Monthly Archives: February 2012

wednesday wisdom: every problem

walnuts. image via pinterest.

Every problem in your life carries a gift.
Richard Bach, American writer 


medicine cabinet pirate*: behind the mirror, above the sink

Beauty is only skin deep, they say. Still! That’s reason enough to slather on those creams and serums and gels and elixirs and perform your little rituals morning and night. If not for beauty, do it for health: your epidermis is your largest organ, and your first line of defense against a myriad of disease and filth and free radical-like stuff.

Because I’m all about transparency here, take a peek inside my medicine cabinet, and the products nearest and dearest to my heart (and my face). A quick search of “medicine cabinet” on Pinterest will reveal much prettier, much more organized and enviable cabinets. (Pinterest, you kill me. NOTHING I do is good enough. Nothing.)

{*A big virtual kiss is all yours if you get this reference. You get me. Mwah.}

From L to R:

Face serum. I make this blend myself and use it in place of lotion. It has a lovely, bright scent and quickly absorbs into thirsty skin without leaving any slick oiliness behind. To make, blend following essential oils: 4 tsp. apricot kernel, 3 drops lemon, 3 drops tea tree, 3 drops geranium. Warm a dime-sized amount in palms and apply to clean face and neck. Wait 5 min. before applying makeup or other products.

Rodin olio lusso luxury hair oil. Originally a gift from my friend Laura, and now a medicine cabinet staple. Luxury doesn’t begin to describe it: this stuff goes on dry hair (insane shine), damp hair (flyaway control), or mixed in with your conditioner for a hydrating hair mask. I cherish every drop. Liquid gold. Get thee to a bottle.

Ursa Major face toner. Wash your mug good with your Malin+Goetz grapefruit face cleanser, and then use this on a cotton ball to swipe away all eye makeup. Works like a charm. Lazy people: if you skip the face wash, just use the toner.

Lady Speed Stick. I’ve tried the nature-y versions of deodorant before, including an actual armpit crystal. Never again. Except no substitutes.

Caron eye gel. Great for early morning, pre-coffee puffiness. I’m told to keep it in the fridge for maximum effectiveness, but I know I’d forget about it in there.

Joya Composition No. 6 Roll-On Parfum. My go-to for daytime: earthy and spicy, with top notes of juniper and cypress, base notes of lotus and saffron. Reminds me so much of India.

Floss. Duh.

Bond No. 9 parfum. In two favorite limited edition scents: Sag Harbor (beachy and clean) and I Love New York Father’s Day (floral-y and fresh). These perfumes really have staying power, owing to their super pure ingredients.

Guess for Women eau de parfum. Alright alright, it’s not the most grown-up of fragrances, but I’ve been wearing it since my college days and am devoted to its feminine sweetness. Bergamot, freesia, amber, a little peach…good for date night.

Ashtanga Yoga opening mantra. A trick I learned in college while memorizing hundreds of lines of Italian prose: post it above your sink, recite while teeth-brushing or eyebrow-plucking. It reminds me to practice, to be disciplined, and to dedicate myself to teachers past and present.

Acqua dell’Elba Classica. Speaking of Italian: this cherished bottle was purchased on the island of Elba two summers ago, where we relaxed after leading my yoga retreat. You can see I’m  really savoring the last little bit in that bottle. It’s impossible to find in the States, or even outside of Elba. Any tips? Anyone?

What about you, beautiful? What are the products you can’t live without? 

meatless monday: cottage pancakes

cottage pancakes + homemade dill butter. image via

Heidi, friend, you’ve done it again, and you’ve combined two of my favorite things into one beautiful little flattened nugget: cottage cheese, pancake. Not only are you a genius in the kitchen (you are indeed), but you are a genius behind the lens, capturing the very best images of food, looking so sweet and pretty and feminine. I mean, really. If my pathetic, dark little kitchen had any natural lighting whatsoever, or a beautiful white tile backsplash, or fresh blooms in mason jars just sitting out, I would MAYBE attempt what you have already perfected. And that is this: the ability to make every recipe you post look like an absolute delight to prepare, slowly and lovingly, with some Bach in the background and a steaming mug of chamomile tea nearby (or a glass of chardonnay if it’s after, say, 2pm). And then to serve and eat, daintily, said meals. I am kind of obsessed with you. Hope that doesn’t freak you out, because it’s all from love. (Readers, if you haven’t perused Heidi’s beautiful food blog, 101 Cookbooks, please leave me now for a minute and go peruse. And try to not be charmed).

