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Monday, June 29, 2009

Food Links

A few from Not Martha.
Homemade Maraschino Cherries, I must do this soon. Really soon. Yum yum!
3D Sheep Crackers at Design*Sponge
A No-Knead Bread Recipe at Kiss My Spatula that looks fantastic

A current favorite of mine:
Food for the Boiler: A Steampunk Cookbook

A couple mochi recipes
Welsh Cakes, perfect for the guy in your life who's decided he's Welsh and wants to replace your shed with a police call box. Unless of course that only happens to me.
You can also download a pdf scanned version of Brown Bag's new idea book with lots of recipes here, you'll want to go to view-rotate clockwise to read it.
On that note.. I really really want the British Isles shortbread pan

Fairy Stars





Still in progress, but this is what I have so far and they can be used as ornaments instead.
You'll need:
scissors
template
a wooden dowel, drinking straw or something to serve as the stick part of the wand
glue
double sided tape
glitter, because all fairy wands need glitter
Print the template at 100 dpi on card stock or fit to page, these templates make a 4 inch star printed that way.
spray clear sealer of some sort because anything with glitter needs to be sealed so it doesn't dust glitter everywhere.
Score folds before cutting, the fold lines are the star itself to fold the tabs inside and glue them. Cut out on outside lines and cut the slit in between each point of the star. Fold tabs in and glue them.
With a piece of double sided tape, tape the stick on the back of one wand in two places, check the diagram for the positioning I used or you can use the double sided tape to stick in a piece of floss or ribbon at the top to make an ornament instead.
Press the second side to the side with the taped string or wand and make sure it's firmly connected, then glue down all star points
If you're using the blank template and want to use glue on it, don't color it in with crayons or something else waxy, watercolors work nicely.
Set aside to let dry, after it's dry, lay down a line of glue on the gray parts of the template or if you're using the blank template, squiggles of glue. Sprinkle a fine glitter over the glue lines. Let dry and repeat on the other side.
After that's dry, go around the edges with a bead of glue and glitter.
Now you have a fairy wand, and if you're anything like me, you also have a husband who's completely disgusted by the amount of glitter all around you.
After it's completely dry, spray with sealer.
Click on images for the fullsized versions as usual.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vegetables, kids and UFO Phil

