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What was Missed… 06.22.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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While we were in New York we missed another fine public art display from Free Sheep Foundation.  Blast.  These are the folks of Motel Motel Motel.  With installations by Bread and Buttress’ favorite local artists, Lead Pencil Studio and Awesome!, Moore Inside Out must have been stellar.  Anyone get there?

Stranger Article


Walking the High Line 06.22.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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An old railroad becomes a parkBread and Buttress was in upstate New York this past weekend to celebrate the nuptials of our college roommate.  Congrats to the Leaders!  We also had the good fortune of being able to spend a day in New York City which we filled with, you guessed it, pastries and architecture.

The focal point of this visit was the brand new High Line Park in Chelsea.  A long, linear park, its foundation is an old elevated rail line that runs for eight blocks, three stories above the pavement.  Gardens and walkways weave their way along the steel structure, mingling with the occassional railroad track or switch.  Paths are created with long and tapering precast concrete blocks, emphasizing the linear nature of the park.  Stopping points are plentiful (lounge chairs!) and allow for great views of the Hudson between Chelsea’s old brick warehouses.

The place was packed with people at 3pm on a Friday.  Most were doing as we were, satisfying their curiosity.  Though midst the gawkers, others were enjoying meals, romantically strolling, or getting exercise.  This place is getting some use!  Our plus one even remarked that it would be a great place for a wedding reception.

All in all, a successful project that does what a city park should, provide some nature and relaxation for its inhabitants while maintaining a connection to the urban fabric.  Chelsea is a great backdrop for the High Line, the old factories mixed with new eyepopping projects show the evolving dialog architects are having with the city.  (side note: some architects aren’t listening too well, while others have been more successful.)  The design team of the High Line gets it.  Props to DS+R et al.

Freshly planted garden should look nice in a few yearsDangerous curves ahead

Frank Gehry, look what you've done!Benches emerge from the pavers, slick.

Chelsea streetscapeTakeout from Donuts Lunchonette, Brooklyn.

Obvious Metaphors Afloat at Venice Biennale 06.15.2009

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American artist Mike Bouchet has a great idea for the Venice Biennale, but…


Take a moment and watch the Youtube vid.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Mashup: Tollhouse vs. Specialty’s Bakery 06.09.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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thawing cubes!It’s a great day when you can make chocolate chip cookies, regardless of, well, anything.  The kitchen fills with the cookie smell, all activities outside the home must be put off, conveniently forcing you to relax and bake as the kitchen fills with the nostalgic aroma of warm cookies.  And, of course, there’s the raw cookie dough.

Our favorite recipe has always been Nestle’s Toll House classic cookie recipe.  This is primarily because it is conveniently located on the back of a bag of their bagged chocolate chips.  However, my overwhelming problem with these cookies is that they tend to turn out like little pillows of homogeneity.  (though not nearly as uninspiring as Joy of Cooking’s recipe…what gives Rombauer?).

Fast forward to a few weeks back when fellow cookie lover Nancy posed the following: “How can we emulate the deliciousness of a cookie from Specialty’s Bakery?”  Whoa, great idea.  For those of you that don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, Specialty’s is the de facto source for cookies in Seattle and the bay area.  Their cookies are squarish, super thick, soft creations.  Serious cookies.  The company website even allows you to sign up for email alerts that notify you of warm cookies near you!  We challenge you to find a better chocolate chip cookie.

same ingredients, different results!Most chocolate chip cookie recipes have the same ingredients and method of preparation.  Variation in the final product therefore occurs in two distinct parts of the recipe, ingredient proportions and finishing (aka, forming and baking).  Here’s our variation on the old classic in Bread and Buttress’ attempt to emulate the qualities of a local classic.  Note that we like our cookies chunky, so there are a few additional embellishments in this first effort.

Bread and Buttress’ Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1 t vanilla

Cream together at medium speed for 10 minutes.