That being said, I love that these clever cottage pancakes are both a clean slate (seriously, you could top them with ANYTHING), and are not flour-heavy, like traditional pancakes. I’d serve these with a smear of apple-jalapeño chutney, a little shredded cheese, and an arugula salad.

Cottage Pancakes

1 c. cottage cheese
3/4 c. milk
4 room temperature eggs, separated
1 c. raw (or quickly blanched) cauliflower, chopped into rice-sized bits

1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
scant 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt

butter, for cooking

In a large bowl mix the cottage cheese, milk, and egg yolks until smooth. Stir in the cauliflower.

In a separate (clean) bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.

Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt into another bowl. Add the flours to the cottage cheese mixture, and stir until just barely(!) combined. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a spatula.

To cook, warm a griddle or pan over medium heat, melt a bit of butter in it, then spoon a little scoop (say, ~3 tablespoons) of batter into the pan for each pancake, working in batches. You want to cook these relatively slowly, until each pancake is deeply golden on one side. Flip each pancake, and wait until the other side is golden, and the pancake is cooked through. Continue until you’ve worked through all the batter. You can keep cooked pancakes in a 225F oven until you finish, to keep them warm. They’re great simply with a pat of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Or, if you want to get a bit fancy, whip up a bit of harissa, saffron or pesto-swirled salted yogurt.

Makes ~1 1/2 dozen medium pancakes.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 15 min

wednesday wisdom: my friend maia

This beautiful, 4-minute video has been circling online for some time now. This is the very best endorsement for simplicity, being still and moving with clarity, and eating your greens. If you don’t fall absolutely in love with Maia, I’d be shocked. Simplicity. Just watch.

My friend Maia from julia warr on Vimeo.

meatless monday: meatless mardi gras

green/gold/purple. via pinterest.

It’s (almost) Mardi Gras, and people the world over will be imbibing and indulging on this final night before Lent. It’s part of my personal resolution that 2012, my year of turning 30 (more on that later) is a year of being more celebratory in general. My natural inclination is to be kind of grumpy and lazy in celebrating holidays that other people really get into, especially when said holiday falls on a weekday night. Fat Tuesday has not been important to me since participating in Carnivale in Venice nearly 8 years ago, which was amazing for a variety of reasons (if you haven’t witnessed throngs of Italians descending on Piazza San Marco in white face masks and purple feathers and lavish gowns, you just haven’t lived).

This year, I’m getting in the spirit and making a spicy vegetarian gumbo from Why Veg, and a superfun New Orleans King Cake! Appropriately, Mardi Gras also happens to fall on the birthday of one of the most celebratory dudes I know (happy bday, Luke!) so I’ll be sharing this bounty with some sweet friends tomorrow night. Laissez les bon temps rouler!*

*Let the good times roll.

Spicy Vegetarian Gumbo
2 lbs. collard greens, stems removed and chopped
2 c. water
1/4 c. vegetable oil + 2 tbsp.
1/4 c. flour
2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 or 4 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 c. hot sauce (you can bet I’ll use Sriracha)
1 tsp. file powder (sassafras root)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 c. vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 c. chopped okra
16-oz. can kidney beans
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. rice, pre-cooked

In a large soup pot, boil the greens in two c. water for about ten min. Cover and allow to steam for 5 to 10 more min. Reserve the cooking water.

In a separate small pot, whisk together the 1/4 c. oil and flour over low heat to form a roux, stirring continuously for about 10 to 15 min. Once it turns a dark reddish brown, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large soup or stock pot, saute the onions, bell pepper, celery and tomatoes for a few min. in the 2 tbsp. of oil, until just soft. Reduce the heat and add the hot sauce, file powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, parsley and garlic and cook, stirring for one or two more min.

