Sunday, April 26, 2009

No-Knead Bread

I've been brushing up on my bread making skills lately. While I dearly love the taste of fresh made bread, it's not the simplest food to make. I don't have a decent place in my kitchen for any type of bread or dough work. All the surfaces are the wrong height for comfortable kneading and none of them are suitable because dough sticks badly to the surface.

Then I read about no-knead doughs. Sounded too good to be true!
I ordered this book, Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day. Yum! Essentially the trick is to leave a wet dough in the refrigerator long enough for it to simulate the same process that kneading fulfills.

You throw your ingredients in a bowl, stick in in the fridge for 3 days to 2 weeks. Whenever you want a loaf you pull off a hunk, let it rise for a bit and bake. So simple and no mess! It makes a small round loaf about the size of a grapefruit. Perfect size for us. The crust is awesome and the flavor is great.

I'd been having some issues with the loaf baking all the way through but realized that it was due to my oven taking much, much longer to pre-heat than I expected. Now that I figured it out I've had better success. I was going to take pictures of yesterday's loaf but my salivary glands got the better of me and we ate it all up!

I haven't had the chance to try any of the other recipes yet (baguettes, enriched breads etc) but I'm excited get baking!

Have any of you tried this method? Like it? Hate? Problems with an under-cooked loaf? (mine still tend to come out a wee bit under-done).

I believe there is no scent more delicious than that of freshly bakes bread. Heaven!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mazola cook book 1939

I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without sharing a vintage cook book or disgusting vintage food photo.

This is a darling cook booklet from Mazola oil circa 1939.


The best thing about this booklet is the shape. It’s rounded on the bottom in the shape of the bowl, not squared like the photo looks. The recipes are, for the most part, refreshing and delicious. Some of the dressed salads are a bit heavy on  the oil – 3/4 cup for a salad for 3! but otherwise quite tempting.


Every dish is pictured on a lovely plate or bowl that forms the bottom edge of the book. The recipe above doesn’t look half bad. A light tuna salad served in tomato cups with asparagus and devilled eggs. I’d eat it!


No vintage salad book is complete without an aspic! Isn’t it beautiful?



I know I shared this photo earlier this month but I love it so much I had to include it again. This is just about the cutest thing I’ve seen. This is Cranberry Heart Salad. Served with mayonnaise? (Hmm.)

Anyway, I might just serve this year’s Thanksgiving cranberry sauce this way. I don’t have heart molds but mini jell-o molds will suffice quite nicely.

All in all, this book impresses me. The ingredients are adventurous (ie curly endive), the salads are fresh, light and tempting. I would cook out of this and not have to alter much. How did the we go from this to iceberg lettuce and heavy, sauced, jellied foods of the 50’s?

Like this -


These are open-faced sandwiches glazed with gelatin. *shudder* No thank you! I think I’ll have the salad please.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

Oh what a beautiful day! I can’t believe the sun finally came out! Yesterday was a delicious 70 degrees and a clear blue sky. I think everyone in the northwest was outside yesterday soaking it up.

I don’t have a lot to share but I am one of those people who’s moods are very dependent on the weather. Now that the sun is out I am energetic and buoyant and am just feeling chatty!

I set up my canopy for the first time this year. When the weather is this nice it turns into my outdoor office. I even move my sewing machine out there.

Unfortunately, the large tree in the backyard was being trimmed at the same time so I listened to chainsaw and chippers for 5 hours. But now it’s done and I have even more sun!

I actually came on to post about the news I got this morning – I got accepted in to our Farmer’s Market. The market is my solution to budgeting my show costs. I had high hopes for entering more shows than ever this year but with the economy down I was nervous about putting out the kind of cash it takes for those shows.

Thinking about the market lit a fire under me to diversify more quickly. I’m adding more products at a lower price point and have several up-cycled projects planned as well. I’m hoping to also use the market as a place to try out those new items and get feedback.

