If you want to sing out, sing out, and if you want to be free, be free, cause there's a million ways to be, you know that there are.
--Cat Stevens

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Sauted Liver and Broccoli Pesto Pasta

Sauteed Liver and Broccoli Pesto Pasta

 This is a dinner of loves and hates.  I love liver.  I hate broccoli.  I love cooking, but I hate cleaning up.  I love blogging, but I hate taking, uploading, and editing pictures.  So you get a little of both worlds a little liver, a lot of broccoli, an easy meal with not too much clean up, and a blog post with only one picture.  :D

Maybe you're the opposite of me you love broccoli but you hate liver.Liver has a bad rap.  Maybe you tried it once as a kid and it was gross dry and weirdly pasty with a texture like eating glue.  Here's the thing liver is delicious--if you follow two simple rules: one, marinate; and two don't over cook it.  Liver should still be slightly pink inside when you serve it.  The liver here is prepared in simple marinade of store bought dressing.  
As for the broccoli, I followed a recipe I found over at the Smitten Kitchen,  with only a few minor tweaks.   I used mozzarella cheese instead of parmesan because that's what I had on hand, milk instead of cream for the same reason, and I added more garlic and a pinch of red pepper for flavoring.

So give liver a shot and enjoy a simple meal.
Pork Liver marinated in Italian dressing

1/4 cup Italian dressing  ( I used two different kinds to use up the last of both bottles)
1/2 lb Fresh Pork liver
1 tsp olive oil

Rinse the liver and pat it dry place it in a shallow bowl or dish.  Pour the dressing over the liver and use a spoon to make sure each piece is coated.  Set aside for 20 mins.  Use this time to prepare your broccoli pasta.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium low heat. Add oil and coat pan.  Add the liver and cook for 2-3 mins on each side or until the center is slightly pink.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I'm back!

Well after a long unplanned sabbatical,  I'm back.  Sorry for dropping off the face of the Earth.

I thought I'd jump right into the thick of things with a WIP Wednesday.  I bough this yarn earlier this summer from a Craftsy deal.
Nashua Handknits Summer Gardens
When I saw this yarn I knew it would become something for my sister Mel.  You see, I grew up in a very conservative household. We went to church on Sundays, and Wednesdays and often Saturdays, Tuesdays or Thursdays as well. We watched G and occasionally PG rated movies, we didn't have television, and the first tie I wore a tank top was in college.  So when my oldest sister started reading Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, my parents were, of course, quite horrified.   They tried to ban the books which as any person who's ever been teenager knows is much easier said than done.  I never read The Vampire Chronicles,  but Mel and I do share a love of a vampires (and other supernatural beings).  This is all a very long way to tell you that I knew that the lovely reds, and purples and almost blacks in this yarn made me think of all things vampire and gothic.

So here is my V is for Vampire Shawlette.  

This is my first attempt at knitting anything remotely cabled or lacy.  So although both the cables and the lace are fairly simple I am exceptionally proud of what I've managed to do so far.  Now that I have started on the second side I am pretty sure I did the decreases completely hay wire wrong on the first side.  I am planning to tear back and redo the whole first side after I finish the second side. It's weird though because I am feeling remarkably zen about the whole ripping out half a shawl thing.  Though I really hope I can get faster at knitting--that's the only complaint I have about knitting its terribly slow.

Drop by Tamis Amis, What you doing Wednesday, and Frontier Dreams  to see other great works in progress.  Have a Happy Wednesday!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Little Victories

I think successful lives are made up of lots of little victories.  Major victories are rare and sometimes fall flat of our expectations, but minor victories are always there.   Different things constitute as victories for different people on different days but, what matters is that we keep fighting our dragons.
Today was a good day for me and I needed a way to remember it--so on another day when it seems like it takes all my effort just to get out of bed I can remember my little victories.
Today despite anxieties and people phobia trying to get the best of me I managed to:

  • Call and change my dentist appointment
  • Ride several buses alone 
  • Renew my bus pass
  • Go to Service Canada and get my permanent SIN
  • Swim at the Sports center
  • Plus I managed to swim 3.5 times as many laps as my previous best number of laps before I was too out of breath to swim laps.
So how about you?  What dragons have you managed to conquer/evade today?  I would love to hear about any victories large or small that you might have had recently.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tutorial: How to make your own wooden Buttons:

For the past few weeks I have been having fun making wooden buttons.  I thought I would share these lovelies and how to make them with you.

