Saturday, January 15, 2011

another cooking one...

i figured since i was already on a roll with the cooking theme, i would post a food recipe (since one can't live on cocktails alone!). plus, i promised my aunt i would post this recipe! :)

now i couldn't find much history (in english anyway) about steak frites, but i did determine that the dish was first prepared around 1930 at a restaurant in paris, though the dish also has belgian origins. though i can't provide much information i can assure you that it's a delicious dish, and one of our favorite meals! i will admit that i do not make a traditional version, but rather a version inspired by the steak frites at the elysian brewery in seattle. there are great recipes for more traditional versions online, so i encourage you to try those too!

danae's steak frites (with sweet potatoes)

i have two versions of this recipe, a regular and a light version. tonight i made the regular version so that's what i have photos of. i'll include notes on making the light version at the end. this recipe will make enough for 2-4 people depending upon how hungry you are!

1 1/2 pounds of steak (your choice of cut)

1 bag frozen sweet potato fries (i usually use the trader joe's brand, but a lot of grocery chains are carrying them now too. if you're in the seattle area, i just found them at fred meyer- they're the crinkle cut kind which i used for these photos)

1 c. milk, half and half, or heavy cream (depending upon your preferences)

2 c. shredded cheese (i've tried several different kinds and as long as it's a strong, hard cheese they've all been great! my favorites are gruyere, parmesan, or romano. the elysian dish that inspired my version uses crumbled bleu cheese).

2 t. fresh ground pepper

1/2 t. salt (more to taste)

1/2 t. truffle salt (optional)

pre-heat oven to the temperature specified on the packaging for the sweet potato fries.

generously season steak with salt and pepper. pre-heat grill to med-high. (if you're not as crazy as we are and don't grill in the winter you can use a grill pan on the stove, or sear the steaks in an oven proof skillet and then transfer to a 300 degree oven until med-rare.)

when oven is hot, bake fries as specified on the package.

when the grill is ready, begin grilling the steaks to desired doneness. (tip- don't press steaks while grilling, this will keep your steaks nice and juicy).

meanwhile, warm milk or cream in a small saucepan over med-low heat. watch carefully so the cream doesn't scald. when the cream is warm to the touch (yes, you can use your finger- just make sure it's clean. ;), add the cheese. continue to warm over med-low heat until cheese is melted and sauce has thickened. stir frequently. once sauce has thickened, add black pepper and salt to taste. reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, until fries and steaks are ready.

once steaks have reached desired doneness, let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes. slice diagonally, across the grain.

place fries on each plate, arrange sliced steak over fries and top with cheese sauce. garnish with a sprinkle of truffle salt (if desired).

now, if you'd prefer to keep things a bit lighter, you can use the same recipe, but instead of the cheese sauce prepare a parmesan butter...

4 T. grated parmesan cheese (not the powdered, canned kind)
3 T. butter (room temperature)

mix butter and grated cheese in a bowl.

when plating the steaks, top with the butter.

easy and less fattening! if you really want it to be light- use 4 c. of arugula or other greens instead of the fries.

hope you find this as delicious as we do! please feel free to leave a comment with any questions or to tell me how your version turns out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

not exactly vintage...

my love of vintage led me to start this blog and i generally only cover topics related to that, but i have another love and i'm going to share a bit about that here!

now, i know it's not exactly vintage, but i will at least try to provide some kind of history to go along with the recipes, so maybe that counts?

last week i shared with you how i've been in a frontier kind of mood lately and what could be more at home in the frontier than whiskey? especially a bourbon branded a 'frontier whiskey'?

one of my favorite whiskey's lately is bulleit bourbon. i was given my first bottle as a birthday gift a few years ago and discovered that i really enjoyed it's unique flavor. i did a little reading on bulleit and it seems that in 1830 augustus bulleit, a tavern keeper in louisville, set about to create a bourbon with a unique flavor profile. after finding the flavor he was looking for he began to sell the bourbon and as he was on a trip transporting barrels of it to new orleans, augustus bulleit disappeared. to this day it is not known what happened to him, but in 1987 his great-great grandson decided to revive the family legacy and began crafting small batch bourbon.

