This blog is a mix of my own photos + images by others. Please link back if you share one of my photos on your blog. Email me if you'd like me to remove a post that features your images.
A small disclosure: I use affiliate links in my "what to wear" posts as a way to pay for my blog fees. In other words, I earn a tiny commission if you end up buying the item from my link. The posts are entirely curated on my own. I do not have sponsored posts.
This blog design and all original content © 2013 by Rachel Ball / Elephantine.
A few months ago, when I was back home, my mom and I made garlic naan. I had been wanting to make it ever since a coworker at my previous job revealed that it was much easier to make than you'd expect. It turns out that he was correct, and even though it doesn't taste quite like what you'll get in an Indian restaurant, it's still very delicious. The only "trick", I guess, is using a grill or grill pan to get the right texture on the bread.
Garlic Naan (makes approx. 15 pieces)
recipe from All Recipes
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat. (You can also use a grill pan.)
4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.
What are you up to this weekend? We're doing something a little different: an archery lesson! I can't wait.
If you're in Seattle and are looking for somewhere to go this weekend, take a peek at my city guide – I've been on an exploration kick and have added a ton of places.
Also, wanted to mention that Alison invited me to take part in her series The Story/Book. On her blog, I share one of my favorite books (Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides) and also give a few other recommendations.
(Photos taken at the Ballard Locks.)
Les Amis is a gorgeous boutique in Fremont – my dream closet would be filled with lots of clothing from here. I'll be stopping by again next time I need a little something special.
Here in Seattle it's been feeling more like fall than summer, and so that's exactly the kind of food I've been eating. I love this soup because it's creamy without being overpowering and it's just the right amount of sweet. I'm convinced that the secret in getting a good flavor is baking the sweet potatoes first. It really helps develop the flavor in a way that, say, boiling can't do.
Sweet Potato Soup (serves 2-4, depending on portion size)
adapted from Food Network
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potatoes (approx. 1 large sweet potato)
salt & pepper
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1. Peel and cube the sweet potato. Toss with olive oil, coating all sides, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 400˚F until tender and starting to brown (about 30 min).
2. Cook the flour and butter in a saucepot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until light caramel in color.
3. Stir in the broth and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
4. Add in the sweet potatoes and spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn off heat.
5. Puree the soup in a blender. (Depending on the size/strength of your blender, you may have to do this in batches.) Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender and keep puréeing until smooth.
6. Return soup to saucepot. Add milk and reheat over medium.
7. Ladle into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and season with more pepper, if desired. Serve warm.
Oh, the charm of old buildings. This one is the Phinney Neighborhood Center. I love thinking about all the people that meet here, for art classes, for bridge club, for game night, for auctions, for wine tasting, for all those other events and clubs and meetings. If walls could talk, right?
Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Go out and explore.
Lately, I've been seeing so much inspiring iPhone photography – like these from Jennifer and these from Nicole – that I'm starting to take my iPhone camera a little more seriously, using it for more than just Instagram. Besides, it's the perfect option when beeping/shutter sounds aren't exactly welcome, like at the library...
I'm still waiting to get my Mamiya RB67 test rolls back from the lab, but in the meantime I wanted to share a few of the instant photos I've taken (using Fuji FP-100C film). I tend to like the darker ones more, especially when the darkness bleeds into the black bars on either side...
We picked up Aunt Sarah that morning at nine o'clock on the dot. She was standing out in front of the Arrivals sign, two bulging mustard yellow suitcases on either side of her. She squeezed into the back seat next to me and flashed a big grin. Her teeth were almost pure white, except for one, which was stained the palest yellow.
Everything about Aunt Sarah was large: her smile, her curly hair, her figure ("Curvaceous," she explained to me, in case I ever needed to borrow the word), but most of all, her voice. It seemed to boom out of the car speakers. Her voice had the slightest syrupy quality to it, which I was deeply confused about until I learned, many years later, that she had picked up the accent on a southern vacation and, just like that, it had stuck around ever since.
