Sunday, April 29, 2007

Naked and Wet...

hound dog, that is:

Stinky Mr. PupCake got a bath this morning and once he decided he'd had enough of giving me the stink eye for having mistreated him so horrendously, a little play time with the kitties was in order, in the crazy paw-stomping, wheelie-ing, whappy tail kind of way that a greyhound excels at.
Rather a new development here at Casa Splatgirl, the whole dog-wants-to-play-with-kitty thing, as prior to now, both parties have been successfully in denial about the whole mixing of furry species thing and absolutely convinced that any kind of socializing with the "enemy" would spell certain death.
So, the initial "HOLY CRAP WHAT ARE YOU FORCING ME TO LIVE WITH NOW" that we started with had, at long last, resolved itself into a calm and reasonable, "I'm OK, you're OK" with the occasional benevolent butt sniff thrown in.
But after this mornings' excitement, we're now back to full on "I'm certainly about to die at the hands of this monster" mode with the kitties lurking around on their bellies any time they have to come within 20 feet of "the monster" to get to their designated lounge spot.

But PupCake just doesn't get it. Because he WUUUUBBS da kitties and why in the world would they not want to play with his handsome-ass self, especially when he is wet AND nekkid?

So he took his squeaky monkey baby and went back to sulking in the sunshine.

I told you we torture hound dogs here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Chicken Pad Thai

Courtesy of my recent stock-up trip to the Asian market...I told you there was many dinners' worth of stuff, remember?

I'm sorry the photo is less than fabulous. I was in such a hurry to shovel this pile-o-love into my mouth that I could barely be bothered to take a picture at all.

Anyway, I think I've finally nailed it, and I definitely have Pim at Chez Pim to thank, as I followed her advice and used tamarind concentrate and palm sugar where other recipes call for lime juice and regular white or brown sugar, and it was absolutely perfect. Even Boy said so and he is the true midwestern Pad Thai connoisseur, having sampled it across the cities. I would have kissed him, except then he said "where are the spring rolls and chicken satay?" But really, this little adventure has delivered the revelation that it's all about the tamarind, so if you can't find the jarred concentrate, buy the pods (relatively common at the regular grocery store) and do the work to extract the pulp that way, because Pad Thai with vinegar or lime juice or any other sour element impostor is just not the same. Or as good.

Also per Pim's instruction, I added the pounded dried shrimp, chopped garlic, and the peanuts, of course, but that was it besides egg and some green onion because my bean sprouts were skunky in the produce drawer (dang) and all the other stuff she mentions aside from the red pepper flake is just not a part of Pad Thai in my world although I am inclined to try it with garlic chives next time I see some at the market. And I loved her suggestion to make up the sauce in advance and have it at the ready. Much, much simpler than trying to adjust the flavors while everything is already sizzling away in the wok.

So go visit Chez Pim and make yourself some Pad Thai. It's super easy and, as Pim says "the best Pad Thai you've ever had will be the one you've just made! "

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fresher Than Fresh

...and hot off the worktable, my latest MOOPocket invention:

Yes, friends, it's a key chain! Because not carrying your handbag shouldn't mean you're without your MOO cards, I've turned the MOOPocket into a go-anywhere, can't forget it kind of accessory.

Can you tell I was worried about how I was going to carry my MOO cards on my motorcycle?
Yes, I'm a little obsessed.
No, really.

I'm about to order my second box of MOO, just as soon as I decide if I should do a variety pack or get them all the same again...

And, as usual, these latest MOOPockets are available over at my Etsy shop.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mail Swag Rocks!

The mail (or post, as it's called on the other side of the ocean) has been good to me lately. I've gotten the awesome and unexpected treat of MOO cards from a few of you (I include one of mine in every MOOPocket I send out) and a week or so ago I received a nice thank you letter and T-shirt from Maxwell and the gang at Apartment Therapy for my submission to their cool bathrooms roundup.

