Dewey belong together? – DIY Library Book Valentine

4 Feb

librarybookvalentine3

Some little chocolate books from the blog tikkido were recently shared on a Librarian community on Facebook. Aren’t they just the cutest? I wanted to make some the moment I saw them.

With Valentine’s day coming up, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make a chocolate Library book valentine. Most of these pick-up lines are borrowed from a set of Valentine’s day printouts from ABDO. The originals would be a great substitute if you feel like going the low effort route this year. (I won’t judge.)

That said, these little books are really easy to make so you should probably just buy the supplies and get to it.

librarybookvalentine1

Step one: Download and print this free Library Book Valentine PDF. Cut out and fold in half. Each pair of “open pages” should measure approximately 2 1/4″ by 1 1/8″. It doesn’t need to be exact.

Step two: Glue two Hershey’s Nuggets to a small piece of red cardstock or poster board to form the book. I used my trusty hot glue gun.

Step three: Put a line of glue on each Nugget and place your pages on top. I like to push the crease of my open pages into the space between the Nuggets to get the curved effect of a many-page volume.

librarybookvalentine4

And that’s it.

Oh, chocolate Library book, I do want to keep you for my shelf. I want you all to my shelf.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

librarybookvalentine2

 

Lunch worth munching

5 Mar

It’s been a while! My cooking and blogging habits have taken a turn for the less involved ever since finishing up my Master’s degree (!!!) and landing a job.  We’ve still been doing plenty of cooking (and eating) but we’ve been relying on old standards instead of trying new things.  I hope to get to the point where I feel a little more experimental in the kitchen again, maybe getting back to blogging will help!

As a now-working lady, I’ve found that the bane of my culinary existence is often lunch.  I’m ashamed to admit that more often than not I nearly forget the meal all together and am forced to either deal with a grumbling belly or grab some greasy grub from the work canteen.  After several weeks of following this pattern, I decided it was time to take a more proactive approach.  What better way is there to cure the lunchtime blues than tasty sandwiches?

One of my favorite (and most frequently made) recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Meat Book is for a cold roast beef sandwich.  If you have never had a sandwich made with homemade roast beef, I highly recommend that you remedy that at once.  I prefer it to store bought beef because you can get good quality beef and cook it exactly to your preference.  At our house that means rare, rare, rare.

roastbeef

I found the recipe posted on the Telegraph’s website, so I’ve mercilessly stolen it and changed it to imperial measurements.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cold roast beef open sandwich (serves 8–10)

Cold roast beef is a different animal from hot — delicious, but in a summery, picnicky kind of way. All good, rare roast beef is delicious cold but some cuts, such as top round or bottom round, are actually better cold (or cured) than hot — and so worth cooking specially for this purpose.

  • 1 piece of well-hung top round of beef, weighing about 4 lbs
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Massage a little olive oil into the beef and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Put it in a roasting tin and place in a hot oven (425F) for the “half-hour sizzle”. Turn the oven down to 300F and cook for a further 10 minutes per 1lb. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and leave to cool at room temperature. Store in a cool larder until it is time for your picnic (or in the fridge if it’s for more than 24 hours).

It’s amazing how a recipe so simple can yield such tasty results.  I’ve also made this for a cheap and easy Christmas dinner; it was sliced slightly thicker and served at room temperature with garlic mashed potatoes and my brother-in-law’s mulled wine.  The meat is also delicious mixed with french lentils, chopped fresh parsley, red pepper, and a Dijon dressing.

sandwiches1

This time, we wanted sandwiches that we could grab as we were running out the door.  We started an assembly line: Dave’s Killer Bread, horseradish mayonnaise, caramelized onions, thin slices of beef.  Wrapped in wax paper, the sandwiches went into the deep freeze to be pulled out at a moment’s notice.  We’ll pull them out in the morning and they will (hopefully) thaw by lunch time.  No need to refrigerate!

Today will be our first day trying out these frozen sandwiches.  I just received these awesome sandwich bags from my best friend Caroline’s new etsy shop Tiny Nest that will be perfect for transporting our sandwiches to work. Plus, they’re cute to boot! (This ‘shroom one is Nate’s, mine has mermaids on it.)

sandwichbag1

If you’re interested in getting your own reusable sandwich bags, you can use code: HURRAY10 for 10% off your purchase.  You can also follow Tiny Nest on Facebook for more updates and special deals.

