Friday, October 31, 2008

Do You Have a Drooling Problem?

I've got just a few short hours to get things organized before the Halloween mayhem starts. I'm in denial. At least the candy has already been bought and the costumes are more or less figured out. Can you tell I'm not a huge Halloween fan?

Here's the bib I just finished making for my new nephew using the pattern in Mason Dixon Knitting (The pattern isn't on the blog, it's in the book). I decided to add a border around the edge which made a simple pattern a lot more complicated, thanks to a lot of tangly yarn.

I decided to go the whole distance and make a matching burp cloth, also from a pattern in Mason Dixon Knitting. Here they are together.

I really like the color combination. It felt like a very fall color choice. I just enjoy knitting things and trying to personalize them to their intended recipients. I really hope the people I give them to enjoy using them. I think the worst is when people think the hand knit things you give them are too "nice" to use. (Dish cloths often fall into this category.)

Now I'm off to make some caramel popcorn using the recipe in The Tightwad Gazette.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Have You Got a Stinky Gas Smell in Your Car?

Not flatulence! I'm talking about that delightful experience of having gas splash back on you as you're pumping gas into your car. It seems to happen every few years. Usually it's the clothes that get the gas smell but this time it was the car itself. Jim must have had it on his shoes as he got back into the car. We didn't notice a problem until the temperature went down and he started using the heat. Suddenly the car stank like gas.

After some mechanical checking, he determined it wasn't a mechanical problem which led me to the conclusion he had gotten gas on the floor of the car. I sprinkled baking soda liberally all over the driver's side floor and seat of the car and let it sit for a day. Then we covered the seat, leaving the baking soda underneath, and Jim drove the car to work yesterday. I figured the baking soda needed to be there while the heat was turned since this activated the smell.

The result is no more stinky gas smell! Although now we need to find time to vacuum the baking soda off the floor and seat of the car.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Proper Care & Feeding of the Oral Surgery Patient

Things are finally getting back to normal. Tasha went back to school today and Leenie is on track to go back tomorrow. They lived on soft things like yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal and pureed versions of our regular meals. My mom & dad brought them ice pops, more ice cream and some homemade pumpkin muffins. Last night they graduated to nibbling on non-pureed Chinese food. They looked like bunnies as they chewed with just their front teeth!

Yesterday, while they convalesced, Jim, the boys and I escaped the sick ward and headed into the great outdoors. Actually, we were just in the front yard doing yardwork that should have been done months ago. There was a small section of lawn/flower bed alongside our deck stairs that needed help. It was just a hilly mess with dirt falling over the side.

I kept telling Jim not to worry, I had a plan to fix it without buying anything but I had my doubts that it would actually work. My thought was to use the extra sections of red edging, turn them on their sides and stack them to creat a mini retaining wall. Imagine my surprise when it actually worked and looked good too!

The scruffy grass needs to be trimmed and the dirt mess in the front will be covered later today with patio pavers. Which leads me to another outdoor project, finishing fixing the front path. Every year the grass sort of overtakes the path and we have to dig the pavers out. Jim's also trying to reposition the pavers to make the slight hill less of a wintertime death trap.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Come On Give Me a Big Toothy Grin!

My daughters would both shout "NO" if they could only open their mouths wide enough. We spent the day at the oral surgeon's (two different ones because the health care system in America is in fact broken. The girls were having two different procedures. One fell under our medical insurance, one under our dental and naturally no oral surgeon in the area accepts both. I guess I should just be grateful I have insurance to bitch about.)

I'm spending the weekend on soft food duty. So far the girls are living on homemade yogurt and oatmeal. We'll see what else I can come up with.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You Can't Use It If You Don't Know Where It Is...Or What It Is

Bulk spices from our food cooperative generally come in one pound foil bags. I use them to refill my spice jars and store the extra in the freezer. The problem is, when I run out of onion powder, I have to did through all the foil bags until I find it. This aggravates me to no end and sometimes results in multiple bags of the same spice being bought, which aggravates me even more. As an added bonus, they don't stack well and often fall out of the freezer at inopportune times. It's time for a change.

I've gathered up some one quart canning jars, some used canning lids (am I the only loon who doesn't throw these out?) and some canning rings. I like the canning jars because the color of what's in the jar will give me a clue that the foil bags couldn't. They also won't absorb the aromas of the spices. Is glass in the freezer a good idea? I'll leave that to each person to decide. I'm just not letting the younger kids touch them.

The goal is to get all of the spices from the foil bags, into the jars and back into the freezer. Ready, set, go!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Since the Oven Is On Anyway...

