Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's Showtime!

I just learned I'll be participating in the United Church of Chapel Hill's annual Alternative Gift Market again this year. I did this show last year and had a wonderful time. The show is very short, just seven hours in a weekend, and a portion of the participants' income is collected for the church's designated charity for the year.

To prep for this year's event, I'm polishing up my displays and finishing up new work that's been in various stages of completion for a while. New this year are a variety of inexpensive necklaces - beaded charms strung on leather cords and priced at $32.50 and under.

Peyote stitched tube with beaded dangle $25.00

Peyote stitched panel with acrylic flower bead $27.50

Peyote stitched panels with crystal dangle $32.50

Peyote stitched tube with fringe $28.50

I'm hoping these new pieces will appeal to a wider audience. The only thing left for me to do with them is come up with an attractive way to package them. Oh, I do love a challenge!
Now to work on some bracelets

Tubular peyote stitched twisted bracelet $182.00

I've ordered a mess of supplies for some fun and fanciful earrings... pictures to come soon.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Bourbon Glazed Pork and Easy Corn Casserole

For this week's What's Cooking Sunday post, I've got a twofer. I realize that with my kitchen painting obsession, I've skimped a bit on the recipe listings and I want to make up for that now. Both recipes are easy, and the pork's savory flavor complements the slightly sweet aspect of the corn casserole. The corn casserole can be made a day ahead to make things even easier.

Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6

Preheat oven 425 degrees

1/4 cup Kentucky Bourbon (plus a little for the cook. ;) )
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
dash hot sauce
2 pork tenderloins, about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds

In blender or food processor, combine bourbon, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, mustard, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and oil. Pulse until smooth. Remove tenderloins from wrapper and tie together into a roast. Place tenderloin and marinade in a ziploc bag and refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Place tenderloin on a rack in baking pan and roast for 25-35 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

If you want to grill the meat: cook 4 inches from a hot charcoal fire for 15 to 25 minutes or until the pork has reached 165° internally and is no longer pink in the center. Baste occasionally while cooking.

Slice in 1/2-inch thick slices to serve.
Easy Corn Casserole
Serves 8
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/4 C egg substitute
1/4 C canola oil
1 small (8-3/4 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 small (8-3/4 oz) can creamed corn
1 8-1/2 oz package corn muffin mix
1 C plain non-fat yogurt

Combine all ingredients and stir well to combine. Pour into an 8" square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 45 minutes until set.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Long Time Coming

I've officially reached the halfway point in the kitchen repainting project. If I'd known what a huge job it was going to be, I might not have started in the first place. Now, the "work" half of the room is done and looking so fine! Talk about "sow's ear to silk purse"... some spackle, a LOT of sanding, and several coats of paint transformed our 45-year-old craptastic cabinets into something fresh and appealing. The final touch was to exchange the dated, cheap knobs for some sleek retro pulls.

I'm very happy with the way the color progression around the room worked out - subtle, yet exciting.

I still need to finish the "garage" half of the room. Dreaming of clean (and hidden!) storage systems....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Pear Cobbler

Now that our kitchen is nearly half painted, I've been able to breathe a little and get down to some cool-weather cooking. As a treat for us, I made an old favorite this week. The pears at the market were rock hard when I brought them home, but a day and a half in a bag with a banana did the trick!

Pear Cobbler
Serves 6
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

6 ripe pears: peeled, cored, and sliced
3 T brown sugar, packed
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/3 C flour
3 T chopped walnuts
1-1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 C milk
vegetable oil

Combine filling ingredients in a bowl, stirring to coat the pears with the seasonings. Transfer to a casserole dish.

In small bowl, combine the first 4 crust ingredients. Stir in milk and enough oil to moisten. Drop by teaspoonfuls on top of pears. Bake, uncovered, 25 minutes or until browned.

Each serving: 200 calories

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Vanilla Ricotta Creme

Since the kitchen is still in the "war zone" stage of painting, I haven't been doing much cooking this week: no room to spread out and whip up something exotic, and certainly no energy. Here's a nice easy dessert that I found through the South Beach Diet cookbook for Ricotta Creme dessert. I'll list the basic recipe, but you can add all sorts of flavorings to make it a special treat for any mood.

Vanilla Ricotta Creme Dessert
Serves 2

1 C part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 packages sugar substitute (I use splenda)

With a blender, whiz up the ingredients until the cheese is nice and smooth - I've found an immersion blender works great for this.

Pour mixture into individual serving cups and refrigerate until ready to eat.


