Wednesday, September 29, 2010

cooking lessons

The other night I set out to cook a semi-improvised version of boeuf bourguignon, which turned out very delish, although in my taste the sauce could have been a tad denser or less watery, depending on how you'd choose to accentuate its flaws.

Which brings me to the fact that I have a nasty suspicion that I don't have, nor will I ever develop, the patience to cook this dish properly - properly as in the way Julia Child or any fetishist of French cooking would take to doing.
I mean, I think pretty much most things will turn out good if you start out by frying it in butter and then let it simmer in buckets of red wine for hours on end. Know what I mean? There are some dishes that are just winners no matter how much you mess them up.

In any case, despite my predilection for taking shortcuts, I did do some things 'according to recipe' this time, and some seemingly silly things at that:
  1. I dried the meat. Albeit with a piece of Kleenex as we had no paper towel lying around the house (Matteo will testify to the fact that I'm a happy consumer of paper towel. I'm just not very good about purchasing it, hehe).
  2. I powdered the meat with flour.

So would you like to know the purpose of those two 'actions'? Cos I just found out! First of all, the drying ensures that the meat browns rather than stews. Admittedly, this is confusing information, cos ain't beef borgin'jon pretty much a stew?

Or what.....? Let me google.

Uhm, it seems the beef is braised not stewed. Slow-braised even. But let's look into that another day and move on to the flour-y bit, which seems to serve this purpose: Insulation. Against the high heat. And aginst the wine too, I suppose? So it doesn't get too watered down (or stewed, perhaps?) from cooking for so long? I think it could also serve the purpose of thickening the sauce, except, obviously, in my case that didn't happen.

Yoda

window w. lace

tornado hit

I wish I had taken note of the address of this seemingly derelict place so I could have googled to find the story of how it turned out like this. I mean, the emptying and demolition seems so random.

All I know is that it was somewhere in North East London. If you got some details, do share.

Monday, September 27, 2010

my sis picking apples

For me. For apple cake.

I have a feeling apple cake is a Scandi thing. "You mean pie?", I remember Al asking me once when I offered him some freshly baked muffins with apple in them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Medicine Cabinet

Hello dear readers,

Do I have a story for you.

Well, first of all. Let me go back to early August. In fact, it may have been the very first night of August. Johan and I were invited over to his friends Jonas' and Selma's house along with Heidi and Troels, for an evening of sausage-making and dining.

Yes, you read it right. Sausage-making. The ensuing scenario looked a little bit like this, except substiute the pasta with ground meat:
John Currin, Homemade Pasta, 1999

At some point after dinner, we started discussing the hosts' furniture, much of which they had inherited from Jonas' late grandmother. And pop voilà!, out pulled Selma something else, also inherited from Jonas' late grandmother, albeit not from the same one. As far as I recall, I think this came from his paternal side.

In any event, let me describe to you what it was: An utterly covetable and beautiful old medicine cabinet. In solid dark wood (Mahogany perhaps?), with upholstered velvet lining, and little frail bottles filled with exciting concoctions, each marked with the name of its content. It also had four little drawers, one containing a small handwritten note on which it said: "Gangway drawer". Below the note was a neatly wrapped condom from "The World's Best Rubber Factory" - Danish readers of this blog will be amused to know that it actually said "The World's Best Gummivarefabrik" - apparently they deemed it undue to translate the last word.

If there should be any doubt in your mind, I found this cabinet utterly desirable - as did everyone else in the company, I should add. Apart from the thing being attractive per se, it was, I think, so desirable because it was put to use exactly as it should: To instigate a bit of history, narrative and dare I say something as overdramatic as poetry at the right moment in a company of friends.

Now, let me fast forward a bit, because this is what happened next. The morning after, Johan and I traveled to London to look for a flat. When there, Johan decided London was not his thing, and a good month and a half ensued where I had no clue as to where I ought to move. Finally, last week, I decided to stay in Copenhagen too (well, all of this mess is really a story in itself...)

Anyway, a couple of days ago, Jonas and Selma were leaving for Vienna for four months. And just minutes before they left for the airport, they informed Johan that they had a gift for us. For us? Yes, for us. To celebrate that we both decided to stay together in Copenhagen. So sweet.

