31 October, 2012

the METRONOME Menu #1

This suggestion should keep you in the kitchen for roughly an hour. Main course will be baked sausages in a batter, aka "toad-in-the-hole", by James Taner, accompanied by a hearty greek salad. Serve with red dry wine of your choice, that you have left to "breathe" for a while in room temperature. For dessert we shall use a simple idea from Jamie Oliver. Frozen grapes, served with chocolate and paired with chilled Grappa. That should keep you discussing for a while. Enjoy !

Gather, wash and prepare your ingredients. Set up your work surfaces, and your chopping board. Preheat your oven to 220°C. Knife sharpened and ready. Hand towel close by. Use extra virgin olive oil for all the recipes (unless stated otherwise). Start with the dessert. When finished start preparing the sausages. While the sausages are being baked for the first stage, prepare the first stage of the salad. Then proceed to the second stage of the bake and that of the salad. At the end of the bake, you should be ready to serve.

Grapes & Choc
  • Dark chocolate bar, Milk chocolate bar, almonds chocolate bar (basically whatever you like, but keep >70% cocoa).
  • Muscat, dark or strawberry grapes

What to do :
  • Put your bottle of grappa and the grapes in the freezer, about 2 to 3 hours before you want to serve them.
  • Prior to serving, break the chocolate into large chunks. 
  • Arrange the chocolate with the grapes, and serve with shots of Grappa 

Greek Salad

    1 large slice of feta cheese
     1 large ripe tomato, chopped coarsely
     2 medium onions sliced (you may also use green fresh onions)
     1/2 cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
     7-8 black olives (optionally pit and slice them)
     1 teaspoon capers
     Several basil leaves
     1 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
     Olive oil to taste (1/3-1/2 of a cup)
     1 teaspoon vinegar
     Pinch of freshly ground pepper (green preferably)
     Salt to taste

What to do :
  • (1st stage) Cut the tomato, onions, cucumber. Add the olives and capers. Sprinkle with the oregano and ground pepper and toss all the ingredients. Leave at room temperature to rest, or until you are ready to serve.
  • (2nd stage) Prior to serving, season with the salt. Pour the olive oil and vinegar over the mix, and toss again.
  • On top crumble the feta cheese (or break gently in large chunks). Drizzle with olive oil, and add the basil leaves (crush them a bit with your fingers first).


The "toads" :
     8 great quality sausages (pork or spiced)
     1 onion, sliced coarsely
     2 tablespoons olive oil
     Crushed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The batter :
     100gr all-purpose flour
     2 eggs
     300ml full-fat milk
     Pinch of crushed sea salt

What to do :
  • (1st stage) Put the sausages in a medium roasting tin (so they are quite snug). Scatter over the onion, season with crushed sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, at 200°C until the sausages are beginning to brown and the onions are tinged at the edges.
  • For the batter, sift the flour into a mixing bowl with the salt. Make a well in the centre and crack in the eggs. Beat lightly, then gradually pour in the milk, beating all the time, until you have a smooth batter.
  • (2nd stage) Remove the roasting tin from the oven and pour the batter over the sausages. Sausages should be partially covered. You may cut them coarsely if you prefer.
  • Return to the oven for a further 25-30 minutes, at the same temperature, until the batter is crisp, golden and well risen. Serve immediately.

For the original recipes please visit :

Bruce Percy photography

Bruce Percy is an Edinburgh based photographer attracted to the wilderness and the people that live on the edges of it. In his own words, "photography is a great way of getting closer to the land and the cultures that inhabit it". His work has been featured on numerous publications, including the National Geographic Traveler Magazine. 

One can easily be captivated by the tranquility of nature conveyed on some of his work, while mesmerized by the ferociousness portrayed in others.

I was drawn to his work while investigating modern portraiture, captured with analog rangefinder cameras, and became captivated in an instant. A sample of his work, can be viewed here. A wealth of moody landscapes and striking portraits, as well as the photographer's commentary, can be found on his website.

Kinetic fanzine

Singapore-based creative agency Kinetic, with an interactive imaginarium titled "Kinetic Fanzine vol.1", have obtained a Webby Award in Best Visual Design (Aesthetic). Part interactive toy, part virtual fun house, Kinetic’s web zine is a strange brew of narrative storytelling and stream-of-consciousness collage; above all, it’s a clever piece of self-promotion. See it here.

The website is styled after fanzines, which spawn non-professional and non-official content for the knowledge and pleasure of those who share their interests in various topics of interest and cultural phenomenons.