The entire ride back home, she talked. She told us about how the man sitting next to her on the plane dozed off and snored half the flight, and how she had smuggled an extra pack of peanuts into her purse if either of us were hungry (we weren't), and how she just couldn't wait to taste my mother's famous five-cheese casserole since it had been almost a decade since she'd last had it.
When we arrived at the house, she was the first one to notice that the power had gone out.
"Wouldn't be a trip without something going wrong," she sighed, dropping her luggage inside the doorway.
But since it was summer, sunlight lasted through dinner. The oven wasn't working, but the phone was, so we called for delivery. "Such a shame about the casserole," Aunt Sarah moaned repeatedly through dinner, poking a splintered chopstick at her chow mein.
When the light in the house began to fade, my mother set candles along the window sills and across the countertops. She withdrew dust-coated board games from the closet and poured Aunt Sarah a glass of wine, then a glass for herself.
"We've got Monopoly," my mother said, "Or Scrabble. Or there's cards. Sarah?"
"I think I'll just watch."
Aunt Sarah joined in anyway, once her glass of wine was depleted and she realized there was really nothing else left to do. By the fourth round of cards, the last glow of sunset was gone, and by the eighth, almost all of the candles had turned to soft wax and burned out. We were reduced to only our voices. We put our cards down.
Two circles of light appeared at a distance through the living room window. We watched as they came closer, then as they turned away and parked at an angle. Two figures climbed out of the truck and stood in the beams of light, then went to work. For a long time, we just sat there, watching. Then the bulbs above us flicked on. The room burned white. I shielded my eyes. When I was finally able to pull my hands away, what struck me most was how colorful it all was, the palette infinite.
I thought it would be fun to put together some outfits based on pieces of jewelry from my shop, so here's the first one: a casual, summery look that goes perfectly with my saving grace earrings...
I came across this simple, delicious apple tart recipe thanks to Jacqueline Jaszka, who learned about it from Bonnie Tsang, who adapted it from Ree Drummond. It's incredibly easy, but it looks fancy, and that combination is about as good as you can get.
I like a slightly different proportion of ingredients than the previous versions of this recipe, so my best advice is to try it and make adjustments to your liking. Also, I think it's super important to note that if any sugary liquid runs off the tart, it will burn and then start to smoke if left unattended for too long! To minimize this, I dab off excess liquid from the apples before putting the tart into the oven, and I also check the tart after 15 minutes and scrape off any burnt sugar from the baking sheet (with a spatula) before it starts to smoke.
Easy Apple Tart (serves 2)
1/2 medium-sized apple, sliced thinly
1/4 cup brown sugar
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/2 frozen pastry sheet
1. Remove frozen puffed pastry sheet from freezer and let thaw for about 20 minutes, or until easily unfolded.
2. Preheat oven to 415°F.
3. In a mixing bowl, combined apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice. Toss. Let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Unfold the puffed pastry sheet, cut in half, and put the unused half back in the freezer (or, double this recipe and use the whole sheet).
5. Lay apple slices in a straight line, overlapping slightly.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When done, the pastry will be puffed and golden brown. Top with powdered sugar and serve with a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.
top: hand-cut pasta with butter and sage; bread + breadsticks
middle: campari and soda; sweet goat cheese mousse with rhubarb gelatina and ginger crumble
bottom: vanilla panna cotta with sour cherries; torrone gelato terrine with honey caramel
I just realized this makes it looks like we mostly just ate dessert, but I promise there were some veggies, too!
One reason why I started using more of my own photography on this blog is that I knew it would force me to get out more, to look at the city in a different way, and to explore places I've never been. Like Macrina. Even though I've bought their bread from grocery stores, I had never – in 9 years of living here – visited one of their cafés.
Earlier this week I sat in the corner of their Belltown café with the last slice of lemon sour cherry coffeecake and a foamy latte and a good book. I kicked myself for not visiting sooner, but hey, I'll make up for it.
