Planning the new plant wall

I’ve been working on plans for my plant wall; sourcing materials, working through ideas, thinking through what will work and what won’t.

I’ve got the room reorganized with crafts and knitting shelves moved, my desk and sewing/craft table resituated to maximize wall space for new plant wall. I’m ready. My plans, however, aren’t. There are pesky little things outstanding.

  • I’ve sourced the expanded PVC sheet needed for the back of the plant wall. The manufacturer has a plant mere minutes away from our son’s home. The snag . . . they don’t do will call. They *must* ship. We’re going to have to work through this issue.
  • How are we going to hang the plant wall so the supports don’t provide a potential path to the wall for water wicking.
  • How am I going to get an accurate enough cut of the 6″ pvc pipe to glue the 1/3 circumference pipe frame to the expanded pvc and get an absolutely perfect water tight seal with perfect mitered corners.
  • I still haven’t sourced the variety of stainless steel screws to fasten the pvc sheet to the plywood back and the felt to the expanded pvc back. This is probably the most minor issue we have.

Wadly came up with a brilliant idea for hanging the plant wall. For those of you who haven’t been in my living/bedroom, I’ve got two places where I spend my time, at my desk and in my knitting nest. The knitting nest is a hammock chair suspended from a heavy logging chain which runs from one side of the room to the other. It swivels, it swings, it’s just what I need for extended stretches of knitting. The chain is held up by big eye bolts which go through the wall. It’s plenty heavy duty. In one of the moves it was easier to install a new eye bolt than move one from the previous location. So, I have this beautiful shiny eyebolt sticking out of the wall just to the left of where my plant wall will live. Wadly suggested installing a second eye bolt and run a rod through the pair to hang the plant wall. THIS IS BRILLIANT! It keeps the plant wall off the wall, gives us the ability to move/remove/maintain the wall without having to undo/unscrew anything! Absolutely brilliant! All that’s needed is two standoff legs at the bottom to keep it off the wall. Plan!

Good times!

Tomorrow my desk gets rotated. That’s one more step toward a new and bigger plant wall. The crafting shelving unit with table has been moved, the bookshelf with all the magazines and WIP quilt projects and equipment has been moved, the new area rug is down . . . I’m getting closer!

Good news, despite fears to the contrary the aquarium does not leak. That’s $200 I don’t need to spend which gives me more money to spend on plants . . . and that’s going to be the largest cost of the build. I’m still researching what plants I want to add. I want another ricinifolia immense (Hawaiian begonia), some smaller varieties of philodendrons, ficus, smaller varieties of fern, strawberry and angel wing begonias, a few different antherium . . . The goal is to not have anything that protrudes more than 30″ from the wall. I’m going to try to pin on some of the more vibrant moss growing on the maples beside the deck. I’ve already got a 50L bag of leka (expanded clay pellets) to use for putting the plants into the wall. As I get plants I’ll bare root them and get them going in the leka substrate so they’re ready when I finally get the wall built. That will help ensure I don’t get anything added to the wall that isn’t perfectly healthy.

The area below our property has been logged. While I dislike the fact we’ve lost that buffer of trees, we can now see Mt. St. Helens from our house, assuming the weather is clear. At our request they also logged the trees on our easement (as opposed to them being taken down by the wind as happened with our neighbor last night . . . ouch). With the pulp wood being stacked for firewood and the better logs held to be processed for lumber, that will provide a very little bit of income Lorr can use toward property stuff.

Good times.

Shrimp Frittata

I had a frittata for breakfast. SO good! Plus I have half left over for another meal!

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 2/3 cup cheese (I used Colby/Jack)
  • 6 large shrimp cut into thirds
  • 3-4 green onions
  • handful of shiitake mushrooms halved and sliced
  • 2/3 cup chopped cooked broccoli (I cook it in my instant pot and put it in the fridge for adding to soups, stews, omelettes, etc.)

Sautee the mushrooms and green onions in butter. Add more butter if the pan starts to look dry. Mushrooms absorb oil while cooking and stuffing them with butter makes them extra delicious. Add the shrimp and broccoli. Cook until the shrimp is opaque.

