Archive for January 2012

Stitching Up A Bunny

Ashland loves bunnies. I’m not entirely sure why. Anyhow, he calls marshmallows bunnies for some reason (because they are fluffy and white?) even though I keep correcting him that they are called “marsh-mal-low”. …And so one day, on a whim, I squished the marshmallow with my fingers into a bunny shape. And Ashland LOVED it. He was so enamored with it that he didn’t even eat it and played with it for few hours. Unfortunately, every time I offer him marshmallows now, he wants me to make all of them bunny shaped. Anyhow. I decided to stitch him up a bunny that is a bit less sticky. I just doodled up one, but no doubt it’s inspired by mishmash of things I’ve seen (Coraline, Lalaloopsy, Skeleanimals…etc. etc).

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I’m glad he really liked it! (He fell a sleep with it in his band). It just occurred to me, he would totally adore bunny version of marshmallow peeps won’t he? I’ll have to get some!

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Honey Lemon Drink

Ashland caught a cold a some days ago, and from there, the rest of us caught it too. …So yeah. I’ve been drinking this concoction to help my sore throat. It’s wedge of citrus (usually lemon, but this is orange — I prefer it actually!), a piece of crystallized ginger, heaping spoonful of honey with hot water poured on top.

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It’s almost amusing how much it sucks to catch a cold (almost!) despite being such a simple ailment. Sigh. Among us, Ashland is the worst off, poor guy was whimpering and shedding tears of misery. Lucian on the other hand is — as snotty, coughy and feverish as he is — as rambunctious as he always is.

Organizing Recipes

I’ve been needing to organize my recipes for ages. Actually, I started it some time ago on index cards…and that system totally didn’t work for me because 1) cards were generally too small for some recipes and 2) there wasn’t a good system for keeping them in useful order. It might seem odd that I should want to organize [gasp!] physical, actual pieces of paper when most of my ‘real’ work is produced digitally. I have tried organizing recipes in folders on my computer, and also google documents — but among numerous complaints, biggest deal-breaker is that I don’t like to bring in my computer into the kitchen. As for google docs, it is quite nice I can access it from my phone…until the screen goes to sleep or I have to scroll down when I have wet hands!

Anyhow. The other day I saw an almost really cute recipe organizing binder. Actually, I think it was at Costco. It had almost cute binder, with almost cute dividers, and almost cute papers in it. But it definitely wasn’t cute enough for me actually want it. I did get an idea though, that I should try the “binder” system. It worked in grade schools for organizing bunch of different subjects, why not recipes? So I dusted off a half-size binder that wasn’t being used (I figured it would work better on the book stand than full size one), and with some craft papers and stickers in my stash — I made this!

I imagine I could probably have bought dividers at office supply shop, but I always try to make things if I have supplies for it — they turned out happy looking!

My categories are a bit different from how most people would organize their recipes, probably. I actually have very little recipes for meals (main dish, salads, soups…) because I don’t generally cook from recipes (If I want to learn to make something, I compare multiple recipes, and then make up my own to suit my pantry and and my taste). But I’m starting to have lots of pieces of paper/digital-documents for breads and cookies (along with haphazard notes from experiments!) because with these things, it’s necessary to get proportions of ingredients right or it doesn’t work at all. “Herbs” section will have my incense recipes which I have been working on and aroma therapy blends (which are currently on  pieces of paper stuck inside various books on the topic…digital ones are forever lost I think). I made “drinks” category because I’m hoping to collect and develope recipes for probiotic drinks (kefir and kombutcha!) in coming weeks. “Craft” section has recipes for homemade playdoughs and glue — I hope I will find more things to put in it.

I made book-cover-like flap for bookmarking the page. Because I know I will need it.

Hopefully it will inspire me to add more to it, and cook/blend/concoct more things!

 

 

Making Bread Sticks

Immi tagged along Todd for an outing and Lucian was taking a nap so Ashland and I made some bread sticks. I think he had lots of fun!

Here’s some all baked up! They are uhhhm…”RUSTIC” looking 😀 I made them for Lucian because I thought that it might help him with teething (he is making teeth in the back so bagel isn’t much help) but as it turns out, stick shaped bread is fun for every one.

Here’s little Lucian’s little dinner — I’m took picture of it because he was still napping! Linguine with ham simmered in garlic tomato sauce with splash of red wine. And the little bread sticks made by Ashland and I. Decidedly not kid-flavor, because that’s what Lucian and Ashland likes. Immi on the other hand only eats butter & parmesan.

Baking Loaves of Bread

I’m still baking lots and lots of bread. Because it gets eaten! Admittedly, it’s really nice to have bread in middle of grocery week — something that was difficult to make happen before I started baking.

