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Friday, December 30, 2011

What We've Been Making Around Here

My husband made a pasta drying rack

That collapses down for easy storage

And a thread rack

I updated my sewing room/office, you can see the thread hanger on the right (do not look under my craft table though...  I know!  It's really messy!)

Yesterday I took come Christmas money and bought the wall saying, and fabric to cover the bulletin board  and pillow (but didn't buy tacks, so the board is empty right now..)

The shelves my husband lined with fabric for me on the left

Oh and I FINALLY made myself some gloves!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Homemade Ravioli

So I treated myself to a pasta maker.  Unfortunately I used it exactly twice before it broke.  I'm returning it tomorrow and planning on ordering another online.  Anyone out there own one they love or hate?  If so, I sure could use a recommendation.

I made whole wheat spaghetti, AND MY KIDS LIKED IT!  Totally worth buying one just for that!  I have to admit, I eat whole grain, but not my pasta, I just don't like the texture of it.  This was great though, so I'm sold on a pasta maker, just not the one I got.

Today My son and I made ravioli.  Any item that gets my kids cooking with me, also worth the price.  We made caribou ravioli and cheese (my daughter is a vegetarian). 

Pasta Recipe:
2 cups whole wheat flour, (or white, or 1/2 white and 1/2 semolina)
1/4 cup salt
4 eggs beated

Mix try ingredients and place on cutting board (I used a bowl, I'm messy), make a well and put eggs in center.  Mix with a fork until mixed and a dough forms, if too dry add a little water.  My dough is always a bit sticky and I take small amounts dredge in flour and roll out or put through pasta maker.  It usually takes several times of dredging and folding before the dough holds together nicely.  Roll out to desired thickness and fill with either of the following fillings. 

Meat Ravioli Recipe

1/2 # ground Caribou (or beef)
1/2 chopped onion
clove garlic pressed
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
2 small eggs

Cheese filling
1 cup ricotta cheese (homemade recipe here)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 small eggs or 1 large egg
1/4 c. chopped parsley

We used a ravioli stamp to shape ours.  Place on floured or greased cookie sheet in single layer, and freeze and place in zip lock bag, or cook 5 minutes in salted simmering water.  We served with marinara sauce yesterday and alfredo today.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup (with a Balkan twist)

Sorry about the bad picture, it's taken with my iPhone and backlit.  The tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving, and will stay up until the day after New Years.

I hope all who celebrate have a wonderful Christmas or Chanukkah.  It's always enjoyable, but I'm glad to have the gift making behind me, and am looking forward to relaxing a bit.  I don't think that is going to happen just yet though, we still have a fair amount of cleaning up to do. 
The table that usually lives in my craft room needs to go back upstairs.  Oh and ahem... the rest of the dishes and empties need to go....

If you are like me you have some leftovers to deal with.  We always cook a ham for Christmas and my favorite thing to make is bean soup from the ham bone.  Here is my recipe below.

Ham and Bean Soup (with a Balkan twist)
Mmmm with bread and a nice glass of red wine....

1# of Navy or Great Northern Beans, rinsed 
Water to cover beans by 2-3 inches (about 6 cups, I doubled mine and 12 cups was perfect)
Ham bone and chopped ham ham, ham hocks also work (I also make this with kielbasa, sliced thickly and added about 45 minutes before serving if I don't have ham)
3 carrots, sliced
3 potatoes, chopped (use a variety that holds up well like red, I use Yukon Gold also)
2 celery 
1 onion chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
5-6 whole peppercorns
Salt to taste 
3 Tbsp olive oil 
1-2 teaspoons Paprika
2 Tbsp flour

 Rinse and pick over beans, add to pot with ham bone or ham hocks, chopped onion, bay leaves and peppercorns and simmer until beans are tender.  You can soak the beans and add fresh water, but this makes a thinner soup.  I like it thick and hardy, so I don't do this.  Remove bone and pick off meat, I like a lot of ham so I usually add chopped ham at this time too.  Remove bay leaves.  Add carrots, celery, potatoes, tomato paste and garilc and simmer until tender.  Add salt to taste.  15 minutes prior to serving, make a roux, heat olive oil, add paprika and stir, add flour making a paste and add to the soup.  I find that adding a little broth and thinning it out some before adding, makes it easier to add.  Simmer to thicken a little. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Homemade Kimchi

Ok, so kimchi is not your typical Christmas food or gift, but well I'm not typical I guess...

  This year I decided to make most of our gifts to make them more personal and less commercial.  My stepfather was stationed in Korea in the Army and loves kimchi, so I decided to make him some as a gift.  Since he's had actual Korean Kimchi I wanted to try to find an authentic recipe.  Probably making something I've never made before is not the best idea, so I'm feeling a tad insecure about it.  I also have never actually tasted it so I have no idea if it is right or not!  

I found many, many recipes out there.  Most with very similar ingredients so I kind of combined them all and the following recipe is what I ended up doing, hopefully with good results.

