29 November 2008

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

This was my lunch today - whole wheat pasta with steamed broccoli and a cheese sauce. What I really wanted was an Alfredo sauce with a little pesto stirred in and some nice green peas, but I didn't have the right stuff to make an Alfredo and I wasn't in the mood for a tomato sauce. So cheese sauce.

I suppose there's not really much to say about a thing like this - it's so basic and easy, less than 10 minutes and it's done. I didn't put quite enough cheese into the sauce, so it wasn't as cheesy as I'd have liked, but it was still pretty delicious, especially with a lot of black pepper ground over all of it. Yum.

Sweet and Sour Curried Pork and Peppers

This photo is a couple days old now, and I wasn't sure about posting it, but I decided to anyway. Mostly because it amuses me and as an object lesson in drawing mental lines and sticking to them.

Let me back up a little. When I first read the recipe for this, I thought to myself gross. It looked like sweet and sour (Chinese?) curry (Indian?) by way of 1950s casserole cookbook for the discerning housewife (Campbell's condensed soup?). Gross.

Which is where I ought to have drawn a mental line and said No, I won't try this. Instead, I thought, Well, it sounds gross, but I can make myself a kind of mushroom gravy in place of the soup and then try it with that inside. Maybe it'll be one of those weird combinations that actually works out. It wasn't. It made a kind of thick pineapple gravy that was sweet and curried and nasty and gross.

I picked all the pork out of it, scrapped off the sauce, diced it smaller and mixed into into some leftover rice and just ate that instead. Maybe I should have made it properly, with a can of soup, and maybe that would have made it better, but I still sort of doubt that.


24 November 2008

Broccoli and Feta-stuffed Chicken with Basmati Rice

So, yeah. Food. With other food inside it.

This is another of those dinners that is pretty much just what it says on the tin. Chicken, stuffed with broccoli and feta. There's also a little onion and garlic in there. And some black pepper on top.

It was pretty tasty, but the feta didn't really make that much of an appearance, which sucks because I love feta. I think the pepper on the top kind of over-powered the rest of it because that's really what I tasted.

In any case, it was still pretty good. So was the rice, which had shallots and cumin and a little garam masala in it. (Not that the flavours match, mind. I think I just had Indian food on the brain. And the flavour is very subtle.)

23 November 2008

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

Last night's dinner was pizza again, though this one was a bit more successful than the last.

It's pretty basic, though, so not much to say: barbecue sauce, slices up cooked chicken breast, red and yellow peppers, and cheddar cheese. I over-baked it a little trying to get the cheese to crisp up a bit, but no luck with that.

21 November 2008

Holiday Week - Day Four

My days off are coming to an end, far too soon. There is today, of course, and sort of Saturday/Sunday, but really this is kind of it. And I've made tentative plans to spend most of today with a friend.

Anyway, this block is one of the first things I finished yesterday - the December block for my Block of the Month group. I think this is my favourite of the three blocks so far. The orange still drags the print down so that it hardly stands out, but in general, I think it's got a better balance between the good fabrics and the bad. The burgundy doesn't look quite so dingy.

i haven't edited the photos yet for them, but I also made 6 fabric postcards, which is about half of what I'm hoping to get done. They're all Christmasy in theme, though some of them are more Christmas than others. They'll get a separate post all their own, once I'm ready to edit and upload the photos.

And then here is a peak at what the other two tree pillows I made look like. I really prefer the colours in these pillows to the blue one I showed yesterday, but I suspect my grandma would like the more muted blues better. It's entirely possible that once the pillow goes on the couch, it'll never come off (as with the last Christmas pillow I made her), so probably the blue is a better year-round choice as well.

There was a hockey game on tv last night, and I didn't want to disturb my sister and my brother-in-law's watching of it by having the sewing machine going, so I spent a while digging through things until I found the box full of my Sunlight/Shadows blocks. So these are the first 27 of an intended 56. I also discovered that I've got 8 more blocks already cut out and ready to go; I just need to sew them together. Which is pretty fantastic, since I cut out another 5 the other day. Which means that once they're done as well, I'll only need 16 more.

It's quite neat to see them all laid out like this, even without trying to arrange them in any particular way. I really like the way these kind of scrappy things come together when you repeat the pattern.

20 November 2008

Apple Zucchini Asparagus Pizza

This is, you know, pretty much what it says on the tin. MacIntosh apple slices, zucchini slices, asparagus, and underneath a mound of caramelized onions. It's also got feta, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses.

