A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy (almost) New Year!

To give you the best send off into 2012 possible, I thought I would share some funny pictures of my dog, and the crazy things we have done to her or made her wear. You're welcome!

Lulu does NOT like Snuggie!
(she chewed it to bits shortly after this photo was taken)


She is indifferent about being called "organic".


Pretty happy to be in her wedding wear.


Although not so much about being picked up.


Hiding while snorkeling around for snacks/lint.


Dressed as a mini-Ewok!


And a fairy! (she actually loved this costume... mostly because we kept plying her with cookies.)


She did NOT love wearing my wig though.


Lulu the babushka!

Side view

This was a few days ago. I woke up to see that her scarf had gotten not one but TWO legs through it; and now looked like a bikini top.

Of course I took pictures before helping her out of it.


Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sleepy Garden

I wouldn't say it's entirely asleep. Observe:

Primroses are actually happy to bloom year-round, it seems.



And here are some (bug-eaten, but still!) collards and arugula.




This is where I show you the decomposing hay that I sprinkled with a cover crop (peas) back in November... it's actually growing through!!



These carrots aren't stopping! (although how big they are remains to be seen...)


And tiny tiny beets!


This is in the backyard, where I'm starting some new gardening areas (and the future chicken coop!). It looks like nothing's going on until...



You use the telephoto lens! Tiny pea vines, creating "green manure" for me to till under in the spring.


All in all, I'm really happy that there's some soil-building progress going on, without (literally) any effort from me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cookiemania!

Yesterday was my annual cookie party. We made a few piles of cookies and caught up with old friends...

Some of the bounty:

Peanut Butter kisses (I used dark chocolate kisses; so good!) (cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance)
Chocolate Candy Cane cookies (idea from Pioneer Woman, actual cookies from Veg News) -- I halved the recipe and used a stand mixer, which may have been why they turned out like chocolate clouds. I think I actually like PW's recipe better, even though it's not vegan. Maybe I can tweak it a bit next year.



And copious piles of Bakerella's gingerbread! I even have a pile left in my fridge, so I was thinking about possibly making a gingerbread house...




Then for fun, I googled "gingerbread tardis".... totally ridiculous!



I have a feeling though, if my husband is involved, our gingerbread house would look something like this:


(if his skills at Minecraft are any indication. :) Yesterday, the two girls who were visiting called his game "Legoland with zombies", which might be the most apt description I've ever heard!)




Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Btw...

We saw Prince tonight! It was totally a surprise Christmas gift for my sister who's in town... and it was AWESOME!!
Just had to say... :)





Ficken (fake chicken) Stew with Optional Dumplings

(oops... I just realized that I had already posted this recipe a long time ago... but this version has dumplings!)
Why do they not call Quorn "Ficken"? Or something else like that- soycken? Anyway, this slightly altered recipe from Appetite for Reduction has become one of my absolute favorites over the last year. Now, I give it to you, along with a tip.

Does cutting onions make you tear up? Try putting them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before you chop them. It really helps!

Chicken (ficken) Pot Pie Stew:

2 tsp. olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, diced
3 celery ribs, diced
4-6 mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a bag of quorn chicken
4-5 cups veggie broth
+1 cup veggie broth mixed with 1/4 c. flour (added towards end, so keep seperate)
1 potato, cubed (optional)
1 c. frozen peas
1 tsp. sage

Assemble ingredients. Prepare dumpling dough if you'd like that. (3/4 c. flour+ 1.5 tsp. baking powder+ 1/4 tsp. salt+ 1/2 an egg + 6 Tbsp. milk= mix!)-- that was half a recipe, and the amount that I used for this dish. You can totally double it for a ton of dumplings!




Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and mushrooms to the pot with the oil. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent.




Then add the broth and the Quorn.




After the stew has cooked for another 20 minutes or so, and the vegetables are as done as you would like, add the frozen peas, sage, cup of broth with the flour, and cook for a few more minutes, until it starts to thicken. Drop the dumpling dough on top, and cook until it floats to the top and is done.




Serve with some salt and pepper. Delish!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Candy Lights

This year, after being inspired by this post from yesteryear, I have decided that any new decorations around here for the holidays have one simple theme: All candy, all the time. To this end, I bought some lollipop lights last year; and this year, I just went crazy. After I saw this post on making candy lights, I decided that it would be this month's project at crafty day.

It was a very good decision.

