Saturday, March 31, 2007

Ideas Own Me

Sometimes I have these ideas in my head that need to be born so bad that I can hardly see straight. They get to the point where they're going to get out come hell or high water and I become just the helpless instrument of their doing. So, despite the fact that I am knee deep in MOOPocket parts and working madly to try to keep up, I just had to take a break and make something else.

This, friends, is why you didn't hear from me yesterday:

A new summer bag (anxiously awaiting handles)!! I'm so pleased with how it came out, which is great because I actually made this one as a prototype for one I really want to make out of some Amy Butler fabric I've had tucked away in my stash. Not that I don't love this colorway of the Alexander Henry Mocca a ton (I have it in the eggplant colorway as well), but I originally bought it thinking it would be nice for something home dec-ish so turning it into a handbag was a bit of a detour whereas the Amy Butler Kashmir pattern screamed handbag from the get go, as do most all of her prints (every one of which I completely covet, btw).
But now I think it's going to be a hard fought game for which bag will get top billing (assuming I can find the time and get around to making the other one), because I just lovelovelove this one to bits already.

I am definitely a tailored handbag kind of girl, and I looked and looked and just couldn't find a pattern that was perfectly the size and shape and functionality that I wanted, so I designed my own. Plus it bugs me to pay $12 or $13 for a pattern that's basically just some shape templates and instructions, because I don't really need that and I can usually come up with a better construction method than the directions say anyway. Anyway, I made this one nice and firm and structured and as soon as my missing hardware arrives, I'm going to give it two sturdy red handles that are just long enough to be thrown over a shoulder or not.

Because sometimes...a lot, actually...what a girl really needs is a new handbag.

P.S. If anyone can recommend a good stiff fusible interfacting similar to Pellon Craft Fuse, only with an adhesive that actually sticks and stays stuck, I'd appreaciate the heads up.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reporting on WFDW

Apricot Glazed Chicken with Almonds and sauteed asparagus:

Overall, Eh. (Can that be a category? The "eh" column?)
I've decided I think it's retarded to bake chicken breasts, like, almost always. The timing is so random and it's a pain in the butt when you've got to be constantly opening the oven to check them vs. having them in a saute pan or right there on the grill where you can keep a close eye on them and know exactly when they are done and not overcooked. Basically, unless you're braising or roasting a whole something or slow cooking, the oven is not the place.
So that's why it's eh. I think it would have rocked on the grill, and because the sauce was really good, and I'll keep it in mind to try next time I'm looking for an alternative to BBQ for something.

Now. The question of my month.
WHEN will Sanjaya get voted off?
I mean, I have to feel bad for the kid, because there's some really bad offhand and on purpose comments being tossed around about him all over out there that make me want to crawl in a cave for him, but still. I need him to not be on TV anymore.
Then again, it's not HIS fault he's still on the show.

Wait...did Simon already say that?


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

You have no idea how freaked I was last night when I decided, on a whim, to upgrade my blogger template to the new version and it all went to complete hell at like 11 pm when I had eighty other things I really should have been doing instead. But then took a breath and read some stuff and figured out that Blogger kindly saves your old version template indefinitely and I got back the old stuff (and no, I didn't bother to save myself a copy anywhere, and yes, I am an idiot). But I still spent like about a hundred times more time than a non-HTML idiot would have just making a few little changes around here.
And yes, I have a book, but it was all the way upstairs.
Someday I will get a grip on this whole web page design thing, I promise, and now you know why I'm still here on blogger and not at my very own swank dot com address.

Anyway, a new look for spring! YAY!! Because it's cheaper and less depressing to get new clothes for my blog than it is to try and get them for me.

So, sorry to keep you on hold for so very long...
Announcements first. If you haven't already discovered it, I'm pleased to announce the official Splatgirl Creates Etsy shop, where you'll find the MOOPocket and hopefully some other stuff at some point when I can find the time in between pressing and gluing and sewing MOOPockets like a maniac.

And speaking of MOOPockets, SC got the shout out over at the blog today. How cool is that? As I've said before, I'm completely befuddled by the attention this little thing is getting, and I never, ever thought in a bajillion years when I made the first one that anyone but me would think it was cool. But y'all are off the hook about them which I think is great and thankyouthankyouthankyou to everyone who has shown their love by purchasing a MOOPocket.