now, unlike most of the frontiersman of the old west, i usually don't drink my whiskey neat (aka straight up), unless i'm trying it for the first time. my preferred drink is an old fashioned. i find that most people aren't familiar with the old fashioned so i thought i would share the recipe i have developed over the last few years. it's a two part recipe, as i make my own cocktail cherries, rather than using those awful bottled maraschino cherries that most bars use. i'll share the basic recipe for the cherries, and then the drink recipe.

danae's cocktail cherries

1 pound cherries pitted and washed (i prefer sour cherries, but whichever you like best will work)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 vanilla beans, scored down the middle then cut into 1 inch sections
1 cup bourbon (i use a lower end bourbon like jim beam, the flavor isn't really affected)

in a medium saucepan combine the water, sugar, and vanilla beans. bring to a boil. reduce heat to medium.

add the cherries and simmer for 5-7 minutes.

remove from heat and add bourbon (if you want the cherries to have the bourbon flavor, but less alcohol content add the bourbon for the last two minutes of simmering the cherries).

let cool. transfer cherries and liquid into clean jars. refrigerate uncovered until cherries are cool to the touch. cover tightly and keep refrigerated. some say to only keep them for 2 weeks, but i've found they keep much longer due to the preservation properties of the sugar and alcohol. i'll let you be the judge.

danae's old fashioned

1 demerara sugar cube or 1 tsp. raw sugar (all the vintage old fashioned recipes i've seen call for a regular sugar cube, but i prefer the flavor of raw sugar over refined).
1 orange segment, unpeeled or 1 long twist of orange zest
3 dashes bitters (i use original angostura bitters, but mostly because i can't afford the fancier bitters i've seen on the market lately. someday i want to try making my own!)
soda water
bourbon of choice
cocktail cherries

place sugar, orange slice and bitters in an old fashioned glass. muddle together until sugar dissolves.

add enough soda water to fill the glass half full. for a truly vintage take on soda water, use a soda siphon. i love mine (though i use a new one, my vintage one is for display only)- it makes great soda water and you never run out!

add ice until the glass is nearly full.

top with bourbon to taste and garnish with cocktail cherries (i like to use lots!).

ta-dah! you've made yourself an old fashioned! i hope you enjoy it. do you have a favorite bourbon recipe? i'd love to try it!

isn't this vintage swizzle stick with the mini whistle on it cute? 

Friday, January 7, 2011

frontier living

my hometown, laramie wyoming, circa 1870

downtown laramie, circa 1870
for new year's eve this year, bill and i, along with my friend katie, went to see true grit. it was wonderful- really. i know you die-hard john wayne fans may be skeptical, but it's really a wonderful movie that feels like a true western. it also follows the story line and dialog of the book much more closely than the john wayne version so it doesn't feel like a remake- more like a re-imagining. anyway, this post isn't really about true grit, it's about the inspiration it fueled in me.

beautiful still from 'true grit'
i grew up in the closest remaining thing to the frontier of the old west- the state of wyoming. though we didn't ride horses to school (a question i am frequently asked, oddly enough), there are many ways in which wyoming hasn't changed since the days of the 'wild west'. wyoming is the second least densely populated state, second only to alaska. this is something that most wyomingites are fiercely proud of and something that a lot of town governments will protect (sometimes at the cost of economic development, but that's for another blog entirely). it takes a day to drive across the state. and many routes can be a beautiful, lonesome affair. you can drive for hours without seeing a town. on some of the backroads you can drive for hours and not see another car at all! it's a land of true wide-open spaces and rugged, almost surreal, landscapes.

wyoming-like no place on earth (yes, this is actually what the signs say as you enter the state!)

there are many things i love about living in the city, but i do miss the simplicity of small town life. i miss seeing endless stars at night, and unbelievable sunsets over the plains. it's been a very very long time since i've visited my step-family's ranch, or any ranch for that matter, but i can still conjure up the scent of the barn and the softness of a horse's nose. i may live in the city now, but i'm a wyoming girl at heart.

