Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pita bread is SO easy!

Today I made pita bread for the first time. My sister, Holly, showed me how AMAZINGLY EASY it is...I'll never buy pita bread again! I also didn't think I liked hummus until she fed it to me. Her homemade stuff was delicious.

Find the pita recipe and a helpful video tutorial here.

Lovely little balls of dough ready to be rolled out.
Who would have thought those little dough disks would puff up so quickly!!! Check this out:
video
I usually don't have the courage to cook without a recipe, but the hummus recipes online felt forgiving so I just threw stuff in the blender.
Hummus Ingredients:
One can of garbanzo beans (with a little of the juice)
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
1 clove garlic
(hummus recipes call for "tahini" which is really just toasted sesame seeds pureed with olive oil...so I just threw in the raw ingredients)
After I blended these into a nice paste, I took out half the mixture and made two separate spreads...one blended with a roasted red pepper (red pepper cut in half and baked up-side-down on cookie sheet in oven at 375 until the skins look like they will fall off, remove skins) and fresh parsley, and the other with fresh cilantro and another clove of garlic. Yum!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reversable Animal Print Pillowcase

Nick's sister is an animal print fan. I thought I'd make her something fun for Christmas, but I couldn't decide between giraffe spots and zebra stripes...so reverable it is!




If you don't happen to have any sewing experience...here's
how I did it:



(Click on image to enlarge)

Hollow Clay Sphere

Knowing how to make a hollow clay sphere is really useful for making fun sculptures. (For those of you who are new to working with clay, your clay can't be too thick without running the risk of it cracking or exploding when fired.)

I learned the following technique at a fabulous pottery class taught by MaryAnn Guerry through the Lake Stevens Community Education Program.

Making a hollow clay sphere:
1. Roll two equal balls of clay.


2. Plunge your thumb into the center.


3. Start pinching the sides out to form a "pinch pot."


4. Continue to work your ball into a bowl by pinching out the edges, with special care to keep all sides and base an even thickness.

Here are my two finished pinch pots:


5. Turn the edges of one pot in, and the edges of the other out...then score rim with fork, toothpick or other such utensil.


6. Dampen the edges by dipping your finger in water and running it along the scored surfaces.


7. Align the scored edges...


8. ...then blend the rough edges away by smoothing the clay together with your fingers. After all the seams are sealed you can even roll it on the table to work it into the shape you want.


VOILA!

I threw a silly little face on this one just for fun...although I squished him just after taking this photo. This block of clay is goofy so I want to try and exchange it...notice how the clay is cracking...this shouldn't happen. Poor wrinkled old man.

(I used this hollow sphere technique to make the dragon piggy bank in one of my previous posts...check it out here: Piggybank Dragon.)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Labels

Nick and I were wrapping our presents a few days ago. For the life of me I could not find the package labels we got free from the post office...so I decided to make some new ones for us. Here's a peak at a few of them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sugar and Sandy



Nick's grandparents keep these (mama and daughter) cows in their yard as pets. They just wander around eating, drinking and being plain ol' lazy. Everytime I see them out there I feel the urge to get out my camera. They stir something creative in me, but I can't figure out what it is yet. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Speaking of Pie Crust...

Check out my lattice work on this backberry pie for Thanksgiving. If you'd like to give it a try, I've sketched "how-to" directions just for you:

Protecting your Pie Crust

Check out this nifty invention I found in my mom's cupboards. Since I don't have an official crust cover I always try to fold aluminum foil over the edges and it is always such a chore. Cutting a hole in a cheap aluminum pizza tray is a great idea! Way to go mom!


Friday, December 4, 2009

Pie in a Jar, Part II

Look for my first "Pie-in-a-Jar" post in the September archive for the intro to these great little desserts. These tutorials are just to give you a little more info. We sure do love these pies. This is the third time I've filled our set of 18 little pie jars for the freezer.

How to place the pie crust in the jar:
video

Filling the crust with the goo and placing crust top:
video

By the way...several people have asked about the hazard of putting a frozen glass jar in the oven...we put the jars in when we turn the oven on to pre-heat so they warm up slowly with the oven. I'd hate to clean up an oven filled with goo and glass shards. Yipes!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Calendar on a Dime




We decided mid-year that it would be a good idea to have a centrally located family calendar. It is much harder than you would think to find a calendar in June. After checking all the bookstores in the area I decided it was time to make my own. (I should have thought of that in the first place.) The corkboards (only $1.25 at Michaels) make it easier to rotate calendars each month and are easier on the wall. Maybe I'll use the old calendar pages in a family scrapbook or something. hmmm.

