About The Country Wife Blog

Friday, April 21, 2017

Food Friday: Quick, Easy Beans and Chicken

The last two days we have been traveling.  I have not wanted to buy fast food, so I made my own.  We stopped at a store near our lodging last night and purchased a can of Goya Red Beans and a package of Perdue Chicken Shorts.  This morning for breakfast I drained the beans, chopped up the chicken and put it on some Subway Layered Salad.  It was quick.  It was easy.  It was delicious.  AND there was no fat involved as my health demands significantly less fat than I have been eating.  PLUS there is plenty left over for another two or three meals.  Bonus!

You might want to try this.  I am thinking it would be good with some Spicy Peanut sauce as a dressing....

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Handwork: Entrelac Scarf Start

Entrelac has been one of my favorite knitting styles, both the Garterlac and the regular in stockinette stitch.  I found a pattern on Ravelry which I love.   I REALLY love that scarf.  I don't love the cost of that gorgeous yarn. I saw some Caron Cakes yarn in a colorway I liked and thought it would work.

This is what I got:

DID NOT WORK. The entrelac is nice  BUT if one is going to go to all the work to keep track of where you are in the pattern it really needs to have spectacular results.  This was not it.  That is why I tore out the shawl and turned it into that triangular shoulder scarf I made a couple of weeks ago.

Now I will have to save up so I can buy the correct yarn to make this pattern and do it justice. If someone has a suggestion on some shorter color repeats, similar to Noro Silk Garden, I would love to hear from you!  Thanks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Crafting with Pom Poms: Cute Tiny Bunnies

Here are some very cute little pom pom bunnies using two sizes of pom poms, some felt, some wiggly eyes, and a hot glue gun.  No need for directions, I think.  The one thing I did do was to leave the strings on the pom poms then used them to tie the two balls securely together before using the hot glue for the ears and the eyes.  Professional hot glue artists will be horrified at the workmanship on these little guys.  Oh, well.

A batch of bunnies made holding two colors of yarn together.

Closer up of bunnies.  Notice the wonky eyes...or maybe they are just looking for the light...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Munchie Monday: Quick and Easy Birds Nest Treats!

Whenever we have a holiday celebration I try to make some sort of treat the children will enjoy.  This time I found a recipe on Six Sisters Stuff.   
These are called Butterscotch Bird Nest Treats.

Of course, my version does not look impressive.  It is not well-photographed, either, but I expect the children will love them.  Oh, and I did not fill the nests with Cadbury Mini Eggs, which I should have, but I did not have any on hand and I have sworn off driving for a little while.

This is what mine looked like:

This is how to make them:

In a large glass bowl (I used a large crock pot insert), place 12 ounces of butterscotch chips and 12 ounces of white chocolate chips.  Put in microwave for 2 minutes.  Remove from microwave and stir well. If the chips are not all melted, return to microwave for another 30 seconds.  Stir again.  Add one 12-ounce bag of chow mein noodles and stir very well  Don't worry about the sound of the noodles breaking up.  This is supposed to look like a bird nest.  The bird nests I have seen are all riffy raffy looking so broken noodles are just fine.

For shaping the bird nests, I put a scoop of the mixture into cupcake papers set in a muffin tin.  With a spoon, and then with my finger, I tried to make a little indentation in the middle of the bird nest for the "eggs".   Mine don't look like bird nests but I did not want to get all that sweet on my fingers and then lick it off. I am off sweets for a while, too.  Forever, if I am smart...

Friday, April 14, 2017

Food Friday: Best Quick Fruit Salad Ever!

Recently I stayed with a friend.  She made a wonderful fruit salad.  This is what she used:

red seedless grapes
red raspberries
mandarin orange sections

Quick.  Easy. Delicious!  So refreshing.  The bowl I made disappeared like a flash!  It is nice to make popular food once in a while.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Handwork: Knitted Daffodil

When I wanted to knit some flowers over the winter to make spring look like it was going to come, I picked up some lovely daffodil yellow bulky yarn.  This is the daffodil that I came up with:

Here is where I found the pattern.  You will notice that Wendy's version is much MUCH better.  Well, maybe I will try again with worsted weight yarn.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Papercrafting: Fun Easy Decorated Envelope

Recently several friends had birthdays.  I finally made cards for some of them.  I like to make an envelope to go along with the card.  This time I took a simply-designed piece of paper, turned it into an envelope with We-R-Memory-Keepers Envelope Punch Board.

The envelope punch board is a fabulously easy tool to use to make any sized envelope you would like.  For this one I cut a sheet of paper to 8.5 by 8.5 inches then made the punches and score lines, folded once then unfolded and began to color the envelope.

This is what it looked like:

Monday, April 10, 2017

Munchie Monday: Make-a-Mix Cookery Cinnamon Buns

Some time ago I made up a batch of “Hot Roll Mix” from Make-a-Mix Cookery.  I thought it was time to use it for some early morning food.  I chose to use the Cinnamon Rolls recipe on page 213.

The recipe was easy to follow and made up rather quickly into a nice soft dough.  I left it rising in a nice warm kitchen (the wood stove was really putting out some lovely heat…so lovely that I had to remove my sweater as I was sweltering, but it was a GREAT environment for the cinnamon rolls rising step!) and went upstairs to was a little bit of General Conference and then part of Death in Paradise.  After more than an hour of rising I went back to the kitchen to shape the buns.

Here is a picture of an experiment using a pan that was on clearance at the grocery store.  (For $4.99 I could not resist.)

As it happened, since the rolls in this pan were smaller I knew I would have to adjust the cook time.  Since the large rolls were to cook for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees F.  I decided to cook these for 15 minutes.  Wrong!  They were overcooked.  Well, I suppose you could say, burned, but they were not inedible.  Ask me how I know.  Ask what my scales had to say about the inedibility of these buns.


