Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Burger of the Week #219

Two all beef patties from freelance illustrator Sara Mulvanny

Finding Jazz: The Internet Seeks Out a Lost Designer

This design is rather generic, and yet, it might feel oddly familiar to you.

Are you able to place it? If you're a child of the '90s (or even an adult), this pattern might look familiar to you, but you might not know why...
This is Jazz, a pattern designed for the Sweetheart Cup Company (later Solo cup and now Dart) by "Gina" in 1990. The design is the highest grossing design in company history and has become iconic for an entire generation.

The teal scribble strikes nostalgic for many, and a few weeks ago, in an effort to find out more about the cup's designer, an anonymous user turned to Reddit, asking the internet to help. "Perhaps the crowd-sourced brain of Reddit can help," he wrote.

The collective brain power of the internet turned up Gina (no last name), an employee of Sweetheart in the '80s/'90s in Springfield, Missouri. Mystery not yet fully solved, News-Leader's Thomas Gouney started searching... 

The search was extensive, but following a Twitter lead, Gouney eventually found and interviewed Gina Ekiss in Aurora, Missouri.
Gina's design was the winning entry in an internal design contest for a new stock design held in 1989. Without design parameters to go on, Gina designed Jazz to be mass-produced, and to maintain it's overall integrity if misrepresented slightly.

The design went on to become part of '90s culture, becoming beloved and reproduced on everything from clothing to nail art to car decals.  

The cups may have been disposable, but Gina's legacy seems to have lived on. You can read Gouney's full account and watch his interview with Gina on News-Leader.com. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Spread the Woosah Grand Rapids!

The highlight of the SS16 Cushe Conference was collaborating with Erica Lang of Woosah Outfitters on an original woodcut design.

Woosah Outfitters and Printshop is a naturally inspired print and apparel brand meant to inspire an inner peace and calmness—which Erica refers to as Woosah.

Today, Erica celebrated a great achievement, the grand opening of her store front on Division Avenue, known as the Avenue for the Arts, in Grand Rapids.

The store is combination of everything Woosah means for Erica > the artful, handmade nature of her carved woodblocks, mixed with the stillness and beauty of nature. Erica has put so much of herself into the store, and it is designed personally and immaculately. Details were not overlooked.

A graduate of Kendall College of Art and Design, Erica's designs are created as woodcuts, which is the oldest form of printmaking. It's a time consuming process, driven by skill, but also by pure passion.

To make a woodcut, first you carve a design (in reverse) into a block of wood. You carve away the areas you don't want printed. What remains will then get inked, usually with a roller. When you roll ink across the block, the raised portions will take on ink. You can then print the design by pressing it into paper (Erica uses an etching press here to apply even, consistent pressure).*
Erica's designs have a distinct style and handmade texture to them. Each is inspired by an obvious love for the outdoors, and displays a sense of whimsy and inspiration.
Erica funded the store opening through a very successful Kickstarter campaign. It is a place that brings about immediate peace and wonder, and invites you to look around and linger. Check it out for yourself at 131 S Division in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Follow Erica and her amazing art on instagram, and spread a little Woosah yourself!

*This process is not entirely unlike the linoleum block printing I've done in that past.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Goin' Emoji : Chevy Get's Emotional

Apparently "words alone can't describe the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze", so Chevy has issued a press release written entirely in emojis.

I imagine that when you're drowning in a world of non-descript, mundane press releases, having something like this come across your desk is like discovering sunshine and rainbows. 

I personally haven't figured out how to read most texting acronyms, let alone use emojis on my phone. Luckily, Norm McDonald has stepped in to help us translate.  
The emotionally expressive release is accompanied by the hashtag #chevygoesemoji, because, let's face it, Chevy is hip and cool. If I didn't already drive a Cruze, I might be curious to find out more!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Failing at Plantains

Often on a trip, there is a food that recurs throughout becomes emblematic to that trip. In Costa Rica, the stand-out food was plantains—both as chips, and as an ooey-gooey, sweet treat. 

Plantains are not hard to come by in the US. But as a I learned in the last few weeks, they are quite hard to cook. Here's how that journey went. 

