— Book Travellers

novembre 2010 Monthly archive

Remember how I was complaining that I didn’t cook anymore? Well, I think saying it on the blog resulted in… this. I kicked my own butt and baked! There is a small organic grocery store near my house, and they have those $20 bags you can order. The catch is that you never know what you’ll get. Well, I guess by now you’ve figured my bag contained sweet potatoes. Two of them! And two huge bastards they were.

I was invited to a Time’s Up party on monday and offered my friend Melanie to bake. Which was very selfish of me: I would overcome my own laziness and finally cook, plus I’d find a use for two humongous potatoes without having to think about it. It was a deal. I wanted to give Smitten Kitchen’s receipe a try, but her receipe being (on her own admission) quite untraditional, I decided I’d try to find something more classic. Like your typical Thanksgiving sweet potato pie. I picked Mark Bittman’s How to cook everything, but no luck… and no sweet potato pie.
Finally, I remembered I had Sheila Lukins’s USA Cookbook – Rasha offered to me a few years back (and I remember complaining that it wasn’t in english… I can be annoying sometimes)
And boom! There was the receipe I was looking for.

I’ll give you the receipe, and I’ll even post it in french, because I had a few requests monday night… Looks like I’m back in baking town!


(see below for the receipe in french)

Ingredients :
Pie crust (by La Tartine Gourmande, as ever)
1 1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes (I committed the unthinkable and used a food processor to mash the potatoes. It was ok! Also I had two huge potatoes which was too much. There is no secret here: just steam whatever amount you think is right, and save the rest for lunch/ freeze it)
1/2 cup cane sugar
125 ml yogurt
2 eggs
60 ml milk (I always use non-fat, because it’s what I have in my fridge)
1 tbsp. melted better (for once, I used regular butter)
ground nutmeg (to taste)
cinnamon (to taste)
salt (to taste)
Pecan nuts if you like
Whipped cream (when you’re ready to serve)

Instructions :
1. A day before, prepare the pie crust. When it is ready, flatten it with your palms and wrap it in cling wrap. Let it sit in the fridge overnight.
2. 3 or 4 hours before you are ready to bake, take the pie crust out the fridge.
3. When ready, preheat your oven (200°C, 400°F).
4. Roll the dough on cooking paper and garnish your mold. Pre-bake in your oven. Don’t overdo it! It should still be light-colored (after 10 minutes or so).
5. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into large chunks (1 cm wide). Set the potatoes in a steam pot (I put the potatoes in a basket) and boil/steam them for 20 minutes until they are very tender. Mash the potatoes with the instrument of your choice (a fork will do, too).
6. In a large bowl, combine this puree with the sugar, the salt, the cinnamon and the nutmeg. Whisk until smooth.
7. Add the eggs (beaten), the yogurt, the milk and the melted butter. Whisk thoroughly.
8. Pour this mix on your pie crust and bake your pie for about 35-40 minutes depending on your oven. The mix should get a lot firmer, but don’t let the surface brown or dry out.
9. Let the pie cool on a rack, or build a mini spaceship out of multiple kitchen appliances to carry it all the way from your place to your friends’ house without damage. That’s what I did.
Oh, and you can decorate the top with nuts, too.


Ingrédients :
Fond de tarte (toujours la même, à l’origine trouvée ici chez La Tartine Gourmande)
1 tasse 1/4 de purée de patates douces (Hérésie : je les ai mixées, mais ceux qui veulent s’amuser avec un presse-purée y sont invités…Côté quantité, j’avais deux énormes patates et il m’en restait plein. J’ai donc congelé.)
1/2 tasse de sucre cassonade (qu’on peut à mon avis remplacer par du sucre normal sans trop de dégâts)
125 ml de yaourt
2 oeufs
60 ml de lait (J’utilise du lait écrémé, mais ce n’est pas obligé)
1 cuillère à soupe de beurre fondu (j’ai pris du beurre doux pour une fois… et puis on est pas obligé de mesurer au quart de poil !)
noix de muscade (selon les goûts)
cannelle (idem)
sel (idem)
Noix de pécan si ça vous chante
Crème fouettée (qu’on fait soi-même au moment de servir)

