Tag Archives: Hamersley’s Bistro

Moms… and Madness

I honestly don’t know what I would do without my mother.

When I tell her I need a larger container for my fabric dyeing, she shows up at Hamersley’s Bistro with a large, red, horse feeding bucket.

 

At our impromptu family dinner the other night, she gave my sisters and I the type of gift that only a mother could give.

 Her style is a bit more elegant and, frankly, subtle than mine, but she knows my taste well enough to buy me fun and funky accessories like this multi-colored cuff:

 

She keeps me well-stocked with fresh chicken eggs:

 

And delicious little surprises like stinky cheese. This  Roquefort made my usual salad-and-sandwich lunches so much more interesting this week:

 

 She gave me a bottle of Vitamin D for Christmas, and a few weeks later sent me an email about the dangers of taking vitamins due to their high folic acid content.

 

She makes me part of a larger history. I’ve inherited so much from my mom, including the majority of these threads and a lovely packet of crochet hooks which I’m finally putting to good use these days!

 

I can’t even begin to photograph all of the pots, pans, and kitchen accessories that she has passed down (not to mention bed sheets, table cloths, furniture…). I’ll take her hand-me-downs and all their memories over new goods any day.

Whenever there’s some sort of mishap or crisis, she sends out an email with the ‘victim’s’ name in the subject line. My most recent example: an email titled “Z” about my little sister’s car crash. I wonder how many “Pippa” emails she’s sent out over the years…

She has an incredible garden, full of fresh fruit, veggies, flowers, and even chickens—and requested a Mother’s Day dinner rather than brunch so she could spend the day tending to it. She also requested our help, so in addition to my usual crafting endeavors and an abundance of long-neglected chores, I’ll be spending my Sunday in a sunshiney garden.

On that note… Happy Mother’s Day!

Meanwhile, is it possible that I’m  a crochet convert? Granny Puffy squares are just so full of possibility…

 

Just as crazy—did I actually make a rough sketch of my next quilting project instead of taking my usual, improvisational approach?

 

Craziest of all: could it be that I met my chocolate cake match last night at Prezza and wasn’t able to finish every last drop of this incredibly rich, succulent, flourless beauty? OK, so I only left a couple bites, but still…

What is the world coming to?

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under crochet, dining out, quilting

Upside Down

Is this not the happiest looking bag you’ve ever seen?

 

But of course it is. Clearly, I decided to add the buttons. I think it was a wise decision.

Do you know what else makes me very happy these days? Besides, of course, the fact that I’m engaged (sorry, I had to throw that in there—it hasn’t gotten old yet)! Cake.

Here’s the weird thing—I really don’t think of myself as a cake person. I’m always preaching about how ice cream is my number one dessert of choice. But take a look at the lovelies that I’ve consumed at various restaurants in the past week or so:

 

And that doesn’t even include the chocolate cake that Kyle and I fed each other on Saturday night.

Clearly, I have a particular fondness for any cake whose description includes the words ‘warm’ and ‘chocolate,’ thus the first two cakes from Bistro du Midi and Rialto. That misfit is sticky toffee pudding from Hamersley’s Bistro, one of few alternatives that can tear me away from chocolate (and no, I don’t normally eat out this much!)

Upon further reflection, I think the issue isn’t so much the cake itself, but the way that most cakes come: as big old honking rounds that you have to slice into and eat as much as possible of lest they go bad. 

(OK, this was a particularly horrendous example that I came across a couple of weeks ago at a super divey diner in New Jersey, but still…)

But give me an individually-sized cake, warm and fresh from the oven—and accompanied by a side of something cool and creamy—and I’m a happy gal.

Another one of my non-chocolate favorites has always been pineapple upside down cake. Baking a cake upside down makes it different in a good way—and since my life has recently been turned upside down, also in a good way, I declared this past week Upside Down Cake Week. The best part is, I used my beloved 2 cup Mario Batali pan to make individually sized cakes which we could eat in one go—therefore enabling me to make a whole new kind of cake the next night, guilt-free!

 

 In order: the classic pineapple upside down cake, banana chocolate chip upside down cake, and strawberry peanut butter upside down cake. The accompaniments, in order: pineapple fool (yes, fool is back!), my homemade banana chocolate ice cream, and Edy’s strawberry ice cream—I may have come to terms with my love of cake, but I still can’t forgo the creamy accompaniment.