Despite the fact that I only bought two colors of cellophane, it turned out so awesomely that I may never take them down. (Last year? I think I kept up the Christmas lights until March- but that was mostly because our yard is extremely dark, and I wanted to be able to see as I went down the stairs for as long as possible.)

The hardest things to find were the corsage boxes, but that's only because I didn't know where a florist shop was. But I found one!


(note the candy striped rope lights; I want to get 2 more of them, but apparantly they are sold out of every Home Depot in the western hemisphere.)


Side of the driveway


From the top of the driveway

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sticky Figgy Pudding

You guys. This stuff? Is the bomb. All those jokes about bland British food? This is not it.

After my students fell in love with the idea of figgy pudding due to singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas" on a loop for the past two weeks, I decided that I should try to make them some. Even if it turned out awful.

It is not awful. It was delicious.

However, this is a pretty messy dish to make. (including a chocolate dust bath. We'll get to that later.) After doing a figgy pudding search online, I concluded that these are usually very high in alcohol, and maybe sort of fruitcake like. The recipe that I used was uploaded to the Food Network, and it seemed like the best kind of compromise. And it had chocolate in it, so it was voted "most likely to win" by me.

It may also be the only recipe that I've followed to the letter in a very long time. (although I doubled the cake portion and just did one portion of the sauce, which turned out perfectly, IMO.) It made a lot of cake; much more than the 4x 1 cup portions that it stated.

Anyway, here we go:

Warm Sticky Figgy Pudding

1 1/2 c. chopped pitted dates
1/2 c. chopped dried figs
2. c water
1 tsp. baking soda
7 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
2.5 oz dark chocolate, grated


Sauce:

2 c. brown sugar
2 c. heavy cream
14 Tbsp. butter (I used 11-12 and it was fine)

Preheat oven to 350*. In a medium saucepan, add the dates, figs, and water. Bring to a boil.

Then remove from heat and add the baking soda.

It will fizz up in a surprising way!


Then, if you are awesome and have a stick blender like me, blend it up in the pot. Otherwise, blend it in a food processor or blender. And while it will look like some kind of brown figgy slurp, if you taste it, it will be delicious!


In a mixer, blend together the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs.


Add the flour too. After the figgy mixture has cooled a bit, add it to the mixer at your own peril.
(this was mess number one)


Mess number two was from grating the chocolate, but somehow that picture got lost. Pretty much, I grated the chocolate, picked it up to add it to the mixture, and chocolate dust flew all over me and the continent of North America. I put the rest into the batter and called it good. Then I had enough figgy pudding batter to fill every medium-sized cake receptacle in the house.

Bake at 350* for 25 minutes or so. All three of these baked for the same time and were equally done.


See how nice it looks?


Then you put together the sauce; basically heat the sugar, cream, and butter in a pot over low heat. Then bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so. Then it thickens and is delicious! I actually considered not making the sauce, but I'm so glad I did. It makes it just that much more decadent; so if you're going to make this, don't be half-ass about it!


I mean, look at that! Cut a cross into the top of each cake, and add a ladleful of sauce on top. Let it soak in a bit, then eat, and die happy.


These are the leftovers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chiogga Beets

I love chioagga beets. They are so cute and peppermint striped! Even though the colors kind of cook out, I still love them and try to grow them every year. Here is one that I harvested a few weeks ago:
We mostly just ate the greens, but isn't it cute? I think next year I'll buy some deeper pots to plant them in (and start them waaay earlier, so they'll actually get bigger and worthy to eat on their own.) Oh, and maybe add some sand to the soil; that's supposed to help with root vegetables, right? (it may actually let my carrots grow to be more than tops too....)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Corn Fritters a la Steinberg

It's really funny. I'm having a totally crazy stressful week, and instead of continuing to work, I'm writing another post here. I think it makes me feel better and more accomplished than just writing another progress report. But, I digress..

These are an amazing family secret recipe that I got from my mom a couple of months ago. She used to make them for dinner sometimes, or my dad would make them for breakfast once in a while. The are surprisingly better if they get slightly burnt. (who knew?)

Corn Fritters from Casa del Steinberg (see what I did there? Because my dad's name is Del.) :)

1 can creamed corn
1 can regular sweet corn, drained
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Cook over medium high heat in a frying pan, just like regular pancakes.


Flip. Cook some more. Serve with butter and maple syrup. (I don't have to tell you to buy the real stuff, do I? Buy the real stuff. You'll never go back to that HFCS crap again!)