Thursday, July 18, 2019

Dog-In-A-Box

What's more fun than a Jack-In-A-Box?  A Dog-In-A-Box!

Jeff has Tank trained so well that he pointed at the box, and Tank obediently sat in it.

Then Tank got out, and Jeff put Thatcher in the box.  You can see from his expression that this did not please Thatcher.

No matter; there were treats for both after they'd sat in the box.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Produce Box, Week 8

My box arrived about 15 minutes in front of torrential downpours, and, as usual, was great fun to open!


This week they included butternut squash, eggplant, summer squash, baby greens, English cucumbers, Bok Choy, onions, broccoli, redskin potatoes, apples, mangoes and blueberries!  Looks like a fun salad is on the menu for tonight, and I guarantee blueberries will be involved.  (I also laughed at the fact that one onion was huge, and the others were tiny.)

Happy Wednesday, everyone; we're past the halfway mark in the work week!

Monday, July 15, 2019

More Food With Veggies

Well, there is a lot of veggie inclusion going around in my little corner of the world.  Today I bring you 2 dishes, neither of which was all that spectacular on its own, but which were actually excellent.

TOMATO ZUCCHINI MIXUP

1/4 box grape tomatoes, sliced in half
2 zucchini, sliced
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper

Slice the zucchini into thin, bite sized slices.  Cut the grape tomatoes in half.  Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or small skillet, then add the garlic and cook until softened.  Stir in the tomatoes and zucchini slices, then cook, stirring occasionally, until they are fork tender (or as soft as you'd like them).  Add salt to taste, and plenty of pepper.  Even Thatcher approves of this.  OK, he's a dog, and as such, he approves of just about any food you'll share with him.  Still....


RICE MEDLEY

1 Cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 zucchini, sliced
1 summer squash, sliced
1 bunch red or green kale

Put the rice, water and salt in a pan and cook in the usual way.
When the rice is about half done, melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onion for a minute or 2, until softened (this gets rid of any harsh flavor the onion might add to the other veggies), add the zucchini, summer squash and carrot, and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the kale, and cook until wilted.   Remove from the heat, and stir into the rice as it's almost finished cooking.

Clearly, I served this with roasted beets and steak, although I can't say I have a clear memory of that.

This is a good way to add veggies to an otherwise boring starch.  Don't get me wrong, I like boring; that's how I've always operated.  But some folks (like my sons) don't.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Grandchildren sewing

Forgive me if you've seen any of these before.  But my grandchildren are cute.  That's not entirely because they're mine, although that helps.  But, let's face it, preschool aged kids just operate cute.  So, as I said, forgive any repetition.  These sewing projects are just fun!

First up: Nora's birthday dress.  I got this little piece of fabric with owls on it.  It literally was under 24" square.  And I had this adorable wrap dress pattern.  And Nora's favorite animal has been an owl since her aunt bought her a stuffed owl at the zoo a few months back.  So, the dress practically designed itself:

And this picture of Nora gazing out the window at the rain, while wearing her new sun hat, was just too adorable to go unnoticed.

I made Maddie a wrap dress from the same pattern.  Hers has mermaids on it.


 I showed you this dress that I made for Maddie from a small piece of fabric gifted to me by Gaylen.  This is when she wore it one day, using the pocket for her stuffed puppy:

And an ABC dress I made from the remains of a piece of fabric from one of my bundles, after I'd made a dress for myself.

And pajama pants, started by Gaylen for her granddaughter, then abandoned in favor of more girly patterns.  I didn't do much; just finished the waistband and added the cuffs to the bottom so I'd be certain the pants were long enough.

I made Maddie a dress from the remains of a border print I'd used for a dress, and a sweater to go with it.  She wore this dress for Easter; Gaylen spotted it on her in some of my photos.  I didn't have a pattern for the sweater, so I just winged it.



There are more, but that's enough for now!  I'd quite forgotten how many adorable little kid garments I had produced!

I hope you're all having a nice weekend!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Gifted Fabrics and the Green Wardrobe

There's a lot of sewing for me to catch up on.  Sometimes I sew to keep me sane; other days I just "need" a whole new wardrobe.  We all have our idiosyncrasies, don't we?