Instructions :
1. La veille, préparez la pâte sablée. Quand elle est prête, écrasez-la un peu et enveloppez-là dans du film alimentaire.
2. Le lendemain : 3 ou 4 heures avant de commencer à cuisiner, sortez la pâte sablée du frigo.
3. Quand vous vous lancez, commencez par faire préchauffer le four (200°C, 400°F).
3. Étalez la pâte sur du papier cuisson et foncez-là dans le moule. Faites précuire pendant environ 10 minutes (mais pas trop… pas comme moi !!)
4. Épluchez les patates douces et coupez-les en gros cubes (1cm environ). Placez-les dans une cocotte (panier) et faites-les cuire à la vapeur pendant 20 minutes environ. Elles doivent être très tendres. Mixez comme vous voulez ! (fourchette, presse-purée…)
5. Dans un grand saladier, mélangez la purée de patates avec le sucre, le sel, la cannelle et la noix de muscade. Mélangez bien (le mélange doit être lisse).
6. Ajoutez les oeufs battus, le yaourt, le lait et le beurre fondu. Mélangez bien.
7. Versez cet appareil sur le fond de tarte et cuisez le tout pendant 35-40 minutes (ça dépend du four… surveillez bien la bête !). Le mélange doit prendre, mais pas dorer.
8. Laissez la tarte refroidir sur une grille. Et construisez un système de la mort pour emmener le tout chez vos amis sans que la tarte soit scroutchée dans le métro.
Prévoir des noix pour décorer si vous aimez.

Jeeeez. Writing a blog in two langages is a lot of work! I understand now why I never took the time to sit down and translate every post (although it’s what I do in my dream life. In my dream life I get super buff by eating a lot of cheesecake! My dream life is awesome).
Well, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. It’s a fun little receipe… and it’s quite tasty.

Next time, I PROMISE, books!

More food related stuff :
Click here!

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I know, it’s usually not in my habit to talk about knick-knacks and ideas to make your credit card go apeshit, but we’re now getting closer to Christmas, and I thought I would renew last year’s endeavor and come up with a few gift ideas. Those are mostly the things I wish I could get asap, although I’m pretty sure none of them will be under the tree… Which is cool because I like surprises. Let’s just say that I might very well treat myself to a few of those goodies! And if it can give you a few ideas, well…

Let’s start with books, obviously. Those two have been on my list for quite some time : the first one is Shape of Things to Come, edited by the Saatchi gallery – an entire volume dedicated to sculpture. I’m usually more of a 2D freak, but that’s exactly why I need to get my hands on this expensive ($85) book.
Coming second, we have Vintage Tattoo: The Book of Old-School Skin Art… because I always need ideas for my next tattoo! (and also, I want to look at the stuff I’ll never dare getting… who said « Never say never? » Hmm?).
Then, we have the stuff I feel sorry I didn’t get when I had the chance… I love Chris Ware and his Acme Novelty series. However, these books have a habit of getting verrry pricey after a few months… I always end up regretting not buying them on the spot. Which is why I chose those two specific issues: they’re respectively listed at $122 and $130 (the regular price for one those is usually $17…). Ouch.
More books! You’ll notice that I didn’t add any link: that’s because you need to go to your local librarian. Repeat: no Evilzon this year!
I found Jean-Christophe Valtat’s book by total chanc, while surfing on an american publisher’s website. The cover art for Aurorarama instantally caught my eye, and I was all like, waw, french author, let’s read that in french. No luck with finding Aurorarama in french though. There are other books by the same author, yes, but speaking of cover art would be… mean. Still, let’s go with the old saying and not judge, I will try to read Valtat soon (Album, for instance).
Second, it’s Drôle de crayon. I discovered this book while staying at a collegue’s house recently. She has a three year old who loves books, therefore she has a lot of cool kid books. We read this one night and I found it hilarious, while at the same time wishing I knew a kid old enough to be offered this gift. This was actually written in english and called The Pencil.

Let’s switch to the girly items, now, shall we? This a rather minimalistic selection. We have Mondrian earrings by Objet Trouvé ($50) and a leather bag ($160) that’s just pure awesomeness, by Poketo. Those two stores are absolutely great, I always find gift ideas (including some for myself) when visiting.

A lot less minimal : a lumberjack pendant ($28) on Etsy, at chainchainchained.
And then the most adorable ring you’ve ever seen at OldGold Boutique ($52). It’s a little circus tent! I mean, you can’t live without it, now can you?