  • 2 c. AP flour
  • ¼ c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. chopped/ground pecans
  • ¾ c. old fashioned or quick oats
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Meanwhile, mix these dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 2 eggs

yes, frozen.  note the remnants from squaring the cookie block.  make round cookies with 'em.Add eggs to creamed butter/sugar.  Once incorporated, begin to add the dry ingredients in three separate batches, mixing each time until just incorporated.  Cover a cutting board that will fit in your freezer with a piece of wax paper.  Spread dough out on the cutting board, forming into a rectangle one inch high.  Place another piece of wax paper over the top and smooth down.  Freeze.  After a couple hours or even days, remove from freezer and cut dough into 1” cubes, allow each batch to thaw on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.  Go ahead and eat frozen remnants of dough raw.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Center of finished cookie should NOT be browned but rather light and raw looking.  This ensures a gooey center.


Here are some links:

Flickr user JDong has some shots of Specialty’s cookie selection.

Here’s another emulation recipe without the chunks.

Good Easts episode on chocolate chip cookies via youtube.

Bubble? …Bubble? 06.05.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Links.

Is that a car inside?Well, the modernist home from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is up for sale.

I remember watching the movie and was pretty impressed that an eighties movie would use a modernist house as a backdrop.   Hmmm, I guess you could say that the director is utilizing the oft popular image of modernism (cold, inhuman, soul-less) as an appropriate setting for Camerson’s first rebellious act.

So, if you want to loosen a couple million on a glass box, take a stand.  Probably want to add an addendum to the closing for debris removal from the property.  Just in case.

Le Corbusier: A Life 06.01.2009

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It's the cover!We could write a lot of words about France’s most famous architect of the 20th century, a much-rued modernist who’s ideas still inform public housing and structural technology today.  And we certainly will write a lot about him over Bread and Buttress’ lifespan.  For now, let’s take a moment to plug a book about Le Corbusier by writer Nicholas Fox Weber.

But first, an aside.  From the start of their education, architects are taught a history of buildings and the personalities (mostly men but thankfully that is changing) that designed them.  This history not only a pretty comprehensive overview of the theories and methods for creating architectural space but also how to depict space so others (mostly architects and hopefully builders) can understand them.  Architects absorb this history and, in turn, become that history.  What seems to be lost in this history is the humanity of the personalities that have designed the world.  We seldom hear much about their other passions, their insecurities, their loves, their families.  This is unfortunate because all architects possess a life outside their work.  It is this life that ultimately informs their architecture above and beyond whatever broader notions govern their designs.  Moreso, knowing intimate details from the likes of Wright, Boromini, Olmstead, and others only serve as an example to young architects with lives of their own.  But, we’re getting too autobiographical…back to the book.

Weber succeeds in taking the reader into the mind of Le Corbusier allowing us to see what drives the man born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret.  While opinion registers a little too strongly in Weber’s assessment of the architect, he provides a breadth of information about the architect’s life that would be exhaustive if I didn’t admire the architect so much.

The largest source of documents that are available to Weber are letters, hundreds it seems, exchanged between Le Corbusier and his mother.  Weber paints an almost Freudian picture of their relationship: a son tirelessly vying for his mother’s affections; a man that can dominate all people in his life except his family.  The writing elegantly weaves these primary documents into the narrative of Le Corbusier’s chronology, giving us a means to identify the man behind the architect.  For a project that was to be one of his masterworks, Ronchamp, a chapel in rural France, Weber analyzes Le Corbusier’s relationship with his mother and the public via one such letter.  He writes:

Yes, it's a church.“The letter was both a boast and a supplication.  At [Ronchamp’s opening] ceremonies on Saturday‘, Le Corbusier told ‘ma chere Petite Maman,’ ‘Everything was cheer, beauty, spiritual splendor.  Your Le Corbusier was honored to the highest degree.  Considered.  Loved.  Respected.’
“Then he explained how delicate the situation was.  For Ronchamp was a revolutionary work of architecture – radical in its approach to the Catholic rites and ritual: ‘By my architecture,. Worship is raised to the highest degree, purified, restored to the Gospels.’ The best priests acknowledged this cheerfully.  The opposition did not.”
(Weber 685)

He was by no means a sensitive man, but rather one who was driven towards a goal.  There were few that would be able to impede his drive.  Although, we are told, ultimately he never felt as if he succeeded to the extent he desired.

