Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pears and Cream ... a culinary memory.

Ok, so it's not terribly culinary but The Man and I were reminiscing recently about the rare items on the school lunch menu that we actually liked, and pears and sour cream was a win for both of us. He remembered his mom making it for him when he was very small and she put a cherry on top. My memory of it was of lunch ladies handing me little neutral colored bowls filled with half a pear, a scoop of sour cream and some shredded cheese. I decided to make it his moms way to see if it was as good as I remembered and with the cherry it was way better. 

It's easy peasy, you just need some canned pear halves, some sour cream and some bright red maraschino cherries. The pears I used were kind of small so I wound up using four halves, (two whole pears) and about a quarter cup of sour cream per bowl. I also poured a little bit of the syrup from the cherries on top to sweeten the deal and make it pretty. The cherries and the pears are sweet enough that the sour cream becomes almost like yogurt, and I suppose you could use yogurt instead, but I liked that the tang of the sour cream could still shine through the sweetness. It was a successful walk down memory lane for the both of us and you should try it ... and feed it to everyone you love so they'll love it too.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spicy Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are perhaps the perfect food for a weeknight. They taste really great, they are good and filling and they don't cost a lot to make. Oh and if you do it my way it only takes about fifteen minutes to make them.

You'll need:
1 1/2 cups of picante sauce, I used mild but you can use whatever intensity you'd like
1 10 oz can of diced tomatoes and peppers drained, also use your favored intensity
1 lb of browned ground beef

Start off with a skillet on medium heat and toss in a pound of pre browned ground beef. This is what's going to save you so much time. I get a three to five pound pack of ground beef and brown it all up at the same time then store it in quart sized bags in my freezer I use it for soup and tacos and all sorts of things. If you don't want to do that ahead of time you can brown it now but it will take the cooking time up to about a half an hour which is still great. After about a minute or so the meat will warm up and you can toss in your tomatoes and picante sauce and mix it up. Let it simmer for about ten or fifteen minutes until it's the thickness you desire and serve it on hamburger buns with a side of fries. Oh and yes paper plates are the proper dinnerware for sloppy joes ;)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kitchen Sink Soup

It's that time of year again, time for hearty and comforting foods. I can't think of anything more hearty and comforting than a good bowl of soup. The best thing about this soup is that you can put almost anything in it and it'll be good. The only constant ingredient is a 28oz can of whole tomatoes which I crush by hand. This week I used a 28 oz can of Veg-all which I rounded off with some left over corn and Lima beans from the fridge and some browned ground beef. I've added everything from cabbage to pearl onions to this and it always comes out tasty and if you leave out the meat it's vegetarian. A cube of corn bread on top to soak up the broth and you've got a meal fit for any Autumn night. The basic recipe goes something like this:

1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
1 28oz can of mixed vegetables *
1 14 oz can of corn*
1 14 oz can of lima beans*
1 lb of browned ground beef

*substitute frozen versions or any other veggie you would like.

Start off by pouring the tomatoes into a 4q soup pot and crush them by hand. Mix in all the other ingredients and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, or longer if you use frozen veg. Top with a square of cornbread and dig in.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Crochet Christmas Bootie Candy Dish

Recently The Mom and I went to a huge community wide yard sale and wound up at my uncles house where he and his new wife were having a sale. Both lost their spouses a few years ago and are trying to pare down their belongings from two households. The Mom came across a huge tote full of Christmas decorations that belonged to my aunt so of course she bought it. We waited a while to go through it but when we did I found a little piece of nostalgia. It's a little crocheted boot that I remembered all of my aunts and my mother having when I was a kid, that I'm pretty sure my Aunt Sharon made.

It's meant to hold a small coffee can and be filled with Christmas treats but this one is good and old, and has seen better days, so I was afraid to wash it. I'm also more of a fan of a darker red and brighter green for Christmas colors so I decided I would make a new one for myself with some scrap yarn that I had on hand. The one my mother had was lost in a fire but I remember that she put in shell mixed nuts in hers. My aunts all used theirs for something different but I remember there being ribbon candy, peppermints, candy canes, and Christmas themed Kisses in these little booties. I think I'll use mine for fancy mix candy this year.         