Anyway,  for the regular sized cinnamon buns, I cooked them only about 12 minutes, turned the pan around in the oven, then cooked for a couple more minutes.  NOT burned.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Food Friday: Delicious Refrigerator Soup

There were more than usual small containers of leftovers in the refrigerator one morning lately so I pulled them all out of the refrigerator, tossed them into a large soup pot and, after chopping up three onions that I found in separate containers, I turned on the heat, brought the soup to a boil, then let simmer until the onions were mostly cooked.  It is a delicious soup.  Sadly, not to be duplicated....My mother was truly the master at making refrigerator soup.  Those soups always tasted good.  Sometimes mine have not been as tasty.  This one was BUT  Dear One had a bit of problem with it, though he did try.

These were the ingredients I used:

3 partial onions, chopped
1 bunch dried out scallions
2 cups homemade baked beans
1 1/2 cups homemade macaroni and cheese
2 cups roasted Brussels sprouts and cauliflower
2 cups sautéed onions and spinach
1 quart pork broth
1 quart chicken broth
2 -3 Tablespoons French onion dip made with sour cream and French's Onion Soup mix
2 Tablespoons Harvest Blend Seasoning...basically dried vegetables and herbs
2 1/2 Tablespoons dried red bell pepper flakes
Ragu spaghetti sauce

Chopped the onions finer then began cooking them in the two broths and broths.  After about 2 minutes, just added everything except the dip and Ragu sauce and brought everything up to a boil then simmered until the raw onions were softened...well, 15 minutes, then an additional 6 minutes because the onions were not yet soft.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Knitting: Grandmother's Favorite Shoulder Shawl!

As part of the Craft Yarn Council program to become certified, I need to prepare three lessons in knitting.  Often when I am teaching beginners we use the Grandmother's Favorite Wash Cloth pattern.  It is so easily memorized and everyone needs a washcloth.

My plan was to do something a little different.  I was in Michaels when they first opened and found a lovely color way in Caron Cakes.  I had thought of using it for an entrelac scarf but it turned out the color repeats were too long.  Well, if you are going to go to that much work for a scarf or shawl, it should look impressive. It really did not with those long color ways, so I tore it out after about three or four rows of squares.

The yarn was then available and so soft and lovely to work with that I thought a nice triangular shoulder shawl/scarf would be a good way to use it, plus would teach the simplest part of Grandmother's Favorite.

This is what it looks like:

This was knit just as Grandmother's Favorite Wash Cloth (Cast on 3 stitches, turn.  K2, YO, knit to end of row...every row. ) is knit until you get to where you want to start decreasing.  (To make it as square cloth you K1, K2tog, YO, K2tog, K to end of row to decrease until binding off 3 stitches.)  Instead of doing the decrease to make this a square shawl, when I got to where I thought I needed to start the ending part of the triangular shawl I did a K2, *YO, K1, K2tog,  Repeat from * until the end.  You might have to fudge a bit at the end to finish out that row.  After the eyelet row, knit one garter ridge/2 rows then bind off.  It makes a perfect little shoulder shawl.  I only had about 5 yards of yarn leftover...!

Using US size 8 circular needles and the Caron Cakes worsted weight yarn, the shawl measures 20 inches deep and 47 inches across at the top of the triangle. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Craft Project: Pom Pom Bunny

Some time ago I was thinking about Easter treats.  I did not want to give out large amounts of candy as I have done in past years.  There are so many cute "treats" that have nothing to do with sugar.  here is one of them.

Needed Supplies:
Pom Pom makers
Felt in two colors
Hot glue and glue tool
Wiggly eyes

Make two pom poms of two different but closely related sizes.
When removing the pom poms from the pom pom tool, there will be several strings  hanging from the pom poms.  Use those strings to tie the pom poms together. 
Make a minimum of two square knots to hold the pom poms together.
To make the ears: from the felt cut 2 pieces of 2 inch by 2 inch squares.
Cut down the middle of each of them so you have 4 1 inch by 2 inch pieces of felt.  One should be sort of the color of the yarn, the other should be pink for the inner ear.
Holding two pieces together cut into sort of bunny ear shapes, then cut off a little bit from each side of the pink inner ear felt.  This will give a little bit the outer ear visible.
With the hot glue tool, apply a little glue to each ear near the base and insert it between the two tied-together pom poms.  Hold briefly until the glue dries.
Holding one wiggly eye with tweezers, apply hot glue to back of eye then place on the front of the smaller pom pom.  Repeat for second eye and place close to the first eye.
Let cool.
Love this frowzy looking bunny!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Papercrafting: EASY DIY Scratch Pads

When we print out a document that is flawed in some way and cannot be used as is, I often like to cut the 8.5 by 11 inch paper into quarters then use the back sides to make scratch pads.  This is so simple!

A pile of paper pieces
Several binder clips
Elmers, or other, white glue

Line up your pieces of paper so they have at least the tops nice and even. 
Place two binder clips along the top side edges to hold the papers together and stable. 
Apply glue to the top of the paper pages.
Let dry.
Remove clips.
Use for scratch pads.

Close up of scratch pads in drying mode.

Now that you can make scratch pads from recycling papers, you can create your own beautifully planned and designed scratch pads to use yourself or give to friends.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Munchie Monday: Mushroom Garlic Meatballs

Meatless Garlic Mushroom Meatballs
Ingredients for 16 small meatballs:

1 pound white mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup onions, finely chopped or  pulse in food processor
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pulse in food processor
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup breadcrumbs--make your own (by pulsing in food processor!)
1/4 cup chopped parsley or about 1 Tablespoon if you don't have fresh
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 eggs
3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce.

