Memories For Sale

Last weekend Lauren, Chase, and I ventured to a more remote part of the Greater Pittsburgh Area. Our previous estate sale plans were thwarted by an expired Craigslist posting, so we did the next best thing- antiquing. The more I think about that word as a verb, the more I dislike it. See also- crafting. Due to a lack of money, I wasn’t really looking for anything other than inspiration. It is free after all, but you’ve got to keep your eyes open.

Ohio River Blvd Antique Mall was the place. The purple brick building’s facade resembled something like an auto shop you’d find off East McKinney Street in good ol’ Denton, Texas. Its bright colors draw in business and drive out evil spirits, though being an antique store, the place is probably filled with all sorts of juju.

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As soon as you cross the threshold, you go back decades. Mid-century sofas stacked 3 on 3, glass bottles galore, knickknacks and tchotchkes, and dishes from days long gone fill the rooms. Oh! And there are rooms, not to mention floors! The interior is a Victorian house filled with other peoples’ belongings. Other peoples’ junk? Definitely other peoples’ memories.

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On a different note, there’s nothing like an antique store to reiterate the fact that when you die you leave all your shit behind you. While it is a slightly morbid point of view, it does make me evaluate my tendencies as a consumer. Ever since moving to Pittsburgh, I have really been trying to simplify my life. Antique stores can be a great testament to this. So many of the objects filling the shelves hail from a simpler time, and I get a little inspired to live like they did. This correlation might only make sense to me….Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Consumerism and bank account status aside, I did make a beeline towards the depression glass and handful of insulators.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Besides Ohio Blvd, we also frequented a few other thrift and surplus stores. They all sort of cast a similar shadow on my opinion voiced above.

Out with the new and in with the old!

 

 

I Got Stripes

The Fourth of July is my favorite ‘Merica holiday. It can’t be the only ‘Merica holiday, right? This year, my Fourth was the exact opposite of previous years. For the last 3 back in Tejas, the Pearl House would throw the biggest party in town. Everyone who was anyone in Denton would be there. Well maybe not. But cool people showed up. And we made a vodka melon. Every year.

This year, karaoke was not sung, flags were not “stolen”, and hangovers were not to be had. Instead, I held a piping bag in my hand for 14 hours straight. I decorated everything in sight to make our bakery look like America threw up all over the counter and then some. Carpal tunnel much? My hand is still hurting! All complaints aside, I was ready for a nap, beer, roasted ear of corn, and a hot dog In that specific order).  My sister’s boyfriend held a Fourth of Ju-Luau at his house. Everything but the nap was brought to fruition there.  I even had a vodka melon, though it was disgusting. I should give 4th of July tutorials on how to properly inebriate fruit. It’s not rocket science, B!

Anyway, I had a great Fourth. I didn’t think it was a possibility, but when you surround yourself with rad people, good times just happen organically. Here are some photos of me donning Old Faithful. I actually paid for this one. From one of my favorite Dallas vintage stores.

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America’s Bday also rocks because it is the most LDR (Lana Del Rey) of all the holidays. George Washington never saw that one coming!

Papa Don’t Peach (Pie)

Let’s rewind the clock and really even flip the calendar back a month to June. I don’t normally like to go back in time, but pie is involved so I’ll make an exception.

The Monday beginning Fathers Day week I found myself lying in bed not being able to sleep and thinking about food, per usual. I swear, all of my best ideas come to me via delirium. This one also came courtesy of Madonna, an earlier trip to my butcher crush’s establishment, and the onslaught of summer. PEACHES AND BACON - I had the perfect pie any pops would like on their day.

When I shared this bright piedea with friends, theladies were like “that’s a strange combination” and the dudes were like “fuck yeah, bacon”. From their responses I knew I was on the right track. I used the same all butter pie crust recipe I’ve grown accustomed to, with the addition of 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Crust is always my favorite part of the pie so I love making minor adjustments to the recipe in order to bring out the flavor in the filling. As for the peaches, cream, and bacon, I took the local route. I love any excuse to visit my local butcher (I have the biggest crush on that man) and farmers markets are a no brainer.

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Papa Don’t Peach Pie

For the Filling:

8-10 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla + 1/2 tsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 tbs + 2 tsp corn starch

