Summer is in full swing here in San Francisco which means plenty of fog, jean jackets, sweaters thrown over breezy dresses, and outdoor tables. It’s my favorite time to cook and eat, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorite summertime kitchen essentials with you today.
This post is sponsored by LG, who provided us with the LG Optimus G Pro to help us plan my birthday picnic. Read on to see how I used the smartphone and find my 5 tips for planning your own (stress-free) summer picnic.
This year, for my 30th birthday, I decided that I wanted to host a picnic in one of my favorite places in the world: The Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. Being outside eliminates the stress associated with extensive cleanup before and after the event, and also offers an added benefit: the ability to invite children (again, with no stress). Since I’m a relatively new mother, my house is far from child-proof, and I wanted to invite friends with kids to my party. A Memorial Day picnic seemed like the perfect way to celebrate.
Truthfully, I had a few ideas for ways to make the event special, but not a lot of time to work on it. After all, I work full-time, work on Turntable Kitchen in my free time, and am raising a baby. I’m always on the lookout for tools and solutions that can help me get more out of my day and I was excited to try out the LG Optimus G Pro smartphone, which promised to be my “personal assistant,” allowing me to capture and share important moments.
After adding the picnic to my calendar, I started making a list of items to buy (from ingredients for picnic dishes to paper plates and drinks). When I hit up my local farmer’s market with Neko in tow in her Ergo, I didn’t need to bring much: everything I needed was on my phone. I bookmarked a few recipes and had my picnic shopping list in the Notes.
One of the coolest features of the LG Optimus G Pro is that it allows you to multi-task on the go by opening multiple apps at one. A nifty feature called Qslide even allows you to open up apps like your calendar, Notes, and calculator on top of your browser, for example. You can resize the open apps, reduce and increase opacity, and view more things in one screen without having to constantly open and close multiple apps. I found this helpful while going between my browser window and my shopping list.
The big 5.5″ Full HD screen also allowed me to snap a number of photos of beautiful produce and flowers that I could turn to for inspiration later and easily share right from the phone. Another feature, VuTalk, let me doodle and markup my photos on the fly; I could snap a photo of radishes, then jot dot recipe ideas right over the image in real time, then text it to Matt. While I take my food photos using my big DSLR, I actually find it inconvenient to lug around the city. The fact that the LG Optimus G Pro includes a high-quality (13 MP) camera and Full HD Camera with Dual Recording ensures that I can snap photos whenever the mood strikes and memorialize important events (like 30 years of living on this planet!).
For my birthday, Matt was able to capture several videos, but unlike the typical camera, LG Optimus G Pro‘s allows the person filming to be in the shot; how brilliant is that? We now have a handful of videos from the picnic that everyone, including the person recording, is in. With multiple sharing options (including email, social networks, and more), the photos and videos are a snap to pass around, too. While my parents were able to attend the picnic, a number of close friends and family who live in other states and countries could not. With the help of the LG Optimus G Pro‘s video recording and image capturing features, though, I was able to share the experience with loved ones who weren’t able to make it to San Francisco.
The smartphone helped me plan my birthday picnic and today I’d like to share a few tips for ways you can plan a summer picnic, without the stress.
1. Plan ahead. I start collecting recipes, inspiration, and shopping lists weeks in advance. I don’t typically have an afternoon to devote to planning, so I do a little here and and a little there. I recommend mixing a few ‘dream ideas’ with more achievable ones. For me, the focus was my birthday cake (which, I bake myself every year), a great location, memorable birthday invites (it was my 30th, after all!) and drinks. 2. Don’t take on too much. If I’m hosting a picnic, I’ll usually prep 2-3 dishes, offer a few bottles of wine, some beer, and bring the plates/cups/utensils. I assume that a lot of people will bring drinks, so I try not too worry to much about that. I also recommend not choosing 2-3 complicated dishes, but rather 1 more time-consuming one, and two less time-consuming ones. 3. Do a potluck! It’s way too much work and stress for one person/family to do all the work when it comes to a picnic. Potluck style is definitely the way to go when planning a picnic. 4. Designate a sweets person. I learned early on when I started hosting potluck-style events that people love to bake. Baked goods are portable, aspirational, and fun. Everyone wants to wow with a baked good, but when it comes to a potluck, you only need so many sweets. Take it from me: I hosted a potluck one year where we literally had a spread of 75% sweets. Needless to say, people were hungry, and sweets just didn’t satisfy everyone. If you love to bake, own the sweets for the event, or designate 1 or 2 other people to bring the sweet stuff. 5. Easy doesn’t mean bad. It took me a long time to get over the fact that making something easy wasn’t throwing in the towel. Some of the tastiest potluck dishes you can bring — guacamole, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers — are some of the ones people appreciate the most. If you can’t cook at all, put a little effort into picking an assortment of snacks that you think fit the theme and the party.