Kinetic Vol. 2
In a conference of independent agencies, "Fanzine Vol 2 : Independence" was launched. The limited publication featured stories of autonomy from around the world. Passages were entirely fabricated, naturally.

see also : Kinetic Fanzine Writer, Joseph G. Davies

30 October, 2012


By definition "a fireplace is an architectural structure designed to contain a fire for heating, as well as for cooking". Over time however, the design of fireplaces has changed from one of necessity to one of visual interest. The only aspect which has remained unchanged since probably the paleolithic era, is that a fireplace still is the gathering place within ones' home. 

Historically, fires defined the focus of social life, shaping hearth and house and tracing human habitation. Indeed, a family used to consist of those who shared a fireside.

As the need for containment and control of fire increased, so too did the development of safer and more efficient means of heat and light. The central fireplace disappeared into kitchen stoves and basement furnaces, with flues carrying heat to other rooms devoid of flames. The hearth became an optional feature in the house and the cold flicker of television replaced the warm flames of the hearth, as the focus of social life.

In NY nowadays, the fireplace, once a point of pride, is now seen as an environmental hazard, due to air pollution, the associated health hazards and the practice of burning wood deemed as seriously eco-unfriendly.

Black or white, brightly colored, brick or metal, each fitting for each room, to each hearth. There's something about a fire, something old and warming and good that speaks deeply to the heart of all of us. A room with a fire in it is like an old friend; safe, comforting and just right.

A collection of modern fireplace and wood stoves, horizontal, vertical, rotating or suspending.

29 October, 2012

Think, question & inquire. Skeptic mag.

Skepticism has a long historical tradition dating back to ancient Greece, when Socrates observed: “All I know is that I know nothing.” Modern skepticism however, is embodied in the scientific method, which involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. The key to skepticism is to continuously and vigorously apply the methods of science to navigate the treacherous straits between “know nothing” skepticism and “anything goes” credulity.

Scientific skepticism (also spelled skepticism) is the practice of questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". Scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism, which questions our ability to claim any knowledge about the nature of the world and how we perceive it. Scientific skepticism primarily uses deductive arguments to evaluate claims which lack a suitable evidential basis. [1]

Skeptic is a quarterly science education and science advocacy magazine published internationally by The Skeptics Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting scientific skepticism and resisting the spread of pseudoscience, superstition, and irrational beliefs.[2] Founded by Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society,[3] the magazine was first published in the spring of 1992 and is published through Millennium Press. Skeptic has an international circulation with over 50,000 subscriptions and is on major newsstands in the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe, Australia, and other countries. [2]

I thoroughly enjoyed, a long video publication featured on the site, titled "Ancient Aliens debunked", which in a straightforward fashion contradicts many of the claims of the aliens-that-have-visited-earth-numerous-times advocates, on whose views and proposed evidence a whole History Channel series was based upon. Links for the video can be found here and here.

Should you wish to explore more on the matter of scepticism, I would suggest the Sceptic Magazine (UK), or the FreeThinker (UK). For a concise source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation, try Snopes.com.

In general terms, as we are increasingly hammered by views and revelations, of all different sorts, that require our belief, time or money, we have to stand skeptical or critical to say the least. So I urge you to think, question and inquire, before you actually believe. Don't blindly believe, no matter how tired or desperate you may feel.

Of course you cannot question and inquire about everything. It is counter-productive and sure takes a lot of time. For most of cases most scholars suggest using this thing called "common sense". That, needless to say, implies that there is sense in someone, before that sense being common, and actually put into use.

the Barn : Café & Deli

A chic and health-conscious Slow Food hub in the heart of Berlin Mitte, orchestrated by its owner Ralf Rüller and his crew of international staff. In his own words, “I wanted to work in a neighbourhood deli-cafe that offers both great coffee and fresh food. I couldn’t find anything that could hold the standards you find in New York or London, for example, so I created my own." And he did an exceptional work, both in terms of produce and service offered, as well as the overall aesthetics. Find more on their website here.

Also featured in Wallpaper magazine, the place was heralded as propably one reason to move to Berlin. The Barn offers a variety of homemade cakes (by recipes of the owner's mother), scones and sandwiches. And when it comes to their coffee, well let's just say that they trully feel very passionate about their coffee. Single origin, full of aroma and flavour, simply exceptional. Their Barn Roastery venture however, raised some considerable commotion since its decision to ban entry for strollers, although that was decided due to evacuation in case of emergency concerns.

Read a casual interview here, and a couple of street reviews here and here.

Apartment in Portugal

This apartment in Portugal by architects Pedro Varela & Renata Pinho of Rucativa Arquitectura, has been featured extensively on various architecture and design publications. Its main feature, the striking divider / bookcase / storage space, a signature for the apartment, and acting separator between the living room and the front entrance.

The renovation involved replacing the floor, adding storage and remodelling the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. The enormous yellow unit includes a pull-out stool with a smiling face for the children. The kitchen is like a big flipping machine, with a replaceable counter, convertible laundry room and hidden storage in a clean layout.