Depending on how these sandwiches turn out, I think this may become a common occurrence for us.  I’m already looking forward to experimenting with different sandwich combinations.  Of course, I have to keep in mind how well ingredients will tolerate their time in the freezer; cheese and mushrooms have already been nixed due to rumors that the deep freeze makes them gross.  I might give mini quiche another try, as when cooked properly they freeze and reheat beautifully.

Do you have any tips for rejuvenating your mid-day meal?  I’d love to hear them!

Happy holidays

26 Dec

Happy holidays from my awkward family to yours!

Self portrait

1 Dec

We Can Do It!

I’ve been messing around with digital art for almost 10 years now, my program of choice has always been Adobe Illustrator.  I used to do portraits like this all the time, of myself, of friends, of random strangers online, but that was many moons ago (like, 5+ years).  I’m in the works to do a personalized blog header in this style for one of my BFFs and decided I needed a little practice first.  I’m a little bit rusty but I’m still pleased with the results.  It’s now my new “About Me” blog image!

On fire

15 Nov

It’s time to break out the Game of Thrones references because… Winter is coming.

In my view, there’s no better way to make it through these dark days and long nights than enjoying the age-old comfort of a wood fire.  It turns out that fireplaces can be more than functional; I think that these gracefully walk the line between function and form.

When I first laid eyes on this floating fireplace several years ago it was love at first sight.  These photos are from the home of Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.  You can see more of this psychedelic dream home at Fitzsimmons Architects.  (The weirdness isn’t contained indoors.)

I’ve been lusting over this Malm fireplace for a while now.  It can be installed indoors or used outside.  It sure looks great poolside, don’t you think?  Unfortunately, at prices starting at $1500.00, it’s completely out of my price range.  But I vowed to keep my eyes open for a similar model in my thrift shopping endeavors. (Can you see where this is going?)

I immediately shot off an email when I caught a glimpse of this old, rusty fire-pit on the local Craigslist.   The owner sold it to me for $30 (including delivery), a reasonable price if you ask me.  I’m pretty sure he was just excited to be rid of the damn thing.

I believe that this is a vintage Preway or Sears model of fire-pit, dating from the 1970’s.  I found some original owner manuals for sale on Ebay that I’m definitely eyeing.

I’m trying to decide if I should embrace the rust or take on the task of getting it cleaned it up.  Trying to ward off rust may be a losing battle during this damp, dank part of the year.  There’s also the possibility of painting it with high-heat tolerant paint; unfortunately, color options are limited and I’d like a bright, bold color if I’m going to go the paint route.  I’ve also purchased a piece of black stove-pipe to add to the top to recreate that Malm fire-pit look.  I’ll definitely be posting about this little guy in the future.

Regardless of what route I take, I think that for $30 this will be a great addition to our outdoor living area.  What do you think? Am I crazy to drop any amount of money on this ol’ rust bucket?  Or is this going to be the sweetest yard accessory ever?

Homemade drinking vinegar

29 Oct

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

After my graduation in August, my family and friends hit up well known Portland restaurant Pok Pok for the first time.  There were two things on my “must try” list: fish sauce chicken wings and drinking vinegar.  My companions were down with the wings but they were a little skeptical about the latter, and I didn’t blame them.  A big gulp of vinegar doesn’t exactly sound appealing, does it?

This isn’t straight vinegar, though.  Fruit-infused and sweetened, the drinking vinegars are added to soda water or cocktails for a sweet and sour kick.  After one drink, we were all converted.

When my mom’s birthday rolled around in September, I wanted to get her some drinking vinegar for her homemade libations.  After a little online searching, I found that a 16oz bottle would cost about $30 to have shipped to my doorstep.

Umm… excuse me?!

So I made the obvious choice: time to DIY.

three mason jars with fruit and vinegar

I made three varieties: ginger peach, strawberry basil, and cherry.  Your imagination is the only real limit when it comes to these.  We’re dreaming up a cherry tomato vinegar to make next year to use as an addition to our bloody marys.

Making these drinking vinegars could not have been easier.  Literally the most difficult part was MacGyver-ing a funnel out of aluminum foil to help get the warm vinegar into the fancy bottles.  If you have a real funnel, you can avoid that step.  The second hardest part was waiting patiently while the vinegars infused.

This ain’t rocket science, ya’ll.

three jars of fruit and vinegar

Cherry drinking vinegar

Resources: 1, 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 c. pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3-4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar

Place cherries in a quart size jar and cover with vinegar.  Shake well.  Let infuse for one week, shaking daily.

After one week, strain liquid into medium size saucepan.  Add sugar and simmer over medium heat until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes.  Add extra sugar to taste.

