Monday, May 31, 2010

Week 20: Mattar Paneer

Another Indian curry this week. Not too bad at all - I really liked the sauce on this one, and I finally got my act together to make naan, so it was overall a pretty delicious meal! (that's butter chickpeas in the background)

Recipe can be found here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It's that time of year again...

Yep, doing the community gardening thing again! Got my plot all organized and planted today. Now, the waiting. Man, I cannot wait for tomatoes! I'll detail some of the specifics as things grow more - I've planted some very interesting heirloom tomatoes this year.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Week 19: Tabbouleh

Vegetarianism (at least at home) continues. I'm not sure I'd ever tried tabbouleh before. Turns out I love it! And very easy to make, which will always net a recipe a spot in the 'make this again' binder.

This was last Sunday's dinner - Tabbouleh, obviously, and in the background two half pitas. One spread with an olive-mushroom tapanade, the other with falafel, tomato, cucumber, and tzatziki (ha, the firefox spellchecker hates all those words).

The tabbouleh was also really good combined with hummus on a pita, with some feta and black olives scattered over the top. In fact, I'm having that again for lunch in a few minutes.

I used this food network recipe:

Except I couldn't find mint anywhere, so left that out. And I only used one bunch of parsley - 3 bunches seems completely insane to me, unless they are very small. Also, the second time I made it instead of using the bulgur I cooked a cup of quinoa, and I actually liked that better. You wind up with way more grains that shown in the picture, and the parsley flavour is a bit less intense, but the quinoa works really well with the dressing and tomatoes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A few more fairy tale people

My first attempt at Robin Hood, which had a number of issues. Once again, my children wind up with the toys that didn't quite work out properly. They don't seem to be complaining, though.

Queen. Her tunic came out very well, I'm quite pleased with it.
Pink witch, or a princess, or a lady, or, or, or! I haven't quite worked out the long dresses to my satisfaction. This one was supposed to be sort of 'floor length', but it's rather cute even though it didn't come out long enough!
I'm really into embroidering the little flowers! This is the green lady, forest spirit, goddess of summer, maybe the mother - many different ideas! To me she's the green witch.

Tabouleh recipe coming up later! It's not all tiny people around here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Fairy Tale People

Yes, I'm getting obsessed with these. They appeal to me on so many levels, not the least of which is the chance to create a bunch of archetypal figures. I've always loved fairy tales and fantasy novels, and the chance to make figures from fairy tales that look pretty darn awesome, if I do say so myself? I can't resist.

This is the hunter, the green man, the woodsman, who shows up in so many stories. A young Robin Hood, perhaps? Or maybe the common figure from so many of my favourite fantasy novels - the young woman who disguises herself as a man and goes off to seek adventure.

Also another witch (I love making witches, which probably says something about me) and a king. These three figures are all available in my shop.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Drop everything...

...and go make these cookies. Just do it.

Well, unless you think you might someday be in a cookie exchange with me, in which case DON'T make these so that I can impress and amaze you with them.

Recipe Here. (Mine are lighter because I only had golden sugar, not dark brown sugar. Probably be even better with the brown sugar!).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Week 18: Parmesan Chickpeas

Oh my.

I could eat this all day long.

I found this recipe on Dana Treat's blog, and it is SO GOOD.

And best of all? Ridiculously easy. Use the best quality ingredients you can, and prepare for deliciousness!

I do think it's important for this one to cook the chickpeas yourself, instead of using canned. Canned chickpeas are great for dips and dishes where they are cooked in a sauce, but here the actual taste of the chickpeas is very central to the dish, and I think canned ones would taste kind of funny.

I used a good quality (expensive!) Parmesan, because that's what I had in the fridge, but any sort of hard grating cheese would work, I expect.

Parmesan Chickpeas

2 cups (or so) cooked chickpeas
juice of one lemon (some zest from that lemon would be a nice touch, too)
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp kosher salt
ground pepper to taste
1/4-1/3 cup ground hard cheese - I chopped up some parmesan and then whizzed it around in the food processor for 20 seconds or so to grind it into small chunks.

Mix all ingredients together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve room temperature.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Long overdue: The Fairy Tale People

These were a present for my five year old's birthday. I'm so thrilled with how they turned out! For these, I painted the faces (except for the baby, that was a pre-painted bead). This is the king and the queen, with baby princess. These two are my favourites, I love the way the colours work together.

For these, unlike the fairies, I used embroidery thread for the hair. I really like how it looks.