There's a tiny bit of blue peeking through an otherwise gray sky this morning. Although it's not as cold as it's been, clearly fall is here and winter is nipping at her heels. I don't think I'm mentally ready to say goodbye to the final reminders of summer like CSA pickups, the food dehydrator and the canning supplies.

The thing I do like about the colder weather is the way cooking just feels like a natural part of it. The woodstove warms the majority of the house while the food cooking warms the kitchen.

I cooked the first acorn sqaush of the season last night along with some of the last corn of the season. The seeds from acorn squash can be baked the same as you would pumpkin seeds. I always hate trying to seperate the stringy orange goo that holds the seeds together. I pulled out the big bits but gave up on the smaller, harder to grab ones and just tossed them onto a greased cookie sheet, tiny orange bits and all. In the cooking process the orange goo dried up and largely disappeared. I'm definitely going to try that again.

I'm sure I broke some culinary law but I put the seeds and the squash in the oven at the same time (on different baking sheets) at 350 degrees for an hour. Half an hour into their cooking time I put in the corn on the cob in a covered 9" x 13" pan into the oven. (Ok, actually it's a 9" x 13" pan with a cookie sheet covering the top but it works!) The oven was full, and therefore less wasteful, plus everything was done at the same time which is always nice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Odds & Ends

I just finished knitting two more pairs of mittens from scraps. They're currently in the washing machine felting away as I try to get caught up on laundry. There's never a shortage of laundry to be done around here even though the girls do their own.

I feel like I've accomplished very little today aside from laundry, finishing the mittens and spending almost two hours sorting out a problem with my antivirus software. Maybe that's enough for one day though. Sometimes we all need a break, especially after the circus that was our weekend.

Jim and I spent Saturday closing the cabin down for the winter. Since it was our first time, we knew it would take a bit longer than future attempts but we were totally unprepared for the eons each small task took to complete. Of course it didn't help that there was a huge amount of general cleaning to be done. You can't leave a crumb anywhere or mice move in. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. The moral of the story is, make sure you really leave plenty of time for trying new tasks and it helps to have really flexible babysitters. (Thanks mom & dad!)

Sunday was spent in a frenzy of outdoor activity with the whole family pitching in. Weed pulling, trim painting and lawn mowing (done by Rob with a manual mower) all got done.

There's been a lot of talk about depression era and war era cookbooks on several lists I belong to as people look to trim their food costs. Here's one that is free to download. It's called Foods That Will Win the War. Although I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, I like this one because it's free and it goes into details about the time. I really love culinary history.

Before I print out a copy, I intend to delete the recipes I will never use to save some paper (there goes the entire meat section!) I also intend to change the margins for the same reason.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Your Dishwater is My Broth!

Maybe I've finally gone round the bend but yesterday it occured to me, as I finished the leftover Thai Noodles that Leenie had made, that all that leftover peanut sauce stuck to the side of the bowl was going to go to waste. Granted the waste would be pretty minimal, but still it was waste. (Leftover leftovers?)

As I pondered the best way to rescue this residue, while at the same time questioning my own sanity, I put up a kettle for tea. When the kettle boiled, I decided to pour some into the bowl (it was metal) and whisk it around to get the residue. The result was about a quart of really tasty broth which I used in last night's lima bean stew. I was so inpsired, I even tossed the rest of the cheeze sauce from the weekend into the stew, rinsed the bowl and threw that "broth" in as well.

Thinking back, it seems so logical. I always put a bit of water in the jelly jars and give a shake to get the last bit of sweetness. I usually toss it into pancakes or something similar. I do the same with ketchup, tomato sauce, salsa...come to think of it, I do it with just about every container. Why hadn't I thought of it with serving bowls before?

Well now I did and we're both smarter because of it! I guess it just takes plunging financial markets to get my thinking cap on correctly. One warning, your significant other may not be as inspired by your brilliant use of leftover leftovers, no matter how tasty the end product is. I knew my kids would be grossed out by my tale but I was unprepared for the grimace Jim made as he pleaded with me to say no more. Geez, I even waited until bedtime before I tried to share. It's okay, you can tell me about it. I'll still think you're brilliant. It will be our little secret!

Happy Weekend to All!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vegan Macaroons are Marvelous!

Courtney asked if the macaroon recipe I mentioned in my last post was really vegan. I swear on a stack of PETA leaflets, it was. Actually, I've only made vegan macaroons. I'm not even sure what the non vegan part would be. (I'm guessing eggs but I don't care enough to do a google search or open a traditional cookbook.) I'll share the two macaroon recipes that I've used.

