Sunday, February 22, 2009

Three's a charm? / Et de trois...

Still plugging away at my new series, and this one has been giving me a bit of trouble; I'm on the third iteration, no less. I think this last one's finally a keeper, although it still needs some work. Note to self: stop attempting to paint without music. #3, brought to you by Deerhunter's Cryptograms and Microcastle...

VF: Lentement mais sûrement(?), je continue d'avancer sur ma nouvelle série. Je coinçais méchamment sur cette image, il a fallu que je la refasse 3 fois, rien que ça. Je crois que je vais garder le troisième jet, mais y'a encore du boulot pour que ce soit présentable. Enfin bon, comme quoi peindre sans musique, ben ça marche pô pour moi. On dit merci aux grands garçons de Deerhunter qui ont réussi a me décoller la pulpe avec Cryptograms et Microcastle...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Almond green tea madeleines / Madeleines matcha-amande

This is the kind of recipe that I like: quick, easy, full of buttery goodness, helps me pretend I'm a French culinary goddess.

VF: Voilà le genre de recette que j'aime... déjà y'a du beurre, ensuite c'est simple, c'est rapide et comme ça un peu de gueule, ça aide à perpétuer le mythe de la française qui sait ce qu'elle fait en cuisine.

Ingredients (6-8 madeleines):
1 egg white
3 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp ground almonds
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1 tsp matcha powder
1 blanc d'oeuf
50 g de beurre
15 g de farine
20 g de poudre d'amandes
40 g de sucre glace
1 cuiller à café de matcha en poudre


Elbow grease /
Huile de coude
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F
  2. sift together the dry ingredients
  3. Melt butter in a pan until slightly golden
  4. Mix in the egg white with the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in the melted butter
  6. When the batter is homogenous, pour it in the greased madeleine mould
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes
  1. Préchauffer le four à 170° C
  2. Tamiser les ingrédients secs
  3. Faites dorer le beurre à la poêle
  4. Ajouter le blanc d'oeuf et bien mélanger
  5. Ajouter le beurre fondu et bien mélanger
  6. Quand la pâte est bien homogène, verser dans le moule à madeleines beurré
  7. Faire cuire de 12 à 15 minutes
Largely inspired by French cooking magazine Elle A Table. It's lovely for a foofy afternoon tea or brunch, and the flavor of matcha goes well with a lot of things e.g. red currants, chestnut cream, white chocolate...

VF: Pomp
é sur une recette de financiers de Elle A Table (si si, il a toujours 2-3 mois de retard mais je le trouve ici!). C'est délicieux pour un thé ou un brunch, et le parfum du matcha se marie bien avec plein de choses, en particulier groseilles, crème de marrons ou chocolat blanc.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Today E.K., purveyor of hope and ammunition for aspiring hipsters looking to fit in with the cool kids, compiled a list of sculptors worth checking out. So check it out! I'm adding a small selection of my own here.

VF: E.K. offre en général des cours de rattrapage de it trucs pour avoir l'air moins boulet avec vos copains qui sont trop haïpe. Aujourd'hui il a pondu un billet rien que pour moua ici (en anglais), avec des vrais morceaux de sculpteur dedans. Du coup j'en rajoute quelques-uns ici, des sculpteurs que j'aime bien, faudrait pas que je sois en reste.

Do Ho Suh
image credit:
bio credit:

Do-Ho Suh was born in Seoul, Korea in 1962. His sculptures continually question the identity of the individual in today’s increasingly transnational, global society. I was lucky enough to see his work twice in Seattle - all I can say is that photos don't do justice to the scale and grace of his work.

VF: Do-Ho Suh est un artiste coréen. Ses sculptures remettent en question l'identité de l'individu dans la société actuelle, de plus en plus globalisée et transnationale. J'ai eu la chance de voir ses oeuvres à Seattle deux fois, et franchement les photos ont du mal
à rendre l'échelle et l'allure du travail.

Tricia Cline
image credit:

bio credit:

A self-taught American artist, Tricia Cline has been sculpting the female and animal form for over 20 years. Her small, highly detailed porcelain clay sculptures are complex metaphors describing our relationship to animals and to ourselves as…Animals.

VF: Tricia Cline est une artiste américaine autodidacte qui sculpte depuis plus de 20 ans formes féminines et animales. Ses sculptures de terre glaise, petites et riches en détails, sont de complexes métaphores qui décrivent nos relations envers les animaux et envers nous-mêmes, en tant qu'animaux.

Charles Krafft
image credit:
bio credit: RoqLaRue

A self taught American painter and ceramicist, Krafft is now best known for his notorious Disasterware™ plates, porcelain weaponry, and SPONE™ reliquaries made of human bone china.

