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



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Vikings! Part 1


Zephyr's first birthday party was in early October, and the theme was Vikings!  I made some yellow cupcakes with chocolate mousse frosting, and covered them with cashew Viking horns, mini dragons, and comedy Vikings (I swear I got a picture of this, but I couldn't find it... a large portion of the Vikings were scantily clad.  Like black underwear, and nothing else but a sword.  At least 75% of them.  It was like something that would happen to the Bloggess.)


But that is neither here nor there.  Today I'm going to talk about the labor of love that was my costume.



Ignore the fact that the zipper looks like it is the wrong color (it is actually the wrong color).  This dress was a huge undertaking, and one that I finished actually much faster than anticipated.  The sleeves were easy, and the skirt (while huge quantities of fabric) was also pretty easy.  What was not easy?  The fact that when I bought this pattern sometime in the 90's, I didn't realize that patterns came without every size in them- i.e., this pattern was 3 sizes too small for me, even before I had a baby.


I looked to buy the bigger version of it, but it was exorbitantly expensive.  And you know, time.  So, I busted out my math skills, and made entirely new pieces for the bodice parts.  That's right, using some paper and a ruler, I sketched out new pieces for all of the blue bits on top.  And it actually worked!  After completing this dress, I decided that I can pretty much sew anything that I want to.  (except jeans. And why would you want to sew those?)  Next Viking post? The hats!!





Tales of Craftiness!

I was thinking today.. .it's been forever since I've posted here.  The garden is beyond done for the season (although I'm still feeding birds, esp. since my fuschias died a bit early- gotta refill that hummingbird feeder!) and what am I cooking? Mostly waffles.  And pies.  We had Pietacular a few weeks ago, and I think I got 2 pictures.  I have been crafting A TON as of late though... 4 pairs of pants for Z, two dresses and a belt for myself, needlefelting a chipmunk (and probably some Christmas gifts too), made a dress for Z cuter, plus all of the amazing Viking costumes (and hats) that we had for Zephyr's 1st B-day party in the beginning of October... it's been piles of fabric around here lately!  So, soon, I promise, I will put up some pictures of it all!  (and fun Christmas garlands, and I also finally FINALLY finished lining a coat of mine from college that I've been working on for at least 6 years- and oh yeah, now it doesn't fit anymore..)

That's pretty much what's been going on around here!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

5 Secrets to Perfect Pizza!


 I make "homemade" pizza a lot.  Like once a week for lunch, lately.  The only reason it's not 100% homemade is because a.) Trader Joe's makes freaking delicious herb dough for a little over a dollar and b.) It takes a while to make your own dough.  (but you totally could)

Here are my secret tips, to making the best pizza in your home kitchen.


Tip #1: Let the dough come to room temperature.  Just throw it on the counter for an hour or two before you think you will get hungry.  This makes it much easier to work with!  You can also flatten it out with a couple tablespoons of flour or cornmeal before baking.


Tip #2: Get a pizza stone.  Preheat it in your oven to 450* without anything on it.  This is going to get a bit dangerous, but is totally worth it!


Assemble your ingredients.  You're going to need them soon.  I prefer using tomato paste (canned or homemade), whatever toppings, and then I just use 4 string cheeses as mozzerella.  Way easier for portion control and possibly cheaper too.


Spread out your dough so that it is ready!


Tip #3: When your oven is ready, it's time to work.  Carefully slide out your tray with the pizza stone on it.  (I probably don't need to say this.. but use potholders!)  Then slide out the stone a bit too.  Lay out the dough onto the hot stone, careful to not burn yourself.


Tip #4: Use a rubber spatula to apply your sauce!  This makes the process quicker and the sauce go on more evenly.



 Then do the rest of the toppings, and bake for 12-14 minutes.  Carefully slide the stone back onto the rack, then get that back into the oven with your eyebrows intact.



Tip #5: Check it about two minutes before it's supposed to be done, and switch on the broiler.  Then, you will have super browned cheese without overbaking the crust!

