Summer Eats


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It’s Saturday and I finally had a chance to cook the chicken I purchased last week on sale at Whole Foods.  i cut the chicken into 10 pieces.  I got the 10 pieces by cutting the breasts in half, and have the back in the freezer for stock.  I took the cooking technique from Christopher Kimble of Cooks Illustrated by making a brine for the chicken and allowing it soak over night.  You can also brine the chicken in the salt solution for an hour, and for overnight use less salt.  The brine solution will make the chicken more tender and also adds flavor.  I also added some cornmeal to the flour to make crust crisper along with some thyme, Spanish paprika, cayenne pepper and salt.  I fried the chicken in batches so that pan is not overcrowded because you will not get a crispy crust if the pan is crowded as the chicken will steam and not fry.  I also put a cover over the pan for five minutes so that the inside of the chicken can cook.   I liked the end result, and here is another tip, you can also soak your chicken in buttermilk for a couple hours for a tangy and tender fried chicken.  Fried chicken should take 15 to 18 minutes to cook and remember that your internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  Off I go to enjoy this chicken and some corn on the cob.  Ciao for now!

Another Hobby and is Nesting a Bad Thing


I mentioned in my previous post entertaining the idea of canning some produce from this summer after reading the Whole Living article gave me the inspiration to can and preserve. It goes to the idea of being green by not wasting food, becoming more self-sufficient (a more powerful word to me than independent), and having control over what goes into my food. The idea of canning and preserving really entered into my mind after reading another article in the August issue of Eating Well with recipes two brines and eleven pickles to try. The pickle from the Eating Well is for refrigeration for up to a month, but canning would the process to use for pickled foods that can last up to a year without refrigeration. So today after coming home from work, I walked to Ace Hardware store (it is about three blocks from where I live) and purchased a dozen one-pint Ball canning jars. Upon asking the sales associates about the canning jars, she asked me if I was from the South and I told her no, but my parents are from there. She mentioned not many people up north (technically, New Jersey is a border state and there are parts of South Jersey that painfully remains of scenes from the movie Deliverance, but I digress). However, I think with the DIY movement in the country brought on the resurgence of knitting and sewing, the idea of conserving by canning and preserving, and baking bread (which is cheaper than buying a loaf from the store); this recession has gotten people re-prioritizing their values about what is important, and the reality is saving money is a part of that value.

I went to the bookstore a couple of days ago and finally picked up a copy of "How to Sew a Button" by Erin Bried. The book has a chock full of information for being a more self-sufficient like our grandmothers and mothers were before technology came along. The book covers everything from how to make blueberry pancakes to shining shoes to entertaining. She has a section in the book of how to make your own beer explaining that the process of beer making is simple to do and a kit should cost around $65.00. I am interested in how to make a good vodka martini (I hate gin). The book has good information and a joy to read because there are some funny moments along with the instructions. More importantly, the book is about having more control over your life and who does not want that.


The last thing I am going to mention is that I signed up for a class that celebrity event/wedding planning David Tutura from "My Fair Wedding" is teaching "How to Become an Event Planner". I am looking forward to attending the class this coming Tuesday. I do not know if I want to become an event planner, but within my job responsibilities, I work three to four events a year and think improving on that skill will help me in the long run. I am going to stop blogging for the evening and enjoy this cool summer breeze coming through my window with a good night sleep. Ciao for now!

Sunday Afternoon and Learning about Canning


I wrote in my previous post that I was entertaining the idea of canning and preserving food after inspiration from Whole Living’s July/August issue. I was thinking something along the lines of peaches, plums, tomatoes, and maybe my own fruit jam. This idea also made dig up my copy of "Canning and Preserving for Dummies" for more detailed instruction of how to can and preserve. The article does give three different canning and preserving recipes, one of which is sour pickles. I am interested in canning tomatoes and making plum jam. The cost for the canning and preserving supplies is between $40 – $80 for a complete boiling-water canning set including the boiling-water canner or similarly deep pot in way of lobster size. You can get the supplies at hardware stores, supermarkets, or Amazon.com or Freshpreserving.com. It is good to note that jars can be reuse, but the flat lids are one-time use only. I think it is great that you can give your preserves as gifts. I am going to make a trip to Ace Hardware store that is about three blocks away for my apartment (love having stores within walking distance) to see if they the canning supplies I need. Of course, making a trip to the farmer’s market for tomatoes, and plums is forthcoming. It is good to keep in mind that before using the jars, you need to sterilize them in hot water even purchasing them for the first time. If you have a dishwasher with a sterilizer component, then you are good to go, if not, having a deep pot of boiling water will work just as well. This is my little lesson in canning, but have more to learn and finding how easy it is do. It is a bit time-consuming and does take up space on your counter, but it is worth doing because you have control of what you are eating and it is great to have tomatoes during the winter months to make sauces and soups.

