Christmas Eve

December 24, 2011

In my family tradition, and Kasy’s, Christmas Eve is where it’s at. This is the real Christmas – lots of food, hanging out, talking, watching movies, opening presents, and laughing.

So, Happy Christmas (eve)!

yep. and they are delicious.

I made a batch of these delicious cookies that were going around my flickr-friends and twitter-friends and have plans to bake some more later today, after my Christmas present to myself (2 hrs at the tattoo shop getting more color in some tattoos in progress). They are easy as can be, all from ingredients I had in the kitchen, and taste like a dream.

Hope you are having a peaceful and cozy day with those you love.

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Holiday preparations

December 13, 2011

The cold has finally arrived in Philadelphia! It’s been a really mild late autumn, but now it feels like December. For this cold weather fan, this is greatly welcome. 

 

I’m still so behind in photos to Flickr and posts here, but after the busy work months of October and November the holiday preparations immediately began. I also like the brief internet hiatus I was on, so I’m easing my way back in.

For the time being, Kasy and I are preparing the house for a lazy, food filled, warm and cozy holiday. Presents are being wrapped. Some knits that I worked on during shifts at Rosie’s Yarn Cellar this summer were slated as gifts and are being soaked and blocked. Food has been purchased and wool blankets are snuggled under at night.

 

holiday preparations

holiday preparations

holiday preparations

I still have the annual tree to make and some baking to get done. Not to mention, a few gifts that require some time in front of my sewing machine. All in all, this winter is going to be excellent.

Apple picking by bicycle

September 25, 2011

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my crocheted blanket! I tried responding but kept having issues where my reply would reply on my blog and not to your emails. Oy, sometimes technology fails me. So, if you didn’t get an email reply I apologize!

I’m running around this morning, gathering up odds and ends to visit my parents for a couple of days in NY. Here are some lovely photos from a recent trip I took with a friend to go apple picking. We took the train, with our bikes, and rode from the station to the farm. Sadly, it seemed as though the rest of the city had picked the apples before us, but we made the best of it. Next picking trip, we’re going to grab a couple more of our friends and ride out to a different farm. Until then, these apples will have to do…

Apple picking on a Wednesday

Apple picking on a Wednesday

Apple picking on a Wednesday

Apple picking on a Wednesday

44/365

Are you doing any picking this fall?

Looking up on a Friday

September 9, 2011

30/365

Thought it was time for another Looking Up post.

Things that make me happy right now:

  • Cooler morning air. Cooler evening air. The signal of the change in season.
  • Making headway on the new backporch (details soon!) being built by us in the space that used to house our old kitchen.
  • A return to hot coffee from a few months of iced coffee (see first bullet).
  • Making good, healthy, wholesome food from scratch every night for dinner, and always having leftovers the next day.
  • Feeling grateful that the old bones in this old rowhome have withstood the intense amount of (more) rain we got this week. So far so good on the no rain *inside* the house. Our basement is dry and our roof is sturdy. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones, lost their home, and have to deal with more flooding damage in Pennsylvania due to the overflow of the Schuylkill, Delaware, and Susquehanna.
  • A great guy who works on beautifying my bicycles for me. My Surly Steamroller fixed gear has been lovingly retrofitted, switched over to freewheel, and we swapped out the bullhorn bars for uprights. It’s a lovely lovely smooth ride and I am so happy that I have good, strong bicycles.
  • Hope you are looking to the positives, on this Friday.

    (And on a sad note. The hurricane kitty has passed away in the loving hands of his foster. He was doing well for the first few days and then took a nosedive. I’m thankful for the amazing help my friends provided as I was trying to save him from a life on the streets of South Philly and am sad that he was unable to make it to a long cat life. So it is, sadly, the circle of life.)

    Well, first things first. We have a winner of the 3 skeins of Koigu. Debbie was the lucky number picked from the random number generator this morning! Check your email, Debbie!

    We’ve been hit with a somewhat brutal heat wave, here in Southeastern PA, and it’s taken away all my interest and energy in doing things on my to-do list. I meant to blog about 2 Project Spectrum RED items before the end of May, but since today is June 1st you can see that goal was missed. I’ll share one with you today, since the second is the red knee socks for Kasy and I don’t have the heart to ask him to model a pair of sport-weight wool knee socks when the temperatures are up to 91F during the day and get down to the mid-high 70s at night. Perhaps when the heat breaks later this week he’ll be willing to pop them on for a few photos.

