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Monday, January 31, 2011

Pillow Talk

On Sunday, the Architect and I had a sewing date…we made pillows with the other pattern of Frida fabric she bought. So that she could make two good size pillows, she bought some complimentary blue fabric for the back, a few yards of red ric-rac and, abracadabra, twin pillows were born! Absolutely adorable!

We did something really cool with the back so we did not have to mess with a zipper…we overlapped the fabric so we could slip the pillow in and bring the lower fabric back (3/4 length) piece over top of the upper fabric back (1/2 length) piece…sew simple!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm a Little Teapot

As you may know, dear readers, I take pottery classes. There are two main methods of making a useful item out of pottery…throwing or building. Two semesters ago I blogged about the throwing class I was in....this is my greatest accomplishment...


Pretty pathetic, uh? I put those funny little feet on that sad little bowl for NO purpose other then to make it more interesting.

Nice try.

Foodie, however, is an excellent thrower and here are a few of her beautiful masterpieces…



Foodie's daughter's creations...also very good! Must be in the genes.

Being a scrappy sort, I am an infinitely better clay builder than thrower and my final project last semester was a teapot (gasp) and this – dear readers – is the result…

OMG…isn’t it tooooo cute! Not bad for my first teapot try. Her name is "Ms. Potts" - isn't that sweet...and original. And, best of all, it works...I am drinking a cup of tea steaped in it as I write.

I will make another teapot and take photos of the entire process....facinating and pretty easy once you know what to do!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Go Ask Alice...

Hey...check out this post that appeared on my "Daily Candy" update. It's like having your own personal "Alice" to help you plan parties! Remember Alice from the Brady Bunch...can't remember her boyfriend's name but I do remember he was a butcher...anyone?

Daily Candy

Dinner Party Blueprints from Apples & Onions
"You don’t need to break out Grandmum’s silver and light the candlelabra to host a nice dinner — but you may need to put away the ketchup packets.

Apples & Onions Dinner Party Blueprints, the new service from personal chefs Lydia Ellison Howerton and Sarah Lagrotteria, is your road map to party time.

The result of a deep affection for throwing small dinners of their own, years of catering large-scale events, and some serious culinary prowess (we’ve been dreaming of the breakfast panino on their blog), Blueprints are essentially easy-to-follow parties in a box.

You name the theme, budget, number of guests, and give a heads up on any dietary restrictions, and they’ll send back a tidy little file containing decor ideas, a detailed timeline, master grocery list, a custom menu, a signature cocktail or wine recommendations, and recipes, so you can pull the whole thing off. Available online at applesandonions.com, $100."


Image of Alice from Google Images

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Truffles

It was my turn to cook last night and I made Sautéed Scallops with a Sage Truffle Drizzle. This sounds fancier than it is and was very, very easy to make. First, a word about truffle oil.

Truffle oil is not made from truffles – exactly – rather it is a superior, gourmet olive oil that has been infused with either white or black truffles. I paid $30 for an 8 oz bottle so, as most cooks recommend, I will use it only for special recipes. Truffles have an earthy and perhaps even sensual, seductive aroma that immediately permeate a room when sliced. Truffles are prized edible subterranean fungi that have been traditionally hunted by hogs. More recently, dogs have been trained to unearth the little gems because they can be taught not to eat the merchandise (apparently truffles are an aphrodisiac for hogs…don’t tell the dogs or we might have a situation!).

Enough about hogs.

Or dogs.


First, I panned fried the scallops in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When browned on both sides and cooked through, I removed them from the pan and kept them warm. I used frozen scallops from Trader Joe's.

Then, in the same pan as the scallops, I added 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter became frothy...

...I added about 15 sage leaves that I cut into strips. I sauteed them until they were just about crispy then I removed the mixture from the heat. I added 1 tablespoon of truffle oil and incorporated.

I also made risotto with butternut squash cubes, so....to plate this dish, I placed a heaping spoonful of risotto in a bowl, topped with five scallops, drizzled some sage truffle butter on top...and there you have it. Delicious, very fancy and easy smeasy.

We also had a salad with field greens, artichokes and garlic in the lovely traveling salad bowl and red velvet cupcakes...yummo!

Truffle photo from Google Images.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let's Get Loopy

While flipping through channels the other night, I saw a spot about a yarn shop, loop, located at 1914 South Street in Philadelphia. Hmmmm, I said, I wonder if they have a website...to my delight, not only do they have a website, they have a blog too!

loopknits blog

So I visited said blog and its natural, pleasantly simple and functional presentation reminded me of my blog (with a lot more knitting going on!). It is now one of my links and I "Liked" them on Facebook. My favorite post is "James's Sweater Now"...because it's funny and James is a cutie patutie.