Recreating the chips...
These come in bags, like regular chips in Costa, but I used my Top Chip trays to replicate plantain chips at home. It worked remarkably well. Sliced with a mandolin and microwaved 2 minutes, a little salt and they were good to go.
I also found these pre-packaged at a few stores, but the only place they were any good was Kingma's. Not surprising, Kingma's excels at drying fruit and covering things in chocolate...

Frying plantains....
Attempt #1.
I guess it worked.

But it really wasn't very good. There was no ooey-gooey sweetness here, and clearly my smoke detector needs new batteries. Just rather bland, next time I shall try frying them in butter.

Attempt #2.
A messier version of #1

I tried frying them in butter this time. And while they got softer, I added the sugar while it was frying and it turned into a sticky, smokey, sometimes flaming mess (i learned on this day that my smoke detector does not, in fact, need new batteries). Had I been paying more attention, I may have been able to salvage these, but still, not quite right. 

Attempt #3
I decided to follow the advice of the waiter at San Chez, which was to fry the plaintains (like above, then mash into patties and fry again, so they are twice fried. I don't think i did it right— these look nothing like San Chez plantains. They didn't taste like them either. These tasted like gooey, banana pancakes (not all together horrible) and nothing like the tostones effect I was going for. 
So all in all, I give up. Fried Plantains don't even sound appealing anymore! They shall remain a traveling and tapas treat for me. 

For the record, THIS is the appearance and consistency I was looking for, unos platano maduros: 

Burger of the Week #218

Tired of getting super-sized? McDonalds is introducing Mini Meals at select locations. The meals include a sandwich, small fries, and a soft drink, and range from 660 to 820 calories. They cost $2.99-$3.99. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Burger of the Week #217

You better turn the lights off before this burger eats you!
The hamburger lamp from Undercover is back. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Building Nature

Creative art collaborations should inspire viewers look at something differently — 
Take, for example, this Lego installation at the Huntsville botanical gardens, which connects nature and art in a whimsical manner. 

Placing playful sculptures within in this vast environment, juxtaposes complicated and elegant natural beings with the most basic of building blocks. 
There is something innately appealing about Lego blocks. They transcend age limits and invoke a feeling of vast possibilities. And while they could never recreate the delicate reality of a butterfly wing or a lily petal, I sure do like seeing them try. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Seeing Red: It's Beet Week

A bountiful trip to the farmer's market, made in necessary that this be Beet Week!

Beets are a fairly polarizing food— sure they sometimes like dirt, but they are the most amazing shade of fuschia (and who doesn't love eating colors!?)! I discovered beets just a few years back and immediately began a love affair with them. Cold, roasted, or pickled, all of detoxifying nutrients and all fine by me.

So let's see what happened this week. 

Beet Chips
With a little experimentation, and my Top Chips trays, I learned that in about 3.5 minutes a beet becomes a chip. A really beautiful chip, with concentric rings and slight ruffling at the edges. Think Terra Chips. This was an amazing snack and a quick easy way to eat a beet.  

Beet Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl
For anyone who doesn't like beets, this might be the bread is for you, it tastes nothing like beets—in fact it's rather bland. It's also a bland color. Which I don't understand, seeing as the puree was such a magnificent, velvety fuchsia. 

Look at what it looked like on the recipe where I pulled the recipe. Purple beetiness!

So the bread had fine texture and might be fine smeared with butter and jam, it's just entirely lacking in flavor (and rich beety color!), which makes it completely undesirable to me. I'm not sure what went wrong here. 

But to go along with bland bread, I made a Russian Beet Salad – which was anything but bland. Since I decided to substitute the red cabbage for radicchio*, this salad was zinging all over the place. 

This salad was basically a flavorful slaw. I'd leave out the potato hashbrown things next time (weird?) and add apples instead. But it's a good way to use a raw beet and overall was pretty refreshing. 

It's back to the farmer's market on Friday, so we'll see what recipes get unearthed next week!

*I made this decision based on the fact that cabbage and radicchio were the same color and the Radicchio was cuter. Turns out radicchio is basically radish flavored lettuce. Zing.