Friday, October 26, 2012

Jammin' it

 My good friend Andrea, over at Mandreago, asked if I would write a post about food and cooking. This is the perfect excuse for me to get back on the blogging horse. If you're wandering here from Andrea's blog, welcome and please excuse my lapse in recent posts but please look around.

For everyone else, hi mom, I solemnly swear to get my blogging act together once again.

Back to the food! Earlier this year I thought it would be a swell idea to whip up my first ever batch of jam in the dead of summer and during record humidity. Cool.  I'm full of smart ideas. I'm going to walk you through my missteps to guide you on what not to do.

I started with some plump blueberries from Joel's parents own blueberry bushes. Yum.

Mistake number one: starting the jam in this small-ish pot. The thing I learned about canning is you need to bring the fruit to a boil. This scene in the pot should have been a clue that problems were a'comin'.  But, instead, I soldered on and waited until this was a boiling-over hot mess. Oy. Lesson learned. The hard way.

 To give you a sense of how chaotic the boil-over was here's the view of the stove top pre-mess. As it turns out making jam requires me to have every burner going. The steam from all of the boiling water plus the mess of the boil-over I felt like I was in an episode of I Love Lucy. I didn't snap a photo because it was such a mess and frankly the boiling jam was a bit dangerous and of course my side-kick, the dog, was underfoot the whole time. #jamfail.

Ahhh, much better.   And check out the bottom right corner in the pic and notice evidence of the spillage. I'm just keeping it real, friends.

I successfully made the blueberry-cinnamon jam and even a strawberry rhubarb jam. Both equally delicious.  I'm not an expert in making jam as you've probably guessed at this point. However, the fabulous Food in Jars blog provided me endless guidance in my jamming adventures.

As you may know I could eat ice cream daily so it's no surprise that I enjoy the jam warmed up over vanilla ice cream. Yum-yum so delicious. What a fabulous way to enjoy this treat. 

How about you - have you ever had any kitchen mishaps? Do you love making jam? Are you laughing at my boil-over hot-mess? All of the above? 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I love lamp.

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th! Oddly enough Ithaca celebrates with fireworks on the 2nd. Weird right? That coupled with Joel working yesterday meant I spent the day crafting up some red and blue jams. More on that later.

Remember the lamp I showed you a few weeks ago? No? Ok, I'll refresh your memory.

My mother mentioned that she wanted a new lamp for her bedroom that is primarily yellow with a few green accents. Good god are nice lamps expensive. A budding crafty-blogger that I attempt to be I decided I was going to DIY this year's Mother's Day gift. The search for the base didn't take long; one trip to the local Salvation Army and I found this beauty.

$5 later and I had it home. Can I just say what in the world is this color combination? In what decor would this actually "work?" Of course the good news is the shape is just perfect. I loved the curves and angles. I looked soft and I thought with a large drum shade and a new paint job we could be in business.

I am a terrible blogger, but you already knew this since it went quiet here for a couple months recently, aneeewaaay, I forgot to take pictures throughout the redo process.

::blink, blink::

Doh! The breakdown from how I got from taupey-brown-sapphire mess to the end result goes a little something like this. First, I taped up the cord and the top hardware. Next up was a thorough wipe down. This puppy was durrty. Then I sprayed on some base spray paint that I had kicking around. Finally, a few even coats of the green paint I picked up at Hobby Lobby.

Let me give you the breakdown of the approximate cost of this project.  
$5 - lamp at Salvie's
$0 - Zinsser primer paint (already owned)
$5 - green spray paint from Hobby Lobby
$15 - large drum shade from Lowe's
Total: $25

Not too shabby for the end result. Now I want one for me. :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Formal Introductions and a frozen treat

I need to forewarn you - this is a longish post. I've got a lot to catch you up on.

Internet meet Frida.

Hi, Frida! Isn't she the cutest?

Let me give you the back story. We weren't getting a dog. For that reason I perused Thompkins County SPCA to check out the pups from time to time. Yeah, that's a reasonable thing to do for people not getting a dog. So anyway in early April I saw the sweetest picture of little Frida on the site I started begging Joel to go look at her with me. That same day we look again and she was gone. Adopted. Gone. Ah well, wasn't meant to be. Plus, as you remember, we were not getting a dog.