Jigsaw or Hand saw with a thin blade
Dremel with coarse and fine sanding drums/ or coarse and sand paper for sanding by hand
1/16 inch drill bit for dremel ( or drill and 1/16th inch bit)
Long straight stick or dowel --mine is about 1 3/4" in diameter
Polyurethane or Sealing

Step 1: Slice your stick or dowel into disks. Mine are a little more than 1/8" thick.

Step 2:  Drill holes

Step 3:  Smooth and shape the disks using Sand paper or dremel with sanding drums.  I recommend wearing safety goggles and a dust mask while working with the dremel as it throws a lot of dust in your face.  Start with the coarse sand drums and smooth the surface of the buttons.  Then while holding the button in you hand rotate it slowly as you sand the edges into the desired shape. I mostly held my dremel at a slight angle to the disks to make a slightly beveled edge. If you want to keep the bark on your buttons be very careful while shaping the edges or you will sand or break it right off.  One the button is the right basic shape you will want to switch to the fine sand paper/drum and sand it until it feels silky smooth in your hands.

Step 4:  Clean up the dust from your work are and wipe off the buttons.

Step 5:  Painting and staining---This is the fun part.  You can pretty much do anything you want to the buttons now.  I painted most of mine but I used a little used vegetable oil to give a light stain to a few and I have use wood stain on buttons I have previously made.

Step 6:  Seal your buttons.  You can either spray your buttons with a clear sealant or brush them with polyurethane.  (I forgot to take pics of this step sorry)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Wingspan, a hat and tapestry crochet

I have been seeing so many great knitting projects lately that I decided it was time for me to start practicing my knitting again.   I was particular inspired by all the beautiful Wingspan's I have seen lately.  So this morning I cast on for one of my own.

I am working a lacy spring hat for a little girl--It is is nearly done I just want to add some embellishments.

Last week I posted the crochet chart I did for an afghan for my sister--This week I have tried to start crocheting it.

It seems that I need to do some more research and practice on tapestry crochet in the flat because it looks terrible and is backwards.

The chest is completely stained.  Now we only need to coat it in polyurethane and touch up the metal.
Yes this is the same pic from last week.  You'll have to trust me when I say it's completely stained.

I haven't worked on my buttons at all this week.
As for reading I have started reading L'Alchemiste: Les Secrets de l'immortel by Michael Scott and translated to french by Frederique Fraisse to help me in my quest to learn French.  It's slow going and Pat has had to help me a lot but I feel like I've learned a lot.
 What have you been working on this week?  Come and visit Tamis AmisAmbassador crochetFrontier Dreams or Ginny's Yarn Along to join in the fun.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Birthday Cake Suprise

Here is my beautiful gluten free birthday cake.  I have made this recipe a million times before.  Its a great cake. This time we also splurged and made German buttercream frosting.  It was the best frosting I've ever had.

But it seems that somewhere along the way I screwed up.  We sliced it up after dinner tonight.  I took a great big bite and it turned into a grimace.  It tastes like baking soda.  I choked down about half a slice before scraping off the frosting and leaving the cake behind.  Pat on the other hand decided to eat his whole slice and now tells me that the cake is trying to make him explode.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WIP Wednesday: hats, buttons and more

Since last week was Knit Crochet Design Week I didn't do my WIP Wednesday post.  This week I am back to regularly scheduled programming and ready to show you what's been keeping me busy.

Chart for Mel's afghan:

The chart is pretty much done.  Now I need to test it.

A second Elephant Hat:
This elephant has a 14 inch circumference and so will fit babies with a a 15-17 inch head ( around 3-9 months)

IT will probably done for Friday so you can see it.

Hat for Me:

I am kind of free forming a beret style hat for my self.
I am probably going to have to pull back quite a ways and try again because I think the band is going to be too small.

Steamer Chest:
I was hoping that this would be done by Friday so I could reclaim my dining room but I am not sure that's going to happen.  We've had some set backs on it as well.  

Buttons are so much fun.  I have been experimenting with different finishes and painting.  If I have time to seal them some of these may be ready for Friday.  These are pretty simple but I am considering a tutorial on how to make them.  Would any of you be interested?

These little  people are super cute but I am not sure how I'll be able to attach them 
without obscuring the faces

I usually listen to  various audio books while crochet and doing other work around the house so I am always reading or listening to something.  This week it has been  Broken by Kelley Armstrong and Every Which Way but Dead by Kim Harrison.

As a huge fan of urban fantasy I would recommend both series wholeheartedly but recommend you read them in order ( unless you're like me and read them in whatever order you can get them from the library).  Reading them out of order is not too bad but has left a few strange gaps in the story line as hop around.