There are other methods of canning and preserving, but I think the boiling-water method Is the one for me at the moment. There are the drying and freezing methods I probably will learn later on down the line, but I am going to start growing herb inside my apartment. I am going to start out with growing basil, thyme, and rosemary for starters, then branch out with growing parsley and sage if I am successful with growing the first three and if I have enough space on my windowsill. There are many things to do with so little time in which to do them. Ciao for now!



Some Book Reviews and Photo Laden


Visiting the book is one of my favorite places.  I love books, a love affair that began from the first my mother brought me a book and a set of World Book Encyclopedias.  Those books are expensive even when my mother purchased a set over 35 years ago.  I also had a subscription to Highlights, Jack & Jill, Ebony Jr., and personal favorite National Geographic that gave me a great curiosity for the world and other cultures, but I digress.

I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday and today, and purchased some magazines and three books that pique my interests.  I went there to buy the book “Tranquilista – Mastering the Art of Enlightened Work and Mindful Play” by Kimberly Wilson.  Wilson is a teacher, writer, do-gooder, entrepreneur, and eco-fashion designer.  She is the creative director and founder of Tranquil Space, yoga studio in Washington DC, and has a website Kimberly Wilson where you can read her blog, listen to her podcast, and shop online with her clothing line TranquiliT.

The book is about starting a business and living the life you want.  I am in the process of reading the book, but find it very informational thus far.  However, I love reading her blog and listening to her podcast, it’s about creativity and inspiration.

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Another little jewel, I picked up at the bookstore is a baking book by Erin McKenna entitled “Babycakes – Vegan, Gluten-Free, and (Mostly) Sugar-Free Recipes from new York’s Most Talked-About Bakery.  I first had a vegan cupcake while celebrating a co-worker’s birthday a few years ago, and thought it was one of the most sumptuous cupcakes I had in my life.  Who would have thought that a baked good without dairy could taste delicious.   One problem, the bakery is hard to get to.  I went the bakery one day after work because I wanted a cupcake, and it was a half-hour walk.  I thought was going to walk into the east river at one point.   It was worth the walk, but not something I would do frequently.  Now, I have the cookbook where I can bake those cupcakes and other baked goods from the book.  Who knew that you could make chocolate and velvet cupcakes, and sandwich cookies gluten and dairy-free.

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My next book is a knitting pattern book called “Knitting 24/7 – 30 Projects to Knit, Wear, and Enjoy, One the Go and Around the Clock by Veronik Avery.  I admit that I have a soft spot for purchasing knitting and crochet books as well, and the photography in this book is great along with some nice patterns to knit.

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I love this mitten pattern, but really the cape she is wearing.  I wonder if the cape can be translated into a knitting pattern?  I think the bookmark is beautiful and practical, who could have thought to knit one. 

It was way pass my bedtime due to an interruption of a telephone call earlier that cause to prolong the writing of this post a lot longer than anticipated.  I have more photos, but time is my enemy.  I hope to get another necklace done within the next two weeks.  Ciao for now!

A Little Project While Watching TV


I came home from work today with a couple of things on my mind.  One, making a salad from the Chocolate and Zucchini blog, chicken and radish salad with creamy avocado dressing, second, making the cinnamon sparkle necklace by Fusion Beads

I have to watch what I eat because the doctor told me that LDL levels of my cholesterol are a little high, and my blood pressure is borderline.  So the best way to correct this problem is to make changes in my diet.  This means reduce foods that are high in cholesterol and salt, and I find cooking my own food helps significantly because I control the fat, salt, and food.  This salad that for for me.  It is loaded with minerals and vitamins (if you eat right, then you do not need to take supplements), and I added baby spinach and cucumbers to get in more veggies.  Avocado is loaded with fiber, potassium, and vitamin E plus the good fat to raise my HDL and help lower my LDL.  The salad also tasted good, although I not include the anchovies into the recipe as I did not have any one hand.  I will be making this recipe again and it is really good for using that roasted chicken you may have cooked on Sunday.