How I did this recipe varied some from Chef John's method.  I peeled the mushrooms carefully then put them in the food processor with the somewhat chopped onion and garlic then pulsed until everything was very tiny.

Melt butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet then add mushrooms, onions, garlic mixture.  Cook about five minutes until the mushrooms have not more liquid visible.  You can also just pulse the mushrooms by themselves in the food processor then start them cooking by themselves and then add the chopped and pulsed onions and garlic when the mushrooms have evaporated all their juice.  Cook until the onions are very soft and fragrant.

Put mixture in a large bowl with the oatmeal, breadcrumbs, parsley and cheese.  Stir very well.  Taste to see if you need more salt.  If so, add it now, maybe a teaspoonful.  Also add the black pepper, cayenne, and oregano.  If you like how it tastes, then add the eggs, one at a time and mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap or foil so the mixture is tightly covered.

Let mixture sit 4 hours in the refrigerator.

Using a 2-Tablespoon portion scoop, scoop out balls of  meatballs and form slightly if needed and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake meatballs for 12-15 at 450 degrees F.

Add the meatballs to the sauce which is at a simmer. Simmer for 30-60 minutes before serving.  Serve over your favorite pasta.  We used mini-spaghetti, which is actually just spaghetti that has been broken up into 1-2 inch pieces prior to cooking.

The meatballs fell apart somewhat but they tasted great.  Dear One even ate two servings.  Well, over two days....Something he would not have done if he knew they were mushrooms.  Mushroom phobia here.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Food Friday: Sautéed Spinach and Onions

One of the quickest, tastiest ways to get spinach into your diet is to slice up a couple of onions, place them into a large skillet in which is a little heated olive oil.  Let the onions cook until softened and beginning to caramelize.  Add in a giant pile of freshly cleaned spinach leaves,  almost overflowing the pan is best, then cover and let cook for about a minute.  Remove cover then stir until the spinach is nicely wilted. 

Add a little salt and pepper OR maybe some Montreal Steak Seasoning OR maybe some Soul Food Seasoning.  This is very yummy and so good for your body.

No picture today because I did not stop the cooking while the spinach was still bright green as well as soft.  My bowl looks sort of black and icky, but it really tastes good and I am satisfied that it is still healthy for my body.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Charity Quilts: Refugee Quilts Completed!

The quilts our Relief Society is contributing to the refugee ladies at the 8 April Women's Conference have been completed.   Two of the donators are not even members of our Relief Society so their contributions are especially appreciated.

There are two of these bright cheery quilts which are about lap quilt size.

This lovely muted colors quilt is large bed-sized.
There are two of this nice floral and bright patches quilt is twin bed sized.

Every one of these quilts are completely machine quilted and ready to go to a happy home. It is always wonderful to participate in an event which will bring joy to others.  Service just about always brings good feelings, as this did.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DIY Building Project: DIY Craft Shelf/Cupboard

Here is a picture of the papercrafting shelf that Son #3 built for me out of 2 30-inch long, 2 12-inch long, and 1 11.5-inch long boards that were cut from 1 8 foot by 12 inch (actually only 11.5 or 11.75 inch) number 2 pine board.  The number 2 pine is the designation for boards that are smooth on both sides rather than construction grade that are rough on both sides, and premium that is really really smooth everywhere.  The premium is much more costly and the construction grade is so rough as to be impossible to use for finished work that will be often touched.  Too many slivers are a probability.

You will notice it took me no time to fill this cupboard up!  Also, notice that there is a cup hook screwed into the side of the cupboard where a power strip is installed for all the necessary plugs (phone, Ott light for ease in vision while crafting, Cricut Expression power cord, and other assorted temporary plug-ins).  There will soon be another cup hook installed for my nice metal yard stick which I use for so many craft projects in so many way.  Really, that yard stick is critically important to the craft room.  Often it is used to reach under and to the rear of obstructions when I drop something that rolls away from me.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Munchie Monday: Veggie Meatball Bites

Always I seem to be looking for non-meat regular food, like meatballs and burgers.  I feel sure that somewhere there are good recipes where we can make them.

Here is a recipe which started out at Cooking With Plants.

Meatless Meatballs (Veggie Bites if you make them flat instead of round, which is what I wanted)

6 slice bread, pulverized in a food processor
2 cups walnuts added to the bread crumbs and pulsed until finely chopped
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal flakes
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning or plain ground sage
2 teaspoons dried cilantro (which I used by mistake, I was reaching for the basil but picked up the cilantro instead and did not notice....)
 1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon vegetable stock mixture
 1 can black beans, NOT drained
1/4 cup soy sauce

After turning the bread and walnuts into crumbs in a food processor, add all the remaining dry ingredients and pulse to combine.  When they are happily mixed, dump in the beans, including liquid in the can,  and soy sauce (you can use tamari or Braggs Liquid Aminos if you want instead of the soy sauce) and pulse to make a mushed up combination.

Using a 2-Tablespoon portion scoop put the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet (or if you have a high tolerance for stuck-on food, just lightly grease the pan and forget about the parchment paper.  I have a very LOW tolerance for food items sticking to the pan so I always go with the parchment paper...).  Use nice even rows  (this helps the food cook more evenly, plus you can take a quick count more easily) of the plopped-on mixture then go back and with clean damp fingers  and press down the veggie bite mixture a little bit to slightly flatten the balls.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, turn the bites over, and bake another 15-20 minutes.  I wanted these to be baked enough that they were sort of crisp and could be picked up and used with French onion dip.  Well, they were not crisp, but they were firm enough to be finger food.  Score! 