I don't normally do things like this, but I thought it might be fun to propose a "photo challenge" because of the comments on this post. (Maybe taking photos in public will be less intimidating with a little nudge?)
The challenge: find a café or bakery you've never been to, treat yourself to a snack, and snap a couple photos while you're there. Try to get these 3 photos: the signage/storefront, the food on display, and a close-up of whatever you order. If you blog about it, leave a link in the comments! I'd love to see the results.
I love Olympic Sculpture Park because it feels like working my way through a puzzle, one where there's a new surprise around each corner. If I ever start shooting portraits, this is going to be one of my locations for sure.
Part two coming up next.
Last night my best friend and I took a hands-on cooking class called Entertaining, Spanish Style from PCC Cooks. What a delicious meal it was: fresh tomato bread salad (pictured above); white bean salad with kale, manchego cheese and prosciutto; grilled leg of lamb (pictured above) with fresh herb-caper sauce; and sherry-infused summer fruit.
My method of choice for learning cooking techniques is usually watching videos online, but there's also nothing quite like getting instruction in person. Hoping to take another class soon...
"Don't shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like." -David Alan Harvey
(camera: iPhone / Instagram.)
...or, at least, it was one of those days. Dreary weather, nothing much interesting going on, just going through the motions. But then I made myself a cup of hot cocoa, and right after I finished drinking it, my best friend called. We laughed about some things, talked about the week, talked about going berry picking this summer. It's turning out to be a good day, after all.
I was going to wait to tell you about my new camera (!) until I got some rolls developed, but I just can't resist giving a little peek. It's a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S, and it's a huge, heavy, beautiful thing. One reason why I chose this camera is that it came with a Polaroid back, meaning that in addition to regular film, I can use instant film! The instant photos don't fill the entire sheet (there are black bars on either side), but that doesn't bother me.
This Mamiya is such a joy to use. I'll write more about it in a future post, but for now, I hope this video gives you at least a little bit of an idea of what it's like.
I posted photos of the Fat Hen a few weeks ago, but why not share a couple more, this time on film? It's such a sweet place. I wish I had shot more, but I was trying my best to not be obnoxious... and to just enjoy being there.
A few people have asked me whether or not I get permission before photographing inside shops & restaurants. I know it might seem intimidating at first, but seriously, all it takes is a smile and a "Mind if I take a couple photos?" (Although, if you want to take a lot of photos, it's a good idea to call beforehand.) I mean, what's the worst that could happen? They say no?
(Shot on a Canon A-1.)
We went to the Japanese Garden a few weeks back. Neither of us had ever been. It's very small and very scenic. If you go, buy one of the little packs of Koi Kibble at the admission gate – it's surprisingly fun to toss the food into the water and watch the Koi go nuts.
Hope you have a wonderful weekend!
On Fridays, the only day she left the house, Sweetie rode the city buses. There was only one whose route came close to her – the 14 – but that dropped her off downtown and from there she could go nearly anywhere. Once downtown, she waited at the stop in front of Macy's for the next bus. Sweetie didn't even bother looking at the route number. She just got on, waved her paper transfer at the driver, and found a seat.
Before – when she had still been able to drive – she had always hated the buses. You couldn't see around them, and they went so slowly, and always made more stops than seemed necessary. But now she didn't really care at all. She didn't have anywhere to be. This was simply her brief getaway for the week, and all she was really looking for was a feeling of having traveled, even if it wasn't so far away from home.
Sometimes another person sat next to her. When the bus became crowded enough it was unavoidable; other times it just happened anyway. Once, the woman sitting beside Sweetie asked where she had purchased her watch. This took her by surprise, and she said, "It was an heirloom," despite that not being true at all. But that was always what happened when strangers talked to her. It made her anxious, and she would inexplicably say things that weren't true.
And then there was Jonathan. He was young, maybe seventeen at most. She didn't know why he had bothered talking to someone like her, but he had, and then somehow it happened again the following week. He reminded her of her brother, when they were around that age. Maybe it was the smile – she wasn't sure. But he didn't bring out the nervousness in her, and that was enough to make her enjoy the company.
