Friday, November 19, 2010

Flavored Salt Links

Homemade sea salt

The other thing I read, that I thought was really interesting, was someone in Marin made her own sea salt. She collected a few liters of sea water and boiled it down, until salt crystals formed. I'm definitely going to try that, next time I'm out at Stinson. I'm going to turn Tasch's kitchen into a salt factory!

Flavored Salts

I've been thinking about making flavored salts, ever since Jon sent me the Hawaiian black salt. For Christmas, I want to make different flavored salts to give away. I saw a recipe for Szechuan peppercorn salt, citrus salt, and macha salt on someone's blog, but forgot to note the link.

For the Szechuan peppercorn salt, the author used equal amounts of toasted peppercorns and coarse sea salt. She first ground the peppercorns in a food processor and then added the salt and pulsed a few times to incorporate.

For the citrus salt, she grated some lemon and lime peel (I would add some orange too, myself) and allowed them to dry a bit on a paper towel. She then pulsed the grated citrus peel with the salt to incorporate.

Lastly, for the macha salt, macha was pulsed with salt.

I would also like to make some rosemary/lemon salt. I have that big rosemary bush, out in the garden. It probably wont survive the winter, outside, so I might as well use it up.

Here is a recipe for parsley garlic salt from Kittens in the Kitchen:

  • 5 tbsp coarse sea salt
  • small handful parsley leaves
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
Preheat oven to 140c.

Put the garlic and parsley into a mini-blender and blitz til smooth. Scrape into a mortar and pestle, then add the salt. Pound until the salt is fine to medium ground, and the parsley mix is thoroughly incorporated.

Tip the mixture onto an oven sheet and spread it out. Put in the oven for 6 minutes, then give it a bit of a stir. Put it back in for another 6 minutes, or until it has dried out, but still green.

Allow to cool, then put back into mortar and pestle, and grind.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sold a neck warmer

I shipped a neckwarmer out to Beth Block today. It was the knitted one that came out so soft. I sold it to her for $10 plus shipping. It was the only knitted one I made. Think it was reasonable?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reclassifying patterns on Ravelry

Ravelry has been asking for help reclassifying all the patterns in the library. They're offering entry into a raffle for prizes for the users' help in reclassifying. For the past few days, I've been logging in my books and magazines and reviewing patterns. So far, everything in the bedroom has been logged in, the big challenge is the stacks in the work room. I'm afraid to know how much I have.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stupid Thing

I did absolutely nothing yesterday.  While making my second cup of coffee, I stupidly put the empty, HOT, teapot under the running water and burned myself with the steam.  I immediately put a bag of frozen corn over my fingers, but I knew it was a bad burn.  I put some Doctor Burt's Res-Q Ointment on and put the frozen corn over my fingers.  I couldn't find any of the 500+ bottles of aloe that I've purchased over the years.  (I'm REALLY sick of not being able to find anything in this house, but that's another blog.)

The burn hurt so bad, it was one of the worst pains I've ever felt.  I couldn't sit; I couldn't stand.  I didn't know if I should hold my hands still or wave them around.  The frozen corn provided some relief, but as soon as I removed it, my fingers would burn worse then before.  I equate it to eating lots of habaneroes and  drinking water.  As soon as you stop drinking, your mouth burns, and hotter than ever.  The only difference is, hot pepper burns ultimately go away, after a little while.  My fingers were on fire for half the day.

I eventually found some aloe gel and the coolness of the gel helped.  I put some white flower oil on my fingers, thinking it might help.  WORST MISTAKE!  White flower oil is like Tiger Balm.  You don't want to get the stuff on your furniture, because it'll eat right through the varnish.  The tingliness from the oil made the burn even more sensitive.  It was sheer torture.

I eventually fell asleep and took a nap for a couple of hours, and when I woke up, the pain was pretty much gone.  There was no blistering, except for a hard lump by my middle knuckle on my middle finger.  The burned area looked blueish-grey.  The skin's intact, but the color, along with the swelling, GROSS!