VF: Charles Krafft est un peintre et céramiste américain autodidacte, connu pour ses porcelaines décalées: armes et munitions, lapinous à grenade etc dans un style classique facon Delft. Il fait aussi des reliquaires, c'est-à-dire des poteries faites avec les cendres de mémé. Un poil morbide quand même.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shiny objects / Ouh, ça brille

Cute silver and glass pendants seen on; lovely clean, simple design. I'm not sure if I want to wear them or just look at them...

En VF: Z'avez compris, ça brille, c'est jouli, j'en veux, c'est des pendentifs en argent et pâte de verre, et ça s'achète sur un site Etatsunien qui ne fait pas dans l'international. Donc effectivement pourquoi traduire hein, on s'en fout un peu; ben bicose j'ai décidé de faire mes billets dans les 2 langues, et qu'il faut bien commencer quelque part. Alors autant que ce soit avec un truc court, des fois que je me foule un neurone.

Bon, ben ze end pour aujourd'hui, c'est pas tout
ça mais j'ai caté.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Flourless chocolate cake for dummies

Today I tried the chocolate "cake in a cup" recipe from the endlessly entertaining Papilles Et Pupilles blog. I was a little dubious because you cook it in a microwave, which I'm not a big fan of. Anyway, I tried it - and it was so easy and scrumptious that I'm shamelessly lifting her recipe and posting it here. The original recipe (in French, and much more humorous than mine!) is here.

Ingredients (makes 2 cupcake-sized individual cakes):
  • 1 egg
  • 40g sugar (4 tablespoons)
  • 25g cocoa powder (2 tablespoons)
  • 20g ground hazelnuts (2 tablespoons)
  • 25g vegetable oil e.g. canola (4 tablespoons)
  • milk (1 tablespoon)
  • I ran out of unsweetened cocoa powder and used an aztec chocolate mix (with chile and cinammon); that was a happy accident and turned out delicious.
  • I didn't have hazelnuts and replaced them with unsalted pistachios. I ground them with the sugar so that they wouldn't turn into a paste in the food processor. That turned out very well, too.
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together
  2. Mix in the egg, oil and milk
  3. Grease a couple of cups or ramekins
  4. Pour the batter in, not all the way to the top as the cakes will rise
  5. Put in the microwave for 2 minutes or so. It's a good idea to check the cake after 1 minute 1/2: if it's still soggy, put it back in for 30 more seconds. Don't overcook it as it will get dry.
  6. Eat it while it's still warm
That's it! It's virtually impossible to screw up, takes 10 minutes tops from start to stomach, and it's disturbingly delicious (and I am way way way picky when it comes to desserts...)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Progress shot

Nibbling my way through my next series... I usually work on one painting at a time and finish it before starting on the next one. For some reason this time I can't focus and have several in various stages of undoneness. The June deadline still seems pretty far away, but I just know it will creep up on me... (Yes, I know, my studio desk looks, um, "lived in"...)

I see deer people... all the time

Ok, I have to ask: what is it with the antlers? Not exactly a new phenomenon, but a bafflingly enduring one: the deer girl. Just google "deer girl" or "antlers girl" and start counting the paintings/drawings. Let's face it, it's been done to death; I've seen it on t-shirts, shopping bags, even children's books and horror flicks:

I guess trends, in art as in anything else, aren't exactly something new or to be puzzled by; the Pre-Raphaelites in their day were pretty obsessed with Ophelia and produced prodigious quantities of Ophelias pre-water, in water, floating, sitting, blond, red-haired...

I'm sure there are plenty of other trends (hey, kokeshi are starting to proliferate...); I find the antlers one particularly amusing though, because the only symbolism I'm aware of for wearing horns/antlers is the
French one, where it means that your significant other is being unfaithful:

The obscenely talented Mark Ryden just opened his Snow Yak show. Could this be the start of a new trend? Can't wait to see the yak t-shirts and tattoos that one's going to generate...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bonne fête to me

Who cares about February 13 when the big fluffy day is tomorrow, right? Well I kinda do. You see, February 13th is my fête, aka the Feast of Saint Beatrice. That's right, Beatrice has a day named after her, like Patrick and Valentine. Henri, Robert and many others also do, for that matter; they just didn't have the right connections at Hallmark I guess.

The fête is a day that is supposed to honor the memory of a particular saint, whichever gruesome way they got to meet their maker; but like many French traditions, it is largely secular nowadays despite being rooted in religion.
I've heard it described as a second birthday; it's a bit like that I guess.

