Friday, October 29, 2010

Mexican Hot Chocolate

The Maya and Aztecs of Mexico were the original chocoholics- with cocoa pods being considered medicinal and used a currency. A swill called xocoatl was drunk (in excess by the nobility), which was a mixture of unrefined chocolate, water, and spices which was served cold. This heritage continues to this day with full-bodied recipes for warm drinking chocolate, normally with a kick. This isn't your typical Swiss Miss or Nestle's chocolate for gulping down on a snowy day- this is chocolate for sipping (cautiously, it burns).

My recipe is a mix of traditional ones and a few modern shortcuts (like hot sauce) for convenience. Marshmallows are wholly optional.

Kagashi's Mexican Hot Chocolate

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Freebie! Braun and Schneider

Usually on Babbling Books, the content is only available for purchase- but I'm happy to say that this entry is free and available online!

Siamese Actors and Actress
Between 1861 and 1880 Braun and Schneider, two German scholars, conducted a worldwide survey of historical and folk dress. While most of the exquisitely-drawn plates are devoted to Europe from ancient times to the Regency era, there are several pages with clothing from Turkey, China, and even Java during the Age of Steam. Rarer yet are plates of Eastern European and rural European folk costumes of the era. It should also be noted that the book is very objective in its research, and neither caricatures or generalizes its subjects.

Whether you're a steampunk, looking for good Elizabethan or medieval references, or just need a gist of size or silhouette, then this book is for you! Most hard copies are printed in black and white (I actually like it thus, because sometimes I'll copy it and test color schemes- who says you're too old to use a coloring book?), but this version is in color, which gives you an idea of the vibrancy involved in many non-European garments.

Here's the link:
The History of Costume by Braun and Schneider

Friday, October 22, 2010

November Preview

You can expect a few more posts out of October folks (a Featured Traveler, a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate, and a book review!), but I'm very excited to show you what November has in store.

While I am going to Dia De Los Muertos on November 1st in Detroit Mexicantown, the rest of the month is going to have a different theme to it. November is Native American Heritage Month, so to honor it the Steamer's Trunk will be looking at the culture and art of the various indigenous peoples of America. Here's some of what to expect:

At the beginning of the month I'll be sharing my thoughts on Native American steampunk and my feelings on how it can be done without offense.

Babbling Books
-The Mishomis Book by Edward Benton-Benai
-Native American Clothing: An Illustrated History by Theodore Brasser

CYL Spotlights
-The Northwest Coast
-The Southwest
-The Plains
-The Eastern Woodlands
-The Southeast

Focus on Folkways
-Porcupine quill beadwork
-The many forms of moccassins

-Native American hairstyles and how to do the Hopi Squash Blossom hairstyle.

- Zuni Corn Cakes
- Ojibwe Baked Pumpkin

It's going to be a very special month- I know that I'm honored to be introducing you to the art and culture of these peoples- I hope you join me.

Potawatomie (Bodewadmi) men

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tutorial Time!: Fez Frenzy!

Imperial Fez-Fancier: Mahmud II

The fez is trademark headgear of the Age of Steam- not only because so many cultures wore them, but because the 19th century marked the peak of popularity for them. Understandably, the fez was named after the Moroccan city of, well... Fez- where the distinctive red dye used to color these hats was made. They were so distinctive that Sultan Mahmud(t) II declared them to be the national hat of the Ottoman Empire (to replace the turban). In other lands they became de rigeur fashion for armies (such as Algerian Zouaves) and civilians (such as jolly, port drinking gents in elaborate velvet smoking jackets) alike.
Fezzes can be worn by men or women, decorated or plain, used as a base for another hat or headdress or just on its own. To make one of these distinctive hats, follow the tutorial below (and pardon the atrocious webcam photos).

Monday, October 18, 2010

We interrupt this blog...

I will have the fez tutorial up within a few days (I'm working on and documenting it as we speak), but in the meantime just to show that I'm not dead... and potentially pay a few bills... I'd like to announce the first stock of hatpins in my etsy store:

I don't make any money off of the blog, nor do I really wish to- but if you're in need of a nice, sturdy hat/hijab pin (or you just like me, either or- both is also lovely) then one by Forfaxia might be right for you! Prices range between $10 and $25.