Pour vinegar into a clean glass bottle or jar (careful, it will be hot).

Your homemade drinking vinegar should keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

I can’t recommend these enough as a secret ingredient in your favorite adult beverages.  For a tasty, alcohol free beverage, combine one part drinking vinegar with four parts soda water over ice.  Mix well.

And they look good too!

three bottles of brightly colored drinking vinegar

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Thrift Shop

17 Sep

“A song about thrift-store shopping? Why, yes, I do believe I will post that on my blog.”

Green garden gazpacho

8 Sep

photograph of homegrown green zebra tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumber, basil, and chives

Gazpacho is one of my favorite things to make when the weather is warm. It’s tasty, healthy, and you can throw in just about anything.  We had a number of green zebra tomatoes, so I wanted to try making a green gazpacho using only veggies our garden.  To the tomatoes I added a few tomatillos, a small cucumber, and a ton of fresh basil and chives.  A little red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper rounded things out nicely.

Keep in mind that this is a special tomato variety that is green when ripe.  Unripe tomatoes will not be the same!  Using red tomatoes is fine.

quartered green zebra tomatoes on a pink cutting board

Most gazpacho recipes recommend peeling your tomatoes.  I never do this because I’m lazy and I think that putting them through the blender/food processor is fine.  So I just core and quarter my tomatoes.  Into the blender they go.  Easy as pie.

I did peel and seed the cucumber, though.  I guess I’m not very consistent.

green gazpacho topped with greek yogurt, basil and chives in a bowl with a green and blue retro starburst pattern.

Topped with a little Greek yogurt and some more olive oil, basil, and chives, this made a delicious (and good looking) lunch, and almost all of it came straight from the garden.

The best part, though, is that I didn’t need to turn on a burner to make it.  Hot weather food, for the win!

How do you like them apples

5 Sep

image of apples being prepared for applesauce

Well, it’s finally the most wonderful time of the year! No, not the holiday season but canning season.  These apples came from a family friend and of course the day I planned to make them into sauce turned out to be 90 degrees.  It seems like it’s a fact of life that any day you set aside for hot-water canning will turn out to be unseasonably hot.

This was my first time making applesauce but definitely not my first time canning.  Making this small batch of sauce really got me excited for the upcoming preserving season.  I can’t wait for the plethora of homemade pickles and other goodies.

If you’re interested in learning more about canning, you can download the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.  It’s free.  I also recommend tracking down a copy of Ball’s Complete Guide to Home Preserving; it’s basically our pickling bible around here.

Is there any sound as rewarding as the pop of a canning jar sealing?

Hot dog!

3 Sep

a hot dog on a toasted bun, with avocado, spicy sriracha mayo, grilled shrimp, and slivers of nori seaweed.

It’s Labor Day and that means it’s time to heat up the grill!  Usually when I think of gourmet grillables, hot dogs are not the first things that come to mind.  But back in June when I first cracked open that month’s Sunset Magazine to a feature on fancy-ing up your every day dog, I knew I had to give it a try.

Photo of hot dogs, shrimp and shredded nori, plus a magazine with the recipe that includes those ingredients

This weekend we decided to try out The Surfer Hot Dog, a dog topped with grilled shrimp, avocado, spicy mayo, and slivers of nori.  We made a few modifications to the recipe, spiral-cutting the dogs (as had been recommended by our dear friend and cook extraordinaire Sara) and letting them hang out in some homemade teriyaki marinade prior to grilling.  CHOW has a handy video on the how and why of spiral-cut hot dogs.

We served these bad boys with some of our homegrown tomatoes.  I roughly diced the large tomatoes and cut the smaller ones in half, tossing them with a homemade vinaigrette (rice wine vinegar, lime juice, sriracha, peanut oil, soy sauce) and chopped fresh basil.  I let them hang out on the counter for an hour before serving so that the tomatoes could soak up the dressing.  Pro-tip: don’t ever put tomatoes in the fridge! The cool temps ruin their flavor.

multi-colored tomato salad with basil in a light blue bowl

Sometimes recipes from magazines can be a disappointing, but these were worth the extra effort.  The same article included recipes for four other topped hot dogs (1, 2, 3, 4).  I think we’ll be trying out the Cowboy soon; spicy mustard, barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon crumbles? Someone sure knows the way to my heart!

a hot dog on a toasted bun, with avocado, spicy sriracha mayo, grilled shrimp, and slivers of nori seaweed.

Happy Labor Day! Happy grilling!