DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

12/01/2014 § 3 Comments

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

This Christmas, instead of simply handling all of my shopping online as I am usually wont to do, I decided to put my paws to work and create as many homemade gifts as I could.  This included an organic raw sugar and virgin coconut oil shower scrub, which is a relatively quick and easy beauty remedy for dry skin — no mean feat in the winter, but truly makes a great gift all year-round.  While the scrub itself doesn’t take much effort, I especially enjoyed working on the packaging.  My East Coast recipients received pretty blue Heritage Collection Ball Jars topped with brown craft paper, green twine, manila packing tags and a spring of evergreen.  My West Coasters received rubber gasket jars topped with ribbon and smudge sticks from Juniper Ridge.

Ingredients (all organic if possible): raw sugar, virgin coconut oil, argan oil, essential oils (optional)

Combine two parts sugar to one part coconut oil in a large bowl.  Add a tablespoon of argan oil and mix well.  If you want to add fragrance — I honestly like it without, and prefer the natural coconut/sugar scent, but to each her own — essential oils are most effective, but you can also try natural ingredients like vanilla extract, lemon zest, fresh mint.  Pop the mix into a jar and you’re all done!  Easy!

QC DIY: Organic Shower Scrub

Mariah Can’t Cook: Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata

25/06/2013 § 3 Comments

QC Cooks: Frittata

I will freely admit that I am not an expert when it comes to cooking, nor is it something I frequently do.  In fact, at home, I actually keep my shoes in the kitchen cupboards where my pots and pans should be.  My cardinal rule is that if I make something that you can consume, it’s to be considered “cooking” — and this includes cocktails, natch.

That said, I do enjoy eating well and luckily I have a someone to help me hone my (lackluster) culinary skills: my good friend Tara Cole, who is a holistic health and nutrition counselor.  She patiently spent a recent morning cooking with me and passed along this super easy recipe for a sweet potato and kale frittata that looks a good deal fancier than it actually is.  So whether you’re making an effort to impress the in-laws or to simply step up your home brunch game, I can attest that anyone can make this.  Even me.

QC Cooks: Frittata

Frittata ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 1 red onion (sliced)
  • 1 pepper (any color, diced)
  • 5 stalks of kale (de-stemmed and ripped apart)
  • 6 eggs
  • goat cheese
  • fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp almond milk (optional)
  • olive oil (for cooking)
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-2 scallions (sliced for garnish)
  • grape tomatoes (sliced for garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • pinch of fresh nutmeg (optional)
  • red pepper flake (optional)

Salad and dressing ingredients:

  • mixed greens
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon (juice)
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: must use an oven-safe pan (no rubber handles).

QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata QC Cooks: Frittata

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Saute sliced sweet potatoes in olive oil in a medium-heat pan for 10 minutes, (season with salt and pepper) stirring constantly. Once fork-tender, add in the onions and peppers and season, saute for 5-7 minutes (you may need to add a bit more olive oil). Add in both vinegars, stir, add kale and season, mix for 1-2 minutes. Whisk eggs and milk together, add thyme, nutmeg, and red pepper flake, and pour into pan. Ensure that the egg mixture is evenly distributed in pan, add as much goat cheese as you like. Place pan in preheated oven and bake 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked. Serve with diced tomatoes and scallions on top, and side salad (recipe below).

QC Cooks: FrittataQC Cooks: Frittata

Salad: In a bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, mustard,
and salt and pepper, mix together then toss in lettuce.

QC Cooks: Frittata

Voila!  Fancy (looking)!

Tara assures me this is a great basic recipe to get creative with.  She suggested substituting in things like mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, fennel, and/or spinach.  If you have any questions — or would like more recipes — hop over to Tara’s site and she will set you right up.  Enjoy!

Quite Continental Charm School: Day 15 – Brew Your Own Bitters

13/03/2013 § Leave a comment

The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Charm School: DIY BittersGreta Garbo, Beatrice Lillie and patrons at a New York City speakeasy, 1933.
Photo by Margaret Bourke-White for Life Magazine.

Editor’s Note: I’m very pleased to introduce today’s guest speaker!  Please meet Lani Zervas, the exceedingly fabulous and fashionable lady behind the blog Mon Petit Chou Chou.  While she’s a Boston native, I had the pleasure of meeting Lani in New York two years ago and we’ve been fast friends ever since.  She’s been such an amazing partner in crime at Brimfield and New York Fashion Week, that I am more than a little upset with myself that it has taken me this long to feature her brilliance!  Her charming blog encompasses her interests in fashion, interior design, art, cooking, two very lovely dogs and all things Boston — but wait, there’s more!  She’s also getting ready to be the most fabulous mommy the world has ever seen!  I’m sure that you will find her to be as lovely and as funny as I do.  If you are not yet familiar with Lani or Mon Petit Chou Chou, it is my pleasure to introduce you.

Without any further ado, Lani’s tip for a charmed life.

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Day 15: Brew Your Own Bitters
A proper lady knows when she has had too much, and likewise should know how to speed the road there when the occasion calls for it, with an arsenal of tried and true recipes to mix it up, at the bar and in life.

To that end, embrace your inner mixologist and commit to memory the recipes for some basic tipplers. I would suggest you have the classic Manhattan, Aviation, Martini, and Daiquiri in your repertoire and ready for the mixing at your home bar. Practice makes perfect and you’ll find your friends willing participants in your ‘research’ for cocktail perfection. When you have mastered these basics, time to take on more advanced studies, in home brewed simple syrups and bitters.

