Another advantage in spending so much time around 78th Street was the exposure I had to art. The Frick, the Met, the Guggenheim and the MoMA were all walking distance from my high school. Upon dismissal (or let’s be honest, when I occasionally skipped out on gym class- sorry mom) I would head over to one of the nearby museums. I loved art and there was a lot of it.

I’ve been trying to increase Otis and Theo’s exposure to art and music. I have memories of coloring and painting at a young age, and I began playing piano when I was 6…so I just a few months older than Otis is now. I don’t have many regrets in life, but I wish I had stuck with piano, which ended when my teenage attitude got in the way of practicing. I also wish I kept making art.

My high school art teacher encouraged me to pursue creative endeavors so I immersed myself in painting, sculpture and art history. I never thought I would make a career of it, but art was an outlet that gave me a lot of satisfaction, and quite frankly, a lot of joy.

I wasn’t the best artist in my school, but my teacher thought highly of my creative output and she encouraged me take the Advanced Placement Art during my senior year. I worked tirelessly on my portfolio and was happy with the final product. That is, until the grades came back and I scored a 1. In case you’re not familiar with AP scoring, that’s the bottom of the barrel.

Being an impressionable teenager, I found myself demoralized. I stopped painting and using clay completely. The work I had been so proud of, well, I thought it was awful after that score came in. But now at 38, armed with the benefit of self-confidence and perspective, I could kick myself for thinking such a thing. Why did I let an anonymous judge derail an activity that made me happy?

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend I took the boys to see Myopia, Mark Mothersbaugh’s new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art here in Denver. It was awesome; we all loved it. It’s hard to capture the right words that could express what it was about Mothersbaugh’s artwork that reignited my desire to paint and be more creative, but it did.

I’m so glad we got to see it…

Here’s to creative endeavors that enrich your life, being inspired and not letting silly numbers get in the way of the things you love. J
Enjoy your weekend,
Xo
Batya













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Friday, December 5, 2014

friday favorites: holiday gifts under $100



I know it’s been a little bit quiet on the blog-front these days, but all new posts- chock full of recipes and walking tours- are coming your way soon! In the meantime I thought I would post the first installation of a three-part Holiday Gift Guide today, you know, to be timely and all…
These would all make a perfect gift for me someone you love.
Hope you're having a wonderful start to the holiday season!
Xo,
Batya

Gifts Under $100 (And Many Under $50!)

1. NY Cutting Board from AHeirloom. $48. (I decided to go with my home-state because Colorado’s shape is square, but they carry it if that’s what you’re looking for!)
2. Kitchen Trivet in Walnut with Dots from AHeirloom. $48.
3. Moon Coasters by Karen Kimmel, available at Woonwinkle, seen on Sight Unseen. $36.
4. Tea Egg in Rose by Made By Makers for Normann Copenhagen, available via the CoolHunter. $19.
5. The Solvo Opener by Sempli. $35. 
6. Haand x SL Geometric Mug by Haand Ceramics and  Sarah Loertscher. $48. 
7. Paloma Serving Tray by Wolfum. $68.
8. Hive Vessel by House Fish (Denver). $89.
9. Aquarelle Knife Set (3 pc) from Waggo Home. $89.
10. Sedona Planter by Swedish Gypsy (Colorado)…because I keep lots of succulents in my kitchen. $35.
11. Pincushion Napkins (set of 2) by Skinny La Minx. $20. I buy my Skinny La Minx at Hazel & Dewey in Denver.

Thank you to Carly Loman, my colleague at DLD PR, for putting the collage together. Please note that while my firm works with Sempli, UE, Waggo Home, and Haand, this is not a sponsored post and the recommendations are my own!


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Friday, November 7, 2014

friday favorites: glass objects



I've mentioned before that I'm a huge fan of glass, so much so that 7 years ago I enrolled in a glassblowing class at Urban Glass in Brooklyn. Unfortunately I never really got the hang of it - trust me, it's harder than it looks- and all I was left with, after months of practice and hard work, was a few sad looking vessels that have almost no practical functionality. 

Thankfully, there are some really talented glassblowers and glass makers out there. Here's a round up of my favorites, some old and some new. 

Happy weekend!
xo, 
Batya

1. Matterhorn Glasses by Tale Design via Cool Material
2. Table by Glas Italia via Trendland
3. GlassMount for Bomma by Arik Levy  
4. Tapio Wirkkala for Venini 
5. Iittala Ruutu Vase by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec via Designythings
6. Vaso-Sake Set by Sempli 
7. Sini Rame Nesting Bowls by Sempli 
8. Lighting by Niche Modern (PS: Factory Sale this Saturday in Beacon, NY
9. Luxe Carafe Set by Niche Modern
10. Hazy Days by Marset 
11.  Laguna Glassware by Attico 
12. Water Pitcher Block by Antonio Arico via Design Milk  
Thank you to Carly of DLD PR for assisting with this collage. Please note that Sempli, Niche Modern and Marset are clients of my firm, but this is not a sponsored post and the recommendations are my own.
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cook the mag: bon appetit's feta with sumac and black sesame seeds




If you would have said to me, say three years ago, "Batya, how are the Broncos doing this season?" I would have shrugged and stared back at you blankly. The confused look might have been followed by something like, "You mean the football team, right? The one from Denver?" But that would have been the extent of it. I come from a long line of Yankee stock, and other than baseball, we didn't follow other sports. Football hardly registered at all.

Things changed exactly one year ago when my husband's cousin Melissa gave us tickets to see the Denver Broncos, a gift for our 5th anniversary. It was my first trip to the stadium, and even though I was hopped up on meds (following a diagnosis of acute tonsillitis with an extreme form of strep), I fell in love with the sport. Football is a religion around here, and I've become a pretty faithful practitioner. I'll admit that I don't know every rule or intricate detail of the game, but my heart is definitely in it. 

In addition to cheering for the home team, Sunday football has become a catalyst for our weekend gatherings too. Sometimes we head over to our neighbors' house, other times we host at our home. And since there's never really enough time to clean the house and cook a meal, I opt for dishes that are big on flavor and easy to make.

Last week's menu included olives (the good kind), a cheese plate, hummus (2 ways), shakshuka (sauce made the night before), and this feta sumac spread from Bon Appetit. Though our team didn't win the game (don't worry, they're still in 1st place), we all had a great time. And isn't that what football gatherings are really about? (Sort of.)

xo, 
Batya

Feta with Sumac and Black Sesame Seeds (Courtesy of Alison Roman for Bon Appetit Magazine, October 2014)

Ingredients
1½ pound feta, sliced ¼” thick
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or marjoram leaves (optional, I made it with and without) 
1½ teaspoon black sesame seeds
1½ teaspoon ground sumac
Olive oil (for drizzling)
Crackers (for serving)

Preparation
Divide feta among small serving dishes. Top with oregano, sesame, and sumac. Drizzle with oil; serve with crackers.

Notes: 
If you're looking for really good cheese, olives, crackers- that sort of thing- and you live in Denver, head over to the Truffle Cheese Shop on 6th Avenue. It's one of the best in the city. 

Sumac, a tart, citrusy spice, is available at Middle Eastern markets or specialty foods stores. I have a friend who brings back sumac from the Middle East (Lebanon), but when I run out I head over to Arash Market in Aurora. 
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