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1  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Bean Burgers, En Masse on: August 04, 2010 10:21:38 AM

Impromptu outdoor dinner using upturned bucket as table: bean burger, tomato rice, sliced tomatillo, LOTS of hot sauce!

This recipe as written will make up a very large amount of burgers. As such, it is great for gatherings and parties. They also freeze exceptionally well. So if you are looking for a way to not have to heat up the house or turn on the grill every time you're hungry this summer, this recipe is great. It contains lots of good for you foods including carrots, garlic and grains in addition to the beans. The burgers can be eaten on buns or just as they are with whatever sides you enjoy. More often than not, we do not have buns or bread in the house so we do the latter. This recipe is also exceptionally flexible to personal taste as the spices and spice amounts used can be altered or substituted ad infinitum.

Feel free to halve or quarter the recipe as written as it really does make a lot.

Black Bean Burgers

1 100 oz can black beans (this is the really big can that usually weighs somewhere around 6 lbs)

4 medium-large carrots, finely chopped
4 onions, finely chopped
4 bell peppers (I used all green, but use any color you like or substitute some of the bell peppers for fresh chilis or jalapeos), finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

16 eggs
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup corn meal
1 package saltine crackers, crushed (2-3 would probably be better and then you would use less flour, which can make the burger dough really mushy and sticky)
2-4 cups flour of choice, perhaps more (amount depends upon humidity, how much liquid is in the mixture to begin with, temperature, phase of moon, etc.) (I'm kidding about that phase of the moon part, but really there are a LOT of variables involved in determining how much flour is needed)

Seasonings of choice
Example A: 2 Tbs dried parsley, 5 tsp chili seasoning (the no salt kind), 2 tsp ground cumin
cilantro, Mexican oregano and/or hot sauce would also work splendidly with this kind of seasoning mix
Example B: 3 Tbs curry seasoning, 1 tsp ground fenugreek seed, 1 tsp ground paprika (either hot or sweet, though I can attest smoked paprika is way better than any other kind for this application)
Example C: 2-4 Tbs your favorite steak seasoning
you could also use your favorite Mrs. Dash or other similar spice mixture in the same amounts

Fresh herbs also make fantastic additions. I have use fresh basil, cilantro and parsley successfully before, however, I imagine any fresh herbs you like the taste of would work splendidly. I also think I would like to try adding fennel (greens and bulb) some time in the future when I can get my hands on some good-looking fennel.


1. Wash and chop all vegetables.

I used a food processor to chop everything as it saved a lot of time hand chopping. You could also use a box grater if you don't have a food processor available.

See this tutorial for a pepper processing tutorial to easily remove all the bitter parts: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=355755.0

This is about the size you're going for on the chopped veggie bits. A little larger than rice grains; maybe about lentil sized pieces. Anything larger will be obvious in your finished burgers and make the texture nonuniform.

Now all the veggies are prepared and ready to go. You could also put them in a colander as you process them as this would help drain away excess liquids. I did not do this and as a result had to add a lot of flour at the end. The reason I didn't do this is that I had my beans draining in my one and only colander.

2. Drain and rinse beans. I forgot to measure how many cups of beans are in a 100 oz can so you could just cook and use your own dried beans. Oops.

3. Mash beans. You can do this by hand with a potato masher or fork. I prefer to get out the Kitchen Aid instead, especially when making this much.

4. Add all other ingredients with the exception of spices, we'll get to those in a bit. Below is a 7 inch plate to show about how much salt and pepper I used for the whole big pot of stuff.

 If your mixture is really runny you can add more than 1 package crackers; I only had one package available though.

Another tip: squish the saltine package from both ends in order to crush them. this keeps all the little crumbs self-contained and makes it easier to get an even texture in the crushed crackers.

Here is what it should all look like at this point. Taste it now and adjust salt and pepper accordingly, before eggs are added.

5. Add eggs and mix in flour to get a mold-able mixture. At this point you will have too much mixture to all fit in a Kitchen Aid bowl. Put part of the mixture into the bowl in order to incorporate eggs, dump that into the rest of the bean mix and stir thoroughly to incorporate.

