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11  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Ricotta biscuits with fresh herbs on: February 25, 2017 03:23:39 PM

This is a moist and savory biscuit (slightly modified from this version) that goes fantastically with my breakfasts and soups. I love the punch it gets from all the fresh herbs!

Ingredients in this photo: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, unsalted butter, fresh parsley, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, scallions, ricotta cheese, milk, egg, sea salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

In a large bowl, sift together 2 & 1/4 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Grate in 5 tablespoons of frozen unsalted butter (it's very easy to mix in this way) and mix with a fork until combined.

Chop 3 scallions, a good handful of parsley, about a teaspoon of thyme, and half as much rosemary. Mix it in the the bowl with 1 cup of ricotta. Stir in 2/3 cup of milk until just combined.

Turn the bowl out onto a floured cutting surface and knead it a couple times. Press it down to about an inch high, then cut into pieces and transfer to a parchment-lined tray.

Beat 1 egg and brush it liberally onto the biscuits, and sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.

Bake for 15-20 minutes in a 425 degree oven, until the tops are golden. So so good!

12  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Three C's Soup - Carrot, Celery, and Cilantro on: February 25, 2017 07:26:57 AM
A simple soup, and very tasty! No great pictures of this one, but here's one - the recipe made my dinner for the night and 3 lunches for the week.

1 pound carrots, trimmed and peeled
3 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, sliced, plus some leafy celery tops
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup milk
salt, pepper, oil

Heat 2 tbsp of the butter and a bit of oil in a large pot and saute the onion for a few minutes until it's softened. Add celery rib (not the tops) and potato, then cook for a couple minutes before adding the carrots. Cook gently for a few minutes while stirring, then reduce the heat and cover the pot.

Let the veggies sweat in the low-heat pot for 10 minutes, and shake it around a few times to make sure they're not sticking to the bottom. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then simmer half-covered for another 10 minutes until everything's good and tender.

While it's simmering, chop some of the leafy celery tops, leaving some out for garnish if you like. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan and add the ground coriander. Stir it around for a minute or less, then add the chopped celery tops and cilantro and cook for another minute. Remove it from the heat and stir in the milk.

When the carrots and potatoes are done cooking in the main pot, puree the soup with an immersion blender (or very carefully in a regular blender) and add the cilantro milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper and serve with a couple celery leaves on top.
13  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Pussy hat from a beginner knitter on: February 16, 2017 04:55:12 PM
First I want to thank Joy Macdonell for this video tutorial which helped me so much! I've done very few knitting projects in the past, and as a visual learner it was fantastic to be guided through the entire process. I wasn't able to attend the fist women's marches, but I'm planning to be out there a good amount in the near future and I love the pink hat as a visual signifier.

The pattern works up flat and is then sewn up the sides. I used some Jiffy yarn I had sitting in stash, and adjusted the pattern with some grumbling about math.  Wink I ended up casting 40 stitches on to size 10.5 needles, and I think it worked out perfectly.

Cute, warm, and ready to resist.  Cheesy

14  FIBER ARTS / Spinning: Completed Projects / Scrap fabric rope on: February 05, 2017 03:50:20 PM
I found a neat tutorial for using up long scraps of fabric to make twine. Check it out here with video. You use your fingers to make the twist a little bit at a time. And it's pretty strong too! Doesn't come apart when you give it a good tug.

The first length I made for a swap - about 10 yards I think? I don't remember! It was pretty fun, perfect way to occupy the hands while listening to a podcast.

And the second one I just finished, 16 yards for me to keep. I'm still not sure what I'm going to end up using it for, but I just think it looks neat!

15  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Veggie Hot Pot with baked cheese biscuit topping on: February 04, 2017 06:30:15 PM

I'd been eyeing this recipe from Linda Fraser's vegetarian cookbook for a long time, and can now report that it's everything I thought it would be and more. The biscuit topping is baked right on the stew in the oven. It's not as complicated as it seems, though it does take a while to prepare and cook - I'd say about 2 hours.

Hot Pot Ingredients: for most of the big veggies, I'd say you can substitute others that you like if the volume is roughly the same.

Olive oil for sauteing
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 pound potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 small celeriac bulb, peeled and chopped
6 big carrots, chopped
10 oz mushrooms, quartered
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1/4 cup flour
3 cups vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt + pepper

And for the topping:
1 stick butter (8 tbsp)
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz cheddar cheese, grated
5 tbsp milk, approximately

After everything prepared, you can preheat the oven to 375F.

Make sure the big pot you're using can go in the oven! Or use a fancy casserole thing that I don't have. Smiley

In the big pot, saute the onion and garlic in some olive oil until it just starts to turn brown. Stir in the chili powder and cook for another minute.

Add in your main veggies - potatoes, celeriac, carrots, mushrooms, and leeks. Cook for about 5 minutes, then stir in the 1/4 cup flour.

Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, and thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then cover the pot, and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

While it's in there, you can make the biscuit topping! Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add the salt and butter. Work the butter into the flour with your fingers, then mix in half of the cheese. Add milk until the dough can hold together enough to shape.