A special theme for you : pencil-shaped items. A scarf (£35) I would definitely knit if I had the needed skills (found on Sara Carr’s shop, Folsky) and a nice tote by Lazy Oaf, for £10 (very good store if you know a teenager or a girl like me who needs to grow up a wee bit).
Food-related (useless) stuff. I mean, my kitchen, like the rest of my apartment by the way, is totally crowded. I DON’T NEED more gadgets. So what do I do? Post links to gadgets. Sort of like a therapy…
On the Bon Marché eshop, ketchup and mayo men (6.75 €), and a pop-corn dispenser (do you need a link? seriously?).
Let’s go vintage before I finish this post. Again, I don’t need more kitchenware. Yet I always look for new items, especially the tea-related ones. Like this orange coffeepot (but I could use it for tea), £22 at Le Petit Boutique.
And the jackie-posing-as-a-librarian dress : $98 dollars (hey, that’s still a two digit price! guilt free!) at Heartbreaker Fashion (lots of good stuff should you ever consider reliving the fifties).

What’s an xmas list without a bit of geekiness? Don’t worry, no extensive list of heavy HTML guides here (although there could be!), but just this Iphone stencil kit, very useful, when you, errr, you know, you make sketches for the many Iphone apps you want to programm. Because you have the time…right.
Still, great gift. Only $24.95 at UI Stencils.

Allright, see you soon… with books!

Beware! It’s Christmas!

Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture, Meghan Daily, Saatchi Gallery, 2009, Rizzoli.
Vintage Tattoo: The Book of Old-School Skin Art, Carol Clerk, 2009, Universe.
Acme Novelty Library, by Chris Ware (the latest issue is no. 20).
Album, Jean-Christophe Valtat, 2002, Léo Scheer.
Drôle de crayon or The Pencil, by Allan Ahlberg and Bruce Ingman, originally published in 2008 by Candlewick.
Check last year’s list for more ideas.

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I was supposed to post my Christmas wishlist exactly a month before the 25th. Well, that’s another plan down the drain, I guess. Another crazy week went by. Students and teachers alike start to look tired and weary. It’s time for everybody to crawl back to our hometowns and spend whole days next to the fireplace (if you are jealous that I’m REALLY gonna do that, since my parents own an awesome fireplace, think that I will be warming up indeed, but also working all the while).
Today I give you another delayed post. It was supposed to be posted on October 27th, but I think you realize now that I’m not big with punctuality (that boat sailed a long time ago, too).

Well, who cares! Let’s do what I did, not a year ago, but a year and a month ago : a little report on the general status of things (in my life. I’m afraid I’m that self-centered. Let’s talk about french politics another time. Or never).

This is how things looked a year ago:

And this is how they look now :

What kind of conclusions can we draw from that? Pia likes checkered tablecloths.
Anyways, I’ll follow the categories I established at the time.

Back to school : Well, that happened earlier in the year than usual, and for the best, I think. I officially love my job, although things are seldom that simple in my world. I do get easilly bored, true, but I feel I found the right thing for me.

Regarding languages : not that great. I lost my habit of going to Spoken Word, William went back to Kansas, I need to recruit new american friends!
As for movies and books, they’re still mostly english and american.

Nights out : probably ok on the wine side, but way, way too many cigarettes. I do accept that I’m a real smoker now. Sort of.
Speaking of going out, I’m about to do that just now. To a new bar, which is something I don’t do that much anymore.

Academics : There was a rough patch this summer where I totally quit working on my dissertation for a while (ok, maybe I did not entirely quit, but the amount of work I did during this period is just not significant). The work on my classes was just too much.
I’m back on track. It hasn’t been long, but I’m now working on the last chapter. It’s gonna be about superheroes. I have 20 pages. 70 or so to go.

Apartment: I have been toying with the idea of moving out (of the apartment, and possibly out of Paris) for a while. It’s one of my favourite conversation topics, but I can’t say I have a very clear idea of what I wanna do. One thing is for sure though : this place is too small, considering my love for books.

Body: I’m concerned that the comeback of the cold might also mean the return of my blood circulation issues (nothing serious, but it’s quite annoying). Otherwise, I exercise regularly. I feel rather dandy.

Cooking: this category was absent last year. What am I mentioning it today? Because I don’t cook anymore. I mean, I daily cook decent lunches and dinners for myself, but I don’t throw dinner parties as I used too, and I don’t experiment as much. I feel truly sorry about that, bit it is true that my life as tremendously changed with the new job, and some hobbies had to go. I’m writing this now to remind myself that I need to make time to cook and bake in the future.