I have some time still, our market doesn’t begin until mid May, and I’m glad because I realized something else – this will be my first time vending outside! Up until now I’ve always done indoor shows. Selling outside all summer will present some new challenges but since the market is an informal setting I’m not too nervous about it. It’s be a great way to test drive my booth (note to self…need to make heavier tent weights)!

I know a few of you are doing your local markets too. How are they going so far? Is this your first time or are you a veteran? Please share!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Afternoon at Pike Place

For my birthday we decided to head to Seattle for the day. I have been wanting a pair of Fluevogs for years and my husband finally got tired of hearing me pine away for them. The store is only a few blocks from Pike Place Market, Seattle’s farmers market. I haven’t walked the market in a few years so we decided to play tourist.


It was a gorgeous day finally, after such a wet spring. Everything seemed extra vibrant to me.



Below is handmade pasta. They were handing out samples of chocolate fettuccini!


I wish I has the forethought to bring a cooler on the trip. Every time we come down I want to take home flowers, veggies and sea food but alas the ride home is 1 1/2 hours. I little too long to leave anything unrefrigerated.



We really wanted one of those enormous lobster tails. One could have easily fed us both.



After strolling around and thoroughly enjoying the sunshine and the market we had a bite to eat, looking out over the market and street below. I don’t go to the city much and a really enjoy watching people in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Since playing tourist wouldn’t be complete without a picture of the most famous edifice in our skyline…


Oh yes…how could I forget. I got my shoes…



A fantastic birthday!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

You say it’s your Birthday

It’s my birthday too!

Here is my fantasy birthday wish list.

Electra Cruiser. Badly coveted.

Mini with matching fridge? Who wouldn’t!

I have one piece so far. Love, love love it.


I have adored Fluevogs for years. Might actually get a pair!

The coolest, cutest, girliest studio ever. I want.

And because I’m a geek in training, a sleek new Alienware might be nice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So-so Jell-o

I have learned that I make the best looking creations when they are not to be eaten. First, because it allows me to take risks with ingredients and flavor combinations and second, it allows you to take more pictures before the hungry people demand you quit playing with the food.

As I mentioned here, I had a request for some jello at a bbq. The problem was I returned from a trip late the previous night and had no time to buy ingredients. So I had to use what I had. Not even a limp celery stick or radish for a salad mold. SO sad.

I had to resort to regular, boring desserts, sigh. And I didn’t have time to play with and garnish them. They did taste pretty darn good I’ll admit, and a couple were even sugar-free.

The first, Orange-Mallow Ring (pg 23, Joys of Jell-O)


I never liked this shape mold so I was pleased with how nice it looked. Begs for more decoration! This is orange Jell-O with oranges and marshmallows. The marshmallows all floated to the top and refused to remain in jell-O stasis.

Next is the Cream-Topped Peaches (joys of Jell-O, page 45). NOT pretty.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         The first mistake I made here was letting the second layer chill too long before pouring it over the cream cheese layer. It didn’t bond properly (poor jello) so when I turned it out the bottom came out but the cheese stayed in. Second mistake, not greasing the mold enough. In order to get the top layer out I had to warm the mold. Only for a few moments, but you can see what happens. Jell-O gets runny fast! I don’t recommend it.

If done properly this would look great doubled and poured into a giant mold! OooOOoo.

The third creation was my mother’s. Since she thought I was going to make one of the uglier, salad varieties she made a dessert one too. It’s a classic Bavarian and truthfully this was the tastiest one. But maybe that’s because I love lime!


It’s too bad this is a poor photo. I love that she chose a fish mold! Cold, slimy, glistening Jell-O fish! I looked around the kitchen for something to use as roe, like sprinkles or red-hots but alas, none were to be found.

This is another one that begs for more garnish. Done with plain Lime (not Bavarian-style) this would be perfect for that lime-shrimp salad! Fruits of the sea! Now we’re talking….