While the veges are cooking mix the eggs and cream cheese until smooth. I use the whisk on my immersion blender. It’s fast and cleanup is pretty easy. Add the cheese.

Once all the cooked stuff is ready add it to the egg mix and stir until combined.

Pour it in a buttered dish/pan. Bake at 350 for 30 min. Serve it with diced tomato.

Low carb (keto) hot cocoa

This one is fabulous, contains no dairy and has maybe 1 carb.

Mix equal parts Dutch processed cocoa powder (I’m using Hershey’s Special Dark) and the sweetener of your choice. I’m using xylitol. Yes I know it’s poisonous to dogs but chocolate isn’t good for dogs either so I’m good. Plus I’m not about to share my hot cocoa. Once you taste it I think you’ll agree. I mix a cup of cocoa powder and sweetener at a time and store the result in a glass jar with a well fitted lid where it’s available whenever cocoa craving strikes. If you don’t want to premix, add 1 heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder and 1 heaping teaspoon of sweetener. I know that seems weird but when you mix cocoa and sweetener together it takes up close to the same volume as the sweetener because the cocoa nests into the spaces between the grains when they are mixed together.

Put a heaping teaspoon of the mix in the bottom of a cup. Add ~1/4c coconut milk (make sure you shake the carton first). Using a spoon mix the cocoa/sweetener/coconut mix until all the cocoa powder has been incorporated. Add another 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup almond milk (make sure you shake the carton first). Stir. Microwave for 2 minutes or whatever time is suitable for your microwave. Mine’s low powered so 2 minutes works.

If you can use erythritol (I can’t) add two Max Mallow marshmallows to the top. They are fabulous and yes, it breaks my heart that I can’t eat them. Regardless, with or without, the hot cocoa is fabulous. ‘Scuse me while I go fix a cup . . .

 

Amazingly good beef and cabbage

Wadly brought home some chuck steak. I already had a cabbage. I’ve looked and looked for good simple recipes for beef and cabbage and am truly underwhelmed. I’ve tried cabbage rolls which are time intensive, carb heavy (rice) and not very good. Today was a headache day and there’s no way I was up to anything but simple, so I improvised. The result got an “absolutely delicious” from Wadly so I’m rating this one as a solid win.

Cube the beef. Brown it in equal parts garlic/onion oil and butter.

While that’s browning add to the Instant Pot 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of red wine (I used a good merlo), a couple dashes of Worcestershire Sauce and a good sprinkling of rosemary (I used dried ground).

When the beef is done browning scrape everything out of the pan into the Instant Pot. Add salt and pepper. Lay the tougher outer leaves of 1/3 of a leek on top. Save the tender inner leaves for the cabbage mix. Pressure cook on high for 45 min.

Slice half a cabbage. I halved the head, cut one half into quarters and thin-sliced the quarters so I wouldn’t have long strips of cabbage leaf. Thin slice 1/2 a bell pepper. I used orange for a nice splash of color. Diagonally slice the remaining leek leaves . Sautee the three ingredients in a dash of garlic/onion oil and 2-3 tbsp butter. Don’t overcook. You want it done but still with crunchy bits.

When the pressure falls off the Instant Pot (natural release) pick off and dispose of the leek leaves, add 1/2 small can of diced tomatoes (1 cup), bring up to a simmer, add corn starch to thicken. Serve over the cabbage. Amazingly good. I’ll do this again. My tummy thought it was really good as well.

I know you think I only share this stuff for your benefit but I also do it because I can’t remember what I did from one time to the next and recording my recipes here gives me a place to go to when I need to know exactly what I did.

Update: I need to add a tweak and a comment. I was trying to use up some peppers and onion. I only had about 1/3 of a large orange bell pepper so I added a few scraps of green bell pepper and a slice of yellow onion to the cabbage mix. When the Instant Pot finished venting I pulled the leak leaves and taste tested the liquid. It was a little on the sour side so I added a tablespoon of keto friendly sweetener. When the entire dish was assembled it tasted fabulous. Lots of rich subtle flavor. Wadly loved it.

Revisiting cordwaining

I’m making shoes again.

I bought a pattern and did a test-build. The upside, I learned a lot. I’m totally unsurprised the result doesn’t fit. My feet are pretty abnormal.

It’s important to know what type of foot you have. I have very short feet with very high volume and my foot has a significant curve from heel center to toe center. My foot from heel to end of middle toe is 8.25″ long. My foot is also very wide. 3FF. Until I had custom boots made at White’s I didn’t know there was such a size. Wadly, venerable spouse, says I wear boxes with laces.  Wadly has feet that are the complete opposite. His are very long, very narrow and extremely low volume. He’s living the other end of the “shoes don’t fit” spectrum, he has skis for feet.

The shoe pattern I bought is designed for a more common lower volume straighter foot, something approaching the average foot shape.

These are from two different pairs of shoes, one I designed that fits and the pattern result. The shoe on the left is what fits me. It is loose enough to accommodate a heavy sock. The shoe on the right is from the pattern. I haven’t added a sole yet because the shoe so low volume I can’t wear it with a sock. I have to take it apart and rework it into something with enough volume to accommodate a sock. (See epiphany at end)

Feet come in four toe shapes; sloped, mountain, plateau and square. This shoe pattern is designed for someone with sloped toes with the big toe being the longest. I have mountain shaped toes with the middle toe being the longest. I had to take some off the big toe and redistribute that volume to the middle toe before ever trying the test shoe. There isn’t quite enough height to comfortably accommodate my fat little piggy toes, something another pattern user commented on.

The second issue is the shape of my foot versus the shape of the footbed. My feet aren’t straight. They curve from heel to toe. If my feet were straight I’d probably wear a women’s 6C or D. The left is a tracing of my foot with room for my toes. This is the shape and size of the foot bed that works for me. The right is my foot bed laid over the pattern sole. Parts of my foot go right over the flange and, at one point, out of the pattern. There’s no way the pattern’s footbed’s shape will ever accommodate my foot.

The poor fit is NOT the fault of the pattern. For most people this would be a lovely pattern with a nice unique heel construction. I know my feet are weird and expected no less than a bad fit when someone else drafts the pattern for the average foot.

The pattern video is here and partners the pattern. It’s worth a watch if you’re at all interested in making your own barefoot shoes. The video sound isn’t the best so be prepared to turn it up.

In writing this I had an epiphany. I spend 99% of my time barefoot. I have fake crocs I use for running to the outside fridge or out to meet delivery drivers when they show up when the weather is wet or cold. I can take these “do not fit”s, fold the heel down and turn them into a replacement without too much effort. If I rip the midsole off and replace it with the shape that fits me I will end up with new slipons that will work for that job handily. A new midsole, a bit of sewing and soling, new elastic laces and I’ll be all set. Win win!

 

 

Still Guessing

Still Guessing

I didn’t knit it for Mindy but it went home with her. Purple is one of her favorite colors. At this point I think Mindy’s sweatered out.

I think I’m going to add one more set of short rows to my sleeve cap. Can you see how the pattern rises at the upper arm? Yeah, not liking that. Adding one more set of short rows should fix most if not all of that. This is the kind of stuff I can’t see on the hanger. It has to go on a body for it to show up.

Mindy’s Sheltered

Sheltered

I had a bunch of acrylic yarn I bought before I found out I really don’t like wearing acrylic (itchy). I tried knitting Sheltered (cowl necked poncho) and just wasn’t feeling it. Being a bit of a fit freak, I don’t like clothes that flap around.

So I tested a bunch of things and this is what I ended up with. It’s Conti-something, no picked up stitches, no sewing. The length is what Mindy likes to wear over leggings. The pocket technique is the same as used for her orange sweater. Everything else is absolutely bog standard.

Spring for Mindy

Spring for Mindy
Spring for Mindy

Neck Detail
Neck detail

Pocket Detail
Pocket detail

Sleeve Cuff
Sleeve cuff

Sleeve Bindoff
Sleeve bindoff

Kitchener!
Kitchener!

This one’s got a bit of a history. I have a tendency to wander off onto unexplored paths if I start something and it’s just not working. I browsed pictures (flowers, sweaters with flowers, art with flowers, gardens of flowers) and really wanted to do an intarsia flower sweater. Did I end up with a flower sweater? Nope.

On the plus side, Mindy (recipient) has gotten nice comments on her new sweater so it’s all good.

At the first test fit the sleeve was too tight and the pockets were too high. I was having MC yardage issues and couldn’t wrap my brain around how I was going to make the given amount of yarn stretch to cover the extra five inches needed in length and the extra sleeve width. It was breaking my heart thinking I would have to frog. The pockets were FABULOUS. <sigh>

Then it occured to me . . . I could Kitchener! So I cut the sweater off under the arms, added the additional stripes to give it the appropriate length and save the orange for the sleeves . . . and it came out awesome!

The green band at the base of the collar is double knit to help control the stretch of the neck opening. The outside is green variegated and the inside is orange.

The pockets are worked using a technique I developed . . . no sewing and they come out even and flat and beautiful.

The cuffs are an interesting technique pointed out to me by a fellow knitter (thank you Lorie Yates). The inside of the cuff is variegated green and the bindoff is done on the outside of the cuff.

I learned a lot making this sweater. Did I get the flowers I wanted? No, but the end result is beautiful and Mindy loves it.

The shoulder is conti-raglan.

Mickey’s Vest

This is coming along nicely. This is my third or fourth start. The first was with the requested cables and it was a total non-starter. The back side of the cables were unattractive. No, just no.

Double zigzag

I still wanted texture and it needed to be reversible so I test-knit the collar in zigzag. It had nice texture if you were looking at it from less than a foot away, but it could in no way compete with the bold graphic of cables. Also a no and a frog. Then I hit on a collar I loved . . . double zigzag. It had all the graphic drama, was simple to knit and it was reversible! Woot! But it didn’t match what Mickey had envisioned so . . . .  yeah, frog.

Instead of a tall collar that could be turned down with lapels flipped back (the reasoning for a reversible pattern for the collar), a short collar was what was wanted. No problem!

Vest front

I tried doing a contiguous shoulder and really hated the cramping. Even using two different types of increases to relieve some of the strain in the shoulder line it still cramped. This two-types thing would be okay for a sleeved sweater as the weight of the sleeve would go a long way to pulling the cramped shoulderline open. For a vest? Yeah, not gonna work. I worked conti-something shoulders. It always fits great.

 

Vest back

This (hopefully) is going to work, assuming my numbers are all good and it fits. I’m going to knit a couple more inches and send it off for a test fit.

Heating Pad Yogurt?

I made yogurt yesterday. After scalding the milk, cooling it and adding the starter I put it in pint jars. I had a bit left over, enough for a full half-pint jar. Of course that was the straw . . . it wouldn’t fit in the Instant Pot with the pints.

You know me . . . I can’t waste stuff . . . so I had to come up with a plan! I have a big heating pad . . . what about that! It took a bit of testing but it turns out the #2 heat setting is perfect for processing yogurt!

 

 

New Shoulder!

Conti-combo sleeve capI’ve started playing with a new shoulder, something easy for people to knit that gives a really nice fit. I think I’ve got a winner.

It’s a contiguous shoulder using two different increases paired with shoulder shaping short rows to produce a nicely rounded sleeve cap.

There’s always a downside and with this shoulder it’s the swatch. Cast on six stitches. Put a stitch marker in the middle. Work 2 stitches in seed, M1 (left or right, choose one and stick with it ), k1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, work 2 stitches in seed. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. M1, p1, sm, p1, work a lifted increase, work 3 stitches in seed. Turn. this is where the two row repeat starts.

Work 3 stitches in seed. knit to within 1 stitch of the marker. M1. K1, sm, k1, work a lifted increase, knit until 3 stitches remain. Work in seed to end of row. Turn. Work 3 stitches in seed. purl to within one stitch of the marker. M1, p1, sm, p1. Work a lifted increase. Purl until 3 stitches remain. Work seed stitch to the end of the row. Turn. Repeat until the swatch measures close to six inches.

This swatch gives you row count, stitch count and shoulder row count (the line of stitches that’s on the diagonal).

On the plus side, the time spent knitting the swatch is going to consolidate the technique before the sweater is cast on.

I’ll try and get a video out in the next couple weeks with all the math.

Multipurpose Chicken

I’ve been buying ten pound bags of chicken hindquarters and packaging them individually to freeze. I use them for chicken enchiladas, gravy and soup. I’ve developed a couple of recipes I really like; chicken gravy with stuffed baked potatoes for two and two generous servings of an easy and delicious chicken soup.

Stuffed baked potatoes with chicken gravy

Thaw two chicken hindquarters, separate legs from thighs, and brine for an hour. Easy brining is kosher salt in a gallon ziplock bag. Add water, dissolve the salt, add chicken and zip it shut while expressing the air. I set it in the sink if it’s not going to be brining long or set it in a bowl in the fridge if it’s going to sit longer than that.

In the instant pot add 1 tsp italian seasoning, 1 tsp of poultry seasoning, 1/4 tsp hing (or a garlic clove and a quarter of an onion) and 4 cardamom pods. Place the chicken skin side up in the bottom and add enough water to come halfway to the top of the chicken. DO NOT cover the chicken in water. The goal is a beautiful flavorful broth and more water isn’t the answer. Put the lid on, set to pressure cook for 24 minutes. When the chicken is done separate out the meat and roughly chop it. Strain the broth into a container.

Put 2/3 of the chicken in a pan with butter and onion/garlic oil. Once the chicken is warmed up nicely add enough of the broth to do gravy justice. When the broth in the pan starts to simmer mix cornstarch with a bit of broth and thicken the gravy.

Bake a russet potato. Once it’s cooked, cut the baker in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato.

In the bowl with the baked potato guts add sour cream and butter and mix well. You don’t want completely smooth and you don’t want big lumps. You can use the skin to present the potato. Wadly likes the skin, I give it a skip. If you’re using the skin, mound half the potato mix into one of the potato skin halves. Place the potato in a soup bowl (with or without skin). Keep the potato to one side of the bowl. Add gravy to the other side of the bowl. Serve with a slice of buttered sourdough or a biscuit and a bowl of steamed veges.

Put the left over gravy in with the same container as the chicken and left over broth and refridgerate for later use.

This has become one of our favorite meals. In addition to being easy, it’s really easy on the budget.

Easy and delicious chicken soup

Dice broccoli stems and quarter florets. Dice carrots. Sautee in butter and onion/garlic oil. While they’re cooking cut up mushrooms, green onion, peppers (I use green and something else, red or yellow or orange). Once the carrots have started to soften add the remaining vegetables and more butter. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the left over chicken/broth/gravy. If the soup is too thick add 1/2-1 cup broth (bone, vegetable or chicken – be aware commercial broth is loaded with salt). Simmer until all the veges are done.

I did say easy didn’t I? And really delicious! All the flavoring has already been added, it’s just a matter of cooking the veges and adding the left over chicken/broth/gravy.

Pork stir fry

If you’re like most folks you’re eating more chicken and pork and less beef. Inflation sucks. Until the government stops printing money and agrees to live within a budget, this up and down cycle is our life. So, for now, chicken and pork is on the menu!

Awesome chili sauce

I bought a new chili sauce and it was crying to be used. It’s got a bit of heat but it’s also got flavor, really nice flavor! So, pork stir fry for lunch!

This was REALLY good. The marinade recipe is for a generous single servering. Wadly doesn’t do stir fry if he can avoid it. He’s like really plain unspicy food and this is not in that category.

Marinate cubed pork in red wine (2 tbsp), worcestershire (1 tsp), fish sauce (1/2 tsp), balsamic vinegar (1 tbsp), honey (2 tsp) and the onion/garlic oil I make (1 tbsp). The pork sat in the marinade for about an hour before I managed to get to cooking. I fried the pork really quick in butter and my onion/garlic oil, dumped the contents out of the pan into a bowl, added more butter and onion/garlic oil to the now empty pan, sauteed halved broccoli florets and carrot (sliced thin on the diagonal). Once they started to be something other than dead raw I added sliced mushrooms and sliced green onion. I pushed that around the pan for a little bit before adding the meat and meat juices back into the pan and gave it a stir. I added two teaspoons of my new chili sauce and some bone broth to the marinade and added most of that mix to the pan. While it was coming up to temp I mixed a bit of corn starch into the remaining bit of marinade. Once the sauce started to reduce I added the corn starch mix, got it thickened and served it up. DELICIOUS.

Pork Marinade

I bought a marinade that I really enjoyed . . . except for the burning stomach it caused. Why? Not sure. Probably coconut aminos, one of those things I should be able to eat but can’t. So the quest is . . . duplicate the taste without upsetting my gut. What I’ve got is really close and delicious.

This is a one-person recipe because I like sauces and spices and Wadly likes simpler stuff.

  • 1 medium tomatillo
  • 1 tbsp garlic/onion oil (I make it because I love the flavors)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp bone broth

I process it with an immersion blender. You could do the same thing with a blender, it’s just more things to wash when you’re done.

Cube the pork and dump it in a bowl with the marinade. Stir.

Do your veges . . . broccoli, carrot (saute these two while cutting up the other veges), yellow onion,  bell pepper (I used green and orange), mushrooms (I used shiitake).

Add the remaining veges to the carrots/broccoli. Cook until al dente, transfer to a bowl.

Add the pork and marinade to the pan. Cook until mostly done. Add the veges back to the pan and finish cooking.

It’s simple and really good!

A new take on egg salad

Have you every had egg salad that was actually a salad? It’s really good.

Of course I have to add lots of other things . . .

  • 2 hard boiled eggs (crumble the yoke, dice the white)
  • diced dill pickle
  • diced red pepper
  • diced yellow pepper (you don’t really need both but I like ’em)
  • sliced green onion
  • diced tomato
  • spring salad greens
  • Sir Kensington Mayo

This is a lovely salad. Stir the mayo into the egg and diced veges, stir in the lettuce . . yum!

For me, a big bowl of this is a lovely dinner. If you don’t want to have it as a stand alone dinner, pair it with pork chops or steak!

Substitutions

I love the taste of garlic. Because I can’t use garlic (high FODMAP) I frequently use garlic oil when cooking. With supply chain issues, it’s currently not available.

I’m occasionally not a very patient person. I’m perfectly happy to improvise when things aren’t going my way. Because the store is out of garlic oil, I decided to make my own.

I’m not a huge fan of olive oil, the base for commercial garlic oil. It’s too hard to get oil that’s truly 100% olive. Usually it’s mixed with something else, often soy which I don’t tolerate at all. This is a significant strike against commercial garlic oil. Is the oil used really 100% olive oil?

So . . . substitution for commercially produced garlic oil . . . I’m using sunflower oil, my preferred oil for everything.

I filled my 10″ cast iron pan with about 3 cups to which I added 2 head of thinly sliced garlic. I cooked it until the kitchen was filled with the heavenly (to me) smell of garlic. I have no clue how long I cooked it. It looked right, it smelled right . . .

I sifted out all the garlic slices and the result is . . . lovely. I’m using more than I would normally but I’m also into it for far far less than the cost of the prepackaged garlic oil.

Win win!

On the differences in Chardonnay

When Wadly brought home my first bottle of chardonnay for cooking, he was working on the advice of the booze guy at the store and all was good. When I find something that works I stick with it and that’s what he got for me each time I needed a new bottle.

Fast forward to supply chain issues . . . and the wine I was used to seasoning around is currently unavailable. A LOT of wine that would be an adequate replacement is also no longer available. Wadly brought home a box of “house chardonnay”. Yup, not kidding. And the seasonings that go with my preferred choice do not work with “house chardonnay.” At all. My wonderful seafood chowder is not stellar with the new wine and the old spice mix.

If you’re trying my chowder and you’re singularly unimpressed, leave out the spices. Try the chowder with just the veges, broth, wine, cod, shrimp . . . and add fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. From that point you can play with other spices if you feel the need. So far . . . I haven’t.

I know I’m going to want the additional spices when I return to my preferred chardonnay, but until the box wine is gone and our store shelves are restocked, this is a perfectly fine solution.

The (maybe) final word on seafood chowder

I’ve been making seafood chowder pretty much daily. Over the last couple weeks the recipe hasn’t changed. It is SO good! This will make two servings if you add sides (salad, garlic toast, fresh baked rolls, etc.) and choose to share. Otherwise, be a pig and eat it all yourself without sides. It’s worth it!

  • 3-4 large uncooked shrimp split lengthwise and cut into 3/4″ lengths
  • 1/4 lb Pacific cod cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • 2 tomatillos (3 if they’re small, 1 if they’re large) Don’t leave these out. They add a necessary brightness to the dish
  • Green and red pepper diced into 1/4″ pieces
  • Green onion split lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ lengths
  • Tomato, 1 thick slice cubed
  • Broccoli, steamed and sliced fine, 1 cup
  • Shiitake mushroom. This is a texture item. Cube or dice
  • Bone or vegetable broth, 1 cup
  • White wine, 1/4-1/3 cup
  • Fish sauce, 2 tsp
  • Cilantro, 1 tbsp
  • Salt (the dish doesn’t need it but if you like salty stuff, add some!)
  • Gochugaru (Korean red pepper), 1 tsp. Use less or more depending on your taste.
  • Sour cream, 1/4 cup
  • Garlic oil
  • Butter

This is a bit fussy to make because things need to be added in the right order but is so awesome it’s totally worth it.

Clean and cut the broccoli into big pieces. Steam until not quite tender. I use my Instant Pot with a steamer basket. I set it for pressure cook, turn off the keep warm function and set the time to zero minutes. When the light goes off I release the pressure and remove the pot. I get the right tenderness every time. I can start the broccoli and prepare all the other veges while it’s coming up to pressure. By the time I’ve got them all chopped or diced and my pan started the broccoli is done.

I’m a huge fan of cast iron frying pans. I have a bunch. I use an 8″ deepish Lodge pan for this recipe. You could use a sauce pan or a bigger shallower pan . . . do what works for you.

Add butter and garlic oil to the pan. Once heated add all the veges except broccoli. Cook until nearly tender. If your pan starts to look a bit dry, add more butter. Add the broccoli. Cook until thoroughly warmed through. Add broth, wine, fish sauce, cilantro, gochugaru, salt to taste.

Once the mixture starts to simmer stir in the fish and shrimp. Adjust the temperature as necessary to keep the mixture at a very light simmer. Once the fish and shrimp is cooked through (be careful not to overcook) add the sour cream to the center of the pan (don’t stir it in yet) and turn the heat down to just below simmer.

Let sit about five minutes so the sour cream can come up to temperature. Stir the sour cream into the mix and serve.

 

 

Mickey’s Mariner’s Compass

I had planned to make a bog coat for my friend Mickey . . . but that’s just not going to happen. After making and wearing a bog coat I realized it was not going to be a garment she would wear more than once. It’s too bulky. It’s too awkward. It lacks shape. For people our shape and size it’s the equivalent of weary a bulky sack. Not good.

So I have this lovely start that was intended to be the center back of the bog coat which now needs to be repurposed into a 45″x60″ lap quilt, something Mickey will use often. I am imagining this as the compass rose of an oval mariner’s compass. I’ve made a mariner’s compass. They go together quite quickly using the freezer paper flip and sew method for the quadrants of the compass and come out beautifully accurate when using machine basting for the center oval.

So that’s my current plan, a mariner’s compass with the horse head as the compass rose.