Then, in the spirit on ongoing research, meet the latest version of The Pocket:

That's right. The MOOPocket has gone clip-on. Because I HEART clips and hardware and being able to attach stuff to other stuff.
You'll find this and eventually other MOOPocket Clip-ons over at Etsy.

And because you know I can't go five minutes without talking about food, what about WFDW tomorrow? Are you playing? I think I'll go with Boy's neglected pick from last week, Apricot Chicken with Almonds.
And, assuming I can find some decent looking strawberries, I think I'll make the pot luck favorite, Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Poppyseed Dressing. YUM.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cooking My Favorites

BBQ Roasted Salmon and Spinach and Rice with Lemon.

This is one of my most favorite and most made recipes, ever. There just is not an occasion that it isn't suitable for, from a casual dinner at home to a more formal party with wine and guests, it's just delicious and simple and impossible to mess up. The ingredients are simple and easy to keep on hand, making it the perfect "what's for dinner" no brainer. And in my experience, it can turn even salmon dislikers into lovers. So, if you take nothing else from me and this blog and my endless blathering on about nothing, take this recipe and try it at least once, even if you're afraid to cook fish or think you don't like salmon. OK?

Barbecue Roasted Salmon
1/4c. pineapple juice
2 T. fresh lemon juice from a fresh lemon
4 salmon fillets (6oz each) skin removed
Begin by zesting the lemon to reserve for rub. Combine salmon and juices in a zip top bag and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour. (If you're in a hurry, you can skip this step entirely.)

For the rub:
2 T. brown sugar
4 t. chilli powder
2 t. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 400. Remove fish from bag and discard marinade. Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in a bowl. Rub over fish (I typically make double the recipe of rub, see below). Bake on a parchment lined sheet pan for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges.

Now, I frequently grill the fish instead of baking it which makes it even more delicious, but this method is a bit messier and more tricky, especially if you're not used to grilling fish, so stick to the oven for the first try.
Also, as you know I am a sauce loving girl, so I concocted a little finishing sauce using the same ingredients. I typically buy the six packs of cans of pineapple juice for this recipe (to have them on hand, you know) and end up just dumping a whole one into the marinade bag without measuring. Instead of throwing the marinade away, I pour it into a small saucepan and add a tablespoon or so of the rub and reduce until it's starting to get a little syrupy. Remove from heat and whisk in two or three tablespoons of cold butter and you've got an amazing sauce to pretty things up.

So, run out and get some salmon and make this recipe, and don't forget to ask the fish counter guy to skin the fillets for you to save a little on prep time. And don't buy the super expensive, wild caught or specialty salmon for this. The plain old less expensive farm raised kind will do fine.

I should also mention the Spinach and Rice with Lemon. This was a WDFW discovery that I raved about a few months ago and it happens to be absolutely fantastic with the salmon. Plus I love that it uses up the other half of the lemon you needed for the fish.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Bacon Moment

I've had a lifelong breakfast dilemma.
Eggs or pancakes?
You know how when you're craving something savory, dreaming about crispy-salty bacon and buttery eggs, but can get the hankering for something sweet like pancakes out of your head? Not that I ever haven't wanted bacon with my breakfast, mind you, but for me, what it really boils down to is that it pains me to have bacon without the sweetness of some maple syrup to mop it around in, but I don't get syrup without pancakes or french toast or waffles. But I really would rather have some version of eggs instead of the pancake group with my syrup dredged bacon. And the idea of having bacon and eggs and pancakes is just too over the top.

But this morning the planets aligned and the problem has been solved:

That, my friends, is some yummy eggs and hash browns with my new favorite problem solver, candied bacon.

