Fingerless gloves

Knitting has gone by the wayside lately, but I got determined to finish these arm warmers/fingerless gloves/gauntlets or whatever you want to call them.

I first made this pattern (from Knitty) back in 2005, and I like it as much now as I did then. It’s super simple. You just make a 2 x 2 rib in the round, stick in a buttonhole for the thumb, and finish it up.

The tight stitches allow it to stay form fitting around the curve of your arm.

I think these might benefit from some embellishment, though. Any ideas?

Inside-out egg rolls

This recipe started out with Orangette’s cabbage with hot sauce recipe and evolved from there. I’d been thinking for a while that since I liked cabbage so much I should find a recipe that went beyond cole slaw so I could eat it more. And along came this super simple preparation that sounded salty and spicy and delish. So I made it last week, and though it was tasty, it seemed to be missing something. It reminded me of the inside of an egg roll, so I thought it might be good with some carrot strips and maybe some tofu and other veggies.

So I bought some more groceries and tried it again. I don’t have a wok, so I crammed it all into the biggest skillet I had, which still wasn’t really big enough. But I know myself well enough to realize that if I left half a head of cabbage in the fridge, I’d be tossing half a head of cabbage into the compost a week later.

All in all, I really like this recipe. It’s not quite filling enough to last you through the day when you have it for lunch, so I’d suggest eating it with a little brown rice, or as Mike suggested, maybe a few pieces of fried wonton.

Inside-out egg rolls

1 head cabbage, cut into fourths and sliced into strips
1 block firm tofu, cut into slices
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 onions, sliced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
A few tablespoons of vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
A few squirts of Sriracha hot sauce
Salt and pepper

Before you cook, press some of the water out of the tofu. Just put a towel over the slices and set something heavy on it for 10 or 15 minutes. I bought firm tofu, but apparently by firm they meant falls apart the instant you touch it. I’ll try a different brand next time.

Coat the bottom of your skillet or walk with vegetable oil and heat it to medium. Add the tofu slices and brown them on both sides. Set them aside to drain on paper towels.

Add a little more oil and toss in the onions and garlic to saute a few minutes. Mix in the carrots and give it a few more minutes. Now crank the heat just a little higher and start adding handfuls of cabbage. As it cooks down (sort of like spinach), you should be able to add more until it all fits in there.

When the cabbage turns translucent, season it with salt and pepper and add the broccoli. Put a lid on it to steam a little bit.

Add your soy sauce and as many squirts of hot sauce as you like.

This looks like a lot, but it was perfect for the amount of veggies. Slice the tofu into strips and mix it into the cabbage.

This makes a LOT, but after a few days in the fridge it tastes even better.

Loving: recipe hanger

I don’t remember where I saw this tip, but it is genius. When you have a loose recipe or a slim cookbook, clip it to a dress hanger and hang it from your cabinets. It puts it at eye level and keeps it from getting dirty.

Pound cake FAIL

I made this beautiful pound cake last weekend.

I had seen this recipe on Instructables and thought it sounded scrumptious. But I don’t like lemon flavor a ton, so I got a generic pound cake recipe from Paula Deen. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with her version of a dessert recipe. And a little Penzey’s real vanilla.

I even got to use my bundt pan for the first time. And this awesome addition to our Kitchen Aid stand mixer – it’s a silicone beater blade. It scrapes the sides of the bowl as it mixes. Nice!

So the cake came out beautifully.

I mixed up a little generic icing with powdered sugar, water and almond flavoring. It dripped down the sides just perfectly. But I have to tell you, this cake just wasn’t that good. Something about it tasted a little funky, and the icing was too thick and too almond-y.

So I took it to work and the newsroom devoured the whole thing.

We did get a little bonus cake when some batter spilled through the hole in the center of the pan and baked itself.

So, pound cake fail. But I will most definitely try again. Do tell if you have a better recipe.