All I can say is I'm going, you're going, we're all going...(inside joke with my family) to visit loop and will take photos (if they let me) and post them. As an added bonus, there is a sewing store, spool, right next door! BTW....I did not forget to capitalize their names...lower case letters are part of their logo!

loop was named in Philadelphia's Magazine's Best of Philly 2010 - Best Way to Get Crafty!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

For the Love of Frida

So, we had dinner at the architect’s house the other night and she showed Foodie and me this fabulous fabric she ordered. I fell in love (with the fabric). She said “I think I’ll make a tablecloth." Being all take charge, I decided to mobilize.

The fabric has a Frida Kahlo pattern. Besides her unibrow, Frida Kahlo is best known for her sometimes disturbing, but always vibrant art that regularly depicted the “pain and passion” of her tumultuous life. Born in Coyoacán, Mexico and married to Mexican artist Diego Rivera, Kahlo once suggested that "I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best." I think this fabric will make a cherished tablecloth around which there will be many happy gatherings and people keeping Frida company! There was a great Frida Kahlo exhibit at the PMA in 2010 that I made sure not to miss!

So here is how you make a simple tablecloth with a contrasting border:
You can also miter the corners by making them each a bit longer and cutting and stitching them together at a 45 degree angle.

Back to dinner.

Architect served the most delicious HOMEMADE butternut squash ravioli and I asked her to send me a summary of how she prepared these little treats. She sent me an email and I responded that I think “I will just cut-n-paste your instructions into my post,” and she said, “it needs tweaking.” Below is the semi-edited text.

"I started with 3 cups of white flour and 1 cup of wheat flour. In hindsight, I would not use the wheat flour because it’s too course. You make a well in the flour and break 4 eggs add a pinch of salt. Using a fork, slowly break the yokes and blend into the flour. Once it starts to hold together, knead it with your hands until you have a soft, pliable dough. Roll it out as thin as possible and cut into 3” squares which you will fold over corner to corner to make a triangular ravioli.

For the filling I peeled, cut into cubes and then steamed the butternut squash. Once soft, I used a hand held blender to make a puree. In a large sauce pan I sautéed about 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots in butter. Once the shallots were translucent I added the butternut squash and cooked for a few minutes more. Then I let the mixture completely cool. Once cool, put about a teaspoon of filling and completely seal the ravioli. Heat a large pot of salted water until boiling add the ravioli’s until they float to the top and Viola you're done!"

The ravioli was paired with a simple tomato sauce and turkey meatballs. We also had a salad with pistachios, grapefruit and mixed greens served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and the best rice pudding homemade by the Co-Op. Will post pictures of the tablecloth once it's made.

Friday, January 21, 2011

What visitor?

It’s hard to have a clandestine encounter in the snow!

Great post planned for this afternoon and it involves butternut squash!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Doggie Sweater

My sweater is coming along – really – but to reinforce the fact that I do know how to knit (notice there is no adverb like well, expertly or good) and to keep my adorable Boston Terrier protected from hyperthermia (ok, maybe an exaggeration), I decided to knit an easy doggie sweater this weekend. Now, when I say adorable to describe my dog, this is a relative term. My dog’s name is Stella which means star, and if she doesn’t stop pooping and peeing in the house, she may “star” in a doggie depends commercial. She is sassy and willful but also loyal, lovable and very amusing. Doesn't this picture scream...."I'm cold...stop taking pictures and open the door, damn it!"

We love our pets…but WE live with THEM, at least in my house.

So….I have a whole bin full of yarn in the basement (why buy new?!) and I searched for enough of the same type yarn for the entire doggie sweater project. I found a soft acrylic/merino (65/35%) wool blend, grey with flecks of color that I thought would knit up nicely and also be easy to wash – remember the poopie problem! The yarn is also a bit bulkier, so it will be warm.

I found a great pattern on Lionbrand.com and I post the link here:

Lion Brand Yarn Easy Doggie Sweater

This sweater was super-easy to make...maybe a total of three hours. The back (which is the top of a doggie sweater) is all knit with decreasing rows towards the top (for leg holes) and the under piece is worked the same way…then both pieces are sewn together.

Basic Instuctions

Knit back and under piece


Tread a large eye blunt needle


Sew pieces together


Put on dog! Well now, she does not look happy for some reason?!

Pattern note: The next time I make this, I will make the under piece a bit wider towards the top by beginning to decrease at 5 1/2" instead of 4 1/2"...Stella's chest isn't fully covered as it is currently knitted and I want her to be as warm as possible!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Julia Would Be Proud!

If you have not seen the movie Julie and Julia please do yourself a favor and watch it (perhaps on one of these lazy, snowy days we’ve been having). It’s the delightful saga of Julie Powell’s 365-day, 564 recipe journey through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. Meryl Streep – who was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance – transports us right back to the 60’s with her spot-on performance of Julia Child that Rolling Stone reviewer Peter Travers described as “Streep at her brilliant, beguiling best…” and Amy Adams is charming and genuine as Ms. Powell.

