Saturday, January 31, 2009

Babies are busy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today I made veggieburgurrs. Not Homestar's recipe, but quite tasty all the same.

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

2 large eggs

6 scallions, both white and green parts, minced

A handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1 whole head of garlic, roasted

1 jalapeno, roasted

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 teaspoons honey
Juice of one lime

Coarsely chop the garlic, jalapeno, and 2 cups of the black beans.

Add whole beans and remaining ingredients.

Form into patties.

Chill in refrigerator.

Fry in butter about 5 minutes per side.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Read my blog? Get 15% off at my etsy shop 8pm tonight (Thursday) til 8pm tomorrow night (Friday), my time (est).

Maybe you need a necklace

or a doll

or a bowl

or a purse.

Just place your order as usual, add a note to seller that you read my blog, and I'll refund 15% of the item price.
Look who got a new camera.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Jon's brain works very differently from mine. (Shocking to anyone who knows us, I'm sure.) He can spin shapes around and deconstruct them in his head in a way that totally baffles me. When that skill leaks out of the mental and into the physical there are some very cool results.

Friday, January 23, 2009

(photo by Dagny)

More from Dagny's self-portrait project. (With special guest appearances from Andrew's hand and Evilynn the pesty kitty.)

The yarn on the niddy-noddy in the second picture? She made that from this.
Remember Charlotte and Vendetta and the fabulous Mr. Milk? Now you can watch their TV show online.
Rowan and Dagny weren't so impressed with these, but Jon and I like them a lot. They're good plain, but I add some jam for extra yum.

Brown Sugar Muffins

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I recently watched To Be and To Have, a documentary about a one room school in rural France. The teacher is obviously well-intentioned and seems to care very much about the children he's responsible for on a day-to-day basis.

Me being me, though, I was struck most by how alive the children seem when they are doing something meaningful and how dramatically they shrink into themselves when forced to do something they have no interest in.

There's a heartbreaking scene where a very tiny boy visiting the school cries for his mama, but the quieter heartbreak of another boy being made to color was equally disturbing to me.

The casual quality of this conversation was also very striking for me:

Student: We don’t give the orders, you give them sir.

Another Student: Yes, but when we grow up, we’ll order our children around.

Teacher: Exactly! Maybe you’ll be a teacher one day too. You’ll order your pupils around. Would you like that?

I remember wondering when I was a kid if I saw the same thing other people did when we saw a color. As time has passed I've come to wonder more and more if I see the same thing other people do when we see a child.
Having made granola for myself yesterday, I don't think I'll ever buy it again. Completely easy, and you can tweak the flavoring in whatever direction you'd like.

The recipe I found called for pecans. I say I don't like pecans, but to be honest I don't like the way they look so I've never tried them. I've been getting a little more adventurous in the food department lately, though, so I may give them a shot next time I'm faced with one.

My nut of choice (other than my family members, of course) is Trader Joe's Cinnamon Almonds, which seemed like a good flavor to bring to the mix.

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1 pinch salt

1. Mix everything in a large bowl.
2. Spread the mixture onto a baking pan.
3. Bake in a preheated 300F oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes.

I used maple syrup from Matfield Maple Farm, the flavor of which has me licking my fingers whenever I use it. We'll be tapping our own trees this year thanks to them. Not only do they provide delicious syrup, candy, and sugar, they're generous with information and advice. We have two enormous Maples, and Jon did a small-scale experiment with tapping one of them a few years ago. This year we'll do both.

One note on the recipe: For my oven, at least, an hour is too long. I took my granola out at 45 minutes, and I think a few minutes less would have been ideal.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We tend to name things in our house - furniture, rooms, everything gets a name. The Gun Room pretty much named itself, but over the years it morphed into The Office. These days we're finally transforming it into a craft studio. So far we're still calling it The Office, but in my head (a noisy, busy place) it's The Atelier. I like to do what I can to keep it pretty in there.

Dagny and I started painting yesterday. She and Rowan chose the color - Golden Rod. It's a bright room, with good-sized windows on the eastern and southern walls, and I think the yellow suits it.

We've got lots of ideas and lots to do, and for me designing the room will be as much fun as actually using it. Dagny and I want this turquoisey blue to make its way into the room somewhere, as it looks quite pretty with the yellow in that studio. I'm thinking probably on the shelves Jon just found out he's building for me. He's nice like that.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

I have a big folder of recipes to try. Today Dagny seemed in need of some chocolate, so I pulled out one I've been saving since last August, when someone sent it to the Live and Learn Conference yahoo group. Apparently it comes from the Sweet Potato Queens, who I am not familiar with, but hey look, through the magic of technology, here's a site. Gotta love the intornets.

