Rediscovering: soda crate

Looky what I found.

Back when I first moved to Des Moines (for the third time) in 2006 I asked my mom to find me a soda crate so I could make it into a little herb garden. I pulled out some of the slats and lined it with plastic, then filled it up with dirt. It was a total fail. Seedlings are hard enough to grow with their own little dishes with a grow light. This setup just wouldn’t work, and larger plants would need more depth for roots, I think. The plants died and I gave up.

But I found the crate in the garage today, and thought it was worth rescuing. I cleaned it out and tried to push the slats back in.

Me: What do you call that thing you use to pound in stakes?

Mike: A tenderizer?

Me: No, like garden stakes.

Mike: Oh, a mallet.

Me: Do we have a mallet?

Mike: Yeah. It’s in the garage.

Me, to myself: Of course we have a mallet. All guys have mallets. Duh.

So anyway, I pounded in the stubborn slats and got it looking back to normal. Only now i don’t know what to do with it. I already have a magazine rack, and I don’t really have knick knacks small enough to display in the holes. Also, now that I have pounded the heck out of those slats with a mallet, I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to get them back out, should I want larger openings.

For now, it’s just sitting in the entryway looking retro. I love it.

New items in my Etsy shop!

TGI-Furlough because I’ve actually had time to work on some more crafts this week. I wanted to do something spring-y, and because I was on a thumb tack roll, I thought I would make some more of those. I also made some in magnet version. A few of the sets use vintage fabric or vintage buttons.

But I am in love with the little orange polka dot ones. Can you tell?

I’ll have more of these for sale later this month at Craft Saturday. Hope you can come!

BBQ bean balls

This recipe is from some of our friends in the impromptu vegetarian group we formed here. There was already a group, but they seemed a bit … not like us? I don’t want to be a part of a vegetarian group that takes itself too seriously. I am doing this for my reasons, and I don’t really care why anyone else does it. It just helps to know cool people who also eat this way, in a town that reveres bacon above all else.

Anyway, I heard that this was adapted from Veganomican, a book that’s been on my want list for a long time. But I rarely use the cookbooks I do have, so I’m getting by without it. It kind of fills the need for a meatball like dish that you can put in a crock pot and take to a Superbowl party. Usually I just eat it for dinner with some starchy side.

BBQ Bean Balls

28 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 T. barbecue sauce, plus 1/3 c. for later
2 T. olive oil plus a little extra for baking
2 cloves garlic minced (I threw in a shallot this time and it was delish, too.)
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs
1/4 c. vital wheat gluten (you’ll find this in the baking section)
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of thyme
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes (how’s that for a measurement?)

I ALWAYS use KC Masterpiece barbecue sauce for this. I’m from Kansas – I pretty much have to. Actually, I just really like it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mash the beans in a mixing bowl until no whole beans are left. Add remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.

Roll mixture into walnut sized balls and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the balls.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove them from the oven and in a bowl, mix up 1/3 c. barbecue sauce and 1/3 c. water.

Move the balls into a baking dish, pour the barbecue sauce on top, and put them back in to bake for 5-10 minutes.

I’ll be honest — this is not the most attractive dish you’ll ever prepare. But I think you’d be surprised how tasty they are. And I imagine they have significantly less fat than the oily meatballs you usually find in a Crock Pot.

I always end up adding a little more barbecue sauce to my plate, just because they get dry really easily. Or maybe because I just love the sauce.