Mid-Weel Dinner 002 My second project is a necklace that I have in my to make for a couple weeks, and I finally got all of the components today to complete the project.  It took about an half and hour to string the cinnamon sparkle necklace.  It cost under $25.00 to make and Fusion Beads as the instructions and supplies to make the necklace.  I have to say that I love Swarovski crystal pearl beads.

 

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Well it is time for me to go to bed, wake in the morning to wear my new necklace.  I am looking forward to the morning.  Ciao for now!

It’s Thursday and What a Week


I had quite a week starting with getting sick over the weekend with a chest cold, and my allergies kicked in which caused more problems on the health front.  The arm of my reading glasses came off when the screw loosened (my glasses are two-years old), this means getting a new pair with this pair being the back-up.

There were so good notes this week with finally finishing this bracelet, and a little bit of a back story.  I had the supplies for this bracelet a couple of weeks ago, and ran into a problem by cutting the wire I needed too short.  I started over only to realized that I lost one of beads which probably is in some landfill by now after sweeping the floors.

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On the yarn front, I went Purl Soho today to purchase at size an 2 24in circular needle, but the way my luck has been going this week I could not find one.  So I walked around the store and noticed Casade’s ultra prima cotton yarn and the colors were fabulous.   I picked up a couple of skeins of the forest green which is a very vibrant with a nice sheen.  Now I have figure out if I want to knit or crochet the yarn into something.  I am thinking about a cowl, but wondering if I should use a lace stitch.  I am going to my stitch dictionary and find a stitch to create a pattern.  This color spoke to me even if green is not my favorite color.

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I also picked up some groceries during my lunch hour as well as the yarn shopping.  I have to watch my blood pressure and cholesterol, so I made a recipe for the June issue of Body and Soul Magazine with healthy salad redos.  I made sardines with a boiled egg on romaine lettuce, croutons, and lemon and olive dressing.  I could not find any croutons, so I used cheese sticks with parmesan cheese.  I drank a glass of soy milk as I needed to get some calcium and other vitamins.

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Spring is in the Air, Tree Pollen, and other Things


Yes I do love Spring, but it does not love me much.  My allergies are in play this year with itchy and watery eyes, itchy and running nose, throat is itchy, and sneezing.  They peak in the mornings and nights, and it is time to make a visit to the doctor’s office because I have a feeling that they are going to be bad this year.

I finally made my spring necklace today.  I purchased some jump rings for the bail component so that the leaf pendent lay front on the necklace.  It does not look like the original project from the Bead Style March issue, but it does have the spirit of spring.

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I made a trip to the post office on Saturday to pick up a couple of packages of products I ordered.  I order a book on knitting design, and a couple of hanks of yarn to knit a pair of stockings.  My yarn stash consist of projects I have in the basket.  Knit Picks has some yarn at reasonable prices and patterns for $1.99 from independent knit and crochet designers.  This is my first ordering from Knit Picks, the yarn costs me around $14.00 and I think the yarn is a nice quality for the price.  It is a merino wool and find the yarn soft as I rubbed on my skin.  Now it is a matter of me getting to working on the project.

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I purchased lemongrass and sage soap and body scrub from Pampered by Adrienne.  I smelled the scent before opening the box and was excited because I found it refreshing.  I loved the packaging and will look forward to using these products.  Just in time for Spring.

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I picked up some mussels and white wine to make mussels in wine sauce and pasta.  I really enjoyed this dish after a day of running errands and my jewelry making class.  I have a couple of books to review, but will write about them in another post tomorrow.  However, Ciao for now!

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Some Finds


This past week, I stopped by Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of Nicky Epstein’s “Crochet Flowers” (I will get her Knitted Flowers some other time), and saw the new book “The Handmade Marketplace” by Karin Chapin on the shelves.  Needless to say, I purchased the book as well and glad because of the all the information about how to sell your crafts locally, globally and online along with inspiring stories from some people of the craft world like Amy Karol of the Angry Chicken Blog, and Jenny Ryan contributor blogger for Craft Magazine and Apartment Therapy.  If anyone is thinking about starting a side or full-time business with your goods, I recommend this book.  This book also provides information on how to advertise and marketing your business, creating an online newsletter, teaching a class, and how blogging can drive business.

