31 May 2011

Baba Ghannouj

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We are big fans of grilled eggplant in our household, so I was excited to make baba ghannouj for the first time.  I couldn't decide whether to use Alton Brown or Aarti Sequeira's recipe; so I combined the two, using what I liked best from each one. 

For the preparation of the eggplant, I sliced and grilled it before removing the skin.  I added the grilled eggplant to the food processor along with some garlic, lemon juice, tahini, parsley, salt and pepper, and pulsed to combine.  It was ready in no time.

The baba ghannouj was good.  It had a nice smokey flavor, though it was a little bitter.  I added some honey as AB's recipe suggested, but it didn't do much to counteract the bitterness.  It was probably the eggplant I used just wasn't sweet enough, so I might make it again in the future.  I may have to grow some eggplants in the garden next year!

26 May 2011

Colts Pillows

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I was on the phone with my mom asking for birthday ideas for Marty.  She started listing a few things, then she mentioned he might want a body pillow.  That struck me as a different and fun kind of gift, but I didn't know how to pick one out for him.  My mom and I continued talking with the body pillow idea in the back of my mind.  I don't know if she came up with it or if it was me, but we decided it would be neat if I made a cover for it.  New project!

For the body pillow, I used Indianapolis Colts fabric, the same pattern I used for the back of the Colts quilt.  The pillow came together very easily, just a few cuts of fabric and a few seams sewn together and it was complete.  I was a little concerned about the pillow sliding around inside the cover, but it securely stayed in place.  Overall, I am quite happy with the way it turned out.

Marty really liked his present and it was displayed nicely on their new couch in the basement.  The couch is black, and my mom had been trying to find throw pillows to match.  I mentioned to her how nice the body pillow looked on the couch and she asked me if I could make throw pillows with the same fabric.  New project!

We were talking about the pillows when I noticed that her old throw pillows were enclosed in a zipper case.  All I had to do was unzip the case, take out the pillow insert, and they were ready for a new cover.  I used the same method to cover the throw pillows as I did the body pillow, and they were done in no time.  I took them back to my mom and they were a perfect fit in the basement.  Who knew pillow making would be so much fun?

21 May 2011


3 remarks

It all started when Valerie wanted hummus, but didn't want to spend an arm and a leg for her favorite brand.  The others just weren't "garlicky" enough for her, so I decided to make my own.  I figured it would be a simple process of pureeing chickpeas with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.  I was right, hummus is easy to make, and I was able to add as much garlic as Valerie could handle.

I like to use dried chickpeas when I make hummus, and I had to plan ahead before I made it since I had to soak the legumes overnight before cooking them.  I don't really have a recipe, I just referenced a few on the internet to get an idea of the ratios of tahini and olive oil.  When I am making it, I usually have Valerie come do a taste test for her final approval.

Much to my surprise, my hummus making became much easier after watching the "Pantry Raid XIII, Destination Chickpea" episode of Good Eats.  In the episode, Alton Brown cooked dry chickpeas in a slow cooker and they were ready in as little as four hours.  Intrigued, I tried preparing my chickpeas in this fashion, and they were perfect.  They had a creamy texture that I was never able to achieve in my cooking method.

So, not only did I find a better, quicker way to cook my chickpeas, they also taste better.  AB's hummus recipe still doesn't have enough garlic for Valerie, but I have adopted his preparation method because I think it yields a smoother end result.  One thing I wouldn't stray away from is cooking the chickpeas in a slow cooker. 

Slow Cooker Chickpeas
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

7 cups water
1 pound dried chickpeas, sorted and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Place the water, chickpeas, and baking soda in a 2 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 4 hours, or low heat for 8 to 9 hours, or until tender. Drain and serve immediately, or use in desired dish.


Hummus For Real
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

1 pound Slow Cooker Chickpeas, cooled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
Powdered sumac, optional

Place the chickpeas, garlic, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds. Add the lemon juice and water. Process for 20 seconds. Add the tahini. Process for 20 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil.

To serve, transfer the hummus to a bowl and drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with sumac, to taste, if desired.

16 May 2011

Bike to Work Week!

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This is the fourth year I have been riding my bike to work and I still look forward to setting out every morning.  May is National Bike Month, and this year Bike to Work Week is May 16-20 and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 20.  Ride on!

11 May 2011


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We moved our young plants from the safety of the porch to the big world of the garden over the weekend.  I'm always nervous moving them outside because they look so small on fragile.  But, it needs to be done, and I'm sure they will thrive!
(Wisconsin 55)




There are a few other plants in the garden that didn't really warrant pictures at this time, but I'm sure their time will come soon enough.

We got rid of the little wooden fence we had last year and opted for a white metal variety.  We did this to "Walter-proof" the garden since he essentially destroyed the fence we had last year.  It may not look as nice, but I hope it is effective.  I love to watch our modest little garden grow!

05 May 2011

Princess Zelda Quilt Template

4 remarks

I have finished the design and purchased the fabric for Emilie's princess quilt.  I am stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit by adding some flower blocks to the front of the quilt.  The directions for constructing the flower blocks can be found here.  Otherwise, it is the standard square procedure I have used many times in the past.

For Zelda, I am using her likeness from the "Oracle of Ages" and "Oracle of Seasons" video games.  I did not stay true to her original colors as I wanted to have a bit of variation.  Overall, I really like the way the design turned out and I can't wait to see it come together in fabric.

As for the template itself, I want to show how I go about designing my quilts.  I use Microsoft Excel and just fill in the cells with the colors I want them to be.  Once the design is complete, I divide the size of the quilt by the number of squares in the row to see how big the squares need to be.  For this quilt, I want it to be 4 1/2 feet wide, or 54 inches.  So, I divide 54 by 24 and I get 2.25.  I add a half inch to account for the overlap from sewing the fabric together, and I know I need to cut 2.75 inch squares.  The length of the quilt will be 6 ft.

To determine the amount of each color of fabric, I first add up how many squares of each color I will need.  I then determine how many 2.75 inch squares I can expect to get out of a yard of fabric.  36 divided by 2.75 is 13.09, which I rounded down to 12 to account for cutting errors.  Most fabric widths are in the 40 to 44 inch range, so I then divide 40 by 2.75 just to be safe, and I get 14.  12 x 14 is 168, so I can expect to get 168 squares for each yard of fabric.

Finally, I divide the number of squares of each color by 168 to determine how much of each color to purchase.  As you can see from the picture above, I don't need very much of some of the colors, and luckily, I already have some white on hand from previous projects.

Phew, that's a lot of math.  I'm glad I wrote it out, though, so now I have a reference for if I forget how to do it in the future.  It really is easy, though, and the square patterns to design from Nintendo characters are practically endless.  Yay!  Plus, by using the method above, you can make the quilt any size you'd like.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.

01 May 2011

Preparing to Pea

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One of the new additions to our garden this year is the pea; the Oregon Sugar Pod to be exact.  The little sprouts are quite distinguishable from the other plants in our starter box, and I think they are really fun to look at for some reason.

This variety of pea plants are said to produce large and reliable yields of classic stir fry snow peas.  Soon it will be time to bust out the wok!  They are also a bush type plant so I won't have to give them any type of support system or structure.  We'll have to have a pea party at my house when it's harvest time!


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