Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We Call It Creamed Corn

The hipsters call it "fresh corn polenta."  Run raw ears of corn over a grater or a corn creamer, melt some butter in a saucepan, put the corn glop and liquid in, and cook until thickened.  Salt generously.

Around here, creamed corn is eaten as a side dish, usually at a meal where there are mashed potatoes also.  Some people really like their baby food carbs!

However, I got the idea from the hipsters to serve a dippy egg over the creamed corn, with a few shavings of Parmesan, some herbs, and a lot of black pepper.  So delicious, I even repeated it for breakfast with a sliced tomato on the side.

Here, you see our own garden green beans with brown butter and another salad from Real Simple.  Watermelon with a vinaigrette, pistachios, green olives, and feta.  It was strangely tasty, but the leftovers were not good (soft nuts, weeping watermelon). Pin It

Monday, August 18, 2014

Appliqueing Over Stains

My approach to stains on kids' play clothes is to give the clothes a long soak in Oxyclean and hot water.  By "long," I mean one to three days.  If that doesn't take it out, I usually cut the clothes into rags.  For special clothes, I will hand-scrub with Octagon or another serious soap.

For this shirt, a school uniform polo with mysterious brown stains, I felt creative, so I sewed on some twigs, flowers, and leaves.  I cut the shapes I wanted from some scraps of polyester double-knit (well, the twig is brown satin ribbon) - it's generally advisable to applique knit onto knit and woven onto woven.  The fabrics wear and move the same way, helping the applique to last longer.

I kept my bobbin in white thread and then changed the top thread as I went along, choosing thread colors several shades lighter or darker than the fabric I was sewing on.  I couldn't cover every single stain, but the design really distracts the eye from the spots.  This is still a play shirt, but I got to have fun while I learned more about how to control fabric and color to my satisfaction.

These are the cut-offs with bias tape, turned up to improve their appearance.

I thought the results were pretty.  Just like my daughter.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

So Many Ways with Zucchini: Updated

Apparently it's a great year for growing zucchini around here.  I got a whole grocery sack from friends and as I shredded and shredded, I wrote this blog post in my head.  And then another friend told me with italics and caps that she needed this post.  Here you go, Polly!

I have used zucchini to make pickles instead of cucumbers.  I use whichever is easier or cheaper to get my hands on.

We like Surprising Zucchini Salad. 

Grilled Zucchini (like filets, my husband says).  And grilled zucchini in ratatouille.

I made a list of recipes that we like that use shredded zucchini.  I put it in the front of my supper notebook, and then I shred and freeze zucchini in the amounts of the recipes.  The list becomes a handy reminder in the winter when I come across a jar of shredded zucchini in the freezer and stare at it blankly.

The list:
1. zucchini cookies from Simply in Season - there are lots of zucchini cookies out there; these have raisins, walnuts, and spice in them

2. zucchini-crusted pizza from Moosewood

3. zucchini yeast rolls from Simply in Season

4. A shredded zucchini brownie that is delicious and economical: Frosted Zucchini Brownies.

5. Tasty vegetarian crab cakes.

6. And these delicious cornmeal cookies from Martha Stewart.

The photos are of my zucchini experiment:  fermented zucchini "slaw."  Got the idea from Rebecca and she has since told me it was too strange to be edible.  Oh rats.  UPDATED:  See Rebecca's comment in the comments section.  I rushed down to the basement and found that my zucchini was perfectly fermented and delicious!  I immediately put it in the fridge to slow down any tendency towards algae-texture.

Can you help a sister out with any other zucchini ideas? Pin It


We dearly love pickles, and this year I think I finally preserved plenty.

vintage crinkler from a quick trip to Virginia

22 quarts dills
6 quarts bread-and-butter (recipe from Mennonite Community)
12 pints not-so-sweet bread-and-butter (from Tart and Sweet, a library book I browsed)
9 pints pickled red beets + 3 quarts brine for marinating eggs

I waterbathed all of them to ensure a long-lasting seal.  I did this on the burner on my outside grill, setting the jars on a nearby table in a sheltered spot to cool.  At this point in the summer, my routine is familiar and automatic.  The big things on my preserving list yet are applesauce and all the tomato products.  The growing season started late this spring, and now our cool weather might shorten it on this end, so it's possible I may not get enough tomatoes to make salsa, ketchup, pizza sauce, and tomato soup in addition to canning whole tomatoes.  In any case, we have enough pickles!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Little Bags That Solve Problems

Exhibit A
Remember the wristlet I sewed for the beach?  Well, I accidentally left it at home one beach weekend and that simply cannot happen again.  That wristlet is is essential to my beach happiness.  So I am keeping it at the beach cottage with the toothbrushes we leave there, too.