I did wonder if I could make one in a smaller size as not everyone is going to want something that will hold a twelve ounce coffee can so I went about making one that would hold a cream of mushroom can instead. Oddly enough both cans were about twelve ounces by weight but the coffee can is two or three times bigger. I dug through my scrap yarn and found some DK yarn that I had used in a baby blanket a while back and it dawned on me that in these colors it looks like a baby bootie. These suckers work up pretty quickly so it might make a cute center piece at a baby shower that the mom can take home with her afterwards. It looks good with butter mints in it as well which is a bonus because I never fail to find butter mints at baby showers.

You could also gauge this up with thicker yarn and a bigger hook to use a larger vessel in the middle. For my large one I used Red Heart Super Saver in Cherry Red, Spring Green and White and a size I/9- 5.50 MM Boye hook. I don't remember the brand of yarn I used for the smaller one but it's acrylic DK yarn with a D sized hook. My large grannies measure 3.5 inches squared and the smaller ones measure 2.75 inches squared. If you know how to make a simple granny square use whatever method you favor to make thirteen squares. Sew them together to make the two configurations in the picture below and then follow the instructions to make the boot. 

If you don’t know how to make a granny square I’ll add a quick pattern for one near the end of this post. Once you have the boot made turn it right side out and attach your main color yarn to the top of the cuff with a slip stitch in the middle of any chain space. *DC six times in the middle DC of the next three DC on  the cuff. Slip stitch in the next chain space.* Repeat from * to * until you come back around to the original slip and slip in that stitch. 

Here is the method I use to make a granny square. With color A ch 4 and then 2 DC in the 4th chain from the hook. 

Rnd 1 Ch 1 *three DC in the same Ch then Ch1* Repeat *to* twice then slip stitch into the top of the ch3 and tie off. 

Rnd 2 Attach color B into any corner of the center square with a slip stitch and DC twice then ch1. *In the next corner 3 DC, ch 1, 3 DC all in the same ch space of the corner. Ch 1.* Repeat from * to * twice. In the corner that you started DC 3, ch 1 and connect to the top of the ch with a slip stitch. Tie off.

Rnd 3Attach color C to any corner with a slip stitch ch 3, DC 2 ch 1. *3 DC in the next ch space ch 1. 3 DC ch 1, 3 DC in the corner, ch. 1* Repeat from * to * twice. In the last corner 3 DC ch1 attach to the top of the chain with a slip stitch. Tie off sew in your ends.

I also have a few quick tips for working with grannies. Sew in the ends very well, they tend to want to come loose in grannies so you have to pay close attention to getting them good and sewn in. When I have a lot of grannies to make I tend to make them in an assembly line fashion. First I make all of the centers, then I do the second round on all of the squares, then the third round and then I sew in all of the ends. I usually start each round in the same corner so that all of my ends are in the same area when I’m finished. I almost always use a mattress stitch to sew grannies together no matter what I’m making.

Ok to put the structure of the boot together fold square 1 up toward the center and sew it to square 2 then square 3 on the other side. Next fold square 6 up to the center and sew it to 4 then 5. Now fold 7 over and sew it to 4 then 5. Next fold 9 toward 8 and sew those together to form the cuff and then place them over the hole on the lower part of the boot and sew it on taking care to line the squares up.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Board Games, a New Obsession, Plus a Craft.

I know I haven't posted a blog in over a year but I was employed and busy for most of that time. These days I'm no longer employed and I've discovered a new hobby/obsession. That would be board games. I happened to catch Wil Wheaton's show Table Top on youtube and since then I've been obsessed. Based on an episode of that show I bought the game Zombie Dice. In Zombie Dice you need a method to mark points, up until tonight we had been using pennies. I don't like handling pennies a lot, it may be in my head but they make my hands smell weird. Since I don't like the pennies I decided to make my own markers. I could have just bought a bag of flat marbles and decide to be done with it but I wanted to have brains dang it. So here is how I made my Zombie Dice braaaaiiiins markers.