Yesterday, when I asked E what she wanted for dinner, she wasn't sure. So I gave her a list of options and she decided on homemade mac and cheese.
Now, here's the thing, like most kids, it used to be that anything other then the stuff that comes in boxes with either a packet of cheese powder or a foil packet of cheese paste was disgusting to her. I wanted to give her mac and cheese that actually.. you know, had cheese in it. So I found clone recipe for the boxed stuff with the cheese paste, and made that. Every time I make mac and cheese, I change one more thing until I can make mac and cheese like mom used to make, well.. sort of. In as much as I follow any recipe.
Last night was the first time I tried baking it so it go all nice and crusty on top. IIRC, mom used to use Ritz cracker crumbs and french fried onions on top. I used a mix of sharp cheddar and seasoned cereal crumbs. I use seasoned cereal crumbs instead of panko for most panko uses. They bake up nice and crispy, usually are fortified with vitamins that don't completely cook out, and they keep as long as need them once I crush up the cereal and season it.
I also let her try a piece of the turkey I was cutting up to mix into Mike's and my mac and cheese and asked if she wanted some. She said yes, so I mixed in some turkey. It was a hit. I'm getting closer step by step.
She still thinks cooked veggies are nasty, so I made two separate casserole dishes with mac and cheese in them. The bigger one for Mike and I had frozen peas in it, and she just ate raw carrots with hers.
I was talking to a friend about how to get kids to eat veggies recently. Her son dislikes them intensely. So I started thinking.. see.. getting my kids to eat veggies has never been a problem because it's never been optional. They have to at least try everything, but if they don't like it, I have raw alternatives on hand. This is because when I was a kid, my parents tried to force me to eat brussel sprouts. I *hate* brussel sprouts. I'd coat them with cheese, make loud gagging noises and complain bitterly up until the time I decided I just wasn't going to eat them. My parents told me I couldn't leave the table until I finished them. When mom woke me up at the table the next morning for school, she gave up and never tried to force me to eat something I hated again.
There it is.. my kids have always HAD to eat veggies, but I don't force feed them veggies they don't like. I give them alternatives. That helps somewhat. Another thing that helps since E has been old enough is making soups with her active participation from shopping for them on up. She will eat a lot of things she wouldn't usually if she chooses to put them in soups and she likes brightly colored soups. So it's one way to get her to eat things like tomatoes.
William loves food. He doesn't like some fermented foods, but other then that, I haven't found much he won't eat. So the veggie battle with him was convincing him "Yes, if you eat 2 lbs of carrots every day for as long as you like, you WILL turn orange so please don't."
I've camouflaged veggies for children I've babysat. Shredding spinach into meatloaf and that sort of thing, but I really prefer not to. It does work though. Spinach goes well into meatloaf and hamburgers and I still cook my pot roasts in vegetable juice. Veggie juice is one of the easiest ways I've ever found to get kids to eat their veggies. With the right seasoning, it makes a quick marinara like sauce for ramen noodles, a virgin mary made with vegetable juice and zapped for a minute makes a quick tomato soup to dunk cheese sandwiches in.
Another great way is gardening. Let kids grow their own veggies or take them to a U pick it farm and kids will generally eat stuff they harvest with pride and happiness.
A bag of frozen peas and carrots that's seasoned and then dehydrated enough to be crispy but not super hard makes a snack food that both my kids will eat happily. Get some sesame crackers and nuts and make your own trail mix with veggies mixed in.
Spaghetti squash is a LOT of fun for kids to shred, with E, she will happily eat spaghetti sauce on spaghetti squash if she got to shred it after I cooked it. I will never bake one again though. Mike wouldn't eat it baked. It got a bit slimy in parts. Piercing it and simmering it works best for us.
Mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes is pretty much the standard in my family now. I have a recipe for mashed cauliflower in free mini cookbook
I'm not really sure what do with a kid who's had the option not to eat veggies from the start. We aren't vegetarians because it's just easier to use to manage a balanced diet in our budget with meat, but we do eat a lot of veggies. So all my suggestions sort of count on a kid who grew up with vegetables in their meals.
Do you have any suggestions for getting kids to eat vegetables?
Well.. today I'm going to crochet myself a headband using some of Paton's silk/bamboo blend.
And try really hard to get rid of my current earworm. Mike's had What's New Pussycat? stuck in his head. I've had UFO Phil's Listening Coast to Coast and his Aliens Really Stink stuck in my head.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flirty Aprons

Flirty Apron Swap has just the cutest aprons. Really. You can find her Etsy shop here

Aprons were originally used to protect clothing while you cooked and did other things, and since people are starting to realize washing clothes every time you wear them is hard on clothes and bad for the environment, they should be getting really trendy again soon. Her aprons are so darn cute though would you want to whisk them off just as company arrives?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cupcake box and Facebook page


I made a page on Facebook that I post my updates to BellaOnline and this blog on if you're interested in becoming a fan, you can find it here

I spent most of today writing reviews on Amazon, but I wanted to get a box posted. E and I talked about ideas, and she thinks I should draw a combination of the evil duck and good bunny that are sort of family jokes. She said "A Dunny!", unfortunately, without context, that means very little. So we talked a bit more, and I decided while I was deciding, to draw a cupcake. So here's a little cupcake decorated box. I hope you like it! As usual, click on the image for the full size version.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Evil Eye and DIY or Die




With that title I feel like I should launch into Seussian rhyme.
I've always loved eyes, and I've used them a lot in personal things like bouncing eyeball screensavers and my crocheted eye-pod so of course I love evil eye jewelry. I also love tessellations and beads.. you can see where this is going right?

Click on the image to get the full size pattern. The DIY or Die bracelet pattern.. same thing, and that doesn't need any explanation right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Making yogurt using a freeze dried starter culture

Well, it's been about 8 hours. The package said it would be set in 4, but I had my doubts and it wasn't. That's fine, generally working from plain yogurt for the culturing it can take 8-12 hours to set.
It's set up nicely, and it smells wonderful. I didn't follow the package instructions exactly because well.. generally I won't. So here's how I did it.

