Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Carl Kleiner

Weirdly fascinated by these strange photos by Carl Kleiner.(And you're not imagining it in the second set here: it's from a series called "Sex.")

Monday, February 21, 2011

Katie Lockhart

Amazing color, light, and atmosphere in this series of still lifes by Katie Lockhart

Thursday, February 17, 2011

vegan "buttermilk" cornmeal pancakes

I'm picky about my pancakes (in fact, I'm picky about a lot of things – but that's a topic for another post!). I need them to be fluffy, but also be mostly whole wheat flour or cornmeal or another hardy, non-white flour. I prefer taste like they're made with buttermilk, or at least a dash of lemon juice to balance out the oodles of maple syrup I'll be piling on. Blueberries are pretty much the only fruit product I enjoy in my pancakes, though I could maybe accept bananas. (This recipe is wonderful with blueberries. There's a note about them in the ingredients list. I just didn't have any when I made these and photographed them.) And no nuts are allowed in my pancakes at all. 

Since I started working full-time, I've been preparing less elaborate breakfasts, but I love having my very particular pancake fix on the weekends. Especially since the stove in our apartment has an awesome griddle built-in. It's actually really exciting for a rental kitchen.

So here is my "buttermilk" cornmeal recipe, inspired by a buttermilk pancake recipe in The Joy of Cooking. Which obviously did not originally call for soy yogurt.

Makes about a dozen 5-6 inch pancakes, which will please even an arbitrarily picky person (or this arbitrarily picky person, anyway!).


whisk together in a large bowl:
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

combine in another bowl:
1 cup soy milk
2/3 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup vegan margarine, melted; alternatively, 1/2 cup safflower, canola, or other mild oil
1/2 cup maple syrup / agave / honey
2 cornstarch eggs (4 tablespoons cornstarch mixed separately with 4 tablespoons cold water) 

1/4 to 1/2 cup frozen or fresh blueberries (optional)
vegan margarine for frying up the pancakes

Mix the liquid ingredients quickly into the dry ingredients. Fold in the blueberries. Don't over-mix, or the pancakes will be too tough. It's okay if they're a little lumpy and not completely mixed. Sometimes I get pockets of agave in my finished pancakes! It's a yummy surprise.

Get a large frying pan or griddle hot. Melt a little vegan margarine in the pan. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop the batter out and pour into the pan. Cook the pancakes until they're brown on the bottom (you'll be able to see that the edges are brown) and bubbles are forming on top. Time will vary depending on what kind of pan you're using and how hot it's gotten for the first batch, but it should be 3 -5 minutes. Flip pancakes over with a thin spatula. The second side should go much faster; you'll be able to tell both sides are down when the bottoms are a similar golden brown and the whole pancake is somewhat firm to the touch. 

Transfer to plates (or into a slightly warmed oven to keep them hot while you make the rest or prepare any other breakfast foods). Repeat with remaining batter.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the Codex Seraphinianus (post 2 of 2)

After yesterday's post with my thoughts about The Codex Seraphinianus, I'm following up with a post of links I've collected regarding The Codex. And, of course, more pictures!

(A warning, though: I don't know about you, but I sometimes wish I didn't know very much about the book's origins and author. It's more mysterious that way, and that's its own fun.)

Monday, February 14, 2011

the Codex Seraphinianus (post 1 of 2)

One day a few summers agowhen she and I were still spending summers at our parent's housemy sister called me into the dining room, telling me there was something awesome I needed to see on her computer.  The screen showed two pages of a high-quality scan of a book’s pages, showing row after row of bizarre, plantlike hybrids of bananas, grapes and radishes, roses and turnips, and walnuts and collards. Flipping through digital page after digital page revealed the flora, fauna, technology, cultures, and architecture of the imaginary world created by Italian architect-turned-surrealist Luigi Serafini in The Codex Seraphinianus. The illustrations, drawn in colored pencil, are accompanied by an indecipherable script. “Let me show you my favorite page,” she said, suddenly flipping through the pages quickly. We passed over a fish camouflaging itself as a submarine, analyses of the script’s components, and a diagram showing what must have been the anatomical parts of a streetlamp and the light it emits, before reaching, in the section on inventions, a contraption seemingly made from a combination of a cloud, a mobile, a rainbow, a set of wheels, and a series of propellers. “It’s a flying machine that draws rainbows,” my sister said, flipping to the next page, an illustration of the different patterns and formations you could fly the machine to draw rainbows in the sky.

After securing my own digital copy, I tried to find out as much as I could about the book. There isn’t much to find out. Having finally held, cuddled, and examined a hard copy belong to an acquaintance, the Codex remains as impenetrable as before. The book’s creator has remained silent on the topic since its publication in 1981. Attempts at using cryptography to decipher the script have failed. The only American edition, from 1983, has little to offer beyond a literal description of the contents.  

The book’s closest relative is The Voynich Manuscript, an illustrated manuscript discovered by rare book collector Wilfrid M. Voynich in 1912. Also as yet un-deciphered, The Voynich Manuscript has been attributed variously to Voynich himself and to Roger Bacon, a 15th-century Franciscan friar. (I have a lengthy post on it here.) Like The Voynich Manuscript, the Codex is an artifact, a solid, object reminder of the power of books and paper. The entire book was drawn by hand. Copies are difficult to find, especially in the United States, and often prohibitively expensive.  The rarity of the book both in its creation and for viewers to obtain makes the content all the more precious.