Are you planning a picnic? I’d love to know any tips you have to share in the comments.
Kelly’s blog, Design Crush, is a daily stop for inspiration. I can’t remember how I first came across her site, but we have since become ‘Internet friends.’ Kelly has exceptional taste and a keen eye for all things cool, so I am thrilled to have her stop by Turntable Kitchen today, and share a few of her favorite Stylish in the Kitchen finds. Thanks so much, Kelly! — Kasey
We’ll be back from our trip to Japan with fresh posts next week!
Hello, TTKers! Kelly from Design Crush here. I’ve been tapped to share a little something while your usuals are off exploring in Japan and couldn’t be more excited, so let’s get started with the 5 Lust-Worthy Kitchen Accessories I can’t get off my mind.
The Portland Press is a mason-jar based French press currently being crowd-funded for production. With its sturdy build, insulating woolen sleeve, and beautiful maple lid this is a beautiful take on the classic apparatus used for brewing one of nature’s finest beverages.
Two of my loves — art and cooking — are combined in this set of Forest Animal Ceramic Measuring Spoons. Each spoon is handpainted and almost too pretty to use! Just imagine all of the delicious dishes the fox, owl, squirrel, and hedgehog will be a part of in your kitchen.
Having tea would become an even more beautiful ritual with this limited edition Alfredo Tea Pot. The porcelain vessel with stitched leather handle and custom tea egg is a showstopper that would never see the inside of my cabinets.
This might be the most perfect bottle stopper in the history of bottle stoppers. The Faceted Wood Bottle Stopper is every style in one. Masculine and feminine, modern and classic, and a sure fit for every bar.
I love a good kitchen textile, and the Sketched Shapes Tea Towel couldn’t be more cheery with its hand-drawn colorful print. Just right for summer patio entertaining and dish washing! Psst… there’s a matching oven mitt, too!
We love to entertain at our house (if you haven’t guessed) but we’re not the stuffy types. Since we spend so much time planning our meals, cooking, and selecting music for our gatherings, we like to keep things simple when it comes to table settings. But, every once in a while, we like to step it up a notch and host a more elevated evening; complete with reusable napkins, a flower arrangement, and multiple forks. Here are a few tips for creating a stylish table setting for your next dinner party at home. Try these ideas next time you have people over (hint: for your next Pairings Box night!).
Use creative serving vessels. I like to put out sea salt in lids from my Weck jars. Also, it may be overplayed, but mason jars make great water glasses; sometimes I even use them for wine! Having a nice, reusable glass bottle is handy so you don’t have to run back and forth from the kitchen and the dining table, refilling people’s water glasses. Add mint and cucumber slices or lemon slices to your water to fancy things up. I also use mine for juice when I’m having people over for breakfast or brunch (leftover juice can be kept in the fridge).
Take note of the details. I’m a big fan of communal, family-style eating. Everybody digs in and no one is afraid of using their hands. Whenever I have a dinner party, I always have a loaf of bread (or two) on hand. A baguette is a favorite choice as it doesn’t need to be cut. Place broken pieces on a nice cutting board, wrap it up in a scraps of burlap and twine or place it on some craft paper. I especially love the pain d’epi from Acme Bread if you’re laying bread out on the table.
