Back in the Saddle

Well, I know it’s been a while, but trust me, you haven’t missed anything interesting.  Fall is in the air, I’m feeling all crafty and so I’m back!  To keep me from bailing on you again, I’ve gone ahead and signed up for Did You Make That?‘s Apronalong!  I even figured out how to put the little button up on my sidebar!  While I do have the apron pattern that Karen is using (Butterick 4087), I will instead be trying to complete an apron that I bought fabric for three years ago,  one of the many UFOs cluttering up the craft room these days.

So, yes, I have had this fabric for a few years now, picked up from Mill End here in town.  The stripe is a ticking, so it is kind of fuzzy looking, it’s not the picture.  The other two are cottons from Glenna Hailey and Maywood Studio’s Rise ‘N Shine.  They seemed perfect for a retro-inspired garden apron.  I did have some red bias tape somewhere that I was going to use for edging, but I might be brave and try to make my own out of the floral fabric with Karen’s help ;).

I’ll be working with My Byrd House‘s clothespin apron tutorial for a pattern starting point.  Since I want to use this apron for harvesting in the garden, there are some tweaks that will need to be made, so off to the sketchbook I go.  Wish me luck!

Sunday Morning

Well, it’s been a while. Looks like I wasn’t as good at keeping up with school, work, and the interwebs as I thought. Now, though, I’m done with school and taking it easy on the work front to catch up on the home front, so hopefully we can make this a more regular thing.

French Toast with Strawberries

Starting easy – here’s our Sunday Breakfast. We try to have one nice breakfast a week, sometimes out, sometimes home. Last week was a failed attempt at beignets (bad recipe, tasty, but not a beignet). This week it was too warm to deep fry, so we made French Toast. Not super-fancy but since we don’t often indulge in sweet carby breakfasts, it was nice. I am not a huge fan of custards, so I make my french toast pretty light, which means the bread has to be top notch. Today we used a delicious challah from New Seasons, our favorite local grocery.

If you’d like to make you some it’s super easy, I don’t even use a recipe. In a pie pan, whisk an egg up, then add some milk. How much milk depends on how much french toast I’m making, how dry the bread is, etc. Like I said, I don’t like my french toast all soggy and usually make about 6 slices of french toast, so I usually end up putting a quarter inch of liquid in the bottom of the pie pan (don’t worry, if it looks like you’re running out, just splash some more milk in and stir!). Whisk in some cinnamon and nutmeg, or your favorite spices. Heat up a pan over medium, add some butter if it isn’t non-stick (I usually even give my non-stick a butter swipe for flavor’s sake). Then dip your bread slices, flip to coat the other side, and move to the pan (I do this quickly to avoid soggy french toast, if you like that kind of thing, let it soak up some, but you might want to increase your egg and milk amounts). Cook until browned on each side, and adjust your heat if it’s going too quickly, especially if you let it soak in, you want to cook the egg-milk mixture through.

I served these with diced strawberries with a little orange mint mixed in and maple syrup. Yum.

Welcome Back, French Press

Coffee - now Pretty AND Piping Hot to the last drop.

So, a long, long, time ago, in an unfortunate table clearing incident, our dear French Press got hidden behind the copious amounts of crap kitchen appliances that clutter my countertop. Found a week later, and rather green, I never could get the screen clean enough to stomach brewing coffee in it again. I went to every coffee shop and kitchen store in town. Everyone carries replacement glass inserts, but no screens. Well, I finally broke down and bought one over the interwebs – shipping was almost as much as the screen, but together still less than a new press.

So, to celebrate the French Press’s return to service, this morning we used it to make a pot of Stumptown Coffee, and enjoyed it with broiled figs and crostini spread with marscapone, and I made it a sweater. Lamb’s Pride Bulky in a seed stitch for the base with buttons and crocheted flowers (also Lamb’s Pride, but Worsted Weight). I like the fuzzy halo from the mohair in the yarn. It makes it look old-fashioned, like my pictures, because I am not a quick enough knitter to have finished this while there was still natural light around.

Good Eats – August

In addition to taking advantage of the cooler swings in the weather to do some baking – banana bread, cake & homemade granola – the Mister has had a little more free time, and we’ve enjoyed a couple of jaunts out for nom noms.

So, here’s what I’m currently enamored with in the Portland food scene:

Korean Frito Pie from Yogio

K-Pop from Yogio

The carts at Killingsworth & Greeley – Second trip to this pod, and they have yet to disappoint. This time, we got there in time to have a Wicked Perfect waffle from Wicked Waffles. Oh my, how appropriately named. Sweet cormeal waffle wrapped around piping hot eggs, crispy bacon, and melty cheddar.