The first one comes from No Cholesterol Passover Recipes:
Festive Macaroons I
Makes about 20
2 cups shredded coconut
4 ripe mashed bananas
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients together and form pyramids on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. These are the ones I tinkered with this weekend.

The second recipe is my personal favorite. It comes from Simple Treats by Ellen Abraham. If you're looking to impress, this is the one to use.
Coconut Macaroons
Makes about 18
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs barley flour (I use whole wheat pastry)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups shredded toasted coconut (toast raw shredded coconut in 300 degree oven for 10 minutes on ungeased cookie sheet)
8 pitted dates (I've also used 8 Tbs raisins or chopped dates with good results)
1/2 cup Sucanat or other vegan sugar
5 Tbs water

The short version of the cooking instructions are this. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put all dry ingredients into food processor. Give a whirl. Add coconut, dates and sugar. Whirl until the dates are all chopped and the mixture starts to come together. Add in water through top while running just until a ball forms. Drop spoonfuls and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 16-18 minutes.

If you increase the sugar to 1 cup and add 1/2 cup of cocoa powder she calls these Coconut Chocolate Chews. They are just sinful!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What Can You Make With THAT??

We spent this weekend relaxing in the Adirondacks after picking up our CSA share Saturday morning. Aside from slowing down and taking some time to enjoy the beauty of the fall weather and each other's company, the challenge of the weekend was how to make yummy meals out of the very limited food staples left in the cabin.

I did make a run to the grocery store for salsa, tortilla chips and salad dressing (I know, I'm ashamed to admit the salad dressing but supplies really were that low!) I only had chickpeas and red lentils so most meals revolved around them. In addition to the bounty of the CSA share, I had oatmeal, flour, sugar, maple syrup, cheap pancake syrup (I didn't buy it but I couldn't bear to throw it out), shredded coconut (doesn't that sound exotic compared to everything else?), bulgur, homemade cheeze sauce mix, a little chickpea miso and a very small amount of quinoa. What could this become?

Saturday evening dinner: An oniony chickpea stew
Going by memory, which is often dangerous but necessary when you've left your cookbooks at home and have no internet access, I chopped up several leeks and began to make onion soup. To this I added, chick peas, green beans, red peppers and that tiny bit of quinoa. It was not long after that I discovered my lack of tamari. I used miso instead and it worked out nicely.

I attempted to make biscuits to go along with this, also from memory, and this did not turn out well at all. I used too much baking soda (I had no baking powder on hand) and they were salty. YUCK!!

I roasted corn to go along with it, which was lovely. Finally, I made the cheese sauce in case anyone wanted it on their biscuits or if they wanted a dollop in their soup. I was pretty sure there was a slight after taste to this recipe so I sauteed some red peppers first and then poured in the cheeze sauce mix and water. It worked very well.

Dessert seemed important, especially since I discovered my daughters' friend was going to join us. I did have a cookbook in the house that had a simple macaroon recipe. I didn't have the cocoa powder it called for but I did have some homemade cappuchino mix that the girls had forgotten about. I gave it a try and the results were very good.

Sunday morning breakfast: Apple pancakes, home fries and baked chickpea scramble
Everything in pretty self explanatory in this meal except the baked chickpea scramble. It amounted to some chickpeas, a tablespoon of maple syrup, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of salt baked along with the home fries.

Lunch was of the mundane pbj variety if eaten at all. We had all slept late and breakfast had been eaten at about 11:00am.

Sunday evening dinner: An oniony chickpea stew redux!
I didn't want to have to tote leftovers home so to this end I chopped some kale and placed it in the bottom of a greased baking pan. I topped this with the leftover chickpea stew. The I cut the leftover corn off the cob and added that as well. Next, I gave Jim a choice, Sesame Ginger salad dressing or cheese sauce on top. He chose the salad dressing. A smaller batch of chickpeas was mixed with the last tiny bit of salsa and baked as well.

Toasted bread with cheeze sauce and a green salad rounded out the meal. Jim made the right choice because the dressing made the leftovers delicious.

In that one cookbook there was also a pudding recipe. It called for 3 Tbs of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of maple syrup, which I actually had, but it also called for cocoa powder. Did I dare try the cappuchino mix again? I figured I didn't have much to lose so I did. The leftover macaroons had gotten soggy so I broke them up into crumbs and tossed them into the oven to crisp up. The pudding thickened beautifully, which is always a challenge when using soymilk. I served it with the macaroon crumbs on top. This was a stunning success.