It was a strange thing, and I didn't really eat it because I over-baked the crust and the skinny little asparagus sticks were remarkably tough to chew through. But I really liked the taste of the cheese baked on the apple with the caramelized onion, so I picked all those tasty bits off and ate them before throwing away the rest.

I think it would be really great reworked as a tart of some sort, minus the zucchini and asparagus. I'll have to think about it, see if I can talk myself into making pastry dough one day.

Holiday Week - Day Three

So yesterday it really felt like I didn't accomplish anything except watching A LOT of Firefly.

Which isn't at all true, but what I did was a lot of stuff that won't show up for probably months or else was for other people. I cut out a stack of charm squares for Just Jenn at Quiddity Quilts, though it probably won't end up in the mail for a week or two. I cut out 2/3s of five Sunlight/Shadows blocks. (I always have the problem with these of not having enough or good enough whites and off-whites and beiges for the neutral part of the square. For a while I was trying to buy them up, but I still don't seem to have anything I want to use.) I cut out a block I intend to make today.

This is one of the things I did work on that I can show you. It's obviously not finished, but I ran into a bit of indecision. It's meant to be a pillow, but I'm wondering if maybe I ought to make it into a wall-hanging instead. Indecision.

After that, I did another two smaller-scale versions of this, with different fabrics, which will be made into pillows (I think they're too small for wall hangings, though maybe not). I haven't fused on the trees yet, so I didn't photograph those. Probably today, though. I definitely prefer the colours I choose to the ones that came in the kit, but probably my grandma will like the blue anyway.

So today's goals?
- tree pillows
- December block for my Block of the Month (I got it early from the organizer)
- start on Christmas postcards

19 November 2008

Holiday Week Day 2

So I don't actually have anything to post today that actually looks as if it's got anything to do with anything I posted yesterday. Well, it does, it just doesn't look it.

What I did today is cut out and sew together five 12-in blocks. That doesn't sound like a lot, really, and I wish that I'd done more, but it took quite a lot of time anyway. More time than I was expecting, though I was distracted by watching HGTV, which my brother in law had one in the living room.

The first blocks that I worked on are two Swap Angel blocks, the ones I mentioned yesterday when I said that I'd gone looking for blue and yellow fabrics (but hadn't found any). These two blocks are angel blocks for a Birthday Blocks group I follow on Livejournal. The recipient's request was for blues with pale yellows.

I no longer recall the name of this particular block, though I'm going to venture a guess that it's something to do with Flying Geese.

I think this one is called something like Mrs Bryan's Choice, though really it just reminds me of the CBC logo.

This one photographed really badly and if I hadn't already got it packed up to send away, I'd probably take a different picture to try to correct the colouring a bit.

Whenever I have fabric out for one project or another, I always try to cut out pieces to make a Sunlight/Shadows block, so this is one of those blocks. When I participated in the 2007 Birthday Blocks group, I had chosen to receive these blocks from everyone, and then decided to make the quilt using 56 of the blocks. Essentially that meant making around 50 spare blocks. I'm still plugging away at it, one block at a time. (It's important to me, though, that none of my blocks are exactly the same.)

One of these days I ought to unpack the shoe box with all the blocks so far in it. I need to count and see where I'm at. I'd like to know some end is in sight for the project, though I don't really mind too much if it takes another year or two to complete.

The reason I had that orange fabric in the previous block out is that I decided to use up some ugly stash fabric on a Block of the Month group at Livejournal. (Block of the Month.) Our year only just started in October, so this is the first block for the year. I really like the orange fireworks fabric, so it's too bad that the burgundy and the orange are such dingy looking fabrics. They really make everything look quite dull, but I hope that when it all comes together in the end, it'll look a little better than these two blocks on their own.

This is October's block, a 12-inch Memory Wreath.

This block for November, called Road to Oklahoma, is quite similar to the Sunlight/Shadow block I posted earlier. It looks so different though, with the fabrics in such different placement.

Again, you'd really think all that bright yellow would make this block bright and beautiful, but it still looks drab and dingy. Sigh.

Injury of the day: Aggravated an already bad back by spending too long hunched over cutting. Woe.

18 November 2008

Holiday Week? Day One

I'm off work this week on holidays but not actually going away, so clearly the only thing I can do is sew all week long. I haven't done a huge amount of sewing this year, but as always have a huge amount of things I want to get finished and/or started, so... now's my time, I suppose.

