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1  Attention Bloggers: Join the Food Day Blog-Along! in Crafty Charitable/Social Causes by SlyBetty on: October 19, 2012 04:32:12 PM
Myself and a fellow food blogger are putting together a blog-along in support of Food Day, October 24. We are looking for other bloggers to write posts on current food issues (such as organics, GMOs, hunger, locavorism, sustainable seafood, etc.) before October 23. We're collecting the posts into a list that will be linked on both participating blogs, and we'll be promoting the participating blog posts across our social networks on Food Day.



What's Food Day?
Food Day is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.
Visit http://www.FoodDay.Org to find out more!

Let's blog together to make a difference for what we love most, food!

What Should I Blog About?
Blog about any food topic that encourages healthy food, sustainable food, and accessible food. Choose a topic that resonates with you personally, something that you are passionate about.  Here are some ideas:

  • Whole Foods Recipes and Cooking Ideas
  • Eating Processed Foods vs. Whole Foods
  • Eating Local Foods
  • The Benefits of Organic Food
  • What Are GMO Foods?
  • The Need For Sustainable Seafood
  • Your Favorite Whole Food / Local Food / Organic Food Restaurants
  • Highlight Your Favorite Local Farm or Farmers Market
  • Feature Your Favorite Food Activism Organization
  • Special Diets: Vegan, Vegetarian, Etc.
  • Easy Ways to Eat More Sustainable Food
  • Easy Ways to Eat Healthier Foods
  • International Hunger - How You Can Help
  • Domestic Hunger - How You Can Help
  • American Food Deserts

Where/When Should I Write My Blog Post?
  • Publish your Food Day post (or posts) between now and Tuesday, October 23, 2012.
  • Leave a link to your post in the comments on this post, or send the link to me by DM. Please also include links to your twitter handle and facebook blog page, if you have them. That will make it easier for us to promote you and your post.
  • We'll publish a list of everyone's posts on Mary Makes Dinner and on From Maggies Farm on Food Day, October 24, 2012.
  • We'll also share your posts on our Food Day Pinterest Board, and on our social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Google+)
  • You can help promote the Food Day Blog Along using the hashtag #FoodDayBlogAlong on G+, Twitter, and Pinterest!
  • We'll email each of you with the list of posts so that you can promote them too.

For more details, and to find out how your blog can participate, please visit this link:
http://marymakesdinner.typepad.com/marymakesdinner/2012/10/join-the-food-day-blog-along.html

Thanks! I hope to some of you blogging along!
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2  Re: Post your CRAFTY Tattoos! in Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects by SlyBetty on: November 03, 2010 08:07:25 AM


This is bit more foodie than crafty, but I hope you like it! My gift to myself for finishing culinary school.
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3  Re: Inchie My Theme Swap in The Swap Gallery by SlyBetty on: June 30, 2010 12:35:36 PM
I received these great inchies today from MunLtStmpr. There is a little bit from each of my themes included: Photography, Alphabet, Flowers, Food/Cooking. Thanks! These are really cute!

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4  Re: Inchie My Theme Swap in The Swap Gallery by SlyBetty on: June 29, 2010 09:04:40 AM
More Inchies Received!

Some gorgeous photography and alphabet themed inchies from Dinkime:


And some lovely, super cute inchies in many varied themes from McJulieO, including a BONUS inchie. Whee!!


Thanks, ladies! These are great!
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5  Re: Inchie My Theme Swap in The Swap Gallery by SlyBetty on: June 23, 2010 08:47:07 AM
I received my inchies from audio-astrophysics and they are super cute! Thanks so much!

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6  Mini Notebooks From Greeting Cards (Tutorial) in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General by SlyBetty on: May 11, 2010 01:34:41 PM


These pretty little handmade notebooks are made with collage paper, newsprint, embroidery floss, and greeting cards.  You can use blank greeting cards or used cards to make your notebook covers, giving you a great way to re-use your latest pile of birthday or holiday greetings.

First, take your greeting card and your collage paper and plot out how youd like to arrange the paper.  Try to cover every bit of the card.  If youre using a used greeting card as your base, make sure that the paper you are using to cover the card is thick enough to hide any pictures or text.  They will look fugly when they show through.



