Saturday, February 22, 2014

Modern Darning

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I have a pair of running tights that I love.  I had gone for a run in January and was feeling pretty smug about myself...until I hit a patch of black ice and went down on my knee, which hurt--and to add insult to injury, I ended up with a small hole in the pants.  Argh.  The tights were pricey, and I knew that if I didn't fix the hole, it would just get bigger and the pants would be ruined.  So, a lesson in darning, the modern way.  I don't have a fancy sewing machine, just a basic Singer. 

My first step was to stabilize the hole. I grabbed some iron-on Stitch Witchery and some satin ribbon.  I slid the ribbon and fusible webbing into the pants and ironed it flat from the outside of the pants (this let me press all the edges of the tear into the fusible webbing).  After it had cooled, the hole was nearly invisible, but I knew that it wouldn't stand up to the multiple washings that running pants would go through.


Next, find a thread that matches the fabric.  I took the pants and my 40% off coupon to JoAnne's and found some thread that was spot-on for a match (no, not that gray, or that gray, or that charcoal, or that slate...ah, that one!) 

Get your sewing machine all set with the bobbin and thread all loaded up.  I set the  machine to zig-zag with a short stitch length.  Next time, I would recommend using a chalk pencil to draw a small circle around the area you are going to darn, then just fill in the circle (the dark fabric and good job of ironing the hole up made it hard to see if I had gotten it all covered with stitches).

I slid the pants onto the arm of the sewing machine--it was a bit tricky to get all the fabric bunched up and out of the way, but I managed it.  I sewed on the top side of the pants (just the one layer though, so I didn't sew the pants closed), turned the fabric a bit and sewed again and kept turning and sewing (sometimes using the backstitch mode).  It took about 30 seconds and I had it done!

Took the pants out for another run today, and they work great.  I can't feel the patch and I know it will be fine in the washing machine.  So, for the cost of a $1 spool of thread I saved my favorite running tights.  I have tried this on jeans too--you can buy variegated denim thread that matches very nicely (or you can try using a lighter thread on the bobbin and darker on the spool).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ginger Cilantro Chicken Salad-my version of Thai Larb

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I like Thai food. Funny, but until about 5 years ago, I hadn't really tried it.  I grew up in a smaller town and I don't think there was anything outside of the usual Mexican, Italian an Chinese places.  Now I eat Thai quite often..although whenever they ask how spicy, I say "not spicy at all"--which is usually PLENTY spicy for me (and I like spicy Mexican food, but wow, Thai spicy is another scale).  Anyway, aside from Pad Thai, Green Curry and Massaman Curry, one of my favorites is Larb, a type of salad--which I think is pronounced without the "r".  I had some last night at Thai Siam, one of my favorite places, where they serve it lettuce wrap style.  I decided to try it out at home and used this recipe as my guide.

I ended up just making a big salad, rather than as wraps, and I didn't cook the sticky rice that would accompany it, but I sure did enjoy it!

Marinade and salad dressing base:
You'll mix this up and then reserve part of it to use for the marinade and the other part for the dressing.

1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
2 Tbs finely diced fresh ginger (this is the secret ingredient, its about 2 inches of ginger root)
2 Tbs Hoisin sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce-want more spice? add 1 Tbs instead

--Mix all the above together.  Take 4 Tbs out and save it for the marinade--

Now add the last three ingredients and you've got the salad dressing made.
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
3 green onions, chopped including most of the green parts
1 Tbs sugar (optional, or use a packet of artificial sweetener)

Marinate 1 large chicken breast with the 4 Tbs of reserved sauce in a zipper bag.  I pounded the chicken flat so it would cook nice and fast.

Get the salad ready:
1/2 of a large head of Nappa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4-5 cups)
1-2 carrots, shredded
2-3 radishes, sliced
1/2-2/3 cups of cilantro (remove stems, roughly chop)
toasted sliced almonds
toasted sesame seeds
fresh mint leaves (optional...larb has it, but I just used extra cilantro instead)

Once you've marinaded the chicken for about 30 minutes, place it in a heated skillet with a bit of oil.  Cook each side for about 4 minutes on med-low or until the thermometer reads 180.  Remove from pan and let rest while you mix up the salad.

In a bowl put the cabbage, carrot, radishes, cilantro.  Toss with the dressing.  Slice up the chicken and place on top and sprinkle with the almonds and sesame seeds.

If you are serving this as a main dish salad, it serves two.  If you are doing it as larb or a side dish you can probably get 4-6 servings.  If you are going to do it like larb, then chop up everything much smaller and serve with some pieces of romaine lettuce and sticky rice to make wraps. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Nostalgic Cookies Part 2: Rosettes

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My last post was about cookies that my dad's mom made.  This post is about my other grandma-a great cook--who was always certain that she hadn't made enough cookies (maybe its because we  filched cookies while she wasn't looking).  I thought I'd give Rosette cookies a try--its been many, many years since I've had them, and for a first try, these seem pretty good (not Grandma perfect, but a worthy effort).

