Monday, April 28, 2008

Girl Party

So I hosted this fabulous girls brunch and craft event yesterday, and this, along with some other breathtakingly lovely and much-appreciated gifted fresh flowers is all that remains:

It was a "celebrate Spring" party....

...and it snowed.

Anyway, you'll just have to take my word on it when I tell you this countertop once held a delicious array of home made brunch goodies and that my house was full of laughter and conversation and fun, interesting girls from all over the cities. I was fortunate to have in attendance some new faces, people that I've known only through blogging or email or whatever, along with old friends that I see often or not so much. It was an honor and a real pleasure, and hosting a girlie get together like this makes me feel like I've gotten another little piece of my pre-housebuilding life back. Hurray for Crafty Chix!

As I said, there was craftiness aplenty, but for me one of the real thrills was getting to make and serve up and share some of my favorite eats and having the perfect excuse to indulge in a grander version of my most favoritest meal of the day....with a cocktail or two, of course.

We had a delicious and new to my recipe box Zucchini, Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Quiche, fresh cut fruit with dip, rosemary-garlic marinated beef tenderloin skewers, fresh steamed asparagus with aioli, fresh green bean, corn and tomato salad with basil vinagrette, individual baked French toasts with candied bacon garnish, the delicious mac and cheese I told you about a while back, and to gild the lilly, my home made almond croissants.

Thanks so much to all my guests for making it a great party, and a super duper extra special thanks to Ms. Knit-Whit for being the most awesome kitchen assistant ever!

Hopefully next time I'll have the presence of mind to take a few pictures other than this quick one I got of PupCake all hunkered down with "his" pillow next to his favorite auntie's chair:

You can always count on a greyhound to be interested in just hanging out...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Fried Trout with Sweet Pork and Green Mango Salad:

Except without the trout and without the green mango.
I had good intentions, really. It's just that my grocery people sent me something labeled "steelhead trout" instead of the little rainbow trouts I had ordered (the recipe calls for head-on, skin-on trout), and what was in the package was most assuredly not trout at all but salmon. And then the rock hard, fully green mango that I would never in a million years have thought would be ripe, was nearly perfectly so. Disappointing because seeing what the deal is with green mango salad and using a variety of fish that we normally don't have was kind of the whole reason I chose the recipe in the first place.
But it was good, at least. The salad component turns out to be a lot like one of my favorite recipes ever that uses a lime juice based dressing with chiles, shallot, sugar and cilantro, and that I toss together with julienned romaine, red bell peppers, sliced mango and grilled chicken. Swap out the trout for chicken and add some lettuces, and you've basically got it. And since I was almost there with the salad component anyway, I figured I'd do just that.
Because I'm all about the salad.

The recipe has you doing a lot of dilly dallying with the pork, which, while it was a lot of screwing around, turned into a delicious salty-sweet condiment that was 100% worth the effort. It was sort of like a Thai version of candied bacon, but with fried shallots, too, and it would probably have made old shoe leather taste good. But if I were to make this again, I'd save it for an occasion when I have some leftover roast pork which would relieve one of a few of the fairly annoying and, IMO rather ill conceived steps.

Overall, I'd say hang on to the salad dressing and the sweet, crispy pork recipes and throw this stuff together with some lettuce to make an entree salad with the grilled meat of your choosing for a perfect summer meal.

p.s. New messenger bag on Etsy today. If red is your color, this one's for you!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sewing up Sunshine

I guess the ugly, gray weather was getting to me, but if this bag doesn't scream summer, I dunno what does. It's in my shop now and looking for a happy home. Yowza!
I love it when I can find a reason to mix stripes and florals, and this combo makes me happy beyond words.

I did manage to whip out another little sewing project in the category of home dec, but Boy is in demo mode upstairs and I must go assist him with mess-making, so it will have to wait. Plus I have what I think will be a handy custom label tutorial in the works. Stay tuned!

Happy Sunday

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Splatgirl's Ethiopian Kitchen

The latest issue of Saveur is just the kind of thing I've been looking for in terms of new and different recipes, with an entire feature on Ethiopian food. The article is great and the recipes all sound fantastic, so despite the fact that I don't think I've eaten Ethiopian food more than once and wasn't even sure if I'd like it, I decided to take the plunge.
Because, as you know, we're all about exploring new realms here at Splatgirl Creates.

I had to start by paying a visit to Penzey's to replenish a few basics and pick up some of the more unusual items I needed to make the staple seasoning mix called Berbere and the spiced butter, Nit'r Qibe, that figure so prominently in Ethiopian dishes. Some of the flavors these recipes call for are fairly mundane, like cinnamon and clove and peppercorns, but new to my spice stash are Nigella seeds, Fenugreek and Black Cardamom pods.

I think I've mentioned that I've been trying to work in a couple of meat-free dinners a week, so when I saw the Lentil Stew (Misr Wot) recipe, I knew it would be first on my list. Sticking to the theme, I also made the Ethiopian flatbread, Injera, that works as both serving and eating utensil, so between that and the butter and spice mix that were needed to go into the stew, the whole meal turned out to be a bit of a project. Completely worth the time, though, and the effort made for delicious and interesting meal. Even Boy, who by his own admission, doesn't usually like "a platefull of weird mush" thought it was yummy enough to go back for seconds.