a beautiful old ranch building near my step-family's ranch in the little laramie valley
when i first moved to the city i tried to leave everything small town and country behind me and embrace my new, urban identity. as i've grown older though, and more accustomed to city life, i realize the country is part of my identity and always will be, no matter where i live. i started wearing cowboy boots again (and not always ironically). i've had a strong craving to ride horses lately. i've even been watching the old westerns, movies my grandfather was so fond of. the wyoming girl in me has come out of hibernation. and lately, with the help of beautiful, well done films like 'true grit', that wyoming girl wants to have a say in decorating our home!

wyoming horses at sunset
which brings me to the real theme of this post- i'm dreaming of doing some redecorating! my recent frontier inspiration, coupled with the fact we may be moving into a new apartment soon has my brain working overtime with decor ideas. i probably won't actually start any projects until we find out if we're moving or not, but i thought i'd share some of my schemes and dream finds with you. i know most of you have visions of log cabins and antlers when i say frontier style, but i believe it can encompass so much more...

lovely wool blanket on etsy (and what a wonderful photo!)

we've been trying to find new sheets lately and i can't find anything i like in a color that would match our bedroom and at price that we can afford (which is pretty much $0!). i've realized that i'm tired of all the bedroom textiles we've had since we married. i want new colors and new textures! i'm thinking a great place to incorporate some frontier spirit may be our bedroom. we could used a warmer blanket anyway so i've been considering trying to find an old wool army blanket to top our down comforter. there are some great ones on etsy and i may have even found one in our price range!  

however, if we incorporate a more rustic style in our bedding, a few more things will have to change. fortunately, since i sell vintage goods, i can sell a lot of what we currently have in order to pay for new items like...

new bedside tables. i love what my bestie melissa did with some old wooden crates. her's are very elegant looking with crystal lamps and mint julep cups (all vintage of course). if she doesn't mind me taking inspiration from her, i can imagine them lined with some old books pages and topped with some rustic bedside lamps. find more of melissa's amazing decorating ideas on her blog.

or perhaps instead of bedside lamps, some pendant lamps? these mason jar lamps have a great rustic vibe and while i can't afford this version from napa style, i'm pretty sure i could figure out a way to make something similar. 

of course, curtains are essential. we currently use 5 curtain panels in our bedroom- 2 on the window, 1 to cover the closet that doesn't have a door, and 2 to form a 'door' for the room since it's so small we had to take the door off the hinges in order to fit a queen sized bed in there- so whatever we find has to be affordable. i love the look of these linen panels in this london shop. it reminds me of being inside a tent. i'm envisioning a few skinny panels draping from the ceiling down over the window. 

in the dream version of our new bedroom, there would be enough room to have a hamper again! i hate having our hamper in the bathroom because i'm always laziest at night so there is a perpetual pile of dirty clothes on the floor in the bedroom! in this dream version of my bedroom, our hamper would be a vintage canvas laundry cart like this amazing one on etsy.

we're not currently using a headboard, but can't you imagine a headboard like this in a humble hotel in the old west?

now for a few detailed touches. maybe a full wall collage of old photos and tin types? or perhaps a map of the territories?

now all that's left is to pick a palate (well really i suppose this should have come first but i was so excited about all the exciting finds!). i've been thinking 2 or 3 colors- a drab green, charcoal grey, and possibly a dusty grey-blue. the color in these images really inspired me...

i'll keep you updated on the frontier living project as things progress. i'm excited to see all this inspiration come to life! what are you inspired by right now? i'd love to hear about your projects or inspirations! i'm also always happy to give input on how to bring your inspiration to life!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

a resolute new year?

do you make new year's resolutions? i've dabbled in doing it, off and on throughout the years. i often feel like i may just be setting myself up to fail in making lists with lofty ideals for my life in the year ahead. this year, as i mentioned on saturday, i have set some goals that i would like to achieve this year. as i also mentioned on saturday, they say that you are more likely to be successful in reaching goals if you make them public, so i'm going to share them all with you today! (don't worry i've also thrown in some related photos and links so you don't get too bored!).

1) wake up earlier. i used to be an early riser. in my younger days i nearly always had jobs that required me to be up in the wee hours of the morning. i once worked a baking shift that started between 3 and 4am! i even used to be the type to say 'i can sleep when i'm dead'! now that i'm older and i don't work in a world that requires me to be up early anymore, i've become quite the sleeping in type! it's a problem. bill rises around 6 usually but i sometimes don't get out of bed until well after 9! this must change. towards that end i've decided i need something other than an obnoxious noise to rouse me from sleep. i think music works best for me. i've been hankering for this crosley alarm clock available at urban outfitters since last christmas. they used to have it in this lovely pale turquoise color that would match our bedroom perfectly...
i love that has classic good looks coupled with modern technology. i had a vintage alarm clock-radio that recently had some wiring issues and isn't usable anymore, so this little number from crosley both helps me reach a goal, and keeps the vintage aesthetic going in our bedroom!

2) be more organized. for those that know me, i can almost hear the 'wait, what? you're so organized'. people always think i'm crazy organized. in some regards that's true. and in many regards it certainly used to be true. i feel like i've become less organized since i got married. maybe i've just gotten used to having someone there to help me if my lack of organization causes trouble. regardless, i want my old organized self to make a come back! one tool i'm using to meet this goal is my new moleskine day planner:

i'm fortunate to work at an amazing book store in downtown seattle- peter miller- where we have a delightful selection of calendars. we have so many different kinds of day planners i had a hard time deciding. ultimately i decided to try the monthly planner/notebook. i usually use the weekly version, but find that i don't have that many appointments every day that i need half a page for it. plus, with this version i can stop carrying a notebook and planner. simplifying feels good!

it's not a planner, but if i had the wall space for it, i would love to have one of the stendig calendars, which were first produced in 1966. i feel like a really big calendar could only make me more organized right?

3) sing more and play my autoharp more. 'what's an autoharp?' you ask? you might recognize it from grade school music class or for those in an older generation than mine, you may remember folk singers using them in the 60's and 70's...
oscar schmidt's reissue of a model from 1930.

it's a simple instrument that has been around for ages and has generally been used in folk settings. here's mother maybelle carter with her autoharp:

i've had a pretty nice autoharp for about 5 years now. i first bought it when i was singing with a band and we wanted to try incorporating it with a more rock sound.  i tried to play it regularly the first year i had it and then as life got busier i played it less and less. being diagnosed with fibromyalgia was the proverbial final nail, as i often have pain in my hands that can make things like pushing buttons and strumming difficult. however, on saturday i dug my autoharp out of the closet and i'm going to tune 'er up tonight. i figure, even if i can only play for a few minutes a day it's better than not at all! i do hope to get to the point where i can play it with a band.

as for the singing, i've been a singer since i was young. i've sung in choirs, school musicals, bands and church groups. lately though, most of my singing has been limited to the shower and the car. i love to sing and i miss doing it regularly. i still haven't figured how i'm going to incorporate public singing back into my life, but i really do want to make it happen this year. so, if your band is looking for a singer- i'm your lady! tee. hee. hee.
the ray conniff singers. circa 1955.

4) grow my business. it wasn't even a goal for the year, but 2010 brought the opportunity to start a business with my dear friend melissa. considering we started with about a months planning and no money, i think we had a pretty good first 8 months! we opened two vintage booths in seattle, closed one of them and then opened another one in yakima, washington. we sold our 'made with vintage' goods at two craft shows this year. we even went through two different logos! our best moment was probably the day we found out that we have been accepted as vendors for the farm chicks show in june of 2011! we are so looking forward to that show and have been planing and buying for months already!

2010 was definitely a good start for dear darling vintage. but there is so much more that we want to do: i am working on getting an etsy shop up and running; we want to re-do our seattle booth and hone our focus when it comes to buying; we should be debuting a new logo in the next few months; i want to work on that blog more too; we are excited to find some shows to go to in washington and neighboring states in order to network with others in the vintage business; and last, but not least, i would like to move toward opening a space that's all mine in seattle! the vintage mall has been a great start for us, but i would love to have a 'vintage collective' where other vintage goods vendors could let space from me in an organized, clean, well-lit, boutique like atmosphere. it may not happen in 2011, but i dream daily about the moment that the time is finally right to jump into that project!

it may be in harlem, but i'd love to have that sign on my store! thanks to harlem bespoke for the image. 

it looks like i have my work cut out for me this year! what are your goals for 2011? i'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

a happy new year!

i can scarcely believe today is the first day of 2011- 2010 seems to have just flown by! i hope that you're all having a wonderful holiday season filled with things that bring you joy!

the holidays around our house seem to have thrown me for a loop- i haven't blogged since around thanksgiving! i don't normally do resolutions, but i've decided to set goals for the new year and one of those is to be a more consistent blogger. to that end, though i won't spend a lot of time doing it today, i did want to post a quick peek at what living vintage means at our house during the holidays!

i hope you enjoy the photos! if you have any resolutions for 2011 you should share them here! they say you're more likely to reach goals if you make them public, so here's your chance! happy new year friends!

a little outdoor tinsel forest to greet you as you approach our door
welcome to our home!
 my wreath of vintage dictionary pages wilted a bit over the season,
 but still did a good job welcoming our friends and neighbors. 

vintage bells adorn the wreath

i really wanted a real tree this year, but with a tight budget
 we used our aluminum tree instead

our first year of marriage, we started collecting ornaments from every trip we took.
this bavarian pretzel is from an overnight snowshoeing trip we took to
leavenworth, washington (an adorable town done up in bavarian style) after our first christmas!

i love vintage mercury glass ornaments and even the
reproduction pieces, like this cute squirrel! 

since they go with the shiny silver so well, whenever we use
the aluminum tree we only use the glass ornaments. 

from our second christmas. we visited bill's sister in manhattan
before heading to his parent's place in maryland for christmas. 

a funny glass moose from a camping vacation we took to glacier national park!

we are fortunate that our mother's allowed us to have our childhood stockings!
bill's is amazing- his grandma russell made it and it's a very intricate crewel piece!
mine was also made by a family friend. the green tree was a pin i made and wore in a school
christmas program when i was in grade school. 

my after christmas score from last year. my mom and i spent an afternoon in the
antique malls of snohomish, washington. when i saw these working glittered bells i couldn't resist! 

the kitschy santa collection

though there are many christmas things i love more than santa,
 i can't refuse a cute kitschy santa figure!  

my favorite santa. his belly is a snow globe and that's a deer he's holding
over his shoulder. random, but so cute!

one of my most favorite vintage christmas items- the 'glolite illuminated christmas tree star'.
we can only use it on a real tree, so this year i displayed it with it's box. 

isn't it great?

some bottle brush wreaths. i'm keeping my eye out for more. i think they're adorable!

though most of these deer are always on display, they got a little christmas renovation. 

some christmas friends for the year round deer. so kitschy and wonderful!

light up noel candle with more deer friends. did i mention i love christmas kitsch?

a little display for my craft supply shelves.
a vintage christmas card i found at an estate sale keeps my typewriter company. 

isn't this card wonderful?

an idea i saw at unexpected necessities. these are almost all old dictionaries and thesauri
that i display year round. instead of putting them away to make room for
christmas decorations, i turned them into a tree! 

a few of my gurley candles. i adore the deer!

a little candle forest

the kitchen never goes neglected at christmas!

this wonderful holiday thermos was a gift from a friend. i only display it at christmas!

vintage tablecloths in holiday prints fill an old locker basket. 

another favorite of mine- i found this complete tom and jerry set at goodwill for $7! 

though i rarely make tom and jerry's, we use the mugs for eggnog and other drinkable treats!

a touch of christmas makes the kitchen feel even more warm. 

a lovely holiday apron. yes- i do actually wear it! 

our christmas card creation this year. we had a friend take some photos of us in a cute little
tree lot- they turned out wonderfully we think! to embellish the card with some vintage flare
 we cut sections out of an old dictionary and stamped them before affixing them to the cards. 

a few lucky people even got a christmas stamp from 1962 on their envelope! 

we always try to make as many gifts as we can, and i especially love receiving handmade gifts!
these are some great little notebooks that my dear friend melissa gave us! 

and a beautiful and creative headband that my friend, and schoolhouse craft co-organizer, kristen, made me.