Our Tuesday dinners resumed last night (hooray!) and it was Foodie’s turn to cook. She made Boeuf Bourguignon from Julia Child’s cookbook. This recipe blends beef, onions, carrots, bacon, spices and a whole bottle of good red wine into the most delectable stew that you will instinctively and immediately want to devour but will force yourself to eat slowly to appreciate the absolute goodness and complexity of the dish! I posted the recipe on the "Recipes" page.

As the recipe suggests on page 315 of my food-stained copy of the book…this dish can be “prepared completely ahead, even a day in advance, and it only gains in flavor when reheated.” Foodie made this over the weekend (it takes a good five hours to prepare properly) and served it over noodles….pure heaven. We also had a fig, goat cheese and spring green salad in the lovely traveling salad bowl and just a few pieces of dark chocolate for dessert.

It was snowing when we left Foodie’s house feeling utterly satisfied…I could not help but to take a picture of the sister Mini Coopers. Enjoy the snow….be safe!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

“I Don’t Have Much of Anything in the Frig” Frittata.

As you know from past posts, dear readers, I am trying not to be wasteful. I can’t tell you how many times in the past few weeks I saw an adorable item and told myself that I just didn’t need it….except for shoes…it is still very difficult for me to walk away from shoes (notice the pun…I hope you chuckled) but I am getting better!

So considering that little soliloquy, I opened my refrigerator door this afternoon and pondered what to have for dinner….there wasn’t much of anything to work with (I am working on an event to be held this weekend and food shopping was not on the program – another pun – the past couple of days). Anyway, I made a “I don’t have much of anything in the frig” Frittata.

What I had on hand….about 8 cherry tomatoes, 1 ½ cups of arugula, a cup of mozzarella, one cup of leftover pasta (plain or with a sauce, it doesn’t matter), and two eggs. So, here’s what I did…

I sautéed the tomatoes in garlic and red pepper flakes, added the arugula and sautéed until wilted.

I placed the pasta, eggs and cheese in a bowl and added the tomato mixture.

After I incorporated the ingredients, I fried it in the same pan as the tomato mixture until the top was set and the sides were slightly brown. Then, in that very same oven-safe frying pan, I baked it for 10 minutes at 350°.

To serve, flip it onto a dish and enjoy! Quick, easy, delicious and best of all, no food wasted!

There has been some lovely knitted items donated for the auction….I will post some photos.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy MMXI

I thought it might be a good idea – and helpful – to post some common cures for a hangover for those of us you who were a little too anxious to welcome 2011. Not that I did some research at 8:30 in the morning because I needed the information….as you know, this is a loosely informative blog and I’m just trying to be as obliging as possible to my dear readers.

I never did understand how sleeping with one leg hanging over the bed was effective…perhaps a good head start to a now very popular destination besides your bed? Regardless of that logic, there are some things that really do help the morning after an evening of debauchery:

• Libations dehydrate the body so drinking plenty of water is essential. Alcohol is a diuretic and your body is doing what it thinks you want it to do, to filter more water out of your blood, so it’s important to replace those fluids. Another explanation for the leg over the bed technique. Do you think it matters which leg?

• The minerals in electrolytes, found in drinks like Gatorade, are useful because they help to keep the body’s chemistry in balance and regulate body fluids. Don’t mix with gin, vodka, or rum, etc… to manage your hangover by “biting the dog that bit you” because this will only delay the inevitable.

• Sleep..no explanation required. You probably won’t feel like doing much of
anything anyway.

• Phran Novelli of KYW1060 suggests making a “tea out of various things from your garden: peppermint leaves soothe your stomach, as does ginger root, which people also use for motion sickness – maybe it’ll help the room stop spinning. Add fennel seeds to calm your insides…boil water, steep the herbs, then add honey to replace some sugars you’ve lost and lemon to refresh your system and make it all taste better.”

Speaking of spirits, we had a delightful New Year’s Eve gathering at the Architect’s house with her parents and some other friends. We enjoyed a drink northern Italians call Prosecco Sporco, which means “Dirty Prosecco.” It is made by mixing Prosecco – a dry, lemony Italian sparkling wine – with a small slug of Campari. The result is a lovely bejeweled red…very tasty and refreshing. We also had the most delicious roasted lamb and a variety of side dishes including sautéed swiss chard…very good.

Foodie made her version of Tiramisu with Mascarpone cheese and HOME-MADE lady fingers (I just opened a package of lady fingers for my version because, as you know, I am good at that). Architect’s mom decorated her lovely chandelier and I just had to take a photo!

Happy New Year all!


Prosecco photo from google images.