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41  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Pottery, Ceramics, etc: Completed Projects / Bumpy Doodles Glaze on: June 22, 2013 07:48:26 AM
This was my first go at trying Gare Bumpy Doodles glazes.  They're kind of like dimensional fabric paint for pottery and come in a similar applicator.  I'll be playing with them again.   Smiley The piece is wheel thrown and fired to cone 4. 

42  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Potting Bench Transformed Into A Party Bar on: June 06, 2013 05:55:34 AM
We purchased this potting bench at a really nice discount.  It has a slight blemish and was the last one in stock.  It's the perfect setting for an outdoor bar with just a few upgrades. 

We added a bottle opener which we've had sitting in our junk drawer for like forever.  A bathroom towel bar purchased on clearance was added to the front of the bench.  The hooks hold an ice scoop, wine opener and wine charms. 

The bench has a reservoir for potting soil that we could use for ice and drinks but we decided to use a galvanized tub for that purpose and use the entire bench surface for pouring wine, mixing drinks, etc. 



43  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Tablecloth Weights on: June 02, 2013 05:17:23 AM
It's really windy where we live so I knew I needed to find a solution to keep our tablecloths in place.  After a stop at the auto supply store for alligator clips and the sporting goods store for fishing weights, I got out my jewelry making supplies and fashioned some tablecloth weights.  Besides the clip and the weight, I used a head pin (like the ones you use to make dangly earrings) and two beads.  They worked great!  I need to make another set for our bistro table. 


I made the tablecloth, too, from some heavy weight cotton I got at JoAnn's for half off. 
44  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Deck Do-Over on: May 28, 2013 08:39:11 AM
Something that's been on our to-do list ever since we purchased the farm is to redo the back deck, and we finally got it done!  For the longest time, we didn't have a clue what we wanted.  We felt the slope of the back yard really limited our options.  We finally got out a measuring tape and figured out how far back it could be pushed out then drew up some plans.


Here's a before shot.  It was an oddly shaped eyesore, too narrow to comfortably sit at our outdoor dining table.  The handrails were a mess of peeling white paint and the floorboards were starting to curl and come unattached in places.


Here's day one of construction.  We hired a contractor for the heavy work but my husband and I did the entire demolition of the old deck. 


Here's a shot under the new roofline.  We're still playing around with furniture placement so it doesn't look like the garden section of a Home Depot. 


We got the little bistro set on sale.  My husband is going to run electricity out there and install two ceiling fans and some galvanized metal pendant lights we have on order.  He also plans to put a handrail around the spa and build a few planters and benches out there.


We've had every single meal out there since it was finished.  I'm so happy it was finished in the spring so we can enjoy it all summer.  I can't believe it took us so long to figure out what we wanted and am so happy it's finally done!







45  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / From Pasture to Table - Goat Cheese on: April 25, 2013 05:11:34 AM
A few people have asked me about making chevre so I thought I'd do a quick post about it.  I just started milking two of our Nubian/Alpine mix dairy goats for the season.  Here's Hermione on the milking stand.  They had (adorable) kids a few months ago who are almost weaned.  Daily milking keeps their milk coming. 



The recipe I use calls for a gallon of pasteurized milk (that's a process that I do ahead of time). 



The pasteurized milk is heated to 75 degrees and powdered cheese culture is added.  After mixing the culture in really well, rennet is added.   Both culture and rennet are available from a cheesemaking supplier. 



The cultured milk comes off of the heat and sits a few hours until a nice curd forms, one that you can cut with a knife.



I cut the curd and ladle it into chevre molds.  These are basically plastic cups with holes drilled into the sides which allows the whey to drain off overnight.



The next morning, the whey is gone and you're left with cheese!  These rounds get salted then stored in the fridge.



It's immediately ready to serve in oh so many ways. 



46  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Edward Gorey Mug Rug on: April 17, 2013 09:46:25 AM
I made this mug rug as a tribute to the Ghashleycrumb Tinies for Wulf in the Completely Ghastly Edward Gorey swap.  The fabric is from Alexander Henry's Ghastlies line. 

47  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Edward Gorey Block on: April 17, 2013 09:38:25 AM
I decorated a little wooden block for the fabulous Wulf in the Edward Gorey swap.  It's about 2 inches tall with bead feet and features some of his iconic artwork.







48  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Risotto on: April 12, 2013 04:52:31 AM
Risotto is one of my family's favorite things.  Any time I have leftover broccoli, peas or especially asparagus in the fridge, we have risotto the next night.  Unlike long grain rice (which is steamed), risotto is cooked without the lid on the pan.  It takes about 25 minutes of cooking time total which is why I always yell at the TV when a chef attempts making risotto on 'Chopped'!



There are just a few ingredients; arborio rice, broth, white wine, olive oil, parmesan cheese and vegetables.  That is leftover grilled asparagus.  I forgot to include garlic in the photo but it's in there, too.  You could also include shallot or onion if you like. 
The rice to broth ratio is 1 to 3.  If you want a large family sized bowl of risotto, you'll need one cup of rice to three cups of broth for this recipe.  This recipe is very easily scaled down if you want to make less, just keep the 1 to 3 ratio.



