Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mayo in 9 Minutes

Yes, there is a learning curve when you choose to make food from scratch instead of buying it at the store.  But seriously:  can you really get to the store and back with a jar of mayonnaise in 9 minutes?  When people say they don't have time to make food at home, they might forget the time it takes them to go to the store, pick out the food, wait in the check-out line (or, horrors, use the self-check-out which always malfunctions), get home, schlep the food into the house, and (pant, pant), put it away.  And (if you're me), take the shopping bags back out to the car trunk. I don't actually hate grocery shopping, but I make sure the stuff on my list is really worth it, really necessary, and I try to recognize the energy it takes out of me for that errand.

Recently, I had the timer set for hardboiled eggs when I pulled out my food processor to make a batch of mayo.  So I noticed that it took me 9 minutes, start to finish with photo included, to make mayonnaise.  Bonus:  I can use local eggs and reuse a jar.

Simple, Fast Homemade Mayonnaise - recipe from More with Less with my notes
Makes a generous pint

Use a food processor.  Process briefly:
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika

Scrape down the sides.  Add:
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (I use bottled)

Start up the processor again and pour in, in a very thin stream, very slowly:
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Stop the processor.  Add:
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

Start up the processor again and pour in, in a very thin stream again:
1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil

Mayonnaise!  Scrape into a clean jar and refrigerate.  Keeps indefinitely in the fridge as long as you use a clean utensil in it.

Recipe Notes:
1. The "very thin stream" looks like a chopstick or skinnier. About a quarter-inch.
2. Do not use olive oil.  The speed of the food processor will burn the oil and make the mayo taste bad.
3. Sometimes the mayo gets thicker than other times.  I don't know why this is (humidity? age of eggs? how fast I add the oil?), but it has never failed me.
4. Friends of mine use this recipe and add a garlic clove, probably in the first step.  They swear by it for tomato sandwiches.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Our Standard Summer Supper

When the corn comes in, I usually pick up a dozen at least once a week and that's supper.  I add a real vegetable (corn is a starch in my menu planning) and a protein.  Here we had panzanella.

My big kids husk the corn.  Then I either grill it or use the grill burner to boil it.  Pretty fast and there's no heat added to the kitchen.

This evening we're having grilled corn, green beans with brown butter, and caprese salad.

And sunflowers from my husband, a treat in the middle-aged marriage.

Do you have a standard summer supper?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Girlifying Clothes for Phoebe

Phoebe and Ben are my spring babies, so Phoebe has lots of cute little "boy" clothes because Genevieve was a fall baby.  "Boy" clothes are the ones that tell strangers "this is a boy."  Meaning that the boy clothes have vehicles and tools and animals, etc. all over their blue and green surfaces.

I don't want to pink-wash my baby girl, but I thought I could find a happy medium between the obnoxiously obvious boy and girl clothes.  Plus, it is far simpler to stay home with a baby than to go out shopping for new things; I will shop online, but only if it's a comparable price, shipping included, to a bricks-and-mortar store.  Plus, this was a little creative challenge for me, exactly how I like to play with my scraps.

So that's why I "girlified" four items of Ben's baby clothes for Phoebe.  Here they are in order of my-least-favorite to totally-pleased.

A little striped romper with two pieces of vintage flowered feedsack appliqued over airplanes.

A blue-striped onesie with a flower that I appliqued over an ambulance.

A pale-green sailor suit romper.  I added pink flowered ribbon to the sailor collar.

A blue romper with beautiful lace across the breast where there used to be a yellow lion.  I absolutely love how this one turned out - it really captures my vision for little girls: plain and simple with a touch of pretty.

And since Phoebe has turned out to have blue eyes, all this blue and green makes her eyes look wonderful.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Also Sun Rises in the Corner

I made two new clothespin bags for the shop.  One is from a Laura Ashley dress with a lacy neck.