These did work just as I had hoped AND they tasted good to boot!  I was so pleased when a lady at the Relief Society Birthday Party where I was going to serve these, asked if she could take some of them home.  OF COURSE SHE COULD!  I did not want to take any of them home because they were such a temptation to eat myself. 

A bonus with the lady's request was that I gave her the beautiful glass bowls I had used to serve the dip and veggie bites it.  Two more things gone from our house.  It is hard to empty out a house when your general modus operandi is to collect things, not dispose of them. Yes, I did particularly love these bowls but we do not need them. I am glad they have gone to a good home.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Food Friday: Roasted Vegetables Again

Roasting vegetables is a such a delicious way to get vegetables into bodies.  Well, I love most vegetables so they are not a problem for me.  At the weight and wellness class the other day Jane told me she had roasted beets, cabbage, and onions.  I tried it.  It was scrumptious!

This does look rather unappetizing but it was amazingly good.

Chop half a green cabbage into large-sized dice.  Chop one large onion into the size pieces you like, about the same size as the cabbage.  Scrub and dry 4 small beets. Cut off the tap root then chop everything you have left (no skinning, not taking off the cap of the beet) into medium-sized dice.  Place all into a large bowl.  Pour on 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and stir to coat.  In a small bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon granulated garlic and 1 teaspoon granulated onions, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.  Sprinkle the spice mixture on the vegetables and stir again.

Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees F. for 30 minutes.  Stir and roast another 30 minutes.  This is how I did it.  It worked in our oven.  You might want to check more often to see if they are done to your liking.  I wanted the beets to be VERY WELL done.  Not a big fan of them, but they are good for us so...

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Michaels Free Flower Arranging Class

Tonight we had another flower arranging class.  There was one student.  Here is her arrangement.  I thought it looked pretty nice.  The one I made was rather "stuffed in", so I am not showing it to you!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Watercolor Painting: A Fail For Sure. Good for a Laugh. A BIG Laugh!

Today I went to paint with friends.  We painted from live models.

Here is the first model.  Well, here is my second painting of the first model.

What creature do you think it is?  I have had three "dinosaurs", an aardvark, and an anteater.  Dear One just asked, "WHAT IS IT?"

When you look at the next picture you will be able to tell what creatures we were painting.  I think.

Dear One looked at this one and laughed.  Later on I showed it to him up close.  His comment, "Oh, it is two of them.  I thought it was one dog with a bad chin!"  That is so funny.  I loved it.  I am still laughing.

Well, first attempts at anything are often less than stellar.  At this point I think I can say, without a LOT of work, I will not be a dog painter.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Knitting: Blocking Swatches

I love to learn new things.  I love to improve upon old things I previously learned.  Currently I am a part-time teacher at the new Michaels Arts and Crafts store.  I teach/lead discussions/act as example and support for several different arts and crafts.  One thing Michaels requires is that the knitting and  crocheting teachers be certified by the Craft Yarn Council as knowledgeable enough to actually bless the students as they try to learn a new skill.  This certification process requires a somewhat costly course from the Craft Yarn Council.

Part of the certification requirements include making swatches in some basic stitches and techniques.  These small pieces of knitting have VERY specific conditions to be acceptable to the CYC.  One of them is an exact size.  To reach this size one must adjust needle size, number of stitches, and eventually blocking the pieces.

This is a picture of the preliminary swatches on blocking wires.

One little glitch in the system is that the blocking wires, which have lived in their little cardboard tube all their lives, impacted the swatches by passing on a tiny bit of dark grease-looking grunge.  This is not something I expected....

Monday, March 20, 2017

Munchie Monday: Homemade Cheesy Broccoli Soup 2017

Whenever we go to Panera, Dear One chooses their broccoli cheese soup.  I thought I would try again to make some that he would like.  Today I did it!  I cannot believe it.  He said,  "This is pretty good soup.  Can you make it again?"  Well, that is a good question.  Usually I just dump in some of this and a little of that.  This time I wrote it down.  Yes, Dear, I can make it again!

To be honest, the whole reason this soup exists is because I steamed some broccoli in my Instant Pot for 2 minutes, but was busy doing other things when the 2 minute steaming was up and did not get back to open the Pot until it said 45 minutes on the warming cycle.  When I opened up the pot, the broccoli was SO WELL STEAMED that all the cell walls in the lovely florets had totally disintegrated. I  have a high tolerance for poorly cooked vegetables, but these florets were basically slime.  Even I could not eat them as broccoli.  Icky sticky!  The only way to use them was in something like cheesy broccoli soup...so I came up with a recipe.

Cheesy Broccoli Soup
3 potatoes, washed, peeled if needed, and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1 1/2 cups steamed broccoli
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
 2 large handfuls grated sharp cheddar- about 2 cups
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon vegetable seasoning
1/4 teaspoon thyme 
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion

In a  medium sized saucepan place the potatoes, onions, and carrots.  Cover the vegetables with water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cover pot.  Let cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  (In our case, I started these before Church but did not have time for them to cook all the way through so I just shut off the heat and left them until we returned.  They had finished cooking with no heat under them.)

In a large sauce pan over medium heat start melting the butter then whisk in the flour.  Continue to whisk and cook until the mixture is a lovely creamy brown which indicates that the flour is cooked.  In the meantime, put 2 cups milk in a glass measuring cup in the microwave for one minute to begin warming it up.  Add to the butter/flour roux and whisk continually until the mixture thickens nicely.  Carefully dump in the vegetables and all the spices and stir well, until all the spices have broken up and are completely stirred into the mixture.  (Clumps of dried garlic or onion granules are not the most pleasant thing to meet in your soup spoon....)