And have you guessed what it was? You probably have.
It was the medicine cabinet. Nothing less.

I'm telling you, as Johan unwrapped the package which, by the by, he suspected was a game of Trivial Pursuit (???), we both sat in utter awe and silence and looked at the beautiful thing before us, after which we each took turns stuttering "But why"...."how can they"...."Why would they give this to us?".

Even though it would have been more in tune with the gift to carry it off to the library and look up the name and uses of each powder and tincture of the box in an old and dusty medical encyclopedia, I took to googling instead and will now have the pleasure of informing you what ailments and symptoms Johan and I should be ale to combat and, in some cases, induce:

We have Laudanum, more commonly known as Tincture of Opium, perhaps because it contains nothing less that 10 % of the latter, the equivalent of 1 % of morphine, rendering it a potent narcotic and useful as a painkiller and cough suppressant.
 
We have Scammony, which can be used as a laxative in treatment of severe constipation in children, and as an anthelmintic, used for killing intestinal worms. For the latter purpose, we also have Basilic Powder - in case you wanna let the two medicines amplify each other and kill whatever wormy parasite you may have inside you. Clever!

 
We have Menthol Crystals, which can be used to clear the sinuses and relieve stuffiness namely by putting one small menthol crystal into a bowl of hot water  and then breathe in the rising vapour.
We have Castor Oil, my absolute fave, as it has so many uses: It may serve as an anti-inflammatory to treat skin problems, burns and abrasions. It can also be used as a rub or pack for various ailments, for example abdominal complaints, headaches, muscle pains and sinusitis. Finally, it can be used as a laxative, to treat acne, induce childbirth in women and promote eyelash growth. Ha!

There is much more in the cabinet of course, but just you wait and see. Because when the right moment presents itself, we'll bring it out and tell you all about it and let it induce wonder, thrill and amusement around the dinner table - exactly as it should.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dogs galore!

Oh my goodness, look at this absolutely lovely low-tech music video featuring: DOGS! As in MANY.
 
Thanks to Mads for sending.

Friday, September 24, 2010

things I wonder about Lourdes Leon

Where did she pick up on that Valspeak? I mean, she grew up in London didn't she? So you'd think that would at least just tone down the Southern California intonation. But, like, she totally sounds like a Valley girl. Like, way exaggerated. Barf.

Click here to watch what I mean.

In the light of the above, I wonder how she pronounces her own name? I mean, it's French I presume, yet I imagine she presents herself as Loo-rdz. Maybe. Or perhaps she's just always 'Lola'.

I also wonder exactly how old she thinks she is, and if she really understands who her mother is? I mean, should anyone allowed to speak to Madonna that way? I mean, when Madonna is standing right next to you?

Why did she get rid of that unibrow and 'stache? I'm being serious when I say that I think it gave her some character.

Why, why, why, couldn't they have come up with a different name for their line than Material Girl? Is Madonna so craving the attention of the young folks, that she figured that the best way to cut into the tween markets was by selling them cheap, pop-goth-y clothes that make their pre-adolescent little selves look like prostitutes?

And on a final note, is it just me or does she look crazy much like her mother?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe

Ha! I was looking for an image of Le Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe and came across this photo by a Pepe Smit.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Trivia

Oh my. I just saw a picture of Giant George, who is the biggest dog in the world according to Guinness World of Records. And that made me curious to find out who might be the smallest dog in the world, and it seems it's a tiny match box-sized thing who goes by the name of Boo-boo.




And here is Boo-boo with a dog, that used to be perhaps the world's largest dog until Giant George stole its thunder. Outside the White House, perhaps? I can't tell.
I'm beginning to think, that apart from having a very specific talent, getting into Guinness World of Records' book depends either on sheer luck - say, you happen to have a cow that gives birth to a calf that grows into the world's tiniest cow - or a good mix of perseverance and too much free time on your hands. I mean, can we all agree that it doesn't take much talent to collect smurfs? 
Which makes me think that I should have ample chance of making it into that book too! Drop me a note if you wanna break a record with me. I say we make one up, so that there wont be much of an accomplishment to break.

Monday, September 20, 2010

neat!

When I was a teen, I used to collect glossy magazines like there was no tomorrow, and now I fiercely regret that I didn't keep them. Well, not really. I mean, I wouldn't have had enough to build a wall anyhow, which is what Elding Oscarson did for the Stockholm graphic design office Oktavilla.



