Shawl

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Originally planned for my sister’s wedding (I ran out of time), I’m wearing this today at my cousin’s wedding over two years later. To be fair it’s been done for almost two years, other than blocking it. I was 5/6th done for my sister’s wedding, but it’s hard to craft and also plan something on that scale.

This is my first attempt at lace. I think that I need to try again!

Bread

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Just some cracked wheat bread. It’s made with molasses so it’s really dark. This might be my favourite texture yet for homemade bread. Plus it’s a good way to use up some of my kasha. I made it before going to work the other day which was just cruel as my apartment smelled of freshly baked bread and I needed to run off before I could eat any. So I had some when I came home. I’ve been eating it with my pickled cheese. Divine! The second loaf is now in my freezer.

Leg warmers and thigh highs

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These are my leg warmers. I knit them on a train in January whilst traipsing around on my Sister tour. I saw both my sister and sister-in-law and took a lot of trains to do that! So I made these to pass the time. Plus, it was a cold winter. It’s always nice to have some extra layers in such weather!

imageThese are my thigh highs. Loosely based on rugby socks I was really just trying to use up some odds and ends in my yarn stash. It’s why the feet don’t quite match. They fit well though. And seeing as we’re on day whatever of freezing rain I’m very thankful that I can add these to my layers of leg protection!

In case you’re wondering why the feet are weird they’re both stirrup-socks at their base.

Pickles!

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A co-worker if mine told me about this a few weeks ago and I’ve been longing to try it ever since. So I found a recipe! Marinated soft cheese is originally a Czech bar food that doesn’t seem to really exist outside of that region. So of course that meant that I had to try it. I figure that it’s a great use for those cheap supermarket camembert wheels. One wheel fit perfectly in this jar so I’d say so.
I’m not yet sure how it tastes. It needs to marinate for four days. I’ll be sure to provide an update when I find out!

I also made pickled eggs. I’d never made them before but I do love a good pickled egg. I can picture them being a great thing to bring on picnics this summer.

UPDATE: Four days later. Pickled cheese is AMAZING. Because I’m classy I put it on Triscuits because I’m classy like that. It is definitely something that I’d love to have around all summer, which means that I’ll just have to keep making more. I can see why this is a bar food, but I believe that it would also be delicious on those warm summer evenings outside with friends – those evenings when the days are so long that after dinner it’s still dusk and you’re all hungry again. It’ll be perfect for such an occasion.

Salad in jars

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I think that I’ve finally figured out why everyone was making such a fuss about salads in jars. They’re pretty rad and are definitely a force for good in my life. These ones are my first attempt. I needed to use up the dressing that I’d made for dinner with my in-laws. So on the bottom there is orange-pomegranite dressing. The bottom veggies of this salad are cucumber, red onion, and shredded carrot. On top of that is some penne that I made (left over from a pasta-tuna salad) and native rice. In the lettuce are dried cherries (don’t like them/trying to use them up) and dried cranberries (must get more) and toasted pumpkin seeds.

I’ve eaten two of them already. I need to eat the last one so that I can have my jars back. I want to make more salads! I love having easy meals readily available at all times.

Breaking In The Boots

I bought new steel toed boots recently (I wear them at work, and I prefer them in the winter anyway as I believe that they’re slightly more durable). At work I was talking with a friend about how this brand is the absolute worst to break in of all the boots that we’ve tried (and we’re talking over 20 years of boot breakings-in between the two of us). Apparently they took her a month! Mine took me three days, which is the longest and most difficult that I’ve ever experienced. It seems that I’ve got my methodology down to a fine art, having been working on it since high school’s exclusive Doc Marten days. So, if you’re trying to break in your boots, here’s my (almost!) painless method of doing it.

First we need to know what it is that makes breaking in boots so incredibly painful. For me it’s the fact that my heel rubs and gets blisters, despite my callouses. And what forces my heels to rub? The fact that I can’t bend my foot at the ball. So this is what I do to remedy this situation as fast as possible:

  1. Put on comfy socks. I like thick ones.
  2. Optional step! Take a pain reliever of your choice. Wait about 20 minutes for it to kick in.
  3. Put on your new boots. If they have laces be sure to tie them as tightly as humanly possible, and then some. It’s a bit like putting on your ice skates for the first time that year.
  4. Get up and walk around! The way that you go about this is specific.
  • Go for a walk. Try to bend your knees and lean forward as you walk. It’s like walking in downhill skiing boots. Or, that’s the goal anyway.
  • Try to encourage the ball of your foot to bend as much as possible. I find it helps to have my knees slightly bent and my weight forward.
  • Once you’ve done that for a while (and hopefully softened up where that crease will be) go and find a flight of stairs.
  • Try going up and down the stairs on your toes. Do this until the pain makes it too difficult.
  • Go for a walk. Again, try to walk as naturally as possible despite the pain, and with emphasizing the bend at the ball of your foot.

Eventually, as you repeat the stairs and the walks, your foot will start to be able to bend naturally again. As that happens your boots will become more comfortable! You may want to not wear them for a few days so that your feet can heal before going for new boots: day two! That said, you will quickly reap the benefits of the dedicated time. Rather than being crippled by your boots for a month, it’s a matter of hours to days. That’s pretty sweet, eh!?

Preserved Lemons

So I tried my hand at making preserved lemons today. This is ostensibly because I found lemons for 50% off, and of course I only bought half as many as I needed. I had to run out and get more today as a result. Now I have extras so I suspect that lemon-cranberry muffins will be happening in the near future.

