Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do The Dishes

I've spent the last few days thinking about dish towels.  Literally.

I'm working on creating Tea Towels from stash of stained and worn vintage table linens.

It's pretty much what I spent the holiday week-end doing, after we finished the holiday part, of course.  The work itself was complicated by Ellis having a cold all week-end and being stuck home instead of out and about with Sarah.  Sarah earned her keep this week-end keeping a sick and cabin fever-having 4 year old mostly occupied while I sewed and sewed and sewed.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving In Detail

This year, we did Thanksgiving with friends.  We have a long history of this holiday with family, but it just wasn't in the cards this year.  We spent this holiday at my friend Venessa's house.  She is a great cook and has a great family to hang out with.  And we can walk to their house.  Although I have always loved Thanksgiving at my sister's house in Michigan, it is a major feat to get out of Chicago.  I miss my family, but man, this year was easy!

Venessa made the turkey, stuffing, cranberries, gravy, mashed potatoes, and deep dish apple pie.  All delish.  My job was vegetable sides, bread and wine.  This was a great assignment.

Martha Stewart's Hearty Garlic Greens

Monica's Roasted Root Vegetables Recipe (with my changes.  Note that you can really use whatever vegetables you choose.)

1-2 large sweet potatoes
2 turnips
2-3 parsnips
3 carrots
3 shallots
8 oz. Brussels Sprouts (I know, not a root veggie, but a Thanksgiving must-have!)
1/4 cup Tupelo honey (I used raw wildflower honey)
2 TBS balsamic vinegar (my addition, in honor of the Brussels Sprouts)
3 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Chop veggies.  Whisk other ingredients together.  Toss everything together in a pan.  Roast at 450 stirring occasionally until everything is tender and a little browned.

Grandma Scully's Bean & Bacon Casserole, Updated

My mom has always made a wax bean and bacon casserole, ever since I was a kid.  I wanted to make a family dish since we weren't going to be with our genetic families.  I've always though fondly of this one.  So I called my mom for the recipe.  I received the traditional non-recipe recipe:  Cook the bacon, make a white sauce, add 3 cans wax beans, bake it all in the oven.  Use the Searchlight cookbook for the white sauce.

So I did use the Searchlight for the sauce.

But I also decided it was time to write the recipe down.  Behold!

1 lb. bacon, chopped and cooked + bacon grease reserved
2 lbs. green or yellow beans, ends removed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1/4-1/3 onion, chopped small
6 TBS flour, or more as needed
2 cups milk, heateded, or more as needed
1/2 TBS salt, or to taste
fresh ground pepper to taste

1.  In a large frying pan, cook 1 lb. chopped bacon.
2.  While bacon is cooking, steam green beans until just tender.  Remove beans to an ice bath to stop them cooking until they are needed.
3.  When bacon is cooked (I like it crispy), drain bacon grease and reserve in a separate jar or bowl.  I strained mine as it got a bit burned in a few spots.
4.  Add onions to the bacon in the frying pan and sautee over medium-low heat until the onions are soft and the bacon is a bit crispy.
5.  Place beans, bacon, and onions in your baking dish.  I used my 8 x 12 Le Creuset baking dish (thrifted for $3!!)  My mom always used a deep, square Corningware baking dish.  You know, the one with the light blue flowers on the side?
6.  Make the white sauce.  Add 6 TBS reserved bacon grease and 6 TBS. flour to frying pan and whisk together.  Add 2 cups scalded milk and whisk together.  You may need to add more flour or milk to obtain desired consistency.  I used 2 cups milk to about 8 TBS flour.  Next time I'll use more milk for a thinner sauce.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Watch out with the salt, though, because you're adding a pound of bacon to the entire dish!!  I used about 1/4 teaspoon and it was plenty.
7.  Add white sauce to casserole dish and mix thoroughly.
8.  Bake covered at 350 for 20 minutes or until the beans are tender.  I took the cover off at the end, but wished I hadn't.  The cover keeps it nice and moist, which is what you want.

It turned out great.  Next time, I may even add some nutmeg or thyme for a different kind of flair.

Sarah made the no-knead artisan bread from here.  We also brought homemade marinaded mushrooms and pickles.  

Let me just say, winner, winner, turkey dinner.  

We topped the evening off with Scrabble and Apples to Apples.  A very, very good night.  I'm looking forward to Christmas, when we'll host my parents.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Playing Catch-Up

Ack!  I got behind!  Sarah had a health scare and I am doing NaNo, so here we are.  Let's catch up.

I won't go into Sarah's health thing much because, well, don't you all have your own health stuff to worry about?  But it threw me for a loop a bit.  She's so solid and steady almost all of the time.  It's hard when it's revealed that yep, she's just a regular person like the rest of us.

And then Halloween came, which I did manage to blog.

And then the Election, which I didn't manage to blog.  My home state of Minnesota was voting on whether or not I am a person equal to others in the eyes of the law.  It was very upsetting to me.  Et tu, MN?  But Minnesota was awesome and rejected a constitutional amendment saying that all people are not created equal.  Rock on, Minnesota.  And this country voted in a whole mess of female senators and members of congress.  A good week for freedom, I say.

And although I didn't blog it, I really have been working.  I love making things.

I will work toward being more present as we go forward.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Halloween, Making It Myself, Swords

Ellis wanted to be a Power Ranger for Halloween.  My heart broke a bit.  Were we entering the realm of the store-bought, mass-media, marketing costume?  And how did he even know what a Power Ranger was, anyway? Still, I had to keep the dream of the homemade costume alive.  So, I made a Blue Power Ranger costume.  It's weird but I'm pretty proud of it.

Since I don't really even know what a Power Ranger is, I did have to do some "research."  I wanted a blend of homemade idiosyncrasy and authenticity.

I think I achieved it.  Special thanks to Sarah for thrifting the foundation pieces!

And yes, we made him a sword.  My feelings about that are so complicated that I can't really blog it right now.  Maybe another time. . .   In any case, he was pretty excited about the whole thing.

Of course, we also did the obligatory pumpkin carving (a tradition I don't enjoy personally, but I'm willing to take one for the team.)

A very good Halloween.  Now I just have to get through this election, Thanksgiving, and Christmas and I'm home free.  Oh, and write my NaNo novel.  Easy, right?