If you have very steamed broccoli as we did, use a fork to mash it well and add to the soup, stirring well.  If the florets are rather large, you might want to chop them up finely before adding to the soup.  Many people don't like to come upon a whole broccoli floret in their cream soup.

Finally, add in the heavy cream and give a final stir.  Make sure the soup is at a good temperature for eating, then ladle into bowls. I believe this will make 8 servings.  Of course, if you have a large soup bowl or mug, it will make fewer servings.  You could probably do some fun garnishes but we are plain Janes here.

May I say I am just so thrilled to finally have a soup that has the seal of approval on it?!!!  The one thing he did ask was what were the sharp things that looked like pine needles that caught in his teeth.  I told him it was the rosemary.  He suggested ground rosemary. I never thought of that. I will try that next time.  In fact, I may just see if I can grind up all the rosemary in the little smoothy maker/ Nutri bullet knock-off that we have.  It might work.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Food Friday: Swedish Almond Cake!

Sometimes you hear of a recipe that so far exceeds your expectations that you want to make it again and again.  This is such a recipe.  My friend Judy sent me the recipe months ago.  I had not gotten around to making it yet. I had even bought the special pan for the cake and STILL did not make it.  Tonight I made it for our early morning eaters.  I think they will love it, if they try it.

The recipe is called Swedish Almond Cake. It could not be easier to make. I am sure it would be good even without the cool pan. 

This is the recipe as I made it:

Swedish Almond Cake

1/2 cup  butter, melted
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350º.

Grease a 9 by 5 loaf pan or the special almond cake pan that lets you cut perfect slices.

Stir the sugar, egg, almond extract and milk thoroughly.  In a separate bowl stir together the flour and baking powder.  Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Add the melted butter and stir until smooth.  Add a handful of slivered almonds if you like.  Pour into prepared pan.

  Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-50 minutes.  Cool.  Sift confectioner’s sugar on top.

Next time I will cook it for 40 minutes instead of the 50 minutes.  It was still wonderful but the crust on the end slices was a bit hard.

Very light.  Very yummy.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

People are Really Nice

Doesn't it make your heart just sing when you think about all the kindnesses people do for you?  Doesn't it make you want to be an even nicer person?  Well, it does me.  I had been thinking about how to organize the workroom so it was actually useful, and still available as a guestroom when someone needed a bed for a night or two.

Yesterday as I was driving along after doings some good works myself, the thought came to me how to improve on my organization in the workroom. 

It seemed that if I bought a 12" wide 8 ' long board that was smooth on both sides and cut it into 2 30-inch pieces, 2 12-inch pieces, and 1 11-inch piece then screwed them together, it would make a nice cabinet for some of the taller paper-crafting tools if I set it on my large table.

I went to the local lumberyard and was shown out to Larry who asked me what was up my sleeve.  He has helped me for 25 years at that lumberyard, often with crazy ideas.  He suggested #2 pine and thought we should look through the 16-footers so we could decide which end we wanted.  We found a nice enough one and took it to the saw room.  He actually cut the pieces exactly to my requested sizes!  Well, I knew he would if he was not too busy.  Such a kind man.  I went inside and someone helped me choose the right screws for the job. 

On my way home I thought I would stop in to see if Son #3 would want to pre-drill the screw holes for me, thereby saving Dear One a lot of frustration.  Well!  Son #3 not only pre-drilled the holes, he also installed the screws and in fifteen minutes I was on the road again.  The grandchildren were there and offered to help then pointed out that Dad had made a lot of cabinets and was really good at it.

So, there you have it....really nice people doing really nice things going beyond my wildest expectations.  So nice. I need to be nicer.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Day, Work Day

Today a huge snow storm was forecast.  After a difficult sleep night I woke up around 7 AM.  It was snowing, as predicted, but it was light snow at first.  Later it became a much heavier fall of the white stuff.  As of about 4 PM we have had twelve inches of snow and the wind has picked up.  It will be interesting to see what comes of the storm by the time it is forecast to end late tomorrow.

This morning I decided to make it a busy day at home since my visiting teachers canceled, my art instruction canceled, then Michaels closed at 11 AM which canceled the art class I was going to teach tonight.  All of these were good things.  There was then no need to endanger life or limb, my own or other people's by going out on the roads.

The first thing I did was make some nice pan-fried diced potatoes and scrambled eggs for Dear One who loves that sort of thing.  Well, I do, too, but am avoiding them currently. At least for the most part.   I had a little scrambled egg with fresh made pico de gallo on it.

The next thing I did was sat down at my computer to do some house-cleaning.  My storage said I had used up 14 GB out of 15 GB and did I want to spend $19.99 to get 100 GB of storage.  Well, no, I did not want to spend that money because, 1.  I did not have that much I wanted to spend because a.  I was too disorganized and b. too lazy to change the organization on my email; and 2. I also did not want to spend the money because it would just put off the evil hour when I would have to face my own mess of email messages.

SO...I spent an hour at the computer, emptying out most of the email accounts I have.  (It is remarkable how many email accounts one person can have.  It would be really amazing if one person could actually manage all those email accounts and not just store messages...!)  Eventually I was ready to empty the trash.  I was messaged this cheery little note:  "Do you want to bulk delete forever 10,978 messages?"  I took a deep breath (knowing I had probably deleted some very important messages) and said, "Delete!"  It took a while but they are now gone.

Next I moved on upstairs to the workroom.  There is so much room for improvement that there is no room for any other stuff.  The main table is full.  The auxiliary table is full.  The knitting machine table is full.  The queen-sized bed is full.  The bureau is full.  The bookcases are full.  It is time to do something about it.  Having all that stuff is a terrible burden.