The green bundle came from Fabric Mart in March.  I know that I bought it because of the green that I used for this top, the H0172 (which also can be made as a dress).  I've worn it with brown and black skirts; I love the color and feel of the fabric.  I have beige skirt fabric in the bundle I'm currently working on, and I think that will look great with this top, too.

Next up was a princess seamed, strappy dress, which is a pattern I copied from a dress I bought at the beach about a million years ago (or maybe in 1988).  I really like this style, I really liked this color, and this dress was absolutely, positively impractical in early February, when I was sewing it during a snowstorm.

The last thing in that bundle was an olive green heavy knit, which I cut out using a pattern from about 1995 (I purchased it from the House of Fabrics going out of business sales).  I cut it out, didn't like the color, and promptly stopped to sew fun things for grandchildren, napkins, anything except this.  But the rules (or "best practice" in engineering parlance) state that I have to finish everything from a bundle before I'm allowed to start another bundle or piece of fabric.  So eventually I sucked it up and finished it.

Thatcher was happy to help me take pictures, albeit only because there was no one else home at the time, and that dog can't stand to be alone for more than about 15 seconds.

Gifted Fabrics:

At the March Sew Camp (abbreviated version), Gaylen gifted me 3 pieces of fabric.  First up was this wild striped fabric, which I turned into a "Claire" dress (so named for the lady who gave me the pattern, McCall's M5466).  I love the fabric, I love this dress style, I love everything about it.  I wear it with a narrow white belt.


Next up is another dress from my princess seamed beach pattern.  This is a red chrysanthemum patterned knit, which is soft and cute.

Last up: a black floral print, which I turned into a H0172 draped neck dress.  The fabric is fairly heavy, so I wore it in late winter and really early spring with a cardigan, and really enjoyed it.

That's it for today.  Thank you, Gaylen, for the fabrics, and thank you for encouraging me to finish the olive green dress (or abandon the rules, which you also suggested)!

Friday, July 12, 2019

Roasted Fennel Bulbs

This one was rather interesting.  I've never actually seen a real live fennel before one came in my produce box, and was somewhat at a loss as to how to use it.  (Truthfully, I didn't know what it was; I took a picture, sent it to my daughters, and asked if anyone could identify it.)  Enter the great and powerful G-- search engine.  This was a suggestion, adapted to my own idiosyncrasies, of course, and we rather enjoyed it.



ROASTED FENNEL BULBS

Fennel Bulbs
vegetable oil
parmesan
garlic salt
fresh ground black pepper

Cut off the fennel fronds and set them aside.  They can be used for garnish or added to other recipes (or so I'm told).  Slice the fennel bulb about 1/4" thick, side to side.  Lightly brush both sides of the bulb with vegetable oil.  Mix together the parmesan, garlic salt (I use Lowry's low sodium), and pepper.  Sprinkle on one side of the slice, lay it down on a greased baking sheet, then sprinkle the mix on top.  Repeat for all of your slices.  Roast at 350F to 400F (wherever you have your oven set) for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are browned.  Chop some of the feathery little fronds and sprinkle on top of the roasted bulbs, just for the sake of pretty.

That's it!  Easy peasy (although not necessarily summer friendly).  We had a day where it only got to be 65 and rainy, so this was a good choice for that day.  I'm going to be making it again soon, given that I got more fennel in this week's box.

Happy Weekending, everyone!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Lime Parfait Pie

I totally stole this idea from Pam at For The Love of Cooking.  She made cute little individual parfaits for her family; I was too....busy, let's go with busy, not lazy...to do so.  Still, the boys loved this; I think that when they see the limes in the fridge, they're going to be all over me making another one.

LIME PARFAIT PIE

1 graham cracker pie shell (homemade or store bought)
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1-1/2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
(optional) lime slices

Whip the cream; when it's soft, add the vanilla, then sprinkle in the sugar and beat until it's still.  In another bowl, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice; stir in the lime zest, then about 3/4 of the whipped cream.  Spoon into the pie shell, top with the remaining whipped cream (I piped mine on), and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Top with lime slices if you'd like, although I didn't.

This was absolutely delicious, with just the right amount of tart flavor.  It's also incredibly rich, so don't eat too much, especially if you're dieting off your 4th of July picnic!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

What I've Done....