Kimchi Recipe:

  • 2 Heads Napa cabbage, chopped into 2" squares
  • Salt  the cabbage with 1/2 cup kosher salt, mix well to coat, I placed mine in 2 gallon ziplock bags for about 5 hours.  Many of the recipes called for much more salt, but comments of being way to salty were common and people cut the salt way back.  
  • Rinse the cabbage very well and squeeze as much of the water out of it as you can. 
  • 2 carrots grated
  • 1 bunch of green onions chopped into 1/2" - 1" pieces.
We are lucky enough to have a Korean market, and my husband (who had to ask for directions to the products for a change because none of them were in English) was kind enough to go pick up my fish sauce and Korea hot chile pepper powder.  It's hot, but not as hot as cayenne, more like hot paprika, but maybe even not that hot.

 In a bowl mix together the following: 
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce (recipes varied from 1 Tbsp to 1/2 cup for the same amount of cabbage)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
  • 1" chunk of fresh ginger, grated
  • 5 heaping tablespoons Korean chile powder
What the mix looked like in the bowl

Wearing gloves mix the spice mixture into the cabbage vegetable mixture.  Place into a clean container.  The mixture fit into 2, quart canning jars.

  Pack the mixture in tightly, and I placed the lids on loosely so pressure doesn't build up (and blow up the jars).  Ferment at room temperature for 4 days, then refrigerate.  Most of the recipes say it can store for 1 month, but I've read it can be stored much longer and will continue to ferment.

So that is what I did, I'll let you know how it turns out.  Has anyone made kimchi, and if so, do you have any suggestions for me?

Follow Up:  Everything seems to have worked well with this recipe.  I never ended up tasting it, I had a stomach bug when it was ready.  The person I gave it to said it was better than the ones he has gotten at the store.   I guess I'll have to give it another try and actually eat some this time...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Mittens ... a scarf... the crafting continues

So again I had planned on getting a post done sooner, who's idea was it to make most of the Christmas gifts this year?  It always sounds like such a good idea, but in the midst of it, it feels kinda overwhelming!  I do see light at the end of the tunnel now!  Here's what I've been working on...

Mittens, lots of mittens!

With some trial and error (errors like mittens that would fit an infant instead of the 3 year old I was trying for, making 2 right hands instead of a left and right, lots of seam ripping, I have managed to make several pairs.  The adult women gloves on the right of the photo are 110% of the pattern found here  The pink fit a 3 yo and are made at 77% of the pattern, the orange and gray child at the top left was at 90% and fits a 7 year old boy, and 85% fits about a 5 year old. 

Another gift for someone at work (we drew names)
The gloves were made with the above pattern at 110%.  The scarf pattern can be found here.  It was quick and pretty easy to make.  My yarn was larger than the pattern, I used a H hook, and ended up dropping a section to make it not be too wide.  I started by chaining 31. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Recycled Mittens, My Craft Obsession, and Everything Else

We had a nice Thanksgiving and family time.  I hope that all of you who celebrate did too.  Ok, ok, I do realize it's now December and Thanksgiving is long past, which means I'm again behind in my blogging.  I managed to not take a single picture of the food ( I know really? As I blog about, you know, food...).  My update on the brine.  I liked the Alton Brown recipe better than the one that I tried previously.  I think I overcooked the turkey a bit, and lost some of the juiciness, it was still really good and I think I'll try that brine again.  Although I think I read on a blog about another one that uses a lot more sugar, twice as much sugar as salt.  Maybe I'll give that one a try next....
Photo Credit

I went to Anchorage for a few days for a conference.  Trips to Anchorage or "outside" meaning out of Alaska, usually involve shopping.  As we have exactly one "mall" which is by no stretch of the imagination an actual mall, we call it a "hall". I caught some great sales and managed to come with an almost empty suitcase and leave with a full one.  One of the speakers at the conference, talked about the healing properties of wild berries.  It was very interesting, and I was hoping to make a post on that, but I'll have to do it another time because I haven't been able to access the slides again.

Two weeks ago we were -40 degrees, a lot changes in a couple weeks, we've had a temperature swing of about 80 degrees.  Sunday we warmed up to over 40+ and got freezing rain.  I think we are the only place that closes school for rain, but never for snow!  We are back to normal now and are back down 1 degree.  I like it to warm up, but never enough to rain, it just causes a mess!

I thought things would settle down in the winter and I would have more time.  Yep that hasn't really happened.  My crafting obsession resurfaces during the dark, cold winter days, and as usual I have several projects going at a time.  
My husband fixed my sagging craft cabinet, and put the nice fabric to dress it up too.
Crochet baby blanket for my new niece
The weekend after Thanksgiving I took a recycled wool mitten class.

Reverse side
 The directions for felting the wool and making the mittens can be found at this web site: studio5 recycled mitten pattern and instructions. 
There is a printable pattern available on the web site.  The class we took found the size a bit small for some women, it works well for teens and smaller women.  The pattern I used was increased on a printer to 110%.

Well that's whats going on around here.  What winter crafts are you all working on?