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Monday, February 20, 2017

Munchie Monday: Homemade Balsamic Mayonnaise

Years ago I was very interested in Julia Child and her cooking show.  We watched many episodes.  I seem to remember her making her own mayonnaise.  What a great idea that seemed to me.  After a long time I acquired one of her cookbooks.  Then another.  And another!  There I found her mayonnaise recipe.  I tried it. It was very good.  It was very mild.  I wanted to try mayonnaise of a different flavor.  The result is this Balsamic Mayonnaise.

You can make this with a metal whisk but I do not recommend that.  Use either a food processor or a blender.  I usually use a blender.

1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, or your favorite prepared mustard
1-4 cloves garlic, depending on you enjoyment of garlic.  You can chop the garlic if you want or just leave it whole.
 1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper--or ground black or white pepper if you don't have a pepper mill
1/4 cup olive oil

Put the above ingredients in your blender jar and blend well for 1-2 minutes until everything is creamy and there are no garlic chunks visible.  Scrape down the sides of the jar so that all the goodness is incorporated.

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar

Blend for a few seconds then add in a very thin stream while the blender runs constantly:

1 cup vegetable or canola oil

 After less than a minute you should have a lovely thick very tasty mayonnaise. Scrape down the sides again so everything is together.  Remove from the blender jar and store in a covered glass jar in the refrigerator.  Use it up in a week, or two at the most.

This is a wonderful sauce on steamed vegetables.  It is great on toast with thinly sliced sweet onion and a sprinkle of sauerkraut.  It adds a terrific zip to egg salad or tuna salad or potato salad.  Especially if you went heavy on the garlic!

If you are on a lower fat eating plan for a few weeks,  you might want to share some of this with a friend then make more when you can wholeheartedly indulge again.

You know, I think I will try this on a baked potato soon.  No need for butter or sour cream at all!

If you are less adventuresome or prefer a more bland mayonnaise, you can make the same sauce but change the vinegar from balsamic to plain white vinegar, and drop to 1 clove garlic, or none at all.  For the mustard, choose a milder mustard.  It will still be good mayonnaise.  There is nothing like fresh mayonnaise.  You know what is in it. 

This makes about 1 1/2 cups delicious flavor-filled mayonnaise.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Food Friday: Simple Montreal Steak Seasoning Pan-seared Tofu

After making the Instant Pot Meatless Loaf there was about half a box of firm tofu left over.  I had already drained it, didn't want to re-wet it and store it, so I decided to pan sear/fry it.

Son number four had just made some bacon in the large cast iron skillet and had left a tiny amount of greasiness in the bottom of the pan. I started heating that up over medium heat.

The chunk of tofu was easily sliced into quarter-inch "steaks".  I got out a plate and dumped on about 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch then added almost 1 teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning.    I mixed them together well then dredged each side of the tofu in the cornstarch mixture then placed the slices carefully in the heated pan. I let them sear/cook for about 5 minutes per side then removed them to a plate.

We ate them with some Sweet Chili Sauce from the Asian market. The pan frying/searing made a nice chewy crust on both sides and a little bit of softness in the middle.  We had this as an adjunct to the failed Meatless Loaf dinner.  These also were not popular.  Well, again, I liked this and will eat slices on a sandwich during the next week.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Watercolor Painting: Loose Floral Bouquet

A dear sweet friend painted me a lovely picture of cute animals. AND she made it into a greeting card and sent it to me!  I was so happy.  I thought I might try to do the same.  This is the painting I made.  Very loose and simple.  I may try some more along this line.

Often I like paintings that go off the edge of the paper.  In retrospect, I don't like this as much.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fun Food: Pretzel Mini Peanut Butter Cup Hearts

Another effort to make a fun (and very easy) treat for the early morning visitors.  This time I took our plastic barrel of small pretzels, put 30 of the pretzels onto a parchment covered cookie sheet, topped the pretzels with an upside-down mini peanut butter cup, and put into the preheated 350 degree F. oven for 4 minutes.

Mini peanut butter cups on bottom pretzel ready for oven.

When the 4 minutes  had passed,  I pulled out the cookie sheet and topped each softened peanut butter cup with many-colored sprinkles.  Finally I smushed one more mini pretzel on top (lined up in the same direction as the bottom pretzel) so that the chocolate more or less came through the holes in the tops of the pretzels.  After setting them in the refrigerator for fifteen minutes they were ready to eat.  Very cute, I thought.