And then yesterday, this:

Which contained my special, sneak peek set of what are completely neato notecards from our pals at MOO:

As if MOO cards weren't cool enough, we needed MOO note cards too? Of course!!

And they were completely free via the special, top secret offer I was lucky enough to be invited to partake of a couple of weeks ago, because the folks at MOO are awesome (and because they know we'll blog and gossip about them, certainly...but hey, I'm all about the give and take, ya know?).

So, MOO gang:

I love them and I'm sitting here wondering who I need to send a thank you note to as I type :)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's For Dinner Wednesday

I had to make a run into downtown St. Paul to drop one of our bikes off at the doctor, so I figured I'd swing by my favorite Asian market on the way home and collect the makings for tonights' (and many other nights') meal.

As I told you a month or so ago, I've been craving udon like a bansheee so the fixings for that were topping my list along with a restock of my Pad Thai supplies and a bunch of other stuff I always seem to need but can't get in my neighborhood.

I haven't ever made udon at home for some reason but now that I have, I'm certain it will be on winter rotation (if not all year) because it takes all of like ten minutes total and it's so, so satisfying, plus it's healthy as heck and I don't have to go to the mall to pay $12 for a bowlful. Even Boy loved it, and he's typically not a brothy kind of soup eater. He slurped up the first spoonful and said "ohhhhh this is GOOD!"

I really wanted it with shrimp tempura but I was too lazy to go on battering and frying just a couple of shrimps so I went with some very thinly sliced hangar steak instead, tossed into the broth at the last minute so as not to overcook, and the requisite pink fish cake slices that make what is a very simple dish look exotic and curious.
I was loosely following a recipe in one of those cookbooks you buy at the bookstore on the bargain table that are about specific kinds of foods...this one is just called "Noodles". But really, you don't need no stinking recipe for udon. Just dashi and soy and mirin and sugar and noodle and whatever you like for protein, garnished with some green onion and chili salt and you're pretty much done.
The recipe said to just dump in some beaten egg at the end and give it a second to cook, but I didn't do that either because I wanted it the proper way, like Japanese omelet, and I was too lazy to do that. So egg it wasn't. I also added fresh enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts because I like a little fresh crunch in there.
So there you have it. A nice steaming hot bowl of udon and a perfectly delicious WFDW.

Oh yea.

Do I need to tell you about all the Pocky I bought while I was at the market, or that I ate like four packs of it on the way home and then had two more just now for dessert?

Five kinds, including the jumbo pack of my favorite, chocolate almond, aka "crush". Here's betting it will all be gone by the end of the week. Except maybe for the "mousse" variety in matcha flavor. The flavor is nice but the texture is bizarre, which I assume is why it's called "mousse".

But holy crap do I love Pocky.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Call Me the Condiment Queen

I've developed a rather deep relationship (ahem...obsession) with CB2 of late. They just have so many cool things, and the prices are great. And, as you may recall, I'm also a little obsessed with borosilicate glass stuff, aka lab or chemistry glass. It's just so thin and shiny and clear that it calls my name for a multitude of uses. So, when I spotted CB2's newish collection of borosilicate glass I practically ran for my credit card so I could order some up.
Fresh from the UPS guy's hands and it's 'made in China' box, my new salt cellar :

Or at least it's a salt cellar in my world, because, while I find the concept of a salt pig fantastic, I have this little issue called cat hair at my place and I'd really rather not allow it to become more of a condiment than it already is if you know what I mean. Unfortunately, that makes any kind of open vessel not so Casa Splatgirl friendly.
Anyway, I absolutely must have my seaonings close at hand while I cook and this little dish with lid seemed the perfect replacement for my former, tired little old salt container.
Needless to say, it makes me so happy to see it sitting there on the rangetop filled with it's Kosher salty deliciousness.
And here it is with it's other salty friends (yes, that's three kinds of salt yet I don't own an actual salt shaker...), and my other favorite rangetop accessory, my Peugeot pepper mill:

While I was there , over at CB2 I mean, I also ordered that little borosilicate pitcher thinking it would be great for serving sauces or syrup. Truth be told, I don't even care if it gets used, because I just love the way it looks. And it was all I could do NOT to order this. And don't even get me started on how much I want about a hundred of these, and these, and these.
And OMG. Now I've just seen that these are on sale for only .95 cents! As if all of that stuff wasn't cheap enough already.