Think like a restaurant. I’ve noticed that restaurants often utilize plain dish towels as napkins. I bought a bunch of mine from Ikea (they’re super cheap!). I use them for everything, but especially love how they look on a table.
Get low-commitment crafty. I’ve always been a crafty person but these days, my crafting is generally reserved for the kitchen. That said, I always enjoy what I would call ‘hacker crafting’ — when I can feel like I’ve added a handmade touch to something without spending hours on it. I purchased some suede laces from Michaels a while ago (similar ones here) and have been using them to make simple, rustic napkin ties (I got the idea from Remodelista). There’s nothing easier.
Add a colorful flower arrangement. I love the look of a monochromatic flower arrangement. Peonies, dahlias and tulips are some of my favorite flowers and they can look great in a simple glass jar by themselves or with some basic filler. Check out this post on A Cup of Jo for some more great inspiration and tips for creating a beautiful flower arrangement for your dinner table.
Get proper. I think learning how to set the table is one of those things that I associate with officially being an adult. I’m not etiquette an hound but I do think knowing how to set a table is just one of those things you should know. Here’s a quick refresher: knife on the right, with the blade pointed towards the plate, dinner fork on the left, and salad fork (optional) to the right of the dinner plate. Your glass should be set above the knife.
Erin and I ‘met’ through Twitter (I think I have a pattern of making friends through social media!). I immediately liked her because she was a. from Ohio, Matt’s home state and b. someone who clearly knows how to do it all (have a successful career that takes her all over the world, renovate her home, and run a beautiful blog). We met in person at Alt Summit (where she was a speaker this year!) and have kept in touch since. Her blog, House of Earnest, has become one of my daily stops, and I’m thrilled to have her pop by Turntable Kitchen today to share a few of her favorite entertaining pieces for ‘Stylish in the Kitchen.’ — Kasey
Hello Turntable Kitchen Readers! I’m Erin, popping over from House of Earnest to share with you some of my favorite stylish entertaining pieces that can take you the distance. Regardless of your personal style, these four types of pieces will make entertaining a little less of a conundrum and a little more second nature.
A decanter is always necessary. Even if wine isn’t being served, a basic one like the style above from West Elm can be used to hold any other beverage, like fresh squeezed OJ, or can be used to hold a pretty bouquet. Cute cocktail napkins and coasters make a huge difference between serving and entertaining. Stock up on something that lasts, like linen, as well as something disposable for larger groups.
For serve ware, I find that a very large, unique tray can be used for so many different things. It can corral a centerpiece, be a cheese platter, hold a second hot-from-the-oven dish, or act as a tray for your signature cocktail. The trick is to get one that is both sturdy and beautiful.
Tiered stands offer height variation and are so helpful when table real estate is at a premium. Stack them with whatever your heart desires — they’re not just for cupcakes!
Having just a few good pieces can make you feel ready for any entertaining occasion, and pieces that coordinate (like the natural, warm pieces above) can pull together your entertaining style even when it’s just an impromptu friend who drops by. Be ready with some of these stand-bys and you’ll always be prepared.
There are few things I love more on a Saturday or Sunday morning than breakfast. Would I sound ridiculous if I told you it’s probably the number one thing I look forward to all week? Waking up without an alarm clock, lazily crawling out of bed, listening to some records while drinking coffee and cracking open a few eggs in the kitchen.
The difference between having a cafe-style breakfast at a cafe and at home is that, at home, you can eat unshowered and in your underwear which, in my opinion, may be the greatest thing ever. Not to mention, you can enjoy all the cute, customizable aspects of cafe breakfasts by choosing a spread of items you love and a playlist that’s perfect for conversation or the morning paper/ your favorite magazine. I tend to create a menagerie on my kitchen table: jars of my favorite jams and honeys, Nutella (if I’m feeling nostalgic), and small nibbles like cheese and berries. The beauty of a cafe-style breakfast at home is that you can make it for one, two, four, or ten (though making eggs to order for ten may be a challenge!).
It’s Monday, and we all need something to make it through the week. Here’s a game plan for next weekend: a selection of recipes, sides, and other entertaining tips for making a cafe-style breakfast at home. Enjoy!