Curious to know what my next report is going to be like…
I’ll see you guys tomorrow (hopefully), since I have a chritmas wishlist to post. And we’ll be back to talking about books before december hits us in the face, I promise.

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Copyright Amelie Mancini (2010)

…And I suck a little. I have been wanting to post this for ever (as usual), not realizing there was a time frame attached to it! My friend Amelie is a painter, as you might have noticed in earlier posts (for instance, by clicking here. This was posted in March, when Amelie was painting the piece you can see in today’s post). Anyways, if you currently are in New York, you have two days left to attend her first show at the Yashar Gallery.

I will resist the temptation and restrain myself from adding more pictures of her paintings. Which is why you need to go on her website… now! Most of her recent production is centered on American baseball players and… faux-marble. Totally awesome.

I have so many talented friends! (as I have said before). Ergo I’m such a lucky bastard.
On that note, I’ll wish you a good night, be well, check Amelie’s blog, buy her art, make everybody happy.

10:48 pm edit : apparently there is a closing party on wednesday… so this post is not totally useless. Woohoo!!

To check Amelie’s work :

The exhibition will be closing on the 24th! Hurry! It’s open from 6 to 9.

The address :
Yashar Gallery
276 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY

more info on her website.

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Hello, internet geeks! (and the others, too). Another week has gone by. It’s now official: I have four weeks of classes left before my vacation Christmas (not like I have been counting. This totally reaffirms the old cliché about french teachers: all they can think off is their time off. I swear it’s not like that, though. I have to count the time I have left so as to make sure those students of mine speak html before hitting the road back home).
Well, well. (I just realized something… this is our 100th post this year… woohoo?)
Now, let’s talk about cool websites to help you procrastinate a little.

I actually gave this link to my students a few days ago. It’s a sign generator. You give the program a few lines to work with, and it will automatically generate every combination you can get by mixing and matching those basic shapes.
You’ll probably think it has no use (and here, if I may, I have to disagree with you. I made an animated gif based on the signs generated by this funky little page. YES, that’s USEFUL! To me, at least it is). You’ll find more about Norm (the design agency responsible for this obsessive-compulsive dream) by clicking here. And for the generator, this is where the magic happens.

The second link was provided by Julie. Less obsessive-compulsive, totally worth it for a book geek. The idea behind this project is that words are daily forgotten about and that our vocabulary gets more narrow every day. Well, you can change that! By adopting a word. I can’t remember which word Julie adopted… I will let her tell you the sweet name of her new protégé. And even if you don’t want to adopt, well, you can spent a few minutes (hours) hanging out on the site and learning words you don’t know/ you had forgotten about by clicking here.

I discovered the upcoming link while website-hopping the other day. Understand: I can’t remember the intricate path I had to follow to finally discover this website. Well, it’s not exactly a website. It’s a YouTube channel promoting Ridley Scott’s next project, Life in a Day. The concept goes like this : on July 24th, 2010, YouTube users around the world were asked to make a film during this particular day and send it to Ridley Scott and Kevin Mcdonald (the director of the movie). Out of the enormous amount of footage they received a film describing life as it was on that particular day. I’m curious about this…it could be completely sappy too, I’m aware of that. But that’s quite an interesting project (click here for more info + the trailer).

Oliver Veaubourg’s website is next. There are some interesting pictures there, but there is one series in particular that got my attention.

There is an entire section dedicated to book tributes. Those tributes are photographs, small mise-en-scène of well-known books. And so, I look at this, and I’m a little jealous… I always try to set an atmosphere when I take pictures of the books I want to talk about on this blog… and obviously there is a good source of inspiration for me! (click here)

I’ll close this little tour by a rather interesting link – although I realize this is some free advertisement here. Oh, well. This famous pen brand build an interesting little app that enables you to create your own script font.

This is all explained step by step here, but basically all you have to do is to print a grid, draw your alphabet, scan the result, and make your font based on that. Then, I guess it’s slightly disappointing: you can’t import the font on your computer for further use. If you want to use it, you need to write in an editor provided on the website.

However, online advertisement can get so silly sometimes, I think it’s important to point out attempts at making something beyond the annoying pop-ups (and I’ll soon teach my students how to make those very pop-ups. The irony) .

Well, that’s all for today. I have a special party tonight and I hope to document it… in a next post.
Also, on a totally unrelated note, kickboxing aerobics are HARD. For real.

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