Next, use your favorite paper glue to cover every bit of the card with your collage paper.  I use a glue stick, since I find school glue or mod podge gets my paper too wet (then it warps!).



Carefully trim the cover after it has dried to make sure all of your edges are even.



Measure your card, then cut 15 20 rectangles of blank newsprint in a slighty smaller size than your card.  I would suggest going at least 1/2 inch smaller on all sides.  You can cut these by hand, but if you have a real paper cutter, it will make your pages come out much more evenly.  As you can probably tell, mine were hand cut.

Fold your pages in half and place them inside your cover.

Using your favorite punching tool, poke holes through the center fold of your pages and cover simultaneously.  Im crazy, so I use a dremel with a drill bit.  Ive seen folks use awls, heavy duty paper punches, and a huge variety of other things to poke these holes.  Just choose your favorite and go for it.  Just make sure your holes are all lined up nicely, or stitching it will be a huge pain, maybe even impossible.


 
Now take some string and thread it onto a nice big sewing needle.  A tapestry needle would be ideal.  I used embroidery floss to bind my notebooks, but you can use any kind of sturdy thread or string.  Some good ideas would be twine, hemp, or very strong yarn.

Stitch through the holes in the book in one direction, like so:


 
Then, turn around and stitch in the other direction.  While you are going this direction, slip your needle through the next stitch over every chance you get, this will make each stitch more even and secure.  See what I mean?



Tie a knot when you get back to the beginning.



Fold the notebook back down.  It wont want to stay closed very much, so you should press it under something really heavy for a few hours, or maybe even overnight.



All finished!



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7  Album Bouquets: Flowers Made From CD Liner Notes (With Tutorial) in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: Reconstructed by SlyBetty on: May 06, 2010 02:58:21 PM
I made these bouquets from old liner notes when I finally got rid of all my old cd jewel cases. Hope you like!





You can see a few more photos on my Flickr Stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drstrangeglove/sets/72157623147063527/

Heres how you make them.

Youll need:

  • CD Liner Notes
  • A Flower Shaped Paper Punch
  • A Mini Hole Punch (1/8 inch)
  • Floral Wire
  • Medium Sized Seed Beads
  • Double Sided Tape
  • Floral Tape

Directions:

  • Start by carefully removing the cover of the album and setting it aside.  This will be used as the vase, or wrapper for your bouquet.
  • Cut the remainder of the liner into strips that are just a little wider than your flower shaped punch.
  • Punch as many flowers as you can from the liner, then put them together into pairs of two.
  • Now punch two tiny holes into the middle of each pair of  flowers using your 1/8 inch hole punch.
  • Cut several 5 inch lengths of floral wire.
  • Line up a pair of flowers so that the holes in the middle align, then carefully thread a piece of wire through one of the holes.
  • Slip a bead onto the wire, then thread about 1 inch of the wire through the other hole in the flower so that the two ends of the wire are underneath the flower.  Carefully twist the two ends together.
  • Repeat the last two steps until you have tons of flowers.
  • Arrange the flowers into a pretty bunch, then secure the stems together using floral tape.
  • Roll the album cover into a cone and secure it from the inside with a piece of double sided tape.  Curl the edges on the outside cover down a little to make it extra pretty.
  • Place your bouquet of flowers into the wrapper and present it to your favorite music lover.

If you are wondering what to do with the empty jewel cases themselves, you will be happy to learn that they can be recycled.  However, your local recycling center is unlikely to take them, as they are made of a material that is notoriously difficult to recycle.  But fear not, the internet has come to the rescue.  Visit http://www.GreenDisk.com to learn how you can have your cases ethically disposed of.   Or, if you are feeling crafty,  check out the Top 14 Ways to Reuse Unwanted Jewel Cases here: http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/recycle-cd-jewel-cases.html.  Yet another option is to call up your local used CD store to see if theyd like to take your cases.  Second hand music stores are often in need of extra jewel cases, so your local shop may be happy to take them off your hands.
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8  Cotton Ball Confections (w/Tutorial) in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by SlyBetty on: February 11, 2010 12:59:24 PM


These faux foods are super easy and cheap to make, making them a good choice for kid crafting.  But, if you are a sugar junkie, you might just want to make a batch up for yourself!

