Thursday, December 29, 2016

Scrappy Trippin' Around the World

Each block looks nutty on its own, but then, I lay them out together and ahhh!  Pools of calm and sparks of energy!  I am hooked.  Good thing, too, because I want to do about 30 more blocks for a queen-sized quilt.  I started this quilt in November, and am only dawdling along.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Some Bread For Christmas

These are three projects made on different days, photographed only in their dough state.  We had the St. Lucia buns for breakfast one Sunday close to St. Lucia Day.  Another day I made French bread to give as gifts with small jars of jam.  And finally, on another Sunday morning, we had Midwinter Buns.  Delicious December!  Down below in the freezer is Grandma's Russian Kulich, waiting for Christmas morning and mugs of hot chocolate.  Today I made marshmallows for the first time ever to float in that hot chocolate.

Merry Christmas, dear readers!  May your plates be full of goodies, your mugs bottomless, and your beloved people close to you.  May our plenty and love overflow to those who need it, in honor of Jesus whose birthday started all this feasting!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Universe Wants Me to Knit

I started another vest for Phoebe, in a cloudy blue grey, but the needles were a half-size larger and it seemed that the vest was just getting too wide and I was running out of yarn.  I despaired.  Stopping by my favorite thrift store, I thought:  what if there was a pair of extra-long size 10.5 knitting needles?  What if?

And you see, there was!  And furthermore, they were 50% off for a total of two bucks.

I ripped the vest back to the beginning, and then I had a nice long knitting session when I accompanied my husband on a business trip to the far reaches of New York State.  I want to give a shout out to Pita Restaurant of Brockport, NY, where I talked falafel with the Lebanese chef.  The food was excellent, he approved of my recipe (what I could remember), and then gave me a small container of "falafel spice - but don't use too much or it will be bitter."

Even with all that driving, I am not quite done with the vest.  But I got the buttonholes on the same side this time!  And I had a lovely break from the kids and all their laundry, meals, and noise.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Little Sister Makes It Fun

How many ways are there to make washing dishes fun?  My kids know of two:  loud music or getting the little sister up on a stool to "help."  Unfortunately, when the big kids tire of the "help" and put her down, Phoebe is offended and crushed. She roars at the top of her lungs. She is starting to want to contribute to the running of the house, too.

Friday, December 9, 2016

In Love with Falafel

I read somewhere online that falafel is to the Middle East what hamburgers are to the USA. And then I was completely confident to make the version of falafel that sounded good to me, because aren't hamburgers endlessly customizable and creative?  Last year I had a restaurant burger that came topped with peanut butter, bacon, cheddar, and jalapenos.  It was bizarrely awesome.

I've never been much attracted to falafel and I've never made it until this summer.  I think I was looking for a new meatless dinner when I decided to try falafel. . . and fell totally in love.  These patties are easy for me because you can make them in stages, serve them at any temperature, and freeze them (making a batch right now to keep on hand for brown-bag lunches).

I have even served them to cautious eaters who liked them.  Falafel is tasty!

They are nutritious and relatively cheap and, like a burger, you top them with whatever you have on hand or strikes your fancy.  So far, we've been keeping it Middle Eastern with lettuce and pita, and in the summer, tomatoes and cucumbers.  I've made a sauce of yogurt, tahini, garlic, and parsley sometimes, too.


Soak 18-24 hours:
1 cup dry chickpeas with water to cover by 3 inches

Drain chickpeas.  Place in food processor with:
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion or scallions
handful roughly chopped fresh parsley
handful roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. baking powder
a few dashes of cayenne, optional

Process until finely, evenly ground, but do not make into mush or paste.  There should be green flecks but no pea-sized chunks of chickpeas.  Stir in 4-6 Tbsp. flour - you are aiming for a consistency to squeeze into patties.  If you're not sure, stick your hand in it and squeeze a little patty to see.  Heat a large frying pan over high heat with a generous pool of oil in it.  Make little patties and pan-fry them, turning once, until browned and crispy on both sides.  Fry in batches, adding more oil as necessary.  Serve hot or room temperature (or snitch, cold, out of the fridge).

1. The soaking chickpeas can absolutely sit longer on the counter if you can't get to them.
2. The ground-up falafel mixture can be refrigerated for several days before frying.
3. Cooked falafel freezes just fine.  Apparently people have also frozen uncooked falafel as well, but I haven't experimented with that.
4.  Do you like how I didn't even mention the December holiday in this post!?  I confine Christmas (I named it!) to the margins of my December life and that's how I stay sane and happy.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Two New Handtowels

I have room in my kitchen drawer beside the trivets, hotpads, and matches for two hanging handtowels.  I can have one on the oven handle, and two in waiting.  And two of them were getting really shabby from hard use!

So I made two new ones and enjoyed myself immensely.  I haven't made hanging hand towels since I let my etsy shop idle down, but I always enjoy a practical project.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Sunday Dinner: Lemon Baked Beefsteak

Remember the easiest roast beef ever?  This recipe is from a different friend (and probably a vintage source based on its name), but it's the same concept and ease.  And so delicious.

Lemon Baked Beefsteak

Season all sides of a 3 lb. beef chuck roast with:
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Lay in roasting pan just bigger than the roast.  Top with:
1 thinly sliced lemon
2 sliced onions

Combine and pour over:
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water or red wine

Cover with lid.  Bake at 350F for 3 hours.  Shred meat with two forks and stir.  Return to oven uncovered for 30 minutes.  Alternatively, omit 1/4 cup water/wine and cook on High in slow cooker for 5 hours.  You can serve the beef with a slotted spoon, or serve it juicily over mashed potatoes, or thicken the juices to be more sauce-like and clinging to the beef.

It would be easy to tweak this recipe any number of ways - use prepared barbecue sauce instead of the ketchup and Worcestershire and eat the beef in buns.  Maybe experiment with swapping out some of the ketchup for red wine and adding an herb like rosemary or thyme. Do you have other ideas?

I put it in the slow cooker this Sunday, so I could bake potatoes in the oven.  Then I made a quick coleslaw when we got home from church.  Too bad the Christmas cookies weren't iced yet, or we would have had dessert as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"People, Look East"

 "Make your house fair as you are able, trim the hearth and set the table.  People, look east and sing today: Love, the Guest, is on the way." - traditional French carol