    Lolly posted a few red meals on her blog that fell in line with the celebration of red. I loved that idea and without even realizing, prepared a meal of red shortly after, myself. Like Lolly mentioned in her 3rd meal of the series, Kasy and I are also huge fans of Indian Food. We like spice. We like savory. Sadly, the Indian food takeout choices are pretty dismal in Philly. There are a couple of expensive restaurants (which we wouldn’t go to since they are very much out of our price range) or cheap buffet style. We’ve had some success at the buffet style places, but they are located in West Philly and we like to cook and recreate our favorite dishes from the stocks in our pantry, when possible. If I could master just one international cuisine Indian cuisine would be my first choice. Lucky for me, my friend Bridget lent me a cookbook that she and her husband use a lot – 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. We already shop at the local Indian grocer for rice, dried beans, and spices, but now we are working on honing our craft of curry cooking.

    Seitan Meatballs in a Spicy Malabari Curry

    I’d say for a first attempt at curry, this hit the nail on the head of AMAZING.

    Adapted from the recipe in the cookbook for Lamb Meatballs in a Spicy Malabari Curry, I present to you

    Seitan Meatballs in a Spicy Malabari Curry
    Meatballs
    -Prepare Seitan meatballs following this tutorial as a guide, not preparing the marinara sauce. Slightly undercook the meatballs, and set aside.

    Curry
    2 tsp ground coriander
    1 tsp ground cumin
    3 tbsp vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp mustard seeds
    4 shallots, minced
    5 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 tbsp fresh ginger
    1/2 tsp cayenne
    1 small can of tomato puree
    14 oz of coconut milk (I didn’t have coconut milk, so I measured out 14 oz of warm water and added dried coconut flakes until the water was the level of coconut flavor that I like – not too mild but not too strong – and mixed it together and let sit for 20min. Worked fine.)
    1 1/2 tsp salt

    Heat oil in a large skillet, over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add mustard seeds. Cover the pan with a lid or spatter screen (I used a cookie sheet). When the seeds stop popping, add shallots, garlic, and ginger and stir continuous;y over medium heat, until shallots and garlic brown lightly. Add coriander, cumin, cayenne, and tomato paste. Simmer for 5 minutes.

    Add coconut milk and salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer and gently slip in the meatballs. Simmer for about 10 minutes, to ensure the meatballs are soaking up all the great flavors of the curry. Serve hot.

    Serves 4-6

    …….

    The original recipe, in addition to having directions on preparing the lamb meatballs, also calls for coriander seeds and cumin seeds which you roast and then grind. In our spice cabinet, we have the ground versions of these spices and found that those work just fine. The original recipe also calls for sprinkling cilantro on top before serving but since Kasy isn’t a fan of cilantro (I am), I didn’t add that either. We ate this over leftover rice and lentils from the previous night’s dinner. IT.WAS.AMAZING. and so utterly easy. We had everything the recipe calls for in our kitchen, except for the shallots. Don’t you love when a meal comes together like that?

    Let me know if you try this curry recipe, with meat or with seitan. I’d love to hear about your results. Now if only the heat wave would pass, and I could get back to making more curries over a hot stove…

    We recently purchased a 50lb bag of Vital Wheat Gluten flour for seitan making. A decision to no longer keep tofu in the house has spawned us making more seitan as an addition to our meals. Kasy is a meat/dairy eater and I eat meat occasionally (only liking red meat, when I do opt to eat meat) but prefer to continue eating mostly vegan. We don’t buy meat (expensive!) and our dairy food purchases are low as well (also expensive!). Lucky for us, I like to cook and have a history of vegetarianism and veganism and can cook vegan easily and enjoyably. I love to experiment with vegan cooking! Our output of packaging from food products is very low as well, but there are still places that we can improve and not buying tofu regularly is part of that mission. Those plastic containers really stack up. We were getting our vital wheat gluten from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, but decided to bite the bullet and get our own bulk bag of it (we also buy dried beans, rice, and lentils in bulk).

    In a mission to find some new recipes for seitan and other meaty substitutes using vital wheat gluten, I came across this excellent little youtube video for “Seitan Cheat Balls.” It’s delicious and has a great consistency, as meatballs or even hamburger patties.

    Seitan "meatballs"

    I followed the recipe, for the most part, adjusting the spices to match what we have in the kitchen (garlic powder, black pepper, kosher salt). I’m growing some basil in our backyard, so hopefully I can add some of that deliciousness to the mix soon.

    Pasta with seitan meatballs and mushrooms

    One of the first nights I made this for dinner, it was to go with simple pasta with tomato sauce, with mushrooms from Lancaster Farm Fresh. We also get our nutritional yeast from Lancaster Farm Fresh. If you’re local, or in their catchment area of deliveries, we highly suggest using them to support Lancaster farmers and get amazing products! If you’re looking to ease your way off of meat dishes, or want a new way to make a seitan product, I highly suggest this little tutorial. I’ve been making double batches of the recipe and baking patties to keep in the fridge for Kasy to make quick lunches in the morning, with great success. If we had a bbq grill, I’d be grilling them up as well this summer.