Saturday, July 23, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

Hello, readers! As you've no doubt heard (or felt), it's really freaking hot across most of the US today. I'm spending as much of my time today as possible inside where it's air conditioned, which provides the perfect opportunity to draft a Treasury post. Enjoy, no matter what the weather where you are!

First up, some fabulous posters. A few weeks ago, I was shopping for a Mountain Goats concert poster for my brother's birthday gift. I found what I was looking for and more at Poster Cabaret, an Austin-based poster shop that carries a wide variety of stock. I'm especially fond of these posters by Valhalla Studios. I'm seriously pondering a Camera Obscura poster purchase. That lemony color suits their summery music perfectly.

Next up, a fabulous Sneak Peek from Design*Sponge, this time of an apartment belonging to two of You+ME*'s event planning clients. Their wedding (which was featured in the most recent issue of Rue) was gorgeous, so it's no surprise that their apartment is, too. I love their built-ins, their dining area, and this perfect art wall. Just lovely.

I find the Australian food and photography blog What Katie Ate endlessly inspiring. Her cooking is the kind I like - unpretentious yet unabashedly delicious and exorbitant, and her photos are stunning. It fills a bit of the hole left behind by Gourmet's absence. Just a little.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Sorry, kids, but it's too damn hot to do anything other than say: it's too damn hot. Go drink some rosé, sit in front of a fan, and wait for it to pass. I'll be back when it's not too damn hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


On Saturday night, my sister in law threw my brother his annual birthday clambake (we follow Ina's recipe), and it was a raging success. As a former vegetarian, Miriam enlists me to slaughter the lobsters, which I do with something less than a steely reserve (squealing and exclamations of, "He's still a-twitching" are to be expected), but an acceptable level of aplomb. (I hope.)

Dessert, traditionally, is one of my chocolate cakes - this year, the group expanded from 6 to 16, and so I made two cakes. I'm pleased to say that only half of one cake remained at the end of the evening, including the container of extra frosting I brought along for touch-ups.

Miriam outdid herself decor-wise this year, harnessing her inner Martha Stewart with red-and-white checkered tablecloths, lobster-stamped place card, and the ever-festive lobster bibs.

Success indeed, I think!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Inspiration strikes.

I love peanut butter sundaes. (The shot above is vanilla custard and peanut butter sauce from Shake Shack last weekend. Yum.)

I mean, hot fudge sundaes are wonderful, of course, but peanut butter has my heart. And I know that some people simply swoon over butterscotch. All of this (plus the gloriously sunny, hot weather we're having in NYC right now) has me thinking about hosting a sundae party. Some fabulous local ice cream (perhaps with a few homemade flavors, too), homemade sauces, loads of toppings (including booze), and piles of candy-colored bowls.

Seems like the easiest summer party ever, right? Now I just have to find the time - by which I mean a time when people are actually free and in town, never an easy feat during a New York summer.

What kinds of gatherings do you have planned for the rest of the summer? Make me jealous with your backyard barbecues and shipboard cocktail soirees, why doncha?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This is now a peach appreciation blog.

I don't think there's anything more to say, do you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Best ever.

Best scrambled eggs of my life. Creamy, but not runny, and topped with duck sausage and chervil. BEST. EVER. Eaten this weekend at James in Prospect Heights, along with several cups of coffee, a few of Miya's fries, and a tangy green salad.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Berries & beans.

On Saturday, I visited my little local Greenmarket outpost, where I grabbed a lovely mixed bouquet and...not much else. Yes, I bought a pint of lackluster tomatoes and snagged some decent Kirbies, but mostly I was disappointed in the selection of veggies. The only thing I bought that went beyond average? Green beans! I mixed them into a beet and green bean salad with dill, one of my summer favorites.

I didn't need any berries, but they were awful pretty. Blueberries...

...and tart, tangy goosberries!

So, instead of being a neighborhood loyalist, I'm heading back to Union Square this Saturday. I need peaches, you guys. And tomatoes and ur-cucumbers and corn get the idea.

Monday, July 11, 2011

We'll need this later.