Sweetie was finding, to her surprise, that she needed less sleep the older she got. Or, rather, she couldn't sleep longer than five or six hours at a time. So in the pre-dawn hours of those days, she sat at the small kitchen table watching the steam rise from a dark mug of tea. She spent those hours thinking about the bus rides. With her mind very still, she could recall exactly how the feel of the cracked seats felt against her skin. It was not hard for her to recall the electronic bell that rang when a passenger pulled the cord for the next stop, or the sound of coins spilling into the farebox. The crescendo of the engine, the water spots on the windows: it had all been stored, two hours at a time. She had soaked in every speck of it, and now it was hers, inside her, available any time she liked.
One of my business goals is to really refine my jewelry collection. That means editing the existing pieces and also adding new ones – but not just for the sake of adding more jewelry. My goal used to be "I want to have 100 designs in my shop", but now it's, "I just want to be really happy with each design."
Have you guys seen The Ballet Boutique over at J.Crew? It's like a dream come true.
Yesterday was Bodhi's birthday! Okay, not his real birthday, but since we adopted him from a shelter we don't know the real day (or how old he really is). It's been 3 years since we adopted him so that makes him 8 or 9 or so.
Last year he got a birthday monkey; this year he got an anteater. He hated the birthday hat but tolerated it long enough for me to snap a couple photos of him.
If you're at all familiar with ramps, you know how exciting it is when they're oh-so-briefly in season. If you're not familiar with ramps (and I wasn't until a few years ago), they taste like a mix of onion and garlic and are also known as wild leeks. Wish I had more photos to share but I only have this one Instagram shot – it'll have to do!
Spaghetti (or Linguine) with Ramps (serves 2)
recipe from Mario Batali
1/2 pound dry spaghetti or linguine
extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh ramps, white root ends and green leafy tops separated
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
dry breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente. (Took me 10 minutes.) Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Cook the root ends of the ramps until tender. Season with red pepper flakes and salt. Add the leafy greens of the ramps and cook until wilted. Drain pasta and toss into the skillet. Toss, then divide onto two plates. Drizzle with olive oil and top with breadcrumbs. Serve + enjoy!
After spending an entire evening drooling over photos and videos of the Fuji x100, I decided to rent it for the weekend. It's digital, but it looks like a film camera. Cool, right? I've had fun playing around with it so far, but I'm a little sad to report that I'm not completely in love with it. (Maybe my feelings would change if it didn't cost $1,200...?) That said, I'd seriously consider this camera if I didn't already have a DSLR.
Some sample photos and pros & cons below...
What I like:
- really good image quality. seems comparable to my DSLR.
- compact. (here's a side-by-side comparison.)
- super quiet. a perfect camera for stealthy street/restaurant photography.
- the design. really love the analog aperture & shutter speed controls.
What I don't like:
- you're stuck with only one lens (23mm).
- it's not as satisfying to use because I like hearing the sound of a DSLR's shutter (except when I'm trying to not draw attention to myself).
- the focus ring. it takes a LOT of turning to adjust the focus. it drove me crazy. (this obviously doesn't matter if you use auto focus.)
Now I'm off to enjoy the rest of the weekend + test it some more before having to give it back :)
You would've laughed if you had been in my kitchen yesterday when I pulled a pan of monstrous cherry popovers out of the oven. They looked all sorts of wrong, and one was so tall it bent over as if it had given up altogether. And they weren't any better on the inside, either: a popover should be hallow, but mine had thick, squishy insides. It didn't take me long to figure out what had gone wrong. I'd filled the baking mold much too high, and the fresh cherries I'd experimentally added into the batter had ruined the fluffy texture.
Sometimes experiments work, and sometimes they don't.
Today I baked them again. I didn't pour the batter to the top of the cups this time, and I kept the cherries as a side instead. This time the popovers came out of the oven with perfect golden brown crowns, and hallow insides ready for a scoop of syrupy cherries.