1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the egg, salt and sugar then add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth (I used my hand mixer for about 1 minute).  Refrigerate batter for about 30 minutes. 

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees.  Place your rosette iron in the hot oil for about 30 seconds.  Since I had 2 irons I kept one in the oil while I used the other one. 

To make the rosettes:
Take the iron out of the hot oil and tap off excess oil on nearby paper towel.
Dip the iron into the batter, leaving at least the top 1/4 of the iron out of the batter. Hold the iron in the batter for about 3 seconds.
Dip the battered iron into the hot oil for about 12-18 seconds. 
Tap off the excess oil and use tongs to gently pull the rosette off the mold. 
Flip the cookie so that the oil drips out of the indentations.
When ready to serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar (or a mix of granulated sugar/cinnamon)

I struggled to keep the oil the right temperature, but for the most part, the rosettes worked out fine.  They taste good, and that is the important part!  Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Nostalgic Cookies Part 1-Raisin Filled Cookies

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This Christmas season I have been trying to stay very focused on the true meaning of Christmas--which has meant less shopping, less decorating and more reflections on the birth of the Savior. I also have been reflecting on what a great family I have. As a kid, I have fond memories of celebrations with my grandparents. Today's post is in honor of my Grandma--an Idaho farm wife who was great at making jams, jellies...and raisin filled cookies. I am sad to say that I couldn't find my grandmother's recipe (although I'm still working on it), so I did some searching online and found this one from Brown Eyed Baker, which I tweaked a bit.

The recipe turned out great.  I can imagine sitting in Grandma's kitchen eating cookies, so I think that is a success.  Stay tuned for Nostalgic Cookies Part 2-Rosettes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine (don't substitute, look for Gold n Soft)
1 tsp salt
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbs sour cream
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

In a stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter.  Add the salt, egg, milk, sour cream, baking powder, baking soda and vanilla-mix until combined. Turn off the mixer and add all 3 cups of flour.  Turn mixer on low to avoid a cloud of flour, and mix until a soft, sticky dough ball is formed.  The dough reminds me of a very soft sugar cookie dough.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you make the raisin filling.
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
8 oz of raisins (that is about 1 1/2 cups, but I use a kitchen scale)

In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch and water and whisk until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and raisins and bring to a boil on medium heat.  Simmer while stirring for about 5 minutes (the raisins need to get super soft and plump).
Dust your counter top with flour and roll out about 1/3 of the dough to 1/8 inch thick.  Use a round cookie cutter (mine was about 2" circle) to cut the cookies.  I used a well floured spatula to get them off the counter and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Use a couple of spoons to get the filling out of the pan and smoothed onto the cookie (as the filling cools, its a bit sticky and hard to get off the spoon and I didn't want to use my finger).  Top the cookie and filling with another cookie.  I lightly pressed the edges of the cookies together, but I wasn't careful about it--the dough is soft and it just bakes together.

I baked mine at 375 for about 12 minutes (I rotated the sheet about half way through the process)--its important to only let the bottoms get a bit golden because you want the cookie to be soft, not crunchy.
This recipe made about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.  I've already eaten 3.  I had to put them in the freezer so there will be some left for the family Christmas celebration. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rustic wood nightstand

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I've been a fan of a blog called Liz Marie...and she has a great way of blending traditional, modern and rustic styles all together, and it all looks great mixed up!  Taking some inspiration from her designs and another blog  I decided to give this project a try.  A co-worker was kind enough to bring me some slices of a tree that he was taking out.  They were beautiful rounds of wood back in June...and when I came home from a trip, both slices had split as they dried (I think a possible solution would be to use older wood...a log that had dried for a year before being sliced into rounds).

My tree slice is cherry, and may I say cherry is HARD wood.  I started by using my nail gun to make sure the bark was firmly attached (not that it seemed like it was coming off, but just to be safe).  I also used a stiff brush to clean up any stuff on the bark--I wasn't gentle with the bark at all--I figured if it was going to come off, now would be the time to address that.  Next, I started the sanding with 36 grit sandpaper and my palm sander.  You know its super hard wood when hardly any sawdust is created.  I eventually got to 80 grit, but I didn't think it was going to get any smoother (took about 1 1/2 hours of sanding).  I had hoped to sand out the lines from the chain saw, but seriously, cherry is hard.  I guess that bodes well as a table top though.  It is very smooth to the touch and has no slivers.