1 1/2 tbs tapioca 

pinch kosher salt

  1. Peel and slice peaches and place into a large mixing bowl. make sure your peaches are ripe, otherwise this is a pretty arduous task….it really is the pits. (Ha!) Try brown bagging your fruit for a day or 2 beforehand. Toss in and coat the peaches with the fresh lemon juice, vanilla, and maple syrup.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  2. In a separate smaller bowl, combine all of your (other) dry ingredients. Lightly toss the mixture in with the peaches with a rubber spatula.  This is why I love making fruit pies, so simple! Processed with VSCOcam with e8 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  3. Lightly fry up a few slices of bacon in a skillet. Then dice those babies up. We will dot the filling with bacon instead of butter!Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  4. When assembling your pie, a double crust is the way to go. I would recommend either a tight lattice crust or small vent slits. Peaches are more on sensitive side. You don’t want to end up scorching your fruit or hurting anyone’s feelings. I have a love for latticing things, so duh, I went with a fat, tight, and diagonal weave. Before adding the filling, I like to dust the bottom half of the pie shell with a mixture of equal parts sugar and flour. This helps to thicken up any juices during the baking process. Yum! Finally after spooning your peaches into the shell, dot with the little cubes of bacon before starting to weave the top crust layer. Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  5. Pop your assembled pie into the freezer for about 30 minutes. This help the crust to maintain its shape during the baking process. No one likes a droopy crust! After freezing, brush the top layer of crust with a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Another trick for the books, this gives you a soft yet flaky and goldenly delicious pie crust. I used local dairy products, too! Happy cows=happy pies, right? Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset
  6. Bake this baby for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, rotating every 20 minutes. Let cool for an hour before delving in. I served the pie with homemade coldbrew coffee, but I can only imagine the amazingness of a la mode! Next time, next time.Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

 

If and when I finally make that pie shoppe dream come true, this will definitely be on the menu come fathers day. It may have to become a summer staple, because who doesn’t like peach pie? (Answer: weirdos/people who are not my friends)

 

***Because bacon is involved, this also makes a great breakfast choice!***Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset Processed with VSCOcam with e8 preset

Think Pink!

After an unsuccessful search for the perfect dog-friendly apartment with wood floors, high ceilings, and bay windows (I know in my heart that such a place exists), my sister and I decided to give el Murder House another go-round. I can deal with this house another year for the price and sheer location. Since Gare Bear loves me (even more now that he knows I want to be Jewish) he has granted us permission to do whatever we want to the house. First things first: a door that designates our gender!

P I N K

You may know that all black everything dominates my fashion choices, but sometimes I like to add color. Other times I just like to match my house! Besides our new front door, other things I am loving right now are kimonos kimonos kimonos, hats hats hats (duh!), and only washing my hair once a week (see hats) x beachy waves! Throw in some cutoffs, Birks, or even boots and you have my summer wardrobe in a nutshell.

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“Nothing says bitches live here quite like a pink door.” -my sister.

Sweet Potato Babycakes

The idea for this blog post found its beginnings in a personal journal entry. I was complaining via pen and paper about my lack of a Memorial Day weekend due to a 70 hour work week. The weekends are usually the time when I bake on my own, photograph, edit said photos, and then draft blog posts. I feel like I have not had a weekend since the middle of May. Anyway, somewhere in a rant on Instagram, Friday Night Lights (my newest Netflix obsession), and work, my mind saw a sudden burst of color. You know how shades can provoke certain emotions? Well, I feel like my brain did the opposite of that. By the end of my entry all I could think about were hues of purples and orange. I wanted to manifest these colors into something delicious. From that, my recipe for sweet potato babycakes (with a black raspberry & cinnamon glaze) was born! Image

Some of you may be questioning my choice of sweet potatoes now that summer is well upon us. What else is naturally orange and possesses an abundance of flavor and depth? Don’t say carrots unless you want to be wrong! Adding cinnamon the the fruit glaze really tied all the flavors together with a result that was slightly sweet and slightly savory. I have also had a hankering to use edible flowers as a garnish/decoration. After discovering and following an Australian cake decorator, Unbirthday Bakery, via Instagram, I purchased a package of pansies from a local grocery store. I figured this to be the better route than urban foraging. I really cannot wait to work with edible flowers again! They give you a warm fuzzy feeling, or me at least. ImageImageImageImage

My friend Lauren let me shoot and bake in her adorable, very well lit kitchen. Her original vintage gas stove is the stuff my dreams are made of, though, I guess in that dream I’d never be able to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Her kitchen was the perfect setting to create and then later enjoy.

Sweet Potato Babycakes w/ a Black Raspberry & Cinnamon Glaze

For the cake:

3 medium sweet potatoes

2 cups flour

2 large eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

For the glaze:

4 cups powdered sugar

2-3 tbs black raspberry preserves

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup water, added 1 tbs at a time

edible flowers for decorating

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  1. Wash, peel, and prick your sweet potatoes with a fork. Roast for about 45 minutes or until done at 400 degrees. Once cooled, mash sweet potatoes with a fork until smooth. It is okay if there are some chunky pieces, it will give your cake some texture! ImageImageImage
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together salt, spices, flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla and then eggs, one at a time. ImageImageImageImage
  3. Mix the mashed sweet potatoes in with your butter, eggs, and vanilla. Once fully incorporated, stir in the flour and spices. Your batter should be thicker, more like the consistency of a banana bread. ImageImageImageImage
  4. Grease and flour 4 smaller baking cups, I used ramekins. If you want to make a full sized cake or bunt, be my guest! A 9 inch pan should do the trick. Pour your batter into whichever type of preferred baking dish, just note that the size may adjust the baking time. For ramekins, the total baking time was about 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees. use a toothpick or a fork to test your cake at the 30 minute mark. ImageImageImageImageImage
  5. Now for the glaze! Whisk together vanilla, a few tablespoons of your water, and the preserves. Slowly add in powdered sugar cup by cup, alternating between tablespoons of water. The thing with glaze is that you don’t want it too runny. The ideal consistency is a almost like Elmer’s glue. ImageImage
  6. If you have a pastry bag on hand, you may want to use it for your glaze. It certainly makes decorating a whole lot easier and definitely less messy. Squeeze the glaze onto the tops of your cakes in a zigzag circular motion, then apply flowers before the glaze has a chance to set. ImageImageImageImage