This is a book for architects, specifically those infatuated as I am with his work.  Corbusier was a master of functional spaces that were more human in feel and proportion than most of his modernist successors.  He could also use concrete, heavy and cold, and create airy light filled rooms and weightless sensual rooflines.

It is also a book for anyone struggling against their world to create in the way that they know to be right.  When forces internal and external impede the mastering of a passion, one need only look at the life Le Corbusier lived and take note of the choices he made.  Not all his choices were the best, but that’s not the lesson.  The book offers a solid model of one artist’s path for the reader to judge and, hopefully learn from.  After all, here was a man, who only felt that he was beginning his life at 67 when he wrote an acquaintance:

Round glasses = architect.“Dear friend, I’m blooming or fructifying (as you choose).  I prefer blooming.  Blooming like an apple tree in spring.  For this is just what’s happened: if you live your life severely but strongly, youth comes to you, everything blooms.  Not a maturity, a harvest, but an authentic flowering.  Of course, this doesn’t keep my hair from falling out.” (Weber 625)

Rad.  For more on Le Corbusier check the links:

Foundation Le Corbusier

Great Buildings Online – a great source for his portfolio

Architect bio via Wikipedia

His visionary Unite d’habitation project in Marseille

Weber’s Bio at Random House

Ganache and Buttercream…My Humps 06.01.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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My lovely lady lumps.I don’t quite know what to call these haphazard little creations.  The idea came from a post over on Cakespy and goes by the German name “Granatsplitter”.  But I can’t pronounce that.  Rather, I think it takes the best part of the cake, the frosting and covers it in rich chocolate.  Not only that, it utilizes the remains of any cake crumbs that might be leftover from, say a prior project.  “Waste not, eat more,” I say.  What results is a dessert that is perhaps a little risqué.  Mouth feel is flirty, the flavor combo is dangerous, and the aesthetic…well, um…

You’ll find the recipe here.  It’s translated from German.  I think you can do as I did and just wing it with leftovers and a little new ganache.  Note that you’ll want your ganache really cool so that it doesn’t melt the refrigerated buttercream.  If you have lots of time, let the ganache cool and the buttercream warm up for a tougher outside and softer inside.

Let’s go:  Take the cake remnants and leftover frosting and beat them together. It may help to finely chop the cake remnants first.  Fool around with proportions.  I used a 1:1 ratio.  Make sure the buttercream is soft.

It will end up a little firmer than regular frosting.  Good, spoon it out of your bowl and onto a sheet of wax paper that has been placed on pan, mounding up two to three spoonfuls.  Make some room in your fridge and refrigerate the mounds till solid, about an hour.

pouring ganacheMeanwhile, you can prep the ganache:

  • 8 oz heavy cream
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Put the cream in a saucepan and heat till it is foaming and rising towards the pan rim.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate.  Let it sit for a few seconds and then whisk.  Whisk.  Whisk.  The chocolate will incorporate into the cream and you will get a warm, dark bunch of chocolate sauce.  Let cool till a spoonful poured back into the pan will remain on the surface instead of sinking.  It’ll be about 90 degrees.

Transfer a chilled buttercream lump to a wire cooling rack that has a pan or parchment underneath.  Pour cooled ganache over the lump.  If your ganache is the right temp, it will not liquefy the outer layer of the buttercream and slide off.

Continue with your other lumps, letting the ganache cool while on the wire rack.  After 30 minutes, transfer lumps to a plate and serve.  They can be cooled for a long time too.  Yum!

Thanks to Susie Evans at Office Nomads for the action photography.

Is the blurriness a product of the intention or the lighting?