Pretty neat, no?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

awwww....

OK, so I may have gone a bit too pessimistic in my last post, and therefore let me make up for it by calling attention to something I saw at the Natural History Museum and actually liked (in addition to the macabre crocodile handbag below, of course): A Lesser Egyptian Jerboa.

Does that fact that it's called 'lesser' mean that there is an Egyptian Jerboa that bigger or simply 'more'? Probably. You can look here, if you care to find out. Personally, I'm very content with desiring this little, big-eared, miniature version of a kangaroo:O)

Renaissance of the Natural History Museum


Is it just me, or have science and natural history museums kind of regained their cool or something? Or perhaps just gained it, because I don't know if they ever had their day among the hip.

But that is what it seems to me that's happening right now. Creative folks have taken a sudden liking to science museums, often a faux nerdy one, cos in all likelihood, they were never science geeks as kids and thus only pretend this was their second home all through their lonesome childhood and adolescence.

So if that's how I feel, what did I do there, you may ask? Well, as I passed by the Natural History Museum in South Kensington on my way to the Serpentine I got caught on the science-museums-are-cool-band-wagon, so to speak, and said to my dad: "Hey, wouldn't it be just awesome to go see this this as opposed to some totally predictable contemporary art show?".

And since it was free. And since it had started raining, dad and I went inside only to find that it wasn't all that neat after all. You see, the science museum, as so many other exhibitionary complexes, had also undergone radical change to become an interactive museum ("Push this button here!" "Listen to this sound!", "Walk through this poorly lit gallery as you make your curly cue way through the land of the prehistoric monsters!"). And it was just, well, dare I say it. Pathetic. I mean, imagine what it costs to run that machinery. The amount of clever scientists working there. And the amount of material they got to work with. The space they've got.

Now, surely something better can come of all those things so a creative type like me may gain something from a visit.

Preschoolers. Private.

As seen in the museum shop

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

By my talented ex-roomie


Now, look at this sassy video that Matteo shot and edited for none other than overly cool fashion label Marni!

F%&€#!!!! I mean, I don't mean to be jealous, but I think I've reached a point where I think everyone around me accomplishes big things and does cool stuff while I don't!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stupid bike!

There are moments where I wonder if I really am a crack baby. Like, the time I broke my baby toe, or like this evening, when I suddenly fell off my bike.

Yup, you read it right. And it wasn't no neat little fall either. Na-ah. It was as ungraceful as ungraceful gets, and it took three full grown men to disentangle me from my bike and the three rolls of cellophane wrapping I had just purchased for my Cookies Without Borders project.

I actually blame those very rolls of shiny wrapping for my fall, even though I was quick to assure everyone in my vicinity that it was entirely my own fault that I fell.

"Oh silly me, that sure was my own fault!" I said very gingerly to all the people by the buss stop, in front of whom I had chosen to fall. "Oh my, you know, I realized I was going to fall long before it even happened," I kept on assuring them. Smiling. Insanely.

Of course I started crying as soon as I was in appropriate distance of them all, only to find them passing me by on the buss a few minutes later.

Anyway the illustration above is by Ilon Wikland for Astrid Lindgren's "Lotta's Bike", from where the caption of this post is taken :O) I think I know exactly how she feels.

Why not?

I spent the other night watching BBC Entertainment (perhaps a part of the Danish cable package? In any case it had Danish subtitles, so I'm guessing it's a channel made specifically for exports) and not only was I thrilled to come across Live at the Appollo hosted by none other that Joan Rivers (good god, she's awesome!) and a quiz hosted by Stephen Fry. The latter revolving around animals - hurrah!

So here's what I learned: Ferrets are the third most popular house pet in the United States right after cats and dogs (or perhaps dogs and cats?), and there's a specific reason for that: 1) They're very cuddly (and I adore cuddly things!) 2) They will greet you at your door when you come home (and I think being greeted by furry things is the best! The best! 3) In the 1960's they were used for wiring Boeings (as in the airplane. Awesome) and 4) They're good for people with anxieties (which I have in plenty!).

After I found out that you can dress them up too, I'm thinking I should definitely get one. No?

Unleashed.