Sunny Side Up Eggs *serves 2-4
2-4 tablespoons of butter
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter to a large, non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high. Spread the butter until it covers the pan.
2. Gently break each egg over the skillet. Only cook as many eggs as can fit in your pan, without crowding (I usually make two at a time). You don’t want the whites to touch.
3. Adjust the heat, as needed; I find my eggs cook best over medium-low heat. Cook eggs for several minutes, until the whites are completely set. There should be no clear film around the yolks. Don’t worry if the edges of your whites crisp a little — I think crispy edges are delicious. To make eggs over-easy, simply use a spatula to flip eggs to the yolk side, and allow to cook for another 30 seconds – 1 minute, depending on how well you like your yolks done. Add more butter to the skillet, as needed, to cover the bottom of the pan, as you make more eggs. Eggs are best made to order (I stick mine in the oven or microwave to keep them warm as I make more). Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
1. Peel the grapefruits and divide them into sections. Feed the grapefruit sections and mint through a juicer. Alternatively, if you do not have a juicer, you may combine pre-squeezed grapefruit juice and mint leaves in a pitcher. I haven’t tried this, but imagine a few splashes of sparking water could be refreshing. Serve chilled.
Fresh baguette. Cut into 4-5 inch pieces along the diagonal, then sliced in half. Selection of spreads and jams. I love chunky fruit jams, Nutella (store-bought or homemade), citrus curd, honey, and good butter. Sausages. Bacon is the traditional breakfast side, but sausages are a great alternative. You can find so many different types in specialty stores and they’re a lot less messy. Coffee. This is a must, if you’re trying to recreate a cafe-style atmosphere. French press, brewed in a Chemex, or espresso. Our favorite brews include Sightglass, Four Barrel, Blue Bottle, and Barefoot Coffee Roasters. Fruit. Whatever’s in season — berries, watermelon, grapes, figs. I love to slice some up and serve in pretty bowls. Cheese. A breakfast cheese spread is a great addition to your table. Try a mix of hard and soft cheeses. I’m loving aged gouda and cheddar, as well as Mt.Tam from Cowgirl Creamery.
Serve juice in fun glass bottles.
Stock up on bright cloth napkins; they’re much more fun (and eco-friendly) than paper.
One of the things I love about eating at cafes is the great selection of magazines I can usually peruse while eating. Use this as an excuse to get some beautiful reading material. I’m loving Anthology Magazine, Gather Journal, and UPPERCASE, among others.
Drinking juice feels like a party when you’ve got striped paper straws on hand.
I can’t think of better cafe-style table settings than the ones you’ll find at Heath Ceramics.
I’ll be honest: I’m not a big fan of brunch (I much prefer splitting my breakfast and lunch into two separate meals). But, I LOVE brunch food, and as my friend Tracy reminded me, so do many moms I know. With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I thought I’d devote a Stylish in the Kitchen post to my favorite lady, my mom. My mom is a pretty stylish woman; she has more shoes than me, and a bolder sense of style. She doesn’t stress about hosting dinner for fifteen people, and she seems to always know the answer to everything. She’s not a doctor, but she tends to know the reasons and cures for all of my ailments. She is not a photographer, but she has an eye for light. She was not born in this country, but she commands the English language. She is not a gardener, but she knows how to grow the most beautiful flowers and herbs.
Like some of you, I didn’t immediately become friends with my mom. At first, I idolized her, then I found that she and I never seemed to see eye to eye, then I started coming to her for real-life advice (like how to tell a boy I liked him), and I finally, she became my friend. I’m glad that my relationship with my mother evolved the way that it did. She’s my friend, but she’s also my mom. She nags me about not calling my grandfather enough, and for dropping the ball on renewing my car registration on time. But she also talks to me about purses, and gossips with me about parties and television shows. This year, we’re spending Mother’s Day weekend lounging by the pool, going hiking, and grilling out.
