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Filtering by Tag: academyhack

Ironing is about Attitude

Suzanne Pollak

One day, a very long time ago, one of the top magazine editors in the country, along with his family, happened to be staying with me. He wanted to know where I kept our iron and ironing board, telling me unashamedly that he enjoyed ironing his shirts (or at least he did then.) He shared his ironing tricks; explaining that there was nothing to it: just pay attention to the collar, cuffs, and strip with the buttons. No one saw the rest of the shirt anyway. This man — a haughty, brilliant, intellectual with his finger on the pulse of everything everywhere — did not turn his nose up at ironing. 

So why did I? I am ashamed to confess that I believed ironing was a waste of time. For years I collected antique linens but paid others to iron. Now, I iron myself, and I enjoy it. My ironing sessions are for afternoons when I am doing heavy brain lifting, and need a distancing mechanism. Sherlock Holmes used his pipe smoking and violin playing. A knotty problem for Holmes was a 'three pipe problem'. My equivalent is two dozen linen napkins.

I plug in the iron; remove the linens from the refrigerator (more on that trick in the video below) and find the back and forth of ironing soothing, contemplative, and surprisingly rewarding. In no time at all, my mind disengages enough to solve the weighty problem, plus I have a pile of lovely linen napkins ready and waiting. Like a Battalion Commander planning an exercise, I feel that one detail is completed for a dinner party in the future.

There is something so satisfying seeing the pieces of cloth go from wrinkly to smooth. Near-instant gratification!

XO The Dean

Simple Syrup

Suzanne Pollak

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Time for Math class at the Academy,  Put away your calculators -- this one is easy.  What do you get when you add one part water with one part sugar over heat?  The answer...delicious drinks!

The secret to so many great cocktails is Simple Syrup. No need to buy this in a bottle.  All you have to do is count to two: equal parts sugar and water, boiled for a minute, and then stored in your refrigerator for up to a month.  What could possibly be easier?  



Last-Minute Centerpiece

A. K. Lister

Everyone knows that a table set for a dinner party should have a commanding conversation piece at it's center.  But somehow this small, still crucial, detail seems easy to forget until the moment guests are knocking at the front door.  Don't panic.  Check your fridge -- is there a forgotten can of beer in the crisper?  (Why is there always beer in our crisper?)  Open it, take a sip, relax!  Are there a couple bunches of cilantro/parsley/chives/thyme/rosemary in there, too?  Make a last-minute centerpiece...

No need to let said herbs go to waste afterwards.  Hopefully, you had big plans for them all along.  If not, make an omelette for breakfast tomorrow.  Make a frittata and take it to a picnic on a grassy knoll.  Gather any leftover stems in a mason jar, plus a few wildflowers if you see any.  Spontaneity FTW.

But, if spontaneous centerpieces are not your thing, we get it.  In October, Lily Peterson of local Flowershop fame comes to the Academy for the first in a three-course workshop all about assembling your own bouquets, centerpieces, and wreaths just in time for the Holidays.  (Tickets may be purchased HERE starting 10/1.)

Academy Croutons

A. K. Lister

Nothing makes our Daily Salad sing quite like giant cubes of bread, sautéed in olive oil.

At the Academy, we've long realized that simple luxuries make the mundane sparkle.  An effortless sleight of hand in the almighty cast-iron skillet gives a guilt-free lunch the illusion of indulgence.  A bowl of vegetables, particularly those perfectly in season, should never bore anyone to tears.  In fact, it could be the very thing that carries you from the salad days of Summer to the Autumn's longing embrace.

For a superlative salad, start with late Summer's leafy greens and slices of ripe fruit, gently tossed with roasted early Fall vegetables.  Just add Croutons.  Here's the secret: don't skimp on the EVOO!  And always remember, "A cold crouton is a useless crouton."

Quick Tips for a Hallway Arrangement

A. K. Lister

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Along with your warm greeting, a punchy party soundtrack, the scent of a something delicious to come, and a stiff cocktail at the ready -- the thoughtful placement of an eye-catching arrangement by the front door should be the first thing to welcome guests to your home.  

It doesn't have to be an elaborate bouquet (...not that we would ever protest.)  All you really need are a few interesting leaves and branches, clipped from the garden/yard/public park across the street, in the dark of night, so local law enforcement and nosey neighbors don't notice you at work.

The Dean is not here to judge anyone's methods for procuring their flora, but simply to offer quick & easy instruction for arranging them.  Without further ado: