Our Alt-Malted Milk Balls have been featured all week on The Splendid Table, the terrific public radio food show hosted by Lynne Rosetto Kasper. They are a recent improvisation on Homemade Chocolates for Improvising, a really easy method for making shards of chocolate flavored with whatever crosses your mind, from Marcona almonds to curry powder. Mixing malted milk powder into a great, fragrant chocolate like Valhrona makes for a peak malted milk ball experience (even if they are in a radically different form). Click here for the recipe, or listen to Sally’s interview with Lynne.
resources blogs + sites
This weekend on public radio stations across the country, The Splendid Table, Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s wonderful food radio show, will be airing an interview with Sally about ‘the improvised life’ approach to Homemade Holiday Food Gifts. Check out Splendid Table’s website for show times in your area, download podcasts or stream the show. You’ll find Sally’s recipes for Dried Apricots in Cardamom Syrup, Roasted Dried Apricots with Cardamom, and Alt-Malted Milk Balls. Holidays with the Splendid Table has loads of resources for entertaining and gift-giving.
This weekend ‘the improvised life’ will feature Homemade Chocolates for Improvising, another great food gift and staple for holiday parties.
We are beside ourselves. Corby Kummer, editor and journalist par excellence of The Atlantic wrote a big, generous RAVE of ‘the improvised life’ in his column Fresh Feeds. So we’re printing the whole thing here, because we’re so proud and thrilled, and honored:
Who really wants to go shopping at the holidays? Okay, it can be fun, especially when kids are aching to go, or children come back to visit and actually view expeditions as fun (like my cool stepdaughter, who lives in cool Park Slope).
But too often it’s forced, and not when you want it. So for relief, I recommend our contributor Sally Schneider‘s site The Improvised Life, which includes posts about the marvelous food she makes in places likely and un-, like the corn cakes with slow-cooked meat she recently and satisfyingly scrounged together in a friend’s cabin in the West Virginia Appalachians.
But the meat of the site is reports from her eye, and it’s enormously wide-ranging. read more…
One of my favorite recipes is called Fried Water:
Melt one ice cube in a skillet by placing it in the sun. When melted, add 1 cup water and saute slowly — until water is transparent. Serve small portions, because this dish is rich as well as mouth-watering.
It’s from a book I had as a kid called Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow. “This is an outdoor cookbook,” reads the Foreword, “The market place, then, will be a forest or a sand dune or your own back yard.” It’s a cookbook for a kid’s world outdoors, even if the kid, like me, never actually acted out the recipes. Like the best children’s books, it fueled my imagination and painted a world rich with possibilities: read more…
Not yet four months old, ‘the improvised life’ got its first public mention today, in Manhattan User’s Guide, a daily, often surprising, newsletter and website that is THE word on what’s happening in New York and beyond. Here’s what it said:
“NYC journalist, chef, and author Sally Schneider has launched, with several cohorts, a new, zeitgeist-perfect website that we love called The Improvised Life. From its immediately engaging design to its thoroughly appealing idea of ‘improvising as a daily practice’, a way of taking each day with a flexible, open-mind, we can’t get enough of the discoveries, observations, and tips therein, covering food, design, DIY, and more.”
…we are thrilled and proud and happy….
Thanks a million, MUG!
Once the door to an idea opens, information often miraculously seems to appear. There’s some sort of attunement that seems to happen when you hold a question in mind and start trying to figure it out; perhaps it’s simply a shift in awareness that makes us see the answers around us.
Right after I wrote about d-i-y pizza-ovens, I started to stumble upon books and websites with in-depth instructions and resources for building and using wood-fired ovens, a change in name that expands the content considerably (beyond pizza – just about any food benefits from being cooked in a wood-fired oven). Even if you don’t actually have a space to build a wood-fired oven right now, these resources can help you formulate ideas for when you do, or for when you’re out camping and want to apply some of its principles to a make-shift oven. Some books, like the definitive The Bread Builders: Hearth Loaves and Masonry Ovens, will even guide you to achieving some of the effects of a masonry oven, using an ordinary gas or electric oven. read more…
Remodelista posted some terrific pictures of my friends Suzanne Shaker and Pete Dandridge’s perfect summer house on Shelter Island, 2 hours from New York City. Suzanne, an interior designer and stylist, and Pete, an art conservator, worked with Deborah Burke & Partners Architects to build the 1250 square foot from-scratch house. It seems incredibly spacious, due in part to large glass doors and picture windows (one whole side of the house) that bring in the surrounding woods and nature, and a 20-foot dining/living/kitchen area. Ample storage keeps the minimalist house from looking cluttered.
What Remodelista doesn’t mention is that the house was made on a strict budget – less than half of what a house in this part of the world would normally cost. Every design decision was meant to be both beautiful and practical, if not always easy; the budget demanded that Suzanne and Pete give up some ideas they’d seen as essential, and become more resourceful in finding solutions. They went with inexpensive materials in many places, to spend more on others. read more…
TED is a yearly conference (its motto is “ideas worth spreading”) as well as a website where you can watch videos of riveting talks by truly remarkable people. Some TED talks are so compelling that they continue to be blogged and referenced around the internet years after they first appeared, like Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My Stroke of Insight“. You can connect to the talks right at TED’s website, browsing categories like “ingenious, inspiring, funny, most emailed”. Or, you can see the whole amazing listing – YEARS of talks, 500 and counting – on this ingenious spreadsheet.
Hot tip: On each talk’s web page, to the far right of the video screen are the words “open interactive transcript”. Click it, choose the language you want, and you can read the talk, copy it, or click where in the transcript you want the video to start from. It’s a great way to really focus on some of the amazing things that are being said.
Adam Kuban of Serious Eats’ Slice Blog has a compelling series about people who have built their own pizza ovens. His interview with Mark Wilkie, who created this beauty is in the backyard of his Brooklyn rental, comes complete with photos and drawings of the process. Wilkie found lots of practical resources at Forno Bravo, a California based pizza oven maker that offers free plans for building “Pompeii” brick pizza oven as well as forums where d-i-y oven builders can exchange info.
It seems the Forno Bravo can fashion all or part of an oven if you’re into designing your own. Their “Photos” section has inspiring photos of wood-fired ovens from all over the world, read more…
In Saving the World’s Women, New York Times writers Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn report on extreme acts of violence and repression against women and girls in developing countries such a Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. One such story told of young girls attacked with acid in an attempt to prevent them from attending school. Both horrifying and illuminating, the piece is rare in that it includes a sidebar of very do-able actions that an ordinary individual can take from giving to a micro-finance organization to sponsoring a girl.
An audio slideshow narrated by Kristof gives an excellent overview of the piece, as well as heartening stories of women who found their way out of their powerlessness with the help of various aid programs and organizations. It also tells of creative initiatives taken by ordinary individuals that grew into powerful vehicles for change.
For an extensive listing of organizations supporting women in developing countries, click here.
I’ve been smitten with Remodelista for years, checking in regularly to the interior design blog for ideas and inspiration. The editors made sure to include ample amounts of the resourceful and inexpensive amidst the architect-designed spaces and high-end hardware. The only problem with the site was that it was difficult to navigate its archives and find things beyond the Main Page. Now, Remodelista has expanded into a website (in beta) with a well-designed navigation that makes it a serious resource for even rough-and-tumble improvisors. read more…
Wired.com has a swell D-I-Y Wiki, that’s full of things I’ve always wanted to know. It’s a collaborative site of projects, hacks, tricks and tips on “how to make each day better than the last”. Anyone can contribute new items or edit an existing item, and the info is suprisingly good, if not terribly detailed; it will get you where you need to go, or lead you to some good info. read more…