Two weeks later and a similar event ensued. SPCA website shows Frida and characterizes the little peanut as friendly, shy, and sweet. We green light it and rush to visit with her. She was so sweet, didn't pull on a leash, and the perfect size. Cut to adopting her and picking her up two days later. She totally lied to us. She pulls on her leash, a lot. To the point of me wanting to scream after one embarrassingly bad walk. We bought a gentle leader and my rage has subsided. Clearly no dog or person (ahem) is perfect but Frida is pretty darn fantastic.

Cut to her hair cut. (Aren't I funny?) We decided to get her groomed and it was abundantly clear that I have been a terrible dog-owner/lover. Want proof? See her before picture.

Sorry for the blurriness. She was wiggly. Please notice her lion's mane around her neck and the hair in front of her eyes. I let her walk around like this for two months.

The after.

So much better. She can see now!

In food related news I saw a pin on pinterest for "frosty paws" which are basically doggie frozen treats. I whipped up the "recipe" minus the honey it called for. It's a 32 oz. plain nonfat yogurt, 3 tablespoons of peanut butter, and 1 mashed banana. I used a hand mixer to smooth it out and plopped dollops into two ice cube trays and froze.  

She loves them. Just like yours truly she uses a hot summer day as the perfect opportunity for a cool treat.

Oh and for those of you who may be wondering why she was returned to the SCPA and subsequently why we adopted her after her "rejection." Well in fact little Frida, who was originally a stray, was more than the woman bargained from with her children and other animals. She was just so cute she couldn't say least at first.  Her loss was our gain.

Moral of our story is, we love Frida, we love the SPCA, and we love frozen treats.

Friday, June 15, 2012

I'm baaaaaaaaack, get excited.

My mother continues to remind me I haven't posted in a LONG time. This post is for you mother.

I know, I know it's been too long.  First, I was feeling in a rut about the blog. Uninspired. Not-funny. Blah. Then, we got a DOG! So fun! And I wanted to start blogging about her from time to time and our adventures with DIY and the pouch. Here's the thing, my normal blogging time was when I was walking little Frida. After all of my hemming and hawing I'm back!  I have been thinking about the blog and shaking things up a bit. I'll still be blogging about food but likely I'll be sprinkling in more posts about crafts and life. I think it will keep the variety interesting and importantly keeping my mother up to date on our lives. Now if you're still reading I'm going to share a few previews of what we've been up to and what I might be blogging about soon.

Joel continues to insist on dragging me up mountains for "the view." I typically spend the way up threatening to throw him off the mountain and climbing over large rocks worried for my personal safety. Here we are in the Adirondack High Peaks area last week. I guess I should say, Joel is right; it is worth the view.

I've been crafting my pants off. This lamp was a second-hand find that I spruced up and gave to my mother for Mother's Day. Wait until you see the before and after.

Of course, I've still been cooking. Above is a zucchini turkey sausage soup that is amazing. Our
CSA started last week so lots more to come.

Finally, there's little Frida. She's getting ready to cheer on Joel at his marathon a few weeks ago.

So there you have it. The sneak peak and promise for more posts. One more thing, I'm working on overhauling the look of the blog in the not so distant future to add a little more personality.  You are welcome, mother.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

PW Devil Dogs

True confession time: I've been a little uninspired in my cooking lately. I think I need to shake up my normal routine and go-to recipes a bit. This probably means I should hit pinterest pretty hard; don't you think?

One reason for the cooking funk is a weekend of hiking and walking. Let's just say by Sunday night there was a lot of complaining of sore legs coming from my mouth. Isn't spring a kick in the mouth? I was hiking every weekend just a few months ago. In my own defense there were a lot of stairs and hills. Ugh. Check it out.

I can't wait for spring to bloom. Won't this be an even more stunning view when the trees are full and vibrant?

Even in my cooking-funk I do have a new treat to share with you....Devil Dogs! It is a Pioneer Woman special. For that reason, I'll happily link up the recipe but I didn't change a thing so check out PW's website for the details.

It starts with the frosting that begins on the stove top. Hang in there with me.

Then you dump it in the creamed butter and sugar.

Look how fluffy this look? It's surprisingly delicious and a welcomed departure to the too-sticky-sweet frosting and a more subtle and amazing treat.

Then I whipped up a Texas Sheet Cake. Why are they called that? Who knows. Again, I did as PW told me. But I will say that in the future I might add some espresso or coffee. The chocolate-coffee combo is so beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful....

