Category Archives:Curated

What’s for Dessert? Peach Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

Today, we bring you part three of our collaboration series with food stylist, Mary Valentinfood10 food12Peach Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

With all the apple recipes this time of year, we chose this gluten free, hearty peach cobbler dessert as a delicious alternative! For the crust of the cobbler, we used a recipe from the latest, most up-to date book on gluten free baking.food11

1 cup cornmeal 
1 cup gluten free flour blend
1/3 cup sugar
about 3 tablespoons sugar (separate)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ¼ inch pieces
¾ cup buttermilk, chilled (yes, it has to be buttermilk)
4# ripe but firm peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into ½  inch slices
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Adjust oven rack to center of oven and preheat oven to 375°.  Pulse cornmeal, flour blend, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and ½ teaspoon of salt together in food processor until combined.  Scatter chilled butter over the top and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.  It will have a few larger lumps.
  • Transfer mixture to a large bowl, add buttermilk and stir with a fork until dough gathers into moist clumps.  Using a greased ¼ cup measured scoop, scoop out and drop 8 mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, spaced about an inch apart. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon (or more, if you like) of sugar and bake until biscuits are lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Combine peaches, 1/3 cup of sugar, ginger, cinnamon and pinch of salt together in Dutch oven, or large cast iron skillet.  Cover and cook over medium-low heat until peaches have softened and released their juices, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Wisk lemon juice and cornstarch together in a bowl, then stir into peaches and continue to cook, uncovered, until liquid has thickened, 2 to 5 more minutes.  Season with extra sugar to taste.  
  • To serve, arrange biscuits on top of peach mixture and bake until heated through 3 to 5 minutes.  Serve immediately with some melty ice cream.


Peach cobbler recipe by Mary Valentin.
Photography and  styling by Heather Day.

Read full feature and interview of Mary Valentin here.

Playlist : Let It Go

Music has always been a stress relieving, meditative outlet for me. I usually find meanings in songs which I interpret in my own way. Often this shifts my perspective on life to that of something more purposeful and in the end, positive. If you’re a close friend of mine, you’ll know I get really into certain songs and listen to them on repeat because it’s sort of meditative in a way.

Naturally, I enjoy seeing artists perform live. My favorite concerts are small performance venues as they are much more intimate and moving. I recently saw Jose Gonzalez at the Cedar Cultural Center. I had never been there before but know many that would say this is their favorite venue in Minneapolis. It was an exceptional concert in a great space. I could even feel the vibe of the crowd – mellow and so appreciative of good music.


Below is a playlist I have been working on the past few months. It’s a great mix of songs that I have found a personal connection to and have helped serve as an outlet to release whatever I need to let go.



Image from The Every Girl

♫ Music curated by Sara Chars.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy

There’s nothing wrong with a little visual candy to get us through the rest of the week.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

This photo says so much. It’s capturing my favorite color and creates a beautiful abstract silhouette with the Pantone square.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

This Raspberry Sorbet is next on my list to try.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

I have a major art crush on Bobbie Burgers paintings. Who would’ve thought that flowers could be so visceral?

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

This Juan Luis Fernandez piece would be such a great companion to her painting.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

Love this simple table setting with the large moody photograph. Photo by Even Wilson.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

I’ve also been enjoying the work of Caio Fonseca

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch

I’m a sucker for large enough text that makes the numbers appear like abstract shapes.

Weekly Dose : Eye Candy | Taupe & Birch A neutral workspace leaves room for an open minded and creative thought process.

Content curated by Heather Day for Taupe & Birch.

Homemade Donuts with Amanda Frederickson

Homemade Donuts | Taupe & BirchLast month, I visited Amanda Frederickson for a fun afternoon in the kitchen. We were calling it a collaboration but let’s be honest – Amanda made everything while I took some photos and sampled the frosting.