6. Separate into batches for seasoning. I find it much easier to mix the spices and seasoning thoroughly when doing so with smaller batches. This also allows you to try out a variety of spice styles and can help you decide later if you really like a certain seasoning style or not (and prevent you from having a freezer full of bean burgers that aren't spiced in a way you really enjoy). Here I used hot chili seasoning, extra cumin, and lots of dried parsley.

7. Preheat oven to 375F or fire up the grill, it's time to cook up some delicious bean burgers!  Grin

8. Spray or oil your baking surface to prevent sticking. Because these have no fat added to them, they will stick like the dickens, even if you are using a silicone baking mat as shown below. So be very liberal with the spray oil if you don't have a silicone mat.

9. Form your burgers. You can either form them by hand or, especially if your mixture is still a bit sticky, spoon the requisite amount of mixture for burgers the size you want directly onto the baking surface.

10. Bake at 375F for 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip, return to oven for another 10 minutes.

11. Enjoy your delicious bean burgers!

A couple tips for preserving as they tend to freeze into one solid block if you just put them in a freezer bag or container
1. Thoroughly cool first! Putting them in the fridge overnight ensures all steam is done escaping and helps prevent block-o-bean-burger-ness.
2. Freeze individually on a cookie sheet and place in a container after frozen so they can be removed individually.
3. Freeze an amount you/your family will consume at one time in a bag and thaw altogether.
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Bell Pepper Processing Trick, or Perfect Stuffing Peppers on: August 04, 2010 10:07:25 AM
One of the best part of summer foe me is the veggies! I love lots of kinds and growing them all, but I didn't figure out this trick for peppers until a few months ago. It makes for the best stuffed peppers I've had because it keeps the entire pepper body whole (no little bitty knife holes from cutting out the pith) and there is no bitter pith left inside. It also works well for removing pith/seeds for when you're just chopping them up, too.

Start by washing your peppers thoroughly. This gets rid of any dirt as well any pesticides or things like that clinging to the outside.

Cut the tops off just below where the stem joins the fruit as shown below.

That will leave you with something that looks like this:

Now make your hand into a shape like this:

Stick your fingers into the lobes, grab the seed body in the center and give it a twist/pull to remove, taking out the rest of the pithy part separating the lobes afterward if needed.

Et voil! Now you can cut it up however needed without worry about the seeds and pith inside. Or you can leave it as is and stuff with yummy grain and/or meat mixtures for making stuffed peppers and the tops can be placed back on them as is to keep everything nice and moist inside while baking. Be sure to cut the extra meat off the stem part in order to use it as well if you're not using them as baking containers.

I was using mine for bean burgers, so they got all chopped up and added to the rest of the veggie mix:

3  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / darning foot rubbing on needle screw post on: February 01, 2010 09:22:06 AM
I wasn't sure if I should put this here in Quilting or over in Needlework. Needlework seemed to be more hand stitching related so I put it here. Also couldn't find anything that seemed helpful doing a Craftster search for darning or embroidery foot.

I have a Bernina Bernette 65. I bought 2 additional feet for it last summer; a gathering foot and a darning/embroidery foot. I love the freedom that freemotion stitching gives me, but I'm having an issue with my foot. The eBay store I purchased from and the package that my foot arrived in both indicated that this foot was for use with my Bernette, but part of the foot is hitting my needle assembly and I don't want to damage anything rubbing metal on metal.

This is the foot on the machine per the assembly instructions it came with. Presser foot in lowered position and needle down.

This is with the presser foot still in lowered position but with needle 1/2 up. You can see where that part of the darning foot that sticks out is hitting the screw post for the needle. The metal is starting to wear on both already just from a couple small projects (maybe 2 hours' use of the foot, total). It also tends to loosen my needle and I have to constantly check to make sure the screw is re-tightened otherwise the needle comes out completely or breaks or bends, scaring the bajeezes out of me and making me fear for my fingers.

Presser foot still in lowered position (raised position it still rubs I just didn't think I needed pics with the foot raised also), needle in full raised position. This lifts the eye of the darning foot up from the fabric completely. Is it supposed to come off the fabric like that? Huh

Is anyone familiar with Bernette machines and has a darning foot like this? Do I have the foot installed improperly?