Go make this today. Report back. Please. My muppets loved these and I know you and yours will too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Apple Pie Oatmeal

On the weekends I like to make breakfast a bit more special than a rush weekday breakfast. Most weekends that includes steel cut oats. It takes a bit longer to cook up and last weekend I was in the mood to dress it up a bit. I ventured over to Oh She Glows and found an oatmeal recipe for Apple Pie Oatmeal. I was in! 

An aside, Oh She Glows has really great recipes and they tend to be "clean" and vegan.  She is also a very sweet and body-positive which I really appreciate and enjoy! 

On to the goods. I did tweek the recipe a bit based on what I have on hand. Check it out. 

This is a non-recipe-recipe because it's so easy and mostly throwing a few things together. It turned out deliciously!  I hope you give it a try.


Apple Pie Oatmeal
Adapted from Oh She Glows

2 servings

1/2 cup steel cut oats
1/2-1 cup milk
1/2 cup no-sugar added applesauce
2 apples, chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

Simmer steel cut oats in water until almost cooked through (this takes about 20 minutes). Add milk and applesauce. Simmer until cooked through you may need to add more milk to cook oatmeal through. Add cinnamon, ginger, lemon juice, chopped apples and stir through. Place in bowls and add walnuts and syrup on top. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Very Berry Sorbet

Lately I've been craving a frozen treat and I realized my ice cream maker was getting a little dusty from neglect. I searched for inspiration and found it with Tartlette Blog.

As a quick aside, how beautiful is this woman's photography? It blows me away. So gorgeous.

I switched up a bit of her recipe by reducing the sugar and adding a smidge of vodka. Why vodka? Well my good friend Gretchen is an experienced ice cream and sorbet maker  and tipped me off to this trick. Homemade icy treats that lack fat will freeze like a rock. Umm, not exactly the consistency I'm going for and as Gretchen clued me into vodka helps the treat not freeze all the way solid. Score! I add a very small amount, about one to two tablespoons of vodka.

Ok I'm getting ahead of myself. Start by combining 1lb of berries, I used frozen, with two cups of water, 1/2 cup of sugar in saucepan.

Bring to a quick boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Now add the vodka and the juice of one lemon and blend in blender. At this point you may want to run through a strainer to rid the mixture of seeds. You know how I roll and I clearly skipped this step.

Process in ice cream maker for about 30 minutes. I suggest a very cold ice cream maker - I froze mine over night - if you haven't allowed for that then I suggest allowing the berry mixture to cool in refrigerator.

Doesn't that look fabulous? It was so refreshing and a delicious treat.

I stored the sorbet in these cute little freezer bell jars, another handy tip from Gretchen, that I found at Wal Mart.

Oh and since the entire mixture wouldn't fit I had to eat some straight-away. Such a hard life I know.

I think I'm going to whip up sherbet next, yum!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lentil and Macaroni Soup

Hey y'all - I'm back! Did you miss my weeklong hiatus? Oh, you didn't notice. Eh, it's ok I know you have a life to lead. I was in sunny Louisville for a work conference. Anyway, I'm back and excited to share this great pantry meal that I whipped up last night.

I want to weigh in on the current controversy the New York Times whipped up regarding ghost writers on celebrity chefs. The short of it is a woman reports that she is among an army of ghost writers who help bring cookbooks to print. This ruffled some feathers; most notably Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachel Ray who enthusiastically deny the use of a ghost writer to help develop recipes. I'd like to say that I've always assumed that Rachel Ray had help bringing her thousands of recipes to print. I'm confused at the denials. Am I alone here people?

Alright back to the soup. Speaking of ghost writers I used Giada deLaurentiis. Well actually, I used her lentil soup recipe as a starting point for mine. I glanced over her recipe and pulled together my soup based on what I had on hand and dumped in some additional as I felt like it. It was delicious!

It was a perfect soup for a drizzly and chilly day. I also adore ditalini pasta in soup because it reminds me of my childhood. Also, I had all of the items in my pantry or crisper in the fridge. It was so good Joel had two bowls!

Lentil Soup
Yields 5-6 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 carrots, diced
2 medium onions, diced
3/4 lb dried lentils
14 oz. diced tomatoes
2/3 cup dried pasta (I used ditalini but elbow macaroni would work here too)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 bay leafs
10-12 cups chicken stock or water

grated parmesan


Heat large soup pot over medium heat and add olive oil, carrots, and onions and sauté until softened. If you have celery that would be an excellent addition. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Toss lentils in mixture for a few minutes then add tomatoes including juices. Add remaining spices and toss for a minute. Add stock or water and bring mixture to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes. Add pasta and cook for additional 10 minutes. Lentils and pasta should be cooked through.

