Monday, July 23, 2018

I don't always paint, but when I do...



Bloom (quote derived from Christina Caine)

In the Garden of Bunny Maru

Monday, January 01, 2018

Wubby’s Ham & Cheese Bites with Spicy Harissa Sauce

Wub got access to all the* courses for Christmas. She’s started herself off with the Cook for Yourself course. With very little guidance from me this is the hot appetizer she came up with...

Tasty Sauce
1/2 Tablespoon harissa (we use DEA brand)
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1/2  teaspoon roasted garlic seasoning (we use Weber)
1/4 teaspoon each srirach garlic seasoning, rosemary, thyme and oregano
Splash red wine vinegar
pinch of cayenne
3 drops of green hot sauce (we use Trader Joe's Green Dragon)

Mix together until thoroughly combined and let rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.

Preheat oven to 450.

Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Arrange slices of French baguette cut into round on the baking sheet. Top with a slice of good ham and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese Bake for 7-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and melted. 

Arrange on a plate and top each round with a dollop of Tasty Sauce. Yum!

Crispy bread, smoky ham, melty cheese and a cool creamy, addictively spicy sauce? Yes, please!

Perfect to enjoy with family!

*I am not affiliated with but I would recommend them. 

Wub is having a blast trying to figure out what she is going to cook next and she's excited about her other course offerings especially the Invent Your own Machines and Become a Music Star.

I like the fact that she is learning on her own and is eager to test and try new things. I also like the range of courses that they offer and how Wub gets to choose what she wants to do next within each course. Each lesson builds skills within itself so Wub can start off where she feels strong and build new skills to take her onto a different set of tasks.  

And if these appetizers are just the beginning, I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with.
They have a free trial period and they offer a 10% "scholarship" if you enter your email.

 Pro Tip: Sign up for their newsletter and they'll send you some pretty good coupons throughout the year.

Monday, November 06, 2017

The world's worst cat died today.

 She was mean, she would scratch whoever she thought she could get away with. She was unfriendly, hated the dog and would attack him at any opportunity. She wanted us to pet her but didn't want us to touch her and the battles she fought over this paradox were both amusing and frustrating. She was loud and obnoxious. She liked to knock things over and sit in places that she wasn't supposed to. She sometimes peed in the water dish. If she didn't see you feed her it didn't happen and she would meowl loudly, refusing to eat until you put a few bits of food in her dish. She would eat the dog's food, balanced on the edge of his bowl, straddling it to show him who was boss. She was petty and rotten and low on charm.

 People would ask us why we kept her. An unsocialised, neurotic mess of anger, distrust and claws...If we had given her to a shelter she would never have been readopted.

 She was the worst but she was our worst and we loved her. Oh Don Piano I hope you are in a better place. I hope you are being petted and that you like it. I hope you know your food dish is full, that the dog knows who's in charge and there's all sorts of shit to knock on the floor and sit on. Goodbye you miserable creep of a cat. I miss you so much already...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Curry Puffs or Let's make some fairly complicated for dinner on Tuesday...

 Don't let the post name fool  you, these actually aren't all that complicated. In fact considering how limited my patience is for teaching people stuff, I 98% totally enjoyed making these with Wub and only got slightly impatient once my back started hurting. And sure you could judge me for using paper plates for dinner but I don't care. I made Curry Puffs, on a Tuesday. That's all the fancy I have for one day.
  I looked at several different recipes for Thai/Malaysian Spiral Dough Curry Puffs and in the end sorta made up my own thing. The flaky pastry is super easy to make and kind of seems like a magic trick.

 You make two, very easy doughs, let them rest while you make your filling. (I made a fairly classic chicken curry type. The general consensus in my house was you could stuff these with cat hair and chocolate sauce and they'd be pretty tasty. Don't though. Seriously.) While the filling cools you divide each dough into eight pieces, stuff one inside the other and then the magic begins, but I'm getting ahead of myself, first the recipe....

Disclaimer: I am neither Thai nor Malaysian so maybe these aren't just like your Nan's Curry Puffs. I'm okay with that. If having to be 100% authentic were a prerequisite for making a new dish, no one would ever try anything new.

Spiral Curry Puffs

 Water Dough:
300 grams of all purpose flour (roughly 2 1/2 cups, but if you have a scale weigh it)
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter
1 egg white lightly beaten
3/4 cups (ish) warm water

  In a large bowl combine the flour and salt. Rub the butter into the flour until thoroughly combined. Add the egg white and most, but not all of the water. Stir to combine adding more water if needed to form a soft but not sticky dough. Knead until smooth. Cover and lest rest for half an hour.

 Butter Dough:
150 grams of all purpose flour (1 1/4 cups)
100 grams of softened butter (7 1/2 Tablespoons)
pinch salt

 In a medium bowl mix together until a smooth cohesive dough forms. Cover and set aside.