Thursday, April 12, 2007


Hot off the sewing machine, and just listed in my Etsy shop:

The most adorable little handbag I have ever made:

Some of the new MOOPockets from my menswear line:

And the cutest dog collar yet, but unfortunately too girlie for my guy:

Go check it out for more pics, and take some of this stuff off my hands, would ya?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Panko crusted pan fried walleye with roasted rosemary potatos and garlicky green beans.

Remind me that I like my fish with flavor, next time, ok?
Really, considering I made this up using what I could find in my freezer and fridge and pantry and therefore didn't have to go out to the grocery store in the lovely April snowstorm we're having today, it was definitely edible. But I really think that people who like fried fish really just want a reason to eat fried crap under the guise of it being "healthy" because it's fish, because aside from being nicely crispy and buttery, it tasted like nothing and that, friends, is not a Casa Splatgirl food feature.
On the other hand, take a gander at the recipe Boy chose for tonight's meal. I guess I should be thankful for the snowstorm after all, since it was the perfect excuse NOT to make this...not wanting to go to the store an all., bologna? I don't think I eat that.
Like ever.
I even hated it when I was a kid.
But evidently it was the key ingredient in Boy's search criteria this week.

Can I just take a moment and ask WTF here, please?
Somehow he has managed to turn WFDW into something to fear, or at least I fear it when it's his week to pick.

Did I mention it's been snowing cats and dogs all day? It's making me a little crabby.
Can you tell?

I'll have some new craftyness to show you very soon, that, along with a whole new swank batch of MOOPockets will be making an appearance on Etsy shortly...


Monday, April 09, 2007

I Had Pie For Breakfast: the Confessional

That, friends, is a slice of home made banana cream pie. Quite possibly the most unphotogenic dessert ever, but so SO delicious.

I think banana cream pie might be in my desserts top three. Right up there with real home made tiramisu, which coming from me is saying a lot because I have a deep and meaningful relationship with tiramisu.

Anyway, I have been craving this pie for WEEKS. So much so that I DIDN'T order any at the restaurant down the road from us where all the desserts are home made just in case it wasn't as good as mine so as not to ruin my whole jones/fix thing. Said restaurant is about the only place I know of where I would ever even consider ordering banana cream pie, and given the quality of the rest of their desserts, I would venture to guess it's fairly good, but I kind of have a bread pudding thing going with that place and I didn't want to tarnish their dessert rep in my mind by going out on a banana cream limb and then having it not be up to my (extremely, really? me?) standards.
And there is no point in even discussing the other 99.9% of banana cream pies that you can go out and buy or get at a "pie" place, because those are just SO not even good. I assume this is because making pastry cream is a little on the labor intensive side what with the stirring and babysitting and all so they probably use some kind of instant, dehydrated add water and watch it come alive kind of mix and who knows what other weirdness for the crust and , that plasticky chemical flavored white guck they try and pass off as whipped cream by calling it "topping". Double eu.
I'll take my pastry cream in all it's silky, egg yolky, full fat milky, stirred constantly over low heat just until it simmers and then cook for one minute longer kind of glory, or I'll have nothing, thanks. And the crust has got to be right, too, or I'm crabby.

Simple ingredients, yes, but it's asking for the impossible with purchased pie.

Oh yea...and don't forget a nice plop of freshly whipped organic heavy cream (aka dairy nirvana) spooned over the top.