The best part of upside down cakes is, of course, the layer of fruit, butter, and brown sugar that caramelizes beautifully while the cake cooks, and ultimately ends up on top once you’ve flipped the cake out of the pan. I used the same basic recipe for all three of these cakes, but tweaked it a tiny bit each time. And, naturally, I used whole wheat flour because you know more theory about whole grains negating caloric content…

Individual Upside Down Cakes

For the topping:

  • 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons melted butter
  • Fruit of your choice:
    • 2 slices of pineapple
    • ½ banana, sliced
    • About 4 strawberries, sliced

For the cake

  • 3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • ½  small egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • Additions:
    • Pineapple: 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice
    • Banana: 1 heaping tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • Strawberries: 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter (I melted the peanut butter in the milk before adding it to the flour mixture, and I left out the regular butter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the topping, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it has dissolved slightly. Cover the bottom of a small dish with the butter/sugar mixture (my pans are about 4¾” in diameter), and lay the fruit on top.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the egg, butter, and whole milk, and any ‘additions’ (pineapple juice, chocolate chips, etc.) and beat until just incorporated. Poor the cake batter over the fruit topping. Cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the cake springs back slightly when touched.

Allow the cake to cool for about 3 minutes before flipping it right-side up.

Tomorrow my fiancé (sorry—last time!) and I are off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, so we’ve decided to lay low tonight. He has some preliminary business school paperwork to get through, so I will gladly give him the couch and park myself in my new favorite spot. I’m calling it my stitching station:

 

For some reason, I’m spending lots of time on the floor these days—it’s good for spreading out all of my stuff and having a fellow carpet buddy makes Shuffle a very happy bunny. His new favorite pastime is removing the pins from my pincushion, one by one:

 

While Kyle is working, I’m planning on a marathon crochet session (yes, I just confessed to a Friday night of ‘marathon crocheting’)…

 

 …and methinks individual apple and almond upside down cakes are in order.

3 Comments

Filed under cooking, crochet, sewing, Uncategorized

Marking Milestones

Quilts store memories. They’re in the fabric, the pattern and the time that goes into each little stitch. This natural characteristic can be taken advantage of and some quilts hold even more memories than others. For instance, the little quilt I made for my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary which my family celebrated by spending Saturday night at the Boston Harbor Hotel and dining out at Hamersley’s Bistro in the South End (this restaurant’s card made it into the billboard quilt for sure, it was fabulous: http://www.hamersleysbistro.com/home/). The quilt is composed of 25 squares, naturally, on which my siblings and I wrote our fondest childhood memories. It was hard to choose- from summers at Wingersheek beach to Drumlin Farm and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve. The result: a quilted container of our parents’ 25 years together (or at least the bit that we have been a part of)!

0171018

019

Let’s just say the majority of my peers aren’t hardcore quilters so this was a fun way to get in some communal quilting- having my brother and sisters over to the dorm to write out their memories, ending up with something we all pitched in to create. Yet another wonderful thing about quilts; they bring people together. This was my first time putting pen to fabric for a quilt (good old black Sharpie) and I like the look- especially how the combination of hand writings really capture each person’s own recollections. I’d actually consider doing something similar on a larger scale. And I’m very fond of quilted ties these days (here I used bright orange to match the back fabric); I may have to use them on my Log Cabin with a Twist Quilt.

I almost let this count as this week’s mini quilt but then I realized that Sunday was Easter. My family never neglects the holidays, even if we celebrate them in a low-key way (this year we spent the day napping, cooking, and in my case quilting). Easter always has such a hopeful undertone, the promise of a fresh springtime beginning. I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to make an Easter Egg Quilt!

021022

I’ve always wanted to try making a quilt with curved borders. These ones aren’t particularly well-done and I certainly need more practice (there’s probably a more refined technique that I’m not aware of) but it’s not bad for a first shot.

So it was one of those weekends- celebrating milestone, new beginnings and hopefully the approach of Spring. How lovely to have it all captured in quilts.

 

1 Comment

Filed under history, quilting