Yogurt using Yo'gourmet Freeze Dried Starter
7-8 cups of 1% milk
1/2 cup instant powdered milk
2 5 gm packets of the starter

Dissolve the powdered milk into the milk, and bring to a light boil, turn down heat and keep at a simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool to lukewarm. Pour a little bit of the lukewarm milk into a non-reactive container (glass or ceramic), I use a white ceramic casserole pan I can cover with a plate. Mix the starter into it and stir to get the lumps out and make sure it's dissolved. Pour in the rest of the milk and stir it up well.
While you're doing that, stop your sink and run very warm water in it. Just about "Nice hot shower" temp does nicely. When it's about 2 inches deep, turn off the water and put the yogurt container into it covered with a plate or lid if your container as a lid. Every so often during the day, stop and check your water temperature, if it's cool, take out the yogurt container without peeking or stirring, and refill the sink up to 2 inches with more warm water,then replace the yogurt container. After about 8 hours, check it by tilting the dish and seeing if it's runny or firm set. Firm set, it won't move but may have some whey on top. That can be poured off or stirred back in. Put it in the fridge.

I'm actually not sure how much milk I used. I just saw how much was left in the gallon in the fridge, and asked E if I should just use the rest. I used a measuring cup after to measure how much water to make it up to the milk line in the pan. 7 cups is a safe bet, it may be 8. I've used organic milk in the past, but it's one of those choice things, you know, those awful choices that people trying to buy ethically have to make? The local dairy gets most of their milk from local farmers, farmers who were about to go out of business when the last dairy closed. They are making a conscious effort to use a much higher amount of local milk then the last company did. Some of those farmers are certainly organic, some aren't. The focus they make is *local* and with our population base, there just isn't enough demand for a local produced organic milk for it to pay the farmers to switch. So.. we had to choose. Organic milk shipped in across nearly a country and a half or locally produced milk that wasn't completely organic and comes in plastic containers. We decided on supporting our local farmers. Which is more information then you needed, but there it is.
The freeze dried starter isn't pure cultures, it's cultures, vitamin C, skim milk powder and sucrose which is a simple sugar.
Going off the nutritional information on the packages and guesstimating because I didn't measure stuff out, you're looking at probably about 2 gms of sugar per 1 cup serving and somewhere around 125 calories. Which makes it a really healthy food since it will have calcium, vitamin D, C and A. If you use non-fat milk, it will have 20 calories less per serving.
We are going to flavor some chocolate and mix it with a blackberry puree and put it in ice pop molds as a summer treat for the kids. Some will wind up in smoothies which is the big reason I have to make a lot of yogurt, and I'm going to mix some with butter and see if I can come up with a buttery spread that will come out of the fridge soft enough to spread but have less fat and still taste good to my family.
All in all, I'm pretty happy with the freeze dried culture, and it's minimal packaging. I do recommend getting it from the net though for the best pricing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Geek Beading



I've graphed a lot of geeky things through the years. Mostly comic book related. This set is probably the geekiest though. Amulet bag and bracelet pattern. As usual, click the images to get the full size patterns. The bracelet is in odd count peyote, and the amulet is in tubular peyote. I hope you like them.
My daughter picked the colors for the amulet bag.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Peace Symbol Coloring Page


I'm playing with that braid technique still and drew this, you can use it for embroidery or coloring. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Wild Roses



Wild roses are one of my favorite signs of summer. Since I've got the original black them, being able to find them when we are out walking is nice. I was working on a braid for a box just to see if the technique I'd worked out for them would work and wanted another element for the box.Yesterday while I was walking to gym I saw a wild rose and snapped a picture of it with my phone, and when I got home, I used the photo as a model to draw one for this box. I hope you like it. As usual, click on the image to get the full sized version.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Miniature Book Page

This time I did them in pretty close to exactly 1/12 scale.

The text in the cookbook which has 3 recipes. Fried rice, hot chocolate mix, and mashed cauliflower.

The new book page is here

I also added a bread baking e-book in my Etsy shop. You can find that here

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