But I needed a home wristlet to dangle from my bike handlebars, stuff in the pool bag, and run across town with, so I used two more upholstery samples to sew a new one.  Chartreuse and spring green with an olive zipper.

Exhibit B
I got a new-to-me cellphone (not a smart phone, but with a keyboard so I can get in the texting loop with the people I love who text).   I liked the tidiness of the charger envelope instead of the cord sprawling in my drawer or purse, so I made a new one.  It's a spot of pleasantness in the ugly cell phone world.

Exhibit C
After the teeth were duly lost from their mouths, our children kept losing teeth in their beds and our Tooth Fairy was getting frustrated (because on the odd night that he actually remembered his duties - why yes, the Fairy is male at our house - he couldn't find the darn tooth under the pillow and had fend off indignant or sad children the next morning).  Finally I see the point of those cutesy tooth fairy pillows:  the tooth does not get lost!

 We haven't actually tested this little bag yet.  The white felt tooth is only appliqued on the sides, making a pocket for the tooth and then the magical gold dollar (Tooth Fairy is lavish at our house, methinks).  It was fun to make, and the children are enchanted with it.  Ben asked me again today to get corn on the cob so he could force his wiggly tooth to come out.

And finally, when I wrote about coupons earlier, A pointed out that upholstery samples make perfect coupon envelopes.  She is right, and here is the photo of the actual envelope. Cute, right?

I'm on a bag kick.  You got some clever bags at your house or some clever bag ideas to share with me? Pin It

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Zucchini "Pasta"

I came across this recipe in the last Real Simple magazine - my mother-in-law sends them to me.  I was intrigued by the raw zucchini shavings made into a salad.

Turns out, the flavor is wonderful and it feels like playing to strip the zucchini down with my vegetable peeler to make the zucchini shavings. I really can't call it "pasta" again - that's just corny.  Should we call it Zucchini Surprise, or does that bring up bad casserole memories?  I was really surprised at the success of this method!  Let's go with a cookbook editor name. . . .

Surprising Zucchini Salad
Serves 4

1-2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
 1/3 cup snipped fresh mint
1/3 cup cooked, diced sausage or bacon or salami or something like that
1/4 cup shaved fresh Parmesan (I use the vegetable peeler again and keep them small)
1 big zucchini (about
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts

In a salad bowl, mix oil and vinegar to emulsify. Add some salt and pepper here - more pepper later.  Toss in mint, sausage (I used kielbasa diced fine), and Parmesan.  Use a vegetable peeler to shave off narrow strips of the zucchini (turn it frequently as you shave) until you get to the seeds.  Discard the seedy part to the compost, the chickens, or the vulturish kids. Toss the salad immediately before serving, adding more black pepper, and sprinkling the hazelnuts on top.  I'm sorry to say that leftovers get a little weepy and the hazelnuts will get soft.

Now that I know about zucchini shavings, I would like to experiment with other types of pasta-like salads since zucchini has such a neutral flavor.  I've even seen cooks putting spaghetti sauce on zucchini "spaghetti."

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ben Irons

He did not want to, but when I taught him how to use the iron today, his love of order took over.  He took pleasure in getting out the wrinkles and matching up the corners.  However, I stood by him the entire time because newbies tend to forget to set the hot iron up on its heel.  Sure enough, we had some close calls as four napkins were ironed.

Ben wanted to know why he needed to iron and I told him so that he could iron his shirts if he wanted to wear dress shirts when he's a man. I suddenly recalled that his father does not iron his own shirts.  I kept this realization to myself.  There's no need for logic in raising children, am I right?

He also learned to mow the yard this summer.  The most important part was remembering to put on actual shoes, not flip flops.  There are lots of skippers, but as our yard is not very tidy to begin with, it doesn't matter.

And here, for a bonus, is Genevieve washing the laundry room floor. I can't think of a new chore she learned this summer, unless it's answering the phone.  She would call that pure fun, however, and it's great entertainment for the callers.

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