The Friends of the THATLou series is running for the month of November with guest blog posts from just that, Friends of THATLou:
Allison Blumenthal is an artist whose work ranges from photography (with her lens often focusing on landscape photography) to drawings. The following images are taken from two of her most recent portfolios, Cuttings and Laguna. The rest of both series, as well as other photographic portfolios, can be seen on www.allisonblumenthal.net
Cuttings are branches Allison picked up in Bois de Boulogne while walking her dog, Cooper. With the depth of space made infinite through a black mirror they look suspended, 3-dimensional; immortalized, before the bark grows brittle and leaves turn brown. I think the reason I love this series so much is because the clean crisp, isolated Cuttings somehow recalls TS Eliot to me and his East Coker’s take on darkness (and light).
The second portfolio, Laguna, are aerial photographs Allison made of the laguna of Venice and then pastelled when she was back in her studio in Paris. I find this series particularly tactile: for some reason I always want to run my hand over the softness of the water and land, or run the tip of my finger along the edges of canals and roads.
A native New Yorker, Allison is a jack of many trades. As a former non-profit CFO/COO with an MBA from Columbia, Allison has served as an entirely over-qualified “advisor” to THATLou since its inception, reminding me of the dos and don’ts of business. She’s also the mother of 3 and doesn’t blink an eye when faced with cooking for 20 without more than an afternoon’s notice.
For the Friends of THATLou series, Allison has contributed a delectable non-turkey day recipe:
Chocolate Cake, because everyone needs a recipe for chocolate cake…
This is the standby in our house, made with more or less effort depending on my mood…as you can tell, I am not a precision baker.
adapted from Jewish Holiday Baking, Marcy Goldman (all American measures)
1 3/4 cups white or cane sugar
1 cup of brown sugar (or cane/white sugar if you live in France and it is hard to find…)
1 cup vegetable oil (like canola, sunflower) OR half softened butter half oil if you are feeling ambitious
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup coffee
1 cup milk (or all milk, or all coffee)
optional chocolate chips for topping
preheat oven to 170C or 350F
butter a large bundt pan or a 9-10 inch tube pan (or a big metal or glass lasagna-like square pan works fine as well…)
Mix oil/butter and sugar until smooth using a wisk or electric mixer
Add eggs and vanilla and mix again
Add cocoa and mix
Alternate adding powders, flour and liquids and mixing until you have it all in there and it is nice and smooth. It will be a fairly liquidy batter, have no fear.
Pour into pan and bake 60-70 minutes, less for a rectangular pan (approx. 45 min, until a knife or toothpick comes out clean and the top springs back to the touch). You can spread the top with chocolate chips while it is hot- they will melt and be easy to spread.
Chill before removing from the pan.
More of Allison’s work can be found on www.allisonblumenthal.net.