Press the dough down on a cutting board to about an inch high, and cut it into triangles. You can get about a dozen. Brush them with a little milk.

Take the hot pot out of the oven and stir in the beans. Carefully lay out the triangles on top.

Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese with some salt and pepper, and bake (uncovered this time) for about 25 minutes until the topping gets golden and irresistible looking.

Oh my gosh look at that cheesy flaking goodness! It's hard to wait for it to cool down enough to eat!

If you enjoy veggie stews, cheese, and biscuits, you should for sure make this it is wonderful.
16  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Craftalongs / CLOSED: Thing-A-Day Feb 2017 Craftalong on: January 17, 2017 04:20:56 PM

(image is a fish care calendar page I drew out as one of my 'things' last February)

Last year Wile E Songdog hosted this craftalong, and since she hasn't been on in a while I'm happy to get it rolling this year!

Thing-A-Day is a special craftalong that only runs during the month of February. Our goal is to do something creative every day and take a picture to share! These projects should take around 30 minutes, although they can be longer or slightly shorter if you want. The rules are very loose as this is a personal challenge and not any kind of competition. Putting work into a longer-term project also counts towards your thing for a day - for instance, last year some of my days were just cutting out triangle pieces for a quilt (which I haven't touched since then, aaaaaa).

Projects can be as diverse as a painting, a snow sculpture, a granny square, a batch of funny-shaped pancakes, arranging your bookshelf by color, or patching your old jeans! Honestly it is up to you what you'd like to count as your "thing" for any given day. Creativity comes in many shades.

If you'd like to participate, make a post where your list will go, and then you can update it with links and/or thumbnail pics throughout the month. I'll have a masterpost of everyone's lists.

Let's brainstorm! I for one desperately need to get back to my quilt that I started one year ago, and I'd also like to do some coloring book pages.
17  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Black & white pet portraits on: December 28, 2016 01:18:59 PM
I painted these three portraits for different family members for Christmas - they are all beloved pets that have passed away in the past year and a half.

Zeke the tiny poodly:

Tiggar the 19 year old tabby:

And Lottie the rescue mutt:

They were all so well received, it made my heart grow 3 sizes that day. <3

Here's all three together -

My technique for these was to edit a photo of them, giving it very high black/white contrast. Then I pencil traced a very rough outline from my computer screen. My skills aren't quite up to freehanding it completely, or at least not without taking a much longer time doing it. I found this method gave me enough of a base drawing to get all the shapes right, while still giving me creative leeway for the paint shading. I only used black acrylic paint in various watered-down states.

It may be hard to see in this picture, but here is my faint pencil tracing for Zeke:

And the finished paintings compared to my edited photos:

This was one of my favorite projects I've done in a long time!
18  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Snowflake sweater stocking on: December 11, 2016 12:07:06 PM
This one went out to edelC in the Christmas stocking swap round 12. It's made almost entirely with wool - merino and cashmere sweaters and variegated sock yarn for the embroidery.

I serged all the sweater pieces together and reinforced a few wonky areas. The snowflakes were all freehanded - I was trying to get as many different designs as I could come up with! Some were more successful than others. Here are some of my favorite bits:

It was a very fun project, and inspiring to work on.
19  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Black bean, butternut, & spinach skillet on: December 08, 2016 09:15:29 AM
This is a fairly quick and easy one-pot meal that I found online here and tweaked to fit what I had on hand. It was pretty tasty and satisfying!

I like when food blogs do the ingredients shot - much easier for me to take in than just a written list, so I'll do both here.

Butternut squash - about half a squash, diced
Onion - one, diced
Jalapeno - one, minced
Garlic - 6 cloves, minced
Black beans - one can, drained
Rotel tomatoes - one can (I had homemade from last year)
Spinach - about 4 oz fresh (more than half of the bag in the picture)
Spices - smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, coriander -  1 teaspoon of the first, 1/4 tsp of the rest
Cheese - grated, for topping

Not pictured - olive oil, salt & pepper

In a large skillet, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil and add the onion, squash, jalapeno, and garlic. Add salt and pepper to your taste, and cook until the onions soften (about 5 minutes).

Add the black beans, tomatoes, and spices and cook until the squash is soft (about 10 minutes). There should be enough liquid for it to be bubbling nicely, but if it seems dry then add some water or broth.

The last minute of cooking, add the spinach and stir it in so it wilts.

Serve hot so your cheese topping gets melty. Yum!

20  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Little birdie in the rain - collage painting on: May 13, 2016 09:22:22 AM

blupaisan and I took a collage painting class together - she made this lovely lady while I created this springtime scene.

I found some great handmade papers to use for the branch and foliage that gave me a nice soft texture. And the black parts of the bird are all tissue paper.

The background papers are from an old french book that a local teacher was giving away - I loved the look of yellowed pages. The edges of the canvas are also black tissue paper, kind of like a frame.

Most of what you see is paper layered over a base painting. The paint shows through a bit in places, but it was mostly a guide for where I should lay my colored papers. Here is just the paint layer before I started collaging.

You can see up there a printout of my reference picture - photo of a prothonotary warbler by Paul Jones on flickr.
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