28 October, 2012

Zen Pencils - Confucius

Gavin Aung Than is a freelance illustrator living in Melbourne, Australia. He has spent a number of years as corporate graphic designer before quitting to pursue his passion for illustration and cartooning. Since then he has been illustrating famous quotes, creating as he calls them "cartoon quotes from inspirational folks". His work is trully outstanding. View this sample here, and visit his website for more.

Original Post by the artist was on 3 Feb.2012 here.
Legend :
Confucius (551BC-479BC) was a Chinese philosopher, moral thinker and all-around wise dude. His work has been formulated into Confucianism, a doctrine of philosophy which teaches that human beings are responsible for their self-fulfilment through moral actions towards others.

Ladies & Gentlemen: Wear Sunscreen

Once, or several times in your life, a writing comes along, that represents a rather holistic, or simplistic to others, but definitely concise or tempting view for living. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia [1]

"Wear Sunscreen" or "Sunscreen", are the common names of an article titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" [2] written by Mary Schmich and published in the Chicago Tribune as a column in 1997, but often erroneously attributed to a commencement speech by author Kurt Vonnegut. Both its subject and tone are similar to the 1927 poem "Desiderata" [3]. The most popular and well-known form of the essay is the successful music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)", released in 1999, by Baz Luhrmann.

Next is the article by Mary Schmich …

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.
Mary Schmich

Should you wish to read it again, what follows is a cover for the music single "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)",  by Baz Luhrmann.

Sources : 

Istanbul Design Biennial

Taking place from the 13th of October until the 12th of December, of 2012, the first Design Biennial in Istanbul, Turkey, aims to attract the international art, design and architecture community to this bustling with life metropolis on the Bosporus.

With the aim of underlining the importance of design for production, economy, cultural interaction and quality of life, this first Biennial will be realised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts. The Biennial will be open to all disciplines of the creative industries in major fields such as urban design, architecture, interior design, industrial design, graphic design, new media design and fashion design, as well as their subfields. 

Istanbul Design Biennial will take place in two distinct exhibition spaces under the curatorship of Emre Arolat and Joseph Grima, within the framework of the theme “Imperfection”, as suggested by Deyan Sudjic, Istanbul Design Biennial advisory board member and Director of the Design Museum in London.

figures above
left.   'prodUSER' by tristan kopp
right. 'kiosk 2.0' mobile 3D printer station, by Unfold

Emre Arolat’s exhibition “Musibet” in Istanbul Modern and Joseph Grima’s exhibition “Adhocracy” in Galata Greek Primary School will bring together roughly 100 projects of more than 200 designers and architects from 46 countries, with works ranging from random objects, video installations, models, open air settings and photographs to interactive works where visitors can create their own designs. Along with main exhibitions in two venues, events will be spread across the city through Academic Programme, Workshops, Parallel Participants’ Events and Design Walks. Biennial will present different axes of debate on design to the attention of Istanbul’s cultural life through the Film Screenings, debates and panels.

figures above
left.   'Filter for Open Source Water Boiler' by Belgian design studio Unfold
right. 'Keystones' by Rotterdam design studio Minale-Maeda

Design Walks to be organized within the scope of the Istanbul Design Biennial in sponsorship of Pırlant will offer opportunities to visit more than 90 shops, workshops, manufacturing shops and architectural structures selected on the premise of their design. These Design Walks that will include religious structures in Kuzguncuk to shoe design and manufacture workshops in Nişantaşı; wrought copper masters in Grand Bazaar to jewelry design shops and workshops in Çukurcuma will enrich the participants’ understanding and experiences on design. Design Walks will start on November and will be composed of 7 distinct routes. For more detailed information on Design Walks, ticket prices and participation you can contact designwalk@istanbuldesignbiennial.org

PainTTless by Thunderbike

This is probably one of the most beautiful motorcycles, I have ever laid eyes upon. I cannot comment on its usability, operation, and all other engineering aspects that determine its actual functionality (ie. whether it is actually drivable or not), since I am not knowledgeable on that field. But when it comes to aesthetics … you have to agree that both form and vision are outstanding. Mind you, there is no paint job on the parts. What you see is original metalwork on different materials.

This bike is the brainchild of renowned custom motorcycle builder Andreas Bergerforth and his team at the Thunderbike Garage, in Germany. She took 8 months to build, with almost every element having been painstakingly hand-fabricated. The design inspiration was ice-racing motorcycles from the early 20th century, the narrow front profile is designed to be as aerodynamic as possible and the long, stretched side profile allows the rider to stretch out and get as low as possible. Visit the original reviewer's post here, with a wealth of images, points and spec. Visit the Thunderbike Garage website for info and pictures here.

