Thursday, July 29, 2010

Okay, so maybe I might be tipsy-blogging here (a phrase originating from the lovely Kathleen at Jeremy & Kathleen) but I couldn't wait.  So beware, I might sound a bit nonchalant.  Oh, and vegetarians, shut yer holes, this is a meat post.  

I made my first burgers tonight.  I mean, from scratch.  One pound ground bison, salt-and-peppered.  I added a couple tablespoons of maple syrup and a palm full of parmesan cheese.  Mince a big shallot and toss it in there.  A tablespoon of grainy mustard, an egg, and half-cup of breadcrumbs.  Get your hands dirty and mash it all up.  Form into patties (balls just-smaller than a pool ball, and smush flatish) and refrigerate for a while.  An hour?  

Oh, a secret (via this dude on the internet): Poke a half-teaspoon of butter into the centre of each patty.  It keeps the burger ultra-moist and super-fatty.

Preheat your oven to 400°.  Heat a pan with a dash of olive oil and sear the shit outta those burgers.  Just a couple of minutes on each side.  Toss them in the hot oven to cook through.  Hm, about 10 minutes.  

I served them on raisin and walnut ciabatta bread.  Holy Jesus.  Sweet and savory faceoff.  Heirloom tomatoes, sliced red onion, various mustards, chipotle-spiced ketchup, and some mildly-stinky oka cheese from Quebec.  A side of green beans and roasted fingerling potatoes.  

Add in SYTYCD, Jersey Shore, Nick, Natasha, and T.J. (and several bottles of wine ie. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, 2009) and it turns out to be the most-perfect Thursday ever.

(It should be said, I'm not entirely pleased with these photos.  Tipsy-photography.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My friends over at Kitka recently posted a hodgepodge of cottage photos - We must be drinking the same lake water, because I had the same thing in mind. 

We've progressed in the bunky, our new blue lamps and Pottery Barn shades perfection.  We found two white side tables that are great at our bedside and a slew of Ikea textiles add the right colours and textures.  

And we've finally decided what to do with the floors.  We're going to tear up the carpet (a hideous commercial-industrial grey) and lay down plywood.  Not only will this add structural support to our lakeside abode, but when painted-out in glossy white, they'll brighten the place up incredibly.  If we get really ambitious, we might take the paint up and over the walls and ceiling rafters to really blow-out the space, otherwise that project can wait until next year.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

After indulgent weekends at the cottage, we feel compelled to come home and lighten up where food is concerned.  With a non-stop parade of hot dogs, white bread, red meat and booze, it's critical that our Monday to Friday is a bit leaner.  But life's too short for chicken breasts and spinach, so if it comes from my kitchen, it'll still fall firmly in the syrupy category.

I started by crushing a quarter cup of maple-glazed pecans to coat the top of the Icelandic salmon fillet, then seared in a hot, oiled pan. After the pecans got just the slightest bit charred, I flipped to the skin side and let the fish cook through (about 12 minutes).   Then tented under foil.

To the pan, I added four tablespoons of ginger and one small shallot (both minced very finely) with a tiny splash of soy sauce. I allowed the mash to flash-fry in the hot oil, while bringing the pan down to a more reasonable temperature.  I added a half-teaspoon of grainy mustard and a glug or two of maple syrup (If you're lucky, it'll be Hart House Farm Syrup and a gift from your lovely friend Kathy).  I whisked gently and added a good splash of Woodford Reserve (okay, more like . . . a cup).  I let this to simmer away for a few minutes (cutting the bourbon but leaving its smokey sweetness) before I strained the ginger-shallot mash (which I like to spread under the fish, as a tasty surprise) and served with the salmon.  Sweet, but not too, and so moist.

Oh, and something else: Try adding a teaspoon of super grainy mustard to steamed green beans.  Tasty.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sherms and I thought it might be a good idea to do another shoot for his lookbook; in terms of branding and marketing, one model, ipso facto, becomes a spokesmodel.  And unless you've got Claudia Schiffer on the payroll, that might not be the wisest plan-of-action.

(Perhaps I should take a minute to explain what a lookbook is.  And I'm not being condescending here, I got schooled via episodes of MTV's The City, so don't read this as haughty.)  Designers put together a catalogue, of sorts, to sell their wares to potential buyers (ie. Bergdorf, Sak's, Holt Renfrew) and to alert the general fashion industry of a new line.  Typically quite condensed, they're a glimpse into the overall aesthetic of the designer.

We spent a quick couple of hours wandering around the extremely photogenic University of Toronto campus yesterday - Some of our city's oldest and most beautiful architecture.  The overcast skies provided perfect lighting and just the right amount of panic as we hurried to beat the rain.

And did I mention Jesse?  

He's almost impossibly good looking, a David Beckhamish look with tattoos and close-cropped hair.  He has that sparkle only a professional model can conjure, making my job incredibly embarrassingly easy.

Below is a mere snapshot (pun intended) of the shoot.  Sherman and I have the very enviable job of going through almost 6000 images between the two shoots, narrowing-down and trying to encapsulate his entire vision in just a few choices.  

I'm not sure whose life I'm living right now, but I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For us, a first-stop on any trip to the States is J. Crew.  Canadians are deprived of its charms (but not for long, I hear!) so I tend to get a bit panicky and desperate to peruse its shelves when we cross the border.

I got this fantastic belt for $6.  That's right.  I've always had a thing for whales.  In grade five I did a Social Studies project on the blue whale, so this humpback really got me going.  I've never been one for novelty belt buckles, I mean, obviously, but this one feels more classic than, say, a pair of handcuffs or a Jack Daniels logo.

Something happened recently that I haven't been able to put into exact words.  Once in a while you'll serendipitously meet someone who has a real affect.

One month ago a lanky guy named Christopher Sherman appeared out of nowhere when ├╝ber-blogger Tavi Gevinson had a speaking engagement at the venue where I work.  We hit it off immediately, it was hard to explain: something like falling in love (See: Jessica, 2008), really, we marveled at how it felt like we'd known each other forever, yet it had been no time at all.  I mean, it's still only been 30 days.

It feels like we were best friends as children, a shared history or something, like a cosmic reunion.  I'm still not entirely convinced we aren't brothers.

So, we met, we talked, we drank gin.  We were on the same page aesthetically, talked about branding and style and taste. We talked about blogs and image and all the things I've been thinking so much about lately.  It was a bizarre level of synchronization, right down to wearing the same shirt to lunch.

A couple of days into our fast-friendship, Sherms (I call him Sherms) asked me if I'd shoot the lookbook and campaign for the line of bowties he designs.  What?  Would I?  I'd been thinking about reconsidering my photography training, perhaps finding a way to use it that would inspire and interest me, and this was exactly what I didn't know I wanted to be doing.  I've been buzzing in the weeks since his flattering request.

So, not only have I found a great new friend, but I had the pleasure of shooting photos of his new collection. The ties are beautiful.  Inspired by American classics and artists, his 9 designs are individually handcrafted, from denim and grey jogging-pant-jersey to olive wool, leftover from actual military uniform production, bolts of which he found outside of town in a dusty old place.  Serendipity, indeed.

Christopher Sherman (bow ties) 2010