May 9th, 2013 8:31 pm
I have made this Winter Minestrone recipe twice now, and both times it has been spectacular. I think I particularly like that the soup has a lot of spinach in it. It’s like soup and salad in one bowl. I don’t have a lot of experience with butternut squash, but in this soup it isn’t a strong flavor, just a nice addition. I use regular bacon instead of pancetta.
Chopping the vegetables is the most time consuming part of this recipe. It cooks surprisingly fast with very little fuss. The only ingredient that gave me a little trouble was 2 cups of cooked pasta. We purchased “large rings”, and it turns out that 1 cup of dry is about 2 cups cooked. The first time I made this soup, I thought 2 cups of cooked pasta couldn’t possibly be enough, and I put in 2 cups dry (4 cups cooked). It was more like pasta with watery sauce, but it still tasted great.
March 30th, 2013 4:44 pm
I purchased some painted foam eggs (“carveable”) that are about 6 inches long and 4 inches in diameter. We discovered that it is VERY useful to slow down the motors for plotting on larger objects, or the pen will bounce all over the place. We also discovered that some of our pen arm components were loose. Brian swapped out the faulty piece that holds the servo motor for the replacement that he requested for free along with the wider pen arm and diamond engraving tip that we purchased. These eggs are unfortunately pretty wonky in shape, so I’m having some pen contact issues, but otherwise things seem to be going more smoothly now that I’ve slowed it waaaayyy down (50 steps/sec). I think it was originally on 300 steps/sec, which works ok for chicken eggs. We also adjusted the current to the stepper motors following the wiki, but I think we probably ended with it approximately where it started.
I have some two piece plastic eggs and some ceramic eggs that are closer to chicken size to try next.
January 29th, 2013 8:42 pm
This year we bought ourselves a Sodastream Dynamo Deluxe from Costco for Christmas. We had been eyeing them for a while, and while we didn’t get the black Friday low low price, we still thought we got a good deal. We didn’t read or fully understand the instructions, but after watching a video online, we figured out that the machine has to “fart” 3+ times before the water is carbonated enough. The first time we threaded a bottle on the machine it was too loose or cross threaded or something and we sprayed water all over the kitchen! The cat really doesn’t like the noises that the sodastream makes
While I’m pleased with the carbonation and the ability to make my own soda, I have been disappointed by a few details. We have not personally seen a replacement 130 carbonator locally. We might be able to order one, but the only local choice seems to be 60L, which costs almost as much as 130L. Also, the flavors have been pretty bad. We got sample flavor pack with our purchase. Of the 1 flavors, we have made 10, and I have personally tasted 8: regular orange, regular lemon lime, regular root beer, regular “Dr Pete”, diet root beer, diet cola, diet lemon lime, and diet “Dr Pete”. Almost all (all?) oftheir flavors contain sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), even the non-diet flavors! Sometimes I’m ok with this artificial sweetener taste, but sometimes I’m not. Regular orange, lemon lime, and Dr Pete were ok, but the others tasted pretty bad. I’m not a fan of Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi either. In addition to the sampler pack, we have also tried the natural root beer, natural ginger ale, and regular (unnatural) cherry cola. The natural flavors are made with sugar and whatever glucose syrup is. They come in bigger bottles, and each bottle only makes 6L compared to about 12L from the smaller (unnatural) flavors, they’re much more expensive (~3x), and there are fewer natural flavors. No doubt the reason the larger bottles make fewer liters of soda is because the artificial sweeteners are sweeter than sugar by volume. The cherry cola had an oddly bitter lettuce taste behind the sweetness, yuck.
So, I’m dissatisfied with the syrups. I’ll have to investigate making my own. Grenadine and Torani are other options, but not necessarily cheaper. I think making simple syrup and flavoring it with extracts, fruit concentrates, etc might be a better option.
October 8th, 2012 10:01 pm
I made these pumpkin cream cheese muffins yesterday. They are fabulous. I didn’t make the topping, because I didn’t feel it was needed. I don’t think they’re missing anything without it. Calling these muffins feels disingenuous, though. Let’s be honest, they’re cupcakes. They may have pumpkin in them, but that doesn’t make them particularly healthy.
The cream cheese filling is softer than the black bottom cupcakes I have made before that have egg in the cream cheese mixture. I rolled the cream cheese and sugar filling into a tube in saran wrap and popped it in the freezer while I made guacamole and mixed up the pumpkin muffin base. Still, the filling wasn’t frozen when I went back to it after an hour in the freezer. I decided to use it anyway, and ended up scraping cream cheese off the saran wrap. Next time, I’d skip that whole deal…. why not just scoop it into the muffin batter from the bowl and skip the whole frozen log part?