Baking chips

Simple recipes, that take minimum preparation and attendance, and shall give back fullness of flavour and a smile to your spouse or children. They are easy to make, less messy, packing fewer calories than their fried counterparts, and surely a lot healthier than the ones you buy in a store. To conserve on energy, it’s best to make these after cooking something else in the oven, when you won't spend much electricity to maintain the low temperature required to bake the chips. Find below four recipes to suit your particular taste. For the salty chips serve them together with a simple sauce based on tomato or greek yogurt. A horseradish sauce sounds really nice, for the beetroots.

Baked beetroot chips

Baking the beetroots in the oven instead of frying makes them shrink quite a bit, since the moisture content isn’t replaced by the oil. You will need :

  • Beetroots (red or yellow)
  • Olive oil to spray
  • Salt to taste
Peel the beetroots, and slice them very thinly with a cheese cutter, a vegetable peeler, mandolin, or even a food processor if you have one. Use a baking sheet on your oven tray, so that they won't stick to it, and you won't have to thoroughly clean it afterwards. Spray a thin layer of olive oil over the paper, or brush the paper with as little oil as you can. Arrange the beetroot slices on the baking sheet, snugly but not overlapping, and spray them with some olive oil. 

Preheat the oven to 120°C. Bake at 100°C for 35-40 minutes, flip the chips, and bake for 30-35 minutes more. Use your own feel as to the time necessary since we want them very crispy and dry, but not burnt. They may require another flipping or two (for less time). When finished baking, salt the chips on the tray, let them cool for a couple of minutes, take them of the baking sheet, drain them on a piece of kitchen paper if necessary then serve them.

Baked potato chips

You will need :

  • Potatoes or Sweet potatoes
  • Olive oil to spray
  • Salt to taste
Peel the potatoes, and slice them very thinly with a cheese cutter, a vegetable peeler, mandolin, or even a food processor if you have one. Use a baking sheet on your oven tray, so that they won't stick to it, and you won't have to thoroughly clean it afterwards. Spray a thin layer of olive oil over the paper, or brush the paper with as little oil as you can. Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheet, snugly but not overlapping, and spray them with some olive oil. 

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Bake at 200°C for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, then flip the chips, and bake for 10-15 minutes more. They may require another flipping or two (for less time). When finished baking, salt the chips on the tray, let them cool for a couple of minutes, then take them off the baking sheet, and drain them on a piece of kitchen paper if necessary then serve them. Sweet potatoes shrink a bit more than potatoes, but require lower temperatures, so adjust accordingly. 

Baked pita chips

Baking pita bread into crispy little chips is one of the quickest treats. They're healthier and far less expensive than store bought crackers. You can season these with something as simple as a sprinkle of salt and pepper, or get creative with different spice or dried herb combinations. You will need :

  • Arabic pitas
  • Olive oil to spray
  • Salt to taste
  • (optional) cumin, oregano, etc., to season according to taste or mood
Open, separate the two layers, then cut them to manageable pieces. Use a baking sheet on your oven tray, so that they won't stick to it, and you won't have to thoroughly clean it afterwards. Spray a thin layer of olive oil over the paper, or brush the paper with as little oil as you can. Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheet, snugly but not overlapping, and spray them with some olive oil. 

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Bake at 200°C for 15-20 minutes or until brownish, then flip the chips, and bake for 10-15 minutes more. They may require another flipping or two (for less time). When finished baking, salt and season the chips on the tray, let them cool for a couple of minutes, then take them off the baking sheet, drain them on a piece of kitchen paper if necessary, and serve them.

Baked apple chips

And now something more sweeter, for those times that you need something more dessert like, or for your breakfast. Depending on the apples' variety that you'll use, and the tanginess or sweetness you want, you may need to adjust the quantity of sugar, or skip the cinnamon altogether. You will need :

  • A couple of apples (any variety)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Half a tablespoon (or to taste) of cinnamon
  • A bit of the juice from a lemon
Do not peel the apples, in order for the resulting slices to hold together. Slice the apples thinly (but not too much) with a cheese cutter, or a mandolin. Use a baking sheet on your oven tray, so that they won't stick to it. Use some of the juice of a lemon to brush the slices (use your hands). In that way the slices won't get brown (it depends on how mature are the apples). Use a medium bowl to prepare a mix of the brown sugar and the cinnamon. Dip and flip the apple slices in the mix, until largely covered. Arrange the apple slices on the baking sheet, snugly but not overlapping.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Bake at 200°C for 1 hour or until brownish, then flip the chips, and bake for 1 hour more. They may require another flipping or two (for less time). When finished baking, let them cool for a couple of minutes, then take them off the baking sheet, and serve them.
welcome dear reader.


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