Yesterday I did finally get to go shopping and look what was waiting for me in the Jell-O aisle!


New flavors!  Blue Berry, Grape, Blackberry Fusion and Peach. And on sale after easter! One of my complaints is that many of the flavors in the Jell-O book are no longer available, mainly the blends, like orange-pineapple (sounds yummy!). The variety in my area is pretty boring, just the basics. I could have used the peach in my recipe!

I can’t wait to make something with the blue! I could do a red, white and blue concoction but that is too safe. I want something hideous after the rather disappointing results of this last batch.

But I get carried away. That is for another day. I promise to make one of the uglies soon because i didn’t quite get my fix yet.

Until then, keep jellin’.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009


I’m on the road and am short on time this morning but I had to post this excerpt I read last night. I’ve been reading James Trager’s FoodBook , a wonderful history of food and came across this delightful description of Flummery, an early American “treat”. I thought it was apropos to yesterday’s post.

“A flummery was a molded dessert made of gelatin, milk, wine or fruit, juice and sugar. The gelatin could be isinglass, made from the air bladders of certain fish, or it could be a jelly made from boiling calves’ feet, straining the liquid, allowing it to set, skimming off the fat the next day, letting the rest liquefy, sweetening and flavoring it, and then letting it set again in molds.”

Anyone hungry for flummery?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Gift of Jell-O

I have actually had a request to make one of my 1950s jello experiments for a barbeque this weekend.  For real. To eat. It just so happens that I have some acquaintances who love Jell-O desserts and some of the more bizarre gelatins (like lime jello with shrimp).

Oh Joy! What to choose?

Here is one version of the Lime/Shrimp salad (top salad)


I’m dying to make one of these Chef Salad molds because they are easy and have a good Wow factor.


These bit-sized little gems are adorable but might be too labor intensive. Aren’t they cute?


Another one with a nice presentation.


I do know I will NOT be making one of these;

The green, gelatin glazed glob is a ham. *shudder*


The formerly blogged about Pork “paper weights”


Don’t know…don’t want to know.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Featured Etsy Blogger

Hey Kids!

It’s time to feature another member of our EtsyBloggers team (it makes me giggle every time I misspell it Bloogers)!

Every month one of our team members is selected to be featured. That means everyone on the team gives their blog and Etsy shop some love.

This month’s featured member is Two Zany Zebras – Specializing in all things zany!

Two Zany Zebra’s shop is full of sweet, goofy, and yes, zany items for your little one. Blankies, clothes, burp cloths, totes, bags, cuddly toys and more.

For more zaniness visit the Two Zany Zebras blog

“I am a SAHM of two silly zany kids. They keep me busy and on the brink of insanity. I am trying to find a balance between kids, husband, self, housework, scrapbooking, sewing, and selling things on etsy. I love being with family, having fun, the outdoors, and being creative.”

So stop on by and get your fill of zaniness! If you’d like to join EtsyBloggers see the team link to the right.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I’m not sure where I’ll end up but I plan on having a good time getting there. Like many, I am learning to be more frugal, thrifty, want to eat healthier, and make more of the foods I eat and products I normally buy.

kitchen cubby being converted to pantry

Due to the economy and other circumstances I have begun to explore getting back to basics. A bit of sustainability, some stock piling, organic gardening, and a lot of home cooking.

I’m lucky that my mother, who lives nearby, did a lot of crafty/homestead type things in the 70s and already has a good knowledge base of such things like soap making, gardening, canning, preserving, wine making and more. it’s her renewed interest that really got me going.

newly organized baking and spices cupboard

I’ve started with buying in bulk. I have a small stock pile of canned goods, both ready to eat soups and other foods, and vegetables like corn,beans and tomatoes, that I use a lot of. Also flour, oats and other dry goods. I bought a lot of new storage containers and re-organized all my cupboards.