Also, I have no idea what “pumpkin pie spice” amounts to, but I substituted 1/2 tsp of extra cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp allspice. My nutmeg grater doesn’t always give the finest shavings, but I sifted the dry stuff and most of the bigger shavings didn’t make it through. The overall flavor is very much like pumpkin pie (I think it’s mostly the cinnamon and cloves), but still pretty mild. With the cheese filling, it’s kind of like pumpkin cheesecake.
September 16th, 2012 8:10 pm
I’ve always admired the plants with multicolored mini peppers that I see at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, so this year I bought one. The vendor had two kinds: sweet and hot. I purchased sweet, but I wasn’t convinced that the peppers would be completely mild. I thought they would be LESS spicy than the “hot” kind. I got the courage to try eating one recently, and I found it completely mild – no heat whatsoever – like a mini bell pepper. I suppose I could cook with these little sweet peppers, but I bought the plant mainly to look interesting. Because it seems completely devoid of capsaicin, I think it is a Medusa Pepper.
It looks a lot like this (photo source here)
The nights are getting cooler here, and I plan to bring the plant inside soon. I’m not sure if this pepper is pet-safe. Most pepper plants are NOT considered safe around cats and dogs (or children), but I think capsaicin is the main concern, and this plant seems to have none. Some internet search results suggest it is child-safe, but I will still keep it out of reach of my cat.
January 5th, 2012 11:21 pm
My creativity has been really on and off these last few months. I have managed to accomplish a few things, though:
I’ve been working on these for a few years – it seems unlikely that I will finish three sets of 12 like I originally planned (oh, ambition!), but I’m still plugging away on set #1. Next up: Four Calling Birds.
Finishing these slippers was a 2012 resolution (yes, I make it easy on myself). I had done 1.5 before running out of yarn. They’re really easy, but running out of yarn sort of stalled me for a few months. Silly, I know.
The Cathedral Window pillow cover was done by machine piecing the background and sewing all of the windows together with loose flaps dangling before inserting the colored “panes” and hand turning the windows. The second shot shows my sloppy attempt at an invisible zipper using a regular zipper foot – oh well. I still love it.
The fabrics on the front are mostly Michelle Hill’s Adelaide Collection and Jason Yenter’s Camelot Collection along with a few bits and pieces of random stuff. I really loved both fabric collections and bought a fat quarter bundle of both, then realized that quite a few of the fabrics would go together well enough for this project and that the colors would look pretty good with my IKEA embroidered pillows. I still have a lot of fabric left, of course, since the windows only used a tiny bit of each fabric. the border was nearly an entire fat quarter, and I was so glad I had enough to do it. The back fabric is from an IKEA ironing board cover that I bought without considering my ironing board’s dimensions. My ironing board is significantly longer, but I liked the print well enough to use it for a pillow back. Overall, I’m pleased. The cathedral windows were a lot of work, but I did them during the summer when we went to a lot of outdoor concerts where I could sit and work on putting the colored bits in the windows and hand sewing the window frames without distraction.
I want to work on some tile quilt blocks for pillow covers with the remaining fabric.
August 11th, 2011 10:07 pm
I bought a very pretty clasp at the bead shown in town this spring, and I’ve been puzzling over what to do with it. I did a Google image search for bracelets with three strand clasps and somehow stumbled on chain maille. I decided to try Japanese 12 in 2 chain maille for this bracelet, and I like the way it turned out:
I found the bracelet surprisingly hard to photograph – or maybe I’m just tired. I think it looks better in person. There are amazing free resources for doing maille online, and I was able to get away with some craft store “bright silver” rings. If I decide to do anything more complicated, I will have to order some rings in appropriate sizes. This isn’t too bad, but it’s maybe a little loose. I did 12 in 1 (one layer of big rings) first, and 12 in 2 definitely gave it more structure. I don’t recommend going through and adding another layer of big rings afterward like I did. It definitely would be easier to start out doing 12 in 2.
It’s definitely not perfect, but I still like it, and I think I have the patience to do more maille in the future if inspiration strikes.
August 1st, 2011 8:14 pm
I can’t believe it’s August already.
July 24th, 2011 8:57 pm
So, I saw this tutorial on making magnetic googly eyes the other day, and I knew I had to do it. I have always thought about putting googly eyes on random household objects. There’s something about them that just makes me laugh, so why not. I purchased a variety bag of “wiggly eyes” for 99c and a roll of adhesive magnetic paper (that was the expensive part). The magnetic paper is fairly thin, like a promotional magnet, and that might be an issue. The magnetic force doesn’t seem very strong. I didn’t have any trouble sticking it to the eyes, though. The adhesive is nice and strong, and eliminates the need for any glue. I’m not too concerned with making perfect circles of magnet, so I’ve just been cutting them out with scissors.
So far our fridge, dishwasher, and magnetic whiteboard have eyes. I’m considering carrying a bunch of these around with me to stealth-decorate random metal surfaces at friends’ houses. Even better, I can use the magnetic paper for other magnets, like photos under glass marbles.