Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great Beauty

In theory I wholeheartedly believe in routine maintenance, regular tune-ups and preventative care.  Look at any woman of a certain age who has taken care of herself over the years vs. one of the same certain age who has not and the benefit is clear.

But even in the face of undeniable proof my commitment to a regime seems to wax and wane.  In large part this is owing to the fact that I have no idea if my regime is correct.  I mean, I won't see the results for another ten or twenty years, so how am I to know if sticking with it is really going to do any good?  And if it doesn't, why bother with my multi-step, multi-product process?

So time and time again I revert to cleaning my face twice a day religiously (this seems like an obviously good thing to do), using sunscreen on my face and hands daily as every dermatologist will tell you to do (I will forever be devoted to Elta MD, which achieves the unachievable by being non-toxic yet sheer) and throwing on some moisturizer when my skin is screaming out for it.

But those sad, aimless days are over my friends, because I have found an oracle to navigate the beauty jungle for me.

After reading about Eva Scrivo's book in the New York Times one day, I picked it up from the library just to see what the fuss was about.  The fuss was about a hugely successful hair stylist, aesthetician and makeup artist sharing every secret she's got.  And did I mention she herself has aged spectacularly well?

I can't be sure, but based on her references from her childhood included in the book, I can only assume she's in her late 40s, possibly early 50s.  So basically 10-15 years older than she looks.  Which means I'll follow her advice to the letter.

Normally I can't stand reading beauty books.  I look at the pictures, sure, but read them?  So boring.

Not this one.  I pored over it in rapt attention, taking in every tip and bit of advice she had to offer.  Wear a terry cloth headband when washing your face to avoid frizzing up those hairs around your hairline?  Of course!  How brilliant!  Layer liquid eyeliner on top of a pencil for your everyday look?  I would never have thought to do so, but I look much more glamorous for it, and it got me over my fear of liquid liner in no time.  Use a little of many products, on both hair and skin, in layers because one never does all of the jobs you need for it to do?  Genius.  My hair is looking much better for it.  And as soon as all of my professional sized Yonka products arrive from ebay, I'm sure my skin will be too.

I'm so looking forward to stashing a box of skincare products in the refrigerator and bringing it out every night, just as Eva's impossibly glamorous mother apparently did, to slather the stuff on in pursuit, nay, in furtherance (now that I know the regime works) of everlasting beauty.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ripe Summer Tomatoes

Walking through the Greenmarket this time of year, you can't help but realize that tomato season has arrived.  The big gleaming beefsteaks are everywhere, and the heirlooms are just now making their noble debut.  Despite the fact that the vendors are actually selling these things, as I stroll through the stalls I somehow feel as though I'm the lucky recipient of a bumper crop, and thus grab at the bounty indiscriminately, thinking of the money exchanged only after I find myself lugging pounds and pounds of tomatoes home.

So once home I must think like an Italian mama during the summer harvest season.  What to do with the red orbs taking over the kitchen counters?  Tomato sauce, quite obviously.  But it's been so obscenely hot in New York lately that I can barely bring myself to turn on the stove, so long, slow cooking has been out of the question.  I was in a bit of a quandary.  How long would these things last before exploding all over my countertops?  Could I stand being in the equivalent of a sweat lodge while they simmered down into sauce on the stove?

Turns out, thanks to John Tuturro of all people, I didn't have to make the hard choice.  Upon reading his recipe for pasta with raw tomato sauce in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, I knew I had found the recipe that would save me and my overrun kitchen.

The sauce is once of those stunningly simple but amazingly delicious things that Mediterranean cultures do so well...skinned and seeded tomato chopped finely (I know blanching and peeling tomatoes can be fiddly, but I always do it as I cannot stand tomato skin in sauces), mixed with some grated garlic, basil leaves, salt (Maldon is perfect here) and olive oil and left to macerate for as long as you have (I usually give it at least a half hour).

And then throw in some hot pasta, stir, et voila.

Summer in a bowl.

Luckily the heat has broken for a wee moment so the remainder of my stash is, as I speak, bubbling away cheerfully on the stove with a chopped onion and a few basil stalks, as the tomato maven Paul Bertolli suggests in his cookbook, which has become a favorite of mine.  Given that his is the only tome I've seen thus far that devotes and entire chapter to tomatoes, I'm prepared to follow his lead in the area.  I'm even thinking a few jars of conserva are next...one needs diversity after all.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Great Bram

Am I the only one completely obsessed by earthenware vessels?  Cheap and cheerful cazuelas, those incredibly elegant and tasteful covered serving dishes from Heath Ceramics, and even this platter from Ben Pentreath, they all appeal to my love of the kitchen hearth.  Something about them just screams "delicious food eaten with good friends".

But it wasn't until recently that I stumbled across a website that is entirely devoted to my obsession.  Bram.  Doesn't it just sound sturdy and warm and useful and rustic and simple and elegant, just like earthenware itself?  I initially fell hard for the spouted mixing bowls, and then those gorgeous rectangular  baking dishes (perfect for the big lasagnas I make for friends to eat while they watch boxing matches at our apartment).  But then I came across this:

and I was slain.  I mean how perfect a representation of the spirit of earthenware is this thing?  I'm seeing lots of gratins, braises, breads, cakes and pot pies in this lovely dish's future.  
Blog Widget by LinkWithin