There are two things you can count on in a New York summer: it'll be damn hot, and there will be summer squash. Truckloads of it. At first, you'll be thrilled. Eventually, your creativity will be tested, and, inevitably, you'll just get sick of the stuff and start lusting after fall vegetables.

Luckily, I'm still in the first phase of that cycle. Summer squash and zucchini are out in full effect, and I'm psyched.

A couple of weeks ago, Louisa told me about a salad she'd made from a Patricia Wells recipe: zucchini with avocado, lemon thyme and pistachios. So when I found myself with a plethora of ripe avocados and a couple of teeny summer squash in the fridge, I decided to put a spin on the idea.

I ribbonned the squash using a vegetable peeler and marinated it in Wells' recommended combination of lemon juice and good olive oil (and salt, of course). After I'd let it bathe for an hour or so, I topped the ribbons with avocado slices, sea salt and a generous sprinkling of regular old thyme.

It was so good, you guys. In addition to being incredibly pretty (which, along with how easy it is, makes it a perfect dinner party starter), it was so tasty. The squash ribbons retained a slight crunch and were delightfully bright and sweet. The avocado was, of course, creamy and rich, and the thyme's woodsy perfume goes so well with squash. It's almost always my go-to when it comes to zucchini.

And now you have another way to use up the mountains of squash heading your way. Brace yourselves.

Summer Squash with Avocado and Thyme
Adapted from Patricia Wells

2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil
Sea salt
2 small summer squash or zucchini
1 avocado
Leaves from 2 generous sprigs thyme

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Using a vegetable peeler or a mandoline, slice the squash lengthwise into ribbons. Arrange them in one or two layers on a platter, then pour the lemon dressing over them. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.

When the squash is ready, divide the ribbons in half and arrange on two plates. Peel, pit and thinly slice the avocado, then arrange it on top of the squash. Top with a smattering of sea salt and the thyme, and serve immediately.

Serves two.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Queenie's Treasury

Happy weekend, everyone! I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited for two sunny days of non-working time. Today I'm planning a bit of cleaning, some laundry, a Greenmarket trip and some serious summertime "cooking" (Read: arranging of fruit and vegetables for eating.). Tomorrow it's brunch with Miya and possibly some reading time in the park. And maybe some ice cream. Okay, definitely some ice cream.

In the meantime, let's check out this week's Treasury!

Anyone who's spent any time with me in the last year knows how obsessed I am with stripes. As a matter of fact, I'm wearing stripes right now. And so I absolutely love these stripey canvas totes from Rib & Hull, especially the red one. So sporty, so summery, and so freaking adorable.

Next, a brilliant storage idea from Wit & Whistle, via The Style Files. All you do is paint the lid of your Mason jars with chalkboard paint, and, voila, you can label and re-label them to your heart's delight. I'm going to fetch a sample as soon as possible. No more confusing the espresso beans with the coffee beans for me! (Like I'd ever have something as singularly healthy as acai berry in my kitchen.)

Last but not least, I am currently lusting after this Austrian home. The modern renovation of the antique space is just jaw-dropping. I'm especially fond of the bathroom (I love textiles in a bathroom.) and the kitchen, with its graphic contrast of black and white.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A bit of Bristol.

Bristol, Rhode Island is a town full of ancient clapboard houses (lovingly preserved), grass beaches (with oh-so-rocky shorelines) and lots and lots of boats.

My aunt and uncle bought this historic house last year, and it is absolutely adorable. The rooms are small (the better to heat in a New England winter), and the house rambles around in that way peculiar to homes built before 1900. Even better, it's a block from the water and comes complete with sea breeze and harbor views.

I woke up early every morning and ventured out to the front porch to enjoy the cool temperatures, strong coffee and doorstep-delivered newspaper.

My Aunt Cathi's hydrangeas thrive on the bright sun and cool fog.

On three of my four mornings, I took a walk around town, looping back around to the house by way of High Street, where I spotted my very favorite house of all.

I spotted this oxidized copper gate on Walley Street. It sported elephants and swans, but these dudes were my favorites.

The Lobster Pot is a happening place, you know?

For putting boats in the water.

The church book sale. They had a complete set of V.C. Andrews. No comment.