Broken is book 6 in Kelly Armstrong's  Women of the Otherworld Series.  I have read most of the other books and of the two series this is by far the easier to read out of order.  Broken opens with Elena Michaels, the world's only female werewolf about 6 weeks pregnant.  The reader gets to follow along her crazy pregnancy as she deals with the pressure of changing into a wolf bi-weekly, terrifying nightmares, overprotective pack-mates and many more pregnancy issues.  As the story progresses a Elena accidentally opens a dimensional portal near downtown Toronto and has to deal with a rogue, sorcerer, dimensional zombies, and figuring out how to close the portal.  What I especially love about these books is that Kelley's female characters are neither so buff and independent that they seem like Superman, neither are they wimpy, ditzy, silly girls that either excell by pure luck  ( think Stephanie Plum) nor do they constantly need rescuing ( like Cassandra Palmer).  I love the way Armstrong portrays all of the character's as strong individual made better by teamwork.
Every Which Way But Dead is book 3 in Kim Harrison's  Hallows Series.  The Hallows series features Rachel Mariana Morgan, smart, sexy, powerful witch who always seems to get herself into a ton of trouble just trying to survive and protect her friends.  Book 3 opens just after Rachel has made a deal with a demon to help put Cincinnati's master vampire behind bars for murder.  Rachel manages to become the demon's familiar, break the familiar bond, get pulled in the demon ream The Everafter, and escape, with each twist of the plot simultaneously getting her out of immediate trouble and causing even more long-term damage to both her reputation and her ability to live a normal life.
 What have you been working on this week?  Come and visit Tamis Amis, Ambassador crochet, Frontier Dreams or Ginny's Yarn Along to join in the fun.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Breakfast Rolls

My husband Pat,  works 12 hour shifts and has to leave at o'dark thirty in the morning.  Neither of us are morning people so that means that he leaves before I get out of bed and often doesn't get out of bed until a few minutes until he has to leave.  This means that despite having, cereal, oatmeal, eggs, etc in the house he doesn't usually eat breakfast.
I am wheat intolerant and follow a gluten free diet but, Pat is a carbovore and would never be able to survive without bread, so every two to three weeks I bake him about four loaves of bread.  This is cheaper and probably healthier than the alternative of buying bread.  Last time I was making bread I had an epiphany.  I could simply make an extra batch of bread and make rolls stuffed with various fillings for him to microwave in the morning and eat in the car on his way to work.
Now like all great ideas this was not quite as simple as it sounded in my head. I spent a majority of my day making these , but I think I have a much better idea of how to streamline the process and make faster and less labour intesive.  Most importantly I would suggest making up all your fillings first--preferably on the previous day.

 It was a lot of work, and I don't particularly like cooking all day for something I can't even taste.  I worry about whether it will turn out great, plus the scent of fresh baking bread is a tempting reminder of something I can't have.  But it was all worth it to me when I saw the smile on Pat's face after I had him taste test my first batch.  He doesn't smile much so a smile is a ringing endorsement of yumminess.

This is a pretty simple bread recipe that rises quickly, it makes 4 loaves of bread. I usually make bread that is about 3/4 whole wheat flour but in this case I wanted the rolls to be soft yummy and easy to roll out so there is only enough whole wheat flour to add a bit of flavor and color to the dough.  You can fill these with just about anything you want but I wanted to use whatever I had on had so I did Sauted veggies, Sauted Veggies w/ a bit of ground pork, Apple Pie filling ( with fresh apples),  Cinnamon and sugar, and cinnamon sugar + peanut butter.
How to make Breakfast Rolls:
Bread Dough:
  • 4 cups warm water (95-105 degrees Fahrenheit)  I test the warmth by running tap water over my wrist until it feels just barely warmer than my skin
  • 3 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 8 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons dough enhancer ( optional)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 5-7 cups all purpose flour

Veggie and Meat Fillings:
  • 2 medium carrots grated
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 mushrooms ( would have used more but that what I had)
  • 2 stalks of celery finely sliced
  • 1/4 head of cabbage diced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • your favorite herbs and seasonings:  I used Garlic powder, basil, rosemary, thyme, and celery salt
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
Apple pie filling
  • 3 apples cored and chopped
  • dash of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
Cinnamon Sugar/Peanut Butter cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Peanut butter ( optional)

Make the Fillings
Veggie/meat filling:   This amount of veggies makes enough for more than one loaf of bread but not quite 2 loaves so after filling  and shaping the dough from the first loaf,  I browned half a pound of ground prok and added to the remaining veggies and used it to fill the rolls shaped from the second loaf. Put oil in a large skillet or sauce pan and heat  on low heat until oil is warmed. Add veggies and seasonings and cook stirring occasionally until veggies are al dente.  Remove veggies from pan and set aside.  Brown ground pork.  Set aside.