Other than The Voynich Manuscript, the Codex’s closest relative is the encyclopedia of a world so imaginary that the encyclopedia itself doesn’t exist. At least, it doesn’t exist in the way that The Voynich Manuscript sits in the rare book library of Yale University, or copies of The Codex Seraphinianus can be ordered from Italian publishers for $1,165. This encyclopedia is A First Encylcopedia of Tlön, a book discovered by a character in the Luis Borges’s story “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.” “Now I held in my hands a vast methodical fragment of an unknown planet's entire history,” the speaker writes of the encyclopedia, “with its architecture and its playing cards, with the dread of its mythologies and the murmur of its languages, with its emperors and its seas, with its minerals and its birds and its fish, with its algebra and its fire, with its theological and metaphysical controversy.” This description could just as easily describe The Codex Seraphinianus. Both books meticulously and completely detail every aspect of their respective fictional worlds. Without spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read it, let me share this anecdote: once I was trying to convince a friend with a linguistics hobby to read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” and I told her, “Anna, in this story, instead of describing reality, words become reality.” (She quickly checked Borges out of our school’s library after that.)

I wrote about the Codex when I was applying to become an art major in college and had to write about a piece of art that inspired me. My essay also included a passage on The Voynich Manuscript, Mud Pies and Other Recipes, and Gnomes by Huygen and Poortvliet. (All posts tagged "self-contained book worlds": one of my favorite artistic concepts ever.)

After showing her my digital copy, one of my favorite professors, Laura Battle, bought a copy for the department and even taught an advanced drawing class called Codex. The class was, roughly, about book-making and world-building, though different students took these concepts in varied directions, from series of paintings, to a deck of cards, to a fiber construction filled with pockets and sensory objects. My book of spells, one of my favorite pieces I've made, was my final project for this class.

I've posted images from the Codex extensively on my tumblr. I also have a ton of links saved about it. Tomorrow I'll have another post, with more images from the book, and a collection of my favorite Codex-related-links.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fay Ku

The work of Fay Ku. I love the sparseness of these pieces, the use of materials, and the minimal use of color with her line work.

I've posted her work a few times on my tumblr, ever since discovering her work via arsvitaest.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

golden broth & golden noodle soup; a vegan maybe un-chicken noodle soup

This is a recipe I've been meaning to make all winter. Except that we don't have much of a winter here, and lately the sun's been shining all day long! It's still a bit chilly, though, and it gets dark early, so it's still heavy soup season as far as I'm concerned. 

I've adapted this recipe from The New Laurel's Kitchen. I haven't changed too much; it was vegan to begin with. I only had one carrot when I made this, though, so it went into the broth puree rather than the soup itself. Also, I think it needs more celery than Laurel did. In my experience, a lot of these measurements are approximate – and that is the fun of soup, after all. So if you have one potato that doesn't come to quite one cup, or you want to add extra celery, it's fine.

The following instructions will produce about 10 cups of soup. If you make the broth ahead of time, this is a really no-fuss meal. If you're short on time and don't have the broth already, though, you can make the broth while you cook the noodles and vegetables separately, and combine them after the broth is strained and pureed. Then the cooking time is just about half an hour.

One final note about the whole wheat noodles. Whole wheat pasta (much like brown rice) is something I wish I really enjoyed, but usually don't. However! It's perfect in this soup. I wouldn't like this recipe with another kind of noodle.


1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup yellow split peas
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
8 cups hot water
1 chopped, unpeeled potato (optional)
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped, with leaves (optional)
1 carrot, roughly chopped (optional)

Sauté onion, whole garlic clove, and split peas in oil until delicately brown. Stir in turmeric and add water and any of the optional vegetables. Simmer at least half an hour. Strain for a thin stock, puree for a thick one. I like pureeing, then if I run out of noodles I have a light vegetable soup!

If you can’t find yellow split peas, or just want to try something different, green broth is as good as golden broth! Just substitute green peas for yellow, add a bay leaf and omit the turmeric.


about 8 cups golden broth (1 recipe of the above)
big handful whole wheat ribbon noodles
1 cup or so peeled and chopped potato
1 cup or so each diced carrot and/or celery
1 teaspoon salt (or more – I find I usually need more)
½ cup parsley for garnish

Bring the broth to boil in a heavy pan. Add potatoes and salt. Reduce heat and simmer gently until the potatoes are starting to get tender, about twenty minutes. Then add the celery, carrots, and noodles, and cook until noodles are al dente and carrots and celery are cooked, but still crispy. (If you don’t like crispy veggies in your soup, you can add the carrots and celery with the potato – but I think 30 minutes total is a bit of a stretch for vegetables like celery and carrots, which have such a great crunch to them.) Stir in the parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cendrine Rovini

 Delicate, surreal figurative work by Cendrine Rovini. Her work can be found on her flickr, as well as on her amazing blog Hortus Noctis. I've posted a lot from both (here and here) on my tumblr.

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