Sunday, March 8, 2015

Stirrings


Hard to believe it's already time; the weather this year is off - I keep asking myself, is it El Nino or more serious climate change?  And while there's an anxiety gnawing at the back of my brain about summer, and drought, and wildfire season and all those poor people who live east of the mountains!, and the price of water, and planting vegetables that don't need too much water  ... at the same time, there's sun in the Pacific Northwest in February, in March. The temps are warm enough that I have been out harvesting nettles since early February ... and it's hard for a light-starved northern girl to remember that this sun and these mild temps are a bad thing, when it's February and sunny instead of February and bleak.

And so I've been out in the woods already, gathering nettles. Soon it'll be big leaf maple blossoms and the spring foraging season will really and truly feel like it's on.

In the meantime, if you need some color (and comfort!) in your life, try this recipe for beet bread from Twigg Studio!


As I'm something of an old hand at making bread, I used my own tried-and-true process for making bread with this one: first I roasted and peeled the beets, then ground them in the food processor to make a puree. Meanwhile, I proofed the yeast in the warm water with a pinch of sugar, then combined the yeast mixture, beet puree, oil, salt, and 1 cup of white flour in a bowl. I beat hard to make a creamy sponge, then added the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a smooth dough had formed.

The next week, I made this same recipe again, using carrot puree (I boiled, then pureed the carrots) and chopped fresh dill; it was amazing. I love how flexible this recipe is; I'll definitely keep playing with it to make various vegetable breads. Give it a shot!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A first

 
 
Sorry for my long absence here. I realized, last week, that since I started this blog while I was in grad school, this month marks the first time ever that I've held a regular, 9-to-5 job and had a blog. Hence, the silence. I definitely haven't worked out a balance yet with my job, with yoga, with housework, and with the blog - or any kind of creative making, really; I haven't made anything but food-things in a month. Part of that is because I've also got two freelance jobs on my plate right now - both historical fiction novels that I'm proofreading.

But there are at least a few food experiments going on around here, and this post marks the start of my efforts to try and get the blog back into the new balance of what feels, finally, like a fully adult life. (So happy about that.)

It's been such a mild winter around here this year that it'd be easy to forget that we had one at all. But winter is the season for citrus fruits, and I have a giant bowl of bitter Seville oranges sitting on my kitchen table as a reminder (I'm making marmalade this week - or maybe next weekend is more accurate). I also candied orange peels (below) a few weeks ago, and then used the leftover syrup to glacee kumquats (above) afterward. Recipes for the process can be found here (orange peel); I used the same process for the kumquats (and even the leftover syrup, as I said) as I did for the orange peels, and just let the sliced fruits cook in the already-reduced syrup for about 40-50 minutes, then placed them in a food dehydrator set to about 135 degrees F for an hour or two to help dry them. I loved these kumquats in my holiday baking this winter and everyone loved them so much that I wanted to have more on hand to use again this year.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

so I can find it later: cherry almond smoothie


Tonight I went looking for the recipe for this smoothie and couldn't believe I hadn't posted it on my blog! How inconvenient! So, even though this is more than a mite out of season, here it is - I think I'll have it for dessert later, yum yum.

This is my current favorite smoothie at my favorite Seattle vegan spot, Chaco Canyon. After sampling it for the first time this summer, I came home and immediately started tinkering, trying to figure out the proportions so that I could recreate it myself. Since I started making my own almond milk on a semi-regular basis, I have all this ground almond pulp left over. I read that it could be used in smoothies and immediately remembered: oh yeah, cherry-almond smoothies! Yum! I love the zero-waste aspect of this: some of the almond milk goes into the smoothie, and the leftover almonds do, too.

Without further ado:

Cherry Almond Smoothie

1/4 - 1/3 c almonds (or almond pulp/meal)
2 smallish handfuls frozen pitted dark sweet cherries (so, just over 1 c?)
1 c almond milk
1 banana
1 Tbl maple syrup (I like Trader Joe's dark grade B syrup)

Place the almonds (or ground almond pulp/meal) in the blender. Add a bit of the almond milk, and grind up the nuts a bit. Add the cherries and the remainder of the almond milk and blend. Add the banana and maple syrup and work your way up to high speed to get a smooth, thick treat!