As I got more into cooking, I started to spend time not just watching my mom in the kitchen, but helping her conceptualize the menu, figure out the table setting, and organize cooking plans. A few years ago, my mom and I took a mother-daughter trip to London, Zurich, Lucerne, and Prague, and there was something somewhat romantic about the meals we had there, our little coffee breaks at cafes, and strolls through cobblestoned streets. It wasn’t warm, then (we went in November), but as this Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about that trip. The images above remind me of a blissful afternoon with my mom, noshing on homemade French Toast Bake, sipping mojitos (my mom’s favorite, with a clever springtime twist!), and enjoying beautiful blooms. The dress, by a designer I have a serious crush on (both for her clothes, as well as her aesthetic and lifestyle), is the sort of thing both my mom and I can agree on; it’s simple, chic, Euro-fab, and utilitarian.
I hope you treat your mom to something nice this weekend, and always.
Spring is my absolute favorite time of year. The market starts to come back to life with the arrival of peas, asparagus, strawberries, and artichokes. I’m lucky enough to live right around the corner from a little farmer’s market that sets up shop every Sunday. It’s the best way to start the day. I pick up fresh flowers, baby turnips and leeks, farm fresh eggs, even meat and seafood. Though I often tend to grab whatever canvas bags happen to be within reach, I’ve been thinking of prettying up my Spring routine by purchasing a legitimate farmer’s market tote. A straw tote reminds me of strolling along cobblestone streets in Europe, while the new line of bright leather Baggu bags remind me of Barcelona (especially the one above, with its vibrant yellow color). The polka dots transport me to a Mary Poppins, fairy tale London, while the whimsical illustrated canvas tote offers shopping inspiration.
I’ve been thinking how I’ve met so many interesting people in 2012, and it has only just begun! The lovely Michelle, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at Alt Summit this year, suggested that it might be fun to see a post about being stylish in the kitchen. I loved the idea, and filed it away for future reference. Today is the day to share it with you! We’ll see how this thing goes. For my first installment of Stylish in the Kitchen, I’d like to talk about the dinner party. I love throwing a dinner party, but about an hour before the show starts, I totally start to freak out: is the main course still in the oven? Why is it still in the oven? Do I have tomato sauce on my dress? Do I have stain remover to remove afore-mentioned tomato sauce from my dress? Is there enough wine? Do we have ice?
While I will continue to stress out every time I have a dinner party, I have managed to throw a lot of them. And, after the initial rush, I actually quite enjoy a good old-fashioned dinner party. I think a good dinner party involves a few key elements — obviously the company, the food, the drink, and the music. One of my favorite things about throwing a dinner party, though, is setting scene. Everyone has their own style, but I’m going to share a few of my favorite dinner party style elements.
1. The outfit. You’re not going to leave your house, so throwing a dinner party is the perfect opportunity to wear an outfit that you really love, without worrying about stuff like whether you’ll get a blister, getting suede dirty, or if it might get too cold out.
2. The drink serving ware. I’m pretty sure I only use our decanter when we have a dinner party but I loooove the thing. It’s festive and supposedly helps the wine breathe. I have some vintage little glasses that I like to put out, but the stemless, rimmed ones above are pretty fun, too. The bonus of using stemless wine glasses? Fewer chances that your guests will spill wine all over your carpet.
3. The pre-dinner nibbles (and presentation). Everyone does the cheese plate (myself included!) but recently, I’ve become all about the meat plate. Some call it charcuterie. The number of companies that make delicious varieties of cured meats (we’re big fans of Creminelli) is staggering, and much like you would with a cheese tasting, you could use a beautiful wooden board to display a bevy of cured meats for everyone to try. My favorite way to display an arrangement is on a gorgeous wooden board. A spicy little bite of salami with a glass of red wine? Sign me up!
4. Your music listening setup. Ok, so we’re big proponents of turntables. There are lots of reasons why you should consider purchasing one, if you don’t already own one (for one, you’ll be able to listen to your limited edition Pairings Box 7″ singles, if you’re a subscriber!). But really. A turntable is an element of style for your living room/dining room! A slick looking one is not only a great conversation starter, but it creates a warm and welcoming environment in your home. You don’t need a lot of records to make it worth your while, either.
Tell us: what are you favorite tips for hosting a stylish dinner party?