I don't know why I've never tried this before, because I know I saw it done somewhere years and years ago and stashed it away in a cranny of my brain as a good idea. As it turns out, it's a really freakin good idea.
And the stuff takes all of two seconds to throw together. Basically, it's just bacon laid out on a sheet pan and covered with a thick layer of brown sugar and then popped in a hot oven, where you can forget about it while you tend to your eggs. The even better part is that is makes zero mess if you take a second to line your sheet pan with foil. No greasy spatter and no pan to wash. How cool is that?
I baked it for about 10 to 15 minutes at 450. The sugar melts while the bacon cooks and it comes out crispy and gooey and sweet and salty and totally insanely delicious. And it solves my sweet vs. savory delimma forever.
Can I hear a YUM?


Friday, March 23, 2007


Sorry for the absence. Between my dental adventure (which turned out to be not a big deal, and thanks everyone for the well wishes! ) the overwhelming emails in response to SC's recent exposure via the MOO blog and Whipup, and the even more overwhelming response to Modern in MN's shout out at Apartment Therapy, AT San Fran, and Curbed, plus getting out to enjoy the spring weather, it's been a little off the hook here at Casa Splatgirl. But in a good, interesting way.

First, I need to acknowledge my flaking on What's for Dinner Wednesday this week. Boy picked a lovely sounding recipe and I was all set to make it but between sort of deciding me and my dental implant weren't completely feeling the idea of having to chew a lot and my having a bunch of other stuff going on, I just couldn't pull it off this week. I opted for one of our regular old stand by's: pasta with Italian sausage and red sauce, but I did try something new I can tell you about, Barilla Plus pasta.
Now, I am not at all adverse to whole wheat pasta, but to me, it's really not the same thing as regular white pasta and that leads me to not want to use it all the time.
Enter the Barilla Plus. It's not 100% whole wheat, but it's got lots of fiber along with other good for you stuff like Omega 3's, but the best part is, you completely cannot tell the difference between it and plain old pasta. Like for reals, people. So as far as I am concerned, there's no going back. Not so good for me plain white pasta is now obsolete, and Barilla Plus is my new one and only. Hurray for being freed from pasta guilt forever.

Then, a huge thank you to everyone who has contacted me to purchase MOOPockets. I'm enjoying making them, and I've been the post office guy's favorite buddy this week. So far, I think Claire wins for the most traveled Pocket.
If your MOO cards are homeless and languishing in their functional but boring white plastic box, you'll be happy to know I do still have some MOOPockets that are looking for homes:

And if you don't have any MOO cards yet, why not?
Anyway, if you see something you like among this little army or have a specific MOOPocket design request, contact me at splatgirl at gmail dot com and I'll hook you up. And again, thanks to everyone for your enthusiasm over this crazy little thing.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Making MOOs

So, between the whipup post and the shout out by Denise over at the MOO blog (thanks Denise!) y'all have come out of the woodwork over the MOOPocket. I am amazed and slightly befuddled, really. And thanks to every one of you for the great feedback.
If you've made a MOOPocket, let me know. I'd love to see it!

Anyway, many of you have expressed interest in buying a MOOPocket, so sometime soon, possibly tomorrow if I survive getting this done and don't need to coax myself into a narcotic stupor whereby limiting my ability to both craft and blog, I'll have a limited number of MOOPockets for sale.

If you're interested, email me at splatgirl at gmail dot com. If you have a fabric or color preference, I'll try to accommodate that, but be quick, because like I said, this is a limited time offer and I can't go on making MOOPockets forever because it's a little...well..tedious, maybe?
But they are super freakin adorable if I do say so myself, and I want you to have one even if you don't sew. Or craft.
Or do drugs.
The price will be $10 each, shipping included unless you're out of the country. They'll all be one of a kind, lovingly handcrafted by me, and will hold 15-20 MOO cards.
I apologize that they can't be cheaper, but it takes me pretty near an hour to make each one perfect.

I'm also working on a BusinessPocket to hold standard size business cards. You can see it there in the picture. If you're interested in one of these, speak up. I'm going to make some plain and some that are a combination of MOO+business, so you can carry both kinds of cards in one tidy, cute little package.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Hello, My Name is PupCake

I am a big, strapping 80 pound greyhound.
I have big teeth and long, powerful legs.
I am the second fastest animal on earth, right behind the Cheetah.
I can go from 0 to 45 mph in two giant strides and thanks to 3000 years of breeding, I can chase down small furry critters and show them their way home in the blink of an eye.
I was born to run.
I am an elegant and noble breed...

and I am afraid of an eight pound kitty...