Now confession time, I have subscribe to at least 200 blogs and listen podcasts while working.  I get to find out some great stuff in the crafting arena.  I came across this website while reading the Handmade Marketplace, the Blonde Chicken Boutique.    Tara, the owner sells colorful eco-friendly yarns, but she also provide others with information about running their own business.  I love her site.

I came across another blogger turned author.  Cathy Erway is blogger and her blog is called Not Eating Out in New York – Consuming less and eating more.  Cathy lives in Brooklyn and blogs about her home cooking other experiences.  The book has recipes and writes about her committment of eating sustainable foods in New York.  This discovery led me to another foodie find called Working Class Foodies on Food Nation TV.  It is a brother and sister living in New York teaching how to cook on a budget.  the videos are very instructional and easy for any other who wants to cook a great meal on the cheap.  The working class foodies also have a facebook page.

I started knitting about five years ago, but really got into it over the past three years with wanting to go beyond the scarf.  After all this time I finally bought Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Knitting Without Tears”.  I think this reference book will make me a better knitter and allow me to create my own knits.  It is not that I do not like the patterns that are out there, but there is nothing better than creating your piece hanging in your closet and saying that this is my creation.

I did not really do much cooking this weekend, just a simple fish with cheese grits, but thinking about cooking a mushroom ragu with poached eggs and polenta, a recipe from the working class foodies during the week.  I think I have written enough this evening and will write, Caio for now.

How I Hate My Oven


My weekend has not been a very successful on the cooking and health front.  Co-workers continue to come into the office with colds and flu thereby making others to suffer by passing on it on to others.  I am a victim of a cold.  I have not had a cold since August, which by the way is the longest time for me.  I spent a three-day off weekend with a cold downing NyQuil, and spending a good portion of time in bed.

Now getting to the rant about my oven, it came with the apartment I moved into five months ago.  The problem is that oven needs to be calibrated as everything browns in ten minutes, and the inside reminds uncooked.  Yesterday, I was baking a buttermilk vanilla pound cake from a Cooking Light recipe.  The recipe is enough for five 5 1/2 by 6 1/2-loaf pans, but I managed to make two bread loaf pans.  I put the oven at 350 degree and came back to check on it in 15 minutes with the outside completely burnt and inside uncooked.  I did not even preheat the oven.  I am angry because never burn a cake in my life and consider myself a very baker as a good cook.  I am especially angry at the fact that the most expensive ingredient that is the butter went to waste.  I was planning to bake bread, but am woeful that the oven will burn that as well, I am going to purchase a digital temperature to gauge the true over temperature and will have to calibrate hoping that it is capable.

I suppose all was not lost, having managed to catch up with my blog and book reading.  I need to finish reading a book before returning it to the library on Thursday.  I tried to extend the borrowing date, but it is on hold for another person who wants to borrow it.  Apparently, “The Evolution of God” by Robert Wright is a popular book to borrow and with good reason it is a fascinating read about how religion has evolved throughout human history.

I also had an idea in my head about skirt that is shaped like a tulip at the bottom.  The idea came from reading the Crafty Chica blog, she found an article “Plus-sized Clothing Myths debunked”.  I am trying to imagine how would balance with someone such as myself who is bottom heavy.  I suppose it could the tulip shape is not too wide and has inverted triangle.  Well it will be something to sketch out this afternoon.  Ciao for now.

 

Cooking on Superbowl Weekend


 

I had a productive cooking weekend due to impending snowstorm that bypassed my area, but it was cold nonetheless and having food for the rest of the week makes my life a little easier.

On Saturday, I made beef barley soup with a price tag of under $10.00.  The only two ingredients I needed to get for the recipe was the chuck stew beef and celery, everything other ingredients were already home waiting for the beef to arrive.  I made a pizza with anchovies for lunch, and was going to make bake a couple of loaves of classic white bread but decided to make that project for next weekend.