First, Produce Box, Week 8:

They made a mistake and sent me 2 boxes.  That's OK; I can live with that.  Included:  4 butternut squash (I've been steaming them up for lunch of late), 3 eggplant, 4 zucchini, 3 bunches of carrots (2 large, one small; I think the tops can make soup), 2 fennel bulbs, English cucumbers, onions, mushrooms, garlic scapes, green beans, rainbow chard, mangoes, plums, apples, limes.

The limes are involved with my chicken tonight.  I might even remember to take pictures....

What I've done with previous veggies, since I haven't been able to remember to blog, but I did take some number of pictures.  I know; it surprised me, too.

Broccoli that was starting to bloom.  It tasted fine; the boys thought it looked weird.  I told them to quiet down and eat, or go hungry.  We tolerate no fussbudgets in this household.

Breakfast: I often saute up some quartered grape tomatoes, then add eggs and cook them sunny side up.  Why not?  I'm not that big a fan of scrambled eggs, and this works for me.


Lunch one day: Leftover pork fried rice, with cut up broccoli, cooked in the microwave for a couple of minutes.  My bowl is pretty; that makes it taste even better.


 Red kale, sauteed in olive oil with garlic.  I don't remember what the chicken was, although it's plain that lemon was involved.


 Roasted beets. I'm still not that big a fan.  I tossed them with olive oil and Himalayan pink salt and roasted them for a while.  I can take them or leave them.  There were more in my box last week, so I guess it's a good thing that I don't entirely hate them.


 Salad: Red leaf lettuce, shredded carrots, diced apple, slivered almonds and Italian dressing.  Rather normal, even boring, fare.

 So, that's some of what's been going on with my produce boxes for the last 7 weeks.  I see ratatouille in the future, like maybe Friday night, and I"m going to have to learn what to do with chard.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Produce Box, Week 7

I've gotten produce boxes for the past 2 weeks, but not photographed them, having not been home for an absurd amount of time. 

Anyway, my latest box, which I think was week 7, arrived Friday.

There was a great, random selection of veggies, and lots of fruit.  Onions seem to be the one thing that always arrive.  Since everyone uses plenty of them, no problem there, right?  Also included: beets, broccoli, summer squash, English cucumbers, celery, garlic scapes,  grape tomatoes, limes, yellow delicious apples, mangoes, white nectarines, and one mysterious but very pretty thing right there in the center: Romanesco Broccoli.  It's formed into a head like cauliflower, but very pointy, almost space-age looking.  I cut the florets off the stem, steamed it (they turned brighter green) and served with butter.  The flavor is a little sharper than regular broccoli, but the design led to a discussion amongst the 10 of us here about fibonacci sequences and designs, and the fact that this is, indeed such a design.  Hmmm.  Conversations around my table can get to be rather wide ranging.

With all of these limes, I need to get looking for something exciting to cook with them.  Maybe as a seasoning for my fish tonight?

Happy Monday, everyone!


Thursday, July 4, 2019

Happy Independence Day!

My grandson is excellent at celebrating!
(look closer at the sunglasses he borrowed from his uncle.  They're fantastic!)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

I've Been Away...

Among other things, I've been to Sew Camp, Long Edition, now a week ago.

Gaylen hosts 3 day Sew Camps in March and September; this year, she added a 5 day edition in June.  I went; it was wonderful.  There are always a lot of ladies who are much better seamstresses than I, and I pick up things just listening to them talk and watching them work.  Camp went from Thursday through Monday, but I arrived on Wednesday and left Sunday (obligations starting at 9AM Monday).

This is the sewing space, shared by 9 of us.
 

 Gifts or "swag" included with our stay.

Gaylen makes these coasters for us; aren't they wonderful?  She makes food themed ones which are throughout the rest of the B&B, but I really love these.  I now have 2 of the 3 in my collection!

The obligatory and much anticipated trip to Fabric Mart, and most of everyone's haul (several people had some of their fabric shipped to their homes, rather than haul everything through airports or Amtrak).  I haven't had time to take a picture of my fabric; I forgot one bag of fabric at the B&B (I always seem to forget something; why change the tradition now?).

I showed up with one project nearly complete, one cut out, and a tentative plan for the gift fabric.