...with no claws.

How dangerous and deadly the clawless kitty.
I fear her so.

And when I leave my bed to drink and stretch my legs in the middle of the night and my bed is stolen, I must whine and cry and pace around until everyone in the house is awake and one of them gets up and moves the kitty out of my bed for me.

A narrow escape from the feline monster.

But I am a big, strong greyhound.
They call me PupCake.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What's For Dinner Wednesday?

We started with an Asian chopped salad, dressed with a quick vinagrette of seasoned rice vinegar, a dash or two of toasted sesame oil, fresh chopped ginger, and soy:

I added some julienned apple to the toss and the sweetness it added was a welcome foil to the main dish, shrimp cakes with chili-lime cream sauce:

This was SO GOOD! I served it with rice and doubled the sauce, (being a saucy girl and all) so there would be plenty to soak up. It was spicy and limey and although I was unsure of how well the combination of flavors would work, it was just fabulous with the rich, crispy sweetness of the shrimp cakes that took all of 15 minutes to throw together. The sauce should have been a little thicker I think, but I was freaking out at the idea of adding a stick and a half of butter to anything, so I only used half.
Although I turned it into an entree, the recipe is intended as an appetizer and if I were going to serve it like that, I'd find a way to make the sauce more like a thick dip (maybe with sour cream) so I could serve it cold, and then mold the shrimp cake mixture around skewers instead of making them into cakes. But really, it's super duper yummy just as is, whether an app or a main and again, I am reminded of the whole point of WFDW.

Have y'all seen the MOOPocket on Whipup? Thanks Boogaj! And have you seen our bathroom over at Apartment Therapy's Bathroom month? It sure is interesting to read the comments and get an idea of other peeps take on our house. And I must say I am most curious to know where 'the other patrick' thinks we've thrown caution to the wind and paid no attention to budget...I must have been in Fiji getting a massage on the beach that day.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Make a MOOPocket!

BREAKING NEWS: I now have MOOPockets avaliable for sale.
Visit my Etsy shop, and if you don't see a MOOPocket you like, check back. I'll be updating and restocking just as fast as I can make more!


This is not a project for the faint of heart, the impatient or those who dislike the details. I don't wanna sound scary, but if the idea of sewing small things, like say, Barbie clothes, makes you want to run for the Valium, this is probably not the project for you, because it's trickier and more tedious than sewing Barbie clothes. Really. And it might take you more than one try to get one that looks halfway decent. I'm just sayin.

If you absolutely MUST have a MOOPocket can can't bear the idea of an hour or two of messing around with trying to sew something very tiny, email me and I'll consider making and selling you one. Be quick, however, because there is a limit even to my sanity and making these things might be just a little insane.

The following is for personal and non-commercial use only. The MOOPocket name, design and pattern is property of Splatgirl Creates and may not be reproduced or sold without my permission.

What you'll need:
2 strips fabric, 9" long by 1 3/4" wide
2 strips heavyweight fusible interfacing and 1 strip Steam A Seam or other double stick fusible web ,
8 1/2" long by 1 1/4" wide
1/2" woven ribbon, 7 3/4" long
3" narrow woven ribbon, snap or velcro dot for closure
fabric marking pen
Fabri-Tac fabric glue
Fray Check
Rotary cutter, mat and ruler for cutting fabric strips

Start by fusing the strips of interfacing to the wrong sides of both strips of fabric, making sure to center then side to side and end to end, so that you have a 1/4" raw edges all the way around:

In order to keep your cards nice and pretty, you want the MOOPocket to be nice and sturdy which is why we've used heavyweight interfacing and applied it to both pieces of fabric.

Carefully fold and press the raw edges of the fabric strips to the inside, using the edge of the interfacing as a guide. Be neat and use lots of steam. Spray starch works nicely, too.
Peel off one side of the paper backing from the strip of Steam A Seam and fuse it to the wrong side one of the fabric strips:

Remove the paper from the remaining side of the Steam A Seam. Place the second fabric strip on top of the first, wrong sides together and fuse. You should now have a two sided strip with finished edges on all four sides:

For this project, the solid colored fabric will be the inside of the MOOPocket. Using a washable fabric pen, mark horizontal lines across the strip at 3" 3 1/2" and 6 1/2".