Very difficult to force myself to share with the Mister (and so tempting we just dug in and forgot to take a snapshot to remember it by). Glad I did share, though, because we then split the Korean Frito Pie and K-pop (perfectly fried spiced popcorn chicken with spicy sauce, veg & rice) from Yogio. Wow. Both were very filling and super tasty. Sadly, I believe they have retired the K-pop, but be oh-so-happy that the Frito Pie is sticking around!

Nectarine Marscapone pie from Pyro Pizza

Pyro Pizza – Cartopia Pod – all the Cartopia carts I’ve tried are stellar, but recently I keep going back for Pyro Pizza. The kicker was the weekend they served a Nectarine & Marscapone pizza. Crispy crust is the star, with just enough supporting assistance from wonderfully fresh ingredients. They also make their own sodas, love their zesty Ginger Ale! It might be a good thing we live so far away.

Country Cat – we recently had an epihany when we realized that brunch here, where they seem to make everything from scratch with garden-fresh ingredients and no pretension whatsoever, was CHEAPER than going to the crappy chains out in the suburbs where we live. What?!? What?!? Yeah, that blew our minds. That and the best freakin’ BLT I’ve ever had, hands down. And you must try the Gato Verde.

EatingWell – as you can probably tell, I love me some food. Good food, which mostly translates to fattening food, and I’m trying to get that under control. It’s slow going, because I refuse to deprive myself of what I love (see above, and the pot of Chili Con Carne bubbling on my stove), but EatingWell is there for me. Good, healthy food without artificial this and that (a huge peeve of mine with other weight loss recipes). I have a subscription to the magazine, but the website is my first stop when making a grocery list every week, or when I have a hankering for something that can probably be made a bit healthier (tuna noodle casserole anyone?)

Thanks to the Mister for the food shots in the post!

Granny Square Sampler

Look!  All the blocks fit perfectly on my coffee table!

I’ve been working on this sampler on and off for a couple years. It’s all granny squares from Jan Eaton’s book – 200 Crochet Blocks for Blankets, Throws, and Afghans: Crochet Squares to Mix and Match. I am not a fan of the back and forth blocks, but I love the granny squares. After making my brother an afghan, I decided to make a bunch of them into “sampler” so I could see how they looked for future blanket planning. These were all crocheted with some crazy bright scrap acrylic I have lying around from stuffed animal experimenting. I didn’t do every granny block in the book, but they’re the ones I liked the best, and all different.

I’ve started sashing them together, which has proven to be the hardest part! First, my choice of cheapish acrylic yarn (I believe it’s mostly Caron Super Soft and TLC, but all the bands are long gone) has left me with a poor color selection for joining. Black drowned the purple ones completely. White/Cream was… ick. So, I went with grey. The only greys at the craft store looked about the color of sweat shirt material. I was hoping for something in the pewter to charcoal range, but no luck. On the bright side, the sweat shirt grey looks more silvery now that it’s against the colors.

Next challenge is making them all square up. Apparently, I do not have mad gauge skills. They’re all different sizes – some so alarmingly that I actually went back and re-checked the pattern to be sure I didn’t add stitches! Hoping that a run through the wash after it’s all put together will magically only shrink up the too big ones. Ha. In the meantime it’s a lot of counting edge stitches and planning skips when joining them.

More pics when I’m done with the border!

Thrift Store Restraint

With a little break from school, I’ve finally been able to visit a couple thrift shops. Scored an Intel Play microscope and some lusterware, and exercised some restraint in the knick-knack aisle. I think I’ll start a new category for the things I did NOT bring home (sadly, mostly due to thrift store inflation. I can’t believe what they’re charging for some of these things!). This week’s trio – the mer-lady salt shaker (she looks so familiar – anyone know who she is?) and the Brothers Frogg. They may be made of shell, but the eyes!!!!

Merlady & the Brothers Frogg

So, I promised Craftiness…

When I started the blog, I was mostly “funemployed” (as a friend so aptly named it) and had time on my hands. Hence the big garden, and lots of cheap zucchini.

No one wanted to interview me, probably because my education didn’t quite match what I was doing, and my accounting experience was all in a field that uses proprietary software, and was hurting in a big way due to the economic ick. So, I figured classes to get me up to speed were in order. A Post-Bacc accounting certificate should do it. Signed myself up for a full course load and Murphy waved his wand and I had a full time job again, and full time classes. So, as you can see, crafting has fallen by The Wayside for the moment.

