Sunday, September 28

Soup on Sunday: Lentil Soup with Mustard Oil and Tomato Chive Topping

I will be making this soup for the first time today. I love being in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and experimenting with with my favorite ingredients and wonderful spices. I especially appreciate the fact that red lentils are low in fat and a good source of protein and dietary fiber. If you make this soup, I would love to hear your feedback.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 small carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
7 large plum tomatoes, peeled (4 coarsely chopped) (3 finely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups red lentils*

1/3 cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons mustard seeds

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add next 8 ingredients; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 12 minutes. Add 4 coarsely chopped tomatoes and turmeric; stir 2 minutes. Add broth and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until lentils are very tender, about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return to pot.

Mix 3 finely chopped tomatoes and chives in a bowl. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds; cook until seeds darken and begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Pour into small bowl.

Ladle soup into bowls. Top with mustard oil and tomato-chive mixture.
Serves 6

*Available at Indian markets and some supermarkets. If unavailable, use green lentils and simmer about 30 minutes.

Editor's note: I just made this soup and it's delicious. I did add a few dashes of Tabasco and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. It is sooooooo yummy!

Recipe - Epicurious
Photo - Tia Nguyen

Saturday, September 27

Shopping on Saturday

Nail polish is a fun and inexpensive way to express your style and compliment fashion. Indulging in the season’s hottest colors and playing with different shades can change your entire look. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Laura Mercier Nail Lacquer
Two beautiful limited edition colors Avant Garde a deep eggplant and Daring a rich burgundy.

La Moss by butter LONDON
From the website - vampy and full of red wine, just like its inspiration.

Blue Satin by Chanel
The blue hue is a very deep blue, but glimmers in sunlight.

Wicked by Essie
A fab color that is dark, yet not quite black. A playful dark red shade that is truly wicked!

Friday, September 26

Fall Favorites

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Candles and Cologne
Inspired by the allure of a scarlet-colored silk dress, Pomegranate Noir is an enigmatic scent that blends pomegranate, raspberry, and plum with frankincense and patchouli. What I really love is that this cologne is unisex and smells so wonderful on my husband.

butter LONDON Chimney Sweep

I started transitioning to fall weeks ago and changed from neutral polish to darker colors. I am wild about this proper charcoal grey with a touch of a metallic finish. So hot!

Theory 'Anden - Nickname' Cardigan

This fabulous cardigan is at the top of my must have list for the fall. An attached rib-knit scarf adds extra warmth to a long, open-front vest in a thick, textured knit.

Kate Spade 'Hudson' Oxford Shoe
A feminine twist on mens' oxfords, these beautiful booties are made of pieced suede with tassel ties. I adore these shoes!

Donna Karan Crocodile Pattern Tights

Tights with a croc print and eye-catching texture. A great, yet subtle look.

Teapigs Matcha Super Power Green Tea
Superhero amongst teas, Matcha green tea has long been the beverage of choice for the health conscious, in part because of the high levels of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. Not to mention that it’s energising, calming and metabolism boosting.

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Body Oil

A lightly scented Body Oil with Vitamin E. Soothes rough, dry skin without greasiness and it is fast-absorbing!

Burt's Bees Medicated Lip Balm with Clove Oil
This stuff is AMAZING and provides relief for severely dry, chapped and wind burned lips. Bring on the cold weather!

Wednesday, September 24

'Runway to Change'

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to be a political commentary, nor is it meant to alienate McCain supporters. I just find it fascinating the way fashion and design can permeate so many facets of life. Recently several designers including Derek Lam, Isaac Mizrahi, Tracy Reese, Tory Burch, Rachel Roy, Rag and Bone, Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen and Diane von Furstenberg sketched and designed clothing items and bags for the Obama campaign. Runway to Change is an unprecedented political collaboration from New York's fashion industry.

For the record, I did search the MaCain website for a similar project and would have posted similar items had they existed.

Designed by Tracy Reese

Designed by Tory Burch

Designed by Derek Lam

Designed by Diane Von Furstenberg

From the Obama website: All of products are union and USA made and produced. All purchases made on the Obama Store are 100% contributions to the campaign and count towards overall contribution limit.

Monday, September 22

Farnsworth House

The far-reaching devastation from a natural disaster is astonishing. Over 1 million people in the Houston area are still without power, Galveston Island remains desolate and local residents are in short supply of food, water and ice. Further afield, the rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ike flooded the historic Farnsworth House in Illinois. The house will be closed to the public for the remainder of 2008 for repairs.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the iconic and controversial house for Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago-based kidney specialist. The two met at a dinner party in 1945 and soon began discussing the idea of Mies building a small and architecturally significant weekend retreat to be located on rural riverfront property that Farnsworth had purchased from the host of the dinner party, Robert McCormick.