Do I just have the wrong foot altogether? If so, do you know anywhere I can get the correct darning foot for cheap? I really want to use the freemotion capability of my machine, but I don't have a job right now so don't have cash to spend on things that aren't really necessary.

Could I cut off the part of the foot that rubs on the screw post and still have a functioning foot? I see a lot of darning foot designs online that just have a clear foot with a spring. What is the purpose of that post part of the foot on mine that sticks out?

4  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / wedding/anniversary quilt (wordy and kinda pic heavy) on: January 22, 2010 03:07:22 PM
Brother and fiance holding up completed quilt.

This post is very word heavy. I haven't posted anything here in a very, very long time and this project has been part of figuring out what is going on in my life and what I want to do with it. If you don't want to read, feel free to skip down to the pics or visit the blog where most all of the processes are explained with more pictures. Smiley

Summer 2008 I started a quilt in anticipation of my sister's announcement that she would be marrying the next spring/summer. At that time I had intended to embroider 10-12 very large squares (15-18" initially), choose the 6-8 I liked best and build a quilt around them with sashing and whatnot. I get my squares cut out from medium-weight, reclaimed, polyester upholstery fabric in super bright turquoise and yellow and start the embroidering process. I am planning on hand embroidering everything and so this is going to take a while, but I figure roughly a year should be enough time, right? Then October rolls around and I get a call from sis saying that they've changed plans, will be getting married in December and would I mind making the bridesmaid dresses since I can make them for each girl's measurements and cheaper than buying them from somewhere.

Quilt plan derailed in a hurry. I don't mind at all making the dresses, especially since I'm the poor one lobbying for something under $250 and more like the Infinity dress since the bridesmaids were all different body types. But I can't handle working 50+ hrs/wk at 2 different jobs plus making the dresses and trying to get the quilt done in time. So the dresses get done in time even though I was doing the hems the night before I left STL for northern Michigan and made my fiance do the ironing so I could focus on sewing up what felt like miles and miles of hem. (Thank you, love!) In addition to the dresses, the couple also received a large Penzey's Spices gift crate filled with a variety of hand-picked spices and seasonings and such (I worked at Penzeys at the time) and were very, very happy.

I got a new, full time job shortly after returning to STL in January 2009. It seemed great to begin with but I soon learned that it was a soul-devouring dead-end hole and after visiting for 8-10 hrs 5 days a week I was an angry, perpetually unhappy mess every evening. Couple that with the deliberate intent, patience and focus needed for hand embroidering large areas and it just wasn't going to happen. So, I tried my best to get through it and brainstorm what else I could do. I wanted to keep it a quilt and non-traditional piecing but somehow more manageable. Enter awesome fiance's surprise trip to STL's Anthro store (that I had no idea even existed in all the 9 years I had been there. how did that happen!?). So many cool ideas and awesome things to look at!

So, for my birthday in early April I went to Hancock and spent some money on remnants of various home dec and upholstery fabrics with the idea to make an embellished strip quilt; each type of fabric having its own kind of decoration/embellishment. Then I had piles of 2", 3", and 5" strips of the fabrics and eventually came up with the methods of machine couching yarns, dying, hand embroidering and stamping them all. Below are a couple of examples of things that I did to some of the fabrics (All of these can be seen more indepth on my blog, just click on the tag "quilt" or this link http://mangomerle.blogspot.com/search/label/quilt and all of the relevant posts will show up)

Bleached over tools. Did this with kitchen tools also.

Throughout April and May I had been making small purchases toward crafting/sewing hardware I would use. Thread, interfacing, a gathering foot and a darning/embroidery foot for my machine, embroidery flosses, hand and machine needles, etc. These purchases were not part of my budgeting and I didn't consciously know what was going on, but I was getting myself set up for creating once I quit my job and wouldn't have an income. Early June I officially quit my job at the Maritz call center and started a phase of introspection, organization, and reintroduction of creativity into my life.

Freehand birdie with fabric crayons and bits stamped with the textile stamps I picked up at Anthro. This birdie did not make it to the quilt as I have other plans for him. I also got some Jacquard textile inks on the recommendation of fiance's brother's wife who had a fiber arts degree from somewhere in Kansas.