Now go enjoy your super-pro pizza!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

It seems like Fall is the time when pumpkin-spiced anything sends people running.  I am more than happy to add to this trend!!  (and, this is both low-fat AND vegan?  How could you say no?)

Vegan Pumpkin Coffee Cake

(adapted from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


For the cake:
3/4 soy milk (I used TJ's Coconut)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 c. canned pumpkin (about 3 oz.)
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For the topping:

1/2 c. flour
2 Tbsp. oatmeal
1/3 .c brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2-3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. salted green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

First, mix together the pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, and spices.  In a separate measuring cup, mix together the soy milk and vinegar- let it sit for 5-10 minutes, so it will thicken.  Preheat your oven to 375*, and grease an 8x8 square pan.



Add the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and flour.  Mix, and then add in the soy milk and mix some more.  Pour into your greased pan.




 Then mix up your topping.  This part can get a little tricky because the amount of oil changes.  I stir together the flour and sugar first, then add in the spices and oats.  Last, add in the oil, one tablespoon at a time, and stir with a fork or your fingers.  You want it to be crumbly, but not too wet.  (This time I accidentally added too much, so I had to throw in a couple more tablespoons of flour to even it out.)  After it looks like crumbs, sprinkle it over your cake batter in the pan.



Then sprinkle your pumpkin seeds around.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking for brownness and to see if the middle is done.



Cut into pieces and enjoy!!




Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Two Salads For The Price Of One!



Today I was making myself a salad for lunch, and I had some leftover chopped green beans.  I thought to myself, "What if I made a salad for tomorrow right now?"

So I did.

I jumped on the bandwagon of making a layered salad in a mason jar, and everything seemed pretty happy together!  I did the lettuce last, so that it won't get soggy.  I also left out the avocado until tomorrow, since that always likes to go brown on me. :(  Here's what I did:

In a mason jar, add some veggies.  I used: chopped carrots, cherry tomatoes, chopped green beans, a little bit of raw onion, garbanzo beans, and then lettuce on the top.  Here is a secret though; I chopped up the lettuce, like a lot.  So much that it's not leafy, and can actually fit on your fork without slurping dressing everywhere (yes, that's a thing).  Tomorrow, I'll add some avocado, dressing, and sunflower seeds- and half my lunch is already made!! I know that some people will make these up on the weekend, enough for one every day- but I don't entirely trust that it will still be tasty by Friday.  If tomorrow's turns out to be delicious, then maybe I'll try it again with two days' worth!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A year ago...

I met The Bloggess!


Yes, it was a year ago and I was super pregnant (and it was really hot, and we are in a Costco).... but OMG I JUST DISCOVERED THAT VICTOR IS ALSO IN MY PHOTO!!


Secretly, hiding in the back there is Victor, Jenny's much maligned husband.  (That is one of my favorite posts of all time.)  He puts up with all of her crazy, even when the hilarity ends up with him having a giant bear's head in his bed.  I'm not joking, the man is a saint.  And she is one of the funniest writers out there.  Random celebrities love her too, including Wil Wheaton, so how could you not??

Anyway, I was super happy to find these hiding in my inbox, even though it's been a long time since it happened.  (Oh, and she signed a onesie for me that I made for Zizi, based on this post.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Too many tomatoes? Part 1

If you have growing conditions anything like my parents do, you may find yourself in possession of too many tomatoes.  They can harvest up to a gallon or more cherry tomatoes daily during the end of the summer! (I'm not even joking here.)  Since no one should even think about removing the skins from cherry tomatoes, here is my easy solution.

Roast them.

It is freaking delicious, and super easy.

Step one: Cut tomatoes in half, place cut side up on a greased/foiled baking sheet.  (this is the hardest part)


Step two: Drizzle some olive oil around, and add a little salt.


Step three: Roast for around 3 hours, at 225*.  Seriously, no effort at all.


