Friday, November 23, 2007

The perfect sweater dress

Sold out in my size, but it was the perfect dress. Courtesy of Almost Dressed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Great blog: Male Pattern Fitness

I just came across the blog Male Pattern Fitness by Men's Fitness writer Lou Schuler, and I'm impressed. (As well as envious — I'd love to work full time on a health and fitness blog.)

Schuler is doing a bang-up job of covering and commenting on a wide range of health and fitness news. I liked today's post, quoting Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos, writing about amateur athletes and pro role models. Campos observes: "Shaq generally isn't available for a pickup basketball game, but anybody can go to the local high school track and try to run 400 meters in 71 seconds."

Oh, and don't let the title put you off. There's plenty of information on women's fitness in the blog, plus hilarious ramblings like this one debunking a study about the impact of your initials on your life choices.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Objects in the mirror may appear smaller...

Long ago -- when you bought jeans at Army Navy stores and you weren't in the Army or the Navy -- I vaguely recall buying women's jeans using men's waist sizes.

Today, the ultra-pricey women's fashion jeans are being sold by similar numbers. The problem is, what's a 30 in one brand is a 32 in another, and so on. The online fashion site has been putting together a guide to sizing for many of the major brands (7 for All Mankind, Frankie B, etc.). However, when you see that a size 10 is a 31, check the General Sizing Guide above to make sure you correspond to Adasa's definition of a 10 -- because it runs a good bit smaller than a 10 in a non-premium line such as Eddie Bauer or The Gap.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Æbleskiver and rommegrot

This weekend is the annual Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard, just a few blocks north of us. Today Zorg and I went and up and channeled our fathers' Scandinavian ancestors as we ate at a lunch of open-faced sandwiches (meatball, egg salad, and herring), split pea soup, cakes, cookies and rommegrot.

I'd gone up to the Yulefest when it opened at 10 a.m. to scout the crafts booths, and stopped in at the aebleskiver cafe to watch them prepare these spherical Danish dessert pancakes. While various websites I consulted later compared aebleskiver to American pancakes, they remind me a bit of beignet. They're cooked in an aebleskive pan, cast iron with seven hemispherical indentations for the batter. As they puff up, you rotate them using a thin wood skewer or very delicate fork until they are round and brown.

Like beignet, aebleskiver are sprinkled with powdered sugar; in addition they come with a side of jam.

My favorite Scandinavian food (well, after Swedish korv, which isn't on the Yulefest menu) is rommegrot, a Norwegian porridge I first encountered at the Yulefest several years ago. It's fairly obscure, but I chased down some recipes and in the process discovered that there are two types of rommegrot: One includes sour cream or yogurt; the other uses regular cream. I'm definitely a fan of the sour-cream variation.

Since the recipe involves combining butter, flour, sugar, and (sour) cream and then topping the resulting hot porridge with more butter and sugar, plus cinnamon, this is not a dish you'd indulge in frequently. I have devised a one-serving recipe for it, but usually just wait for Yulefest to enjoy it.

Here's a good recipe from the Sons of Norway website; it even it tells you how to make your own sour cream using whipping cream and buttermilk.

New old sweater

I'm wearing someone else's sweater, but it doesn't look anything like it did when she was wearing it. That's because in the interim it passed through the studio of designer Malin Bengtsson.

Bengtsson, who has an online shop in the virtual crafts marketplace, has a booth this weekend at the Nordic Heritage Museum's Yulefest. Her work is a perfect extension of the festival's Scandinavian crafts (heavy on needlework and colorful woolens) into the 21st century: She's taking old sweaters and turning them into one-of-a-kind new fashions using techniques such as serging and felting.

This bright marine-blue sweater is one of her most traditional items -- a cashmere-blend V-neck enhanced with lettuce edges. (I desperately wanted the chocolate-brown cashmere with fiber woven along the boat neck, but that item, with 3/4 sleeves and a crop hem, was just too horizontal to look good on me.)

