doormouse molasses

It's been a while since I've been guilty of an overt "Americanism." Honestly, people don't even think I'm from the States off-the-bat anymore. But a recent trip to the grocery store reminded me that I'm still very much a foreigner in this country.

With Autumn plowing its way into the city, I'd been craving molasses cookies - heady, spicy, deep molasses cookies - the sort I used to make as a kid called "Christopher Columbus Cookies" from a children's cookbook with an American holiday slant. So, with a more PC recipe in mind that I'd spotted in the LA Times from the Model Bakery in Napa Valley, I headed to the store for the necessary ingredients. The basics were all easy, but I eyed every inch of the sugar aisle for molasses before approaching one of the workers for help.

"Do you have molasses?" I asked the first uniformed girl I saw.

"Umm, we should, let me go check." (Usually code for: I'm going to make a quiet exit and never come back).

I waited around for a bit. Looked at the honey. The syrup. No. No molasses.

"Do you have molasses?" I asked the next uniformed person I saw.

"What's that?"

"It's kind of like a syrup."

She showed me the maple syrup, the Lyle's Golden Syrup (for the Brits' Golden Sponge Cake), but there was no molasses in sight.

Finally the first worker came back (Wow!)

"They say it's not called that anymore."


"It's called treacle."

"Treacle? Of course! I should have known!"

I mean, treacle - straight from the doormouse's speech in Alice in Wonderland. How had I overlooked it?? Since there it was - Lyle's Black Treacle - right next to Lyle's Golden Syrup. And although it's not *really* verbatim molasses... it would do. I promptly thanked the girl and removed two tins of the stuff.

As I was in the process of scurrying away with my treacle, I heard a girl with a distinctly American accent ask the same worker "Where are your chocolate chips?"

"Let me go check."

But this time I knew the answer and turned to the tall bright-eyed blond American with her chocolate chip cookie craving and said, "I haven't seen any chocolate chips in the UK outside of the specialty shops carrying American imports. You just have to buy a bar of chocolate and chop it up."

"Oh wow!" she said in her oh-so-nasal Californian voice "That's SO funny? Right?"

Is it? I shrugged, wondering a little why I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to agree, "It's the UK."

I left her to contemplate this, and with my cute tins in tow, I went home and made molasses cookies with treacle. I even added some chopped up Green & Black Spiced Orange Dark Chocolate for good measure. (Unconventional, perhaps, but highly recommended - they turned out divine).

The recipe follows (personally, I thirded it!)


Model Bakery Molasses Cookies

4 ½ sticks (2 ¼ cups) butter
2 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup dark molasses
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
8 cups (2 pounds) pastry flour
1 ½ teaspoons each: baking soda, salt
1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon each: cinnamon, cloves, ground ginger
½ cup crystallized sugar, or more as needed

Beat the butter and sugar in a medium bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until each is incorporated. Beat in the molasses and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger in a separate bowl. Beat the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients, a little at a time, until fully incorporated to form a dough. Cover; refrigerate 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the dough into balls with an ice cream scoop. Roll each ball in the crystallized sugar; place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between each cookie. Bake until lightly golden and set, 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through for even baking. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

one way trip to the hotsprings on Mars

"Wish for your deepest desires, she said & when I asked if they'd come true, she said they always do, so you might as well get them out in the open while you're still young enough to correct any serious mistakes." - Brian Andreas

Photo is a more offbeat and amusing side of fabulous photographer Eugenio Recuenco.

pretty little ditties

While for most of us it's Fall '09, for the fashion crowd it's already Spring/Summer 2010. That's right, we're in the midst of another LFW.

It's been an interesting (and shorter) season. The recession is definitely taking its toll. People who were paid last season, aren't seeing a penny this year (but still working, of course). The gift bags are sparser. The champagne is running out quicker. But ah well... we're all here for the clothes - right?

That said, I rather enjoyed this creepy-dreamy live "puppet show" by Steve J & Yoni P. We stared at the puppets, they stared right back at us, while ethereal harp music scored our unspoken exchange. It was haunting, unsettling, gorgeous. It's hard to capture the full effect without the melodic trance-inducing lullabies, but here's my best go.


mary, mary, quite contrary....