The week is off to a slow start though, since I spent the majority of my day away from home. I did go out, though, with intentions of buying fabric. My list:

- Christmas stuff
- yellow/blue
- repro fat quarter

I didn't manage the yellow and blue fabric, which I wanted for a couple Swap Angel blocks I'm doing for a livejournal swap called Birthday Blocks. It's a swap that I've participated in before - you can see some of the blocks I've received and/or sent here - though this year I'm only acting as a Swap Angel to make up for some drop-outs.

In any case, I didn't actually NEED the yellow or blue fabric, since I've got plenty here. I pulled a few things out of my stash this evening to use instead of anything new, so sometime this week there should be some yellow and blue blocks created for that.

The Christmas stuff I want so that I can make fabric postcards for a postcard/recipe exchange I'm participating in this fall. I'm not certain that this idea will work out, since it'll require making ten cards in fairly short order, but I have high hopes that it'll come together this week.

For the Christmas fabric, I wanted something that suggested Christmas but wasn't explicitly Christmas. So I picked up two bundles of fat eighths in (mostly) greens and reds. There are only two actual Christmas prints in the 16 fabrics - a green one with mistletoe and Eiffel Towers and the phrase 'Joyeux Noel' and a red one with white trees. I also picked up one fat quarter - the green at top right with the red and white stars - just because I loved it so much. I hope I can find some way to show it off a bit in my cards because it's fantastic.

I haven't got any definite plans for the cards, but I had originally thought of doing something like a log cabin type block, maybe with a dark red in the centre and then lighter colours around it. I'm not sure though. Maybe they'll all end up completely different.

When I was looking through the Christmas display, I found a kit for a pillow (top left of the photo), which I picked up to make for my Grandmother, who is coming out to spend Christmas here this year. She's quite hard to buy for, since she's got a house full of stuff she doesn't need and she doesn't want to add anything else to the pile. But homemade gifts I think are always appreciated. And she's given me some wonderful quilts, so I'd like to return the favour, even on such a small scale.

So that only leaves the one reproduction fabric, the green with the playing kids on it. Quite a long while ago I had this idea for a baby/children's quilt that would be done with these style fabrics using a pattern from a book I've got that uses 12 fat quarters to create a variety of quilts. I'd ordered repro fabrics online, but only 10 of the 12 were in stock, and I set it all aside for months. So many months, in fact, that I was convinced I had 11 fabrics, when in fact I've got 10, so I only bought one today and am still short now by one fabric. Worse yet, I can't remember now what pattern from that book I'd intended to make. Ah well, whenever I finally get that 12th fat quarter, I'll figure something out.

The other thing I did today? Washed and ironed fabric. Some of it was fabric you see here, but most of it is stuff from my stash that I was washing for other projects I hope to accomplish this week. But more on that another day. I'm for bed.

Injury of the Day: One burned finger, courtesy of the ironing.

14 November 2008

Pignoli-Coconut Crusted Salmon with Steamed Boy Choy

It's been ages again since I cooked fish, so I thought it was probably time I sucked it up and cooked it again. I really don't understand why I have such difficulty with fish because it always tastes good and it's easy to cook. And yet I hum and haw about cooking it and sometimes can't talk myself into buying it. It's completely ridiculous.

Never mind that, though. This was really quite good. I singed it a little bit and so I was worried it would taste like burned nuts, since it's crusted with ground pine nuts and coconut, but it was really just wonderful. The fish was really moist and cooked perfectly. The sweetness of the salsa was a nice compliment to the salmon.

I didn't wind up eating much of the bok choy because it got cold very quickly while I was taking my pictures. I thought about reheating them, but didn't bother because I didn't think they'd taste very good reheated. Shame about the missed opportunity, though, as I love bok choy.

12 November 2008

Udon Miso Soup with Chicken and Mushrooms

I do love chicken noodle soup.

I got a little scared of this one when I sat down to eat it and was staring at those big fat white noodles and thinking about them tasting like paste, but it was all lovely and delicious. I liked the thick noodles, but I think I'd like this as much with cellophane noodles in place of the udon and a mound of bean sprouts on top. (Though that'd probably be mixing my food culture references, unless miso is used also in Vietnamese cooking.)

I think I probably killed my miso by cooking it at too high a heat, but the flavour of the broth was quite delicate and nice. Not too salty, as I was afraid it would be, but just nice. I did get a lighter miso, a white one rather than something dark, so it probably was easier for an unaccustomed palate to eat than if I'd used a brown or golden miso instead.

Now the challenge is to find more recipes for miso, because I've got a whole tub of the stuff to use.

11 November 2008

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is the last of my backlog of photos to post, except for one that I'm skipping over (a soup and pizza combo, because you can't get a good enough look at the soup, which is the only interesting thing, and that not very. This I made... on Sunday and because it's a sloppy mess, it would be a good guess that it's a Sandi Richard recipe, from Dinner Survival.