We had an invite to a friends house to catch the season premier of The Sopranos last night, so I cranked this baby out in record time in what can only be described as a whirlwind event of pastry because I figured that would allow me to enjoy a slice and not be stuck with seven more pieces that I would then proceed to eat all myself. I even enlisted boy to stir while I showered and primped. He did a smashing job and we went from zero to banana cream with from scratch crust in about two hours and then let it chill in the back of the truck while we drove. Talk about cooking on the fly.

Boy: "is it something I can mess up?"
me: "YES! and whatever you do, don't stop stirring or scraping until I come back, and make sure you are getting into the corners of the pan!"

Nothing like giving a non-cook the touchiest most attention sucking job in the kitchen, huh? Do I need to tell you he got a little panicky and called for me to "come here quick" when it started to thicken up and change consistency?

And the kicker is, he doesn't even like custard.
I torture Boys here.
And dogs. But that's another story.
And he ended up loving the pie, even though he has told me a million times he doesn't like it.
And the pie was better than the premier, but somebody got whacked, so the boys called it good.

So yes, I had banana cream pie for breakfast. Don't tell.
And for the recipe record, I make it according to the Joy of Cooking, using the half butter, half shortening flaky crust recipe and the vanilla pastry cream recipe with the banana cream variation (basically slicing in two or three bananas). And because a good pie, for me, is a lot about the crust/filling ratio, I make double the recipe of pastry cream and put the whole thing in a really deep dish pie plate.
Which basically means you end up eating twice the amount of pie per slice, but damn if it's not worth every single calorie.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

It's Mocca Madness!

A girl's gotta have a place to put all her little handbag trinkets, you know? Those kinds of things like lipstick and floss that get lost at the bottom of a big tote bag and that are too important to have to go fishing all around in there for all the time. Because I hate digging around in my handbag like some kind of crazy-haired, disorganized weirdo...even if I am.
So I decided an addition to the Mocca family was in order. A little girlie clutch to either tuck away inside the larger Mocca tote or to use on its' own when all I need is my favorite MAC lipgloss (it's called "cultured" in case you're interested), a compact and some cash:

And despite the fact that I absolutely despise working with fancies, an o-so special and girly satin lining!

But wait.
There's more.
A matching Mocca business card case*:

with a MOOPocket on the back, to keep both cards nice and cozy and in one handy home:

*business card case: not to imply that I don't think MOO cards are going to take over the world, because I do. But in the mean time...


Saturday, April 07, 2007

More Fun with Fabric

Ms. Knit-Whit and I had an impromptu meet-up yesterday which of course had to include a little shopping. We both scored some of this adorable woofwoof fabric (she has the most insanely cute idea in the works for hers!) and I couldn't wait to get it home to the sewing machine to make something cute for PupCake:

I'm not sure he's feeling it. He is SUCH a Boy when it comes to try-on time. And he always seems to think the camera being aimed at him means he's in trouble.

Perhaps it's that the lime green piping violates his color sensibility?
I dunno, but being a hound dog at Casa Splatgirl makes you sooooooooo tiirrrrreed!

I also spied this super bright and colorful mod squares print that I had to buy a whole packs' worth of ugly fabric just to get, but I think it was worth it based on it's awesome MOOPocketyness alone:

And because it's impossible to make just one:

It seems the MOOPocket clip-on is more popular than the original. I've been cranking them out like crazy and getting most of them in the mail before I can even think to take a picture of them, but I am going to try to do better at this because some of them have been just too cute for words.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Reporting on What's For Dinner Wednesday

Bombay Sliders with Garlic Curry Sauce:

Wow, WOW, WOW. These babies are fantastic, as in ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning kind of fantastic. Really. Boy and I were both groaning with joy while we ate they were so good. File under must try, friends.
I was worried about using ground turkey because I typically don't like the dry, flavorlessness of it, but I stuck to the recipe (I used the 7% fat variety, not ground breast, although the recipe doesn't specify) and it was a major win. Calling them "sliders" is perfect, because they're cravable and addictive and there's no way you could eat just one.
It's hard to tell the size of them from the picture, but a pound of meat makes six little burgers and the recipe has them three to a serving. I put them on them on dinner rolls as the recipe suggested, and looking at the photo on epicurious just now I am reminded I forgot to put onion on them but I did do the cucumber and tomato slices. Three was almost more than I could eat, even though I kept the side dishes to one and made it a veg.
I think this would be just the most fantastic party buffet recipe. They don't need to be hot to be delicious and I love that they are like eating a burger without having it be the entire meal so you still have room for lots of other stuff, and that they're pick-up-able for one-handed, utensil-free eating.
I am going to have to play around with making them even more miniature. I'm thinking two-bite sized, which means I am going to have to figure out how to make uber-trial-sized buns.
I saw this show once on TV where they actually served bite sized cheeseburgers (and a whole boat load of other eensy weensy replicas of big foods) as appetizers and I've been wanting to do that ever since.

So, another highly successful WFDW adventure. And in the interest of exploring the undiscovered, I used this for the first time:

I've had this silicone granny fork hanging around since before Christmas but I've never used it for some reason. I got a couple of them last fall because I wanted to give one to Knit-Whit for a gift and of course I needed one too. We share this crazy gadget fetish, you see, and it's always a game to find the latest or the greatest or just something neato that neither of us has ever seen before.
I had actually been scoping out the granny fork situation for quite some time prior, oogling the antique ones on Ebay and generally keeping my eye out for just the perfect one to add to my very strictly curated gadget collection, and then one day I ran across this cartoonish red silicone one in a catalog and I knew needed to be both of ours...because, hello? Silicone?
And as a happy bonus, I think it adds the perfect textural contrast to my silicone utensil pot:

Turns out it's pretty darn handy to boot. I found it the perfect tool for tossing together a vinagary cole slaw and it came in handy again for mixing up the turkey burgers without mushing the meat all to heck. Plus it does a heck of a good job scraping down the sides of the bowl too, being silicone and all.

The silicone blending fork is available at the King Arthur Flour Bakers Catalogue website. Now that I've been there to get you the link, I see a couple of other as yet undiscovered neato silicone things I can't live without!



The Mocca bag is done!

It turned out just so perfectly perfect and I absolutely can't wait to use it! I'm surprised, really, since as I told you before, this was just the prototype and also fell into my infamous make-it-up-as-I-go category of project-ing.
Anyway, after agonizing over what the straps should look like and how I should make them, I opted to do a stiff, doubly interfaced strip ala the MOOPocket. I tapered the middle eight inches or so with the thinking that a narrower strap is more comfortable to hold and stays on the shoulder a bit better. And after all that, I was worried that I had made them a bit too short, but I tried it on and they are they're perfect...hurray!!

Inside, there's a nifty little cell phone pocket:

Now I just need for the weather to decide that it's spring again instead of it being 26 degrees and snowy.

I have a few more Mocca tricks up my sleeve that I bet you can guess about...stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

It's All About You!

I've decided it's high time I get around to replying to some comments and answering a few of the questions that have been asked around here. So, without further delay...

A while back, Sandi asked if I am a professional chef or baker.
Absolutely not. I have done a little catering work, but I have zero professional training and I have all the bad habits to prove it.
My mom was an enthusiastic and very good self taught cook. I remember watching Julia Child on PBS with her when I was a little, little kid and always begging to be picked up and held on her hip while she stood at the stove cooking so I could see what she was doing.
I strongly believe that you don't need a formal education to be a great cook or understand proper technique.
Anything you need to know can be found in the great, classic cookbooks or by watching the real pros on TV, (who, for the record, seem mostly to have disappeared from the Food Network.) Many of the old episodes of The French Chef are avaliable on DVD which are excellent for learning technique. Once you know the basics and understand the terminology, it's a lot about choosing great recipes and getting in there and doing it and getting some experience.

