A bowl of cherries…

July 19, 2020

on a hot July afternoon sounded perfect. Turning them into a cocktail after another week of madness on every level…even better. For your consideration, the Cherry Bourbon Old Fashioned.

This couldn’t be easier. Pit 6-8 fresh cherries and add to your glass. Next 3 dashes Bitters, a tablespoon of maple syrup, a squeeze of lemon. Muddle to break the cherries and release their juice.

Continue with 2 oz. of Bourbon, a bit of ice and a quick stir. Done. Now, turn off the news, head outside to the yard and have a seat. You’re welcome.

photos: gp

 

 

Room To Spread Out

July 14, 2020

If you have to work from home you might as well treat yourself and go big. No cramped cubicle now, no way. Pulling your chair up to a work surface like this will have you feeling like you’ve just moved into the corner office. At the end of the day there is still room to cozy up with family or friends for dinner. There is something to be said for a big, simple, modern table. It’ll carry you through.

 

photo: https://remash.tumblr.com/

 

you’ve got this. OK, a recent twister not only tore up the neighborhood, but the snapped poles and downed lines left us without power for several days. Still, ya gotta eat, right? And, without refrigeration you need something that will hold up pretty well. This simple Summer salad fits the bill. Have it by itself for lunch or pull out the grill and serve it alongside some grilled chicken sausages or burgers for dinner. In this particular case my Covid-19 pantry had all the usual suspects…green beans, kidney beans, garbanzos, green pepper and red onion. After draining, add the beans to a bowl with 1/2 cup of diced red onion and 1/2 of the green pepper diced. Toss with the simplest vinaigrette of lemon juice, olive oil, a crushed clove of garlic, a good pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. After a quick toss, cover until ready to serve and adjust the S & P if necessary. With tonight’s dinner covered all there is to do is wait.

photos:gp 

 

Is it me or is everyone having a difficult time keeping track of what month it is…what day it is? It seems like during the entirety of this Corona lock down the weather has kept us thinking it’s more like Fall than Spring and the sun has taken a back seat to the gray and rainy skies. A little inspiration seems to be in order to get us through the next few weeks to be sure. While the upcoming holiday weekend and unofficial start of Summer will be different than we know it, a little inspiration may ease the discomfort of continued shelter in place and social distancing orders. The simplest of things can bring new joy and freshness to a stale situation or outlook so look around with new eyes and see what happens. I’ve selected a few items from the simplequietmodern archives that might help get you started.

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Top to bottom:

Sheltering in place might have you contemplating a second place to get away to once we’re able to move around freely. And, while working from home may become the new normal for some, a simplequietmodern cabin with WIFI may be a neccesity.  Photo: Leonardo Finotti via Remash Tumblr

 

A comfortable place to kick back, either tucked away in the yard or on the front porch for those all important breaks between Zoom meetings. This reissue of the originalWestport Adirondack Chair design comes to mind immediately. Photo:Loll Designs

 

A simple spring dinner of steamed artichokes takes advantage of the season and satisfies while keeping time in the kitchen to a minimum. Photo: gp

 

If you need something to keep your hands busy and out of that bag of chips, this Elementary Wrap by Purl Soho is it. A modern hand-knit using their Linen Quill yarn results in a lovely seasonal project that will take care of that spring chill or tick off a special gift completed for the upcoming holidays.  photo: gp  https://simplequietmodern.com/2018/05/02/elementary/

 

The garden centers are open again. A quick stroll through might just tempt you to make a modification to your present landscaping. This Sunjoy Gold Pillar Barberry will add a little brightness even on those days the sun stays hidden. photo: gp

 

Why wait for the September running of the Kentucky Derby? This perfectly modern julep works for me any day . http://gardenandgun.com/media/mint-julep photo: gp  

 

Cabin Fever? Get out of the house and take a look at your place from a new perspective. Take a few phone pics from different approaches and try to view things as your neighbors or passersby do. You might be surprised to find that things are looking pretty good.  photo: gp

 

Who doesn’t like ice cream? My recipe for Pistachio Semifreddo will have you amazed that yes, you made it yourself.  photo: gp https://simplequietmodern.com/2015/05/24/whip-it-fold-it-freeze-it/

 

River rocks…or landscapers egg rock… can add that little touch of zen when used used in the landscape. As long as you’re home you might as well start another project to keep you outside. photo: gp