When I quit my job, I had enough money to pay my part of rent on the duration of the lease on our apartment, pay the electric bills until the end of the lease, and buy the most basic of groceries. I grew up dirt poor so having beans and rice for almost every meal was nothing new. I did this intending to either find another job by the end of the lease, one that aligned with my moral compass and wouldn't crush my soul even if the pay was lousy, or move back to northern Michigan with my parents and try to get some money selling crafts/quilts/toys/etc. Living with my parents would be glamorous by no means but I would be surrounded by people who loved and cared for me and as long as I was doing my best to make a living for myself I would be welcome.

Things finally started to come together for the quilt!

Fiance's Mom offered in July for us to move to eastern MD and live with her for a while so, because fiance had not seen any of his family in over a year due to geographic and financial impossibilities, we moved there in August. In MD, I landed a job at JoAnns. I found a job again that I liked doing! My co-workers were amazing and kind and talented, I got to help people, I learned a LOT about fabric and fiber and construction of both craft and clothing items and fabrics themselves. Work was like a present every day. Coming from an education background, I genuinely enjoy helping and informing people. Even the super crappy customers were nothing after having worked at Maritz. And the employee discount was like a present on top of a present!

I made a little bit of headway on the quilt pieces.

I learned how to make my own screen prints!

Living in MD was not a present, however. I couldn't really sew since the machine was not welcome in the house unless I was going to set everything up and pack it all away back into boxes when I was done for the day. And even if I was OK with that we could be kicked out of the house or not allowed in at any time according to fiance's Mom's schedule of guests/partners, which cause a lot of turmoil between us. Far from ideal, I felt more and more stifled and at one point even threatened by the living situation.

Did little bits of crochet and hand couching.

So after a lot of soul-searching and consideration of options I decided that I was moving, either to MI with my parents or TN with my brother, and even though it would pain me to do so I was going to even if fiance was not coming. That was his choice to make and not mine. This is what I had done at that time:
Most all of the pieces had their embellishments/decorations but I wasn't able to assemble anything. The quilt parts and further items needed to complete it were carefully packed away and taken to Michigan this Christmas after a *major* purge of furniture, personal belongings and personal baggage as well as dropping off everything we owned in TN on the way.

Family and fiance helping with the last steps in assembly.

Final construction was completed January 1, 2010, 2 days before my brother; and subsequently fiance and me since we are now living with him, had to be back on base at Fort Campbell. For the last year I have been thinking a lot about craft and sewing and creating and how these things relate to our lives, how we live them and what we actually give value to in our lives. I don't have most of these thoughts down in word format yet, but they are now a part of me because of this quilt and the processes involved in completing it even if I never do get them down in word format. I learned how to assert myself to get what I needed out of situations and to not take no for an answer where my sense of right and wrong is concerned. I also found out that people and history, both personal and incorporating it somehow into things I make and do, mean a lot more to me than I had ever thought possible.

There are 8 birds on the quilt (6 of which can be seen in the last pic below), one for my sister's husband and one for each my family members. The 2 silk screened crows/ravens are my sister and her husband because I wish for them long lives devoted to each other. The 2 painted peafowl are our parents who have done their best to give us a solid rational and moral foundation for our lives. The 3 parrots represent our triplet brothers. 2 of the parrots are taken from the same print and represent our 2 identical brothers while the other is a wool embroidery, representing our fraternal brother. The fraternal parrot is embroidered and has a frame. This is because our fraternal brother was killed in a car accident and his life story is now complete whereas the other 2 are not and do not have frames around them.

The last little bird, the one speaking in symbols and music notes, is me. I usually have such a very hard time explaining myself in words that it just doesn't happen, but not everything we say has to be in words all the time. I am not completely done with the process started in June 2008 (can you ever really truly be done making yourself?) and there are some more changes I would like to implement soon, but I have become a person I am no longer ashamed of. I am more a person I would want to know and I have a better understanding of why and how through items I placed on or worked into this quilt. (explained a little better, maybe, at the blog)

Thanks for reading (if you did) and thanks for looking at the pictures. I hope each and every one of you has a great weekend!