Guinifer says she would pay me to come to her house and cook.
I would consider that, actually. Providing personal chef services is something I've thought about doing before and something I think I would be good at but it's never gone further than giving the occasional catered-by-me party as a gift to relatives.
I would also love to teach cooking classes at my house someday and I designed my kitchen with that idea in the back of my head. Registration is open :)

Maria says: "I may be an older version of you. I'm 40 something with a hubby and 5 kids. I used to love to cook, (still do sometimes) and like contemporary stuff....
Anyway, just thought I'd comment and tell you that you inspire me to cook, etc."
I can't decide if I think it's greater that I inspire you to cook or that you evidently think I am some kind of 20-something tartlet.

Cori says: "if you ever want to host a MN knitting night at your house, i'd SO be there!!!"
This is not beyond the realm of possibility...having some kind of crafty open house. Back before I lost my mind and built Modern in MN, I really enjoyed hosting a bi-monthly girls knit-and-dine get together night (aka Crafty Chix), and I intend to resurrect this tradition at some point in the near future...

Regarding artichokes, Maryse says she grew up eating them with dijon mustard vinagrette.
I am SO going to try this!! Thanks for the tip, Maryse.

Rachel says "My husband and I talk all the time about the design of our dream house. #1 is always the kitchen. #2 is our motorcycle showroom"
That is exactly how we prioritized our wants as well. Really, it would be hard for me to choose which room I love more. And when I say 'we' I really mean me. Boy would be the first to tell you that if it weren't for me and this crazy, hairbrained house idea, he'd still be living in our 70's rambler over on the redneck prairie. Which is not to say that he loves Modern in MN any less than I do, but it's not something he would have come up with to do.

Regarding candied bacon, Wendy says: "Great googly moogly, that's fabulous. I'm going to have to use that for a drink garnish... for a breakfastini, with maple vodka and coffee something-or-other!"
Holy crap. I TOTALLY MUST try that drink garnish idea because I can't decide if I'm horrified at the idea of a "breakfastini" or if I need one right this minute.

Rascallion says: "I totally love the MooPocket! Wish I had some Moo cards so I could justify buying one from you. You should enter it in the Fred Flare Next Big Thing event. ( )"
First, go get yourself some MOO!
The Fred Flare suggestion is great. I've always wondered what I could enter in that contest. The only issue I see is that I'm making basically like four cents on each one so selling them "wholesale" may be a problem.

Melly suggests Shapewell fusible interfacing as the solution to my handbag making question.
I've never heard of Shapewell. Poking around in the internet a bit, it appears maybe it's an Australian thing? I think I am going to try Vilene if I can't get a hold of the Shapewell.

And today, from Shannon in WI:
"I have been searching your past posts to see if you put your royal icing recipe and how to frost on your blog. Interested in sharing? I just made a HUGE double batch of Easter cut outs with white icing and sprinkles, but after seeing your cookies it would be great to make beautiful cookies like yours!
Thanks for having a great blog to read."
Thanks for reading, Shannon! Great idea about a royal icing tutorial. I'll definitely add that to my to-be-blogged list because it's something I really love to do. In the mean time, I can tell you there's no secret about the icing at all, and every recipe is more or less the same. You can make it with fresh egg whites but, IMO, that's a waste of time because the results aren't better. Instead, I buy meringue powder from a baking supply place and just add water, powdered sugar and a bit of flavoring. Another option instead of fresh egg whites is to make it using powdered whites which are usually available at the grocery store.

So thanks y'all for reading and commenting, because comments really are the best part of blogging!

I'm sorry I've been a bit of a flake lately with posting. I think I've finally got a handle on this MOOPocket business so I'll be back to myself shortly.

Tomorrow is WFDW, and I hope someone is playing along out there. I've chosen this recipe and I can't wait! Trial size food...whooohoooo!!

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