Sunday, May 29, 2011

maasberg juvenile detention living center

I've always been intrigued by the philosophy of Architects/ Designers/ Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR)'s boycott of prison design, but have wondered if refusal to be part of the design is the best way to make change. Of course, there is little flexibility in most prison contracts so in most cases the only choice the designer has is whether to participate.

This juvenile detention center
, located in the Netherlands, shows another option. It certainly is an improvement on US prison facilities, though I wish it had more details about how the facility functions, both spacial and as detention center. Designed as "an expression of temporality - like the stay of the offenders themselves - the design assumes a respectful relationship with the detainees, the visitors and its environment. A dialogue between containment and freedom, expressed in the porous boundaries between indoors and out, aims to prepare the youth for their transition back into society, while also communicating a sense of trust."

Design is only a small part of the changes that need to be made, but to me these images show what a difference purposeful design can make.

Images and quote from Designboom. ADPSR website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

recipe: lazy night pasta

I recently had one of those lazy nights where I get home from work, know there is a decent amount of food in the fridge but just don't have the energy to stand up and make anything. Usually this is solved by sitting around until I'm hungry enough to either microwave the leftovers I don't really want to eat or actually make a decent meal. Thanks to internet surfing, I stumbled upon Mark Bittman's Pasta Primevera article and was inspired to make a take on my classic pasta with half and half "carbonara" inspired by his Tagliatelle with Peas, Pecorino, Chili and Mint.

Here is my Fettuccine with Mint, Spinach and Snap Peas* in Light Cream Sauce
1 box fettuccine
1 pint snap peas
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup mint
8 oz half and half

Cook pasta. Boil snap peas until bright green. Heat half and half and bring to a simmer. Let reduce slightly, add snap peas and spinach. Once pasta is done cooking, add to cream along with the mint. Toss to coat.

Add black pepper if desired, cheese would also be great but it was not one of the things in my pantry at the time. I got four servings out this.

*Note: I am not entirely sure if I had snap peas or normal p
eas from the farmers market that I should have shelled. I started shelling them but the peas were very, very small and the pods were tasty as I snacked on them. Also, remember how tired I was?

[Steamed peas-in-pod]

Monday, May 23, 2011

designer spotlight: mariana tocornal

Mariana Tocornal is a Chilean designer who started in graphic design but has since moved to experiemental product design. "The designer's idea is to confront people with the challenge of finding a way to relate to an object of recognizable form but untypical material, in order to make them reflect on it," according to


According to the designer "Beecups have been interpreted as decorative objects, flower vases, candle holders or as containers for jewelry, dice, seeds, sand, sugar, and even warm tea. Some less conventional uses range from determining the position of the sun, to more aggressive drives such as fulfilling the need to bite them, melt them or cut them in slices. There is no correct use for these objects, they are meant to be ambiguous so that each person can claim though physical or conceptual customization."

[left: 100 plasticina; right:Pluck Bowl]

The designer has other playful, confusing designs including bowls made out of play dough that never dries, allowing the owner to choose to leave the shape as is or mold it, called 100% plasticina. Pluck Bowls, also shown above, are a study on "functionality, materiality and memory, according to Tocornal."

Designer's website and first photocredit. Originally found on Treehugger, photocredit for other images.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

for cod and country

Barton Seaver's For Cod and Country makes cooking seafood easier to do sustainably. Seaver, Chef at Hook in DC, Seaver is a "firm believer in eating lower on the food chain than we do now, Seaver eschews large predatory species like bluefin tuna and sharks. His recipes stress fish like anchovies, herring, catfish, mahi-mahi, and mackerel, used in ways that are anything but mundane: a Mackerel Melt with smoked canned mackerel in place of tuna; braised greens with anchovy purée; Pacific cod with ginger braised asparagus; sardine and capered egg salad sandwiches." I'm not a big seafood eater so won't invest in this book, but I love the concept.

Speaking of the Northeast, a college friend has recently started a blog Rebecca Eats Rhode Island, where she documents trips to area restaurants and creations she make with seasonal and local ingredients. Check it out, I'm going to try to kale soup soon.

Originally found in and image from The Atlantic.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

gilt taste launches

Today GiltGroupe which started as a flash sale site (remember the romper I bought?) launched GiltTaste, a food and kitchen supply site. Unlike, the merchandise is not quick-sale marked down but instead the goal is offer high quality items with a bit of backstory. I won't be ordering the Wagyu beef anytime soon (read: ever) though I may have had some of this at Christmas thanks to my uncle. What I was surprised to find was a well-designed site with delicious recipes featuring seasonal produce and magazine quality stories.

While you have to be a member to purchase items, you can peruse the virtual aisles and read the the Stories section without registering. Current stories even include an article on hydrofracking's effects on the food we eat. I'm not the only one impressed. TheKitchn is excited about Editorial Advisory Ruth Reichel, saying "Reichl has assembled a team of some of the most talented people in the food journalism world to contribute to this "new kind of magazine."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

secret garden party

The Secret Garden Party is an event I wanted to attend last year but missed, so I was excited to have a new to Richmond friend, Diana, agree to join me and bring her man companion who I had yet to meet. Immediately upon arriving at the first stop I ran into a two good friend who I had wanted to introduce to Diana. Serendipity! The rest of the evening was a lovely stroll through hidden downtown garden, delicious sweet potato ham biscuits and copious drink tickets. We didn't make it to the fifth stop, but strolling along downtown was lovely, despite the overcast weather. If this benefit for the Historic Richmond Foundation continues in the future, definitely check it out.

[A non-alcholic drink made with vinegar. Surprisingly tasty.]

More pictures after the jump.

restaurant review: six burner restaurant week

[Ed. note- meant to post this a while ago but had blogger issues]

Richmond just had Restaurant Week, having added a spring week to the annual fall Restaurant Week. Partner-in-crime and I headed to Six Burner. They had a larger menu, with five or six entree options and overall we were both quite pleased with our meals. I definitely want to go back here again, perhaps for their prix fixe menu Mondays-Thursdays before 7.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

recipe: frittata

I am not a fan of eggs. I do not eat them scrambled. Or sunny-side up. Or hardboiled. Or omlettes. So it is rather odd that I am going to give you a recipe for eggs that I would consider to be quite successful. Yet, I have 6 people who would tell you that you should make these eggs.

If you like eggs, that is.

As for me, I thought they were good. For eggs.

[I'll admit they look awesome.]

I followed the process for these eggs from The Kitchn, cooking in my typical way of not measuring and changing most of the ingredients. Translating it into a recipe:

Spring Frittata with Green Beans, Squash and Rosemary
1 cup chopped green beans (in 1/4 inch segments)
1 cup diced squash
2 tbsp diced green onions
olive oil
salt & pepper
6 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped

Follow the recipe directions from The Kitchn. Substitute your preferred vegetables and herbs, eggs are very forgiving.

I was nervous making this for a group having never made eggs in any form. It was surprisingly easy and the process is forgiving. I expected the eggs to stick to the pan but as long as you put a good glug of oil in the pan before you pour in the egg/veggie mixture, it will come out easily.

I even ate the eggs, so you know they are good.

weekend review: bridal weekend

In June I am getting a wonderful addition to my family. In celebration, my sister and I did what we love to do- we cooked! This past weekend I went home for a bridal shower and bachelorette party (no pics, please) and on Sunday we hosted a brunch at our place. We went for a rustic decor and filling food. Pics and recipe links below.

[Mom's Challah French toast]

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

recipe: bourbon peach hand pies

Made just like the recipe says, except with purchased pie crust and instead of fresh peaches I used peaches that I canned last summer in light syrup. Drained them and chopped them, then followed the recipe.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

weekend review: a too-short long weekend

Partner-in-crime was in town this weekend and so while I took Monday and part of Tuesday off, the weekend was far too short. It was full of excellent adventures and celebrations, however, and I got to use his camera to document. He took many of the best shots.

[He sampled a Richmond tradition- the Sailor]

[Carytown was covered in sidewalk art]


[A good friend's field day birthday party]