Monday Morning Breakfast: Apple pancakes, home fries and little breakfast burgers
Again the only real explanation required comes with the breakfast burgers. It's just all of the leftover chickpea dishes mashed together with oatmeal thrown in to bind it all together. I formed them into little burgers and baked them.

Not to sound redundant but...Lunch was of the mundane pbj variety if eaten at all. We had all slept late and breakfast had been eaten at about 11:00am.

Monday Evening Dinner: Turkish Red Lentil Stew and bulgur
Once again I worked largely from memory. I used the last of the ketchup in place of the tomato paste the recipe calls for. I also used the last of the red peppers.

The pudding had been such a big hit and there was just enough vanilla soymilk left, so I made vanilla pudding. By this time I had run out of maple syrup and pancake syrup went in its place. I also toasted the remaining cup or so of shredded coconut. When the pudding was done I added the coconut. Jim, who is a huge coconut custard pie fan, was in coconut heaven.

By the time we left, the chickpeas, maple syrup, shredded coconut, quinoa, cheeze sauce mix, salsa, tortilla chips, and homemade cappuchino mix were gone. And so ended our frugal food weekend at the cabin. What creative cooking is going on in your kitchen?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Where Do You Fit in the Frugal Universe?

As more people have begun to look for ways to save money, I've been pondering the many faces of frugality. I've even heard someone besides myself tell their kids, "no, we can't afford that." Some use coupons, some bargain hunt, and some just quietly cut down on the nonessentials. A few I've encountered are just ignoring everything and spending just like always.

Then there are those who go for pure function in their frugality. You wear what's warm regardless of how it looks, you find new uses for what you have (asthetics be damned), you eat what you grow, you get really creative with pantry staples and if you don't have it and can't afford it you do without.

I was trying to figure out where I personally fit in these categories, that exist only in my head I should mention! It seems we're closest to the pure function folk. After all, I spent a part of yesterday cutting out boxer short pattern pieces from my husband's old shirts. But then again, I'm not a fan of going out of the house looking like I'm wearing scraps from the rag bin. If that sounds as ineloquent to you as it does to me, I apologize.

Perhaps what I'm trying to express is, in addition to being vegan and frugal, I'm just a regular suburban mom and wife. I slide between both communities, because let's face it, they don't always comingle, even in a college town like the one I live in. I think I do a pretty good job blending in either community and I think, for me, that's the best way to spread the frugal veggie word, as it were.

People see me as that slightly odd, eclectic mom. You know, the one who knits and sews at swim meets and practices. I'm that one who's always making something. I'm also that one who always packs a cooler full of vegetarian food for swim meets because we don't eat hotdogs. (People are always shocked that we don't eat hotdogs. They are the armpit of meats in my opinion.) Believe me, I don't fall below the radar at all, but then again, I look very average.
No one is going to pick me out in a crowd as someone who shops in a thrift store or makes/remodels some of her own clothes.

I think that's the crux of what I'm trying to say. Too many people I meet think that being frugal and reusing everything available to you means you're going to be wearing something that looks like the scarf in this link. I guess my goal in life is to show people that's one option but it's not much harder to blend if that's your personal preference. I enjoy the challenge of making things look like their store-bought counterparts or better.

What about those times when my project is a bust? I try to look at early attempts at a particular project like the first pancakes off a griddle. They might look ugly, but they still taste good and you won't be hungry after you eat them. My first attempts at dishcloths were ghastly, but they still cleaned dishes and later dishcloths were much better. My first hats were a little too big, but they still kept my sons' heads warm. My first boxers had one panel of fabric cut out backwards but it didn't stop Kyle from wearing them proudly (he even asked me to bring them to the hospital when he was allowed to wear his own clothes.) Ask yourself honestly, are the flaws that you see in your own projects even visible to others?

I think the fear of trying something new can be debilitating. This is where the support of our internet community is such a benefit. I know if I can do this stuff, you can too. Why not share some of your goals or pictures of some of your finished projects? What are you doing or planning to do to be more frugal this winter? Do you have a great link to share? Come on and share, you might be somebody elses next great resource.

And before you leave, go visit Ruthie's blog and check out the great article she posted. Now I'm off to cut more boxers...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Falling Into the Rhythm of Fall

Today the kids are off and we've embarked on a general cleaning and food preservation spree. There are a ton of apples cooking down on the stove. The rest are in the food dehydrator. Cuban black beans simmering in the slow cooker. Tomatillo salsa is simmering away awaiting the addition of cilantro. Some of this salsa will be used with the Cuban black beans for dinner tonight while the rest will go into the freezer for a special wintertime treat. Later on I will tackle the many beets that have begun to accumulate in my refrigerator.