The fairy godmother, witch, and wizard. Although the witch could be a wise woman or healer or nurse too. And apparently the fairy godmother is the evil queen, according to my daughter. Hey, they're her toys! In retrospect I wish I'd put some hair on the wizard, but other than that, they came out great. I think the witch is particularly delightful.

The prince and the princess. These are a bit smaller than the others, of course. I was losing it a little bit on the embroidery with these, it's kind of uneven and all over the place.

Altogether, these are sized about the same as the plan toys stuff from her dollhouse, so she can play with them in the dollhouse and use the dollhouse furniture.

I'm really enjoying making these to a perhaps unreasonable degree. I need more beads to make more heads, but I've got the body done for a Robin Hood type figure, and I've started on a maiden/mother/crone trio and another king and queen. I'll probably pop them into the store when they are done.

Edit: The five year old insisted I add this picture she took. For some reason the people are currently living in plastic cups.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Week 17: Spinach and Lentil Dal

This one is a winner! Spinach and lentil dal, served over brown rice, with some grilled paneer cubes tossed in. I also served it with diced cucumber and plain yogurt, and those two additions are really key - without the yogurt it was kind of OK, but adding the yogurt made it really yummy. Best of all? Super, super easy to make. I added some onions and garlic because that's what I do, but otherwise I followed the recipe as written.

Find the recipe here.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Week 16: Baked beans attempt #1

Dismal failure, in my opinion.

The beans turned into mush, the flavour was all wrong, it just wasn't good. Although the kids did eat some of it, so maybe I should count this as a win? Ha.

I may have to give up on the whole cooking beans from scratch thing - I have been trying, and trying, and trying, using all sorts of different soaking methods (and not soaking at all!) and I just can't seem to get beans to come out cooked, but not mushy. They seem to go from just slightly undercooked to mushy in the blink of an eye.

So I think I'll cook beans from scratch for things where they are being pureed or mashed anyway, like bean dip or refried beans, but stick to canned for dishes where the beans are supposed to stay relatively whole. I just like the texture of canned beans better.

Not sure where I found the recipe, but here it is:

1 lb. navy or kidney beans
6 c. water
1/3 c. molasses
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 c. butter

Precook beans in boiling water for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Then simmer for 1 hour until tender. Drain, reserving liquid. Place beans in crock pot. Mix 1 cup reserved liquid, brown sugar, molasses, salt and mustard. Pour over beans and dot with butter. Cover and cook for 6-12 hours on low setting.

I think the molasses was an issue for me, taste wise. I'm going to try and hunt up another recipe that doesn't use it, see if that's the flavour I didn't like.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rainbow Bundt Cake

Birthday cake for my 5 year old (man, that's weird to type. I have a five year old! What?)



This is awesome because the WOW factor is massively disproportionate to the actual amount of effort it takes to make the cake. It takes maybe 5 minutes of extra work to make the rainbow effect, but everyone thinks you are Martha Stewart.

how to make it?

Make your favourite white or yellow cake recipe. Or boxed mix. Whichever.

Divide the batter equally into six bowls.

Use gel food colouring to dye each bowl a different colour.

Pour the batter, one colour at a time, into a bundt pan. So start with red, pour it in (this will actually be easier with a boxed mix, since they tend to be runnier - I made a from scratch cake and it was pretty stiff batter, so it was a bit trickier). Then pour the orange on top of the red, the yellow on top of the orange, the green on top of the yellow, etc. Eagle eyes will spot the error I made when I poured in my batter, I accidentally reversed two of the colours! Try and pour each colour into the middle of the last colour, that will push the previous colours out a bit and create the arched/curved effect.

Bake as normal, cool, invert onto your serving tray, frost, enjoy!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flower Fairies

These are made with instructions from Salley Mavor's Felt Wee Folk. The instructions are very easy to follow, although I did make a few modifications! Mavor is very attached to acorn hats, for example, and I just couldn't get acorns big enough, so I improvised felt hats instead. And my aesthetic definitely tends a lot more towards bold primary colours.

For these, I used prepainted beads for the heads I found at Micheal's - I wasn't sure I wanted to tackle painting faces, and they were actually the only wooden beads I was able to find locally that were even remotely suitable.

I definitely highly recommend the book if you want to try making these yourself.

I decided to try my hand at some creative photos with these. Fortunately they are so cute they make it easy.

My older daughter is having her fifth birthday party tomorrow, so I actually made 11 of these dolls for party favours - we're expecting 6 guests, so this way everyone will get to choose one, with a few left over.

And the whole gang:

Tomorrow, the fairy tale grouping I teased yesterday. Need to retake the photos of that one, they came out a bit blurry for some reason.