I was really scared, because it was my right hand.  The fingers worst affected were my index and middle fingers.  I can't afford to lose my right hand!  How would I crochet or bead or write?!

My fingers are doing ok today.  Obviously, I'm able to type.  A few blisters appeared overnight.  There is edema in my fingers and it's a little hard to bend them, but they seem to be ok.  I'm not going to be able to work in the garden or have my hands in water a lot, but at least I can use them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Crocheted Rings

I've been thinking about making crocheted rings.  I have one of those really big cocktail rings and I thought I could make one out of yarn.

My idea is to make rosettes out of scraps of yarn and then attach them to rings made out of stretchable string.  I'm making a bunch of rosettes first, using Lion Brand's Crocheted Rosettes/Flowers pattern.  I'm pretty sure I have stretchy string around somewhere and really hope I don't have to buy more.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Austen's Birthday

Yesterday was Austen's 15th birthday.  I let him sleep in, without waking him to walk the dogs.  When he finally got up, I made him scrambled eggs and English muffins.   He waited patiently as I blew the eggs out of the shells.  I thought I would have time to decorate some eggs, but never got around to it.  He made sure to thank me for making him scrambled eggs in a pan, instead of in the microwave.  He hates microwaved eggs.

After breakfast, we went and got his fish.  He picked out four different goldfishes and named them Attila, Octavius, Alexander, and Hannibal.

He also picked out a water plant and a bridge.

Before we got the fish, Austen asked me if I wanted to shop somewhere else first.   What he meant to say was, he wanted to go to Gamestop first.  We went to Gamestop and I got him three games, all involving fighting or violence.  When I asked why all violent games, he said, they only come in violent.

We started shopping for Austen's birthday, days ago.  We had each gotten really nice journals.  I got Austen a calligraphy set.

He writes in the journal with his new pen, everyday.  He said the pen set was his best gift.  I haven't started writing in my journal yet.  I'm still looking for the perfect pen.

We had picked out a bunch of flowers at Agway and Montgomery Nursery.  Austen picked out most of them.  He got a venus fly trap (that lives in my room now, because his room is too dark),

a really pretty pink frilly petaled begonia,

a strawberry plant,

and bright red dinner plate dahlia tubers.  

I picked out a pale pink 

and a orange and yellow begonia, 


and some veggies.  

Austen helped me pick out some violas and pansies.

For dinner, originally, we were supposed to go to Mitsuwa for ramen, but Austen changed his mind and wanted all-you-can-eat-sushi.  He really doesn't like long car rides.  I think he also saw how tired I was and may have suggested sushi, for my sake.  He's such a good kid!

Potting Continues

I don't know why I put those pots out in the middle of the yard.  They're going to turn into deer bait.
The deck is looking better.
Yangy has to get in every picture.

Back to the Garden

It has been many years since I've been conscious of my garden.  The thought of gardening rarely entered my mind.  I was so busy being a workaholic, I had no time, no attention for something like gardening, something that I thought I could never live without, while growing up.  Home became a bed that I slept in, for less than half of the year.  Even after not working for a couple of years, it wasn't until when we went shopping for Austen's birthday presents, that my interest in gardening was piqued.

Austen and I went to Walmart to get this fish tank that he wanted.  We wandered into the plants section and  we each picked out a few plants.  We took them home and decided that the existing garden was too weedy and not adequate for the plants that we bought.  We went to Agway and bought pots (not knowing that we already had tons of pots in the shed out back) and soil, and more plants.

The deck is beginning to look like what the decks from all my previous homes looked like.  I'm inspired to clear out the courtyard and the flower beds; areas neglected for too long.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Diagonal Fringed Neckwarmer

This pattern was born out of my aversion to weaving in ends.  I love to use color and to blend colors, but the thought of having to weave in two ends for every time I changed colors is enough to immediately put a pattern in the reject category.

I had a bunch of Homespun scraps, from various projects.  A high-school-acquaintance-now-reconnected-through-Facebook-friend had published a beautiful book, Eagles of the Ashokan.  The colors in her photographs inspired me to use different colors of scrap Homespun, together, and what resulted was this neckwarmer.