Today, my father came to my house with two packages of cut lamb shanks.  I thought it would have been whole, so I created my recipe of braised lamb with tomato sauce.  The recipe consisted of me flouring the cut lamb shanks and browning them, removing them from the pan, and sautéed a large onion, five cloves of minced garlic, tsp. of thyme, tsp. of fennel seeds, two bay leaves, two 15 oz cans of chicken broth, and a 28 oz can of tomato puree and cooked the sauce for about 10 minutes.  I placed the shanks, cut carrots in a roasting pan, and poured the sauce over the shanks.  I covered the pan with foil and placed on a baking sheet and into an oven 300 degrees for about an hour.  The temperature is depended upon your oven, but everything cooks in turbo speed.  I also made quick and easy dinner rolls and the recipe is at cook’s dot com.  As you can see from the photo, I ate one.

I went to the library yesterday in the midst of all this cooking and borrow a book by Barbara G. Walker titled “Knitting from the Top – How to make perfectly fitting sweaters, skirts, pants, capes and ponchos: start at the top, try on, adjust, block and sew up as you go”, could the title have been any longer.  The has old styles, but it is more about learning the technique as the author really shows you how to design and construct your knitwear.  Well, this is my weekend.  What did you do?  Ciao for now!

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Braised Lamb with Tomato Sauce

Last Night’s Dinner


I mentioned in my earlier blog post about making the  Swiss Chard Mushroom and Quinoa salad recipe from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I finally made it for dinner Thursday night.  It is a nice and easy dinner to make that take less than an hour to cook.  I think you can change the grain if you do not like quinoa with barley or burglar wheat.  The only thing that is missing from the recipe is parmesan cheese which I did not  get any, oh who I am kidding I forgot to buy it.   You should be able to find the recipe on the Martha Stewart website.  Enjoy your day!

Sunday and Braised Red Cabbage


Yesterday, I made the easy tamale casserole and today it was the braised red cabbage from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I had to make one adjustment to the recipe.  I do not own a dutch oven pot (they are so expensive and need to find one at a good price), so I cooked the braising liquid in a three-quart pot, cut the cabbage into the wedges, placed into a roasting pan, poured the liquid and covered with foil.

clip_image001 Even with the adjustment, the dish did turn out well and tasted good despite everything in my oven cooks quickly, so the 45-minute time does not mean very much in an oven with a mind of its own. The recipe called for taking the liquid into a pan and reduce it down to a cup that should take about 10 to 12 minutes making a sauce for the cabbage.

It is a good recipe to cook and thinking about making the stuff savory cabbage and kale and roasted-potato salad.  There is another salad that I am going to make during the week with a modification.  It is a swiss chard, mushroom, and quinoa salad, but am substituting the swiss chard for baby spinach.  Well the new name is baby spinach, mushroom, and quinoa salad. I am thinking that this braised red cabbage dish can go with corn beef or spicy lamb meatballs.  If you want to eat less meat, then making a lentil stew could go with the cabbage dish as well.  I am going to sign off and read an article in the Winter 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting.  Ciao for now.

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Cooking on the Weekend


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With making some resolutions of becoming healthier this year, I decided to that, it would be best to do menu planning and create a grocery list. Actually, menu planning and creating shopping lists has a dual purpose. One purpose that is compiling a weekly menu plan and shopping list gives you control of the food that you are eating, and the second purpose is that it is a great way to control your food budget because a person can easily spend a lot of money at the grocery store without a list. I decided to use coupons, purchase sale and store brand items. Whole Foods has some great store brand products, and buying a gallon of low fat milk for $1.89 is a better bargain than buying Organic Farms for $3.89. You can do the math. Whole Foods has budget recipes on its website that can further stretch your food budget. You still get organic food without breaking the bank. There are certain foods that is not organic and relatively safe to eat because those foods little pesticides like bananas, sweet potatoes and corn. The EWG has a list of produce ranking from worst to best for pesticides.

Getting back to my weekend cooking, I made an easy tamale casserole from Whole Foods budget recipe list. I had to make a couple of adjustment with the recipe due to the availability of ingredients. The recipe called for rancheros beans, a product of Whole Foods, but the store was out of stock and use its refried beans produce as a substitute. Another substitute was the cornbread and muffin mix, again out of stock, so I just made cornbread from scratch. Actually, making the cornbread from scratch was cheaper since I had the ingredients home with the exception of buttermilk (will be making buttermilk pancakes on Sunday). As the name suggested, the recipe was easy to make and easy to freeze for later meals during the week, and very pleased with results. 

