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1  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Nuno felt wedding shawl on: August 23, 2010 10:08:03 PM
A good friend of mine is getting married next weekend, but unfortunately I live across the country now and won't be able to make it. I made this shawl for her. It's nuno felted merino over a light lavender silk.

Close up of the flowers:



It's hard to take pictures of yourself:









I was really inspired by glamourjunkie's (on Etys) really stunning work.
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Homemade Naan! (and turnip curry) on: November 29, 2009 05:22:08 PM


I took a break from days of essay writing to make some home made nann. I love naan, but I've never made it at home before. I used this recipe: http://www.foodbuzz.com/recipes/594884-excellent-homemade-naan.

The dough getting ready for the oven:


It came out really well. Not quite as good at take-out, but better than the stuff from the grocery store. It's not quite chewy enough, and I think next time I will (read: my Kitchen Aid will) knead it for longer. I also didn't have a pizza stone, so I used an over turned cookie sheet, and it seemed to work pretty well.



Now I just have to stop myself from eating all 8 of them!

I made some turnip curry (http://www.bigoven.com/53542-Shelghum-Ka-Korma-%28Turnip-Curry%29-recipe.html) to eat with them. I had a turnip in the fridge and I'm not actually fond of turnips... this was better than usual, but still a turnip.



3  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Felted Pillow Covers on: July 16, 2009 09:03:12 AM
I made a pillow for a recent felt maker's swap, which inspired me to make a few more. Here are my most recent creations:

Green Fern pillow:





And a Pink Heart pillow:





The back of both of them is cotton with buttons so that they can be filled with a pillow form.



Thanks for looking!
4  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / "5 Minute Artisan Bread"- the best thing since sliced bread on: July 06, 2009 11:42:27 AM
I made a New Year's resolution to start making as much as my own food at home as possible and buy less packaged foods. It's been a bit of an adventure and somethings have turned out much better than others (eg. yogurt, granola, hummus, icecream). However, bread has always been my Achilles heal. I've been baking bread for a long time, but no matter how much kneeding and dough baby sitting I did it always came out a bit tough or flat. Until I found this recipe!

This is amazing; there is no way to screw this up. AND THERE IS NO KNEEDING!!! At first I felt like I should be doing more, bread shouldn't be this easy! But I've made it a bunch of times now, and it's worked every time.

It was originally from this book: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/ . With the original recipe you make the dough, keep it in the fridge and cut off a loaf whenever you want one. The dough gets better in the fridge the longer it sits. However this recipie does make a lot of dough.



I've modified the original recipe for one loaf. Here it is:

5 Mintue Artisan Bread

Ingredients:


2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cup water
3 1/4 cup unbleached flour (you can replace up to half a cup with whole grain flour)
Corn meal

1. In a large bowl mix yeast, salt and water. Add flour and stir to combine.

2. Let dough rise in a warm place for at least two hours, until it rises and collapses (or even overnight won't hurt it). The dough may be baked at this point, or refrigerated for later use.

3. To refigerate: cover dough, but make sure it is not airtight, and place in fridge.

4. When you want to make bread throw a handful of flour on top of the dough. Shape the dough in your hands by turning the dough in your hands, stretch the surface of the dough and tuck under (to make the surface smooth).

5. Generously dust a pizza peel (or any flat surface - I use a bamboo cutting board) with cornmeal. You can use flour instead, but you'll need to use a very generous dusting.

6. Allow dough to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes - longer (up to an hour and a half) if you use some whole wheat flour in place of the white.

7. 20 minutes before baking preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a baking stone (or over turned baking sheet) on the middle rack and a shallow pan (empty) on the bottom rack.
NOTE: DO NOT USE A GLASS PAN (not even Pyrex) when you pour cold water into it, it is likely to break. Use a shallow metal pan.

8. Throw flour on the top of your loaf and slash 2 to 4 times.

9. Slide the loaf onto the baking stone.

10. Pour 1-2 cups of tap water into the shallow dish and immediately close the oven door to trap the steam.

11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is well browned and bread sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom.

Here is what mine looked like the first time:

5  COOKING / Dessert / Starwars Cakes on: July 02, 2009 07:47:41 PM
I made these cakes for my partner's birthday back in April. It was my second time using fondant. It is marshmallow fondant that I made myself using a recipe from the Cake Journal. 

Both cakes together:



Lemon Stormtrooper with home made lemon curd filling and a vanilla butter cream:



*Note- Fondant that is painted with black food dye does not taste good and dyes your mouth black!

Chocolate Chewbacca with chocolate butter cream:



I had a great time making them (although it took a long time!) They were inspired by these toys:




6  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Discussion and Questions / Sculpey III vs. Super Sculpey on: June 10, 2009 01:47:02 PM
Hi,

I have a 50% off coupon for Micheals and I was thinking of buying a big block of polymer clay. I typically only buy white and paint it after, and I saw that they sold larger bricks of plain coloured clay. They only have Super Sculpey in the large brick, which is a sort of light flesh tone. I typically use Sculpey III, which they only sell in small blocks.