You can then eat them straight away (I like them on pasta), store them in the fridge for a week or so, or freeze them.  This year, I made two batches- ate one and froze the other.  (This deliciousness was inspired by and pretty much stolen from Smitten Kitchen.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gah!

Seriously, I have been gone for over a month.  I was very sick with a bad cold/sinus infection/ear infection that took 2 rounds of antibiotics to fix. :( Then John cut his finger (badly) and just had surgery today to repair some of the nerve damage.  Things are looking up though... I'm back to exercise and seeing people outside of my house.  :)  Hopefully there will be a real post here soon, probably involving gardening, flowers, food, or Vikings.  Hang in there, faithful readers!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

"Chicken" and Veggie Noodle Casserole

Are you one of those sadistic people who likes to cook hot food when it is hot out? Then this is the dinner for you!  If not... maybe you will save this for a colder day.  John rated it as "one of the top 5" things I've ever made...so keep it in your back pocket, ok!

I adapted this from a magazine.  It was originally supposed to take 9 1/2 hours.  You read that right.  9 1/2 hours.  For dinner.  As if!  (and we are transported to 1994...) It was originally a lasagna, with a white sauce that was absorbed into the whole thing, sitting in your fridge for 8 hours; then baked for 90 minutes.  Who has time for that? I also made everything using the same pot, which, while taking slightly more time, may avert the dishpocalypse that generally occurs in my kitchen anytime I cook.

"Chicken" and Veggie Noodle Casserole

8 oz. egg noodles (I always weigh them; 2 oz= 1 portion)


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 c. carrots, sliced thinly
1/2 c. celery, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. broccoli, diced
1 1/2 c. zucchini, diced
1 package Quorn "chicken"
2-3 mushrooms, diced finely

Sauce: 
2 c. milk
7 Tbsp. flour
3 c. vegetable broth
1 15-oz. container reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1/4 c. fresh basil

about 1/2 c. panko for topping


In a large pot, boil enough water to cook the pasta.  Cook the pasta, drain, and pour into baking pan.


Back to the pot; add the oil, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery.  Cook until the onion is translucent, then add the broccoli, zucchini, and Quorn.  Add a bit of water if you need to, in order to keep the veggies cooking and not burning.


Add to the noodles, and mix around a bit.


Now for the sauce.  Over medium heat, mix together the milk and the flour.  After it starts to thicken, add the broth and stir.  Lastly, add the ricotta cheese, and cook until it thickens into a nice sauce, about 5 minutes.  Add the basil.


Pour over the top of the veggies/noodles.  Sprinkle with chopped mozzerella, and cover with the panko.


Bake at 400* for about 35 minutes, until it is all golden and crispy on the top.


Dig in!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop Tour; Last Stop!

I love how everyone on this tour made up names for their urban farms.  I don't know if they actually call their houses/yards these names for the rest of the year, but some of them were seriously awesome.  This one? The Goat Justice League.  How could we not go to there?

This house was perched on an extremely steep lot, with an amazing view.  (Just wait.)


Their backyard was equal parts growing area and crazy goat hillclimb.  They used some of this really strong wire mesh (I think it's called "cattle guard" or something like that) to make a vertical squash trellis.


They also had some really lovely flowers- my guess is that they're hollyhocks, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

I wasn't kidding about the view, was I?


And the goats!  This is the stairway down into their area.  Their pen is a multi-level structure, with a way for them to climb around it to the top.


 The steps to the top.


Their own private rooftop!


They had two very special goats that got to live in this climbing paradise.  And some chickens too, their coop is on the underside of the house (you can see them up in the middle picture).  


We had a really great time on the tour this year, and can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Taco Salad Lunch


I had some leftover refried beans the other day, and it turned into this!