Directions:
To make creme filled cookies, start by cutting some shapes out of construction paper.  Cut two 3 to 4 inch circles out of brown paper, then two more out of black paper.   With a brown marker, draw chocolate chips onto the brown circles.  Using a white marker or a white crayon decorate the black circles to resemble a chocolate cookie.  Take two cotton balls and gently pull them in every direction.  Try not to pull them completely apart.  Instead, try to just stretch each cotton ball into a wide, flat circle.  On the wrong side of each paper cookie, spread school glue evenly.  Sandwich the cotton ball circles in between two paper cookies and gently press them together.

Next, try making some cotton ball cupcakes.  Start with a candy cup, or small cupcake wrapper.  Coat the inside of the cup with school glue, then drop a cotton ball inside.  To make your cupcakes look more realistic, try shaping them into a ball first.  Top each cupcake with a small pom pom and a drop of glue.

Another faux food you can create using cotton balls is ice cream!  Begin by cutting a 4 inch square from construction paper.  Carefully trim one half of the square into a round edge.  Using a brown marker, draw criss-crossing diagonal lines across the paper to make the paper resemble a waffle cone.  Now roll the square into a cone shape and secure it with glue.  Next, grab a cotton ball and carefully pull the cotton up from its middle.  Twist the cotton gently to give it a swirled look.  This step may take a little practice.  Once your ice cream is ready, use glue to secure your ice cream inside the cone.
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9  Mary Helen's Guide to Making Chinese Dumplings! in Recipes and Cooking Tips by SlyBetty on: January 25, 2010 11:52:01 AM
While I was in China, I learned a bit about Chinese cooking at a place called The Hutong.   Its a very cool little Arts Center that focuses on culture, art, wellness, and much to my delight, cooking!  My very first class at The Hutong was on Dumpling Making.  Dumplings, as you may or may not know, kick ass.  They are delicious little pockets of joy and can be made in countless varieties, including some very tasty vegetarian/vegan combinations.  Ive made them since the class, most recently for my sister, Heathers birthday dinner.  Im no professional.  In fact, my dumplings tend to look a little wonky.  Sophia, my dumpling teacher, told me that Chinese people call dumplings like mine ass dumplings (since they look like doughy little derrieres).  Well, they may look like hineys, but they taste like heaven.  Thats what counts, right?

By the way, these types of dumplings are called Jaozi (pronounced sort of like jow-zuh, but not quite). They are quite a bit like Pot Stickers or Japanese Gyoza.

So, without further ado, here is a crash coarse in dumpling making, ala me, based on what I learned at The Hutong.  I wont repost their complete recipe, but I can give you a pretty in depth run down.  If you have any questions, please let me know!  Im happy to help.


Dumpling Ingredients

Fillings
When we arrived, our teacher, Sophia, had laid out a spread of ingredients in small white bowls.  We were encouraged to sniff and taste each ingredient (expect the raw meat, of course) and learned a little about each one, and how it was prepped for inclusion in the dumplings:

Pork: The raw pork was ground, like hamburger meat.  Sophia told us that it is best to find pork that is heavily marbled with fat when making dumplings, as the fat is necessary for a smooth texture.

Eggs: These were scrambled in a hot wok with a little salt and oil, then chopped finely.

Tofu: Sophia used a very firm, but in all other regards, basic white tofu.  It was crumbled, then stir fried in oil to reduce its moisture.

Carrots: The carrots we used were minced in a juicer, but you can also use a food processor, or (heaven help you) a veggie peeler and knife to achieve the same, finely minced texture.

Pepper Oil: Pepper Oil is made by infusing dried flower peppers (red or green depending on personal taste) in oil.  Sophia uses a plain Soybean Oil and Red Flower Peppers and heats them over a low flame in her wok.  You can strain the Flower Peppers out of the oil when it cools, or leave them in it for visual flair.  But dont let them wind up inside your dumplings. That would not be so nice.