Top soup grated parmesan to taste.


Monday, March 19, 2012

New fabric & bbq weekend

Very happy Monday, no really, happy Monday!! Let me just say the weekend was amazing; I felt like it was mid-June rather than mid-March. I told Joel that we should move to Virginia or south generally to enjoy this type of weather every year. A lot of time was spent outside and we even got in a BBQ, northern style (read: grilling) and not southern style.

I also wanted to update you all on fabrics that I recently bought. If you remember I am interested in taking up quilting. I hope to take a local class in the coming weeks and so in preparation I sought out some inspiration fabrics and came across a wonderful seller on Etsy, Dreamy Vintage Sheets, and found some gorgeous and affordable vintage sheets. Check 'em out.

That stack is so inspiring! I can't wait to get using them.

I adore this pack. I think I will use these in my first quilt. Since the class will be throughout the spring I feel this patriotic bunch would make a beautiful summery quilt for picnics and snuggling under the stars. Don't you agree? 

Don't you love how I led you to a yes? It's a skill people. 

These are just the sweetest! I have no idea what I will do with these but I have the most darling niece so who knows.

I love the fun and whimsy of this group.

Last but not least is this little foursome. True story about this group - I didn't order them. The seller threw them in! This leads me to a note on this seller she was very quick, threw in an extra little bundle, and refunded me unneeded shipping costs. Clearly, I will be using her again and I would recommend you check her out.

Also, the fabrics are all fat quarters minus the last group (I think they may be a little bit smaller. People, I'm learning quilting jargon. If you aren't sure what a FQ is let me explain with my very limited understanding, it's essentially the cut of the fabric, 18'' x 22'', that allows the maximum usage of the fabric.

How did I do?

In other news I wanted to show you some pictures I snapped over the weekend. This weather inspired me to purchase some spring-time flowers from the grocery store. Also, we got in a picnic and the local park looked a little bit other-worldly.

Although I am sad to see how low the lake is that drift wood was calling my name. I've seen some fabulous DIY crafts that would just be darling for summer. It feels like summer is just around the corner. Of course it is still March in Central New York so that means snow is not out of the question. But for now, I'm enjoying and soaking up this beautiful and crazy weekend.

Your turn: what did you do over the weekend? Are you as energized for the week as I am, or am I nuts? Scratch that; no need to answer that last question.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers are the best.

I like alliteration.  Let me try another one.

Bountiful black bean burgers bring bragging rights. 

Umm I lost it there at the end. 

Black bean burgers beg to be bitten. 

Well, it turns out a sentence starting only with b's is more difficult than I thought. Moving on. 

With the absolutely beeeautiful weather I've been thinking about going to a park and grilling out this weekend. In March. Is this what it feels like to live in the south? March is the start of spring from a mild winter with little to no snow? Not the normal, I wonder how many more snow storms we need to endure this month and maybe into April....I think I need to move. 

These burgers could not be easier or more delicious. I added spices I like but really this is meant to be played around with and various combinations would be delightful. I know I will continue try out different flavors. 

Check out what I started with. 

One can of black beans, one egg, a medium onion, whole wheat bread crumbs, (shy) paprika, cumin, italian seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, and hot sauce.

Basically I dump them all together and mix. Easy, no?

I had a peanut butter top handy and used it to form the burgers evenly.

Heat through - no biggie. These were good on the stove top but I am imagining how awesome they would be on a grill. mmmm.

Toss together with a toasted bun and some lettuce. Not shown is the ketchup that I topped my burger with, naturally. 

So is anyone planning on firing up the grill this weekend? How about considering moving south to be treated with early springs forever? 

Black Bean Burgers

Yield 4 burgers


1 can black beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 teaspoon cumin 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
3-4 shakes hot sauce


In a medium bowl lightly whisk egg. Add drained black beans. Using a potato masher or fork break up black beans and combine into egg. Add finely diced onion, bread crumbs, and spices. Mix with hands to evenly distribute ingredients. 

Form into evenly sized burgers. Saute on stove top over medium heat in pan sprayed with non stick cooking spray or on a grill about 7 minutes each side. 

Serve on a toasted bun.