Like many of her sloppy mess dinners, it tastes pretty good, but it also pretty sweet. I think I need to learn just to cut back on the sweet parts of her recipes and add more sweetness later, if it seems to need it. It did taste better on the second day, when the sauce had a chance to turn saucy, and somehow the sweetness seemed less overwhelming. (There still wasn't enough sour to balance it, but it wasn't so sickly sweet.)

I had used chicken thighs in this recipe and ugh... was that a gross experience. I had forgotten how much fattier than chicken breast they are, and how much more work you need to do to make them edible. (Or how much work I need to do, anyway, since I have a thing about always cutting off the fat and making sure there aren't veins and things.) It's just that they're cheaper and in some dishes much tastier (because they are so fatty, I suppose) and if they came without so much excess fat on them I'd probably cook them more often.

Italian-spiced Pork with Spicy Broccoli and Salad

This feels like an ages-old picture - I'd forgotten the meal until I uploaded pictures from my camera to my computer and discovered it again. Really, it was probably made on Friday or Saturday last week but I don't remember exactly.

In any case, the pork was a pre-prepared thing that I bought at Safeway. It was already marinated in whatever sauce/spices were on it and I just had to cook it. It made me feel a little lazy not to sprinkle an Italian herb mix (or whatever) on a piece of pork myself, but it wasn't very expensive and I remember feeling terribly lazy. All I had to do was fry it in a little oil and time things so that it'd be ready at about the same time as the broccoli. I don't know that I'd buy it again unless I were feeling particularly lazy again, but it did taste quite good. (I wouldn't probably buy it again only because I could make myself something pretty similar pretty easily.)

The broccoli was pretty standard for me - lightly steamed and then sautéed with some garlic and red pepper flakes. Tasty. And so was the salad, which was nothing extra special, except that I added toasted almond and some carrot to the lettuce mix.

All in all, a good meal.

08 November 2008

Chive and Goat Cheese Frittata

This picture is getting to be several days old now, almost a week even. I've been wibbling about whether or not to post it because I think I've done a similar frittata before, maybe just without the cheese and chives. I can't remember though.

And then too it's not a very interesting picture. I always make and eat frittatas on their own, but they aren't that easy to photograph on their own. I always feel like I should have put a pile of mixed baby greens on the plate, even if I don't intend to eat them, just for appearance's sake. But I don't particularly like dressing a plate. I don't often garnish things, and if I do it's because I intend to eat the garnish. (My next photo in the backlog has a sprig of cilantro on the plate, which I ripped up and mixed into the soup before I ate it.)

Anyway, I've been looking for ways to use up that goat feta that I've got and I've been kind of miserable about food lately, not wanting to cook and just not wanting anything, so I thought what I really needed was to make something yellow. (My love of yellow food should be well documented by now. If I don't have a tag for yellow food, I should.) The yellow peppers didn't look that nice at the store the other day, but the orange peppers were pretty good, so I picked one of those up instead (and orange is practically yellow anyway, right?) And finally, eggs? Easiest thing in the world to cook when you don't really feel like cooking anything.

And so, yes. Eggs with potatoes, orange peppers, chives and goat's feta, cooked to deliciousness. (Which was also a great lunch for work. I should make these things more often to take to work.)

06 November 2008

Assorted gift postcards

I made this postcard for a friend's daughter, who recently turned three years old. She wanted to have a monster themed birthday, so I thought it would be fun to send her a monster postcard.

I designed three potential monsters while riding the train home from work one afternoon, and the next day decided on and made this one because I liked the googly eyes and the giant mouth. Maybe one day I'll make the other two, but we'll see.

It sort of reminds me of a lion cub that's not grown up enough to let out a really big roar but keeps trying anyway.

In any case, here is another postcard I made for a different friend, though I made this a handful of years ago, back when I first started trying out fabric postcards. I only just recently finished it when I found it again shoved into a stash of fabric.

The friend I made this card for used to have an icon on her livejournal of a lemon-pig and this was my attempt to recreate it.

I didn't finish it then because I made a rookie mistake with the fusible web - I fused it on the right rather than the wrong side of the fabric. It's not especially noticeable with the yellow because it was a batik, but the orange feet and the green ears are much more pale than they would be if I'd done it properly.

I decided that it's cute enough, even with its errors, that it needed to be finished, so I added a back and sewed it all up. I think it's maybe one of my favourite postcards ever.