Using the IKEA marius stool ($5.99) as my base, I flipped the legs of the stool upside down and attached the wood to the legs.  I replaced the screws that came with the stool with 3" wood screws.  I did pre-drill the holes since the wood was SO hard there was no way I was going to be able to muscle in the screws without the pre-drilling.  Did I mention cherry is hard?  Maybe next time I'd use pine :) As my one mistake in the project, I was using a 5" bit and drilled all the way through the log in one of the holes, so I had to fill that in.  Darn it.

I coated the top of the log with Minwax paste wax and buffed it the next day.  I decided that the split just adds rustic character (which I could also cover with a lamp).  This table is super stable and could be used as a stool if you wanted, but its pretty heavy. 

Really, it wasn't a difficult project, just lots of sanding.  I like it-how about you?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Ah-Mazing Cream Cheese Frosting

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Scrolling through blogs one night, I ran across a very pretty post about pumpkin cinnamon rolls.  To be perfectly honest, I don't usually gush over pumpkin recipes this time of year (now apple recipes, that is a whole 'nother ball game for me)--but this one looked pretty darn tasty.

I tweaked the recipe a bit, hoping to use the 1-hour bread recipe that my sister-in-law gave me.  It did take me more than an hour, but  the finished rolls were coming out of the oven in under 2 hours.  The rolls are very good, but its the frosting that turned out surprisingly wonderful.  The original recipe called for maple extract, but I didn't have any, so I substituted Vanilla Butter and Nut (from my Smith's grocery)--and WOW, best frosting ever.  Even if you don't make the rolls, try the frosting!

In the KitchenAid bowl:
1/3 c. melted butter
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. scalded milk (heat milk on medium until bubbles start to form around the edges, but not boiled)
1 c. pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast (the instant type is important, because you do NOT proof this type of yeast in water and you only have to rise the dough once)
1 T. dough enhancer or lecithin (I buy powdered dough enhancer at my WalMart)
4-5 cups of flour (I used 4).

1/4 c. brown sugar
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbs. butter, softened

Mix all the wet ingredients in the bowl.  In a separate bowl mix all the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time until you get a ball of dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly.  Let it mix for 5 minutes.

Spray your counter with non-stick cooking spray and dump out your dough.  Because I used instant yeast, you only have to do one rise, instead of the usual two.  So you can immediately roll dough out to a 9x15 rectangle.  Spread the dough with butter, sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll the dough up along the long edge.  I use dental floss to cut the dough, but a serrated knife would work too.  Place the rolls into a greased baking dish (I wish I'd cut mine 1" instead of 1 1/2" and gotten 15 instead of 12 rolls). Let rise for 30-45 minutes or until double in size.



Bake for about 30 minutes at 350.  Frost with the Ah-Mazing cream cheese frosting.


Ah-MAZING Frosting
4 oz cream cheese
1/4 C. butter
1 1/2 C. Powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla butter nut extract-this is the secret ingredient
1/4 tsp. salt

Whip it all together in the KitchenAid for about 3 minutes on high.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


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As a kid, I remember August and September being busy helping my mom and grandma put up fruit.  Our basement was filled with jars of peaches, cherries and pears.  I will admit to just being too lazy to do lots of canning, but I make an exception for homemade applesauce. 

As with just about anything homemade (and made with homegrown items)--its going to taste better than anything at the grocery store.  The grocery store varieties are just too sweet or too much like baby food for my taste.  Applesauce is very easy, and pretty fool-proof.  Its even easier if you have a food mill, so that you don't have to peel the apples.

You will need:

Apples (I had 1/2 bushel of Ginger Gold-a sweet and spicy soft apple, terrible for eating, wonderful for sauce--I get them from my favorite vendor at the farmer's market)
Food mill
Jars with lids and bands

Since I use a food mill, I won't be peeling my apples, so I wash them in the sink.  Next, I cut the apples up using one of those apple cutters.  I put all the pieces, including the core into a large stockpot with about 1/2 cup of water.  Cover with a lid and simmer until the apples are soft (about 20 minutes)--you will need a big spoon to try and rotate the apples from the top to the bottom at least once.

Dump the soft apples into the top of the food mill and crank it out.  I use a large cake pan to collect the sauce.  Don't worry if the first bit looks a bit runny, once you have all the pulp through you can stir it up.  I run the "garbage" peels etc...3 or 4 more times to get all the goodness out that I can. I do not add anything to my applesauce--but some folks like sugar or cinnamon.

In my sterilized jars, I add the warm applesauce and leave about 3/4" of space.  Put on the lid and screw on the band.  I used my steam canner, bringing the batch up to full steam then timing it for 25 minutes. 

I'm told you can freeze applesauce instead of processing it, but my freezer was kinda full...and I do like seeing the pretty jars in my storage room.  Even if you don't want to make a giant batch, make a small batch and serve it warm in a bowl like you would oatmeal (pour on some half and half, brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans)--yeah, good stuff.