Find the center of the piece of 1/2" wide ribbon. Using a small piece of Steam A Seam or glue, attach the ribbon between the 3" and the 3 1/2" marks on the fabric making sure it's centered so that the ends that extend past the fabric strip are of equal length. Fuse or glue 1/4" hems on ribbon ends:

You'll notice that I've used white ribbon for this MOOPocket. That's mostly so that you can see what's going on a little better. Likewise the contrasting thread. Normally I would choose ribbon and thread to match the fabrics.

Stitch the ribbon to the fabric strip in a rectangle, staying close (1/16") to edges:

Fold either end of the fabric strip up and over the ribbon and press. This forms what will become the bottom of the MOOPocket:

Apply a tiny, thin bead of glue along the very edge of one of the short sides of the fabric strip. Attach ribbon being sure to match edges and ends. Glue remaining end of ribbon along opposite side in the same manner:

This is basically just glue basting but DO NOT under any circumstances skip this step your you'll seriously want to scream when you try to sew things up. I've chosen to use Fabri-Tac which is permanent, mostly because the bottle has a very pointy tip, allowing for a very, very thin line of glue (and because it's what I had on hand). If the glue bead is too wide, too much of the ribbon will stick to the fabric and the MOO cards won't fit when the pocket is done.

Stitch ribbon to fabric, keeping 1/16" from edge, and repeat for the other side:

As you can see in the two pictures above, I've folded the base of the MOOPocket up at a 45 degree angle to facilitate sewing all the way down to the corner.

You should now have something that looks like this:

Both tails of ribbon have been stitched to the short end of the fabric strip.

To make the next step easier, open out the ribbon edges to either side and press as if you were pressing open a seam allowance.

Repeat the edge gluing procedure as described above, making sure hemmed edges of ribbon end at the mark you placed previously. Repeat for other side:

Let the glue dry for a good minute or two at this point because you're going to need to smush things around quite a bit in the next step in order to do the stitching.

Starting as shown, edge stitch up one side of the flap, around the corners and down onto the right side ribbon edge all the way to the corner of the base. NOTE: The left ribbon edge has not been stitched yet. Start sewing at the top of the ribbon just like in the picture:

Turn pocket around and sew down left edge to corner:

Your MOOPocket should now look like this:

Press two folds in the flap, one at the top of the ribbon sides and another 1/2" from that so that the flap conforms to the shape of the pocket when it's closed. To press the rest of the pocket, I stuck it on two of my fingers and held it up to the iron, but a smart person would make a little tailors MOOPocket ham kind of thingie to stick inside and hold the shape so it can be pressed nicely...

For a ribbon closure, turn the edges of the 3" piece of narrow ribbon in 1/4" and and glue or fuse. Stitch to pocket at back edge seams about 1/4" from top edge of pocket:

Alternately, add a snap or velcro dot for a closure.

Apply Fray Check to the seams anywhere you stopped or started sewing, just in case.

Now you're ready to add MOO's!! The MOOPocket will hold 15 or 20 cards.

Something To Get You Out of Bed in the Morning

That is a pan of freshly baked cinnamon rolls with Boy's preferred white fondant icing (I am a cream cheese or caramel girl, myself). I whipped them up yesterday and couldn't wait to get up this morning to eat one. I used the recipe from Bread Baker's Apprentice which I had not tried before. It was simple as far as sweet roll making goes, and I really like that it has you baking them individually on a sheet pan instead of all crammed together in a dish.
They turned out beautifully and were a special treat on a Monday morning, served up with a little guilt as a chaser of course :)
Nothing an extra couple of miles of running with PupCake can't fix, but now he's absolutely zonked. Is it fair that he had to run without getting to eat a cinnamon roll?