I got to know Amanda through the lifestyle blog, Sacramento Street and through Instagram. She’s a professional chef for the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen and a food stylist for her personal blog, A life Well Lived.

Homemade Donuts | Taupe & Birch

You can find the full recipe for the donuts on Epicurious.

Vanilla Glaze:

  1. 2 cups of powdered sugar
  2. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  3. 3 Tbs water

Combine sugar, vanilla extract and water. Stir well and dip donuts into glaze.

Homemade Donuts | Taupe & Birch
Homemade Donuts | Taupe & Birch
Homemade Donuts | Taupe & BirchHomemade Donuts | Taupe & BirchHomemade Donuts | Taupe & Birch
Donuts by Amanda Frederickson | Photos By Heather Day for Taupe & Birch.

Queen For Dinner

Do you ever feel like there are so many small online shops that it’s hard to keep track of all of them? Me too. Rebecca Butler launched a new website this week where she does all of the hard work for us. It’s called Queen For Dinner. I was pretty excited about supporting small vendors so naturally, I had to sit down with the Etsy Curator and learn more.

Queen For Dinner | Taupe & Birch

We love Queen for Dinner and the product that you’ve curated! Can you tell us more about how your company evolved?

I came up with the idea of QFD from being both a seller and a buyer on Etsy. I love Etsy and love what they’re doing, but from a consumer point of view, it can get really overwhelming when you search for a necklace and over 250 pages of results come up – more than half of which I’m not even slightly interested in. It makes it hard to find things as a consumer, and hard to stand out as a seller. Yet, still, I always want to support small-vendors and small-business. Basically Queen For Dinner is my solution to this. We require a much more strict approval process, and we only feature items that we would want to purchase for ourselves. Most importantly, we don’t allow for any paid promotion – i.e. you can’t pay more money to have your item featured more frequently or higher up in search results. Promotion is solely based on what we like and what we think you’ll like, not money. In coming up with the tag line, “Cool stuff for cool girls,” it was really important to me to emphasize that we’re not saying, “buy this and you’ll be cool;” instead we’re trying to support every girl’s own unique cool self and style by providing them with things they might like. We don’t want to promote the idea that you need things or to look a certain way to be cool; we want to support women in being the cool girls they already are.

Queen For Dinner | Taupe & Birch
What’s your selection process like?

Sourcing vendors and products right now happens in two different ways. We have a submission form, through which we get a lot of great vendor submissions (as well as some that don’t quite fit into the QFD style). If we want to work with them, we send them the details on how exactly Queen For Dinner works, which items in specific we’re interested in, and a few of our forms they need to sign off on (including a quality standard form). Other than vendor submission forms, we find most of our vendors from Instagram actually. We’ve established a great presence on Instagram and are growing everyday. Queen For DinnerI find a lot of vendors just by digging through layers and layers of instagram accounts and photos. Some are found through Etsy and random places like craft fairs and farmers markets, but right now the majority I’m finding through Instagram. In order to be allowed on QFD (other than having really cute products), you must have a somewhat smaller following (i.e. a somewhat undiscovered artisan), and you must have reasonable prices (once again, we ask the question, “would I buy this?”). We love items made by other women, ethically made products, and US made products, but we don’t exclusively sell those things. We like to give all small artisans equal opportunity. Items are only on the site for 2 week batches and then we rotate vendors and items. After items ship, we do a quality check with customers to make sure they had a great experience and their purchases were as they had hoped. Vendors who receive below a four out of five rating will be reviewed and may not be allowed back on the site. The idea is that even though we’re a community of small vendors, we should be able to compete with (or be better than) the big boys. Quality and professionalism is extremely important to us.

Queen For Dinner | Taupe & Birch
What’s next?