This float struck me as very David Lynch. It came toward the beginning of the three-hour Fourth of July parade; I eventually decamped to the beach. The perfect balance, in my opinion.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


When my Aunt Cathi is around, one always eats well, and this weekend in Bristol was no exception. There were local yogurt with berries and her own homemade granola, homemade buttermilk waffles with fruit and whipped cream, steak with roasted name it.

And, on the Fourth of July, there were lobsters.

If you're a die-hard vegetarian, I highly recommend you skip the rest of this post.

I killed those lobsters, you guys. I killed them dead. Typically, I steam lobsters, along with clams, mussels and potatoes, in a couple bottles of wine. If you're going to do that, the best and most humane thing to do is to kill the lobsters with a knife between the eyes before you put them in the pot.

But if you're going to boil them, as we did ours this weekend, then you can just drop them in the boiling water. I've also heard tell that the best way to do boiled lobster is to start them in a cold pot and heat the water up around them, but I haven't seen any evidence that it's more humane.

It's interesting, you know, that the killing and eating of lobsters is so fraught for so many. After all, animals with far more complex brains die for our (non-vegetarian) meals every day. And I kill mussels and clams myself on a regular basis. Why should a lobster be different?

Well, it moves, doesn't it? It's a decent size, and it has distinguishable limbs, and it's altogether alive. But while I don't relish the idea of slaughtering my own meat on a regular basis, I can't help but think that being willing to take care of business where a lobster is concerned is an omnivore's duty. After all, if I plan to eat it, I should probably be forced to look it in the eye at some point.

If you feel like pondering the issue further, I highly recommend Consider the Lobster by the late David Foster Wallace. It's pretty excellent. (And a pretty good argument for why Gourmet was unique among food magazines.)

If you don't, here's a recipe for lobster.

Aunt Cathi's Lobster Boil

Giant stock pot half-filled with water
5 lobsters, about 1 1/2 pounds each
1 lemon
1/2 stick salted butter*

Set the stock pot on the stove, cover, and bring to a boil. Gently place the lobster in the boiling water and replace the cover. Cook for 11 minutes, or until the lobsters are bright red and the antennae pull off easily.

Meanwhile, slice the lemon into five wedges and melt the butter over low heat.

When the lobsters are done cooking, remove from the water with tongs, allowing each to drain a bit over the pot before placing on a plate or platter.

Serve the lobsters one to a person, with ample napkins, lobster crackers and tiny forks to go alongside. Portion the butter out into five ramekins and place a lemon wedge alongside. Go to town.

Serves five.

*This is pretty much the only time I'll tell you to use salted butter.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cool down.

Reader, we recently discussed my love of Micheladas. I'm here today to sing the praises of another beer-based cocktail, the Shandy. In the UK, they make these with carbonated lemonade. This weekend, though, inspired by a bottle of IPA standing next to a jug of fresh lemonade, I decided to go low-fi.

The IPA was a bit bitter, which I figured would make a nice foil to the sweetened lemonade. I filled two glasses halfway with the lemonade, then popped open the beer and topped the glasses off. The technique is similar to what you'd do to make a Bellini or Mimosa - and just as easy.

The result? A refreshing, awfully pretty drink perfectly suited to afternoon drinking, especially for those of us who aren't terribly good day drinkers. (I tend to dive headfirst into a nap by 5 PM if booze enters my system before 4.) Not that you shouldn't have it with dinner. Or after dinner. Or whenever you like.

It's summer; live a little!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day.

Not the movie, the holiday! (Though I do love that movie, in all its brash, ridiculous American-ness. Plus, aliens!)

I'm spending the Fourth in Bristol, Rhode Island, the self-proclaimed most patriotic town in America. My cousins and I are sitting on the front porch at this very moment, listening to the Boss sing Born In The USA and waiting for Bristol's celebrated (and four-hour) parade to kick off.

I've taken a few walks around town during my stay, and have snapped photos of some of my favorite decorations. Bristol is nothing if not up on its bunting.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday. Enjoy the sun, the surf, the turf, whatnot, and try not to think about the fact that tomorrow is a workday.

Happy Fourth!
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