What I did:  I picked through both wastebaskets and put all the paper into one bag and all the plastics into another bag.  As I was going through the paper trash I used a hexagonal paper punch and a small heart paper punch and cut out as many hexagons and hearts as I could for future paper-crafting projects.  The tiny bits then went into the recycling bag.  Both wastebaskets now have liners.  Each wastebasket now has its own mission: one is paper scraps, the other is plastics and other non-recyclables.

Next it was on to the surfaces of the tables and TV stands (2 of them in the room--one has the yarn winder and swift on it, the other was full of paper-crafting supplies).  The auxiliary table was mostly cleared off with stuff put where it needed to go, then the main table was worked on. I was able then to install the new pine shelving unit/cabinet that Son #3 and Larry at the lumberyard made for me yesterday.  That made me happy.  Now I just need to screw in some cup hooks for hanging some other tools.

Pretty soon things will be cleared off enough that I can take down the knitting machine and table and move the auxiliary table into its new home.  THEN maybe I can get the bed empty.

These are things I really want to get done today but by the time the above-mentioned were done the old blood sugar was dipping very low and I was a dragging puppy.  Took a break to get some food.  Which morphed into a longer break to make food for Dear One with morphed into yet a LONGER break where I made some whole wheat tortillas from some freshly ground whole wheat flour.  Now I need to stuff a couple of them with refried beans and the pico de gallo left over from breakfast THEN FINALLY I will get back to the workroom.  Almost no chance of finishing tonight  but the good news is the storm is forecast to continue until tomorrow evening so maybe I will have tomorrow free as well!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Handwork: Knit and Crochet Flowers

Lately I have been longing for spring.  I found some free patterns for flowers, both knit and crochet.

Here is a pile of them that I made this past week:

There is a daffodil, a jonquil, a star flower, a rose, and some funky imaginary flowers.  They were fun to make.  They are not perfect but I feel perfectly fine about them.  Another day I will find the patterns to share.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Munchie Monday: Breakfast Salad Today!

Don't you just love a great breakfast salad?!  I do.  You may not but there is nothing like starting the day with some good vegetables and healthy protein.

This is what I had in my breakfast salad:

2 cups iceberg/carrots/cabbage lettuce mixture
2 cups spring lettuce and baby spinach
1/2 cups chick peas
1/8 of a red onion, sliced thinly
1 carrot, sliced
1 celery rib, sliced
2 Tablespoons Spicy Peanut Salad Dressing

What I did:

Chopped the greens.  Added the chopped greens to a large bowl.  Added the remaining vegetables then topped with the salad dressing.  Stirred it all up.  Ate it with pleasure and a certain amount of feeling virtous as I realized it was healthier than many breakfasts I have had.

Doesn't that look pretty?! And yummy!  The only glitch was that the red onion happened to be rather spicy this time.  I gave the last few shreds to the white-tail deer who frequent our back yard.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Food Friday: Spicy Peanut Salad Dressing

Today I made a salad dressing that was especially yummy.

This is what I did:

In a small blender, I placed

1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons Ume Plum Vinegar though other vinegar or even lemon juice would have worked
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons water
2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste (or just finely minced ginger)
1 heaping teaspoon sambal oelek or garlic chili paste

Blend very well until a nice smooth sauce. If it is too thick to be a salad dressing, add water, one Tablespoon at a time until the texture is right.

Yields:  about one cup

This tastes really nice on a big fat vegetable and bean salad.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Handwork: Refugee Quilt

The ladies at our church have a Relief Society.  In about a month we are having a get-together with lots of women from the nearby refugee community.  These ladies have been invited for a morning of fellowship, friend-making, and quilt-tying. Each of the church congregations are asked to bring four or five quilts all ready to tie, and with the bindings already finished.  The idea is to send every refugee lady home with a couch-sized quilt.

A friend had given me several baby-sized quilt tops.  I wanted to turn them into larger quilts.  A second friend did the mathematical figuring for me and cut the fabric at the quilt fabric shop where she works.  This afternoon I worked for about three hours stitching together the additional fabric in a pleasing pattern that turned the small quilt top into a much larger quilt top.  To boot it looks really nice.

Now the mathematical genius will turn the top into an actual quilt!  Already more than three people have contributed to this one quilt.  Good deal!

It will be enjoyable to spend the morning getting to know these refugee sisters and sharing the time finishing quilts that they can take home and use.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Papercrafting: Giant Paper Flowers

We had a papercrafting class at the local Michaels' store this week.  I had made a sample flower in purple.  To make the project as easy as possible, I photocopied the templates onto card stock.  This worked but had some disadvantages, i.e. the instructions showed on the petals and I didn't think to turn the petals the other side up.

When we actually had the class I drew around the templates that I had cut out from the card stock.  This worked well until putting together the petals I failed to erase the pencil marks or turn the petals over. Oh, well.  Still a nice enough flower.
For this flower I made a loose pompom for the center of the flower by way of embellishment.  I also attached a ribbon for a hanger.  When I took the picture, the glue was still wet so I could not put hang the flower to show it off to good advantage.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Garden 2017: Cucumber in February

Good friend O gave us a Persian cucumber plant started which was healthy and happy about a month ago.  I was reluctant to take it because I kill plants but then I thought about trying to learn to enjoy cucumbers so when it was offered a second time, I accepted it.

After a week on the kitchen table I took it upstairs and planted in a planter where I had killed some very healthy scallions that I had enjoyed for months during the fall and early winter but which I had let go whereupon they gave up the ghost and are still sitting there looking at me accusingly.  I moved out a few of them to make place for the little cucumber.

Here is the cucumber as it looks on the 27th of February.  Pretty cute, I think!