Because I bake basically everyday, the important thing is that it only takes little effort and very little time. These issues have been my primary area of investigation in baking. The most popular method of easy baking uses dutch oven, but sometimes I don’t want to have to lift such heavy item out of really hot oven or have to wash it after it cools or the bowl the shaped dough was rising in (I’m laaaazy!). So I have gone back to shape and bake. I throw in a cup of water into the broiler pan on the lower rack after I put in the shaped dough on the rack above. This seems to be the popular alternate method for generating steam (in dutch oven, the bread steams itself because it’s baked in small lidded container) and I think that it works just as well. One extra thing I like about no-dutch-oven method is that I can shape it however way I want, and slash it for different ridges (you get what you get in dutch oven — though usually rustic and pretty — because the hot vessel won’t let you slash after you dump the dough in it).

BUT, the easiest and most laziest bread I bake uses loaf pan. Mine is made of very thin aluminum (I haven’t tried anything else, this is all I happen to have!). I don’t even have to grease it because it doesn’t stick (probably because the bread shrinks a wee bit as it finishes baking?). I’m not sure why this isn’t like the most popular easy-method, because seriously, you can just lazily shape it (it doesn’t really matter what it looks like as long as it’s sort of loaf pan shaped) and dump it in the loaf tin. Let it rise again, in the tin, while oven is preheating, and then throw it in the oven. Because only the top part of the bread is exposed, the bread stays moist during baking. It produces least amount of “things to be washed” in the end. AND the bread is more conveniently shaped for making sandwiches.

Making Lalaloopsy Clothes

Immi discovered her baby doll I was hiding in the closet (Because dolls creep me out, but I didn’t want to get rid of it. Hey don’t judge me, I suffered a childhood trauma — my neighborhood kid was being rough with my over-sized doll and swinging it about and it’s head fell off. Since then I really don’t like dolls, and I really really don’t like watching heads fall off …in movies and such). Anyhow, she was taking very good care of this baby doll for days, but I really couldn’t stand it’s creepiness so I got her a new one that is a lot less creepy. Maybe this one is creepier for some people with the button eyes? I don’t know. But it’s better for me because it’s not realistic looking. Anyhow. I made for it some clothes for immi’s entertainment.

I really don’t know how to make doll clothes, or really clothes in general. I just made it up as I went along. I used bits of cloth I saved of Immi’s old clothes that were too beat to donate.

Yellow Angry Birds

So I hurt my back 2 days ago. I woke up, got up and suddenly I had sever pain left side of my lower back. I think it’s called “gikkuri goshi” in Japanese, which has no real translation into English other than “strained back”. When I say “pain” I mean it’s not the kind you can really work through. Blegh. So I sat around leaning on lots of pillows with heat pack for 2 days. I think it might be getting better, but it’s hard to say. It really sucks for Todd (been working from the living room while trying to keep up with everything I usually do at the same time!) and probably for kids too. But I suppose it’s not the worst I’ve been through since as long as I don’t move, the pain isn’t so bad, and it’s not like I feel ill.

Anyhow, since I’m useless anyhow, I stitched up this yellow angry bird for the kids.

Happy New Year!

Last thing I made in 2011, is a rice krispies treats (made with all natural marshmallows, not jet puffs)! We haven’t made this in forever because Wholefoods don’t have rice cereal that are similar enough to Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, and Trader Joe’s don’t have natural marshmallows. This means that it requires nothing short of divine miracle for the two necessary ingredients to ever meet in our kitchen.

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Todd has been obsessed with little sandwiches made with freshly baked dinner rolls. Luckily for both of us, I really like making little breads.

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First bread of 2012! It turned out nicely, I’ll take it as auspicious sign for the new year 😀

…And what you don’t see is the batch I screwed up few days ago (first bread FAIL since the first try!). I think that it had to do with overly happy yeast which pouffed up the bread uncontrollably in the oven making it look scary, AND I forgot to set a timer, so it was completely under cooked.

And reflection on 2011?? Well, part of it, I’m sure glad is over. The not-so-fun bits started moving along once we met the right lawyer, a business accountant, and health insurance broker (when did our life get so complicated?). So much paper work and frustrating process! Doing things the “right way” takes a lot of time and effort. But a lot of 2011 was wonderful. Living in Portland. Learning new things like baking and practicing hand-sewing. Contemplating and working towards life we want to live it, and remembering to enjoy the process. And Lucian. I know he was born at the end of 2010 technically, but with him, our not-so-little-anymore family feels complete. I think that Immi, Ashland and Lucian enjoy each others’ company a whole lot and from my perspective, balances each other out. There wasn’t a day in 2011 that I didn’t have something to smile or laugh about. …So with that, 2012, here we come! My new year resolution? Same as every year — work hard, play a lot, eat well, stay healthy, enjoy life. Addition of “sleep more” would be nice, but that’s a wish, not a resolution…