With our copy of the deeply beautiful Kinfolk Table in hand, we decided to throw a little dinner party of our own—with a dark autumnal twist. With warm, hearty dishes and easily crafted decorations (including a beautiful skull garland and a shibori-style tablecloth), it was the perfect occasion for some chilly-weather warmth.
If you’re anything like me, Halloween has a tendency of sneaking up on you like Freddie Kruegar in a nightmare. One minute, you’re installing your air conditioner in May and all of the sudden —BOOM— there are trick-or-treaters at your door. I have no idea how this keeps happening to me (early-onset dementia, perhaps?), but when October 31st rolls around, I often find myself sans-costume and sans-plans. So—if Halloween (two days away, you guys!) has snuck up on you this year, but you still want to get a little festive—don’t worry, y’all! Design*Sponge gotchu covered.
Above image: We fashioned a tiny Eiffel Tower out of a single piece of copper wire. Bend a length of copper wire so there are about 4 inches on one side. Twist at the bend about three-quarters of the way down. Twist the longer side of the wire upward from the bottom, curve it across to the other leg and twist back down. Cut off any excess. Red striped dinnerware set from West Elm Market.
Skull Garland DIY: We crafted these charming hanging garlands using Paper Source’s Sugar Skull Gift Wrap, Rhombus Black Paper, and Raised Grey Floral Paper . Skulls were cut out according to the pattern and circles were cut from the other papers. The cutouts were then attached, back-to-back, to black and white twine with a glue stick.
All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray (Chronicle Books). For one year, the author (a producer at National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered) brought in a cake to work every Monday, and this book is the result. It is a fantastically entertaining book. The recipes are a mix between previously published recipes, and the author’s own (bequeathed by friends and family, or tweaked and ‘co-opted’ for personal use from other sources), so of course they have been tested and retested. What I love about the book is the author’s voice, the way the instructions are written, the stories, all of the written text. What I do not like about the book– you need a 10″ tube pan to make the majority of the recipes, or you need shortening. If you live in a place where it’s difficult to find either (especially the latter), you’re out of luck. Comb the internet to find a shortening alternative. If you can get over those two things (I’m still smarting), then this book is a winner. There’s even a chapter on non-cakes (cookies etc)!
The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter). [TOP IMAGE ABOVE] I was so looking forward to this book, a collection of recipes which are a bit less common than you’d normally find in American baking books– recipes like like Lamington cupcakes, pine nut tart with rosemary cream, nut and cherry nougat. As a whole, the collection of recipes is elegant- definitely a notch above average. You’d make a great statement if you served one of these recipes to your friends. And although I had a bit of difficulty with the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (The cooking time didn’t work out for me?), my shortcoming has been like a challenge to me, which has made me want to come back and try more recipes in the book, maybe toward Christmas when I usually try to bake up five to ten different baked goods and give little boxes of mixed goodies to friends as gifts (You always want unique things people haven’t tried before in those gift boxes). For people who like to experiment with different flavors and adapt recipes for different types of desserts, you’ll appreciate the notes after each recipe which offer tips on how to do just that! In sharp contrast with Baking Unplugged, there are plenty of pictures in this book of the final recipes up close, so you can compare and see how your efforts measure up! While the recipes are generally quite easy to execute, this is definitely the type of book for the person who believes that a tiny bit more effort can produce great desserts.
Late February marks the time of year when winter’s charms begin to wear out. Sweaters and scarves, once donned excitedly, are now put on begrudgingly. Snow, which once seemed magical as it fell to the ground, is now just an unwelcome reminder that cold days still lie ahead. While one might prefer to simply hibernate until spring arrives, there are things one can do to shake up the midwinter doldrums. You can, for instance, go winter camping! Or, if going out isn’t your thing, take the excitement indoors with a dinner party! Dinner parties are excellent cold-weather diversions — they bring your favorite people together in an intimate setting full of warmth, laughter and that winter-weather essential:
After a decade of co-authoring and recipe developing for some of the most successful and meaningful cookbooks on the market, Julia decided to write her very first solo cookbook. That book, Small Victories, is the sort of book you can only write once: a book that combines all 31 of her years of life experience and passion for cooking at home into one giant love letter to all that she believes in. Small Victories celebrates the way so many of us cook: one step (or “small victory”) at a time. Each recipe of her book (which contains over 100 recipes and hundreds more spin-offs) starts with a tip, trick or technique that you can use to create something delicious, and then offers how to alter or expand on that dish to make something new and different. There are recipes for everything from delicious chocolate cake with raspberry jam and morning muffins to Julia’s beloved Caesar dressing and a Korean clambake.
Recipe development is just another creative outlet — my tools are ingredients and I’m inspired to showcase them in new, memorable ways that make people happier and healthier. The ride is different for everyone as we all come to the table with different illness, history, habits, traditions, and emotional attachments to food. I’m simply dedicated to providing tools that help people become accountable for their own health, no matter where they land on the diet spectrum.
One of my favorite aspects of Heather’s work and approach is her respect for bio-individuality and the fact she even addresses that on her website and in her books. It reminds me of the gentle notes in guided meditations where you acknowledge that it’s natural for your mind to wander, just come back to the breath when you realize you’re thinking about work. Following someone like Heather, who acknowledges that we all come to the table with different habits, beliefs, traditions, and dietary needs, makes me feel okay when I enjoy the comfort food my grandmother made. I know I can always come back to my kale salad without any guilt and with an overall commitment to a primarily plant-based diet. Today, Heather shares some of her story and self-care routines