These are the things I finished (including the dress I was wearing).  The blue and white stripe with the large flowers in the back of the display was made by someone else, but I wasn't about to take it down.  So, all told, I made or finished 6 dresses and 2 for granddaughters between Thursday and Sunday.

These are some of the garments the other ladies had finished by the time I left Sunday.  Their work was amazing, their styles lovely, and I loved hearing about their inspiration.

I came home tired but happy; a couple of my kids had minor emergencies last week, so I only had about 18 hours home before I raced off to Philadelphia and then Connecticut.  The biggest problem was an appendectomy (my son's leery of needles and whatnot, so I raced off to comfort him while he awaited test results and then greet him after the surgery and spring him from captivity the next day), so there's nothing truly wrong in my world.  But if Mom can offer comfort, this Mom always will.

I've actually remembered to take a couple of food pictures, so I might even get myself back to an even enough keel to write about cooking this week!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Produce Box, Week 4

This week's box is a little bit different.  A lot less fruit, for one.

Also, eggplant!  I see ratatouille in the future, maybe tonight.

The baby redskin potatoes ought to be good.  Of course, plenty of onions.  But they're pretty much a staple, so they always get used.  I also got lettuce with red tips, red kale, scallions, those dandy little cherry tomatoes, broccoli, butternut squash, radishes and pears.

I went to Shannon's house for a day, so we could go to the zoo.  I brought one bunch of radishes with me, because there is no way on earth we will use both bundles.  But the rest is already on the agenda.

And I guess I need to post pictures of some of the things I made with previous boxes.  I'm a little slow here; life is overwhelming some days, when there's so much to do and so little time.

Happy Sunday, everyone; I hope you're enjoying this early summer day.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

More Produce

This will get boring.  But it's the only way I'll be able to remember my weekly Misfits Markets box.

Red leaf lettuce and tomatoes for salad, along with nectarines, apples, lemons, grapefruit, zucchini, onions, butternut squash, bok choy and fennel.  I confess, I had to ask one of my daughters what the bok choy and fennel were.

I cut open a grapefruit one morning, and offered the second half to Ryan. He took one bite and rejected it.  Mark tried it and liked it very much; he and I shared the second one this morning.
I also have to say that we were supremely disappointed in the tomatoes.  They were standard hothouse type, relatively flavorless tomatoes, unlike the cherry tomato assortment we got in a previous box.  Still, a nice assortment overall, and Ryan commented that this produce box is a good thing, and I should continue ordering it.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Root Veggies, But Not Imaginative

So, in the last produce box, I found beets and colorful carrots.  I've never actually cooked beets; the only ones I've ever had were the canned pickled beets.  You know the ones, packed in purple juice, that stain everything on your plate....

So I peeled and chopped 2 beets, lightly coated them with olive oil, and sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt.  Roasted at 350 in my convection oven, stirring once or twice, until they were fork tender (I don't know how long....please don't judge).  They did shrink down; the baking sheet was completely covered when they went in.

They smelled like potatoes as they were roasting, which isn't entirely a surprise, since they're root vegetables.  Beets are a little sweet, so the salt was a nice little contrast.  Ryan and Mark liked them, Patrick fed most of his to Thatcher, and Patrick's girlfriend raved about how wonderful they are.  (To be fair, since the girl eats mostly veggies, and she's very polite, I think she'd rave about them no matter how poorly I did with them.)  She also told me I could "juice" the third beet.  I did a lot of nodding and smiling for that one.


The other thing I was interested in was my colorful carrots.  I scrubbed and peeled them (one of the purple ones was actually orange in the middle; it looked really interesting), put them in a pan with a touch of salt and 1/4 cup of water, cooked off the water at medium heat (maybe 10 minutes), which was the time it took to make them fork tender, then added 1 tablespoon each butter and honey and heated until both were melted and coating the carrots.  They were not too sweet, with marvelous flavor.  Plus, all that color!

So, root veggies.  Pretty basic, but really good.

Happy weekending, everyone!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Whatever's Handy Bread

Making steak one night last week caused me to decide that steak, bread and salad was a perfectly respectable meal.  I didn't want to work all that hard at finding and following a recipe, so I just made a single loaf using things that were in my refrigerator.  I dubbed it....