Pepper Flowers

Black Wood Fungus: Also called Wood Ear Fungus, these mushrooms are purchased dried and then reconstituted using room temperature salted water.  The dried fungus looks like a black rose, but after it is hydrated it looks more like a squashy pile of seaweed.  Mince it finely after it is hydrated for use in dumplings. On a side note, according to Sophia, these mushrooms are used to cool the body, and cleanse the digestive system in Chinese medicine.  They can supposedly help with gall stones and other various digestive issues, but should be avoided if you are an overly chilly person.

Dark Soy Sauce: A thick, dark, and intensely flavored soy sauce that is usually used on meats. This is used only with meat dumplings, as the flavor is too strong for veggies.

Glass Noodle: Sophia had a good time making us guess what these stiff, white noodles were made of.  Our guesses included: rice, radish, and vermicelli, but were all totally wrong.  These special noodles are made from green beans and peas.  They become totally clear when cooked, and have a very unique, elastic-like texture.  They should be boiled for 3-5 minutes, or until they become totally transparent, then drained, but not rinsed.  When they cool enough to handle them, chop them into little, 1/2 centimeter bits.

Ginger: We used fresh, finely diced ginger, but Sophia assured us that you can also use dried ginger or crystallized ginger according to your taste.  An interesting note, the preparation of ginger, as well as the part of the ginger root used, affects is purpose when it comes to Chinese Medicine.

Shitake Mushroom: In China, these little brown mushrooms are readily available both fresh and dried.  According to Sophia, the dried mushrooms have a better flavor for dumplings, so we used the dried kind.  These are hydrated the same way the Black Wood Fungus is in room temperature salt water.

Scallions (Chinese Leeks): In China they have these enormous scallions, which they call either chives or scallions in English.  I am not sure, but I think they might be closer to leeks in actuality.  They use them constantly in Chinese cuisine.  For dumplings, they chop them very finely.  You can also use regular old scallions if you prefer.

Mystery Greens: There is a very dark green leaf that is minced and added very commonly to dumplings in Beijing.  Our teacher, Sophia, called it Dill at first, but after we all smelled it we decided it definitely could not be dill.  She used the word fennel next, but Im still not 100% percent sure it was fennel.  It had a slightly herbaceous, lemony aroma, but has a texture similar to spinach once its cooked. Up until the class I had assumed it was spinach or the dark leafed baby Chinese cabbage that I saw everywhere I went.

The Fillings
To make Veggie Dumpling Filling, you simply mix and match any non-meat fillings you like, then top them off with some Pepper Oil and a little salt.  (Tip: Dark Soy Sauce isnt very good in veggie dumplings, AND if you are not a vegan, you may want to add a little egg white and whip the mixture up to make it a little more firm.) For meat dumplings, the process is a wee bit more standardized.  First, stir in a few teaspoons of Dark Soy Sauce into the meat, followed by the minced scallions, and some salt.  Crack an egg white into the mix and stir (in only one direction) until the egg whites whip up and get the mixture nice and sticky.  Once the mixture has gotten nice and firm, you can add your Mystery Greens and some Pepper Oil.  Add more Salt and Soy Sauce to taste, and maybe a little ginger if the mood strikes you.

The Dough
The dough is very basic, just flour and water, kneaded into a soft, but not sticky ball.  Mix at a ratio of about 1 cup flour to 1/3 cup water or juice.  You may need to adjust that a wee bit though.  After you finish kneading the dough, set it aside covered with a bowl or in a lidded dish for about 10 minutes.  You can enhance the nutritional value of the dough (as well as the appearance) by using vegetable juice in place of water.  We used carrot juice and spinach juice, but there are countless other juices that could be used as well.  Beet juice, for instance, would create lovely purple dumplings.