After eating it, Dagny said she felt like a person who had been denied food for her whole life and was finally given some. Well, then.

Chocolate Stuff

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
2 heaping tablespoons Hershey's cocoa powder
1 running-over teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 300.
Beat the eggs. Add sugar, flour, and salt.
In another bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Add the cocoa.

Add the butter/cocoa to the other ingredients and mix well.
Add the vanilla.

Pour the mixture into a loaf pan, place the pan in another pan with an inch or so of water in it, and put the whole thing in the oven.

Cook for 40-50 minutes, or until the top feels crunchy. Don't overcook - you want the top to be crunchy but the rest of it to be gooey goodness.

I think it would be amazing on ice cream, but Dagny says it's perfect straight. Either way, if you're making it for more than 3-4 people, I'd double the recipe.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I tried posting this over at RUN, but I didn't get any responses, so I thought I'd try here.

We ended up with two copies of a couple of books. We'd like to give away the extra copies, and we're willing to mail them anywhere in the US or Canada. I'll send them separately or together, to the first person who comments asking for either or both.

The first book is Where the Heart Is, by Billie Letts.

The second book is Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, by Lynne Jonell.

Both are new and paperback.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

You can see where they get their good looks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

We've got a couple new recipes we're liking a lot.

I can spend forever in front of a chocolate counter deciding what to get, but in the end it always comes down to caramels. So I've begun a hunt for a good caramel recipe. (Hmm, maybe the amazingly talented people at Skinner's Sugar House would share theirs...) What I'm going for is the classic chocolate covered vanilla caramel, but since I've never made any kind of caramel at all I just picked a recipe and gave it a shot. These aren't chocolate coated, but after tasting them I'd say they'd be delicious dipped in chocolate, and I'll try that next time I make them. They're smooth and creamy and overall yummy.

1 cup heavy cream
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (we had kosher salt, so I used that)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

1. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, then lightly oil parchment.
2. Bring cream, butter, and fleur de sel to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and set aside.
3. Boil sugar, corn syrup, and water in a deep, heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling pan, until mixture is a light golden caramel. (took about 20 minutes)
4. Carefully stir in cream mixture (mixture will bubble up) and simmer, stirring frequently, until caramel registers 248°F on thermometer. (took about 1/2 hour)
5. Pour into baking pan and cool at least 2 hours. Cut into 1-inch pieces, then wrap each piece in a 4-inch square of waxed paper, twisting 2 ends to close.

The cooking process took about an hour, which is a long time to be at the stove, but I had a stool and my computer and a Rowan to keep me entertained.

One thing I learned is that tin foil is not a good substitute for parchment paper. I had a hard time peeling it off in places and lost some of the caramel. (Believe me, every effort was made to avoid this catastrophe. It was only when I realized that I was coming very close to cutting off a finger that I finally gave in to the inevitable.)

The other recipe is for a dinner. It's delicious. Jon and Dagny completely flipped over it. If you read it and it sounds good to you get the ingredients on your next trip to the store. You won't be disappointed.

Serves Two

1 Large, ripe tomato (2 cups roughly chopped, 1 1/2 cups blended)
1/2 Cup Raw Cashews
1 Tbs Tomato Paste
1/4 Cup Water

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2-4 Cloves Garlic, minced, optional
6 Ounces (ish) Whole Wheat Spaghetti
1 tsp Salt (edit: upped from 3/4!)
2-3 Tbs Wine or Water, optional (we used
Marsala wine)
1-2 tsp Freshly Cracked, Coarse Black Pepper
1 Large Handful Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil.

Core the tomato, then roughly chop it. Add it to your blender, seeds, skin and all. Add cashews, tomato paste, and water. Blend until very smooth.

Add olive oil to a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until golden, being careful not to burn. Once water is boiling, add pasta. Pour sauce from the blender into the saute pan and bring to a simmer. Add salt and let cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If desired add wine/water to thin out the sauce. Taste and season more if necessary. Let simmer until pasta is finished cooking. Once pasta is cooked, drain. Add pasta to the saute pan with black pepper and freshly chopped basil leaves. Toss to coat. Serve immediately, garnishing with more pepper and basil.

The recipe serves two, so Jon played with the amounts. I asked him for specifics: He used 4-5 tomatoes, "3 handfuls" of cashews, ''a lot" of garlic, and the rest is, believe it or not, even more vague. He also threw in 1/2 an onion, and I think it was a good addition. **I've been corrected. Jon says he used 8 cloves of garlic. **

These are from a self-portrait project Dagny's been working on. (Translation: Oh, so this is where my camera's been for the past couple months.)

I love her.