The Wayside, by the way, is my daily commute, which, at an hour to an hour and a half on the train each way offers some pretty good crafting time when I’m not having to finish homework up that I procrastinated on instead. Currently I am crocheting a commissioned red fox, who isn’t looking foxy-enough yet for posting. But, since at Thanksgiving we got to meet the sweet little 7 week old that the earlier promised but not posted craftiness was for, and she now has her Chicken Viking Hat, I can post it here without spoiling any surprises…

This is the fabled chicken viking hat with minor drumstick alteration on my part. I had to increase the length of the drumstick because mine ended up too stubby, and I made up my own crocheted “feet” instead of knitting them. It’s pretty cute on the pumpkin, but WAY cuter on the babe!

Zucchini For Breakfast


Yum, this loaf is a little bit sweet, and healthier than most muffins or whatever from the coffee shop, it’s cheap and easy to make to boot (easier still to make two at once and bring one to most grateful co-workers, if you’re lucky enough to have them right now)! I can not stand a banana that even thinks about getting ripe, so normally banana bread is my morning nosh, and Veganomicon’s Lower Fat Banana Bread recipe is not only the healthiest, but also the tastiest I’ve had. So, with some serious zucchini poundage staring me in the face, it was time to find a zucchini bread recipe as good and healthy as the banana bread one.

And I know it’s a lot of recipes (zucchini recipes!) right now, but the crafting I’m up to at the moment is a gift, so posting will have to wait until after it’s been delivered :).

Bonus breakfast zucchini tip – take any leftover shredded zucchini from making the bread and saute with some finely chopped garlic and onion (heck, throw in some swiss chard or anything else you have left from your farm share) then pour just enough scrambled eggs over to hold it all together, and stir to coat evenly. Cover and cook (if you’re brave or talented, flip the whole mess over to make it go faster) and serve on a sandwich or as a scramble. Top with a little shredded cheese and serve on it’s own or in a breakfast sandwich!

SachitaBean’s Zucchini Breakfast Bread (Vegan too!)
adapted from Emeril’s zucchini bread and Lisa’s zucchini bread recipes.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed into 3 tablespoons warm water (let sit 5 min to thicken) or 1 large egg
1/2 cup applesauce (one of those little lunch size cups – want to try pineapple next!)
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, grease bottom of a 9×5 loaf pan.

In medium bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon, then stir in nuts to coat with flour. Set aside.

In large bowl, stir together zucchini, flaxseed mixture, applesauce and sugar. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until top is firm and toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on stovetop for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Flavor improves if you wrap and let sit for a day.

Doubles fine to make two loaves.

La Jungla’s Bounty – Zucchini Saute

I know the Northwest grows monster things. I know I should have allowed twice the space the little plant tags said. But I didn’t and now, the squash are staging a coup, kept at bay by the melons, and everything else is becoming a casualty. I find myself picking 3 lb zucchini I somehow didn’t see yesterday, and can’t reach half of the cherry tomatoes because the pumpkins are in the way.

So, as I have had more days that I like to admit where zucchini has been served at every meal, here’s a recipe that’s good enough it’s made repeat appearances. It’s easily adaptable, so increase, decrease, add, or substitute to your heart’s content! We had it with our favorite homemade flatbread, and when I made it today I brushed some garlic olive oil on the flatbread after flipping it and sprinkled some shredded cheese on top so it melted while the other side of the flatbread cooked. Yum!


Zucchini Lunch Saute

Generous glug of olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small sweet onion, sliced
1 large zucchini (or 2 smaller) cut into bite size pieces
2 carrots, shredded
kernels from 2 cobs corn
1-2 cups cherry tomatoes
favorite seasoning blend, to taste (I used Penzey’s Mural of Flavor)
Parmesan Cheese

I prepped my veggies thusly: garlic and onions in one bowl, corn, carrots, and tomatoes in a second, then the chopped zucchini. Heat the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold your bounty. Add the garlic and onions and saute until the onions are softened. Add zucchini and saute until the zucchini begins to shrink down a little, add in the corn, carrots and tomatoes, sprinkle liberally with your spices, cover and cook until desired doneness remove the lid towards the end to let any accumulated liquid evaporate (I like my zucchini and carrots al dente, this also keeps it from overcooking and turning to mush when I heat up any leftovers). Plate up and shred some parmesan cheese on top.

This would also be very tasty with a mexican or other cheddar blend cheese, but the kind I had on hand was a 2% blend, and it didn’t deal well with melting on top of something so liquidy – it stuck to everything but the vegetables.

Hello world!

EEk!  I has a blog.  Now, what do I write?