"The past is not dead. It isn't even past." - William Faulkner

Picture is Tim Walker.

for my squatters in bloomsbury

"No one who has lived - even for a fleeting moment - for something other than life in its conventional sense and has experienced the exaltation that this feeling produces can then renounce his new freedom so easily.” - Andre Breton

The very appropriate picture (it quite reminds me of the new place of the "video basement" squat) by the avante garde Czech, Jiří Kolář.

Welcome home!

manna, milk, & honey

So, the bad news is that it's starting to getting cold and blustery here - plenty of rain, wind, and the general inclemency that makes London a city synonymous with trench coats, umbrellas and wellies. Sigh. These past many months - starting with the early hints of spring right down to the final faded remnants of summer - have been so unbelievably warm and pleasant, I think I'd genuinely forgotten that this city could be so miserable weather-wise.

The good news, however, is that the storminess out my window has made me want to do nothing but nest and bake. My revived sense of domesticity started off with a couple batches of cookies, but on a recent and particularly rainy day, I wanted something more homey, more eventful - something that required extreme patience and multiple steps. When I read about spiced Ethiopian bread over at The Wednesday Chef, while not exactly French pastry, I thought it would do quite nicely.

This Ethiopian loaf is sweetened with honey and boasts an earthy combination of cinnamon, cumin and cloves that is just lovely. Long after the baking is done, merely toasting a slice sends aromas of sugar and spice dancing through the air. I altered the recipe slightly to include both wheat and plain flour (when it comes to adding wholemeal to baked goods, I just can't help myself!) If you're tempted by how this sounds, but are afraid of the yeast (as I often am), don't be... it really is rather simple... have a go!


Ethiopian Honey-Spice Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
1/2 cup mild honey
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup whole milk, warmed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1. Combine the yeast, water, sugar or honey, and ginger in a small ceramic bowl and set in a warm, draft-free place until it bubbles vigorously.

2. Combine the egg, honey, spices and salt in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add the milk and butter. Mix in 1 cup of the flour.

3. Add the yeast mixture and beat until all the ingredients are well blended. Add more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, using only enough to make a soft dough. Use your hands, if needed, to work in the last bit of flour.

4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the bread by folding it end to end, pressing down and pushing forward several times with the heel of your hand. (The dough will be sticky. Use a dough scraper to clear the board and turn the mass of dough. Avoid adding more flour.)

5. In about 5 minutes the dough will become smoother and more elastic. Shape into a rough ball and place in a large oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk.

6. Heavily butter a 3-quart round baking dish that is 3 inches deep, such as a casserole or an enameled Dutch oven. Punch down the dough with a single blow of your fist. Knead the dough for a few minutes, shape into a rough ball, and place in the prepared pan. (Press the dough down so that the bottom of the pan is covered completely.) Cover and let rise again until the dough has doubled and reaches the top of the pan.

7. At least 20 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

8. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the bread is nicely rounded on top and a light golden brown. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove and transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

t'entends (sounds like 'tone tone' to me...)

"T'entends" essentially means "capeesh" in French - and that became our (Guillaume, Antoine, Cami, me) theme for a recent night out - t'entends?

While my crew had been planning to party all along, for me, the evening started with a bad date. Have to say, there's nothing quite like coming home after another off-putting man experience to a revelry going on at your own house and then getting dragged out by your flatmate/pseudo-bro for a slightly whacked all-night extravaganza on the club circuit. Boujis, Kitts, getting lost, a failed attempt a house party, getting lost, random Brazilian place, home at dawn. Not bad for a night that started at a terrible vegetarian restaurant and a guy obsessed with sports - bleah.

Antoine firmly scolded and fended off ANY other man who approached me - I kinda like this guy!

Two empty ice buckets - never a good sign.

Following a failed cab ride and too much walking... hotwiring our ride home. 'Night.

Nickelodeon Nožisková

Kasey created this mini character montage to show to a group of squatters in Soho whom we want to include in our latest documentary endeavor. We'd been pestering them/periodically visiting/hanging out with them at the squat for nigh a month, yet they were still trepidatious about how we might make them look.

After they saw this, however, they said "yes."

Na zdraví!

NOTE: For some bizarre reason my blog lops off a huge portion of the viewing screen - to propertly watch our little reel, go here. Enjoy!

the commute

"Security – does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." – Helen Keller

Photo is by Eugenio Recuenco - oh, eventually you'll see every one from this particular spread of his.