EUCALYPTUS, LAVENDER, TRANQUILITY

In the autumn of last year, I was contacted by a New York University professor from the Liberal Studies department named Jessamyn Hatcher.  She had gotten my email address from our mutual friend Sally Singer and wanted to know if we would be willing to discuss a field trip that she was planning with her 30+ students from the Dean’s Circle, a University Scholars program.

Her email explained that the “theme for the 2010-2011 Dean’s Circle and Colloquium is ‘The Price of Fashion: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Global Garment Trade.’ The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire occurred on March 25, 1911, in what is now the Brown building.  146 people, most of who were between the ages of 16 and 21, died while manufacturing women’s blouses. Next year will mark its 100th anniversary, and we will use the anniversary as an occasion to explore issues surrounding the world garment trade, from mass production in sweatshops to the runways of the world’s fashion capitols to the ‘slow design’ movement.”

While I was fascinated by Jessamyn’s inquiry, in the first moment I wondered how a workshop could function with 30+ students in our studio.  My fears were unfounded.

Several weeks ago, the group arrived and the experience was one of wonder, exploration and pleasure.  Following a two day workshop in our studio, the students moved on to Rural Studio in Greensboro, Alabama, to continue their journey.

Jessamyn joked at one point how many of her colleagues had asked, “Why aren’t you going to Paris?”

The lovely thank you notes from the (18 – 20 year-old) students below explains it all.  I hope that the students don’t mind that I have shared their observations about our world.  I am appreciative to look at our work, our staff and our world through fresh eyes.

(And to have found a new friend in Jessamyn!)

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UPCOMING DATES

Weekend Workshop – March 4 -6, 2011 @ The Factory in Florence is almost sold out – contact our office to reserve a spot:  256-760-1090.

Natalie will be speaking in The Ballroom @ Athens State University, Athens, Alabama on the 8th of March.  Free and open to the public.

The DooNanny @ The Woods of Wonder in Seale, Alabama – starting March 25th & going through the 27th at 5pm – book your campsite here.

If you are on the West Coast, plan to visit us @ RedBird in Berkeley on the 28th & 29th of April or sign up for our One Day Workshop @ the Edible Schoolyard on the 30th of April.

2011 DooNanny poster designed by Jaime Cervantes and Jack Sanders

ALLEGRA HICKS – AN EYE FOR DEDSIGN

Although Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design has been laying on my coffee table for months, it seemed the perfect opportunity to dive in on this cold, cold evening. (Thanks to Abrams for sending along a review copy.)

Sitting with a glass of wine in front on the fire, I find Allegra’s colors and textures a breath of fresh air to winter gray.  And I am mesmerized by Antonio Monfreda’s art direction and the juxtapositions of Emanuele Mascioni’s beautiful photographs. Allegra has also taken the time to walk the reader through her design process and inspiration with simple, lovely prose.

A great inspiration book for every library:  Allegra Hicks: An Eye for Design

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AVEC ERIC

I wrote about Eric Ripert back in 2008 when friend and colleague Angie Mosier was documenting the PBS television show Avec Eric and working on the companion book.  (By the way, individual episodes of Avec Eric are now available for download as  podcasts at the iTunes store.)

I finally have the Avec Eric book in my hands and am totally in awe.  I can attest that it is a difficult thing to write a book.  You have to get so many, many things right: the text, the photos, the technical details (in this case the recipes), the design, the printing and all the myriad of details in between.

(Read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird should you ever want to be a published author.)

Avec Eric is a forthright, relaxed, joyous celebration of food that is neither too heady nor too difficult for the lay-chef.  Eric Ripert is a stunning story teller and the book is infused with the beautiful photos, prose and spirit of our friend Angie.  Star Chef named it one of the Top 10 cookbooks of 2010. Wiley hits a 100% as it is graced with lovely paper, printing, trim size, photos, stories and is simply a beautiful collection of recipes.

As I refuse to part with my copy of Avec Eric, I have purchased a copy of for my son who has opened his own catering company called MAGPIE + Ruth (after my Maggie and his sweet girlfriend Ashley).  I am hoping that he will be preparing Crab-Stuffed Zucchini Flowers and Cornmeal Biscuits for us all this summer.

Visit Zach’s Facebook page MAGPIE + Ruth and get your copy of Avec Eric.

You will not be disappointed on either count.

I love what Anthony Bourdain writes about the Avec Eric television show in the introduction:  “Remarkably, the TV show, Avec Eric, for which this volume is a companion, does NOT suck!”

Indeed.

ON VULNERABILITY

I struggle these days – not with what to do but – with how to do things the right way.

I find myself sitting up at night, rolling through ideas, and questioning action.

Visiting 2 or 3 Things I Know , I was reminded of Juan Ignacio Moralejo.

I adore his way of looking at work:

“I prefer the vulnerability of trying to do something honest.” Continue reading

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WILD CARD QUILT + GULF OYSTERS

Back in the studio today after almost a month of working from home, the holidays, an amazing trip to Taste of the South and a few (beautiful) snow days.  It was a great luxury to have some time to read over the holidays and I have savored many a volume (both trash and treasure).

Wild Card Quilt by Janisse Ray is such a beautiful, soulful  story of coming home. It speaks to sustainability of community, of people, and of the plants, foods and stories that tie us together.  I find the stories especially moving a decade after I made the leap to come home – a move that changed my life.

This year Taste of the South featured a fantastic talk by Gary Nabhan (Coming Home to Eat - another wonderful book).  Gary spoke gushingly of Janisse Ray (and read a portion of the essay below) while my dear friend Angie leaned over and said, “I just LOVE Janisse Ray.”

I adore her too.

Some of you will remember my mention of The Ecology of a Cracker Childhood Janisse’s story of her Georgia youth and the Longleaf.

I love the line below from page 43 of Wild Card Quilt.  Anyone with a rural Southern childhood will understand:

“I heard Mr. Henry Eason say one time, with the advent of paved roads and electric lights, there ain’t near as many ghosts as there used to be…”


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CLOSED FOR BUSINESS TODAY (+ SNOW CREAM)

From Taste of the South (amazing again!) at Blackberry Farm to home… let it snow (again)!

The Alabama Chanin office we will be closed for business today.

Everyone is now very busy in preparation for important snowball fights, snow men and snow cream.

Enjoy the moment.

MAGGIE’S SNOW CREAM

Mix together, tasting often:

1 cup fresh whipped cream
1 cup fresh snow
Sugar and vanilla to taste