Loving: Kuhn Rikon peeler

I have to love my little lime green peeler because I thought I had lost it for the better part of a year, and then I found it hiding in a drawer I never use. By that point, I had bought a lime green replacement peeler, but it just wasn’t quite the same. I like the way this one fits in the palm of my hand and has a big enough surface area to make good-sized peels. After dozens and dozens of scrapings and washings, it’s still incredibly sharp. And the best part? It cost less than $5.

Sweet potato and black bean burritos

This recipe has become a staple of our winter diet. The ingredients are easy to find, and when you use whole wheat tortillas it feels pretty healthy.

I really recommend using organic yams if you can find them at your grocery store. I can tell the difference right away, both in the purple skin and the bright orange color inside. I’m pretty sure it means you’re getting even more beta carotine.

Sweet potato black bean burritos
from Simply in Season, a cookbook you must have

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Taco sauce, if you like it

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions for a couple minutes, then add the sweet potatoes. Put a lid on your skillet and let the potatoes cook/steam for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. About halfway through, add a little water to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom.

Once the potatoes are soft, add your black beans and spices and mix well.

Spoon this mixture into tortillas, sprinkle on cheese and a bit of taco sauce and roll them up. If you like you can bake them in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes, but I usually skip that step.

Pants cake

My friend Dave reminded me the other day about this cake I made a few years ago for our office. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

We had a pretty laid-back staff, and I was writing a cooking column every week for college-age students. So I wasn’t exactly scouring Food and Wine for my recipes. Instead I found Claire Crespo’s Yummy Fun site, and her hilarious idea for a cake in the shape of pants. I can’t find it online anymore, but you don’t need a recipe. Just bake any cake in a 9X13 pan, remove it to cool, and cut out a triangle shape to separate the legs (this bit makes a good snack!)

Mix up a couple of colors of frosting and pipe on a belt shape to make it even more authentic.

Etsy seller tips

Many thanks to Etsy for including my blog post about tips for new Etsy sellers in their Etsy Success newsletter. I am linking to the original post here, in case anyone has trouble finding it. Thanks also to all of you who commented on the blog or started following me on Twitter – I LOVE you for that.

If you have little tidbits to share, please feel free to do so. I am still learning, and I plan to post a second round of advice here soon.

The Baby Boomers’ cookie

There has been quite a bit of mania lately over the Baby Boomers’ cookie. Background: When the Obama campaign office was here, it was located next to a little diner called Baby Boomers. They kept chocolate chunk cookies in a jar on the counter, free for anyone who wanted an extra snack.

The Obama family loved them so much, they ordered dozens and dozens to be sent back to them in Washington. When word of this caught on, everyone wanted those cookies. The restaurant had to buy time at a bakery to make enough for all the orders. They even started a Web site just for the cookies.

So of course I had to try them. The last time I was at the actual diner, they were out. But they sell them at my grocery store now.

They are really unlike any chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.

Certainly different from the New York Times cookie, and my favorite, the Nestle Tollhouse old-school recipe. They are only chewy, not crispy at all. They taste a lot like the cookie dough bites you get in ice creams.

I heard from one of the owners that the secret to the recipe is not about an ingredient but a lack of ingredient. If I had to guess, I would say it uses maybe shortening or oil instead of butter (or maybe just partially) to get that chewiness.

I, personally, like the chewy inside of a cookie. But some people won’t like these at all. And I do think I prefer the crispiness and slight saltiness of Nestle’s recipe. But at least I can say I tried the Obama cookie. I think his daughters are the real fans.

Stay tuned for some more recipe posts. I am making my first bundt cake (woo hoo!).

Curtains

I recently got to help design a living room for our local home and garden show. It was a blast and the room looked fabulous, thanks to the furnishings of a local modern furniture store. But afterwards I felt kind of sad that my own home doesn’t have as much decoration as I would like. As renters we don’t feel firmly planted in the house so we don’t invest as much time and money in it as we might otherwise. But this is where I wake up everyday, and I want to love it for as long as I’m there.

So, I think one of the best and easiest ways to perk up the house is to make some curtains. I have a couple patterns from a Readymade article, and basic sewing skills. Does anyone else have a reliable pattern or fabric suggestions? Post a link!