Basic Popovers with Fresh Syrupy Cherries (makes 6 popovers)
recipe adapted from Bakingdom
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp canola oil
sugar to coat the halved cherries
1. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl. Add milk and whisk. Slowly add flour and salt and continue whisking until mixed in. Add melted butter and mix again until smooth. Cover with a clean towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. While the oven preheats to 450°F, pour a half teaspoon of oil into the 6 popover cups and use a pastry brush to spread the oil up the sides of each cup. Place the oiled pan into the warming oven. (You can also make these in a muffin pan if you don't have a popover pan.)
3. Pit and halve the cherries. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, coating all sides. Stir occasionally. By the time the popovers are ready, the sugar will be dissolved and the cherries will be coated in syrup. (You can also slightly mash the cherries if you'd like.)
4. When the batter is done resting, remove the hot popover pan from the oven and quickly pour in the batter. Fill the cups about 3/4 way full. Place the pan back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown. (Don't open the door until you're getting close to the end – it could result in fallen popovers!)
5. Tear open a popover, spoon the cherries inside, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and enjoy!
Finally took a ride on the Monorail just for kicks. Thoughts? Kind of fun, kind of silly. Very short. Like, two-minutes-start-to-finish short. (If you're wondering, "Alweg" is the name of the German company that built the Monorail for the 1962 World's Fair... which is what the Space Needle was also constructed for.)
I used to constantly take notes for short story fodder. Snippets of conversations, the way smells smelled and sounds sounded, what other people were wearing. In the back of my notebooks, I kept lists of words that I liked the texture of: nouns (periscope, squash blossoms, lagoon), verbs (sashay, mushroom, nuzzle), colors (cerulean, bone, lilac)... you know, those sorts of things. And out of those notes often came inspiration for writing fiction.
So I'm trying to get back into the habit. Writing fiction will never be effortless for me – in reality, it's a constant battle. But having these notebooks is like wielding a slightly sharper sword.
(Pocket notebooks from Rifle Paper Co.)
I hardly ever buy things off eBay, but I poked around a bit last week for a rangefinder and ended up winning this Minolta Hi-Matic 7. I haven't even put film in it yet; the listing said it was in "good working condition", but you know how things go. At the very least, I'll have something new to put on the bookshelf. Isn't she pretty?
Hopefully I'll have some photos to show soon.
Maybe it's because the weather's warming up, but I am suddenly fixated on ideas for popsicles. (Okay, it's also because I just bought a new popsicle mold to replace our old dinky one that made four baby-sized popsicles. Talk about scaling down a recipe.) I can't wait to try out a mojito version, a coconut one, maybe even a creamy coffee one... but first, I had to make something simple and tangy-sweet: strawberry lime yogurt popsicles.
Strawberry Lime Yogurt Popsicles (makes 10 popsicles, 3 oz. each*)
3 cups quartered strawberries
1/4 cup sugar (adjust based on how sweet your strawberries are)
juice of 1 large lime (2-3 tbsp)
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1. Place sliced strawberries and sugar in a ziploc bag. Using your hands, mash until the strawberries are mostly liquid. If you prefer a completely smooth texture, blend instead.
2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in lime juice.
3. Add yogurt and mix. (I stir it very gently, keeping a marbled look so that each bite has variety.)
4. Taste. Add a little sugar if too tart, or a little more yogurt if too sweet.
5. Fill the popsicle mold. Freeze until set (for me, it took about 4 hours). Briefly run the mold under hot water to loosen the popsicles.
*I use this mold.
What I like about Green Lake: the 2.8-mile path that lets you walk (or run, or bike, or rollerblade) around the entire lake, the conversations you overhear while doing so, the dogs, the ducks, the theater at the bathhouse, the Spanish Lessons guy (I haven't seen him lately, but he walks around the lake wearing a "Spanish Lessons" vest, giving lessons to anyone), the rental boats, the patch of beach, the island in the middle of the lake called Duck Island.
Part two coming up tomorrow.