Typically friends, family and coworkers will say "bonne fête!" to you; maybe you'll get a card, or flowers, or a little sumthinsumthin'. Florist web sites often have a fête reminder or let you look up fête dates; and after the evening news, the weather forecast guy typically announces whose fête it is tomorrow. Woe to who forgets!

Interestingly, I've noticed an anti-Valentine trend on French sites recently, and encouragements to boycott Valentine's Day and celebrate Saint Beatrice instead. I say bring it on!

Here's a French site that lists the names to celebrate each day of the year:
. Makes me glad I wasn't named Adeltrude

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Edible idioms

Clotilde from the Chocolate and Zucchini blog has been doing an interesting series of posts on food-related French idiomatic expressions... there are many of these, and they usually designate things that have nothing to do with eating! A few examples from her
"Edible idiom" archive:
Beyond the translation, she's actually explaining the origin of these expressions; it's a fun read. I'm a bit of a language geek and love how idioms reflect a culture, history and way of thinking. Not surprising that food would be ubiquitous in French!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lego NYC

Seen in the NY Times: An illustrator, Christoph Niemann, recreated snippets of New York City with Lego. Very humorous and clever.

His regular portfolio is on; the gentleman has created a number of illustrations for the New Yorker.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yu Jinyoung: Hidden inner worlds come to light

For some reason, sculpture is usually not as interesting to me as much as 2D art forms (must be all the bronze leaping salmon you just can't escape in the Pacific Northwest...).
So it is rare that sculpture really catches my eye; but the amazing work from this Korean artist blew me away:

(image from Union Gallery)

(Image from artnet)

You can see more pictures here, and the artist statement here.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How did that work out for you?

Seen downtown Seattle. Someone knows how to talk to the ladies.

Move over, groundhog

Last night I made crêpes. Yup, yesterday might have been Groundhog Day in the US, but it was Chandeleur in France, aka Candlemas. Shame on me, it had slipped my mind until I read Anne's post (in French), just in the nick of time. Bad French girl, bad.

Cultural interlude:

Like most French holidays, Chandeleur stems from an obscure religious origin and turned along the way into an occasion to eat something with butter in it.

"Chandeleur" comes from the Latin Festa Candelarum, meaning Feast of candles. Meaning that at some point, blessed candles charged with religious symbolism (Christ, light of the world etc) used to be involved.

The origin of crêpes and their association with the holiday is unclear; round and golden like the sun that starts coming back in February everywhere but in Seattle? Given out to pilgrims by a gourmet 5th century pope? Using flour to guarantee a bountiful wheat harvest?

Anyway, the tradition of making crêpes still holds today; when I was in Kindergarten we'd make them at school. Some people (like my great-aunt) still flip their crêpes with a gold coin in their hand, to ensure prosperity in the coming year. Looks like it's been working fine for my great-aunt, maybe I should start doing it.

To make crêpes, you will need:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk, or 1 cup milk + 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 tbsp rum or Grand Marnier (you can skip it but it tastes much better if you don't)
There's no vegan version that I know of. If there is such a thing, I'd rather not find out, thank you.

Useful rule of thumb:

  • proportions work out to be about 3 spoons of flour per egg
  • 1 spoon of flour = 1 crêpe

How to:
  1. Put the eggs, sugars and flour in a mixing bowl. Whisk them together if you need the exercise, but use a blender if you want to avoid lumps
  2. Whisk the milk/water in progressively
  3. Stir in the alcohol and the melted butter
  4. Lightly grease a crêpe pan with an oiled paper towel. You can use a regular pan, but you'll be greatly increasing your odds of making fugly crêpes, especially if it's not non-stick.
  5. Heat the pan on medium-high (it needs to be hotter than for pancakes; crêpes cook fast)
  6. When your pan is hot, thinly coat the bottom with a ladle of batter
  7. When the edges look cooked and start lifting from the pan, slide a spatula under the crêpe and turn it over. You can also flip it, but this only works if there are no witnesses.
  8. Cook for 10-15 seconds
  9. Serve warm with an assortment of toppings: preserves, powdered sugar, chestnut cream, Nutella...
If there's a French person around, don't talk about Nutella unless you're prepared to spend the next hour listening to how Nutella in the US tastes different from Nutella in Europe, and how Costco hasn't carried it in almost 3 months.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Bling and tentacles

This weekend I stopped by the Kimberly Baker store, where she was having a big sale. I snagged this necklace, which I'd had my eye on for quite some time. Forgive the crappy photo, which doesn't do it justice:

More tentacled goodness, by Audrey Kawasaki:

by Camille Rose Garcia:

A fun cushion from Binth: