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11  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Get Product and Website Opinions / help! picking a logo... need opinions! on: October 05, 2010 09:55:25 AM
So, before I start asking other questions re: the stuff I might sell and the prices, I'm still trying to come up with a logo for an opportunity which has recently arisen: a friend of mine opened a shop (mainly home decoration stuff, small gifts, etc plus she's a wedding planner) and asked me if I wanted to sell some of my jewelry in her place, as she kept loving all the things I was wearing and could host me in her place...
I'm mainly thinking of beaded knitted cuffs & thinner bracelets (on wire, not thread), more bracelets, fabric necklaces, mabe earrings and hair barrettes/pins, I'm still coming up with a list of stuff I could replicate without loosing my mind... this is just to give an idea of the genre.

I would be making a small sign for inside the store (we have not defined yet which area I will occupy) and some business cards to start... then we'll see how it goes!

The name will be in Italian - Il gatto viola means "the purple cat" and I like that... but the logo... I don't know.
I first did this:

starting as an inspiration from the frilly logo of my friend's shop (see http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=7354285&l=c002d964f9&id=775834534 me being silly in front of the shop window) and though this was pretty liked by my friend, I 'm not really sure... too frilly and simple

so it evolved in these five variations:

I think my fave one is the A - with the cat as a purple contour of a white shape. I feel that the B&C versions, with the full purple, are too heavy....
I'm unsure about the last two, with the cat filled with a gradient and the "O"/ball thing either empty or with a partial filling. My friend preferred this gradient version, I sort of like version E but at this point, I've been staring at this thing for soooo much time that I lost all objectivity, so I'd LOVE some input and opinions...
12  COOKING / Dessert / Caramel ice cream on: September 21, 2010 05:53:36 AM

This summer, in the midst of sweltering heat that fell on my city, I ventured in the attic and I found myself face to face with an ice cream maker that had been there for a long time ... I decided to carry it into the kitchen to see if it still worked!

As the machine seemed to work, I started doing tests, at first versions of "light" treats, but then I soon abandoned all restraint and went on to the more creamy and sinful ice creams!
One of my favorite flavors is caramel ... but it's pretty difficult to find around here! So I found a recipe, and went to work:


400 ml whole milk
250 gr sugar
1 / 2 teaspoon salt
250 ml cream
4 egg yolks

The original recipe also included 50 g of butter, and the first time I put it in... and it was a disaster! At first the caramel solidified horribly, and I struggled to melt it again (the recipe warned of this eventuality), and finally in the finished product I could taste a grasy aftertaste from the butter... it was just too much! So I skipped it altogether, and the result was delicious and still perfectly creamy, even straight out of the freezer!

On my blog I made a step-by-step photo diary of the caramel making... but I'll skip that, and just say:
pour the 250 gr of sugar in a pan on low heat, and stir, stir, stir and melt and caramel until it's golden brown...

add the salt ( a tiny tiny bit gives more body to the flavour. a little more, and you get a sweet salty treat... follow your taste! ehm but don't try tasting the uber-hot caramel. that hurts!! LOL)

now add the cream.. it will bubble and froth like mad, so add a little bit at a time, stirring constantly, until it's all in.

Add the first 200 ml of milk, stirring well ... and now it's eggs!
I'm afraid to cook 'em instantly if I try to add them to the pan, so I go the opposite way, and add a couple of ladles of mixture to the beaten eggs... and then I add this cream back to the pan.

Put it back on the fire and let cook until it thickens, then finally take away from the stove, add the last 200ml of milk (cold) and let it cool until you can put it in the ice cream machine (follow your instructions) and let it work its magic.
The result is delicious ... I made several batches before storing the machine for winter!

More pics on my blog, and also two other recipes I made, if you can stand the google translate button... (actually, I am laughing sooooo much when I read on the translated bit, trying to figure out what I wrote in my language and how on earth it became what appears on the page, LOL)
13  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Warm wheat salad with caramelized onions, tuna and grilled cherry tomatoes on: September 21, 2010 05:32:42 AM

Some time ago I made a wheat salad with eggplant, tomatoes and black olives that I liked a lot, made with raw tomatoes and fresh eggplant roasted in a pan ... a really easy and pleasant way to use eggplant!
This time, though, I wanted something with a little more full-bodied taste, and mulling over what I had in the fridge and pantry (no eggplant!) I imagined this combination, this time based on grilled tomatoes and caramelized onions...

First I cooked the wheat according to the package instructions (boiling in salted water), then drained it and set it aside to drain and cool a little.
I sliced the onions in thin, almost translucent pieces, added them to a pan with some oil, and cooked them until they were brown and caramelized, stirring all the time to stop them from sticking to the pan or burning

While keeping an eye on the onions, I also warmed up a cast iron grill pan, brushed it with oil, and placed the halved cherry tomatoes on it, turning them from time to time till they were cooked and showing grill marks on both sides:

When onions and tomatoes are done, I can assemble the dish:

In a bowl go the drained and still warm wheat, the onions (stir everything together), then a can of tuna (I used the kind with water, not oil, as the onions were oily enough for the whole dish) - more stirring - some chopped black olives, and finally the tomatoes (I don't want to crush tem with excessive stirring)... check for salt & pepper, adjust if needed, and serve!

More pics on my blog, if you can stand the google translate button... (actually, I am laughing sooooo much when I read on the translated bit, trying to figure out what I wrote in my language and how on earth it became what appears on the page, LOL)
14  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Chicken & Oranges on: September 21, 2010 04:54:31 AM

This is a dish I made several times during the summer because it has a fresh taste which I enjoyed very much in the awful heat we suffered this season. I do it even with fish instead of chicken, as long as it is a pretty bland fish, because the star flavour here are the oranges mixed with the onions... I know it sounds weird, but I promise it is good!

For two, I used 2 chicken breasts, 2 oranges, and one large white onion, a bit of dried mint (which is actually pretty optional. and I couldn't tast it much. Ok, basically, I just liked the speckles of dark for contrast, lol!)

  • chop/mince the onion finely, and spread it in a lightly oiled pan
  • slice the oranges, obtaining 4 slices from each one. save the rounded ends, we'll squeeze the jouce out of them
  • arrange 4 orange slices over the onions (so, during cooking the oranges will give their flavour to the onion)
  • on top of the orange, spread/balance the chicken, cut into tiny pieces,and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, mint and the orange juice squeezed from the ends of the oranges
  • place the other 4 slices of orange on top of this pile, it will look more or less like this:

  • add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan, cover with a lid and start cooking
  • because of the unstable nature of te tiny chicken pieces, at some point the structure collapsed, so I stirred it around to spread the flavour better
  • and let it cook some more, till the water has gone and the onion/oranges start to caramelize a little
  • serve and enjoy!

To round up the dish a little more, you could serve it with a side of rice (I'd pick a basmati), maybe flavouring it with a little orange juice...

More pics on my blog, if you can stand the google translate button... (actually, I am laughing sooooo much when I read on the translated bit, trying to figure out what I wrote in my language and how on earth it became what appears on the page, LOL)
15  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: A simple focaccia with zucchini, cheese and bacon on: August 27, 2010 12:43:41 PM
This looks delish! I just featured this post on Craftster's Facebook page. Thanks for sharing!  Smiley

 Shocked woooooow thank you!!! I'm honoured! Smiley Wink this totally made my day!  (and of course I'll be sharing the link because I'm waaaaaay to excited about it!)
16  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Re: A simple focaccia with zucchini, cheese and bacon on: August 27, 2010 07:38:45 AM
hmmmm let me think... I suppose it depends if you're making a thin or a thick crust... Because for a thin base, like in this photo I googled http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_w44aDfYZRss/SWxzfn-qdtI/AAAAAAAAB0g/jRgohlTZgO0/s400/b.jpg, I would put the toppings on the raw base and put it all together in the oven. But for a thicker base like the one I was using, I would give a bit of baking time to the base alone and then add the toppings, for fear of the center not being fully cooked. My base was pre-baked, so I added the topping and put it in the oven, but the only things that needed cooking actually were the zucchini & cheese, so that was enough. I hope my answer makes sense!
17  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / A simple focaccia with zucchini, cheese and bacon on: August 27, 2010 07:17:59 AM
It looks good like this...

but even better after baking!

Even if I am Italian, I believe I escape some stereotypes and I actually eat pizza & pasta very rarely... and when I do, I prefer to make it myself instead of going to eat out (or ordering in)... well, that applies to most things with me, if I can make it, why pay someone to do it for me? Plus, I can make it exactly how I like it...

This focaccia is an example > I am not awfully fond of tomato sauces/bases, so I tend to prefer white pizzas & focaccia to the more widespread tomato based ones.

The base of the focaccia is a frozen one, so the "recipe" refers only to the "seasoning" ... which makes preparation very fast! While the oven heats up, I slice a couple of zucchinis in long stripes with a potato peeler, and then place those on the focaccia base (which I've seasoned with a thins drizzle of olive oil, salt and garlic powder) in a criss-crossed pattern. On top of this layer of zucchini I sprinkle some parmesan and some little tiny bits of bacon... and then proceed with a second layer of raw zucchini.
Then comes a layer of sliced fresh mozzarella (not those fake mozzarella processed stuff that gives out a lot less water, but taste a LOT different!), a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and it's ready to go in a very hot oven, until it's all melted, golden and bubbly... it's very simple but really yummy!

I hope someone tries it, I'd love some feedback!

More pics and an awful google-translation on my Italian blog:
18  COOKING / Dessert / Re: Super simple but YUMMY banana plumcake that I can't stop re-baking on: August 27, 2010 06:56:41 AM
ooops, I had not really thought of checking the translations of that!
No, of course no plums involved here, though the name actually derives from some German cakes which indeed had plums in them (my German grandma actually made a delicious one. I wonder if I have a recipe for that too...), but in Italy the term has come to describe simple cakes usually baked in a rectangular tin (there's a pic on my blog in the linked post), with a soft batter containinf some sort of leavening agent and are mostly used as a breakfast thing.  Maybee I should have called simply "cake", sorry if that's misleading! That's how we call it normally!
19  COOKING / Dessert / Super simple but YUMMY banana plumcake that I can't stop re-baking on: August 27, 2010 04:57:14 AM

It is surely not the most revolutionary cake ever, but I am in LOVE with this plumcake, and I keep re-making it to have for breakfast (I have found it freezes well, so I tend to bake a plumcake, let it cool, slice it, and then freeze the single slices individually bagged - I re-use the bags several times, to save costs/waste. At night I take one bag out of the freezer before going to bed, and when I get up I have a perfect slice of plumcake waiting for me, fresh and yummy and not one bit dry or soggy).

I can't remember where I picked the recipe, but I already made several changes to it, so I'll call it mine now:

    * 2 bananas (instead of 1 as in the original recipe) pured in the mixer with a little milk,
    * 3 eggs
    * 50 g butter, melted
    * 30 g of oil - I used sunflower seeds oil (originally the recipe called for 100g of butter but I reduced this by replacing part of the butter with oil. Next time I will try to cut it furter, using applesauce instead of the butter)

I mixed all the liquids, and added them to  a mix of:

    * 250 grams of plain white flour,
    * 1 packet of powdered yeast,
    * 150 gr sugar

Mix it all, pour in a plumcake tin and bake at 180C for 45/50 minutes (if the top gets too brown, after a while I use to put on some aluminium foil to cover it, and  keep baking till the cake it's done, and a stick inserted comes out clean).

I have more pics (mainly regarding my fight with baking paper or lack of it) on my blog, if you can stand the google-translate effect (blog is in Italian)... I would love some feedback!

20  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Carrots, spices, feta cheese... one failure turned success! on: August 27, 2010 02:37:18 AM

The first image you see is the burning failure of my first experiment: a carrot/feta salad which was waaaaaaay to spicy even for my fire-loving usual taste. Sigh, what disappointment!

The second photo is how I salvaged the un-edible remains of that poor salad, by mixing them with a good portion of boiled wheat to turn this mess in a much milder but still tasty salad.

A little recap of the recipe:

- 4 or 5 not too small carrots, grate 'em but not too finely

- in a pan pour 4-5 tbsp oil, to heat up with 1 clove of garlic, finely minced, and a bunch of spices: cumin, paprika, harissa, fennel, some sugar...

- then add to it 3tbsp lemon juice & a pinch of salt, mix well and pour on the carrots.  add 2tbsp mint, 2tbsp parsley (I was happy to have the fresh herbs growing in my garden), mix some more and set aside to infuse 1 hr

-at the last moment before serving add 100grams of feta cheese, crumbled in pieces

.... I messed upp with the spices, and as I said, it was waaaay to hot. The next day I boiled a serving of wheat, and used the carrot/feta salad as seasoning for the wheat... and it magically worked!

 crunchy carrots + soft wheat + almost creamy feta... a nice salad which I will have to do again!

more photos on my blog, where I added a Google translate button (as the blog is in Italian)... http://lacucinadelgattobianco.blogspot.com/2010/08/carote-spezie-e-feta-in-due-esperimenti.html

I would love to hear some feedback on the recipe and on the blog too... I'm still trying to decide if I want to keep writing it in Italian or not (I tend to read 90% of blogs in English, I find them more interesting)... I'll try to post a few more recent recipes, to see how they come across! Unfortunately my crafting recently is much limited to the kitchen, though I miss experimenti with more stuff, I'm lacking inspiration... sigh!
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