Taco Salad:

1/2 c. brown rice
1/2 c. refried beans
1 small zucchini/ grey squash, cut into ribbons
1 small onion, diced
3 leaves of kale, sliced into ribbons
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 oz-ish cheddar cheese, grated or cut up
sour cream and salsa

Cook the rice, and when it is almost done, add the refried beans.  This is your bottom layer.  In a frying pan, cook the squash and onions until they are brown.  (Add a small amount of water if necessary while cooking.)  Add the kale when it is almost done.  This is your middle layer.  Then add the cheese, tomatoes, sour cream, and salsa to taste.


You are done!!

Vegan Thin Mint Cookies



I made these for a friend's birthday party a little while ago, and they were so good!  I tweaked the recipe just a tiny bit, and they are very cakey.  I think that if you want them to be a bit more authentic (i.e. crunchy) you could do the original recipe with all the margarine in it.  (I guess I did it that way before... but this one is a bit healthier!)

Vegan Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies:
adapted from Chloe Coscerelli

1 c. all purpose flour
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. vegan margarine
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3 Tbsp soy, almond, or rice milk (I used that TJ's coconut milk again)
1/2 tsp. pure peppermint extract

In a food processor, blend together the dry ingredients.  Then add in the wet ones, and pulse to combine slowly.  Put the mixture into a bowl, and knead it a bit to get it to come together.  Chill the dough in the refrigerator for an hour.

After it's chilled, remove it from the fridge.  Using a spoon, roll the dough into small balls (it's pretty sticky, so you may just place it onto the cookie sheet in a clump) and put it onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet.  Try to flatten out the cookies a bit, if you can.  Preheat the oven to 350*, and when it is ready, bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes.  Let cool completely, then make the chocolate coating.

Chocolate Coating:
If you are going to drizzle the chocolate like I did, this should be a fine amount of topping.  If you want to dip them in it and surround the cookie with chocolate, you will need a fair amount more.  (Double or triple this amount)

1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract

Put the ingredients into a microwave safe bowl, and heat at full power for 30 seconds at a time, until the chocolate starts to melt.  Stir in between microwaving sessions.  When it is all melted, drizzle over cookies.  Try not to eat every drip that falls off your cookies!


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seattle Tilth Chicken Coop Tour, Part 2

The next house we went to on our tour boasted solar energy, bees, a koi pond, oh yeah, and chickens.


And also the biggest blueberries I've ever seen on a plant! (note hand for scale) :)  I completely attribute this to the honeybees that they keep on the other side of their yard.


Solar panels in Washington? Yes!


Grapes!


Koi pond!  (with a fun little feeder up there in front of that lady's feet.)



Apples!


Chickens!


This was the back of their house, where they had some more berry plants.


The bees were really the coolest part for me.  You could see a few here and there leaving or going to the hives, but other than that, you would have no idea that someone was keeping thousands of bees here.  Zero.  This made it seem much more do-able for me, probably even easier and less of an impact on my yard than having chickens.


They were very into solar energy, even cooking a pot of chili in a solar oven that was over 300*!  I was really impressed.



There was also this freaking gorgeous passion flower vining up an entire wall of their house.  They got a lot of sun for sure!!


Next up was Stacy from Seattle Seedling's house!  I was so excited, since I've been a fan of her blog for over a year now.  It's one of two blogs in existance that I've read the ENTIRE thing; every post, I've read it.  


Her front yard is taken up by a few large beds, edged with wine bottles mostly donated from local businesses.  The main one is her "giving garden", where she donates all of the things grown there to a local food bank.


Front of the house


Secret plant!




She also makes mosaics, which you will see in a big way very soon...


Pollinator pathway and strawberry rain gutter garden



Here is the masterpiece:


She made this over the course of a month one summer, without even a firm idea of how it was going to end up; mostly she was just sure about the tree.



Stacy teaches gardening classes out of her house with her new project, Seattle Urban Farm School.  She also does some mosaic classes from time to time; maybe I'll get to take one this year.  



Lots of beans, and I loved the lavender edging, filled with bumblebees!


Next up? The final part of the ST tour, at the Goat Justice League! (You know we had to see that one, based on the name alone.)