 The other is sunny patchwork.  Deep down in the corner of the lining, where there was a piece missing from the sky-blue fabric, I put a little yellow square.  The sunrise!  Yes, this is how my brain  drifts and amuses me while I sew.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Eating Humble Crepe

A while ago, I blogged about how I did not see the point of crepes.  I may have offended some of my bloggy friends with my opinionated posts - oh dear, and I'm sorry to Jennifer and Jane.

Then, one of my friends (she of the amazing  Mocha Drops) brought us a container of spinach crepe batter to help out after Phoebe was born.  My friend said her family starts out with savory fillings (tomato/mozzarella/basil, sauteed mushrooms/cheese) and then move to sweet ones like Nutella and berries.  My family fell instantly, deeply in love with crepes.  Everyone took turns making them.

  I know one of the reasons I did not like my first try at crepes was that we didn't just throw some fillings in and eat them out of hand.  Instead, I followed the directions to make crepes, make a filling, and then bake them.  It was just too much work for me.

Now, we sort of stand around the pan and make and eat crepes and drink coffee and jiggle the baby all in one fell swoop.

Since summer is now too hot to find spinach at market, I've been making these excellent buckwheat crepes.  One morning, I made a creamy stuff to go with the berries based on the pie filling of this recipe:  I beat some cream cheese and sugar together, then added heavy cream and whipped it to soft peaks.  Divine.  My personal favorite filling is leftover sauteed greens with some ragged shreds of cheese.

Buckwheat Crepes, adapated from David Lebovitz

Whisk together or beat in a blender:
2 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. neutral oil
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. buckwheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Refrigerate batter overnight.  In morning, allow batter to sit out at room temperature for 1 hour if you have time.  Then, whip briefly again and occasionally during the frying session as the flour will settle on the bottom.  Fry in 1/4 cupfuls, tipped and swirled into a thin disc, in a 12" skillet, greasing occasionally by wiping with a paper towel dipped in shortening or butter.

Check Lebovitz' recipe for helpful cooking instructions - I do use my fingers to flip them as he suggests! I use my well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.

Also, note that all-purpose flour is a blend of hard and soft wheat flours, so you can use half regular (hard) wheat flour and half pastry (soft) wheat flour. Or use white all-purpose flour.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

"Some Deeply Coloured Jewel"

". . . in fact the few pieces of old furniture gleamed like satin, and the red carpet was well brushed. The panelled walls were painted a strange bluish-green, and instead of pictures, there were vases of white Italian pottery hanging at internals, filled with bouquets of violets and white hyacinths which deliciously scented the warm. A low fire burnt in the basket-grate, but Margaret thought that the house was centrally heated. The one tall window, at which hung curtains of yellow Chinese brocade, looked over a gravel yard with a fountain in the middle and some bushes of Portugal laurel in blue tubs, but beyond this, as is often the case in Hampstead, there was a dismal view of blank walls and ugly roofs. The red carpet, on which toys were scattered, fitted closely to the wainscoting, and there were no draughts; the children, the many books on their white shelves, and the luxurious flowers silently breathing forth their perfume seemed enclosed in a hushed ,warm cavern hollowed from some deeply coloured jewel, while the chilly world of autumn sunlight outside seemed unreal."

Westwood by Stella Gibbons

I've been reading my slow, delicious way through a stack of Stella Gibbons' novels that Rebecca loaned me.  Gibbons has written lots more than Cold Comfort Farm, which is what most American readers are familiar with.

Genevieve is currently gulping down Nancy Drews, Ben is tearing through the Boxcar Children and The Great Brain books, and our read-aloud is Hitty by Rachel Field.  We've been going to the library at least once a week - we love to read!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

At Least We Have Napkins

I can sometimes pull off a picnic with my kids and it's partly due to these picnic napkins.  I love how useful they are, how easy to grab and go.  It's comforting to know that we have civilized napkins even when mommy forgets the pool passes or the baby wipes or the baby's sling.  Yes, napkins.

In tiny pockets of time, with napkins I picked up at my favorite thrift store a few months ago, I made a few sets of picnic napkins for the shop.  Perhaps you need some napkins to facilitate a picnic?