 

Not all potato salads are created equal. While I can often get a craving for potato salad like Mom made, I most often opt for this salad from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food…Potatoes Vinaigrette. Photo: gp   https://simplequietmodern.com/2014/05/04/a-simple-lighter-spin/

 

Memorial Day weekend is when those pots get planted. But, with what? I’m not into annuals…too bright. And last year’s planting of lily grass and Blonde Ambition Blue Grama grass while beautiful, did not winter over as I had expected. Now, I guess it’s back to my original choice…Blue Dune Grass. Fast grower, simple modern statement and, the deer won’t eat them. Check, check and check.  photo: gp

 

 

 

If you can,

May 4, 2020

pick up a carry out order and support your local Mexican restaurant tomorrow. If you can’t, you can still cook and celebrate in place. Shaking things up with Chef Alex Stupak’s recipe for Cheeseburger Tacos couldn’t be easier. The key is the meat to cheese ratio, basically 1/1. Fill some warm tortillas, top with a few classic toppings and you’re done.

Alex Stupak’s Cheeseburger Tacos   Serves 4-6

1 tsp. lard or vegetable oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
Salt
1 lb. white melty cheese such as chihuahua, Monterey Jack, or Muenster, grated
12 flour or corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small tomato, cut into 12 slices
1 avocado, cut into 12 slices
½ medium white onion, minced
Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula or Valentina, for serving
Chopped cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the lard until it shimmers. Add the ground beef and cook over moderate heat until it’s browned and crumbled, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted in,about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat in the pan. Spread the mayonnaise on the warm tortillas. Divide the cheeseburger filling among the tortillas and top with the tomato, avocado, and onion. Drizzle with hot sauce, garnish with cilantro, and serve with lime.

Photos: Evan Sung

 

 

Reset

April 6, 2020

It’s apparently going to be another long month of isolation and social distancing, daily briefings will bring more sad news than good news. I keep thinking that all of this corona madness might be a blessing in disguise of a sad sort. The challenges that we are all now facing might force us to hit the proverbial reset button. The threat of Covid-19 is bigger than any of us yet affects us all in profound ways. We interact differently, we work differently and for many we find ourselves with plenty of alone time…time to listen to that still small voice that comes from within. Thankfully those reports of knock down, drag outs over toilet paper are behind us. If you are like me you are witnessing a gentler, friendlier, less selfish and more thoughtful community. And, as long as we are all in this war against an invisible enemy, that’s a good thing. It’s always a good idea to teach by example, so there is no better time than now to be that good example. Check in on people from time to time. Sure, those that are spending a lot of time alone could benefit from a quick chat or text, but, what about those that are now home all day with their kids taking on the new job of teacher? They might even need the contact and kind word more. Thank those who are continuing to work for our benefit…at the grocers and drugstores, gas stations and especially the Doctors and healthcare workers. Thank as well the restaurants, from fast food to fine dining, who had to retool to providing drive-up and curb service in order that their employees could still enjoy a livelihood. Thank them with your support…order a pick-up or delivery order as often as you can over the next month. Finally, treat yourself. While out for provisions, picking up some flowers to brighten your environment can do wonders to ward off cabin fever. And, while you’re at it, pick up an extra bunch to treat a friend or neighbor. No need to have face to face contact, just leave by their door and text a message that a little surprise has been left. With any grace at all, the sacrifices we are forced to make now will be behind us in a month or so and, hopefully, we will all be better for the experience.

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photo:gp

 

dining alone, I’m here to help. Nothing washes over you like a big hug than a comforting bowl of pasta. And, what’s even better is when that pasta dish can be made with just a few pantry ingredients you most likely have on hand. Add in one pot and ten minutes and you’re reading to dig in. Really, it’s just that simple.

Start with a small saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Over medium heat melt a tablespoon of butter and add 4 oz. of orzo pasta tossing to coat. Continue to stir until pasta just starts to toast up. Add 1 cup chicken stock and a good grind of black pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for ten minutes. Set your timer and check at ten minutes, continue cooking a couple of minutes more if necessary until all of the liquid is absorbed. Plate up and dress with the juice of 1/2 lemon. Taste and add a pinch of salt if desired. That’s it. Done and done. No need to guild the lily here, no Parmesan necessary. How easy was that? All that’s left to do is grab the remote and settle in for a little binge watching.