Apple pie filling:  This was enough to fill only 6 rolls.   I also would recommend waiting to add the sugar until just before ready to assemble, as the apples will make water once you add the sugar Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.

Cinnamon Sugar/Peanut Butter Cinnamon Sugar:  I made 4 without peanut butter then added the peanut butter and a little more cinnamon sugar to the mix and made 3 or 4 more.  I had 3 unfilled rolls leftover.  Mix all the ingredients except peanut butter together in a small bowl.   It should be a thick paste and just a little bit crumbly.  Add the peanut butter, if you want.  it will look similar but hold together a little better.

Mix up Bread Dough:
Dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the warm water.  Let sit for a up to 5 minute or until the water is foamy.  Stir in Sugar, salt, oil, dough enhancer and wheat flour.  Add the rest of water and stir in the all purpose flour 1-2 cups at a time until it forms a smooth soft dough that is not too sticky.  I usually use my hands to mix in the last cup of flour or so.  Cover the dough and let rise for 20-30 mins or until dough is doubled.

Knead the dough until smooth  and pliable.  Divide into four section and put 3 of the pieces into ziplock bags.  Put the bags in the fridge to retard the rising.

Assemble the  Rolls:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide the dough into eight pieces.  Roll a piece into a flat round circle about 1/8th of an inch thick.  Place 1/3-1/2 cup of filling on one half of the circle. Use a pastry brush to brush a bit of water over the edge of the dough to help it seal, and fold the other half up and over the filling.  Press the seal down with your fingers and then crimp it closed. Place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the pieces are filled.  Bake for 25-30 minute or until golden brown and the dough is completely cooked through.  Cool on a rack.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Design Week Day 6: Destined for my shop

It's Day 6 of crochet design week and I have one sample hat done.
Newborn size elephant hat
  I have a goal of opening an etsy shop by end of May and these Elephant hats are destined to be one of my first patterns.  Eventually I would like to release it as a pdf pattern but it will probably be a few months before I am ready to do that.

To get this hat ready for my shop I need to:
Figure out how to fix the jogging stripe in the trunk
Make up samples in the other sizes
Try some different eye styles
Get outside and take a bunch of good pics  ( preferably with models)

I have really enjoyed this week.  It has been challenging, interesting, fun.  I have met a bunch of great people who love the same things  I do, and I have learned a lot.  Working on this elephant from start to ( not quite) finish in just one week has been a crazy process but I think it's been really good learning process for me.
Come and visit FreshStitches to see what all the other designers are done.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Design Week Day 4: Progress!

I am excited about today.  Today we get to see how everyone is progressing on their patterns which at least for me means Pictures!!!  Though I have to apologize these are not super pics because I live in a basement and it is raining this morning so I have crappy light.  Plus when I turned my camera on this morning and realized it was dying.    I will probably take some more pictures when I have more battery and more sun.
The ears were the hardest part for me, and I knew proportions were going to be a possible issue so I started 
by making a 3-6 month size hat( one the right The light blue one) and figuring out how to shape the ear.  I had to pull out that first ear a number of times because I didn't like it( more on that tomorrow).  After coming up with an ear shape I liked I measured and tweaked and prodded and laid it out and decided that it was a bit too small for the hat.   I also discovered that I probably don't have enough light blue scrap yarn to make two ears and a trunk so I am not sure if I'll finish that sample.

I also made a newborn size hat in what little Knit One Crochet Too Cotonade I have.  I made the overall hat smaller ( 12 inch circumference and 4 1/2 inches high) and made the ear larger.  I was going to make at least one sample with the inner ears colored and I knew that I probably didn't hat quite enough yarn.  I also made the ear slightly larger than the previous ear I had made.  I think that coloring is perfect.  And I am pretty sure I like the size of the ear.

The next photo shows the relationship in length and width of the ear to the size of the hat.  You can see that the round portion of the ear matches up almost exact with the beginning of the crown and the overall length is about 1/4 inch longer than the hat.   This picture and these measurements will be invaluable as I am making the other sizes of hats.

 I wrote down my basic pattern in pencil in my sketchbook as I was working, along with a basic diagram on how the ear goes together.

Come and join us at FreshStitches to see what everyone else is up to.