Dumpling Dough in Three Colors

Once the dumpling dough is ready, it is rolled into a tube that measures a little less than an inch in diameter.  The tube is then chopped into 1 inch nuggets and dusted with dry flour.  We rounded the nuggets, then flattened them into discs using the palms of our hands.  You could probably use a cup or a mallet to get more perfect discs, but Im not sure thats really necessary.  The tricky part comes next.  Youll need to flour your work surface, and get yourself a very small rolling pin.  Pinch one edge of your disc, then roll firmly into the center on three sides, (rotating each time).  Continue to roll the pin in very deep on each turn until you get your disc to be about 3 inches or so wide.  The goal is to make the inside of the disc thicker than the outside, so that the bit that holds the filling is strong, and the excess dumpling isnt too chewy.  This took some practice, and for later inspiration, I took a short video of Sophia rolling her dough like an expert. You can check that out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drstrangeglove/4114672492/in/set-72157623146977041/

Stuffing and Folding
Another slightly tricky part, filling and folding the dumplings is a delicate art.  To a perfectionist, this activity could be maddening, but if you simply want to get that sucker closed, its not so hard.  Lay the wrapper flat in your palm, then use your other hand to scoop the filling into the middle. Not too much, not too little.  Pinch the middle of the wrapper closed first, then carefully pinch one of the edges together, and fold the remaining opening in the same direction that you folded the edge.  Repeat on the other side, and viola! Your little joazi is ready to go.

Cooking the Jaozi
After we had a platter full of dumplings which ranged in beauty from flawless to lumpy and weird (Sexy Ass Dumplings as Sophia says) we boiled ourselves a wok fill of water and dumped those suckers in!  This part excited me, can you tell?  I love boiling things in woks.  The steam!  The danger!  Its really pretty thrilling.  Anyway, we boiled them until, and I quote, they sink to the bottom, then rise to the top, then sink to the bottom again, then rise again, then sink and rise once more.  Another clue to tell that they had finished cooking was to look at their shape.  Dumplings puff up while they cook, and when theyve finished they shrink up like saran wrap.  You can also poke at the meat ones a bit to see how firm they are.


Cooking the Jaozi

We also pan fried some, which were really really delicious.  To pan fry the dumplings, you heat oil in a wok, then place the raw dumplings in the pan, standing on their little dumpling bottoms.  Let them cook for a bit, until they become golden down below, then add a generous portion of water, and cover the pan.  Youll know they are finished based on the aforementioned saran wrap and poke tests, but you cannot, unfortunately rely on the sink and rise test this time.

Dipping
Jaozi are meant to be dipped!  They are most commonly, if not always, served with malt vinegar.  Most folks toss some hot chili pepper and sesame oil into the mix. (Myself included) And some people even like to add a little plain soy sauce to the equation.  Any way you dip them though, they should be pretty ding dang tasty.
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10  Easy Upcycling: Crafted Canisters in Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General by SlyBetty on: January 25, 2010 11:42:17 AM
After finishing off a tin of Green Tea the other day I got the bright idea to redecorate the can and give it a second life.



Supplies! Craft Paper, Empty Canisters, and Glue.


How To:

    * Find a canister youd like to remodel.  You can probably find some likely candidates in your pantry.  Tea tins, tobacco canisters, coffee cans, and powdered drink containers are just a few examples.
    * Remove any problematic packaging from the container.  If it has a paper label, you may want to leave it on.  As long as it is smooth and well adhered, it will actually help to keep the decorative paper attached.  Things you may want to remove include stickers, pamphlets, or oddly places labels.  The best thing to use to remove them is a adhesive remover solution, but if you dont have one handy, you can try mayonnaise, hot water, nail polish remover, or even vegetable oil.
    * Carefully cut a piece of decorative paper to fit around the container.  It is best to use thick papers like card stock or scrapbook paper, otherwise you may be able to see the original packaging underneath.
    * Using School Glue or Elmers Glue, spread a thin layer of glue evenly across the wrong side of your paper.  I like to spread thin circles instead of spreading it flat, but the choice is up to you.
    * Carefully attach your paper to the container and hold it firmly until it has dried enough to hold its own shape.
    * You can add a line of ribbon in a corresponding color to the papers edges to give the container a more finished look.  Just measure it out and attach it with a very thin coat of glue.

Your finished canisters can be used for about a million things.  Try using them to hold any number of little doo-dads. Take the lids off and they can hold paint brushes, pencils & pens, silverware, or faux floral arrangements.
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