In the future I see Queen For Dinner evolving into a more app-based platform. It seems to want that more instant and quick form of interaction because it is a flash-sale style site. Therefore, with an app it could easily update users any time a new batch was released so they can purchase the goods before they sell out since these are limited quantity products. I also think QFD could easily branch into a subscription based arena as well (similar to BirchBox) where women could sign up and receive a box of our favorite small vendor goods a few times a year – once we’ve built our reputation as trustworthy lifestyle tastemakers that is. Anyway, these are all quite a ways down the road, but I just think this idea has a lot of potential for growth and expansion.

Shop more from this weeks batch over at Queen for Dinner and be sure to follow them on Instagram for daily updates. Photos by Celisse Beruman. Content by Heather Day

Made By Hand : Tree Fort Soda

A few months ago I went to the Harvest Beer Festival put on by Minneapolis St. Paul magazine. After trying dozens of local craft brews, I spotted Verdant Tea. Surprised to see them there, I went over to sample some of their new Kombucha flavors. They were also sampling Tree Fort Soda. This is where I first discovered these delicious botanical sodas hand crafted by 18 year old Eva Duckler. We got the details on the Tree Fort Soda from Eva herself.


When did you start hand crafting your own sodas and what was your motivation? I began exploring the unusually vast world of craft sodas from a very young age. I grew up tasting all of the weirdest brands I could get my hands on—I have collections of inked-scrawled napkins from notes I’d take on flavor profiles of soda as a geeky middle schooler. Just as I’d watch adults around me swirl a glass of fine scotch and note the robust flavor, I’d be fascinated by the amber glow and full-bodied taste of delicious root beer. Because I had created my very own personal cultish devotion to flavor and the quest for the perfect soda, brewing my own seemed nearly sacrilegious.

Fast forward several years and I am working at Verdant Tea, a Minneapolis based tea house and tasting room. At Verdant, the experience is based entirely on the senses; they encourage exploration in all sorts of realms; from tea to chai I got to immerse myself in the brewing world. l was asked to help out with drink specials and began making small batches of herbal syrups for making hot steamers and sodas. They already had a tap system for kombucha at the teahouse so I decided to take a crack at an herbal drink to have on tap. People really loved the sodas I was making and as a culminating end of high school project I decided to make a business out of it. I graduated and decided to take a year off before heading off college to pursue the business further because I was having so much fun with it.  


How much experimentation did you do to get the flavors you were looking for in each soda? The root beer took a lot of time—months of perceived failures. I probably went through 60 batches to even get it to where I wanted to share it with others. I had to learn a lot about beer brewing because there are so many parallels between the worlds and I needed to learn how kegging and bottling works. Once I got the hang of the brewing process and all of the equipment involved, I found it a lot easier to develop the ginger ale. If you are using fresh ingredients and real cane sugar you don’t have to work really hard to get it to taste good.

My favorite is the root beer. It’s so good and really different from traditional root beers. What in your opinion sets yours apart? The root beer is very different from what people expect of it. Because it brewed with real botanicals people are often surprised by how herbaceous the flavor is. I like it because it is a nod to what root beer was before America became obsessed with synthetically produced flavors and concocting products out a lab. The flavors of our root beer come from the rich history of using the drink as a medicinal tonic, or later as an alternative to alcohol during prohibition.


How did the name Tree Fort come about? I was looking for something that inspired nostalgia but also incorporated a sense for the botanical qualities of the sodas. I grew up playing in a tree fort and I imagine many others had a similar place of imagination and childhood wonders growing up.  

Where can we find Tree Fort sodas? Currently it is available on tap at Verdant, East Lake Brewery, Lakewinds Co-ops, and in bottles at Seward Co-op, Linden Hills Co-op, and Caffetto. The Kowalski’s markets will be carrying it in bottles and on tap at select locations as well.

What does the future look like for Tree Fort? I’m working on building out a fully equipped brewery in Minneapolis. We are currently in the middle of demoing the space to prepare for some much larger tanks and other fun brewery equipment. This will allow us to get a lot more product out there and share it with more people. I plan on putting my heart into getting the operations side of things to a self-sustained state with the help of a great team by next fall when I will be leaving to attend Wellesley college. While I’m away I’ll be involved in the administrative and business side of things. 