Orange (pictured): add 1 T orange liqueur, or a bit of orange zest
Almond: add 1/2 tsp almond extract and reduce vanilla extract to 1/4 tsp. Top with toasted slivered almonds.
Mocha: add 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder. Just before serving, top with a dash of espresso powder and 1 tsp mini chocolate chips.
Lime Zest: add 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
Peanut Butter and Chocolate: add 2 T peanut butter and 1 tsp cocoa powder, then blend.
Pumpkin: Add 2 T canned pumpkin puree and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. Top with a tsp of whipped cream.
Experiment with flavors on your own, then let me know what you did so I can try them too!
The texture of this recipe is very loose. If you want it to be more like a pudding, mix in a beaten egg, spray an oven-safe dish and bake until a knife comes out clean. Equally as yummy!
As for the kitchen makeover, here's a little taste of progress made this week:

"Paint on, Sister, paint on..."

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Little "Lipstick" Improves My Mood...

This past week, I've been absent from Blogland as I've been absolutely bone-tired from prepping our kitchen for repainting. When we moved into this house 20 years ago, the kitchen was painted two shades of battleship gray - desperately in need of at least a "lipstick makeover" with paint and new door hardware.

As well, there were mauve-colored drapes at windows and doors. MAUVE - really?!?

We promised ourselves we'd paint the room after we moved in, but over the years, we grew accustomed to the ugliness and just didn't see it anymore. That is, until last week. On Monday, I walked into the kitchen, took a look around, and something inside me snapped. Everywhere I looked I saw ...blah.

Contributing to the general ugliness were a couple of those bookshelf metal rails mounted IN THE DOORWAY to the dining room - the kind you stick inexpensive metal brackets into. In this location, even the skinniest shelves stuck out into the door opening, guaranteeing that anyone walking through would clock themselves on the corners. Stupid. In my mind, those had to go ASAP. They'd been painted over by the previous owners, so taking the rails down was a challenge. I dug the paint out of the screw heads and got them out. But there was so much paint on them, I needed a claw hammer to pry the units off the wall. This of course damaged the wall, and now we definitely have to paint. "Yes!"

What followed was the stress of picking paint colors. Marble Man and I have very different visions for the kitchen, but I convinced him to go with bright color. Everywhere! We went back and forth, but I talked him into a warm yellow on the drywall, and cheerful color on the cabinets. He'd wanted white painted cabinets and colored doors, while I wanted a deep color on the cabinets and colored doors.

I did up a section of the room both ways and he decided he didn't want the white after all. (Thank you!) But he thought my color choices were too bold. He was afraid clowns would jump out at him when he opened the cabinets. Funny man!

This weekend, I went back to Lowe's and collected some pastel samples to try. What do you know - they've grown on me.

Now we have to actually knuckle down and do the work. And oh, my, there is a lot of work to be done. Over the weekend I scrubbed the walls and cabinets with Soft Scrub to degrease them. It took THREE passes (gross!) but now they are nice and clean.

The final plan is to do the warm yellow for the walls (the top right yellow sample in the above picture - not the lemon yellows under the cabinet). For the cabinet doors, we'll start on one side of the room with the light blue. As we go around the room, the doors will color shift from blue to seafoam green, and end up at the other end in apple green. The cabinets themselves will be periwinkle blue, almost lavender. Fun!

I'm guessing it's going to take at least a month to get all the painting done, but after living with the grayness for 20 years, we're obviously not in any hurry. (Any of you willing to wield a paintbrush will be treated to a free lunch.) :) It'll be like living in the movie "Pleasantville" - life will be sweeter and the food will taste better. Or maybe that's just the paint fumes?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

What's Cooking Sunday / Scones

When Marble Man and I visited England many years ago, we fell in love with teatime. No matter where we went, one of us asked, "Is it time for tea yet?". Mostly it was the scones that had us hooked. When you get a basket of those delectable pastries in Engand, they aren't shaped like a triangle like the way they are in this country, but small and round like our biscuits. And they are very moist and tender.

When I got back home, I set about finding a really good scone recipe. The one I found has a surprise ingredient (plain yogurt), which adds a little "tang" to the final result, as well as tremendous moisture and tenderness. Purists may say it's not a scone, but a flavorful "something else", but we love 'em anyway. Marble Man does a little happy dance when he smells a batch of these scones baking in the oven!

**Makes 8
Preheat oven to 275

3 C flour
3 T sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 C cold butter, cut up
1-1/2 C plain nonfat yogurt

Lightly butter a baking sheet. Mix flour, sugar, powder, soda, and salt in a bowl Add butter, cutting in with a pastry blender, until mixture looks like coarse meal. Add yogurt, stirring until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Gather into a ball.

Lightly flour board and knead dough just until smooth. Pat dough into an 8" circle. Cut into 8 wedges and place 2" apart on baking sheet.

Bake until lightly browned, 18-20 minutes.
** I've found that making 8 wedges means these scones are HUGE and equal about a day's worth of bread all at once. I roll the dough out to about 1" thick and use a biscuit cutter. That way I get 12 scones out of the recipe.