This pattern is about as easy as patterns come.  All you need to know is how to chain, make single crochets, and tie knots.

Scraps of any sort of yarn.  I used Homespun.
Crochet Hook: any hook that will go with your yarn.  I used a K hook.

Leaving an 8” tail, ch 60 (or any number of stitches that will result in a ring that fits easily over your head).  Join with a slip stitch to the first chain (ok, so I lied, you also need to know how to sl), being careful not to twist chain.  Fasten off, leaving an 8” tail.  Tie tails together into a square knot.

Row 1:  In the ch after the join, attach a new piece of yarn, leaving an 8” tail, and sc in each ch, around, including the joining stitch.  Fasten off, leaving an 8” tail.  Tie tails together into a square knot.

Row 2:  In the sc after the join, attach a new piece of yarn, leaving an leaving an 8” tail, and sc in each sc, around, including the joining stitch.  Fasten off, leaving an 8” tail.  Tie tails together into a square knot.

Repeat Row 2 until the neckwarmer is about 8” wide.  Change colors as you wish, every row, every few rows.  It's up to you.  Trim fringes to desired length.

Here's the front:

And the back:

Here's one with slightly different colors:

And some others:
Copyright © 2010 HELEN WANG.  All rights reserved.

Sold a bunny egg

Sold another Easter egg, yesterday, the bunny one.  It has been fun setting up my shop and linking to my facebook and my blog.  I wonder how long this'll last.  I hope I don't hate Etsy, in a few weeks, because I only sold a couple of eggs.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blogger and Etsy

I've been playing around on Blogger for the last couple of weeks and am learning a lot about layouts, backgrounds, banners, etc.  With the encouragement of friends, I finally listed something to sell on Etsy.  I've had the account since 2007 and have done nothing with it.  I posted my first item yesterday and it sold within an hour.  It must be beginner's luck, but it sure did me a lot of good towards my confidence.  I, quickly, listed two more items, and I fear I probably have jinxed myself.  Oh, what the heck, so I threw away 40 cents, oh well.  I also figured out how to post my Etsy items for sale on my blog.  LOVE figuring things out!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Vegan Coconut Biscuits

Vegan Coconut Biscuits 

I started out trying to come up with a nondairy Irish Soda Bread for Patsy. I figured I may as well get rid of the egg and make it vegan, too.

I made biscuits instead, because they don't take as long to bake, but you can easily plop all of the dough onto the silpat and make a loaf. You just have to bake it longer. These are surprisingly moist and tender, for having added no margarine or oil. I made a few plain ones, before adding shredded coconut to the rest of the dough. The plain ones didn't taste like they were made with coconut cream, at all. They didn't taste vegan (whatever that means). I would definitely make this bread again, even for my omnivore friends.

dry ingredients:
3 C flour
4 T sugar
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 T baking powder

wet ingredients:
flax fake egg (see below)
1 13.5-oz can coconut cream (not coco lopez)

1/2 C shredded coconut (optional)
granulated sugar (optional)

Sift dry ingredients together in mixing bowl. Stir wet ingredients together, in a separate bowl.

I used my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook. Put sifted dry ingredients in mixing bowl. With machine on low, slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Do not over mix. The dough will be very sticky.

At this point, I added coconut to part of the dough. This was an afterthought. I originally wanted to add raisins, but didn't have any. If you do want to add coconut, I would suggest adding it to the dry ingredients to save this step.

Drop dough by ice cream scoopful onto a silpat. Sprinkle with granulated sugar (optional) and bake for 20-25 minutes on 350°F, until lightly golden.

Flax Fake Egg
1 T finely ground flax seeds
2 T hot water

Heat over low heat. Stir continuously. Soon the liquid will become more and more colloidal. Let cool before using.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vegetarian Meatloaf

I know, why bother? Why make a vegetarian meatloaf, when I have 5 pounds of brisket corning in the fridge? I've been curious about this vegetarian meatloaf recipe ever since I got the email from Recipezaar. The reviews were all good and the ingredients sounded like they'd go well together. I thought this would be a good addition to my collection of "leftover-busting" recipes to take care of those little pieces of cheese and jars of spaghetti sauce, that seems to take up so much valuable space.