All right, enough of that blather- back to making fezzes!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Featured Traveler: Siryn Von Steam

Give a warm welcome to our first of (hopefully) many Featured Travelers- real steampunks from all over the aether who were inspired to use multicultural elements in their kit.

This verdant ensemble of sari and silks was sent in to me by Siryn von Steam of Dusk to Dawn Productions, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about her sari-tastic design.

Read my interview with her below...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CYL: Mongolian Modes

Sain baina uu?! In today's edition of Clothing You'll Love, we're going to the windswept land of Mongolia.

Steampunk Mongolians, you cock your head and look at me like I'm crazy. But I assure you that in this country of steppes, horsemen, and remote wilderness there are some real gems of inspiration.

Painting of a woman in traditional clothes
Read on to learn more about deels, khurim, and some very fuzzy hats... but first, a little history.

Monday, October 11, 2010

BB: Indian Costumes by Anamika Pathak

In Babbling Books, I'll discuss multicultural, costuming, and food books that I've found or read that you just have to get your hands on!

I was in New York City this weekend and had the good fortune to be wandering around Strand Books in St. Mark's. When I was about to move towards the art section, away from the special display tables, this caught my eye:

Had I ten dollars it would have been mine....

The first aspect is all of the gorgeous, crisp photography that captures all of the color and texture in the garments- I wanted to reach out and touch the silks and cottons so badly. The craftsmanship is evident in many of the photographs, down to blown up detail shots of the individual threads of the designs woven into the fabric. It was downright jawdropping. Painfully gorgeous. ....God I want a sari(ee).

The second commendable aspect is of course Pathak's scholarship, which is indisbutably thorough in its investigation from Harappan-Indus votive sculptures to 16th century tapestries to photographs both antique and modern. It really captures the living heritage of these garments and the people who wear them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

FF: Maori Moko- Identity, Pain, and Pride.

 Tena koutou!

In Focus on Folkways, we'll be looking at the art of a particular culture, and how it looked during the Age of Steam. Today we'll see the brilliant tattoo-work of the Maori people of New Zealand, called moko.

Photograph of a Maori woman- Dunedin, late 19th c.

 Read on to hear about Maori I.D., head-hunting, and Kirituhi

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kagashi's Kitchen: Masala Chai Mix

My dear friends, many of you have been robbed. For years the media has pushed a sicky-sweet concoction that they call chai- which has more in common with hot chocolate than tea (I'M TALKING TO YOU, OREGON CHAI!). The irony of this being that 'chai' is the Hindi word for tea, so naturally chai should have some in it! Or at the very least taste like it. If you like Oregon and other commercial chais, that's fine (admittedly I'm an ocassional fan of Big Train's powdered mix that tastes like pumpkin pie)- however I ask you to give this more authentic recipe a try. It's deep, soulful, and will warm you to the tips of your fingers.

Masala chai literally means 'spice tea' in Hindi and includes a bevvy of spices which vary in recipe from person to person- similar to American barbeque rubs or minestrone soup. What I have here is the basic combination I was introduced to some years ago in the book "Chai: The Spice Tea of India" by Diana Rosen. It's a lovely read and includes variations on the basic masala mix, recipes for food to accompany chai, and Rosen's experiences traveling through India to discover the cultural heritage of the beverage. I particularly remember her accounts of stopping at train stations through the countryside to be greeted by chai salesmen, who offered the tea in tiny earthen cups, which were smashed upon departure.


Friday, October 1, 2010

October's Sneak Peek

A preview of things to come in the next month:

Spotlights on:
- Maori moko
- Traditional Mongolian dress

- Masala Chai Mix
- Mexican Hot Chocolate

- Make your own (cool) fez

Road Trips:
- Detroit Mexicantown's Dia de Los Muertos celebration.

And of course plenty of eye candy, helpful links, and hopefully my first Featured Travelers.

Speaking of the devils- do you have a steampunk costume in which you've integrated or were inspired by a specific culture? Send me an email, a picture, and what motivated you and you could become a Featured Traveler (so even more people can see how fabulous you are).

It's a Dead Man's Party!