The owners of Verdant have invested in this new space as well and the current Verdant will be under new ownership. The new teahouse, taproom and shop will be located at 2009 E. 24th Street coming early 2015.

Interview by Sara Chars | Photos supplied by Tree Fort Soda

Made by Hand : Studio Visit with Kat Hicks + Zoe Ahlgren

Made by Hand | Taupe & Birch

Meet Kat Hicks and Zoe Ahlgren. Kat and Zoe are currently building a business constructing surfboards on a ranch in  Pacifica, California. I met Kat in college back in Baltimore and we recently crossed paths in the bay area. While their business is just starting off, I thought it would be interesting to document the lifestyle and process of a young business in California.

Zoe was born and bred Pacifica, a city just south of San Francisco. His family has owned and operated Shamrock Ranch since the gold rush. Being raised on a ranch, Zoe was raised with a steadfast work ethic that shows in the quality and quantity of his work. He is a conscientious craftsman who sees every piece as an opportunity to push himself and his craft.

Kat hails from the right coast, originally from Virginia Beach, VA. She has been drawing all her life and has a particular love for illustration and line work. After graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD she caught a ride west to San Diego with no plans other than to drop off a painting. While traveling up the coast she was introduced to Kevin Ancell, an amazing artist and painter who is affiliated with the RVCA ANP (artist network program). Relating to her artwork, he invited her to come be his assistant in Newport Beach, CA. She jumped at the chance and after finishing a road trip up the coast she found her way back to Newport where she spent the next 3 months learning from Ancell, helping him prepare for an upcoming show in Santa Monica, and mulling around the RVCA HQ. Kevin knew Zoe from Pacifica, where he was living before Newport, and asked him to come down to make him some large scale canvases. Kevin had taught Zoe a lot about shaping surfboards and Zoe ended up shaping two boards for Kev’s show.

Once Kat and Zoe met they were pretty much inseparable. Kev, realizing he had already lost his assistant, sent her back to Pacifica to continue some of the work from his studio. A year later Kat and Zoe are still together and currently live on the ranch together where they’re developing a unique style of both foam and hollow wooden surfboards.

Made by Hand | Taupe & BirchIMG_1375

What made you interested in making surf boards? Kevin taught Zoe how to shape boards. Zoe was determined to design a hollow wooden board that was comparable to a foam one. Kat is still learning how to shape.. and surf..but she’s been interested in designing them since a young age. She liked the idea of someone not only owning her artwork, but riding it. Kevin showed her how to work with abalone shell and Zoe has taught her a lot about wood inlay. Between the two of them they’re making some insanely unique boards.
 What’s your average schedule like?
Zoe works on the ranch most of the day which can range from general maintenance things like, fixing broken pipes and roofs, to more interesting tasks like chasing down liberated horses. Kat works for Barbara Butler treehouses, building, you guessed it, treehouses. Lately their off hours have been devoted to refurbishing the old dairy processing building into a house for themselves.


Tell me about the property you live on. 
Zoe’s grandfather bought the property, a much more expansive version, during the gold rush at the turn of the century. He started off as a furrier and ran a pawn shop in the city. They had a variety of animals and livestock come through the ranch over the years and have dabbled in farming as well. For a long time they had cows where they processed and bottled local milk. Presently, the ranch is owned by Zoe’s mom, Dana, but managed by him and his sister, Serena. His twin sister, Ari, and brother, John, live on the ranch as well. They operate a dog kennel and daycare and have over 100 horses on the property.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about making surf boards? 
Zoe’s favorite is sanding, the part of the shaping process where you make the board look less like a chunk of foam or pieces of wood, and more like a surfboard. You get to make it beautiful. While Kat loves sanding too, she really finds an almost masochistic enjoyment in tiny, meticulous, wood and shell inlay. They both hate glassing, it’s the worst. It’s really hard and is always presenting new challenges that are either incredibly difficult or impossible to fix. Plus fiberglass is itchy and resin is toxic.’s the worst.
How long does it take to make a board? It varies greatly, depending on wood vs / no art.. is it a shape we’ve worked with before (are we replicating a board) or is this a whole new shape..? Generally for foam about 4-5 days of solid work. A wood board takes a good bit longer just because theres a lot of waiting around for glue to dry. It can be as short as just over a week to a whole month though depending on the board shape and amount of detail.

IMG_1398IMG_1369IMG_1426Made by Hand | Taupe & BirchMade by Hand | Taupe & BirchMade by Hand | Taupe & Birch

What’s next from here? We don’t have any definite plans. We’d like to launch a website and maybe make some sort of order form but both of us are a little gun shy when it comes to commissions. First and for most we’d love to just sell what we’ve already made out there. So after the gallery show ends this week we’ll look for restaurants and other galleries that might want some boards.
What are your sources of inspiration? Danny Hess is an obvious one, though after learning a lot of his boards now are foam with wood veneer..we can’t lie..he’s a little tainted!  Reynolds Yater is also an awesome shaper who you can’t help but respect and look up to. Alex Pardee is a huge one for Kat, as well as James Jean, Margaret Kilgallen, Ed Templeton and Ben Horton.
The Keatings..Dick and Penny Keating are two amazing people who have lived in Pacifica since it was called San Pedro Valley. They own that dock we took you out on. Dick is an amazing shaper and surfer, we call him all the time for help and he’s always super generous with his time and knowledge. They’re definitely the first ones we run to when we finish a board, its gotta past the Keating test. DK is also Kev’s surrogate father..that’s how Kat was introduced to the Keatings, Kev brought her home to meet “the family”. And of course, Kev.

Made by Hand | Taupe & BirchMade by Hand | Taupe & BirchContent and photography by Heather Day


Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto with Arugula and Sage Brown Butter

We are thrilled to share yet another recipe from Nabila at Spirit PlateThis is a fancy dish with multiple steps. It requires some patience but the result is SO well worth the wait. It’s deeply rich with layered flavors that bring to mind sitting on a trattoria patio in Italy with a glass of wine and great conversation. The trick is to let each portion of liquid be completely absorbed by the risotto rice before adding the next portion to slowly coax out the starches and get a nice, creamy result.

Spirit Plate | Taupe & Birch
Spirit Plate | Taupe & Birch

Part I: Make the Butternut Squash Puree

  • 3/4 lb washed, peeled, and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 large fresh sage leaves
  • 2 tbsp butter (regular or vegan)
  • 3/4 cup stock (approx.)
  • sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 475F. Melt butter (I used Earth Balance) over medium heat in a small pot. Add squash with sage leaves, garlic, and vegetable stock. Season liberally with sea salt and simmer until squash is fork tender. Remove sage leaves and blend mixture until completely smooth. Pour back into pot, keeping warm until ready to use.

Part II: Roast the Butternut Squash

  • 1/2 lb washed and peeled butternut squash
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste

Cut squash into 1/2″ cubes. Toss with olive oil and salt to taste. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for approximately 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, remove from the tray and set aside.

Part III: Fry Sage Leaves

  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil)
  • 1/4 cup fresh, clean and dry sage leaves

Heat oil in small frying pan over medium high heat. Lower sage leaves with a slotted spoon into the hot oil for 5-10 seconds until they all turn an even brown color. Remove leaves with the slotted spoon and dry on a paper towel.

Part IV: Make the Sage Brown Butter

  • 1/2 cup butter (Earth Balance)
  • 10-15 fresh, clean and dry sage leaves

Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a clean sauce pan over medium heat. Brown the butter to an even rich golden color, stirring frequently. Add 10-15 fresh, clean and dried sage leaves to the butter and remove from heat immediately. Once butter has cooled (but is still liquid) remove sage leaves and strain into a bowl and set aside.

