From My Kitchen to Your Office
It was Salsa Verde night at my summer home in Northern Michigan a few weeks ago. This time, it was to go over some freshly caught lake salmon, cooked over the grill. Turned out fantastic… but that is a topic for another blog entry.
What struck me as I was chopping up the parsley was the uniqueness of my new cutting board. I had been originally been drawn to this board for its’ unique aesthetics… but what sealed the deal for me was the tag informing me that this cutting board was engineered from 100% recycled materials, including a by product from the paper industry that looks like confetti in the material. I thought this was very cool.
So here I was, cutting away… very happy with my purchase when that creative light bulb went off. What if we used scrap leather from our manufacturing process to create a new line??!! Not only could it look super sharp but we would be using more of our raw materials.
A few calls to our friends in Italy put me in touch with a great company that utilizes scrap from Italian vegetable-tanned leather. The scrap is bound together and rolled into smooth sheets.
Back to my creative director and her awesome genius- desk sets with an eco-friendly bias for office work. We’re in the testing stage now. So far so good. It is a great writing surface, but it is always asking for another espresso.
Autumn, Ohio, & Oak Street
Most of the world uses the Roman calendar… (Yea- let’s hear it for the Italians again!) Around the office at Bosca Accessories, however, we kind of have our own calendar.
Just the other day, we were sitting around talking about how it seems that during the summer we all tend to go off on our own a bit more, wander, and coast a bit more. The end of summer just feels like the close of another year. And with the arrival of autumn, we seem to fall into new more energetic patterns…and the beginning of our Bosca Year.
The beginning of this year has started out with a major change for the Creative Team. We’ve closed the doors of our much-loved office on Marconi Blvd in Columbus, Ohio. Although a little sad, we are sooooo excited to be moving into our new building on Oak Street in the near future. (Crossing fingers on the “near” part).
Usually golden reds come with the autumn season and the dusting of white comes with winter…but I am almost positive that the City Building department may present me a heavy dose of white (hair) early.
But the end is in sight, and soon we will be moving in!!
The building is really cool. It was originally built in 1876 and has changed hands and purposes throughout the years. It definitely is/was in need of a bit of love but I knew with a bit of tender attention and renovation, it would make a fantastic creative space.
We’ve picked out some fabulous reclaimed materials too- like the 100+ year old oak flooring. These planks are planed from old Ohio barns that are beyond repair.
We can’t wait to get into our new space, spread out all of our swatches, samples, prints, drawings, cuttings, clippings. We haven’t even moved in and it’s already a happy, creative mess.
Roasted Red Peppers; The Deal Sealer
A long long time ago, in a town that little resembles the town that it once was then; I took my wife-to-be on our first date. At that time there were only a few pretty good restaurants in the area and only a couple of very good ones. Our first date was to be a very cute little family owned and run Italian place.
This was when I discovered that one of the foods that was near and dear to my heart (and stomach) had never experienced by my future betrothed NOR was she feeling any deep need or care to try them.
Well that answer just didn’t work for me… she HAD to at least TRY them.
So I ordered.
And she tried.
And then I had to apologize.
You see, as much credit as the little Italian place got for having roasted peppers on the menu, they were not what I had talked them up to be. Without going into specifics, let’s just say that I was nervous that I would never get another chance to introduce Courtney-hail-from-the-meat-and-potatos-midwest-by-way-of British-ancestry to the sensuous and comforting foods of the Italian peninsula…not to mention another date.
The date must have gone well enough because later that summer I had the opportunity to make roasted peppers for her myself. I still recall meticulously picking out those peppers from a North Market farmer’s stall…slicing and roasting them to perfection…drizzling the plate with the perfect amount of Italian olive oil.
I am happy to report that I was victorious!! Courtney fell head-over-heels in love with those peppers while simultaneously falling in love with me! (Okay, maybe I am ahead of myself there…)
Over the years, this became a signature dish for us as a couple. We served them at summer parties large and small. Sometimes we would have the peppers as an appetizer, sometimes as an accompaniment to a risotto al’asaparagi or summery lemon pasta- but always with the best olive oil we could find.
To make the peppers do the following:
Get good ripe red peppers. If you want to add a few yellow peppers for color that would be nice too. (Green peppers simply do not exist for me. They are unripe red peppers. They are not really food yet, so leave them alone.)
Place the peppers on a rack in an oven set to at least 475 degrees. Alternatively you can place them under the broiler on a rack about 8” from the top. Either way you will want a pan under the peppers to catch any liquid that drips out. The peppers can be done in an outdoor grill too, with good effect. I say “in” a grill as opposed to on the grill because if you use an outdoor grill you should put them on a rack that is raised, or placed away from the direct heat.
Cooking is not so much by time as by appearance. The skins should be largely darkened- even blackened. This does not mean that there is no red or yellow fruit showing, but these babies need to be cooked.
Turn the peppers a few times to make sure that they are cooked/charred on all sides. The peppers should be puffed up in the oven but you should find that as soon as you lift them out they will collapse easily. You can test this while they are in the over by poking them gently. We want them soft but firm enough that they are going to hold together.
When they look right remove them from the oven and put them directly into a large paper bag. Close the bag tightly. This is going to steam them just a bit, and you should find that due to this the skins will come off easily.
When they are cooled enough that you can handle them easily remove the skins with you hands. Most of the skin should, and needs to, come off but I have never made a fuss if a little bit of the skin sticks. This is your call.
Now cut a little circle around the stem at the top and scoop out the seeds. At this point I usually slice the peppers into about three equal sized parts. You can vary this depending on their use. Long thin slices make a pretty ingredient in a salad, or meat dish. For serving roast peppers as an antipasto I like three equal parts.