5  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / love monster stuffie on: February 18, 2009 04:43:39 PM
I call her the love monster. I made her up back in June of last year for my partner's birthday and he hasn't given her a name yet. I don't think he plans to. She is crafted from very soft, white faux fur with a really, really long one way nap and soft, but not quite as soft as the white, black faux fur. My own pattern. All hand stitched and hand embroidered. Ear tassels made of black, white and red embroidery floss. Eyebrows and dots all along tail are tri-colored french knots. Boy, did those take some time! She is stuffed with polyfil that I dumped a bunch of my rose perfume oil all over so she smells like me.

Also, anyone know offhand if you can bake in those metal gelatin molds hanging above the stove? They're not actually made of copper (they just look like it) so I'm not sure.
6  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / first projects - 2 blankets! on: January 15, 2009 02:47:45 PM
I was very ambitious with my very first crochet project project. I decided that the best way to go about learning to crochet was to jump in over my head and frantically flail about until I got it right. I made 2 blankets for 2 cousins' weddings. All made with cheap-o Red Heart for personal economic reasons.

The first one was done up in half double crochet throughout, 2 strands of yarn at once and with a size Q hook. I didn't get count right and ended up with a trapezoid shape instead of a rectangle. It is HUGE though, and super colorful, and the recipient says that it is terrific just the way it is.

The second was conceived on a much more reasonable scale. It is a large granny square and I love the color scheme! The reddish yarn isn't quite so red; in real life is complements the pink very nicely.

I learned a heck of a lot with these projects and have since made a scarf, a couple of simple hats and some dish scrubbies.
7  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / new dress and bolero. and bloomers, too! on: June 26, 2008 07:24:42 PM
My boyfriend surprised me for my birthday this year by buying tickets to see Rush in concert this weekend. Something that's been kind of a pseudo, some day we will do this kind of plan for about 3 years now. I wanted a cute new girlie dress and also something neat to wear to the concert that would stand out a bit if we somehow got separated since I absolutely loathe being lost in a huge group of people I do not know.

When I first saw atominkim's post https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=234623.msg2586698#msg2586698 I knew I must have that pattern and make myself an awesome new halter dress. And when I found a copy of the 50's retro Simplicity 3748 online in my size last week, I decided that the two would work pretty well together as a dress and bolero. The plaid is something I've had in my stash for years and just didn't know what I wanted to do with. The jacket lining fabric was taken from the skirt of an old gown I made for a conducting recital. I didn't feel badly about cutting it up because it is now about 4 sizes too big for me, way too big for me to be bothered with figuring out how to take it in and retain the proper shape, etc.

dress by itself
I liked the long ties and decided to use them as not only ties but also a built-in choker-style necklace

dress with bolero

from the back

And the bloomers I made several weeks ago when I got tired of not being able to wear all my cute skirts to work because I bicycle there and back every day. They're made from my Grandma's old sheer pink polyester curtains! And oh my gosh are they comfortable to wear.

front side

back side (I didn't hike the skirt up so far because the fabric is so sheer you could see my undies Roll Eyes )
8  CLOTHING / Clothing for Curvaceous Craftsters: Completed Projects / what to do when your basement is too creepy for doing laundry on: May 29, 2008 08:16:35 PM
A couple of weeks ago there came a night when I realized  Shocked I had not done laundry in far too long and had nothing to wear to work the next day. The laundromat was closed by this time and even though there is a coin washer in our basement, I did not want to go down there in the middle of the night to wash anything; basements frighten me even when they're normal, but ours is definitely not that. We have to go outside to the back porch and open a "trap door" to go down into our basement and it is super creepy because 1/2 the floor is still dirt from when the building was built in the 20's and there are random holes all over the place covered up by plywood. Neither me nor my roommate have yet been brave enough to lift any of the plywood to see what's in the holes. Plus there really is no lighting other than a garage lamp (the kind with an extension cord and a cage around it that you would use when working under the hood of a car) hanging directly over the washing machine. So what to do about clothes for work? Why, get out the sewing machine and browse through the fabric stash of course!