The swirling smells of apples and salsa are a fine complement to the whirring of the vacuum as we try to keep the dog hair at bay. Throw in a little music and we're making some good progress and having a pretty good time.

This is the time of year to sip your coffee and get yourself organized for the winter. My goal is to make most of the things that we'll need for winter. I'm already on my third pair of scrap yarn mittens. What are you doing to get ready for winter?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Watch This

This is my sad little watch band. The little loops that hold the band in place fell off months ago. It didn't stop me from wearing it but I suppose it's not a very elegant look. Then, to my horror, it started falling off because of the lack of loop support. What could I do??

I kept waiting to stumble upon a watchband at a thrift store but it was not to be. Yesterday inspiration struck compliments of Threadbangers Blog. If you scroll down on the right side they have a list of "learn how to make..." I clicked on macrame bracelet or necklace. Suddenly I knew I could solve my watch band dilemma using what I already had on hand (a wise idea considering the economic turbulence going on).

I dug into my sewing box and came up with black and white elastic cording. I wanted something I could take off when I showered so elastic seemed like the best choice. I began following the instructions when I discovered the band was too thin. Another go round through the sewing box revealed a thicker elastic. I opted to use this in the center and the thinner ones on the sides. The center one essentially just acts as an achor for the other two to wrap around.

Once it was as long as I wanted, I attached the face of the watch by threading the thicker elastic around the pins that held the original watch band in. After knotting everything behind the face of the watch, I sewed the thicker elastic in place and used it as a case to hold in the smaller elastic ends. Here's the result.

Now I don't pretend that this is a tutorial. If what I'm suggesting doesn't make sense go to the original Threadbangers tutorial, it's very clear.

What other creative frugal ways have you solved problems like this one?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Thank You Peter Brady?

Isa's post yesterday immediately called to mind my childhood as she remembered Peter Brady saying, “Pork chops and appleshauche, porkchops and appleshauche…” However when I was done reminiscing, and it did take a while, I remembered that the combination of pork chops and applesauce was quite good. Could it be that seitan really would work as well? Isa seemed to think so.

First let me say, Isa's recipe is probably seven billion times better than what I did but in spite of this, I was pretty pleased with the results. Also, I would never have come up with this in a thousand years if she hadn't written that post. So go over there and try hers, I'll join you when all my kids move out.

I was intrigued by her mention of using chickpea flour in place of nutritional yeast. I never thought of them as substitutes for each other. I figured what the heck and gave it a try. I used the very much simplified seitan recipe from Veganomicon as my base recipe. Holy cow, that is the simplest seitan recipe I've ever seen and it tastes great. Jim liked it much better than any of the other versions I make. I confess, I did bake my seitan for 1 1/2 hours at 325 degrees in a covered pan. I just like the texture so much better using this method.

Once my seitan was cooking, and warming up my once chilly kitchen, I pondered my next move. I had plenty of apples but with kids I walk a fine line. Did I dare include ginger? In the end, I opted to just chop 6 appples and simmer then down into applesauce. I added nothing to them because they are some of the tastiest Cortland apples I've ever encountered. BTW, I always leave the skins on the apples.

For a side dish, I chopped some onions, and carrots and sauteed them in olive oil before adding some bulgur. I served this along with a mixed green salad, probably one of the last of the year, compliments of our CSA.

Serving is important around here since the need to segregate food on the dinner plate is still a priority to some of my kids. I opted to put the applesauce next to the seitan rather than on top but I urged everyone to combine with reckless abandon.

The reaction was mixed as everyone came to the table, although I saw a gleam of recognition in Jim's eye (perhaps he too was channeling Peter Brady.) Once everyone got over their initial suspicion, the meal was a big hit. I'm definitely filing that one away for future use.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Scrambling For an Answer?

Breakfasts on the weekend are a bit of a celebration around our house. Jim and I like nothing better than to sit down to a leisurely hot breakfast complete with pancakes, scramble, smoothie and coffee. If you're wondering what a vegan scramble might be, ponder no more. I'm here to solve the mystery.

A scramble might be very reminiscent of the scrambled eggs you remember from your childhood. If that's what you're looking for, try the Scrambled Eggless Eggs recipe from How It All Vegan. This recipe uses medium tofu and will satisfy your scrambled egg craving.