In crafting news, I'm about to go work on the MOO pocket tutorial. Hopefully I'll have it for you tomorrow...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Dog Butts

Bringing up the rear at the greyhound walk at Lake Harriet today:

We had quite the hound train, and PupCake had a blast sniffing butts and getting to spend some time with his kin. This walk happens every Sunday at 2pm starting from near the rose garden and we have been trying to get there for months, so it was fun to finally make it happen and on a beautiful day to boot!

After a quick stop at Penzeys to replenish my spice stash, we made it home just in time to catch the season opener of MotoGP. Yay for the return of race-viewing! While we watched I cooked up a yummy dinner of roast chicken with mashed taters and brocolli:

Happy lazy Sunday!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hijacking the Clapotis

A while ago I think I told mentioned that I had started working on a scarf-sized Clapotis for myself, and I finally busted it out last night to work in it a bit...the first knitting I have done in about forever. And today I was fortunate to score two more balls of Blippity in the red orchid colorway so I am assured having enough to be able to make it nice and long.

Anyway, PupCake, who, on any given day makes it a point to be in the same room as me 24/7, and who paces around and whines if he doesn't have a bed to lie down in our bedroom on so that he can keep his eye on me even while I am in the shower, has decided to start exercising his independence by going upstairs to sleep on his upstairs bed all by himself.
Like even if I am downstairs.
And this, from my once velcro dog.
My I-know-you're-in-the-shower-because-I-can-hear-the-water-running-but-that's
-not-good-enough-I-have-to- be-able-to-see-you dog.

Now at first, I have to admit, I was a little insulted that he'd rather be alone upstairs than hang with me, but then I decided I should celebrate the fact that he's secure and comfortable enough to know I'm not going to up and leave him for good if he can't see me every minute of every day. And I was happy that I could trust him up there unsupervised because he's never, ever done a single naughty doggie thing, like, ever. Not one.

So it was PupCake upstairs this afternoon, all by his well behaved doggie little self while I did my thing downstairs. And then Boy came home and PupCake came down to greet him and we commenced with our evening activities and then came home to veg in front of the big TV.


Where I find this:

Yes, friends, that is my clapotis-in-progress, relocated from it's home in a bag next to the sofa to a certain secure and well behaved enough to be alone dogs' bed.
The picture is a little blurry because I was in a panic while trying to snap it wondering if he had taken it upon himself to both steal and chew it.
And don't you love that look?
"whhhaat mommie?"
He came and plunked himself down after I had discovered the evidence and then seemed a little miffed when I pulled the yarn out from under his butt.

But he didn't chew it.

Good PupCake.


Thursday, March 08, 2007


I think I have told you before how much I LOVE artichoke dip. So much so that it makes an appearance on our dinner menu from time to time. Healthy, I know.

Our lovely meal of hot artichoke dip, bread and a nice healthy salad...

with fried shallots and cheese, that is. Because I didn't have any croutons, and a salad is nothing without a little crunch.
You have tried frying shallots, haven't you? They're like those greasy, canned french fried onions only they taste good, and their texture and delicious, rich flavor make the perfect, quick little garnish for lots and lots of things. Because I love garnishes that leave you wanting to eat them by the handful.

Really, though. It's artichoke season and I'm psyched. Not that our dinner of artichoke dip made with canned artichoke hearts has any relevance at all to the glory that is the fresh artichoke, but since we're on the subject...

I did part of my growing up in SoCal, so I've eaten artichokes practically since birth. Along with avocados, I think native Californians consider fresh artichokes one of their civil rights. And don't even get me going on the delight that is the Haas avocado.

I think I introduced every boyfriend I ever had to the amazing experience of dipping steamed artichoke leaves in butter and using your bottom teeth to scrape off the yummy part. Fortunately, I was always wise enough to choose boyfriends who had all their teeth (in case you have been wondering what kind of girl I am).

