COOKBOOKS – AGAIN

I have to admit that I visit allrecipes.com pretty often, mostly from my phone. I’m the person blocking an entire aisle at the grocery store with all of my attention focused on the screen in my hand. Was it brown sugar? Baking powder or cornstarch? Then suddenly I’m rethinking my entire plan because of a comment made by someone called “lovestocook22” in 2004.

I’ll still receive my daily email from Epicurious.com, but this year I am banning the endless internet recipe hunt. In my search for the best cornbread recipe, my query returned 4,940,000 results. My former self would have attempted to read every single one. This year I’m embracing the cookbook instead.

I’ve always adored cookbooks. The best ones have dog-eared corners, notes in the margin, a dusting of flour in the pages. They are all at once nostalgic, sentimental, and incredibly helpful. This holiday season we’re going to share a few of our favorite cookbook selections and a recipe from each one. Comments welcome of course!

–June

THE HEART: SARA MARTIN

If you have been able to read this blog without finding a comma splice and with only an occasional misspelled word, this is because of Sara Martin. Sara came to work with our company when she was a baby – not that she really was, it just felt that way back in 2003 when she started. She brought computer skills, writing skills, a sense of humor and a willingness to do anything; she also brought her own tools to cut plywood to grace my newly purchased shelves, inventoried and organized my reference library, made systems, and generally kept us straight.

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ALABAMA STUDIO SEWING + DESIGN – AT LAST

There has been such a wonderful buzz around the studio these last weeks as we prepare for the holidays. So much buzz, in fact, that I have not really had time to sit down with our new book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Last night, I remedied that with a quiet house, a cocktail, and my “comfy chair,” as my daughter Maggie calls it.
I wrote last August about the process of writing this book and the moment of awaiting proofs from the publisher, but it seems like I just batted my eyes and the book is lying in my lap.
I’ve had time to recover since writing that post. I am once again in the studio and have – once again – been pulled away from the book and into other projects.  Much like giving birth, it seems that the pain of delivery subsides as you move away from the actual moment of delivery and on to holding that growing life. Not to compare my book with a new life BUT, when Alabama Stitch Book first came out, my editor said “the best part of writing a book is watching that book come to life in the hands of another.” It’s true. I experience that exact feeling as I sit here today and write this post. While the book is not a life, it does take on a life of its own. Today, I am the proud mama of a 1 pound, glowing book.
So, without further ado, here you find photographs of some of my favorite spreads in the book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. You will notice that I have included instructions and patterns for some of our favorite collection pieces. You can find the book on-the-shelves by mid-February (good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise – as we like to say in the South).
DIY Kits, fabrics, and other goodies will begin to appear in our online store over the next weeks. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say… xoNatalie 

ECO SALON FRIDAY: A TRIP OF ONE’S OWN

Those of you who follow us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Tumblr, know that I was in New Mexico over the holidays. What resulted from this adventure was a love for the west and an understanding of why so many artists and creative types have settled to work there.  I was deeply impacted by the beauty, spirit, and (perhaps mostly by) the clear, crisp air. The day my friend Jennifer and I landed we spotted four rainbows.  Our friend Jeff wrote that such an unlikely experience is “possibly an indicator of good fortune to come.”

My blog post at EcoSalon this Friday is about our trip and the inspiration I found in a woman – long dead – named Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Thanks to EcoSalon for the continuing bi-weekly collaboration – read all of my stories there and make sure you let them know what you like.
xoNatalie

A TRIP OF ONE’S OWN

“I can’t believe that I am doing this.” Wait. Laugh. Repeat.  These were the words I kept echoing over and over again as I sat at Gate B27 in the Atlanta Airport. My girlfriend, Jennifer Venditti, is sitting across from me, looking like a vision of New York City chic. I stare at her in amazement. We are waiting to board a flight to Albuquerque, New Mexico, with plans to catch up on the last six months of one another’s lives.

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BELLE CHEVRE

I wrote about Tasia, and her beautiful goat cheese company, Belle Chevre, back in 2008 (including the recipe below). Tasia’s work has gotten better and better since that time with a wide range of products, a cookbook, and a whole series of cooking classes. Delicious.