WHATEVER'S HANDY BREAD

3/4 cup warm milk
1 egg, warmed
1 tbsp yeast
1 tbsp gluten powder
2 to 2-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp. sugar

melted butter

Whisk together the milk and egg with a fork, then add the ingredients to your bread machine bucket or mixer bowl in the order listed.  Start with 2 cups of flour, and add more as necessary to form a nice ball. (Guidelines located to the right, of course).  Let it knead through the first cycle, or knead on low speed in your mixer for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth, then let it rest for 10 minutes and punch down the dough.  Form into a nice loaf in a bread pan, the let it rise for abuot 15 to 20 minutes while the oven preheats to 375F (350F for convection oven).  When the dough has doubled in size, cut a split into the middle of the loaf, brush the top with butter, and let it rise 3 to 5 more minutes.  Then put it into the preheated oven for about 25 minutes.

Slice and serve warm.  This is a nice, flavorful bread without being overly rich.  It could also be made with 1 cup regular flour and 1 cup whole wheat.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Produce Box

If I remember to take pictures of my produce box every week, and post it, then I might start remembering to take other pictures, too.

At the very least, it will enable me to review what I've gotten over time, and determine if it's worthwhile for me, that is to say, am I getting produce I like and use?

This week:  More kale, more lettuce, a box of baby spinach, 2 boxes of heirloom cherry tomatoes (they were fantastic!), colorful carrots, 3 beets, more spaghetti squash (Ryan and I are pretty pleased), apples, mangoes, lemons, potatoes, onions.  I'm going to try making soup with the kale and seeing how we like it.

There we are! It only took me 4 days to get to this!  Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Brown Wardrobe....

When I attended Sew Camp last September, I bought bundles of fabric, and organized them by color.  It seemed like a good idea at the time: sew in a color family, get coordinating garments, be happy.  Oh, and one other rule: I must sew everything in one bag before I can progress to another.  Otherwise, I'll just sew fabrics I love, and never get a chance to enjoy everything else.

So, in January, I decided to sew the brown bundle.  Specifically, I decided on this bundle because there was a piece of brown with white polka dots that I really wanted to sew.  Of course, it was a very lightweight fabric, completely inappropriate for single digit temperatures, made doubly so because there was only enough for a sleeveless summer dress.

Oh, well.  I made the brown polka dot dress first, using a pattern I made from a dress I bought years ago, and wore out because I loved it so well.  I've tried it on, but it's definitely waiting for warm weather.

Then I made a skirt and jacket set.  I bought some white satin for the lining, and brown gimp for trim on the jacket.  The skirt is a simple, straight skirt.  I've forgotten which pattern I used, but it doesn't matter; it's a classic design, without a waistband.  Center back invisible 9" long zipper.  I didn't have a pattern for the jacket; I just "winged" it, based on a picture I saw in a magazine or advertisement or something.  I don't remember.  I figured I could wear it with its skirt, or with the polka dot dress to extend the season into earlier spring or later in the fall.



I made a top from a piece of light beige knit fabric I had, using a McCall's pattern.  Draped neck, flutter sleeves, long.  It's a useful pattern in that it has a longer option to make a dress.

I also made a brown dress from a 1990s era pattern I have.  I liked the dress, was indifferent to the color, but it wrinkled terribly while in the laundry and was a bear to iron.  I had to use sprayed water to get out the wrinkles, because even a steam iron wouldn't fix the problem.  I wore it once, then dropped it in the donation box.

Lastly, because I had just finished the brown wardrobe, I sewed up a tulip skirt from a piece of brown fabric gifted to me by GMarie.  Sadly, I think I'm fatter than I am, so it's 2 or 3 inches too large in the waist, with no easy fix, since it has a side zipper.  I solved the problem by wearing it with my beige top pulled out, and a belt worn around the waist.  I wore a brown belt one time, a beige one another time.  I'm not sure which I like better, but I'm leaning toward brown.


So, that's January's brown wardrobe.  I'm not that big a fan of brown, but I do like everything I made except the dress that wouldn't stay unwrinkled.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.  Remember to honor those who have fallen, and to love your family and enjoy the day of rest guarded for us by those who protect us.