This horse head is 10″ tall and was appliquéd using my machine basting technique. I love this technique because it lets me be very accurate. One nostril rim is less than 1/8″ wide. Because the fabric is a good quality batik and the thin portions of the design are on the bias, it should hold up really well to wear and washing.

A tent for the win!

When I make spareribs I marinate the ribs overnight in a rub made of spices and apple cider vinegar. I make the spice mix in bulk and add the vinegar to the spices just before using it as a rub. It’s a five or six to one mix, spice mix to vinegar.

Then the spareribs are cooked at 425º for an hour. This truly messes up my oven. It gets a coating of grease that’s truly unappealing to see or clean.

Yesterday I tried something different. I made a tent out of parchment paper with the edges sitting inside the pan to catch all the splatter. My oven stayed clean and the ribs came out perfect. I couldn’t be more pleased.

Mindy’s Spring

I’ve been fighting with the design on this sweater for months. I’ve tried a number of different things that don’t please me, don’t work with the yarn, come out the wrong shape, don’t highlight the colors . . . ugh. Just ugh.

I’ve finally settled on something that works. It’s unique, it’s beautiful, it’s the right shape, it fits . . . now to see if I have the necessary amount of yarn for 3/4 length sleeves and tunic length body.

Task shortening cooking

I love barbequed spare ribs but they’re a lot of fuss to fix. Clean the ribs, season the ribs, stick ’em in the fridge overnight, bake the ribs, make sauce for the ribs, coat the ribs and bake the sauce in. That’s a lot of steps for a meal that’s eaten and gone in 20 minutes. Add to that, a rack of spare ribs is too much food for the two of us.

By now you’ve figured I’ve got a plan . . . and I do! I don’t want to give up on spare ribs. They are so good and pair so well with so many sides. I’ve figured out a way to enjoy them without having excessive leftover while speeding the process along.

Clean two racks of pork spare ribs. Cut them into two-person sized servings. Prepare the rub, apply it generously and stick the whole mess in the fridge overnight. The next morning bake them according to the instruction. Let cool. Pack each 2-meal sized piece in a separate ziplock bag, stick those in a big ziplock bag and freeze.

Make a double batch of barbeque sauce. Cool and pour into ice cube trays (the silicone ones work awesomely well). Stick the trays in the freezer. When frozen, pop the cubes of barbeque sauce out of the trays and stick them into a ziplock bag and put that bag into the larger ziplock bag holding the seasoned and baked spare ribs.

When you want barbequed spare ribs pull out a meal’s worth, 2-4 cubes of barbeque sauce and thaw. Coat and cook (I use an oven bag to ease cleanup) and you’re done! Meal prep in minutes instead of fussing all day. You’ve fussed just once for 6-10 meals.

Nothing is static

I can’t seem to leave recipes alone. I’ve got to tweak and add and change and . . .

I’m fairly sure it’s a chronic thing. A perfectly fine pork stir fry morphs into something else. The seed is never lost as I do my best to document changes. It’s got to be excess creativity or boredom or something else.

I’ve changed my pork rub recipe. I’ve added ground cardamom and . . . and here’s why it’s so important to document. I cannot remember what the second thing I added is. I’ll have to make a trip to the kitchen and go through the spices to refresh my memory.

Hotdog for the win!

With food intolerances, it’s difficult to find processed meats that are worthy. Hempler’s meat products are definitely worthy. We eat their bacon, hotdogs, ground pork and more. Nothing they make (that we’ve tried) rates as high FODMAP. Everything we’ve tried has been gluten MSG and GMO free . . . all in all a truly awesome product line.

I love one dish meals. We don’t sit down together to eat unless we have company. We eat on totally different schedules. If Wadly’s eating fried chicken I’m usually having something totally different. Stir fried pork, tuna or egg salad . . . something that’s not fried chicken. When he has two hotdogs heated in the microwave (yeah, me too) I’ll cut up a hotdog and have it with broccoli, bacon, green onion, bone broth, red and green pepper . . . and it’s awesome. I’ve done the same thing with a can of green beans. Hotdog for the win.