lots of jars and an old, large canner

Then I started learning to make things we buy a lot of; bread, yogurt, granola etc, and learning to waste less like making croutons and bread crumbs with all that bread I can’t finish, freezing the old carrots, celery, onion bits and fading parsley for chicken stock.

my old garden, now just weeds and a tree

Next came an amazing opportunity that I can’t believe. My neighbor is going to garden my garden. She is going to use me as a guinea pig for a gardening service she is planning, and plant and tend a food garden in my own yard. For free!! (marcia, I hope I can at least barter and supply you with croutons for life!)

planter awaiting herbs and tomatoes

That means canning and preserving! I’ve got tons of jars. I’ve saved, scavenged, and yard-saled. Big jars for veggies, small jars for preserves, tiny jars for dried herbs, bottle for seasoned vinegars and oils.  Found a deal on a canner last week. My mother has a dehydrator. That means beef jerky, fruit leather, dried herbs and the usual dried fruit.

jars for dried herbs

This all sounds so wonderful but part of me questions my own motives. Why am I really doing all this? Will it turn out to just be a hobby? How important to me is organic food, sustainable living, and being frugal. While these are things we think about, they are not (yet?) a passion.

I want it to be more than a hobby. I don’t want this to be a fad for my household. I love doing these things and find it very satisfying but is that enough? What if I can’t get my husband’s support? (He is a techno-geek and is not yet convinced that handmade=better.)

I’d love to wrap up this post with this answers to those questions but I think it will take more time than that. I need to further evaluate why I’m doing this, why I enjoy it, what I expect to get out of it. I’m going to ask the same questions of my husband. If I can’t get him to come on board can I at least get him to understand and respect my motives?

In the meantime I’m collecting recipes, planning for a better pantry and trying to find a spot to put a chest freezer. I’d love to hear others’ experiences, failures and successes as well.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Networking and Social Media



And the winners (and losers) are…!

I decided at the beginning of the year to try out as many social and blog networking  sites as I could handle, try them for a few months, weed out the losers, and try some more.

I’m not saying I know much about these sites or programs, just that they didn’t work for me. If I say something bad about one you like, convince me why I should like it! Perhaps I’ll give it another shot.

I should also mention that my goal was to bring more readers to my blog and sales to my Etsy shop and to bring the two together in a cohesive manner (without turning this blog into an on-running ad for myself)


The “Go fly a kite” award goes to Entrecard. I really liked the idea but I found it labor intensive and I really dislike the Entrecard site, finding it clumsy to navigate. I also have to say that I really don’t like the ads most people create! Why would i want them on my blog?

I’m also trying BlogCatalog. A simple blog directory. Haven’t seen much action but I like the site and being able to connect with a wide variety of bloggers, not just other crafters or Etsians. I think I will try LinkedIn next.

Facebook. It’s taking me a while to adjust to Facebook. I started a personal page so I could get the hang of it and then found out you cannot add a separate business page. It is against Facebook’s TOU to have 2 accounts. I did find out recently that you may add as many pages as you want to your personal page, making them business related if you choose. I started, but have not yet published, my business page and now I’ve lost it! The jury is still out on Facebook. Any tips would be appreciated.

GoogleBase. I’m still a little new to this one and can’t really say one way or another if it’s working. But it’s free and you don’t need to update too frequently. Since this can result in direct sales from a very large audience I will stick with it and see what the long term results are.


The “If I could only choose one networking site to have on a desert island” award goes to Twitter. I am in love with Twitter. Once you get the hang of it it’s fun and simple and addictive. I’ve had at least one direct sale because of it. Just treat it like you would your blog. Keep the content varied and don’t spam your shop nonstop and you’ll have followers in no time! Another plus to Twitter – you can be sporadic and you won’t lose followers like your blog would. There are also many Twitter related directories, search engines etc to play with.

So there you have it. A brief survey of my random networking experiences. Time to move on to some new ones, try them for a few months and do this again! For promoting your blog and/or Etsy shop which one site can you not live without? Which one disappointed you most?