Bengtsson's reincarnated knitware line include leg warmers (and arm warmers) made of sweater sleeves; hats; scarves; and, of course, sweaters. To purchase, dash over to the Yulefest Sunday (10 - 6) or check out her Etsy site.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cook's animated

Tonight John and Barry and I went to hear Christopher Kimball, the driving force behind Cook's Illustrated magazine and website and America's Test Kitchen, speak at Third Place Books in Bothell. He was charming, and spent most of his time taking questions from the enthusiastic audience that packed the stage area and overflowed into the food court that adjoins the bookstore. I realized that I miss clever, articulate preppies. And I came away determined to try his new vodka pie crust for my next apple pie (though I'll be using one of Martha's designs for the crust assembly).

Before Kimball's talk, the topic of molecular cooking came up. John said he hadn't heard much about that trend. My knowledge of it is, unfortunately, abstract rather than experiential. Spearheaded by restaurants in first in Spain (El Bulli), and soon after in Chicago and New York, it uses scientific principles to create dishes such as fried mayonnaise, and pate that can be tied in a knot. Predictably, it's also inspired a vituperative backlash -- all of which is described well in this post at 3 Quarks Daily. And there's even a website devoted to the broader topic of molecular gastronomy:, which has tips for home chefs who want to try the molecular approach in their own kitchens.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Five hours a week

I devote five hours a week to fitness. That includes four hours of actual workout and one hour of getting to and from two 90-minute yoga-based classes and one 60-minute belly dance class that involves a 10-lb. weight belt.

The reason I do this is because if I do any less, it doesn't work. What I mean by "it doesn't work" is that fat doesn't burn any more. And, to some extent, the workout is a struggle rather than enjoyable -- I guess because at once or twice a week I can't maintain the levels of strength, balance and flexibility that make working out physically enjoyable.

Five hours, in three 90-minute chunks, is a LOT of time. It means that two times a week, dinner with Zorg is disrupted. And that I can't attend professional meetings on the evenings when my classes meet. And that I don't like to go away for the weekend because that means missing the Sunday morning class. And that when we have guests, I go slithering off to class instead of being a good hostess and cooking for them.

Perhaps there are people for whom fitness is something they can just "fit in" in the openings in their schedules. But I find there are few such openings in mine, and certainly not enough of them to keep me fit. Fitness has to be planned and scheduled, and lots of fun or important activities sacrificed -- and other people inconvenienced -- in order to get results.

And, oh yes, it's totally worth it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A new take on fish: Soy-poached sole

Zorg has asked that I cook fish more often. Something beyond my usual fall-back, expensive salmon grilled on the barbecue. Thus I found myself at the market, eyeing a heap of nice-looking sole. I equate sole with flounder, and I cook flounder by dredging it in flour (mixed with salt, pepper, and herbs) and frying it in butter.

The fellow at the fish counter suggested that I toss all the little filets into a glass bowl, pour in some sherry and herbs, and microwave it for three or four minutes. That just sounded weird to me. But I bought a pound of filets anyway.

Then I went home and read the flat-fish section of Mark Bittman's book on cooking fish. I put 1/3 cup of soy sauce into a big flat-bottomed pan, added some sliced ginger root and fresh garlic cloves, and a bit of sesame oil. And a sprinkle of sherry. Brought this to a boil, then took it down to low, tossed in the sole filets and put on the cover. Nine minutes later: Dinner.

We both liked it enough to put the recipe into regular rotation. But the biggest fan of the soy-poached sole was Sheba, our deaf white cat. We had some left over, and she has been demanding a bit every time we go near the refrigerator.

Now I'm wondering about poaching a thicker filet, such as swordfish.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A sweater you can't refuse

One of the inspirations for Food, Fitness, Fashion is Amber Nussbaum, who blogs about all those topics on My Aim Is True. Amber takes a hands-on approach to fashion as a member of the Norfolk (Va.) Craft Mafia, a gal group featured this past week on the cover of their local newspaper. Great photo!

Overnight roasted tomatoes

Music and Cats has what may be the definitive post on slow-roasting tomatoes and then using them for pasta and other dishes. And such gorgeous photos of the tomatoes!