Join us on Belle Chevre Twitter tomorrow for a chat with Tasia, the folks from Belle Chevre, and our dear friends from Billy Reid:

“This chat’s topic is ‘How Art Is Changing Alabama’ (as part of the broader series titled The New South: Chatting about the Future of Our Art, Food, and Culture). We’ll cover design, art and fashion, from any angle.  Basically it is a virtual cocktail party.”

The chat starts at 1 pm EST | 12 pm CST. Tag your comments #thesouth so we can find them.  See you there!

Here my Tuscan Chevre Salad again (it is worth repeating on a weekly basis in your kitchen – smile.):

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THE UNIFORM

I adore clothes. Both my closet and a large portion of the surrounding floor space are a testament to that. My lack of self control, paired with a job that forces me to be around beautiful garments all day, means I acquire more than I should and more than I have room for. At some point I will have to pay Alabama Chanin for working here.

My morning routine usually consists of two or three outfit changes. And if I’m getting ready for a special occasion- forget it; it’s going to take a while. At least that was the norm before Agnes, my daughter, came onto the scene. Life with a tiny human that refused to sleep quickly put showering in the luxury category and landed multiple wardrobe changes nowhere near the radar.

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OPEN SOMETHING GOOD

Thank you to everyone who graciously showed their support for Alabama Chanin over this last week. Your purchases, emails, and love are the things that keep us going. It has been a wonderful (if sometimes difficult) year and we appreciate your incredible show of kindness and loyalty as we move towards the holidays and the end of the year. You make a difference.

Our team is working overtime to fill all of the orders, wrap beautiful packages, and get shipments out in the next days. Let us know if you have any questions or need a helping hand:

Email: office (at) alabamachanin.com or phone us Monday – Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm CST at +1.256.760.1090

We are posting new collection pieces, projects, and products every day… plus, we have a few surprises up our sleeves.

Stay tuned by joining our mailing list,
xoNatalie

 

GOING, GOING, GONE.

Rain on the metal roof,  Natalie’s holiday iPod mix, and scissors through fabric – that’s all I can hear. It’s a busy day at the studio. Spirits are high, the orders are many, and some of our fabric stock is low.

Apologies to lovers of Burgundy and Blue Slate; we have exhausted our supply of these and a few other color options. There are still plenty of beautiful colors to choose from but supplies are limited; please order early to ensure selection.

-June

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE + CLIMBING DAISY

We have so very much to be thankful for this year – and decade.  It has been a time filled with friends, family, color, design, light, laughter, growth, and, of course, good food.

May your celebrations this year be filled with laughter, light, love, and Pumpkin Cheesecake!

xo from Natalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin

To make pumpkin puree:

Cut in half one sugar pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Place the pumpkin half-side down on a roasting pan and fill with ¼ inch of water. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or until soft. Scoop out the meat and puree until smooth.

I have also used organic canned pumpkin with good results.

For the crust:

1 c. graham cracker crumbs (I have also used crushed shortbread cookies)
1/4 c. chopped pecans
1/4 c. brown sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in center. Assemble a 9-inch nonstick springform pan, with the raised side of the bottom part facing up.

In a medium bowl, mix cracker crumbs, pecans, sugar, and butter until moistened; press firmly into bottom of springform pan. Bake until golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes.

For the Filling:

4 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, very soft
1 1/4 c. sugar
3 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t. ground allspice
1 T. bourbon
1 T. vanilla extract
1/2 t. salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

Make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on low speed until smooth; mix in flour (do not overmix). Add pumpkin puree, spices, bourbon, vanilla, and salt; mix just until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Place springform pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour filling into springform, and gently smooth top. Transfer to oven; reduce oven heat to 300 degrees. Bake 45 minutes. Turn off oven; let cheesecake stay in oven 2 hours more (without opening).

Remove from oven; cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours.

Gently lay our Climbing Daisy Stencil over the top of the cooled cake and dust with cinnamon.