Part V: Make the Risotto

  • 2 1/2 cups stock
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup arborio risotto rice
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine or vermouth
  • 2 cups of butternut squash puree (see above)
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups arugula
  • roasted butternut squash (see above)
  • sage brown butter (see above)
  • fried sage leaves (see above)

Place stock and water into a large pot. Bring to boil and then turn down heat to keep liquid at a light simmer. In a separate large heavy bottom pot heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and pinch of salt and let sweat until translucent, 10-15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of stock liquid to soften onions. Let the liquid evaporate completely. Turn the heat up to medium high and add all the rice. Toast the rice for a few minutes until the edges of the grains are translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine to deglaze. Stir the rice until the wine evaporates. Add one cup of the hot stock liquid. Stir often to coax the starches out of the rice. Once absorbed, add the warm butternut squash puree and continue to stir. Once the puree thickens and reduces, go back to adding the hot cooking liquid. Add the next cup of liquid only when the last cup has been absorbed by the rice. Stir frequently. During the cooking process, make sure to adjust the heat so the liquid is always gently boiling. Continue to add liquid and cook the risotto until it reaches the al dente stage or cook to your liking (I prefer more tender grains). Once done, stir in the butter and turn off the heat. Fold in the roasted squash cubes and arugula. Cover and let rest 2 minutes. Just before serving, add a bit of hot liquid to loosen the consistency, if necessary. Plate on warmed dishes. Top with fried sage leaves and a drizzle of warm sage brown butter. Serve immediately.

Note: Extra squash puree can be frozen for up to 3 months. Extra sage brown butter can be refrigerated in airtight container for a few weeks. Spirit Plate | Taupe & Birch

Photos and Recipe by Spirit Plate.

Fig, Hazelnut and Chia Yogurt bowl

Food | Taupe & BirchFig, hazelnut and chia yogurt bowl
Serves 1


1 tsp ghee or butter
4 small figs, halved lengthways
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
Sprinkle of cinnamon
1 cup (280g) plain full fat or Greek yogurt
Small handful of hazelnuts, halved
1/4 tsp chia seeds


Heat ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the figs, water, honey and sprinkle with cinnamon. Stir and allow to gently cook for 2 minutes, or until figs have softened a little. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place yogurt in a bowl. Top with the fig mixture, along with the juice. Scatter with hazelnuts and chia seeds.

Recipe by The Grounded Kitchen.

The Perfect Hot Toddy

Today was the first day I noticed a significant temperature drop and a cool breeze drafting through the open windows as I slipped on cozy sweats early this morning. I decided to make something using the oven to warm me up a bit and thought homemade granola would do the trick. As I was waiting on the granola, I made some tea. This got me thinking about great warm fall drinks and the first one that came to mind was The Hot Toddy, commonly used to treat onsetting colds but equally as good when you’re healthy! This recipe was found on Blue Apron which adds their personal touch of cinnamon sticks, Earl Grey tea, and apple cider.Hot-Toddy2 Hot Toddy

We like a nice bourbon in our hot toddies, but you can easily work with any whisky or brandy you have on hand. Be sure to take these off the stove as soon as they’re warmed to your liking; if you keep simmering the drink, the alcohol will begin to cook off.


  • 8 ounces whisky, bourbon, or brandy
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 4 earl grey tea bags
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

DIRECTIONS In a small pan over medium-low heat, heat the cider, cinnamon, honey, and whisky until hot, stirring to dissolve the honey. Remove from the heat, add the tea bags, and allow the drink to steep for 2 minutes. Remove the tea bags and squeeze in the juice of half a lemon. Pour into four glass mugs. Garnish with the cinnamon sticks and some lemon slices cut into half moons. Enjoy!

Content selected by Sara Chars.