Archive for February, 2010

26
Feb
10

cream whippers

….are something everyone ought to have. I thought about making a concession to people who may be watching their caloric intake, but I’ve decided not to. Even those people need these, if only for use on their Sunday morning cup of coffee. If you’re going to watch your intake all week, then the day that you can splurge ought to be done in the most enthusiastic way possible. With fresh whipped cream.

Cream whippers are also vital to any kitchen that ever serves children. Need a way to add a bit of pizzazz to pancakes? Fresh whipped cream. Chocolate milk? Fresh whipped cream. Fruit salad? Hot chocolate? Pound cake? You get the idea. And using a cream whipper instead of whipping it up in a kitchen aid or other stand mixer gives you the ability to make fun designs and stuff to make it all the more exciting and special.

And for those of you who are not watching your caloric intake (at least not too closely!) – ah, let me tell you of the joys that a cream whipper can bring. Coffee. Desserts. Waffles. Chai spice rice pudding. The possibilities are endless, and the convenience is unmatched when you have your own cream whipper waiting for you in your fridge, ready to dispense this cloudy creamy goodness.

Why not just buy the cans of whipped cream? Well, first of all, they don’t taste as good. Secondly, you can’t be creative with them. When you mix up your own, you can add anything! Think vanilla syrup, for starters. Then branch out to hazelnut. Now start thinking about things like dark spiced rum when mixing up a batch for your pumpkin pies this fall. You can mix pretty much anything in to give your whipped cream that one of a kind delicious flavor.

Cost. It can be daunting. You could spend anywhere from $30 to $150 on a cream whipper. So maybe you ask for it for Mother’s Day or Christmas. For the cook who has it all, this is a great gift.

What size? I was given this whipper for Christmas. The half pint works well, but the pint sized one would be nice. You use the same sized chargers for the half pint and pint, so with the pint you’re getting a much better value out of each charger. The cream lasts in the whipper for two weeks (or so I’ve heard – mine has always been used up well before the two or even one week mark!), so you don’t have to worry about it spoiling. Also, if you have guests over it would be nice to have the larger size – my half pint barely made enough to garnish 3 cups of coffee and 5 pieces of chocolate torte.

So put it on your wish list or send your husband/kids a link to this post as a not-so-subtle-hint. Then you too can enjoy honey vanilla pound cake like this.

22
Feb
10

fabric

I was lucky enough to win a stack of fat quarters from Anna Maria Horner’s new Folksy Flannels line a few months back, and I’m just now getting to it.

I’ve had issues with ordering fabric online in the past – you can’t touch it (I’m a very tactile person) and you can’t be sure of the colors. I was very excited to discover that these flannels are exactly as I had hoped they would be in color, and also that the material is so wonderfully sturdy – not at all like the cheap stuff you get at JoAnns. I can’t wait to start cutting out some fabric to make baby gifts!

On the topic of fabric ordering woes and how to avoid them, I recently discovered the most wonderful shop up here in Spokane. Apparently, she has the largest selection of Amy Butler fabrics in the Northwest because she has the entire selection! Every last lovely print! She also has a great selection of Anna Maria Horner and Heather Bailey. I was even able to find some Fresh Cut fabrics that seem to be unavailable now even online. So if you want to see some of these fabrics in person and are making a trip to Spokane soon, stop in to The Top Stitch!

18
Feb
10

socks!

I’ve tried to pick up knitting a dozen or so times in my life, and I’ve always gotten confused and given up. It’s been needles:12, Betsy:0. I recently decided that that had been going on long enough, and tackled a pattern for socks for my husband. I didn’t understand half of it, but I figured out how to increase and decrease, and kind of just went from there, learning as I went. The first sock to come off of the needles was better sized for my feet, so I threw that one aside and added some extra stitches to get these.

I figured out on the last one how to better cast on so that they weren’t all wonky at the tops, and a few other tricks. Needless to say, the socks aren’t exactly matching, but they’re socks! And they’re warm! And they wash well! And I think I’ve got the basics down, so now I’m working on this sweater. It’s actually a very easy pattern, even for me! If you know how to knit, purl, increase, decrease, and bind off, you can make this sweater. That easy. I’ll post pictures when I’m done!

18
Feb
10

peanut butter cups

I know this is a bit late for Valentine’s Day, but if you have to celebrate late this year like we do, then it’s just in time! I took an old standby of a recipe and put it in those fantastic silicone baking molds to make heart shaped peanut butter cups. I lost the “family” recipe, but I’m pretty sure it was almost identical to this one. Here’s how they looked….festive, huh?

13
Feb
10

Valentines Day Dinner

On the menu is a simple meal of linguine with marinated salmon, and a greek sort of salad of my own invention.

Linguine

  • 1 pound of linguine
  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. asparagus, chopped into 2″ pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • parsley
  • sea salt, fresh ground pepper

Salmon

  • 1/2lb salmon skinned and deboned
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Salad:

  • romaine lettuce
  • red & orange sweet pepper
  • feta cheese

Croutons:

  • day old bread cubed
  • garlic salt
  • olive oil

Dressing:

  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper

Day Before Prep:

Croutons – Cube bread slices and leave out to dry for several hours. Before going to bed, drizzle generously with olive oil and season heavily with garlic salt. refrigerate overnight.

Marinade – thinly slice 5 cloves of garlic and spread onto a shallow dish. Place fresh or frozen salmon filets on top. Sprinkle  with brown sugar and drizzle olive oil over the top. Cover, refrigerate, turning every several hours.

Day of Directions:

Croutons – Preheat oven to 325′, bake croutons until slightly browned, turning once or twice.

Salmon – Bake in the oven or fry in a frying pan, with juices. Be sure to use a small frying pan or a small baking dish to keep the moisture inside the fish. You can tell salmon is done cooking when it starts to fall apart on you.

Linguine – bring a large pot of salted water or stock to boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta. Mix cottage cheese and pasta together in a large bowl. Fry asparagus in olive oil, salt, pepper and juice squeezed from the zested lemon. When asparagus turns vibrant green, it is time to add in the pasta mixture. Fry for a couple minutes more, stirring constantly. Transfer the whole shebang to a serving dish and mix in lemon zest and parsley.

Salad is easily assembled and self seasoned with salt, pepper, oil and vinegar.

I’m thinking a very dry white wine would be perfect for this one.

(Note: Watch your olive oil when it’s heating in a frying pan. When it beings to subtly ripple, it’s ready.)

08
Feb
10

Superhero Cape

If you haven’t heard,  Maryland is snowed in. Thankfully, I have a lot of scrap fabric around to keep me busy with fun little projects like this….

Materials Needed: 1 yard of fabric, 1 yard of pom pom trim, 3 feet of 1/2 inch lace

08
Feb
10

Minor Upholstery Project

We recently bought a table and chair set off craigslist for about $60. One of the legs needs some wood glue, one of the six chairs needs a new seat, and the upholstery was vintage in a bad way. However, it has two leaves which will be a nice upgrade from our 4 seater bistro table.  I found some pretty clearance upholstery fabric online for $2.00 a yard. The chairs needed a little less than a half yard per seat, but I got a little extra so I could line up the pattern somewhat. Light staple guns are available at Joanns, along with staples. I brought one of those nifty 40% off one regularly priced item coupons and it ended up costing around $6.00 for the stapler. It was ridiculously easy to unscrew each seat, and staple squares of new fabric to the underside, before screwing it back on again. With one chair, I used some craft plastic to cover over the new fabric and thereby reserving that seat for my messiest eater.  Costs all put together, $60.00 for used table and chairs, $3.00 for wood glue, $8.00 for stapler and extra staples, $20.00 for fabric including shipping. Total project cost: $91.00




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