To make these you'll need clear flat glass marbles, white glue, access to a decent printer and a sheet full of printed out brains. I just went to the interwebs and found a cartoony picture of a brain then repeated it at about 3/4 of an inch across a page. I decided that the light color wasn't cartoony enough so I colored it pink with a magic marker to make it pop a little bit more.

Then I put a dot of glue in the middle of each brain and placed a flat marble onto it, pressing down to make sure the glue spread out and covered the whole picture. Then I let them dry and trimmed the extra paper off.

I really like the way they turned out, the marble magnifies the image so it looks larger than the print out. That helps with the detail you might lose from making the image so small. Now we can play Zombie Dice in style and I can get rid of those pennies. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Button up: Iron Craft challenge #29.

Ok, I'm gonna do this fast because I've got more packing to do. This week Iron Craft moved to Just Crafty Enough and the challenge this week was to make something with buttons. I didn't take this challenge literally, I decided to make pretend buttons on my project instead. I came up with a quick basic cross stitched button motif then cross stitched it in a grid on two pieces then followed the directions for a biscornu. I think it turned out cute, I might add a magnet backing on it and turn it into a fridge magnet. 

Here is the first one I made for the May Flowers challenge:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Iron Craft Challange #26 Camp Craft: Friendship Bracelets

This week the Iron Craft challenge was to make camp crafts. I was at a loss because when I went to camp we didn't do crafts. I did a search online for camp crafts and came across several I liked including friendship bracelets. I kept them in my head while I was out running errands on Saturday. While I was shopping I swung by the crafts department and found a kit to make friendship bracelets. It came with 36 skeins of "friendship thread" aka pearl cotton embroidery thread. I thought about it for about two seconds and snapped up a kit. 

My adult niece and her little boy are staying with us for a while so she and I decided to make these bracelets together. At first we were dumbfounded by the directions. I watched a few youtube videos which explained the patterns pretty well but not the method so I was still not getting good results. Eventually I figured it out on my own but it took some doing so I'm going to try to explain it a little better on here. 

First off you need to measure out your thread, this measurement depends on your wrist size so you may need to experiment with how much you need. I have a seven inch wrist so I use twenty six inches of floss per strand. Cut two strands of each color for an easier bracelet or a single strand of six different colors for a more difficult one. You are also going to need some tape, a safety pin or a clip board to hold your thread as you work. I prefer the clip board but the others will do fine as well. 

figure 1
Now tie a regular ole granny knot with all of the strands together leaving about a three inch tail. As an optional step to make wearing the bracelet easier braid that three inch tail and tie another knot to secure it. Secure your strands with your tape, pin or board and separate the strands by color. If you're doing three colors separate with the two strands of each color together, if you're doing six colors separate them as single strands.

figure 2
Working from left to right cross the first color over the top of the second color then under it and around it to form a loop. (figure 1) Now while pulling down on the second strand pull up on the first one and tighten it up to the top. (figure 2) Don't make your knots too tight, that causes it to buckle a bit. Tie that same knot again across each color, repeat the process for each row. When you are down to about three and a half inches of loose floss tie another granny knot with all of the strands making it flush against the knots. If you want to, braid that end as well. To wear them just tie the braided ends together. 

If you are still not getting it you can use a small thread crochet hook and make yourself some granny squares to form a cuff. I've still got to add some buttons to that one bit I think it is my favorite. My nieces favorite was the rainbow one I made when I eventually figured out how to do the knots correctly. BTW Yay New York! I've got a ton of ideas for color combos in my head along with a bunch of ideas of items other than bracelets to do with these so keep an eye out for that.