There’s not much that can beat the flavor of creamy ricotta cheese slathered over a slice of fresh baguette – except maybe the flavor of homemade ricotta slathered over a slice of fresh baguette. Make your own cheese? That sounds way too hard. But that’s the wonderful thing about ricotta. It is the easiest cheese to make, and doesn’t take forever. Once you’ve whipped up a batch, you can use it for just about anything. For today, I like the idea of serving it on fresh French or Italian bread as an hors d’oeuvre for guests. Sprinkle it with balsamic, figs, and walnuts for an extra tempting snack ;)
To make about 2 cups, you’ll need:
4 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons good white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth. Then, pour the milk and cream into a pot to boil. Stir occasionally as it heats up, adding in salt as you go. Once it has reached a boil, turn off the flame and stir in the vinegar.
2. Allow the mixture to stand and curdle for about 1 min. Then, pour the mixture into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl for 20 to 25 minutes. You may have to occasionally pour out the liquid that collects in the bowl.
3. When cheese is almost finished straining, chop up all of your fresh herb ingredients. Transfer strained cheese to a new bowl, and stir in.
When we were in Austin in April shooting our July Catalog, we were fortunate to be there during the month when an exhibit by artist Luke Jerram was installed throughout the city. The live art installation is called “Play Me, I’m Yours,” and consists of several pianos that are placed throughout a given city, in public locations, for people to draw on, paint on, and most importantly, play music on.
This idea is so brilliant… not only do the brightly colored, somewhat oddly placed pianos attract a lot of attention, they invite you to be a part of the exhibit by playing music – and there is a website where you can upload photos and videos you take with the piano.
The exhibit started in 2008 and has been spreading joy and music all over the world ever since. Here are some photos from Austin (each city has its own website with a map displaying the location of each piano):
Recognize this red one from our July Catalog? It’s in a BMX park!
During college, I once went to hear a successful producer from the television industry talk on his career, and give out advice to us young students. People asked him questions about how he went about choosing new shows – what numbers he looked at and other dry research questions. He kindly talked about the importance of market research, and then caught my attention by taking the response some place totally different. Gut instinct. At the end of the day, he accredits all of his successes to a feeling he had inside, and decided to follow. “Your gut will almost never let you down,” he said. And that statement has stuck with me ever since.
It’s true. Some of the best things to have happened in my life, like my dog and moving to Philadelphia, are impulse decisions I made based on a feeling I had inside. I met my dog when she was just a tiny puppy, I wasn’t planning on it, but I somehow knew she was the one and took her home that day. There were sure adjustments I had to make, but I’ve never looked back. So today, don’t second guess yourself. If a certain place, person, or action feels right to you – do it. I find instinct to be completely baffling and mysterious, but it is also undoubtedly a strong thing. Some may think that acting out of instinct is brash and reckless; they prefer reason and informed decisions. But creatures have survived all throughout history by living off of instinct, and that’s a high statistic for success that even reason cannot ignore.
Last week I received an email from one of our readers, Molly, who sent me a link to photos she took on a recent solo trip to Big Sur and a trip to Ojai, and I immediately knew I had to share. Big Sur is one of the most incredible, magical places I’ve ever been and these photos bring back a longing I can’t quite describe.
Check out her tumblr and flickr for more inspiration. Thank you so much for sharing Molly!
Meet this week’s style inspiration – the design assistant for New Romantics here at Free People. I was immediately attracted by her laid back and beautiful – yet approachable – look. I checked in on her daily to get to know her better and bring you her week in style file.
In her romantic, somewhat demure, way of dressing she reflects her personality perfectly. She seems quiet and shy at first, but is then sweet beyond words as soon as you approach her. This is a girl who doesn’t wear outfits that shout “look at me,” but rather, “come closer.” Pay attention and you’ll notice a dainty necklace or a gorgeous etched bracelet.
As assistant designer for the Free People New Romantics, she will be given a fabric chosen by her boss, the head designer for New Romantics, and then has to come up with styles using what she is given. The process usually starts with a sketch. Her sketches themselves are amazingly inspirational to look at. She will then drape the piece – usually doing about one a day. After she’s done draping, she will pass everything along to tech who takes it from there. This week she was already working on things for next summer.
Tucked discretely among Austin’s best restaurants and vintage shops on South Congress, the Hotel San Jose is a peaceful oasis either to stay for a vacation or just to pop in for a drink on the patio. Self-described as a hotel with soul, the San Jose’s décor includes vintage concert posters, cacti, animal printed-throws, crawling ivy plants and lots of sun-dappled shade. It’s extremely zen-like, and makes you feel very much at home – from the tray of Texas-style snacks awaiting guests in the rooms to kitchen in the lobby that serves cocktails and cold water. If you’re on South Congress, you must check it out.
nice touch – a pair of tom’s in the bathroom that you can purchase if interested.
DO: have a drink at the outdoor patio (open to public)
Also – stop next door for coffee at Jo’s – home to the famous “i love you so much” wall, and you may even run into Leslie (an Austin celeb)!
I am beyond excited about the fact that Free People is now launching its very own line of vegan leather pieces! As I mentioned in the video, I am a vegetarian and although it doesn’t bother me when other people wear leather products, it’s not something I can bring myself to do. Which is torture, because working here I see so many amazing leather items that I love – but it seemed only natural that we would do this, being a company that loves animals so much! After months of anticipation, vegan leather is here, and I’m happy to say that my search for the perfect vegan leather jacket has ended :)
Today’s been a busy day! The first half of the day I got to travel out to the owner of Urban Inc.’s personal farm. I shot some photos of the stylish interns on the outing.
Although I enjoyed the trip, it was fun getting back to the office and noticing lots of new Free People buys around. These two ladies are actually wearing two of my favorite items right now – both just happen to have been sitting in my shopping basket for about the past week now.
Our July Lookbook, “FALLing for Bambi,” is definitely one of my favorites yet – maybe because I think Bambi Northwood-Blyth is insanely adorable, but also because I love these pre-fall, layered looks. This lookbook actually has 15 total outfits but I pulled out some of my favorites – which one do you like best?
The first day of shooting in Austin was a blast – we shot at the Mohawk Room with the Happen-Ins, and models Ashley Smith, Anastasia Khodkina and Jessica Mau took turns pretending to be in the band. Ashley was a natural on the guitar and Anastasia blew us away with her rockstar energy! With Alexandra Valenti making magic behind the lens, it was a day of live music and fun in the company of friends.