Anyway, I just can't wait to get my paws on some big ol fresh artichokes. If you've never partaken of a freshly steamed, whole artichoke, I highly recommend it. They require almost zero prep, and the only tools you need to cook them are a pan with a lid and something to use as a steamer basket.
Trim the prickly leaf tips off with a scissors and cut the stem off flush with the bottom but don't forget to peel that stem and throw it in the steamer, because it's edible, too. Steam them until you can easily poke a fork into the bottom, maybe 30-45 minutes depending on size, and after a few minutes worth of cooling off, eat the leaves as I have described above. Once you get mostly of the way to the heart, the leaves will be very thin and tender and purply-yellow, and you can pull of several at a time and eat the whole lower part.
When you get to the point that the leaves are short and very small, stop, get a knife and fork, and start dissecting off the heart fur from the flatish, disc shaped part that is the heart.
Yes, I said fur.
There's a bajillion little hairs in the heart of an artichoke that you definitely don't want to eat. But the heart is the best part, and really, all that rigamarole with the leaves is just foreplay for the nirvana that is a big chunk of fresh steamed artichoke heart, so take your time and get them all cleaned off.
Trust me, all this work will totally be worth it.
When it's nice and tidy and fur free, cut a big chunk, drown it in butter (with a little fresh lemon juice added to it if you like) and eat. Repeat, and nevermind how much butter you're consuming because after all, you ARE eating a vegetable and that completely makes up for it.

Welcome, Spring!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Reporting on WFDW

It's Wednesday again, and this week Boy chose Chicken Vindaloo. I can't say it's the simplest or best written recipe I've used, and the prep work took nothing short of an hour and a half, but I guess that's what's to be expected when one cooks Indian food at home.
When I went out gathering I was annoyed but not suprised to find that my store didn't have a bottled garam masala mix. Fortunately, I had everything necessary to make my own (there are about eighty bajillion recipes out there) and while this was a bit time consuming, it was well worth it for the smell alone. It was absolutely enchanting, like a drug really, and it added to the pleasure of getting to spend an afternoon playing around in my bright, sunny kitchen.
Anyway, the dish turned out fabulously. We both ate way too much and my only regret is that there isn't much leftover.

In the interest of staying in a breadmaking groove, I decided I'd try and make naan to go with the vindaloo, and you can see a couple of pieces tucked on the edge of the plate there. I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking, substituting about 1/3 less instant yeast for the specified active dry yeast. (Incidentally, the Bread Baker's Apprentice book addresses the properties of various types of yeast in detail which is how I knew this substitution would work. I'll tell you about this and how it relates to the No-Knead Bread at some point since active dry yeast is much easier to find on the spur of the moment than instant yeast)
Fortunately, JOC knows I'm not very likely to have a Tandoor oven in my house, (is naan the kind that gets slapped up against the inside walls of the Tandoor to bake?) so the recipe has you use a baking stone which worked great. The recipe was super simple and came out really good...something I'd make again, even to serve with non-Indian food, or, better yet, as a sandwich wrapper.

So, despite the fact that the vindaloo was about a three hour recipe between making the chili/garlic/ginger paste and carmelizing a whole pan full of onions, I'll definitely keep it on our menu rotation.

Now go check this coincidence out over at Knit-Whit. Unbeknownst to me, she had taken notice of the swank new carts, too and was on the verge of blogging them. She gets major cred because she was even with it enough to get a picture. We scare ourselves, yes.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Accessorizes Well

A certain someone mentioned really liking a certain delicious fabric that was mentioned here at S.C. a couple of weeks ago. And that certain someone also happens to be the mommie of my favorite member of the sporting group, who also happens to be one seriously accessorizable canine, given his nice neutral fur backdrop and broad shoulders and all. So I just couldn't go another day without whipping up a new collar for my pal:

I hope it fits, and I can't wait to see it on him!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Trial Size Crafting

I dare you to guess what's in here:

I'll give you a hint. It's small and cute and and it's not lipstick or gum.

Did you ever think, like, back in the 80's, when you were a Violent Femmes fan, that one of their songs would end up in a Wendy's commercial? I think it's bizarre. And kind of cool. And evidently I am not the only one wondering WTF.
I actually saw the Femmes show at First Ave. last year.

It totally could have been the 80's all over again, except everyone there was old like me...