Add the roux and the vegetable broth and stir well to combine. Add the cooking water from the collard greens and the bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, and allow to cook for 15 min.

Add the collard greens, okra, kidney beans, and rice and cook for 5 more min. Remove bay leaves before serving.

king cake.

Mardi Gras King Cake
1 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
2 (.25 oz.) packages active dry yeast
2/3 c. warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2/3 c. chopped pecans
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. melted butter

1 c. confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. water

A small plastic baby

Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 c. of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tbsp. of white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 min.

When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 c. at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 min.Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 c. flour and 1/2 c. raisins. Pour 1/2 c. melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 in. or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 in. intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 min.Bake in preheated oven for 30 min. Push the plastic baby (don’t forget the baby!) into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tbsp. of water. Sprinkle with colored sugar in yellow, purple and green.

wednesday wisdom: silence


There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.
– Rumi

meatless monday: “eggszaronius” and whitney

Been feeling a little nostalgic lately. It may have something to do with my parents both celebrating 60 within the next month, which feels like a big deal. I also turn old late this year, and the thought alone makes my heart panic. The onset of nostalgia may have something to do with Whitney Houston’s death, as her role in my childhood cannot be undermined. There wasn’t a single elementary-school sleepover in my memory that didn’t involve listening to/dancing to/singing along with/performing skits to The Bodyguard soundtrack.  I wasn’t allowed to see the movie, but my dad bought me the cassette tape (yes, cassettes!) and that incredible voice filled our living room while 4-5 of my bestest  friends and I belted out “AYEEEEEEEEE-MMMMMMMMMMMM EV’RY WOAH-MAN” in our pajamas.

So when I heard the news on Saturday about her death, this was the first and only thing I thought of. Sleepovers. Spilled popcorn between couch cushions. A cassette tape and a boombox. Pink sleeping bags crumpled on the carpet. Sweet girls (well, not that sweet) with wild hair and long, adolescent limbs. Howling along to soulful songs way beyond our vocal range. Breakfast.

My dad was responsible for two types of meals in our household: summer barbecues, and Sunday breakfasts. Sunday mornings brought with it stacks of slightly burnt wheat toast, soggy in the middle with butter, Minute Maid orange juice (no pulp, please), sliced apples and bananas, fried, peppery potatoes with ketchup, and a dish the old man calls “Eggszaronius.” I’m not technically sure of the spelling here, and I think it derives from Eggs Erroneous, that egg gravy from “Ernest Goes to Camp” (Dad is a big Jim Varney fan). I like the spelling here with the “s” and “z” together; makes it look like a Ukrainian delicacy. Ukrainian the dish is not, but the beauty of Eggszaronius is it’s basically a compost dish: get your leftovers, add some eggs, cook it. My father would add either chopped up bits of bacon or sausage, leftover proteins (barbecued salmon, chicken breast), or completely random stuff (deli turkey meat, chopped up hot dogs, and one time, Spam. My brother cried). Here’s a meatless version, great for brunch or a simple supper, that’s satisfying and easy and nutrient rich. Substitute any and all veggies for other faves. (I would love to try this with rutabagas or any root veg and rosemary, like a Spanish tortilla). Serve this dish immediately with Sriracha or another favorite hot sauce, preferably on a late Sunday morning, with your dad nearby in his sheepskin mocassins, indulging you and your best friends by turning off NPR and mouthing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” into his spatula while you all skip around. Nostalgia.

illustration via

1-2 pats butter
4 eggs
Splash of milk
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Green onions, chopped
Handful of mushrooms, chopped
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
Chopped herbs (dill, tarragon, or rosemary)
Crushed red pepper to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Sriracha (v. important)

Heat a large skillet with butter, swirling around to evenly coat. Add chopped veggies to skillet and saute for about 5 min. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, parmesan, herbs, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper together. Pour egg mixture over veggies in skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until eggs are scrambled and everything is mixed nicely, about 5 min. Serve hot.