I'm no vegetarian, but this loaf is better than most 
meatloaf recipes that I've tried. It is flavorful, moist, and with the exception of the egg and cheese, is nearly fat free. It is packed full of protein, fiber, and iron. All in all, a nutritious, one-pan dish. I wished I had remembered to add some chopped up leftover vegetables, but... next time.

Here is my version of the vegetarian meatloaf:


2 C water
2 T soy sauce
1 C lentils
1 C rolled oats

Spice mixture:
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried oregano
1 T dried parsley
1 t Eric Spice
1 T paprika
1 t cayenne
1/2 t coarsely ground pepper

1 egg, beaten
2/3 C spaghetti sauce

1 medium red onion, chopped
1 C grated Asiago and Finlandia cheeses

2 T ketchup
1 T brown spicy mustard

Bring water and soy sauce to a boil.  Add lentils and simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of the water has been absorbed.  Remove from heat.  Stir in oats and cover with lid for 5 minutes.

Fluff lentils and oats to help cool.  Partially mash with a potato masher.  I didn't over mash it, because I wanted it to be more meaty in texture, than mealy.

Add spice mixture and mix well.  Add egg and spaghetti sauce, mix well.  Lastly, add the onions and cheese and mix well.

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and spoon mixture into pan.

Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Cool in pan for about 10 minutes.

Place a cookie sheet over the pan and carefully invert the loaf onto the cookie sheet.

Remove and discard parchment paper.  Brush loaf with ketchup mixed with spicy brown mustard and bake for another 15 minutes, until the outside has caramelized.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Corned Beef

I picked up a 5 lb brisket, yesterday, and started brining it for corned beef.  This is my first attempt at corning a brisket.  I used a combination of the recipe from Cook's Illustrated and Alton Brown's, but without saltpeter.  I didn't think it was necessary to have bright red meat, at the expense of nitrosamines.

2 C water
1/2 C coarse Kosher salt
1/4 C brown sugar
2 bay leaves, crushed
1 t black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
1 t mustard seeds
1/2 t ground Jamaican allspice
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground thyme
1 t paprika
1 t crushed red peppers (couldn't help it)

Simmer brine over low heat, until salt and sugar have dissolved.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Poke a bunch of holes on each side with a meat fork and place in a large ziplock bag.  Pour cooled brine into bag, over brisket.  Close bag, removing as much air as possible.  Place bag in a container and allow to marinate in fridge.

Turn bag once a day and we'll see how it turns out in 5 days.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ranch, Shallot Biscuits

Ranch, Shallot Biscuits

Remember Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet? He would be so proud of this recipe. I really love to "repurpose" food. I had about 1/2 cup of leftover Ranch dip that I knew nobody would touch again. I diluted it with enough skim milk to make 1 cup and used it in place of regular milk, in a good old fashioned biscuit recipe.

I also added my favorite recent find, the toasted fried shallots from the Chinese store, that I've been using in EVERYTHING. The package is huge and lasts forever. I would suggest storing any unused shallots in the fridge to keep it from going rancid. The resulting biscuits were very light and flavorful, reminiscent of these little Chinese scallion breads that I remember having at dim sum. I hope there'll be some left, when Austen gets home from school.

Dry ingredients:
2 cup all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 C fried shallots

Wet ingredients:
1/2 stick butter, sliced and freeze for 1/2 hour
1 cup milk/dip mixture

 In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Mix well. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk/dip mixture, just until moistened. Do not over mix. Flour hands and pull off about a 2 tablespoon-size piece of dough and form into discs, ~ 1/2" thick and 2" wide. Try not to over-handle dough. Place discs next to each other in an ungreased baking sheet. Let rest for 1/2 hr.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.