The original recipe from Sue Krietzman can be found here. https://food52.com/recipes/75234-sue-kreitzman-s-lemon-butter-angel-hair-pasta

While it calls for angel hair pasta, I have found it to work as well if not better with my favorite, orzo, or regular spaghetti broken into 2-3 inch pieces.. Any pasta shape can be used, just adjust the liquid and cooking time as needed.

photos: gp

Simple Makeover

March 2, 2020

It might not be where you cook, but rather what you cook in that needs addressing. Before you start ripping out cabinets and knocking down walls you might take a look at that mixed and unmatched collection of pots and pans of yours. Sure, everyone means well when they pass a piece off to you and it’s sometimes fun to pick up a saucepan at a garage sale because ” it was only two dollars”, but really, isn’t it time for some grown-up cookware? I think it is. And, this matte black vitreous enamel collection from Crane Cookware will satisfy your simplequietmodern sensibilities. Designed in London and cast in France this group is free of cadmium, PFOA, PTFE and lead, is 100% Vitreous enameled, is made of 30% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. The Saute’, frying pans and casserole have ergonomically designed handles and will move seamlessly from any cooktop to oven to table. All things considered, you might still want to redo the kitchen but it might take on a new simplicity if you start here as your inspiration.

 

photos: https://www.cranecookware.com/

 

A New Take

February 24, 2020

My favorite Winter salad usually shows up at Thanksgiving and Christmas and perhaps again at the New Year. It’s a simple combination of Frisee’, Bosc Pear, Red Onion, Blue Cheese and toasted Walnuts lightly dressed in a vinaigrette of Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and a touch of Garlic. While I love it’s combination of seasonal ingredients it seems like it’s always been allocated to the category of ” holiday “. While craving it recently, and having no luck finding Frisee’ at the market, I decided to switch it up a bit and substituted Shaved Brussels Sprouts for the greens and have it as an entree salad one night for dinner. The surprise I didn’t see coming is that it’s almost better than the original. Then a few days later I switched it up again using Honeycrisp Apple for the Pear, Maple Cayenne Glazed Walnuts and an even simpler dressing of Olive Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar with a splash of a Maple Syrup. Again…success. Good thing there is plenty of Winter left to add this salad to the weekly rotation.

No measuring here, add as much or as little of each as you’d like. Cutting the pears or apples into small batons compliment the thinly shaved Brussels Sprouts and red onion. Keeping the blue cheese chunky and the Walnut halves quartered results in  sort of chunky chopped salad that hits all the right notes…sweet, savory, creamy and crunchy.

The simplest recipe ever for Maple Cayenne Glazed Walnuts can be found here. https://simplequietmodern.com/2013/11/30/mmmm-maplely/

photos: gp

 

 

 

We’ll See

February 9, 2020

We go through this often…the prediction of an early Spring followed immediately by snow, cold and yes, more snow. It’s Winter. In reality, the official start of Spring is still weeks away…plenty of time to prepare for it’s arrival, get inspired or simply switch things up to ward off cabin fever.

 

top to bottom:

Last year’s garden addition under this years last “dusting”

Forcing an armful of flowering branches definitely speaks to the promise of Spring.

Get super proactive and start now to plan a trip to the New Mexican desert next Winter and paying a visit to the Georgia O’Keefe residence and museum in Abiquiu. photo: https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/

Get on it and shake things up with this Alexander McQueen inspired velvet from Knoll Textiles. If not a chair then perhaps just a pillow will do the trick. Photo: https://www.knoll.com/knolltextileproductdetail/Arezzo

You could always spend more quality time with your favorite sidekick. Yes, even knee deep snow can be fun with this guy.

Now is a great time to revisit, reconsider and actually finish a stalled project. While these balls of newsprint yarn were created during snow days of Winters past, they still sit waiting to be transformed. Now’s as good a time as any.

Pull out that Sharpie and a clean pad. Start sketching and editing and committing some new ideas for your Spring garden projects to paper for when the weather finally breaks.

A little sustenance. The simplest recipe ever…Labneh. This Mediterranean dip and spread is basically Greek yogurt with a good pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon stirred in, placed into a cheesecloth lined strainer and left to drain out the whey over 24 hours. Serve up with a drizzle of good olive oil and a healthy dusting of Za’atar to spread on a variety of breads and vegetables.

 

Photos except where noted: gp