Monthly Archives: December 2011

Our holiday guests—my sister Cat and friend Lesley—arrive today! In addition to eating my first
British mince pie, orange curd cupcake, and Christmas pudding (all shown above), the stockings are hung, Christmas crackers ready to be pulled, cookies baked. I’ve been wrapping up many things as of late (to be shared at a later time), and K gets the whole week off starting Monday. Tonight we head to Westminster Abbey for the Service of Lessons and Carols and then to celebrate Hanukkah with salt beef and gin at Mishkins. Wishing you all a very merry and bright holiday, wherever you are, no matter what you’re celebrating—filled with big hearts, memories, hope, toothy grins, and a good bit of Branston® pickle. From London, with love. Middle right photo by Paul Fox.


Educated at the Royal School of Arts and Crafts in Budapest, Ilonka Karasz (1896–1981) emigrated to America in 1913 where she worked as a designer, interior designer, painter and illustrator, and quickly established herself as one of the foremost practitioners of modern design in America. She designed wallpaper, textiles, ceramics, rugs, china, toys, lamps, tiles, metalwork, and furniture. Founder-director of Design Group Inc., which was composed of craftsmen, designers and artists, Karasz was best known for her work with The New Yorker, for whom she made 186 magazine covers from 1924–1973.
So, pretty much, I want to be her.

The Twelve Days of Christmas (1949) was named one of the fifty books of the year for 1949 by
The American Institute of Graphic Arts. The New York Times called it “a miracle of design and imagination.” If you search Ilonka Karasz on, both books shown here are available. Photos from We Too Were Children.

We’d never eaten honeycomb until we met Steve the bee keeper at the Maltby Street Market (an entire post on him to come). Good and crunchy on baguette with cheese, but now I sort of just mix a lump in my wintery porridge for breakfast and it’s as simple as that. Then, of course, there are British flapjacks which I’m trying to master: just butter, Golden Syrup, brown sugar, & porridge oats; and thanks to our Dutch friend Tijl, I am now stocked up on the great honey liquorice (honingdrop) from Holland.

The 1-1/4 feet tree is up and it is sparkly, good thing. We happen to have two very dear friends named Lesley, both Jewish! (They also happen to both be designers and have famous relatives, crazy.) Brooklyn Lesley is flying here to spend Christmas with us. Paris Lesley visited us this weekend and helped trim the tree—I did the lights and she fabricated the star, while K put together a presentation and had to listen to our giggly selves. Now if only I can get one of the Lesleys to make one of my most loved dishes—KUGELSide note: Gumdrops do not really exist here, no one had even heard of them. Thanks to Anna-Marie’s research, they were found at Mrs. Kibbles sweet shoppe by the name of American Gums. Also, if your tree is larger than this, stick with stringing popcorn, trust me.

Weekend Apple Pancake! Thanks to Dani for sending this cosy, wintery breakfast recipe.

INGREDIENTS// 2 large or 3 medium baking apples / 4 tablespoons white sugar, divided / 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon / 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger / 1/3 cup unsalted butter / 1/4 cup dark brown sugar / 3/4 cup flour / 1/2 teaspoon salt / 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg / 1 cup milk / 1/2 teaspoon vanilla / 5 eggs*
*I halved the recipe for 2 people and used 3 eggs, worked perfectly. 

INSTRUCTIONS// Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Peel, core, and cut the apples into small pieces—will be about 3 cups of chopped apples. In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and ginger and set aside. Cut the butter into chunks and place them in a deep cast iron skillet or 8×8-inch baking dish. Put the skillet or baking dish in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the butter is melted. Take the pan out of the oven and sprinkle the 1/4 cup brown sugar over the melted butter. Carefully spread the apples on top of the brown sugar and sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the apples. Put the pan back in the oven to caramelize the apples and sugar. Whisk the flour with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly with a large wire whisk to beat out any lumps. When the flour is smoothly incorporated into the milk, beat in the vanilla and the eggs one by one. Beat by hand for 2 minutes, or until foamy. Let the batter rest for 5 minutes. By now the sugar should be bubbling around the apples. Take the pan out of the oven and pour the batter over the apples. Bake for about 20 more minutes or until center is set and sides are lightly browned. The pancake will puff up dramatically but fall after a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. Sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar for presentation and enjoy with your favourite hot bevvy this time of year! Adapted from The Kitchn.

Holiday shoppers, oh hello. These prints I designed and letterpressed are for sale! A line from the poem i love you much(most beautiful darling) by ee cummings, full text follows. Maybe a nice prezzy this Hanukkah/Christmas for someone you like-like or just really love (lady friend, best friend, mum) or for yourself. Each is printed on a Vandercook cylinder letterpress using wood and lead type. A limited edition, each is signed and numbered. 11″x15″ measurement. Purchase one here. And if you happen to be in Finland this month, all entries for the Arctic Flipbook Contest (42 books,11 countries) are part of the December exhibit at Napa Gallery in Helsinki, my Stan the Man included.

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

–sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year–

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

ee cummings