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I mixed green chilies into the cornbread mixture and perhaps the next time will add some Monterey Jack cheese.  I am going to make sauté kale with garlic as a side dish.  That means it is time to stop blogging for the moment and continue with my weekend cooking.

Summer Cold, Julie & Julia and other Going Ons


It has been a good while since my last blog entry.  The last time, I was on vacation with the flu and making chicken soup.  As I write this post, I am recovering from a summer cold and my third cold this year.  I do not what it is this year about I have been getting a lot of colds this year and it can be attributed to my asthma.  My eczema is returning and wonder if it is from the rice I have been eating (I am allergic to rice).  Fortunately, I have my cream to combat the eczema.

I am going through the process of moving.  Yes, I am finally moving September 4 to a new apartment.  It is a smaller space and think I can manage it because I need to live a little simplier with the idea of maintaining my hobbies such as knitting, crocheting, sewing, and cooking.

Speaking of cooking, I managed to see Julie & Julia over the weekend and thought it was a delightful movie.  I loved Meryl Streep as Julia Child and Stanley Tucci as Paul Child.  Amy Adams has a fine performance as Julie Powel, the writer who decided to cook her way through Child’s classic cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”.  I purchased the cookbook after seeing the movie along with Powell’s Book “Julie & Julia, my year of cooking dangerously”.  I always wanted to have french food and know that going to a restaurant is not an option, but I solve that problem by cooking it myself.  Child’s book does not have pretty pictures, but it is more than a recipe book insofar it gives you very good instructions on french cooking methods.  By learning those methods, you can take them cook just about anything else.  There is a part in the book where Child gives instructions on how to make canned green beans taste better, so she really makes it easier for the home cook.  However, you can find fresh green beans just about any supermarket in the country.

I have always had an interest in cooking from a child and thought I would have my chance in my 6th. grade home economics class which turned out to be a great disappointment.  The only thing we made in home ec was macaroni salad with tuna and cheddar cheese chunks, and I did not consider that cooking.  Boiling pasta (in which the teacher did and not the students) did not seem challenging enough for me.  I ended learning how to cook on my own by watching my grandmother or cooking shows where Julia Child was one. 

I am in the process of losing weight and perhaps purchasing Child’s cookbook does not seem like such a good idea considering butter is the enemy these days.  However, eating a balance meal is something we have abandon a long time ago along with not cooking our own meals.  I found that when I cook my own meals, I use less salt and butter, and watch my portion control.  I would rather eat  have a 4oz steak cooked with a little butter with sauteed spinach and baby carrots, than eat a Big Mac meal.  The former would have less calories and better tasting.  During the 40s and 50s, I noticed in many movies during that period, bowls, plates, cups and glasses were much smaller.  Everything is supersized in our culture that we are not really savoring good food.

Hump Day


With the pending holiday weekend, I have to work ahead at my job and that means things are little more stressful than usual.  I am combatting that situation with continuing to eat as healthfully as possible and reducing any additional stress.  I have been a little lax with crochet project and have not completed handsewing the leaves to my scarf, but with the long holiday weekend, I think I can find some time to do it.  With my crochet project, I managed to get the second decrease with the first piece.  I have to make crochet four additional pieces and getting excited.  This is my first crochet cardigan and would be nice to have a spring/summer sweater.  I still have to start my niece’s graduation sweater and probably will finish it before starts the fall semester.  She is attending a college in state, so I will still see her.  I wanted to mentioned a website that I used to keep track of things from craft projects to recipes.  It is called Springpad It which I read about in a Real Simple blog entry a few months ago.  I have this knack for writing something down once, and remembering it for that point on and do it with telephone numbers.  I rarely look at a telephone number after the first, particularly if it is a number that I am going to dial frequently.

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Before the leaving the house today, I picked up a book that I have not read in a while and thought it was a good time to read it again.  The book is “Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  I find this reading that goes along with my hobbies of crocheting, knitting and sewing because these activities are about being still and in the moment.  You are paying attention in a world where multi-tasking seems to be an everyday norm.  Mindfulness is not about forgetting, but fully aware of the what is going on around you and there are times when I need to do that.  Sometimes, we can lose sight of everything that goes around us, but there is a time to reconnect and reengage before it passes us by.

