Another Recipe Roundup

There has been a flurry of cooking activity around here, but since baby Iris insists upon keeping us on our toes, there never seems to be time for picture-taking.  It would be cruel for me not to share the following goodies with you though:

  • The best salad I’ve made in a long time: spinach with dates, pita, and sumac, from Jerusalem.  Since I find spinach a pain to buy and wash, I usually just use a crunchy lettuce for weekday meals.  The true brilliance is the pita bread and almonds toasted in butter and olive oil, with a dusting of sour sumac and spicy red pepper flakes.  I’m pretty sure you could put the pita/almond croutons on anything and it would be amazing!  As proof of my love for this recipe, we recently bought an entire package of pita bread to put in the freezer expressly for making this salad (a frozen pita can be nicely warmed up under the broiler and then torn into pieces and toasted as described in the recipe).  This one is at the top of the list for a reason, people!
  • OK, it’s possible that I’m slightly obsessed with Jerusalem, because the second thing on this list of loves is their recipe for mejadra.  I found the serious eats post helpful, because oh man does the onion frying take forever!  And don’t do what I did and fry the onions the day before, stick them in the fridge, and then have them turn out all limpy and sad at the time of serving.  You see, the fried onions were absolutely delicious when freshly fried (in fact, a good number of them mysteriously disappeared in the kitchen before the frying was complete…).  This is comfort food at its best!
  • More dumplings!  And I used 1/3 whole wheat flour in the wrappers this time (yes, it was out of necessity; funny how keeping white flour in the house is nearly impossible when someone bakes two loaves of bread a week).  I made a stuffing of 1 lb. ground beef, 1 egg, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, chives, and salt (roughly trying to follow this recipe, but without most of the ingredients on hand).  They. Were. Amazing.  I even watched a number of youtube videos on how to fold the dumplings in different ways.  It may have gotten a little out of hand.  Usually we eat all the dumplings more quickly than is probably healthy, but this time I tried freezing them (raw) on a cookie sheet and enjoyed dumplings for lunch twice before Peter caught on and insisted we eat the rest of them for dinner so he would get to finally try them.
  • My mom made us lemon-ginger scones while she was visiting Peter and I baby Iris.  I always forget how much I love fresh scones and will now spend a couple days trying to forget again.
  • Peter’s mom and brother went to Europe, and all we got was a bag of Kamut!  Just kidding, they brought us back some other things too (like a packet of petersilie, errmm, that’s parsley in German).  The Kamut has been fun though!  We made a salad with carrots and avocado based on this recipe, mostly motivated by the fact that it involved chipotle.  Next time I will roast the carrots as suggested, and perhaps add more veggies.
  • This one is more of a first attempt: Ghirardelli brownies!  I found a recipe that seems to suggest that I could make them at home, without a boxed brownie mix.  As many of you might intuit, this made me crazy excited.  Until I realized that the one thing that makes this recipe different from my tried-and-true beau-catcher brownies is a specialty ingredient that I’d never even heard of before: ground chocolate.  But it’s not like it’s actually grated chocolate, because I think it includes some cocoa powder too.  My first attempt involved adding two ounces of melted Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate to the recipe and cutting down on the sugar only slightly.  The brownies were amazing, but they didn’t have the simultaneous fluffy and totally gooey thing going on that I was hoping for.  Maybe I should give up and just buy boxed brownie mix…
  • Finally, speaking of sweets, we have two more bottles of cherry wine left, and the first one is being made into cherry wine chocolate cakes (this time using coconut oil – an extra tablespoon, an extra tidbit of wine to make up for not including the jam, vanilla beans instead of powder, and baked for 30 minutes at 300 degrees F).  While I usually don’t share my healthy sweet baked goods with friends (not when the alternative is to have Jen make a chocolate and peanut butter dessert orgasm, David make homemade ice cream, or Rachel make any number of amazing non-chocolate desserts), this one is actually pretty good.  I know, a glowing recommendation.  I’ve made it a bunch of times (we did have a lot of bottles of sour cherry wine to use up!), and if nothing else, I don’t feel bad eating it for breakfast.

In other news, after literally months of neglect on my part, I’ve started planting things in the garden again.  Peter, the good sport that he is, continued to water everything even when I was too pregnant to feel like gardening and then recuperating from the big event.  Thankfully, almost everything survived, including rhubarb, strawberries, bush beans, numerous greens (I think Peter may have tried to neglect these on purpose, not that he would admit it), garlic, and two potato plants.  I’ve almost finished planting the whole rest of the garden already!  Mostly because I tell myself I need to get outside and get exercise, which results in marathon gardening sessions often ending in my receiving a phone call from Peter that Iris is awake and HAS TO HAVE FOOD NOW!  Oh babies, they’re so much fun 🙂

The Maxi Moneta

top

Yet another version of the Moneta Dress by Colette Patterns.  This one inspired by the fact that it does sometimes get rather chilly here in the winter time (or just whenever the sun decides it’s had enough of us).  I tried two new things with this dress: lining the bodice and extending the skirt to make a maxi dress that would keep my legs warm on my walk into work.  Useful lessons learned include actually lining the bodice with the same color fabric as used on the outside (I’m forever tucking the lining fabric in so it doesn’t show) and the fact that after lots of stretching during the cutting and sewing process, it’s best to wash your dress before finishing the bottom hem (the length of the dress decreased by at least an inch after I washed it, which, in this case, was a good thing).  This is by far my favorite version of the Moneta dress, with the bodice lining making the top incredibly comfortable and the large skirt acting like a tent that I can curl up inside.

full dress

 

Useful Things

oven mitt

Despite relative radio silence, we have been busy making things, some of them more useful than others.

1)  One of my goals for this year has been to sew oven mitts to replace the foam-shedding ones we’ve literally worn to pieces.  Peter makes a lot of bread that requires handling some 450+ degree enameled cast iron on a bi-weekly basis, and, like any sane person, he likes to wear protection.  Unfortunately, my oven mitt prototype, while very comfy for a small-handed individual, is like a straight-jacket for Peter.  The overall design seems sound though, with extra reinforcement for the areas that I’ve noticed get the most wear in our commercial oven mitts (like the sneaky area between the hand and thumb that has led to both Peter and I accidentally burning ourselves while wearing what we thought were trustworthy oven mitts).  The outside is denim from an old pair of Peter’s jeans and the inside is many layers of cotton knit from one of Peter’s old t-shirts.  The entire oven mitt was stitched by hand, mostly because I didn’t want to subject my sewing machine to sewing so many layers of fabric together.  Now if only I can motivate myself to do it all again in a larger size, twice!

the back

2)  After making a hand bag inspired by the Colette Cooper pattern, I’ve been hankering to make a larger version that could actually be used to carry more than my laptop (amazingly enough, my first Cooper-inspired hand bag does indeed just fit my lap top; I clearly should have done some measurements first!).  This new bag is grey corduroy on the outside and an awesome child astronaut cotton print on the inside.  I tried to make the pockets deeper this time so that they would actually hold things, but otherwise just followed the instructions for squaring the bottom of the bag as shown on the Cooper Sewalong.  It’s intended purpose is for carrying around small articles of clothing and other odds and ends related to the third item on this list…

bag

bag inside

bag lining

3)  Which brings me to a project that has taken a full nine months to complete:

wide-eyed