The side of sauteed spinach was my offhand addition and it turned out to be a fairly good match, tasty either eaten alone to refresh the palette or tucked into a bite of Injera-wrapped stew.

I can definitely see how the spice profile of Ethiopian food could get to be an obsession. It's rich and complex and pungent in the same way that curry is, only completely and utterly different...a good different.

P.S. Did you peek to the right? This:

is in my shop. Get it while it's hot...they've been flying out faster than I can make them!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Catching Up

I have been withholding information from you on the cooking front. I'm sorry.

First, a recent and most fabulous cooking adventure from last week for which, sadly, I have no pictures, was Lemon Pudding Cakes. The recipe is from Food and Wine magazine via Apartment Therapys' The Kitchn, and it's uber delish. Being that Boy is not a lemony-citrusy dessert kind of person, I had the grave misfortune of having to eat all of the little ramekins full of pudding-y deliciousness myself, and they disappeared at the rate of two per day. Breakfast and Dessert, you know? They're simple and yummy and fun and elegant and I'm totally going to try the recipe with all manner of flavoring in place of the lemon just because it seems like it would lend itself well to this.

Second, dinner from last chilly Sunday night, Chunky Potato Soup with Dill.

Very fast and easy to make and tasty enough but a little boring. I took the advice of several of the reviewers and used chicken stock in place of the water which certainly helped, but I still found the recipe lacked spunk. Maybe a little cayenne pepper or some mustard or additional dried or fresh herb. Considering the few ingredients and the ten entire minutes it took to throw together, I guess I can't complain, and I must say that the dill made for a nice change of pace from the usual potato soup flavorings which is something I'm going to try and remember. Plus, you gotta love a nice hearty soup for a cold days' evening.


Saturday, April 05, 2008

Featuring Creatures

It has been brought to my attention that the creatures have been woefully neglected here at Splatgirl Creates of late, so I am here to make amends.

There is nothing that signifies the arrival of spring like PupCake seeking a post-walk lay on the cool concrete:

So I guess it's official, as this was the scene after yesterdays rather low-key walk/run. By the look on his face, you'd think I tied him to the bumper of a truck and made him run ten miles at full tilt, wouldn't you? He's not dead, I promise :) It's just that greyhounds are exceedingly good at lounging.
I like to call it jell-o dog.

And then.
You know how creatures in the wild have markings that allow them to blend into their surroundings? M-Ah's a master of the "suburban home media room sofa" habitat:

Cat? What cat?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Not So Keen On Quinoa

This is the second time I have cooked quinoa and used it in a recipe, and the second time I have been underwhelmed. But it's not that I don't like the cooked quinoa, because I really, really DO like it. It's just that once it starts trying to be something else, it loses some of it's appeal for me. So from now on, I resolve to treat it more like the simple grain that it is and use it like I would use a side dish with a pat of butter or a little of some kind of sauce drizzled over.
Anyway, WFDW this week was Quinoa Cakes with Eggplant-Tomato Ragu and Smoked Mozzarella:

Aside from the smoked mozzarella, the ragu part of this dish was pretty good. Except that I kind of don't and never have really gotten eggplant. It tastes like nothing and is kind of a lot of work to deal with because recipes usually ask you to salt and drain and pat dry and blahblah with it before you actually DO something with it. Texturally, I guess I think it lends an interesting thick, silky quality to things, but I'm not sure that's enough of a trade off. And in this case, I found it to be still bitter and texturally unsatisfying after the short, 10 minute simmer the recipe calls for. But after I let everything simmer with the addition of some chopped fresh rosemary for an extra 45 minutes or so, it all came together and was much yummier. I used very, very little of the smoked mozzarella because it was overpowering and just sort of awful tasting, IMO. It's not an ingredient that I have a whole lot of hands-on with, so I don't know if it was just the brand I happened to have or what. Either way, I won't be looking forward to using that again anytime soon, because throwing 90% of a $6 ball of cheese in the garbage makes me a little crabby.

On to what's up in the studio corner.
The olive and orange messenger bag was super quick to find a home (thank you Stephanie! I hope you love it!) so I got right to work on another color/pattern combination that had been calling out to me from the worktable:

This little darling is in my shop now, and I am completely loving that black print lining. Cute but not annoyingly so, and quite modern, I think.

BTW, some of you have inquired in the past about custom bags, accessories or whatever, and I think I am finally at a place, pattern-making-wise, where I can accommodate those requests and produce one-off's of things that still meet my requirements as far as quality. If you've got something in mind that you'd like to have made, email me at splatgirl at gmail dot com with the details.

Have a great weekend everyone! Boy and I are super excited for the return of Battlestar Galactica tonight, so here's to lounging in front of the bigTV with a bowl of popcorn for some favorite show watching!


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