On that note, I think it would a good moment to end this blog post for the day.  Enjoy your day and remember wherever you go, there you are.

Spring and Summer Projects


I wrote in my blog entry the other day about starting another sweater project, and will tell you that I had unraveled it at least four times before getting the texture stitches I wanted. After re-working, I finally like the stitches and now continue the process of doing the first section of the sweater. I have been laxed in the sewing and for some reason do not understand why I cannot get into gear to even cut out the fabric. I know once I get started, I will be able to get into a roll and may not want to stop. There are times when I do become obessive on working projects that day will turn into day before making the realization that I should perhaps stop and take a break. I will work on something for hours whether it’s knitting, reading, cooking or having a political discussion with someone.

As I am working on my current sweater, I am wondering what to make that will go with it. I have fabric to make some skirts and summer dresses, but need to get to them. It probably would a good idea to become a little more structured with creating a schedule to work on my projects. I know that it may should like a job, but knitting and sewing are things I enjoy doing and it is worth the effort to do some time management.

Another goal I have on my mind is getting healthy. It is time to make that routine visit to the doctor. I need to go to the doctor and talk to her about mediciation for my allegries and asthma. However, I want to get my blood sugar checked as well. I have a genetic predisposition to diabetes and want to see where I stand. With that note, I need to watch what I eat. I am bringing my lunch to work with my these days and keeping a shopping list of things I need from the supermarket. Most of all, is the need to get eight hours of sleep which I do not seem to achieve on many nights. For some reason, I wake up at 5:30am during the weekday, 7am on Saturdays, and 6:30am on Sundays. Every night, I tried going to bed around the same time 11p. I think if I change my eating habits and exercise, better sleep may come for me.

I saw the new Butterick summer patterns, but nothing really jump at me saying sew me. Although, I could make some changes and create something different than what the pattern calls for. I make changes to the crochet and knitting patterns like place different collars or sleeves. It is another thing to think about. Enjoy your day.

Happenings throughout the Day


Now, one would think that situations you see in in sitcoms only happens on sitcoms.  A few minutes ago, I received the strangest call.  It was from a wireless phone that I did not recognized.  I picked up the phone and the person asked for Jeri Harmon who I happened to know.  I thought what are the odds of receiving the wrong phone number and the person he or she is asking for you you know.  However, as it turns out, Jeri gave the person my telephone number because she does not own home phone number.  Of course, I take down his telephone number to give to Jeri so she can call him.  I have unwittingly become her answering service.

On another note, I stopped by one of my favorite health foods stores in New York City.  There are times when I drink soy milk and use it for smoothies.  There are times when I take a break from drinking milk. Bell Bates is the name of the store, and they have good prices on health food.  I buy a pound of rolled oats for $1.99 and it’s last me at least a month.  I also pick up raw nuts like brazil, pistachios, and walnuts. Flaxseed to put in hot cereals or smoothies, amaranth and quinoa as alternative to rice because I am allergic to rice (and means all rice).  I do not understand why I am allergic to rice, but I know it’s just weird.

I wanted to share a muffin recipe that make a great snack, and a great way to sneak veggies into the kids.  I made it a few years ago, and liked it.  It’s from Better Homes and Garden, do not worry I am not like Cindy McCain and pass off recipes as if there were mine, lol.  I know that the buckwheat might sound too earthy for some, but adding the cinnamon and orange juice will give it a nice balance and taste.  Well, it’s time to turn off the lights and call it a night.  Good night everyone!

Three B  (Buckwheat, Blueberry, and butternut squash)

Ingredients

  •   Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1-1/3  cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4  cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4  to 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2  teaspoon baking powder
  • 1  teaspioon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 2  eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1  cup mashed cooked butternut squash
  • 1/2  cup fat-free milk
  • 2  tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
  • 1/4  cup orange juice
  • 3/4  cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  •   Rolled oats

Directions

1. Spray twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper bake cups; set pan aside. Combine the all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

2. Combine the eggs, squash, milk, oil, orange peel, and orange juice in a separate mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in blueberries.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each almost full. Sprinkle with oats. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the muffins are light brown. Cool in muffin cups on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

Three-B (Buckwheat, Blueberry, and Butternut) Muffins

Entering the World of Burda?