Pretzel hearts with sprinkles, ready to eat

As it happens, though I thought these were adorable but they did not appeal.  Oh, well.  Another day.  Another food failure. 

Well, maybe chocolate at 6 AM is not what is needed.  I will try apples and bananas and see what happens then.  Or muffins again.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Papercrafting: Birthday Card Bound Journal

Years ago when I was working at Dartmouth College I used to attend bookbinding classes at the library before teaching our church youth in the evening. It was so enjoyable to learn many different structures that you can make with very few tools.  Recently I have become acquainted with Sea Lemon on YouTube (don't you just LOVE YouTube?!!) who has a wonderful bookbinding series.  I used her saddle stitch tutorial for this little journal.

Our granddaughter has a birthday coming up.  When I was her age my parents gave me a journal to
write in.  In fact, they gave me a journal every Christmas for years.  I wrote in those journals from time to time.  Looking at them now I am rather appalled at the stuff a young teen girl writes....

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to make a birthday card for this wonderful grandchild who lives too far away.  And then I thought:  why not make her a tiny journal in eight colors.  So I did.

Heavy card stock was printed with a line to make writing easier. (I used the second template on the website that was called "Wide Ruled Lined Paper 8.7 mm"). I then cut the paper in half horizontally and used an awl to punch holes along the spine.  I had previously used binder's clips to hold the pieces of paper tightly and evenly together. I used four sheets twice to make two signatures to bind.  When punching the holes with the awl, I placed the pages face down on a thick telephone book and then punched out the five holes for each signature, and then  I measured the width of the two signatures and then made a spine on the heavy blue dot embossed cover stock.  I used baker's twine to bind with.

It turned out okay.  Not fabulous, but okay.  It is certainly use-able.

Below the two signatures and the lined pages are clearly visible.

 Here you can see the spine of the journal.  One thing I learned when doing the spine is that I should have scored it rather deeply first.  That way there would have been a more firm line rather than ripple-y as it is here.  Next time.

It was also fun to make the envelope. I have decided to make envelopes with the envelope punch board  for all cards in the future.  We R Memory Keepers blog is a good one to visit... The postmistress is very agreeable to pretty envelopes as long as the address is clearly seen.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Munchie Monday: Frugality Again--Cabbage and Onions

We had half a cabbage that was beginning to look less than lovely. Well, it was drying out.  I could not bear to throw it out.  This is what I did:

Sliced the cabbage into fine shreds.

Slice two large onions, also finely, but since I knew I was the only person who would eat this food, I did not trouble too much about the size of the onions.

Melted 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the cast iron skillet then put in the cabbage and onions.  Stirred them well to coat with the lovely oil.  Sautéed the vegetables over medium heat until the cabbage was tender and the onions nicely caramelized.  Sprinkled with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Yes, I love that stuff.

This cabbage and onion conglomeration was very very good.  It took me three days to eat it all but I enjoyed every single bite.  No one else bit when offered...

 You can see the lovely caramelized onions.  So good.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Food Friday: Candy Melts for Valentine's Day--Almost a Disaster

We seem to have a lot of Wilton Candy Melts at our house.  I cannot fathom why we have so many.  I do not want to eat them all myself so I am giving them away.  The ladies at our Church have an annual chocolate dipping party just before Valentine's Day so this is the perfect time to unload the melts.

Before letting them all go, however, I decided to use a bag that was unopened plus a bag that was half gone.  The reason this came to mind was that as I was working at organizing the pantry I found a silicon mold I purchased a couple of years ago in the shape of bunnies.  It is the Wilton Bunny Peeps Mold.  You can find it at Amazon and also probably at Michaels or Joann or other craft store.

So I melted the dark chocolate melts which fit almost perfectly into the 12 bunny cavities.  I then took the half bag of pink melts and melted them in the microwave also.  They did not come to the same runny consistency as the unopened bag. The melts were soft and pliable, just not pour-able.  I used them anyway.

This is what they looked like before going into the freezer to chill:

Here they are out of the freezer after 15 minutes of chilling time:

As you can see, they are pretty much a disaster. I am not confident our early morning friends will eat them.  If those kids don't, perhaps I can get the grandchildren to eat them, though I have been trying to lay off giving the kids bad (but fun) stuff to eat.