The Curry Filling I Used:

8 oz chicken breast cut into small cubes
2 large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 large carrots peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion 1/2 inch dice
8 oz button or crimini mushrooms in 1/2 inch chunks (See a pattern here?)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed, grated, chopped, whatever
1 cup of frozen peas, still frozen
2 Tablespoons of a good brand curry powder. (I am particularly fond of Ship's)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon White pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
2  Tablespoons each butter and coconut (or vegetable) oil

 In a large saute pan over medium high, heat the butter and oil until sizzling. Add the onions and mushrooms season with salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms are just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute or so until fragrant.
 Add the curry powder, garam masala and white pepper. Cook and stir for 1-2 minutes to lightly toast the spices. Add the chicken season with salt and pepper and stir to cover chicken in spices.

 Add the potato and carrot and a couple of cups or so of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and slightly broken down.

 The sauce should be thick and almost nonexistent almost like a potato puree as opposed to gravy. If too runny cook longer to evaporate the liquid. If too dry add more water.

 Once the mixture has reached the right consistency remove from heat and stir in the frozen peas. Set aside to cool while you work on the dough.

I forgot to take a picture of this part but you will want to separate each into eight pieces of roughly equal size. Roll into balls and cover.

 Take a piece of the water dough and flatten it out slightly. Place a piece of the butter dough in the center and fold the water dough up and around to completely enclose the butter dough. Pinch the seams closed and place seam side down, cover and repeat with the remaining dough balls.

 Next using a light dusting of flour flatten one of he dough balls into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into a long thin rectangle. Roll the dough up into spiral tube.

Flatten out this tube and roll it into a rectangle in the opposite direction. Roll up again. Place roll seam side down on the counter and cover. Repeat with each ball of dough until you have eight dough roll.

 Cut each of your rolls in half. Place cut side up, flatten with the palm of your hand then roll into a thinnish, roughly circular disc. You should be able to see the spiral. Repeat until you have sixteen discs.

Take one of the discs and place the prettiest (most swirly side) face down on your palm. Place a generous spoonful of the cooled filling in the center.

Fold up the sides, pinching and pulling to form a lip. Fold and crimp the edges to seal. Repeat with all sixteen pieces.

 Heat oil in a large heavy pan over medium high heat. Fry a few at a time until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm or cold.
 The pastry on these is A-MAZ-ING. So easy to work with, it is simultaneously stretchy but also sticks to itself quite well making the crimping a breeze. (To be honest crimping is never a breeze for me, arthritis and carpal tunnel makes for very clumsy fingers. Wub however zoomed through the crimping and hers were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay prettier than mine.) All the stretch would lead you to believe to believe these are going to be chewy or tough but no, these are crisp, tender and flakey.

 We almost can't wait to make these again. Some other filling ideas would be cat hair and chocolate sauce, mashed potatoes with cheddar cheese, cream cheese with tuna, grated onion and jalapeno, caramelized onions and Swiss cheese, English style sausage, Cornish pasty type filling, bananas and chocolate chips, coconut jam, apples with cinnamon and sugar and so on...

 In many of the recipes I read they said these freeze well uncooked. We just cooked them all with plans of eating them for lunch etc. over the next day or two.  So I can't vouch for that but I do know it works well for knishes. If we ever do manage to freeze some I'll let you know how that goes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

It's Tamale Day by Golly!

Today's the day. I got up at 5:30 this morning so I could work on Wub's Easter dress before I had to make salsa (mmmmmmmmmmm...) and the sweet corn filling for the tamales. I made the Spinach Filling last night while I was making the Spicy Mushroom Filling


 Wub helped me make home made salsa and the Sweet Corn and Green Chili tamale filling. I have to say they are both pretty darn tasty.

Spinach, Artichoke  and Blistered Jalapeno Filling

2 8 oz packages of fresh spinach, cleaned and rough chopped
1 12 0z package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
2 8 oz packages cream cheese softened
1 6 oz package grated parmesan cheese
1 small onion finely diced
1 small jalapeno
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon of your favorite roasted garlic seasoning (I use Weber)
Salt and Pepper to taste

 Place the whole jalapeno over a burner and slowly char all over, turning periodically. Place in a bowl and cover. Set aside to steam and soften

 Heat the olive oil over medium high heat until it ripples. Add the onion and as much
spinach as will fit. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir. As the spinach wilts down add more to the pan seasoning as you go, until all of the spinach is wilted and the onions are soft.

 Pour mixture into a mesh strainer and allow to drain and cool.

 Peel and finely chop the blistered jalapeno.

 In a large bowl combine the softened cream cheese, jalapeno, garlic seasoning and parmesan. Stir in the drained spinach and chopped artichokes until well combined.

 At this point it is ready to fill tamales, enchiladas and quesadillas. You could also toss the whole deal in a casserole dish and bake at 375 until bubbly and lightly browned and it makes a pretty darn good hot dip.

Sweet Corn and Green Chili Filling 

2 lbs frozen sweet corn kernels
1 16(ish) oz jar of your favorite green salsa (I like  Mi Costena or Herdez)
1 8 oz package of cream cheese softened
1 lb shredded Queso Quesadilla or Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
1 jalapeno roasted, peeled and seeded (see recipe above)
1 bunch green onions sliced both white and green parts.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley if no likey the cilantro)
1 Tablespoon of your favorite roasted garlic seasoning. (I use Weber)

 This is a large recipe and can easily be halved.

 In a large bowl combine the softened cream cheese with the jalapeno, cilantro, green onions and roasted garlic seasoning. Slowly stir in the green salsa. (It will look a total mess here but trust me it gets better.) Then the shredded cheese until combined and last the corn.

 If planning to use as a filling, refrigerate until set.

 Or pour into a baking dish and cook at 375 until hot and bubbly and you have a delicious dip for chips.

We made mountains of masa and entire landscapes of tamales.

Dinner was at 5:00 and we feasted on refried beans, spanish rice and oh so many delicious tamales.
All told we made about 200 tamales. So we have lunch for the next few days. (Or maybe we'll freeze them...)

Lora has agreed to share her recipe  for her incredible slow roasted beef and her delectable chicken filling. So as soon as she gets them to me I'll post them and maybe some tips on how you too can have your own Tamale Day and perhaps a freezer full of good food seasoned with good memories.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spicy Mushroom Filling

 Sunday is tamale day. Why? Because we are some tamale loving people. So tomorrow my sisters and I will get together around noon and start making masa and filling the tamales. Around 5:00pm we should have a half starved group of maniacs descend upon us to gobble up crunchy chips with homemade salsa and homemade queso and a mountain of freshly steamed tamales.

 Being the decided weirdoest in a bunch of utter nutters, I make the vegetarian filling. Because I love me a vegetarian tamale. (I also love me a meat tamale but for some reason vegetarian tamales make me real happy)

 My usual contribution is Sweet Corn and Green Chili with Queso Quesadilla Cheese. And those will be making a modified appearance tomorrow but I wanted to expand my horizons a little bit. So in addition to the usual sweet corn/green chili I will also be making a Spinach Artichoke and Blistered Jalapeno filling and these:

Spicy Mushroom Filling for Tamales or Tacos or Burritos or Enchiladas or Quesadillas or your face...

2 lbs white button mushrooms roughly chopped
2 large onions cut into medium dice
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon butter
1 6 oz can tomato paste
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet until butter is foamy. Add the onions and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until softened. Turn up the heat add the garlic. cook until golden.
Mince up as many chipotle peppers as your heat level can stand (*I'm a chili head so I could have handled more but since others will be eating this I went with one. This was a nice level of heat without being alienating to the less spicy of the crew.) Add the pepper(s) 2 tsp of the adobo sauce, 1 can of tomato paste, the water and wine bring to a boil and turn down real low. Simmer 5 or 6 minutes.
Stuff into whatever you want. I would not recommend this a good filling for dolls and stuffed animals.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Free Pattern! The Other Birthday Dress

I showed off "the other birthday dress" in this post. I realised that since I'd already drafted a size 10/12 child's large pattern I might as well share it. And since I was going to share it I might as well make a mini tutorial on how to sew it.
Free Pattern

Mind you I took no pictures of the process so all I have is drawings but if you have any knowledge of sewing it should be pretty clear.

If you would like to sew the dress using the same fabric, it is available in my Spoonflower shop here:
 The fabric is designed to repeat perfectly on one yard of Modern Jersey. Other knits choices will work you will end up with less of the tossed print part of the fabric though.

You will need:
General Sewing Supplies-thread, pins, sewing machine, scissors etc.
Pattern available here-Party Animal Raglan
Less than 1 yard of knit fabric with 25% stretch and good recovery.

To begin download and print out the pattern pieces. You want to choose 100% or No Scaling or uncheck the Fit to Page box on your printer.
Trim and tape the pages following the diagram and then cut out the two pattern pieces.

Cut out two sleeves on the fold and two bodices on the fold. You will also need on strip of fabric 2x20 and one square of fabric 2x2 for the neckband.

I own a serger but at the moment it is being incredibly uncooperative so I sewed the entire dress using a narrow and long zig zag stitch. You can serge or twin needle it if you prefer.

Step one:
With right sides together sew the sleeves to one bodice piece
along the shoulder seams.

Step two:
With right sides together sew the sleeve to the other bodice half along the shoulder seam.
Repeat on the other side.Turn to right side and topstitch your seams if you desire.

Step three:
Turn dress inside out and match up the sleeves and bottom hem. Sew the side seams from sleeve hem to bottom hem on both sides, You can turn the dress right side out and topstitch if you desire. 

Step four:
To make neckband sew strip together to form a loop, fold loop in half lengthwise concealing the stitches to the inside.

Fold knot piece in half and stitch along cut edge. Turn tube so seam is on the inside.

Step five: 
Pin the knot piece onto the center sleeve portion of the neckline and baste in place. Center the seam of the neckband over the knot piece and pin evenly around the neckline. Fold the knot piece up to cover the seam and stitch the neckband to the neckline. Turn to right side and topstch in place.

Step six:
Hem sleeves and bottom edge of dress (I used a lettuce edge on the bottom)

The legaleze: I believe when you give you should give with both hands. What that means for you. If you want to share the file it would be nice if you sent people here to get it but you don't have to. If you want to change the file, change it. If you want to sell dozens or hundreds of size 10/12 raglan dresses be my guest. Enjoy!