I crush a few cloves of garlic and saute it in olive oil.  Once the garlic starts to soften, I add in the rice and give it a good stir.


Splash in some white wine and stir it around for a few minutes. 


Add your first cup of broth.  Stir occasionally until the rice absorbs a lot of the broth. 


You'll know it's ready for the next cup of broth when you see the grains of rice plump up (see below). 

Repeat this process.  Add the second cup of broth, stir occasionally until you see the grains of rice plumped up again.


Here it is with the third and final cup of broth added to the pan.  If you don't have leftover vegetables in the fridge, you can certainly cook them with the rice at this point.  Just dice them and toss them in.


When you can see the plumped up rice grains again, test them for doneness. Just take a bite, the grains should not be firm or crunchy inside. 


When you are satisfied with the doneness, toss in the leftover vegetables, 1/4 cup or more of parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.  This is one of my best go-to recipes, I hope you'll give it a try!
49  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Make Your Own Cheese (You Can Do It!) on: April 03, 2013 08:04:52 AM
We have a small herd of dairy goats which allows me to make feta and goat cheese in my kitchen every week.  I occasionally purchase cow's milk from the store to make camembert, caierphilly, cheddar and romano.  What got me started in cheesemaking years ago was mozzarella.  It's simple, quick and doesn't required a lot of expensive fancy equipment.  Let's get started!


You'll need a big spoon, a kitchen thermometer (WalMart carries a basic model for about $5), salt, rennet, citric acid (more about those in a minute) and a gallon of whole milk.  Don't buy anything other than whole milk or you will end up with less cheese.  It's important not to buy 'ultrapasteurized' milk, so make sure you check the label.  From my personal experience, I never purchase a large chain's home brand. I'm not sure but believe they may pasteurize to a higher temperature to extend shelf life.  What you end up with instead of mozzarella is something the consistency of ricotta.  Not a tragedy, but not what you were expecting. 


You can get either veal or vegetable rennet by mail (I use www.dairyconnection .com), BUT I have seen rennet tablets for sale at Fresh Market and Whole Foods, so check the refrigerator section of your local health food store.


I have seen citric acid available lots of places; including online, Indian groceries and those 'weigh your own herb' sections of Whole Foods and health food stores. 


Mix 1.5 teaspoons of citric acid into 1/4 cup of cool unchlorinated water.  Stir this into your cold milk then start heating it on the stove over medium low heat.  Stir occasionally and watch carefully for this mixture to reach 88 degrees F.  Don't worry if the milk starts to curdle.   Smiley

While it's heating, mix 1/4 teaspoon of liquid rennet (or 1/4 rennet tablet) in 1/4 cup of cool unchlorinated water.  Set aside.


Once it reaches 88 degrees, gently stir the rennet mixture into your milk. 


Continue stirring while heating the milk to 100 degrees.  It only takes a few minutes and you'll see curds startiing to form.


When the milk reaches 100 degrees, take your pot off of the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.


Miss Muffet, you've got curds and whey!  You can save the whey for breadmaking or feed it to your dog.  Not all at once though, it can give them diarrhea.  Ask me how I know this.   Roll Eyes


Drain off the whey and put the curds in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave them at full power for 1 minute.


Drain off any whey that has collected and gently knead the cheese with either your hand or a large spoon to distribute the heat evenly throughout the cheese.  Stick it back in the microwave for another 35 seconds.   


Drain off the whey, add 1 teaspoon of salt and knead again.  Pop it back in the microwave for 35 more seconds.


Knead one last time until your cheese is smooth and stretchy.  That's it!


Once it cools, you can slice and serve it with tomatoes and basil drizzled with a little olive oil and black pepper or put it on a homemade pizza.  Your friends and family will be amazed!   Grin
50  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce (with a little help from a friend) on: April 02, 2013 06:44:14 AM

When I saw batgirl's Best of 2011 Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Olive Oil post, I knew I had to make some... actually a lot!  We love tomatoes and grow a ton of them every year.  I can a bit and dry a few, both techniques are very labor intensive.  Oven roasting then freezing them is so easy!
 


I took two bags of frozen roasted plum and cherry tomatoes out of the freezer, along with some dried tomatoes.  After the tomatoes defrosted, used a strainer to drain the liquid off.  This allowed me to control the thickness of the pasta sauce.  I used just the tomatoes at first, then added a bit of the liquid before serving to get the consistency I was looking for. 



While the tomatoes were draining, I peeled and deveined 12 jumbo shrimp and browned a few crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil.  Once browned, I added a cup of red wine and a few dried tomatoes to the pan.



While the sauce was cooking, I added a Tbsp. of both capers and fresh basil.  We grow our own microbasil indoors in the winter.



Pappardelle (pasta nests) only take 5 minutes to cook in boiling salted water. 



At the same time I put the pasta on, I dropped the shrimp in the sauce to cook.  The finished sauce was served on the pasta with grated parmesan cheese.  If you'd like to try this recipe and don't have a stack of frozen roasted tomato packages in your freezer right now no worries.  Just buy some plum tomatoes at the grocery store and roast them. 

It's early spring and our tomato plants are only about 6 inches tall right now, but thanks to batgirl I served a taste of summer for dinner last night!


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