There were other reasons too. One of them being that I’ve been stressed lately and being in the kitchen is a nice way for me to take my brain off of that and focus it on something productive. Deliciousness plus an hour of stress-free living is a pretty good deal! The other was that I’ve been looking for a way to spice up my quinoa. I don’t like quinoa nearly as much as I feel like I should.

Preserved lemons seem like they would be easy (salt! lemons! and a sterile jar) but in actuality I couldn’t figure out how to pack them in there, nor get juice out of them. So I ended up needing about as many lemons as I kept just to juice. It felt like making lemonade.

On the upshot I can open them in a month (given that February is shorter I’ll peg the date at March 1st)  and then I’ll know whether this is worth trying again or not. I hope it is. I’ll be sick of winter food by then anyway, and likely need to wait another couple of months before anything fresh has grown.

The Perfect Vegan Pad Thai!

Of course it was so good that I didn’t get a picture of it. You all know what pad thai looks like, anyway. It does have a few steps, but you could shorten that by buying pre-fried tofu rather than cooking your own. You could also make the sauce a day or two in advance (keep it in a jar in the fridge). If you did that (I didn’t) then this would be the perfect meal to come home to after a long day out and about.

Mine is inspired from the Vegan Black Metal Chef but I really disagree with how much sugar he uses. It took me a few tries to tweak this recipe enough to get it to my liking. If you don’t like metal you can watch the video on mute. He’s got it all subtitled. Here’s what I’m working with:

because hey! Credit where credit is due, and we should always cite our source material. At the very least now you know how to chop garlic and green onions effectively, and how to cook the rice noodles.

The main modifications that I’ve made are broken into two categories – that of tofu, and that of sauce.

So first, tofu.
I don’t like deep frying. I don’t own a deep frier and while I own big enough pots I have a personal philosophy that states that if I need to dress like a fire fighter for my own safety then chances are that I’m not interested. Instead I bake mine because I have a toaster oven. Coat your tofu in (melted) coconut oil and put it in your toaster oven on bake (or bake it in the oven) for a half-hour or so, 350F. It will eventually turn a golden brown and get crispy. I also use smaller cubes – about the size of a D20 if you’re into that type of thing.

The Sauce!
The sauce is the secret to any pad thai. Here’s what went into mine:

  • 3 Tbsp sugar. Dissolve this in a half-cup of warm water. Add
  • 2 Tbsp sambal olek (this is a type of hot sauce. I don’t like Sriracha for this because I’d have to use so damn much of it, and the vinegar comes into play in some unpleasant ways)
  • 3 tsp tamarind sauce (I have tamarind chili sauce – I don’t think it matters). For my next trick I’d like to find tamarind paste.
  • 2-3 tsp cider vinegar. You can also use white vinegar, but maybe keep it to 1-2 tsp. I find it packs more of a punch.
  • The scrapings of my peanut butter jar. This was around 2-3 Tbsp peanut butter.
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic. I might add four next time.
  • a generous handful of cilantro

Stir it all up. He’s very correct in that it’ll look somewhat like puke. That’s the texture that you want too – very liquid. You’ll have to add another cup of water to get everything to cook. You can add it now, or if you’re using a bowl that’s a bit too small you can just add it to the pot when you stir it all up.

The Vegetables

I couldn’t find bean sprouts at the store. I used snow peas, thin slices of red pepper, and the green onion. It was perfect. Do whatever makes you happy. Just make sure that they’re cut thinly!

I used coconut oil to cook with because it has a high smoke point and my smoke alarm is sensitive. Also it tastes good. Cook it as he says; when he says to stir a lot just stir continuously and make sure that you get all the way down to the bottom.

Enjoy!

Food in Jars! (part 4)

A mason jar on a white counter against a white background.  It is full of thick pale tan liquid with pieces of corn and green flecks suspended in it.

This is my first attempt at potato-corn chowder. Given that I don’t really like potatoes, how did this come to be? Here’s how:

My friend has been telling me all about the wonders of fridge preservation so I thought that I’d give it a try. Having a two-day snowstorm (the edge of what hit Buffalo, NY) made me really want wintry food. So I decided to go with soup. Partly because she spent about 40 minutes singing its praises, and partly because it’s an easy and wonderful winter food. Also because I’d bought corn on sale from the grocery store a few days prior and it really needed to be used up. I had some aging potatoes in my fridge, and some sad jalapeños kicking around. So potato-corn chowder it was to be!

Here’s how I made it:

  • sauté onion, garlic, celery in some olive oil. I could have added a carrot as well, but I didn’t.
  • throw it in the slow cooker along with chunks of potato, the corn, some red pepper, and the jalapeños. Those were all the veggies that I had in my fridge.
  • added the broth that I’d made a few days before (and used as practice preserves). I also added some smoked paprika because it smelled good.
  • before going to work in the morning I turned it on, leaving strict instructions to Fuzzy that he was to turn it off at a pre-arranged time. I also texted him a reminder.
  • it sat in my fridge for a few days
  • you’ll notice that I didn’t add any salt. Later on (upon tasting) I threw in some Bragg’s, some soy sauce for good measure, and some worcestershire sauce just for added assistance. They barely made a dent, but at least it’s not impossibly bland.

Today I canned this (resulting in two jars) and turned them into fridge preserved soup. Given that I have a couple of very hectic weeks coming up and am seemingly incubating a cold, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. I’m also already planning some other soups that I’d like to make, including tomato-bean soup, and carrot-couscous. At this rate I’ll have to make more broth base first!