The design was finished by 1946 and was enthusiastically approved by Dr. Farnsworth. Mies developed the plans in time for it to be included in an exhibit on his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1947. However, Dr. Farnsworth became increasingly dissatisfied with the construction of the house and Mies' refusal to incorporate her suggestions. Further, Dr. Farnsworth's outrage was compounded by the fact that the house went far over budget. She later brought a lawsuit against Mies.

In April 1953, House Beautiful magazine weighed in on the lawsuit and published a scathing editorial, attacking the work of Mies van der Rohe and other followers of the International Style. The modern designs were described as a "Threat to the New America." The magazine insinuated that Communist ideals lurked behind the design of these "grim" and "barren" buildings.

Today, the 1,500-square-foot house is widely recognized as an iconic masterpiece of modernist architecture. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, after being placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

Sunday, September 21

Soup on Sunday: Beer Cheddar Soup

I have been making this soup for years and it always gets rave reviews. This also happens to be my son's favorite soup. In fact, I am making it for him today. This soup is NOT low fat, BUT it is delicious! Enjoy.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 yellow onions, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
4 - 6 small potatoes, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
12 ounces dark beer
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart vegetable stock
1 quart milk
I pound grated sharp Cheddar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add celery, carrots and potatoes cook 15 - 20 minutes. Increase heat to moderate, add beer and simmer until almost evaporated.

Stirring constantly, add the flour and salt cook for 3 minutes; the mixture will clump. Still stirring constantly, add the broth slowly and cook until smooth . Keep stirring, slowly add the milk. Bring to low boil and reduce heat, simmer about 5 minutes. Add the Cheddar and pepper, whisking constantly until smooth.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and top with additional grated Cheddar and baguette slices.

Tuesday, September 16

Bargain Book

The Glass House published by Assouline is available from Amazon for $12.32. The Philip Johnson Glass House was built in 1949 and is considered one of America’s iconic modernist structures. Over the course of nearly 50 years, Philip Johnson and David Whitney’s 47 acre site in New Canaan, CT, became a canvas for their innovation in the fields of architecture, art and landscape design.

The Glass House, which Johnson bequeathed to The National Trust opened to the public in the fall of 2007. The book serves as a virtual visit of the house as well as a celebration of one of modern architecture’s most famous creations.

The basic concept for Johnson's glass house was borrowed from Mies van der Rohe, who was designing the glass-and-steel Farnsworth House during the same period. Unlike the Farnsworth House, however, Johnson's home is symmetrical and sits solidly on the ground.

Andy Warhol looking through the glass. The interior space is divided by low walnut cabinets and a brick cylinder which contains the bathroom.

Andy Warhol, David Whitney, Philip Johnson, Dr. John Dalton, and Robert A. M. Stern in the Glass House in 1964. Photo by David McCabe

Sunday, September 14

Soup on Sunday

I love soup! Especially when the season changes to autumn I begin to crave steaming bowls of soup and hearty stews. At least it feels like autumn, as I believe we have missed summer again in Scotland. So with that in mind I have decided to start a new feature—Soup on Sunday. Bon Appétit

North African Chickpea and Kale Soup

This yummy soup is from the Fatfree Vegan, one of my favorite websites. For the record I am not a vegan, more like a semi-vegetarian. Please don’t be put off it you are not a vegan, this site has some of the most delicious (and healthy) recipes imaginable. This delicious soup is a case in point.

1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced or diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8-1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or cayenne
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
generous pinch saffron, lightly crushed
2 bay leaves
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)
8 cups vegetable broth (or water plus bouillon)
1 large bunch kale, thick center ribs removed and chopped (at least 8 cups)
about 2 cups water
salt to taste

Spray a large saucepan with olive oil spray and heat it. Add the onion and carrot and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the spices, including bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat them with the spices. Pour in the 8 cups of vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped kale and stir. If necessary add water to cover the kale and cook until it is tender, about 10-25 minutes, depending on how cooked you like your kale. Check frequently to see if it is becoming dry and add water as needed. Add salt to taste and serve.

Photo and recipe © Susan Voisin

Tuesday, September 9

Profile: Jonathan Adler

Jonathan Adler, the darling of home accessories, personifies taste, style and creativity. He has long been celebrated for his use of vibrant colors and his work is often described as "happy" or "happy chic". And, while both statements are true, I don’t think it accurately depicts the extraordinarily creative mind behind the persona.