I had not made anything without a paper pattern before, but I have done a lot of sewing of clothes in the past. I found this polyester knit I had forgotten about in the bottom of my cedar chest; about 2 yards of it. I laid it out on the kitchen floor and, placing a camisole on top for reference, cut out the back piece. Then I used the back piece as a template for cutting out the front piece, only I drew out what I hoped would turn out to be a cowl neck and cut that out as well as completely guessing on what the sleeves should look like. I tried making them large and figured if they were too big I could just gather them slightly and make them poofy at the top.

After sewing the sleeves on and sewing the shoulder seams together I tried it on to make sure all was going correctly and dang, I didn't cut the knit out the right direction and the stretch was going up and down instead of side to side so it wouldn't fit across my tummy, let alone my hips at the bottom! So I eyeballed a triangle shape to add to the side seams and then finished all the edges with some antique lace I got from Grandma's stash a few months ago.

Close-up of fabric, quite true to color

Front view

So you can see the shape of the sleeves

Inserted triangle

Back view

Let me know what you think, please, as I am excited about it being the first thing I've ever made without an actual pattern!
The greenish shiny stuff behind me to my right is part of the canopy I made for my bed (the frame is made of old cedar fenceposts and my dad created the entire thing himself from napkin drawing (seriously) to completion. He is just that awesome. I will take pics of it and the canopy I created for it someday when I have access to something better than a webcam for taking pictures)
9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Pasta with fennel, beets and pecan pesto (super yum!) on: May 03, 2008 11:24:10 AM
made this a several weeks ago when my boyfriend was in town for the weekend
took forever for me to get around to posting it, but here it is in all its colorful yummyness Cheesy
It is based on this recipe: http://www.almostachef.com/2008/02/farfalle-with-almond-pesto-zucchini-and-fennel/

Pasta with fennel, beets and pecan pesto

~1 cup chopped parsley, fresh or dried
several cloves garlic to taste (we used 6, actually)
3/4 cup olive oil
~1/3 cup roasted pecans
~1/4 cup grated parmesan (or comparable, whichever kind you prefer) cheese
ground pepper and salt to taste

2 bulbs fennel; washed, de-cored, and sliced
3 fresh beets (yellow, red, whatever you prefer although the red leaves very pretty pink marks on the pasta); washed, peeled, and sliced
oil for sauting

fennel greens from bulbs; chopped
~1 pound farfalle pasta cooked to your preference

1. Combine first set of ingredients in blender or food processor to make pesto sauce.
2. Start cooking pasta while sauting sliced fennel and beets.
3. Drain pasta when cooked and toss with pesto sauce and sauted veggies as well as chopped fennel greens.
4. Add ground pepper and salt to taste and serve!

It's super simple really, but oh so delicious!
Here is a pic of my boyfriend showing off his handy work since he's the one who cooked that meal for the weekend (we take turns).

*edited for spelling
10  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / kitty hat from Craftster tutorial on: March 25, 2008 04:55:47 PM
I made a couple of kitty eared hats using information from this post:https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=139364.0 I just altered the ears to be cat ears instead of hippo ears.

The first one I made was for my boyfriend. He likes hats a lot but has a really (almost ridiculously) large head so he can't just go and shop for them like normal. He requested that I make him a hat with kitty cat ears. It is made of some black fake fur I had lying around from my Halloween costume 3 years ago and a lining of plain black knit cotton. The inner ears are made from the butt bow off of an aunt's old early 80's prom dress. Here he is modeling his newest hat:

I told one of my gaming friends about the hat I made and he asked me to make one for him, too. It is made of the same fake fur and peachy satin, but the lining is a pretty polyester knit from my stash (I stole it from my Grandma's stash about a year ago) and I put on ear-flaps instead of a fold-able brim. I used French seams on the ears for this one to make them stand up a little more than they did on the last one and I think it really did help a lot; these ears aren't falling over at all really. Yes, the right ear is supposed to be bent like that and the left one is supposed to be standing up more; it took me a while to figure out how to cut the ear lining fabric so that they would do that, but it was totally worth it for how they turned out! Here is me modeling:

And here is a closeup of the lining fabric ( I really like it, but it's too thin for most of what I've wanted to use it for so far):

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