Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hot Fun in the Summertime Bag

The craft challenge marches on...

It is 105 degrees outside today. Great day to stay indoors and finish this bag that I don't even remember starting! I unearthed it, in its unfelted state, from my knitting box a couple of days ago and just put the finishing touches on it today! I'm going to send it to Emma for her birthday--she loves orange. I like the splashy lining fabric. It makes me think of when you take a bite of sun ripened summer fruit.

Now I'm hungry.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Great Craft Use-Up Challenge of 2012

I am a chronic starter of craft projects. I am not a chronic finisher, unfortunately.

I was poking through my ever-growing box of yarn--well, now it's two boxes of yarn--well, I have a third box upstairs in the attic but we don't talk about that box--and I was overwhelmed by the number of projects I have in various stages of incompletion.

I hereby challenge myself to come up with a creative solution. The object of the game is to use up all this yarn by making all sorts of pretty things. I will spend zero to little money on these projects, as to assuage my guilt about accumulating and procrastinating.

I will then use these pretty things, sell them or give them away as gifts. Everything must get used! I am not allowed to buy any more yarn until I use all of what I have on hand.

This is the first fruit of my challenge. It is beautiful, if I do say so myself. When I knitted it, it was probably a third again this size. It looked like a baggy sweater, but it felted down to a perfectly sized purse. I lined it in a recycled tablecloth. The swirly designs on each side are made of scraps that were cut off the shoulder strap, which was too long at first. No scraps of wool were harmed or wasted in the making of this bag.

I am almost finished with another bag as well--I will post pics of everything to generate excitement and draw undue attention to myself. Just want to see if you are reading!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I'm always looking for new vegan recipes, even though Andy and I are no longer doing the vegan thing. I really miss being vegan, and I try to sneak in as many vegan dinners as I can! Between all the bacon sandwiches.

I found this recipe for sweet potato veggie burgers on a sexy vegan blog called Healthy Happy Life. I was completely sucked in by Kathy Patalsky's beautiful photographs. She also has a lot of pictures of her cat, and that makes me feel less geeky for doing the same thing on my blog.

I made some burgers out of a baked sweet potato, a can of cannellini beans, a dollop of tahini, a tablespoon of fine cornmeal, a few chopped scallions, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. I put the mixture in the fridge to firm it up, then formed it into patties and coated the patties in panko. If you don't have panko in your pantry, go get some right now. Coat something with it, fry it and eat it. You will thank me profusely.

I made a tasty vinaigrette of olive oil, lime juice, honey, cilantro and a splash of vinegar.

Fried the patties in some canola oil until they were golden brown, and then served them on a bed of butter lettuce, topped with avocado slices, and drizzled with the vinaigrette.

They were really delicious! But not perfect. I needed to have a firmer texture, as they were very floppy when forming them into patties and cooking them. Any suggestions? Bulghur? Rice? Anybody? Anybody?

I will definitely try these again with some tweaks to improve the sturdiness, but I give them an A+ for flavor and presentation. They are so pretty when you dig into a patty and it's all orange and yammy!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lemon and Parmesan Penne with Stolen Asparagus!

It is Thursday, the day before I get paid, so you know I am skint. "Skint" means "broke" in Andy vernacular. I just like the sound of it, don't you?

You need a good go-to dish after a long day's work. Something cheap, delicious, fast, and reasonably healthy. Something you can substitute ingredients with when you are out of stuff. I think this fits the bill quite nicely! It's made entirely of things we pretty much always have on hand--lemons, pasta, parmesan cheese, olive oil.

The variables are fresh veggies and herbs. Tonight we had some asparagus on hand, and I nipped across the street and stole some gorgeous fresh mint from my neighbors. And you better swear not to tell them.

While we blanched about 20 stalks of asparagus and boiled enough pasta for two, I used a little food processor to make a pesto of:

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (not shredded, but grated)
1/4 cup olive oil
a generous handful of freshly stolen mint leaves (!)
zest and juice of half a lemon
fresh cracked pepper

Drain the blanched veg and pasta and toss it with the pesto.

And that's all there is to it! This is really a 15 minute dish, including prep time.

I have made this with peas instead of asparagus and basil instead of mint. Use your imagination! I like to use enough veggies to bulk up the dish so it's not too pasta-heavy. The lemon, cheese and olive oil complement one another really well.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ooh La la, it's a Galette!

I have never made anything with rhubarb before this weekend. I saw this great looking recipe for Indian spiced lentils with rhubarb in an email from Vegetarian Times, so I went on a hunt for some rhubarb on Saturday. Literally five stores later, I finally found it at Kroger. I couldn't believe how hard it was to find, considering it is in season right now. When we were kids in Michigan, it grew wild all over the place and we would yank the tart and juicy stalks out of the yard and chew on them. The lentil dish was really tasty, but I still had a few stalks of rhubarb left. After what I went through to procure them, I did not want them to go to waste. There was gonna be pie, dammit.

I have pie anxiety. Especially when it comes to rolling out the crust. This is a perfect way to have all the deliciousness and praise that comes with a freshly baked pie, and none of the stress. The shape should be  imperfect and it should look homey and rustic. And then you give it a slightly snooty sounding name and you have a success on your hands.

I just used half a recipe for the lovely rustic crust. That was about a cup of flour, 3/4 of a stick of very cold butter, zest of half a lemon, pinch of salt and sugar, and just enough ice cold water to bring it together.  The filling was 2 big stalks of rhubarb and a whole lotta sugar (maybe 2/3 cup), a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of cornstarch. I baked it at 400 for about 35 minutes.

I recommend this for anybody who's afraid of making pie! It is a very pretty and forgiving dessert. You don't have to shape it perfectly at all--in fact it looks even better if it's irregular.