Jonathan began his pottery career in the summer of 1978 at summer camp and begged his parents to buy him a wheel and kiln. Lucky for us they indulged their son’s request. It’s almost impossible to imagine that a pottery professor once told him that he had no talent and should consider another career. Thankfully he did not heed the advice and went on to craft beautiful, yet playful, luxury items and ultimately a thriving interior design business.

Interior designer Bill Sofield once declared, "Jonathan Adler does for American pottery what Noel Coward did for cocktail parties—he makes life witty, sophisticated, and simply delicious." I don’t think I could have said it any better!

What is your most prized possession
I suppose I’m not really allowed to call my bloke Simon or my Norwich terrier Liberace possessions (am I?) So, I guess I gotta' go with my potter's wheel -- I am, first and foremost, a potter.

Who are your style icons?
Some of my influences are obvious -- the grooviness of California living, nature, my parents (My dad had a rigorously modernist aesthetic and my mom has a much more colorful and exuberant spirit and I think my aesthetic is a true fusion of theirs). Also, I keep coming back to California design from the mid-century. Eames, Bonnie Cashin, and Alexander Girard --their work was all about color and optimism.

Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you
I play ping pong to relax and actively encourage everyone and anyone to run out and buy a ping pong table. Nothing is better after a long day at work than coming home and batting around a ping pong ball with (or, to be more honest, at) your better half.

How would you describe your personal style?
Personal style means walking in the front door of my home and feeling happy. Personal style means having a space that's very comfy but that is filled with stuff that has personal meaning and created by passionate people.

My company's motto is "If your heirs won't fight over it, we won't make it". I strive to make things that people will love and hold onto for future generations.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
In my book, "My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living", I exhort my readers to liberate their Inner Hippies by embracing rustic modern style. I think we should all connect to Mother Nature through organic forms, rich textures and earthy colors. This ain't a trend per se, but it's definitely a formula for earthy happiness and Bohemian Bliss.

Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan. Photo by Drew Altizer

Past or present what designers have influenced you and in what ways?
My favorite design mind belongs to my better half, Simon Doonan. Simon is the creative director and window designer of Barneys and his work is always incredible. I also love Fred Stelle's architecture, and I totally dig Phineas Cole, the trendy new menswear collection from Paul Stuart.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date
My greatest accomplishment is that I’ve successfully avoided having a job! When I was in my early twenties and I thought I had to have a proper career instead of pursuing my passion for pottery, I had a series of jobs in the movie business and I was a terrible employee and I got fired from job after job. I decided that I wasn't cut out for a normal career and I vowed never to have a job again and I accomplished that!

Profile by Ronda Carman

Saturday, September 6

Shopping on Saturday

Two of my favorite 1stdibs sellers are Isibelle Comer and Audrey Adams. Not only are they super nice, but also have great style and taste. I am, without question, a chandelier and sconce girl and their lighting options are fantastic. Just look at these lovely finds, especially the Bakelite phone—LOVE it!

Bakelite two tone telephone
American 1920's-1930's

Metal and crystal sconces
Continental 1940's

Gilded five arm Italian sconce
Italian 1950's-60's

Victorian Palm Leaf Frame
American 1900

Wednesday, September 3

Claridge + King

Few things are truly sexier than a woman wearing her man’s button-down shirt. Ask any man or just look at the new Estee Lauder Sensuous perfume campaign with Elizabeth Hurley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Carolyn Murphy and Hilary Rhoda.

Realizing this universal truth and a desire to find a proper fitting, but comfortable men’s shirt, sisters Laurann Claridge and Lizbeth King decided to create their own. Their new line Claridge + King, a collection of menswear-inspired clothing for women, debuts with the “His is Hers Oxford’ shirt. The result is a beautiful garment tailored for women with extended tails for coverage and mother of pearl buttons. Each shirt comes packaged in a petite gray and white striped pillowcase.

Sisters and founders Lizbeth King and Laurann Claridge

“Ever since I was a teenager, I loved wearing my dad’s and, later, my boyfriend’s worn-in, button-down shirts,” Claridge recalls. “The problem was, while the sleeve length might work, the tails where too short. Or it was roomy enough, but the cuffs extended past my fingertips.” Laurann and Lizbeth worked on prototype after prototype to get the proportions perfect before launching Claridge + King.

Having met Laurann on several occasions, I know first-hand her impeccable taste and style. I have a feeling this new line will become an instant classic.

Shirts start at $89, with monogramming available.