Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Alison Hein.
Cold, dark, rainy days like we’ve been having lately aren’t good for either photographs or bread baking. L They are, however, wonderful for fresh-baked bread eating! I have been obsessed with these pavot (poppy baguettes) since first biting into one many years ago in France. I use about ¼ cup of poppy seeds to completely cover the tops of the loaves. If you’re not as obsessed as I am, feel free to minimize, or even skip (gasp!) the pavot entirely.
Baby your dough as it rises by finding a warm, non-drafty spot in your kitchen. (Sometimes a small distance away from a pre-heated oven is just the right spot.) Don’t bang any pots or slam any doors either, and at the end of your patient waiting period, you will be rewarded with the dreary day joy of slicing into a fresh, yeasty loaf of handmade and well-tended deliciousness. Try it like they do in Europe – slather a slice with some soft, unsalted butter, then sprinkle on salt to your liking for a breakfast in bed that will cheer you and warm your heart on a dreary day.
2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
2 tablespoons oil
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, plus one egg white
1½ teaspoons fleur de sel (or sea salt)
5 cups white flour
1 tablespoon semolina flour
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves
¼ cup poppy seeds
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Add oil, sugar, egg, fleur de sel, and one cup flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add remaining flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with semolina flour. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly brush loaves with egg white, then sprinkle poppy seeds on top to cover. Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.
Post by Tracy Kaler.
What components make up a typical bed well? A stylish headboard. A pair of bedside tables. Art above the bed. Window treatments. Accoutrements. But what about those bed walls that push the envelope, those that lack the obvious choices for a headboard but boast a custom backdrop instead? Some bed walls come adorned with built-in nightstands rather than the usual freestanding tables. Some designers think outside the box when they create a space for sIeep. I searched high and low for the most innovative bed walls I could find. Enjoy!
Industrial in design and feel, this Santa Barbara loft bedroom is like no other I’ve ever seen. A driftwood backdrop and platform feel primitive yet sophisticated. Matching nightstands blend in, and the art above the bed keeps the color palette neutral. A skateboard and guitar add a smidge of playfulness to the space.
Busy to some and inventive to others, this colorful, patterned bedside corner sets the tone for this unusual guest bedroom in Newport Beach. Notice the simplicity of the other elements in the room –– although the shag rug and ornamental dresser introduce texture and make up for the bedroom’s lack of accessories. A pouf acts as a bedside table.
No headboard is visible in this photo, so we have to assume that there isn’t one. The decorator of this Florida bedroom uses a crisp, Moroccan pattern on the pillow shams. Decorative molding creates architectural interest on the bed wall while the artwork resembles branches or coral and provides just the right amount of interest above the bed. This room is fantastic in many ways.
The feature wall in this charming East London bedroom dons black, and the headboard sports a zig-zag pattern. The silly sign as artwork somehow fits the mood, as do the light fixtures suspended by red cords.
The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson. Illustrated by Beth Krommes.
Carrying on with the themes of darkness and night we explored last week, today I bring you The House in the Night whose etched-looking black, white, and yellow illustrations won Beth Krommes a Caldecott Medal. This is possibly the hardest review I’ve ever written. I cannot begin to try and explain what this book is about. It begins with the “in the dark is a house, in the house is a light, in the light is a room, etc.” From there it kind of goes into this nonsensical trance and I’m not terribly clear what is going on anymore. The child picks up the book and then she’s flying through the darkness on a bird’s back. Maybe this is her imagination as she reads. Maybe it’s dream imagery. “On the moon’s face shines the sun/Sun in the moon/Moon in the dark”
That said, I do really like the illustrations. They remind me of those art projects where you cover a page with India ink and scratch away an image. It’s particularly impressive that Beth Krommes was able to make meaningful imagery from the fairly meaningless, or at least vague, text. A good story to read to a little kid, maybe two to four years old. They will appreciate the cadence of the words and appreciate the striking images.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Another gorgeous and beautifully animated movie for the whole family comes to us courtesy of Tomm Moore. If you don’t know the name, he is behind the movie The Secret of Kells, a visually arresting animated movie about a young boy living long ago in the Monastery of Kells in a scary, beautiful, magical world. I could watch it over and over just for the beauty of the animation.
His newest movie, Song of the Sea, was nominated for best animated picture last year, for what it’s worth. Taking on Irish legend, the movie tells the story of a boy named Ben and his little sister Saoirse, who is mute. They live alone at a remote lighthouse with their father. One day Saoirse finds her mother’s sealskin cloak in a trunk and puts it on, then runs out to the sea. She dives in and is immediately transformed into a seal. She is a Selkie, one of they mythical creatures who can shed their seal skin and become human for brief periods of time. When her father finds her cold and shivering on the shore the next day, he locks up the cloak and sends the children to their grandmother.
But Saoirse has a shell flute from her mother and its song alerts faeries, both good and bad, to her presence. Soon it becomes clear that Saoirse is unwell and must don the sealskin cloak to survive. Good big brother Bed stops at nothing to keep her sister safe and save the faerie folk from the wicked Macha and her owls who turn them to stone.
This movie is full of so much and yet it never gets muddled or confusing. Half tale of lore, half tale of love of a boy for his sister, Song of the Sea is a lovely and beautiful movie to watch as a family. Watch it in bed and you’ll have the loveliest dreams.