Have you been to Target lately? I've been searching and searching for a certain dark bluish teal color of their Casual Home bath towels that I got one set of and then decided I couldn't live without another set because they perfectly match the wall color of our bathroom. This little hunt has caused me to visit nearly every Target in the Twin Cities in the last month. I haven't been able to find them (I'm now starting to think they stopped carrying that color entirely), but I did notice at one of the newly revamped SuperTarget's, that they went and got what I think are the coolest most hip shopping carts (aka, buggies, if you're from the south) ever. I didn't have my camera or I would have taken a picture of them for you, but they're all streamlined and sleek and fast looking and I couldn't wait to get in the store so I could grab one and fondle it and push it around. Boy thought I was a little whack for getting so excited about a shopping cart, oogleing them in the parking lot and all. When I ran up to one to check it out he was like "they have more of them inside, you know", but I thought they were really, really cool and it was hard for me to contain myself. And really, now that you think about it, didn't we go WAY too long without rethinking the shopping cart?

Ok, so I suppose you're wanting to know what's in the little pouch already.

YES! It's MOO cards! Meet my new MOO card holder, hot off the sewing machine. I'd tell you how I made it but it might make you cry and want to kill me, so instead I'm going to tweak it and make it super duper much better and simpler and THEN tell you how to make it. OK? In the mean time, go order some MOO's for yourself!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Last Nights' Dinner

Chicken Marsala using this recipe. Mine with mushrooms, Boys without (which explains why there's such a big pile), and served over buttered egg noodles. Great, big flavor comfort food with very little effort.
I happened to have everything on hand that was needed to make this recipe, minus the fresh sage, so I substituted a little dried rosemary that I crushed up in my mortar and pestle instead and it was deee lishious.
I will say this is one of the better Chicken Marsala recipes I've tried. I have no idea how authentic it is, but what I loved about it, besides being seemingly more flavorful, was that the chicken gets dredged in flour before being sauteed and that browned, slightly crispy crust this step imparts is a nice foil to the creamy smooth sauce and juicy chicken.
If you're a saucy kind of person like I am, and you're planning on serving this dish over a starch like noodles or potatos, increase the sauce ingredient quantities by at least 50%. And if there's a mushroom hater in your family, you can easily just saute them off with the shallot as instructed and then keep them out of the sauce until you're ready to plate (then celebrate that mushroom hater=more mushrooms for you!).
With our without, I'm giving this recipe an A.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Not Sure

It's all fun and crazydoggieness when there's a few inches of fresh snow, but PupCake's not so sure about the recent arrival of the chest deep kind you have to wade through. He'd much rather stand around and wait for mommie to forge a trail that he can then tiptoe through. Such a wuss, but darn cute, no?

One of the benefits of our recent dumping-on is that there's at least a couple of feet of whiteness piled up outside our many ground level windows and doors. Besides the fact that this makes sitting in the living room feel a little like being in an igloo (a nice cozy igloo with heated floors, that is), it also makes the light inside the house even more amazing than usual. Perfect for pictures of things that remind me that spring is near:

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Review of WFDW and Some More Bread Blabbering

Escarole Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs
Nothing special, but certainly quick and easy and edible. I probably wouldn't make it again, but Boy did mention that the meatballs would be great with red sauce. Hmmm. Good idea boy, particularly since they were simple to throw together and low fat.
For the record, I was unable to find escarole at my store but they did have about six or seven varieties of organic kale, so I randomly chose one and substituted it with great results. I absolutely love the dark green leafies but for you iceberg-over-romaine peeps, I think spinach would be an appropriately happy medium.

You can see No Knead bread loaf #3 there in the background. As I told you yesterday, this loaf was made as written using Gold Medal Harvest King flour, and the result was better than the previous, all purpose flour+ extra salt loaf, but still not nearly as nice as my initial attempt using King Arthur brand flour. I was able to dig up that one little blurb about the Gold Medal flour, but annoyingly, there's no information given regarding protein content which is the way flours are typically compared. I'm guessing it falls somewhere between King Arthur's bread flour and regular all purpose.
As an interesting aside, I've been working my way through Harold McGees' "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen", and had just gotten through the section on breads when I decided to jump into the KNB pool. He says that salt toughens the gluten in bread, which completely corresponds with my tough, yucky loaf #2 where I increased the salt by 1/4 tsp.

Enough about baking science, eh?

Go find out what the deal is with this recent Casa Splatgirl project:


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