Sunday, February 15, 2015

Raspberry Rose Pudding

Valentine's Day is synonymous with boring boxes of chocolate and cliché bouquets of roses. While some people may find those things lovely, I am just not one of those people.  I like to celebrate with things that are a little more outside of the box and thoughtful.  That's why when I found a recipe for raspberry rose pudding, I was immediately intrigued and got to cooking.

In a world full of truffles, brownies, and cake decorating, it seems as though pudding has become a bit of a lost art in the baking industry.  The lack of pudding popularity is actually quite curious, considering that it's innately gluten-free and when created from a purée (like this one is) it can easily become dairy-free as well. These traits can be hard to come by in the traditional dessert market, so it seems funny that pudding hasn't quite found it's place amongst one of the many growing food trends. 

My favorite part about this homemade pudding, aside from it's tangy flavor and creamy texture, was the fun I had while dressing it up to photograph.  Serving the dessert in heart-shaped marbled chocolate cups helped give a little Valentine's Day spirit to the dish, while a dollop of whipped cream and some shaved chocolate added a hint of sweetness.  The end result is a unique, delicious dessert that will leave you begging for more.


1/8 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 large egg yolk
12 oz. fresh red raspberries
3/8 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 teaspoon rosewater
whipped cream, to serve (optional)
white chocolate, to serve (optional)


Whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small to medium-sized bowl, slowly pouring in the cup of water.  Continue to whisk until smooth, adding in the egg yolk.  Purée the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a blender until liquified. Pour the purée mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3 qt. saucepan, using a spoon to press as much liquid as possible out of the raspberry pulp.  Heat the purée mixture on high to bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Turn off the heat, and whisk about half of the hot raspberry mixture into the bowl of cornstach and egg yolk.  Pour this slowly back into the pan, whisking vigorously while doing so. Turn the heat back on to medium, bringing the pudding to a full boil.  Let it simmer for 2 minutes, whisking frequently. Turn off the heat and whisk in rosewater. Immediately pour the pudding into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerator for 2 hours or until completely cold.  Serve with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

Adapted from The Kitchn dessert recipe.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Inspired Beauty Treatments

Valentine's Day is coming to a close and chances are that you are going to have some red roses and strawberries lying around for some time afterward.  So before you let those flowers die their eventual death or find strawberries going bad in your fridge, why not recycle them and pamper yourself in the process? Here are three homemade beauty treatments that will have you asking for roses and strawberries all year long:

Strawberries and Cream Face Mask

Mash 4 strawberries with a fork and mix with heavy cream and a dollop of honey.  Heavy cream provides great hydration for dry skin, but you can substitute with sour cream (for normal skin) or plain greek yogurt (for sensitive, acne-prone skin). Generously apply the mixture to the face while avoiding the eye area, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing clean.  The natural salicylic acid, vitamin C, and alpha hydroxy acids in the strawberries make this a great mask for clearing up your skin and lightening hyperpigmentation, but they can also be substituted with red raspberries if you have a strawberry allergy.  Note: You can store any leftover face mask in the fridge for up to a week!

Coconut and Rose Hair Oil

Begin by adding a cup of fresh red rose petals to a pot and cover with about an inch of water. Cover the pot and gradually simmer on low heat until the rose petals lose their color (approximately 15 minutes).  Once complete, melt 1/2 a cup of coconut oil in a separate pot, then add 2 tablespoons of the rose water and 1/2 a cup of fresh red rose petals (about one rose worth). Bring the mixture to a low boil, and let it simmer for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, and let it cool before straining through a coffee filter.  Apply the oil to dry hair and your scalp, letting it sit for 20 minutes - I recommend wrapping your hair in a gentle towel or using a shower cap - before shampooing out.  Note: Be sure to use organic or hand-picked roses to avoid applying a warm bath of pesticides to your hair!

Strawberry Sugar Body Scrub

Mash 7 to 10 strawberries with a fork and combine with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil, and as much granulated sugar needed to create a gritty mixture.  Apply to your entire body using small circular motions, and rinse off in the shower.  The oils will help moisturize while the strawberries exfoliate, and the sugar will help shed dead skin cells.  You'll be left with unbelievably soft and glowing skin afterward.  As a person that suffers from moderate to severe eczema, this is a personal favorite!  Note: This is a sticky and messy one, so you should probably stand in the shower the entire time you're applying the scrub!

I hope everyone is enjoying their Valentine's Day, and let me know if you try any of these treatments (and how they turned out) in a comment below!

Watch YouTube beauty guru, Allthatglitters21, make each recipe here.  Also be sure to check out her blogs Dreaming in Blush and I Heart You Coffee for more beauty and lifestyle fun.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

When History Bites the Dust

Northwestern University recently finished demolition on the Historic Prentice Women's Hospital in order to make room for a new research center.  Many people loved that building.  Many more people seemed to hate it.  Regardless of your personal feelings toward the Brutalist structure, there is no denying that it played an important part in Chicago's history of modern architecture.  I have always thought the Women's Hospital was an intriguing building, and it makes my heart sad to know that it is no longer standing. As a designer, I can't imagine the feeling of having put so much time and dedication into a project just to potentially see it torn down one day.  The real kicker here, though, is knowing that a piece of history is gone.

In the wake of the building's long and methodical deconstruction, a door has opened for many interesting discussions regarding the role of historic preservation in modern society.  What makes us want to get rid of certain architecture styles but keep others?  What kind of meaning or value do we attach to the styles that have endured the test of time?  I think Denise Scott Brown's perspective describes it best: "There's always a reaction against the style of the most recent past." How do we as designers make sure that our projects will survive multiple generations? Change is constant, and the U.S. is a young, progressive country.  Are all historical buildings in America doomed to a certain fate?  I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the subject.