Somewhere online I saw a simple lighting set up for indoor vegetable plants.  You use an empty gallon milk jug the you fill halfway full of sand. Stick in a 2.5 to 3 foot piece of PVC pipe.  Purchase a clamp-on lamp and a full spectrum light bulb.  This seems to make this cucumber pretty happy.  You can see the tiny cucumber with the dying blossom on the end.  I think I need to find some compost for the little guy.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Munchie Monday: Chicken Fried Cauliflower Steaks

Yes, it is true- you can make cauliflower steaks and they are pretty good, too.  In my opinion.  Dear One was not interested in sampling them.  No surprise there, just a prick of disappointment.

You will need:
1 small cauliflower
1cup flour (I used all-purpose King Arthur)
2 eggs well beaten in a flat dish
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, granulated garlic, and granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt, and black or white ground pepper
3 Tablespoons mild honey
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce or more if you like very spicy

Slice cauliflower into 3/4 inch thick steaks.  Put into a large skillet in which you have brought 1/2 cup water to boil.  Carefully situate the steaks in the pan and cover.  Cook/steam for five minutes then remove from pan with tongs. Place on a cooling rack and let sit until completely cool.

In a clean heavy skillet start some canola oil heating over medium heat.  I probably used about 1/4 to 1/2 inch oil.

Put the flour and dry spices on a large plate and mix well together.

Set the bowl with the beaten egg beside the plate with the spiced flour which will be used for dredging.   Place both of these near the cooled and somewhat dry cauliflower steaks.  Carefully pick up one steak at a time, dredge it on both side, dip both sides in the egg, then back to the flour, and finally ease the steaks into the hot oil.  Fry on each side for 3-4 minutes, or until as brown as you like.  When both sides are happily crispy, remove to a paper-towel lined plate for a minute or so.

At this point, remove to a serving platter and drizzle with the honey/sriracha mixture you have made. Enjoy right away.  If there are leftovers, they are still good for another meal.

One caveat...the slicing may not go as smoothly as you might like.  Smaller " steaks" work just as well, however.  A diner might think eating four or five small steaks is no problem but later the tummy will be much as full as if eating a full-sized steak.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Food Friday: Homemade Veggie Burger Sandwich!

We eat veggie burgers around here.  I am still trying to make one that works as far as flavor, texture, ease of construction, and enjoyment.

This is the one I made this week.

This picture was an open-faced sandwich that I had to start eating with a fork.  It was delicious!  The layers were: toasted one hundred percent whole wheat bread, smear of Homemade Balsamic Mayonnaise, one Roma tomato sliced sort of thin, slice of sweet onion, Homemade Veggie Burger, sauerkraut on top then sprinkled with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  It was so good and stuck with me for hours.

Here is how I made the veggie burger.  I am sorry I don't have a really specific recipe just the method, but the method worked.

We had some leftover squash soup, some leftover rice glop (my term for rice and other ingredients that have become a more or less solid mass since I failed to stop the cooking in time), some leftover cooked pinto beans.

Started heating our cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat then made the veggie burger mixture.

In a large bowl I placed the very flavorful squash soup--about 2 cups of it, 1 1/2 cups of the cooked rice, and 2 cups of cooked pinto beans. I used a potato masher to smush them up until I was satisfied with the texture.  Some of the beans were still mostly whole.  At this point I added about 3 Tablespoons of leftover thick pizza sauce, about a teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning, and a good big glug of Worcestershire sauce. Then I threw in about 2 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats. I mixed these all together very well.

By this time the cast iron frying pan was hot so I added a Tablespoon of coconut oil and let it melt.  Using a 1/2 cup portion scoop, I scooped four mounds of the veggie burger mixture into the pan, pushing down on each mound with the back of the scoop to make a nice neat round burger about one-half inch thick.  I let them cook, still over medium heat, for 2-3 minutes or until I thought they were solid on the bottom. I then flipped them, cooked them longer on the second side then served to Dear One along with French fries. I had some mashed potatoes and salad with mine.

The upshot:  these taste really good.  When they came off the frying pan they were too soft for my Dear One's palate but he did think they tasted good.  This was for lunch.  At supper time I got the two leftover ones out of the refrigerator and found that they had become much more firm. Yay!  When I warmed up one for my own supper (Dear One did not want a repeat...usual story there...) it softened up again but still worked as you can see on the sandwich photo.

There was enough of the "batter" to make four more veggie burgers the next day using a smaller scoop, which was quite large enough.  I felt justified in eating two of them!  After all, what could be wrong with beans, rice, oatmeal, and squash?!

This is still not the perfect veggie burger (especially since I don't have an accurate list of all the ingredients in all the components) but is on the way to getting there. Something about the oatmeal firms them up, I think.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Watercolor Quick "Primitive" Painting

A friend is having a birthday soon.  Not all my supplies were at hand so I decided to just do a quick little painting and attach it to a card blank.  This is what I managed in the short time I had with the few supplies I had.  Not my best work.  Not my favorite work.  Still, it is somewhat colorful, which is something I like.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Knitting: Heart Baby Blanket

Not too long ago I was emptying a binder of knitting patterns...ones that I decided I was never going to knit up so I did not need to keep them anymore.  One pattern caught my eye: it was titled Heart Pattern.

Since I had been given some lovely soft yarns I thought I would give it a try. After all, it was around Valentine's Day...and what is not to love about heart patterns?!

When I tried to find the creator of the pattern I found a very nice lady named Stephanie.  She has a blog called And She Knits Too! 

Look to the right side column for the Heart Scarf pattern.  It turns out to be very simple and easily memorized.