A few weeks ago, I wanted to see all the excitement about Burda Magazine.  I have been reading blogs and sewing pattern review with people talking about creating clothes from Burda Magazine with patterns that comes with each month.  I decided to inquiry about subscribing to the magazine, and so I received a free May issue magazine yesterday in the mail.  Now I see what the excitement is about.  It’s a very trendy (in a good way) and stylish fashion that would be the envy of all your friends.  I like the accessories article in the magazine, and seeing all of the new sunglasses that would make you glamorous for the summer.  Of course, tracing a pattern will probably seem a little foreign to me, but I probably will figure it out and check the Yahoo group Burdg English to get some ideas as the best way to trace.  I think it’s also worth the $80 to subscribe because you get a lot of patterns with each month.  Of course, one may sew everything in the month, but it’s nice to choose from an array of patterns.  I will start out with a six-month subscription, but committing to a year.

I picked up the new Belle Armoire Art to Wear – May/June issue.  There is an article about Joan McGowan, owner of White Lies Designs and author of Knitting with Style.  I love her designs and how she manages to knit and creates style for all women from 2 to 32.  There is another good article about making hats, nice flapper-inspired hats with a modern flair.  I also have my summer issue of Interweave Knits to see all the knit designs.  There are times when I wish I was independently wealthy and not work again, then I can stay home and knit, sew, and do other creative projects.

On the changing my eating habits front.  I managed to transition from drinking soda to drinking tea and juice and milk.  Yes, I drink juice and milk because they are packed with nutrients like vitamins, calcium, and antioxidants which soda does not have.  I do drink water, but not eight glasses because tea has water as I do not use sugar, milk is made up of 80% of water and fruit juices as well.  Since, I eat more fruit and vegetables, they are packed with a lot of water.  I make sure that I eat breakfast if it only means me picking up yogurt with fresh berries and granola on top, and eating an oz of nuts mid-morning.  I am also intentionally having vegetarian meals two or three times a week, and adding fish into my diet at least three times a week.  Once, I have a regular eating routine, then it’s on to exercise.  I am walking for the time being, but need to add things like weight training and pilates or yoga into the mix.

Where I guess that’s all I have for today.  Have a good day everyone!

New Arrivals


After a day waiting to come home a nice bowl of mushroom bisque soup, I received a couple of packages.  My sewing machine and the new version of MAC’s OS Leopard.  I just had to take the sewing machine out of the box to look at it, and at the same time installed my software.  As you can tell that my desk is not exactly tidiest, but it is my organized mess.  I think the machine is good buy and can not wait to break in for that new sewing project.  I went to bookstore yesterday and purchased the magazine from Threads entitled Quick Stuff to Sew (Craftstylish) and it has a compilation of various projects to create from garments to home decorate projects.

I will be spending the weekend reading the instructions, testing out the new machine, playing with the new features on Leopard and continue my baby blanket knitting project.  I am thinking about cooking a nice meal since it is a three-day weekend for me, so I am going to get out the slow-cooker for a nice chicken with tomatoes and cannelloni beans.  I got the idea from listening to Nigella Larsen the other talking about having a great meal in a short time.  Her new cookbook is called Nigella Express which he recipes are demonstrated on the Food Network show with the same name as the book.  It is true that good meal should take hours to prepare.

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Let’s Party!


Tonight after work, I am heading out to a cocktail party at a friend’s house, and am bringing the cheese.  What a wonderful way to spend New Year’s Eve with friends at home.  I think it is great to have a cocktail party with drinks and fun appetizers such as baby back ribs or lamb lollipop chops.  The ribs comes with its own stick in which you can hold in hand and drink in the other.  Food on a stick always work for me at cocktail parties with an assortment of cheeses and fruits.  One does not need a great deal of money to have a fabulous party at home.  If you are a vegetarian, you can always have appetizers such as different types of hummus, spiced nuts, or make a flavored popcorn.

I think champagne or sparkling wine is always great for a New Year’s Even cocktail, and you do not need to purchase the most expensive sparkling wine.  In fact, you can find some nice sparkling wines for around $15.00 and it’s always fun to even try the rose or pink sparking wine and there are even some red sparking wines from Australia.  Do not be afraid, the person at the wine store can help you with choosing a sparking wine within your budget, and may be surprised that you can afford champagne with beer budget.