What if you're not fooled by close fascimiles of non-veg favorites? Then try something totally different to round out your big breakfast. Chickpea scramble is one of our favorites.

What if you've got some leftover beans and some leftover veggies that you want to use up? Toss them into a hot frying pan and cook them until crispy. Add some seasonings (a tablespoon of maple syrup, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a tablespoon of tamari go a long way towards making any scramble breakfasty) and you're good to go.

Just yesterday I combined leftover greens with sweet and sour sauce and leftoverFennel Bulb Navy Bean Soup, added the maple syrup combination mentioned above and cooked until crispy. It made a yummy addition to our apple pancakes and apple straawberry banana smoothie.

In short a scramble can be anything you want it to be. What's your favorite?

Friday, October 03, 2008

Soup's On!

Check out my new friend. The boys watched him for hours the other day. They even got to see him pounce on and then leisurely eat a giant fly.

The temperature started to drop yesterday and the wind picked up a bit. It's really starting to feel like fall. I celebrated this by making split pea soup last night. Although split pea soup is one of those simple recipes that is always a hit around our house, I'm always looking to get it closer to my pre-veg version. You know, the one with the ham in it.

I know liquid smoke is supposed to do the trick but I've never bought the stuff. I've tried adding bits of seitan with pretty good results. (I find baked seitan works best.) Last night I didn't have any leftover seitan so I decided to try a little tvp.

While my cast iron frying pan was heating up, I tossed in:
3 cups dry tvp
3 cups of water
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
about a tablespoon of tamari
several squirts of ketchup

I stirred this together and let it cook until it was dry and a bit crispy. You'll notice that the inspiration for this is once again drawn from Russell's Sausage recipe (which I'd link to but I can't find. Ruthie where is it???)

I served it sprinkled on top of the split pea soup, although a few food purists in the house demanded that I serve it on the side. (I can't stand the "I don't like my foods touching" phase of childhood.) Everyone liked the way it came out. I've got to store that one away for future reference.

The CSA pickup last week had mixed greens in it. The flavors were too strong for salad and initially I was at a loss. I think making greens palatable is such a challenge sometimes. Oddly enough, I don't include kale, collard and swiss chard in this. My family is already very willing to accept them. Perhaps in time, the mixed greens will join that list but in the interim, I still had a problem.

I opted to make sweet and sour sauce. I use the one in The Compassionate Cook for inspiration. I mixed it in the bottom of large Pyrex bowl and then put the chopped greens on top. I covered the bowl with a plate and microwaved it long enough to wilt the greens. Next, I tossed the wilted greens to distribute the sauce on the bottom. The result was some very palatable steamed greens. BTW, I didn't use any thickener (ie. cornstarch, arrowroot or flour). I didn't think it would work out well the way I was using the sauce.

Happy almost weekend to everyone!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Useless Bits Turn Fabulous with Felting

This is part of the pile of yarn pieces that I mentioned a while back. On the left side there are two balls of what looks like multicolored yarn. Actually, I've been knotting the small pieces together making two nearly identical yarn balls.

I gave this mitten pattern a try because it looked simple, had no gauge and I already had the double pointed needles needed to do it. I was really skeptical. There were knots everywhere and I couldn't imagine that felting was going to help much. Plus the mittens looked huge, even though I knew they would shrink significantly.

To actually felt them, I just threw them in with the 3 laundries that I did one day. That seemed to work out well because they shrunk down enough to fit my hand. I spent some time trimming the loose ends but here's the finished product.

I'm pleased with the way they came out. They are definitely thick, warm and a great use of little yarn pieces. The pattern on them is a result of the way I tied the yarn pieces together. The knitting pattern was definitely an easy one to follow. Best of all, the knots are barely noticeable in the finished product, although, I plan to pull all the knots through to the inside of the mitten on the next pair I make.

So now I'm putting together the remaining yarn bits for the next pair.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

It's All Leenie's Fault...

She's been pestering me to read Twilight for a long time. I finally gave in and started it Thursday evening. Next thing I knew I was a Twilight junkie. I had to know what happened. I had to read more. By Monday night I had read all four books in the series and those books aren't short. Thankfully, I'm a fast reader.

So I confess, I haven't been blogging because every spare minute of my time has been filled with the saga of Bella and Edward. Now that they have their happy ending, I can return to my productive life.

Just for the record, since my daughter tells me these things are important among Twilight fans, I hate Jacob and Edward should have bit Bella and turned her into a vampire three books earlier.

images added by eileeeen :] !