What I did differently is that I held two strands of worsted weight yarn together and used US size 15 needles. I did three pattern repeats in the body of the work with garter stitch edges.  For some reason I started out with K2, P2 ribbing for a couple of inches.  No idea why, but after the first pattern repeat I decided not to rip back and start again. Usually I do rip back.  Anyway, this will be a lovely baby blanket for some baby who is coming up.  I will probably do 8-10 pattern row repeats, depending on how it looks.  I also have several different colors of yarn and will just work in the new yarn as I finish each skein. There is one sort of golden yellow which I will use as the ending yarn.  In between are some browns and greens. I think it will look unusual and maybe nice.  Hopefully nice.  If not, I will donate it to the animal shelter for a soft cat blanket....

You can see that this is not block and that I have just added in the first strand of brown at the top.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Charity Knitting: Seamen's Church Institute

If you have yarn, and if you have needles, and if you have patterns, and if you have time, you will be able to do a lot of good knitting for good causes.  One of my recent favorite charities is the Seamen's Church Institute.  It warms my own heart to make items for these men and women who serve on the seas.  My own brother was on the sea for several years which is why I became interested in the first place.

Here is a picture of a box of slippers (Nola's Slippers) and a hat (the 1898 hat) that I put in the mail today.  It makes me happy to serve in this way.  When I get my house in order I will have more time for knitting. I think.  I hope.  So many good causes.  So much yarn ready to go!

Three pairs of Nola's Slippers, one other pair of slippers, and one 1898 hat.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Munchie Monday: Apples in a Bowl

In an effort to improve the health-giving qualities of the food we put out for the early morning visitors, and because I was very very tired last night/did not wake up early this morning,  today we had leftover brownies (not too many of them) and some luscious apples in a bowl.  The apples were Cripps Pink apples.  Nice.  Crisp. Juicy.  How can you go wrong?!

And don't you just love the bowl?!  I do.  I have been giving away kitchen stuff lately.  This bowl has a permanent home here....

Friday, February 24, 2017

Food Friday: Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there anyone who does not like chocolate chip cookies? 

Dear One loves chocolate chip cookies.  However!  They need to be soft.  Crisp is not good.  Hard is not good.  Chewy is just barely good.  Soft is really good.  I found a new recipe at I Am Baker. 

This is the way I made them:

In a stand mixer mixing bowl I combined:
1 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Beat these ingredients until they are soft and creamy....probably 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the side of the bowl  every minute or so.

Add in:
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whip again until very smooth.

In a large bowl mix together:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

When these are well combined and you are sure you have no lumps of baking soda left in the flour, add in:
2 cups chocolate chips  (I used semi-sweet.)

Mix well with a wooden spoon then stir into the "wet ingredients".  Don't overwork the batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a portion scoop, scoop out batter and place 12 blobs on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Lightly press down the tops of the cookie mounds then bake for 10-12 minutes.  You may need slightly longer.  You only want to cook these cookies until they are barely lightly browned around the bottoms of the cookies on the parchment paper.

Remove from oven and let cool five minutes then remove from baking sheet and let cool completely.  If you can.  Well, YOU can but if there is anyone else in the house when you take these out of the oven it may be impossible to let them cool completely.

NOTE:  If you go to the website above, you will see that I did not make these cookies exactly as Amanda, the lady at I Am Baker, makes them.  Dear One LOVED these cookies.  Tonight I was speaking with our daughter on the telephone and noticed Dear One going to the refrigerator for a glass of cold milk to go with some cookies he had in his hand.  I told our daughter that he had found the cookies in the freezer.  He said there was a problem:  there were very few cookies left in the freezer....  He does not know that I took half of the cookie dough and wrapped it into a log on plastic wrap then covered it with foil and froze it so I can make cookies at some later time.  That time may be coming sooner rather than later.

This batch of dough makes about 4 dozen cookies, I think.  Based on baking 24 cookies at the time I made the dough and putting half the dough in the freezer.  These were LARGE cookies.  You might want to be more reasonable in sizing your cookies.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

First Attempt: Floral Arranging

Michaels Stores have free classes.  (Just go to their website to see what class is at your closest Michaels Store.)   This week there were classes on finger crochet and floral arrangement.  I was there for both of them.

This is the arrangement I made:

Not stunning, but fun to do with two other ladies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Charity Knitting: Easy Premie Hats

Here are two premie hats I made recently to go along with a newborn hat.

Ribbed Hat

Cast on 48 stitches with soft worsted weight yarn and using US size 7 double pointed needles.

Knit 2, purl 2 ribbing for 4 inches.

Begin decrease rounds. 

Dec. Round 1: Knit 2, knit 2 together.  Repeat around.
Dec. Round 2:  Knit
Dec. Round 3: K1, k2tog around
Dec. Round 4:  Knit
Dec. Round 5:  K2tog around.

I think you need to do a second K2tog round to get to 6 stitches left. 

Work I-cord for 2 inches.  Bind off the 3 stitches and weave in ends.  Tie a knot in the I-cord.

Beanie Hat

Cast on 48 stitches with soft worsted weight yarn and using US size 7 double pointed needles.

Knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for 1 inch.

Knit every round until 4 inches from cast on edge.

Begin decrease rounds. 

Dec. Round 1: Knit 2, knit 2 together.  Repeat around.
Dec. Round 2:  Knit
Dec. Round 3: K1, k2tog around
Dec. Round 4:  Knit
Dec. Round 5:  K2tog around.

You may need to K2tog again to get to 6 stitches remaining.  Cut yarn with a long tail.  Thread a needle and run yarn through 6 stitches and pull tight.  Fasten off.

Make a small pompom and sew to top of hat.  Turn up brim.

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.