Simple syrup is, as the name would lead you to believe. painfully simple to make. It is a one to one ratio of sugar, water, and what ever you decide to steep. I personally like ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, and a turbinado, or raw, sugar syrup. These also make easy and chic gifts, appreciated by all hosts, and often immediately employed at social get-togethers (recipes and more on simple syrup here). Ahh, but the bitters, now these are more involved, take a bit more time, and are worth every ounce of effort. Not sure what bitters are? Or how they fit into the equation?

“People say bitters are the salt and pepper of the bar, but really, they’re like the spice rack,” (per Brad Thomas Parsons, author of Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all).

QC Charm School: DIY Bitters

Bitters are a type of infused high-proof alcohol, with flavors derived from plants, barks and herbs. Originally brewed for medicinal purposes they evolved into flavorful additions to cocktails, via the classic brands Peychauds and Angostura, both of which rely heavily on gentian (a bitter herb for flavoring). You don’t need these store bought staples though, not when you can wow people with your home brewed batches.

It will take some initial effort to gather the more exotic ingredients — if you count ordering from Amazon effort — but once your pantry is stocked, you will have more than enough to make batch after batch of the home brew. The recipe below for Cranberry Anise bitters from Food & Wine is a personal favourite, and makes use of gentian root, an ingredient that usually repeats in all bitters recipes and which is a good foundation to start experimenting with your own creations.

QC Charm School: DIY Bitters

Cranberry Anise Bitters

2 cups high-proof vodka (like Stolichnaya Blue 100 Proof)
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, each one pierced with a toothpick
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
2 star anise pods
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon gentian root
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
2 tablespoons simple syrup
  1. In a 1-quart glass jar, combine all of the ingredients except the syrup. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.
  2. Strain the infused alcohol into a clean 1-quart glass jar through a cheesecloth-lined funnel. Squeeze any infused alcohol from the cheesecloth into the jar; reserve the solids. Strain the infused alcohol again through new cheesecloth into another clean jar to remove any remaining sediment. Cover the jar and set aside for 1 week.
  3. Meanwhile, transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes; let cool completely. Pour the liquid and solids into a clean 1-quart glass jar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, shaking the jar once daily.
  4. Strain the water mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel set over a clean 1-quart glass jar; discard the solids. If necessary, strain again to remove any remaining sediment. Add the infused alcohol and the syrup. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Pour the bitters through a cheesecloth-lined funnel or strainer and transfer to glass dasher bottles. Cover and keep in a cool, dark place.
Bitters can be stored at room temperature indefinitely. For best flavor, use within 1 year.
QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters QC Charm School: DIY Bitters
In short, stir up high proof vodka, cranberry’s, anise, gentian, along with cinnamon sticks, anise and white peppercorns.  Allow to sit in a cool dark space for a few weeks. Then strain, boil, strain again, add simple syrup, and allow to sit some more. Finally, once everything has melded to perfection in this mysterious cool dark space, you have a rich, deep, aromatic elixir to bottle, and share (or hoard, I won’t tell).
I often keep a bottle in my purse — one never knows when cocktails will be needed and best to be prepared! As every proper lady and fledgling mixologist should be.

For more ideas and recipes, check out the full Food and Wine article here, and the aforementioned bible on bitters, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all.

Sante!

By Lani Zervas, of Mon Petit Chou Chou.

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The Quite Continental Charm School
A modern guide to creating a charmed life

QC Recommends || Silver Lining {and the Brown Derby cocktail}

03/04/2012 § Leave a comment

Just a quick note to recommend Tribeca cocktail and jazz bar Silver Lining.  Located in the basement of the gorgeous Bogardus Mansion, which was built in 1850 and named for its builder James Bogardus, the originator of cast-iron architecture, Silver Lining offers serious cocktails and a menu of small plates that are so good they could stand on their own, alongside nightly live jazz music, served up in a speakeasy atmosphere.  This somewhat still-hidden gem — bustling, roomy, but never ridiculously crowded — is the product of the Joseph Schwartz/Sasha Petraske partnership (Little Branch), was recently named the best cocktail bar of 2012 by New York Magazine and is on the shortlist to become my new local. 

Personally, I’m quite partial to their Brown Derby cocktail, probably at least partially due to its Los Angeles roots (like me).  The cocktail takes its name from The Brown Derby, an iconic chain of Los Angeles eateries, founded in the 1920s.  Their most recognizable location, on Wilshire Boulevard, was actually hat-shaped (it’s since been demolished, today its dome sits atop a mini-mall in Korea Town — so sad!), while their more storied location in Hollywood was where the entertainment set went to see and be seen, with their illustrated portraits lining the walls in the dining room.

Can’t make it to Silver Lining to order your own Brown Derby? Try it at home:

1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce grapefruit juice
½ ounce clover-honey syrup (1 part water, 1 part clover honey)

In tin-on-tin shaker, add freshly squeezed grapefruit, then honey and bourbon; shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass (ideally, a 5 ½-ounce Champagne coupe).

Recipe via the Los Angeles Times, where you can watch a video of it being made by bartender Marcos Tello.

Silver Lining
75 Murray Street, Tribeca || 212.513.1234
Closed Sundays

DIY: Dip Dyed Nylites

12/03/2012 § 16 Comments

The folks at Tretorn were nice enough to include me in the Nylite Project, sending me a pair of sparkling white canvas Nylites which I spent an evening dip-dying pink.  Full admission: As I am not well-schooled in the art of fabric dying, I used red Dylon dye, thinking they would be much more red, but I am quite pleased with the pink ombre that resulted — better for spring!

Dip Dye DIY

  1. Moisten shoes, prepare dye in stainless steel sink, according to package instructions.
  2. Dunk half of shoes into the dye, hung over the faucet.
  3. Fall asleep for three hours. (This step is optional)
  4. Remove from dye and allow to dry overnight. (I cheated and put mine on the heater.)

Voila!  I’m crafty!

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