31 March 2009
On Saturday, neighbors and design & public space fans gathered a few blocks from my house to celebrate the opening of Sparky Park, a recently decommissioned power substation-turned-public pocket park. (You might recognize it from a photo I took for our website.) The most beautiful corner of the park is the grotto wall designed by artist Berthold Haas (pic below), who constructed the wall out of an otherworldly combination of petrified wood, locally-found fossils, shells, recycled glass and found objects. He also painted some of the flat plaster a simply mesmerizing blue color that I just want to step into and live in.
25 March 2009
As we mentioned here, Spruce Austin is offering a weekend-long class in green upholstery at their gorgeous Austin studio in April. We just wanted to let you know that there are only a couple of spaces left, so call them up ASAP to reserve your spot!
Val and I will be there to present the line and to talk about our adventures in the world of organic cotton and green furnishings/design. Then we'll pass it over to Lizzie and Amanda, who will teach you the tricks of the trade as you upholster your own chair to take home at the end of the workshop! We'll have our entire line of fabrics for you to choose and Spruce will provide an array of adorable vintage chairs as well as organic cotton batting and muslin for the structure.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or give Kallie at Spruce a holler: 512.454.8181.
See you there!
21 March 2009
20 March 2009
I've been making these scones for about 15 years. They're delicious plain (and by plain, I mean paired with fresh strawberries and cream, accompanied by a hot cup of coffee) or you may add blueberries, dried cherries, chocolate chips, pecans or lemon zest to the dough before baking. I also like to make a mixture of butter and brown sugar and sprinkle it between two layers before baking.
3 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in sugar. Cut in butter with a knife, pastry cutter or your fingers. Whisk eggs into buttermilk, then add the mixture and stir until you have a clumpy dough.
Roll dough into 2 equal balls, flatten into a 1/2 inch disk, then cut into 8 triangles. (See photos.) Bake wedges on baking sheet for 15-25 minutes, until golden.
19 March 2009
Stumbling across this moment amidst the hundreds of other SXSW happenings surrounding us this afternoon reminded me of why I love SXSW week in Austin. We spotted Shephard Fairey and his crew working diligently to cover a wall outside Home Slice Pizza. It was truly thrilling to watch him in action.
Check out his groovy OBEY wallpaper, still wet with glue.
We didn't stick around to see them finish, but I'll return tomorrow to snap pics of the completed wall.
18 March 2009
I just picked up this perfect bunch of radishes at Boggy Creek Farm, then stopped on my way home to buy fresh, crusty bread and some pastured organic butter. Topped off with some flake salt, it tastes like a perfect spring day.
Spring Radish Sandwich
a handful of radishes, in thin slices
butter (preferably organic & from pastured cows)
fresh crusty bread
other substitutions or additions: arugula, goat cheese, sprouts, avocado
17 March 2009
16 March 2009
Nothing goes to waste in our office. We keep all of the scraps left over from the samples we send. Sometimes, we use them as packing materials and other times, we just play with them.
Anyone have a good idea how we can put the scraps to use?
15 March 2009
13 March 2009
We eat quite a few greens, especially during the cooler months when gorgeous, local organic greens are found in abundance at the Austin Farmers' Market, Boggy Creek Farm, or in CSA boxes offered by small organic farms like Johnson Family Farm. We gobble down collards (which I cook southern style), beet greens, chard, spinach (cooked with olive oil, lots of garlic and a squeeze of lemon), arugula, lettuces of all sorts, mache, escarole, sorrel and many varieties of kale.
Lately, my family's favorite leafy dish is greens wilted in a melted drop of good quality coconut oil and garlic, then finished with a splash of tamari. The only down side to this recipe is that the greens are so good, there are never leftovers.
Coconut Tamari Greens
2 bunches greens (spinach, beet, chard or kale), washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coconut oil
1-2 tsp. tamari
Heat coconut oil on medium low heat. (Coconut oil doesn't tolerate high heat.) Toss in greens and garlic and stir until wilted. Splash with tamari, stir and serve.
12 March 2009
As promised, here is the first of many MGP recipes to come. I thought I'd get a little sweet and cheeky with the first one, by sharing a decadent dessert to match some of our colors, which are always edible in inspiration. For this recipe, I honor chocolate Grand Jubilee, cream Clara, and raspberry Wee Jubilee: Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Coulis and Whipped Cream.
This is my version of a very popular pie that my mom makes for company (she said the recipe is originally from a neighbor she called "The Pie Lady"). I have my mom to thank for sparking my love of cooking--she is an excellent cook and I learned great fundamentals from her. My departure in the kitchen has been recreating southern recipes with great organic ingredients and substituting anything processed for a fresh, whole alternative.
While I respect the fact that this original recipe calls for a pre-made crust, I've learned that the best crusts are pretty easy to make and contain 4 good ingredients instead of 20 mostly artificial ones. I also took the corn syrup out of this recipe because I have yet to find a corn syrup that I don't suspect contains GMO corn. I also increased the amount of chocolate! The result is an easy, decadent crowd pleaser. A must for chocoholics.
I'll discuss the very important connections between Mod Green Pod's organic cotton and food as I present more recipes, but for now, let's get to the yummy stuff.
Chocolate Pie with Raspberry Coulis and Cream
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use unbleached organic flour)
3/4 stick cold, unsalted butter (I like Organic Valley's butter)
1/4 cup cold water
In a large bowl containing the flour, cut in the butter in small pieces and blend with your fingertips for 2 minutes. Pour in some of the water and mix minimally, adding water as needed, until you have a clumpy ball of dough. The key to a good crust (or any baked item) is minimal mixing.
Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. When ready, roll and form into standard pie pan.
1 stick butter
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I use Green & Black's delicious organic chocolate baking bar)
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt the butter and chocolate on low heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture has completely melted, add sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Pour into the formed, raw pie crust and bake for 40 minutes.
The pie will be large and puffy when you pull it out of the oven, but as it cools, it will collapse into a dense, fudgy form.
1 bag frozen organic raspberries
sugar to taste
When raspberries are in season, this pie is great with fresh berries scattered on the plate. But in the off season, frozen raspberries make a perfect coulis. Heat the raspberries with a small amount of sugar until the berries defrost and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and squeeze half a lemon into the mix. Cool then strain out the seeds and it's ready to serve. I drizzle on the pie, on the plate, or pour into a pitcher for my guests to serve their own.
1 pint organic cream
small amount of sugar to taste
1 tsp. real vanilla
Whip and serve!
I just finished listening to a great piece on NPR's Morning Edition about doodling. It confirmed what I've always believed, that the function of doodling helps the doodler stay alert, on-task, and perhaps even absorb more info than non-doodlers.
I was a serious doodler throughout my school years, from elementary through grad school. In college, I would cover every inch of margin in my physics and calculus notes; I also remember that my art history notes contained the most elaborate drawings. Sadly (but not surprisingly) I was often scolded by my teachers--even in grad school!--for doodling during class. I wish I could go back to those teachers and let them know that I was probably absorbing more info than the non-doodlers, and that I've actually turned my doodles into something productive:
I could also let them know that most US presidents have doodled during meetings! Even George Washington doodled. Check out his beautiful Glimmer-like scroll:
I can't wait to buy this book, Presidential Doodles: Two Centuries of Scribbles, Scratches, Squiggles and Scrawls from the Oval Office. I'm betting it will feed my need to doodle while providing an unexpected source of new inspiration.
And how adorable is fellow southpaw President Obama's doodle?
DOODLE AWAY, KIDS. It's more than okay to doodle!
11 March 2009
I just returned home from one of my Happy Places, Boggy Creek Farm, with a bag full of beautiful organic food and a mind full of inspiring sights, smells and ideas. One idea I returned home with is to bring my love for cooking onto the blog. I might as well--when I'm not working (and luckily for me, pondering the impossibly vivid colors of beets at the farm stand is actually work!) I'm usually cooking. So after this post, I'm hitting the kitchen then I'll return to the blog with some photos and recipes.
Today's array of greens and reds were especially stunning lit by the rainy morning sky and I was happy I had my little camera with me.
And here are the always-inspiring Carol Ann and Larry, owners of Boggy Creek Farm. I love them for being, among many other things, amazing organic farmers (obviously!), local food activists, quintessential Austinites, artists, and story-tellers extraordinaire.
10 March 2009
I LOVE when MGP customers are happy with their purchases and I'm even more thrilled when they are excited enough to share a finished project. Being in the biz of providing raw materials allows me to live vicariously through all of the customers who are creating unique items out of MGP fabric.
Averill from Houston recently blogged about her favorite new chair, a freebie that she covered in Grand Jubilee in Cream. (Sadly, that colorway is discontinued, but we still carry it in wallpaper AND we continue to carry that print in two other colorways in fabric).
Here's Averill's beautiful chair:
And here's what Averill wrote about it:
"Oh wing back chair, how I love thee--let me count the ways. Firstly, I got this chair for free from my neighbor when we moved in. The chair was upholstered in a rather drab blue and sat in my guestroom for two years until I could figure out what to do with it. I'd been coveting the Grand Jubilee fabric in cream from Mod Green Pod (an Austin-based company that makes really lovely and modern organic upholstery fabric and non-vinyl wallpaper at great prices) since I spied it in domino ages ago. . . . I quickly snapped up 8 yards and took the fabric to a local upholsterer. Six weeks later, I got the chair back and it's absolutely stunning. Oh, and did I mention this chair is also a recliner?"
Okay, it's not that fug.
Okay, it is. But it's functional fug. I have more of a problem with the exposed stereo equipment than the actual piece of furniture, which does actually do its job very well. So late last night, when I was packing away my sewing things, I picked up two long, narrow strips of MGP's soft but sturdy plain organic cotton canvas and BING! I hemmed all four sides of each strip, laid them across each other over the stereo and now I have a sweet little table hiding the ugly electronics. The front flap folds up for easy tuning.
Now if I could do something about the ugly speakers. . . .
(Bad-ass poster is by my bad-ass friend, Noel Waggener.)
09 March 2009
Spring has hit Austin and the gardening bug has hit me. I've been busy with new plantings indoors and out, and last weekend, I made a container garden out of an old, rusty industrial pan (for baking four loaves of bread at a time) and 4 different varieties of echevaria succulents.
Then I decided that my table garden needed to be paired with a new spring table runner, so I hemmed a long, narrow scrap of Grand Jubilee Licorice, and voila! Runners are incredibly easy to make and they can really spruce up a table--and the whole room--with just a strip of color and pattern.