My question is there a major difference between using Sculpey III and Super Sculpey?

Thanks in advance!
7  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / Can soap gel go bad? on: May 04, 2009 01:41:06 PM
I got a strange phone message a few weeks ago from my mum, "Honey, we are cleaning out the basement fridge because it broke on the weekend. Do you know what the plastic containers full of goo are?"

Turns out they were my olive oil soap gels for felting. I had various levels of soapiness and they were in plastic containers. Problem is, I haven't lived at my parent's house for over 5 years! It is possible that I made it there and left in since then, but defiantly not within the last 2 years.

Which leads me to my question... Do you think that soap gel and wetting mix can go bad? It's just olive oil soap and water. It doesn't smell or look funky.

Thanks!
8  COOKING / Dessert / Bacon Ice Cream and Cinnamon Rolls on: March 03, 2009 07:43:37 AM
A friend of mine has an annual "Bacon Fest"- a potluck where everthing is bacon. This year there were some really creative additions (BLT Cesar anyone? Bacon vodka, lettuce juice, and the rest of a Cesar). The bacon vodka recipe was found here: http://www.browniepointsblog.com/2008/01/20/homemade-bacon-vodka/.

This year was really the year of the bacon dessert. I came across a recipe for bacon ice cream a few months ago on David Lebovitz's blog, but didn't have the occasion to try it out until now. I made a few adaptations from the original recipe ie. I made it with higher fat cream because I find the best tasting home made ice cream is mostly whipping cream. I'm not really sure if bacon icecream needs the addition of more fat  Wink. I also candied some pecans and added them to the mix (the extra crunch was very nice), and made the ice cream base maple. Who doesn't love maple syrup and bacon?

Overall I was impressed with how good it actually tasted!





Candied Bacon Ice Cream
Ingredients

For the candied bacon;
5 strips bacon
about 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

For the candied pecans;
cup white sugar
1 cup raw pecans

For the ice cream custard:
3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter
cup (packed) brown sugar (170g)
1 cup 35% (whipping) cream
1 cup 18% (table) cream
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons maple syrup
teaspoon vanilla extract

To candy the bacon
1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
2. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.
3. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.
4. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that's collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
5. Once crisp and cool, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice.

To candy the pecans
6. Warm a heavy pan gently over a medium heat for a few moments. Add the sugar to the pan.
7. Leave the sugar, keeping an eye on it, until it begins to melt.
8. After about 5 minutes the sugar will start to melt and turn liquid around the edges. Now give the pan a good shake and leave it again until about a quarter of the sugar has melted.
9. Using a wooden spoon, give it a gentle stir and continue to cook and stir until the sugar has transformed from crystals to liquid and is the colour of dark runny honey. The whole thing should take about 10 minutes from start to finish.
10. Add the raw pecans and toss to coat.
11. Spread the pecans on a lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to cool.
12. Once cool chop the pecans into little pieces.

To make the ice cream custard
13. Melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar. Mix together the creams and add half to the butter/sugar mixture.
14. Pour the remaining cream into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.
15. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
16. Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
17. Strain the custard into the cream, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add syrup and vanilla.
18. Refrigerate the mixture.

19.Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the bacon bits and pecans during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.

With bacon brown sugar (left over from bacon vodka and maple syrup martinis):


And now for bacon cinnamon rolls. They were based on the Joy of Cooking's sweet bun recipe. Cooked crumbled bacon was added during the cinnamon sugar stage:


Out of the oven:


As someone who doesn't usually eat very much meat, let alone bacon, I think I'm done with bacon for a while.


9  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Felt ball christmas garland on: February 27, 2009 03:10:53 PM
I made these back in December to make my apartment more festive. Not quite seasonal, I know. Nothing too exciting, but I thought I would share my process of making lots of felt balls quickly.

In action:



Take cheap (or old) pantyhose, and cut off the legs:



Roll wool into balls. Make sure they are reasonably smooth on the outside, and pull the ends so they feather across the whole ball (to make sure they stay together). In the future I would weigh my wool to make sure the end product came out a bit more consistently sized. I used some not so nice wool for the centres and covered them with roving:



Tie up the stockings above the balls and repeat until they are full. You can see in this one how differently sized my felt lumps are.:



Now all you have to do is wet your stockings and toss them in a load of washing. I washed them inside my pillow cases, when my sheets needed a washing. I used my warm cycle for these, but I've also used hot and found (at least in my machine) they come out tighter and smaller. It would probably depend on the wool too, as too hot might cause the outside to felt and leave the middles spongy.

I dyed with beats and greens after washing for Christmas colours. Stung together with some embroidery floss and glass beads:





Enjoy!
10  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Discussion and Questions / Mongolian Felting Video on: February 27, 2009 01:29:39 PM
I was doing a bit of research on the history of felt, and I came across this strange video on youtube. The video is a step by step of the traditional method for making felt- with a dance beat.

Check it out here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDzN_GwJfG0

A preview (rolling the wool):


A more traditional (and very inspiring) video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ0uojUHYdA

I think it's amazing that we are connected to and continuing on a craft so full of history!

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