 

I am more than elated with the way these turned out. Like I said earlier, I cannot wait to decorate more with edible flowers. This recipe also proves that sweet potato is flavor that can and should be used year round! It is always nice when a vision becomes a reality, in this case the purple and orange color combination.ImageImageImageImage

 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a pleasant Monday! Talk to ya later, babycakes!

Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

Even though I spend 40+ hours a week at a bakery, I can’t help but not want to be in the kitchen on my days off. Mondays more than Sundays are reserved for conjuring up something sweet or savory and definitely baked. We celebrated my good friend Lauren’s birthday over the weekend. Upon her request, I made her my famous buttermilk pie.

Even though I halved my pie crust recipe, I had quite a bit left over after lining one pie plate. As it sat in the refrigerator for a few days, I kept going back and forth in my head as to what I should use it for. Mini quiches, cream pies, hand pies, lemon bars, and galettes were all viable options until I realized I was missing one key ingredient for each.  Image

One of the main reasons why I love baking so much is that it forces you to get creative. Well, I guess I should edit that statement by saying that baking forces you to get creative if you are too lazy to go to the store and are just making something up on the whim that is what you have in your refrigerator. This recipe falls somewhere in the void between a lemon bar and a chess pie. Both are similar in that they are simple, only calling for a fair amount of ingredients- sugar, flour, eggs. I have a million and one bananas in my freezer and wanted to throw them into the mix. You can also never go wrong with adding chocolate, or so I hoped.

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Banana Chocolate Experiment Pie

1 unbaked pie shell

4 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup flour

2 tbs cocoa powder

6 frozen bananas

1 tsp vanilla

  1. If opt to make a crust from scratch, go ahead and roll it out and trim it for your pie plate. I was working with leftover dough scraps, so my crimping is a little less than pleasing. I used a butter knife to lightly press the dough onto the edge of the plate.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage
  2. Other nice options for crusts would be a simple shortbread (butter, sugar, and flour) or even a graham cracker crust.
  3. Slice 2 of your frozen bananas and layer them on the bottom of your crust. Once baked, these make a nice layer on top of the crust. ImageImageImage
  4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and cocoa. Image
  5. In a smaller bowl, beat eggs, vanilla, and the remainder of your frozen bananas together. Combine with flour mixture until smooth. ImageImageImageImageImageImage
  6. Bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. I drizzled the top with melted chocolate and sea salt to give it a little something extra. Extra is always good if it’s chocolate! ImageImageImageImage

 

After taste testing a warm slice, I let the pie chill in the fridge for a couple of hours before having an official slice. This was so refreshing, not to mention simple. Lauren deemed a pie tie between buttermilk and this chocolaty banana-y concoction.

 

Pie is always a good choice!

Sunday Snapshots

(Ughhhhh) so I am actually kind of embarrassed / disappointed with myself for not blogging AT ALL this week. I had a crazy week at the bakery and felt like I had a dark cloud looming over my head the last five days. The sun is finally out today, thus bringing hope to the end of a gloomy week.

Today is Mothers Day. I’ve spent the morning sitting in my yellow chair and reflecting on what it means to be a mom. Shannon has passed down her good hair genes and her crazy. She has also taught me all I need to know about love, tenderness, and faith. Though we differ more than she realizes, we do share these things. I miss her all the time.

Enough for sentiment. Today is for being lazy and spending time with my baby, because, pets are like children.

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Cinco de Monday

Today is Cinco de Mayo and the temperature is in the low 40s. Instead of drinking margaritas on a patio or next to a pool, I am hanging around the house, taking it easy, and trying to mentally prepare myself for what will be another long work week. It’s a good day to practice calligraphy, mess around with watercolors, and only venture out to walk the dog. But, not to worry, tacos were had this morning!

I also have the new Lykke Li on repeat. My favorite. Hope you all have a nice Cinco de Monday!

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Around My Hood | A Walk In the [Frick] Park

Now that the temperatures are mimicking some level of consistency, Sunday plans are beginning to stretch past the brunching hour. Cloudless afternoons are a little hard to come by here in Pittsburgh so one must take advantage of the fair weather. Time spent at the Frick, followed by the refreshing taste of fro-yo, has become somewhat of a Sunday tradition.

Besides tulips and pink magnolias blooming this way and that, a walk in the park gives away subtle signs of Spring’s arrival. It’s pretty funny to think that in Texas they are nearing the hotter temperatures- the temperatures of summer. I am sweating just thinking about it!

The Frick is quickly becoming one of my favorite inner city getaways. I brought my camera along on my most recent outing to capture a candid spring and even more candid dogs.

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