"Grandma" Picture Book






I made these books for the Grandmas...my mom and Nick's mom. I really liked the idea of a mini scrapbook with a page per month. I'm particuluarly excited about sending new photos each month, it keeps the gift alive and lets us celebrate Lyla again and again each time the new photos are sent. (The album only goes up to 12 months.)
Bartells (and probably lots of other photo places) has a great photo printing system...when you want 2x3s and 3x4s (which are printed 4 or 2 to a page, respectively) you don't have to have a whole page of the same photo. That way you can purchase small pictures, but don't end up with a lot of extra pics you don't need. Perfect.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wheatgrass

The miracle supplement that you can grow in your own kitchen.

So, I got all excited about the benefits of wheatgrass juice and have established a full blown production process in the corner of our dining room...check out what it takes to make it happen:

Day 1, soak grain overnight (8-10 hours)

Day 2, transfer to cheesecloth bag, hang, rinse several times a day
(Sew your bags out of tight-weave cheesecloth. The stuff at Joann Fabric is too loose and the grains escape. The tighter weave we found at Pacific Fabric was more expensive ($2.50 a yard) but MUCH better for the job.)

Day 3, keep rinsing and hanging

Day 4, plant your lovely little sprouts in about 1 inch of soil (half peat moss, half compost)


I sprinkle Azomite (purchased here: http://www.wheatgrasskits.com) on the soil...supposed to provide great nutrients and also prevent mold.
Cover and place in dark cool place until sprouts are about 1 inch tall. I plant my wheatgrass in sprout trays (11x21 inches), then nest another tray over the top of the sprouts to keep them dark.

Day 5, wait patiently

Day 6, transfer to sunny location (remove the top tray), keep watered, watch your grass grow

Day 7-14, wait patiently, talk to your grass, sing it growing songs, water it occasionally, wait, watch, and sing some more...when grass is about 7 inches tall it is ready to harvest.

Trim an inch or so above the root. Rinse, juice and drink! (Drink quickly with your nose plugged...kind of gross tasting!...BUT don't let that stop you...short term pain=long term gain!)


Now, I am by no means an expert. These are my very first trays of grass and I only harvested my very first shot of it yesterday.

I have three major problems I need to figure out a solution for:

1. MOLD, MOLD, MOLD!!! The mold is alive and well on my wheatgrass. A few of the things that might help include super cautious watering, airflow (little fan), and the azomite, although it didn't seem to do much so far. We'll keep trying.

2. Fruit Flies! Fruit Flies! Fruit Flies! I guess they eat mold, so I'm providing a banquet. My husband suggested to attack them with our little shopvac, which I tried this morning. Do you think they survive the trip and escape? There seems to be just as many flying around this evening. So, my great wheatgrass mentor, Rachel, told me about putting out a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a little dish soap and that definitely works. There are about 50 flies trapped in the stuff, but another 100 still buzzing around the kitchen.

3. Low yield. My first tray only juiced about 3 ounces. Definitely not enough to make this do-able. It's tricky, because you want to water enough that the grass is rich and juicy, but not so much that the mold moves in.

Let me know if you have any advise, and I'll definitely let you know if I figure anything out.
A HUGE thank you to my wheatgrass mentor, Rachel!!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Piggybank Dragons


My brother made this dragon piggybank (back in middle school, I think) and I always thought it was such a clever, fun idea.

So when I took a pottery class last year, and the instructor showed us how to make hollow spheres out of two pinch pots (great for sculpture), naturally the first thing that came to mind was to make my own pot-bellied piggybank dragon. Here he is...

Dehydrating Fruit



I always know fall is fast approaching when it's time to start preserving food. This is the first year I have really put my dehydrater to work. Here's my work on a box of pears.
It really doesn't take much at all. Slice pears about 1/2 in thick. Soak them in lemon water for a few minutes. Lay them out on the dehydrator (about $50 at Bed Bath and Beyond, big investment, we got ours as a wedding gift)...I can fit about 12 pears at a time (3 to a tray). Then leave them to dry for about 8 hours. They come out just as sweet as can be. Great snacks.