Here's a total disclaimer: This campaign for Nike was made in part by my high school sweetheart from the cooler than cool agency Naked, which I totally tried to charm my way into back in the day when I was hunting for a job as a strategic planner in New York. I mean, 'cooler than cool' is a total understatement. I had my interview in a hothouse. And they had a dog. And free candy. Nuff said.

Anyhow, they didn't hire me (heavy sigh), but still, I'm gonna let bygones be bygones on this one and ruthlessly promote their new campaign which I think is totally brilliant.


Sooo, have you noticed lately how so many people are in your face about how great a distance they ran at which hour? On Facebook and Twitter and stuff? It turns out it's not intended to bug and remind the likes of me that we're completely out of shape while the rest of the super human race is getting fitter for fight. It's actually a contest. Albeit one of those nice contests, that's actually supposed to spark a sense of community and play - all while bringing up your heart rate. Sweet!

So here's how it works out: All the different boroughs of Copenhagen compete against one another as to whose inhabitants can run the most miles. Or kilometers, I guess it is. So you get some essential gear from Nike (I mean, this is an ad campaign after all), that records the distance you run, which is subsequently pooled together with the results of all the other runners from your hood. 

And if all this wasn't enough to get you going, I can inform you that each neighborhood is represented by these beautiful Copenhagen creative class hipsters. I mean, so you get to ally yourself with them too as opposed to peeps from some unstylish running club.

And beauty, we all know, rubs off. It's downright contagious. As is running. And watching this video.


Nike TakeCPH - Intro from Nike TakeCph on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

London once more.




I can't believe I haven't told you, but I've actually been to London this week as well. As I told a friend of mine, the amount of traveling I've done lately would make perfect sense if I were a very famous model or a highly paid business women. But since we all know that I'm neither, I guess it's not so strange that I feel strange and homeless these days, because by now it's been two months since I left New York, and since then, let me tell you, I have slept in many a different place. Dad's, Johan's, Johan's old place in London, my friend Vicky's place in London, mom's country house and her place in Stockholm, and Johan's new house in London.

That's a lot of places. And it happens quite often actually, that I wake up in the middle of the night and have no clue as to where I am. Have you ever tried that? You know, when you're in your bed and trying to decipher the layout of the room you're in?

Anyhow, so I went to London with my Dad (for much apprecaited moral support) to check out a flat, and on our first night there we defied the strike of the Underground workers and took the bus into Chinatown and had greasy pecking duck, deep fried seaweed and spring rolls.

And then we spent about two hours trying to get back home.

p.s. Am I the only one's who confused about Blogger's "new editor"? I figured I had ignored it long enough, and when I saw that the old editor will soon disappear, I figured it was time to convert. But damn. It's a total bummer. Moving text in between photos as I like to do, is just, like, impossible!

The Diaphragm


I kind of dig this photo in all it's blurriness!

We went to see an exhibition on plastic at Nordiska Museet/the Nordic Museum. Such a great subject, we all agreed, except it just hadn't been exploited to it's full potential. Johan particularly missed stuff produced by the pharmaceutical industry (although I did spot a diaphragm). Personally, I think I would have liked some of it to be available to touch as opposed to solely on display. I mean, plastic. It's so tactile, ain't it? And robust and unceremonious, making it so perfect for use.

Can you freakin' believe this?

It's a goldfish.
Via Gawker.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kex Choklad


For the entire duration of our stay, Johan talked bout Kex Choklad, a Swedish treat which he's apparently very fond of, and which he refers to simply as 'kex'. He attempts to pronounce it in Swedish, but most of all he sounds like a gay guy from Texas attempting to speak Swedish - just to give you a general idea.

Anyhow, we finally had one at the airport, just before boarding the plane.

Kaknäs

I have a poster of this tower back in New York, and when I was in Stockholm last weekend, Johan, mom and I walked all the way out there (it was quite a wander!) in the hope of finding a second one for my new place.

But it was all to no avail, because they claimed there had never really been a poster with the image of the tower. Instead they proposed I buy a towel with the tower woven into it (tsk tsk) or that I take a picture of it and blow it up in size (tsk tsk tsk).

Before we left, they offered us a piece of chocolate in the shape of a moose's head. To compensate for their lack of wall art, I guess.