The last time I was at Chaco, I swear there was a bit of a cocoa flavor to this, as well - it was like drinking a Cherry Garcia shake ... but vegan! Holy smokes! I'm going to try adding a bit of cacao and see if I can recreate the effect.

Monday, January 12, 2015

looking ahead


Here's news - though anyone reading this blog has probably already seen my update on facebook, or been called, etc. - I finally landed a stable job (it's been nearly two years). I have about a week before my first official day, so in the meantime I'm finishing up some projects, finally enjoying the time off because I can stop worrying about money for the first time in years.

Here's one of the projects I'd been meaning to do for almost a month now! I came across this "Deer Moon Necklace" by Three Arrows Leather in the late autumn, and knew I wanted to make one like it. I actually found a great new source for nice quartz points: children's toy stores - specifically, ones that carry rock specimens for young collectors. I stocked up over the holidays, so perhaps I'll be making a few more of these (girlfriends for whom I regularly make jewelry, let me know if you want one!). I opted for turquoise deerskin lace to make the braid and the straps, instead of black - because I realize that a lot of the jewelry I'm making for myself lately involves rugged natural materials and then black or brown leather (or brass metal fittings). And I'm wearing more neutral clothing, too - so this is a little bit of a reaction against the rut! I also love wearing turquoise accents in the summer, so this is a nice way to look ahead to the summer months to come.

I added some silver tone metal beads from Africa (leftover from when I made that medicine pouch), and I'm all set! My necklace also hangs a bit higher than the original, as I find necklaces that hang too low bothersome.

Friday, January 2, 2015

handmade holidays 2014: gold and pearl earrings


Okay, so actually, I haven't mailed this pair of earrings yet. But I will! Soon! Um, I promise! =) Loosely inspired by some of the gorgeous work of artisan jeweler Julie Cohn (explore her work on her website here), this pair of earrings features an organic, dimpled gold bauble and dangling black keshi pearls (with a pretty rosy/coppery cast to them). And another confession: I liked these so much that I made an identical pair for myself. Yeah, no one's really surprised by that one, huh?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

handmade holidays 2014: leather medicine bag with labradorite pyramid


So here's the thing about sending your presents out late: you can't post them 'til even later. This is ridiculous; December was kind of a non-event on the blog, huh? I don't often go in for New Year's resolutions, but maybe I should this year, and strive to make the blogging a more regular thing again. I really want to get back to blogging at least once a week - and not drop off the face of the earth and ride the coattails of a few super-productive weeks earlier in the year!

But let's get down to business. This turned out beautifully. I was so pleased with it. My inspiration was this "Miakoda Medicine" bag by Three Arrows Leather. My version is made from heavy wine-colored suede (the prettiest option of all of the scrap-leather bags at my local Tandy Leather store) that I hand-sewed together with a glover's needle and heavy waxed thread, with braided black leather lace for the necklace and fringe. I mounted a labradorite pyramid with pretty blue fire that I found on etsy into the flap (golly it's big - and kinda sharp at that point!), and worked silver-colored metal beads onto the fringe.

I loved making this - and I love the look of the pyramid stone set in the leather. I'd love to try my hand at making a big bag with multiple stones set in the flap sometime, like some of the purses that Three Arrows has for sale. It's such a great, simple idea for embellishment - and it looks amazing!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

handmade holidays 2014: crushed pyrite


As soon as I saw the etsy listing for a bag of crushed pyrite, I knew I had to have it! I wanted to play with it and see what I could come up with! I still have more to play with, too. So who knows what else I'll put together. But these earrings were made for a friend whose pinterest feed this autumn included some sparkly druzy earrings. I know that pyrite isn't druzy, but it's got a similar effect: nubby nuggets of sparkling stone, different bits catching the light at different angles. These are mounted on brass bases with gold-plated ear wires. I really love the look and the way the ring of brass around the outside of this blank provides a kind of frame, neatening up the jumble of crushed pyrite in the middle. Hm ... I think it's likely I'll wind up making a pair for myself, too!