Thursday, December 11, 2014

two little beardy men

Remember those little doll skins I found?  I ended up using them to teach a few of my daughter's friends how to make dolls. They each got a doll skin of their own to start with. They had fun putting hair and clothes on them but when it came time to put on the faces all the girls froze up. They said they didn't want faces after all. 

I know exactly how they feel. I actually made these two little chaps quite a while ago. I was very excited to try out facial hair. But when it was time to paint their faces on I too froze. The face can really make or break a doll. It either makes it come alive or kills it. 

I finally just did it, I cleared an afternoon and made a date with Mr. Tumnus and Mr. Gnome. The Gnome came to me pretty quickly, but I had trouble with Tumnus. In fact I disliked what I had done so much I painted over the whole thing with skin color and started over. I am very happy with both of them now. When my daughters scream and beg me not to sell dolls I know that I got it right. They squeaked for these two little chaps so I think that they are all right. They are currently in my etsy shop if you would like to see more of them.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dipping Salads

What makes fast food so easy to eat? It's available when you feel hungry. I often put together a "dipping salad" for those times when you might reach for a bag of chips or cookies. First off, I try not to buy chips and cookies often. I mostly do when I am having guests. For everyday I go with raw fruit and veg with a tasty dip. It's crunchy, it's colorful (big plus for me!), sweet  and salty. 

Dipping salads are so hands-on they sometimes do end up being played with. Sword fights with celery, making faces or other designs with the veg, and if you are small enough you can even wear it!

Yesterday we had this beautiful hot pink veggie. Do you know what it is?

Radish! Aren't these pretty? They are very sweet too. I have been eating these with slices of tart green apples, layering them together to make little sandwiches. I have mentioned this before, if you wash all your vegetables at one time to have them ready it will be much easier to eat them quickly. Remember, what makes it "fast" is that it is available immediately. With a bit of preparation you can have quick healthy snacks always at hand.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I am thankful to God every single day. For his blessings, his presence, his communion with me. I can't express my thankfulness enough for miracles and for supernatural healings he has allowed me. He has proven his love for me in countless ways, how can I say "Thanks"? 

My daughter raced outside this morning because it was snowing. This photo captures her unbridled joy. She raised her face and hands to the falling snow.  I don't have the words to say how thankful I am. But this image says it.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with joy and wonder. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

I made Paneer

I posted a video by Michael Pollan on FB this week about home cooking. I quoted him, "you can eat whatever you want as long as you cook it yourself". I was struck by his concept that if you cook at home you are less likely to eat fries everyday. With today's corporately cooked foods you can visit a drive thru and easily eat fries everyday. He goes deeper into the horrors of the industrial, pesticide potatoes that are used for those fries.

It got me thinking about this "eat anything you want" idea. I make donuts maybe 4-5 times a year. Same thing with cinnamon buns. My chocolate babka, once (for Easter). I love all these foods, they are amazingly tasty. They are even more special because they are connected to holidays or snowed in days with my family. These indulgences take time to make so they won't be made every day or even every week. Since I eat only my own versions of these things it keeps me from eating too much of them. 

People want their food quick. Fast foods are there for them and they are usually these carby, sugary fat foods. You want a quick sweet when you are out running errands? Carry bananas with you.  I take my chai or a pumpkin smoothy when running errands, I am never tempted to stop for a fast overpriced, overly sweetened beverage. Home cooking takes forethought and planning. It's not only cheaper and healthier, but it's tastier because you use quality ingredients and you tailor it to your liking.

The day after my FB post and comments on the subject of homemade food I found myself in front of the frozen food at my local healthy grocery store. I saw a pre-made frozen Indian paneer dish and I wanted it. Right away my own words came back to haunt me...."make it yourself". Practice what you preach, right? Paneer was a always mystery to me, exotic and delicious. I purposed to give it a shot.

I went home and found a recipe, it seemed too easy. Just three ingredients. I enlisted my youngest to help and we went at it. First I heated a 1/2 gallon of whole milk just until it started to boil. Then we streamed in 1/4 cup of water mixed with 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice. The curds immediately started to form, we stirred and then took it off the stove to let it sit for five minutes. We then poured it through a sieve (lined with a kitchen towel) over a large pyrex measuring cup.

All the whey that was collected. 

I wrapped it tightly in the towel, rinsed it under cold water and then put in back in the sieve to drain with a weight on top. I did this in the morning, by the time I was ready to cook dinner it was dry. I cut it into cubes and sauteed them in a mix of oil and butter. Once browned I removed from the pan while I made a sauce of jar tomatoes, ginger, garlic, lots of Indian spices and peas. It was better that the frozen counterpart and there was much more of it for the money. I ate 1/2 of it straight from the saute pan wrapped in hot sourdough naan. It was a perfect combination because at the same the cheese was drying out all day the nann dough was fermenting. The finished product is pretty fancy, but honestly the prep was not too time intensive. This was actually made on our busiest day out this week. I hope you will watch Michael Pollan's extremely informative video and even more I hope you will take the challenge to to make something that you usually buy in it's factory cooked form. Let me know how it goes.

The only other cheese I have ever attempted was goat yogurt cheese, which was even simpler that this paneer, check it out here: Hanging the Cheese

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Green Morning

You have to use your veggies while they are ripe and fresh. Herbs and avocados are especially prone to deteriorating. It's miserable to let that window of opportunity slip by and have to dispose of good food. This morning my cilantro, basil, kale and avocados where ready to go. The rest of my week will be busy. I figured I might as well go ahead and make them into things that will keep that I can use later on. 

I made some kale chips, guacamole, pesto and a cilantro lime salad dressing. It made a big mess, but it was one big mess to clean and I was done. Instead of many small messes over a couple of days. 

We had the kale chips for breakfast as soon as they were done. The girls had theirs with sourdough rolls and fried garlic. I had them with a mushroom omelette and continued munching on them throughout the day.

For lunch I had the cilantro dressing on salad and some of the guacamole on a raw seed cracker. There is plenty leftover for whatever meals or snacks come next. The point here is to make a few things all at once. Since you're making a mess you might as well go for it and then you can reap the rewards for days to come.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween and black donuts

I have always liked all things spooky. Bats, spiderwebs, Frankenstein and green glow in the dark aliens. But each year I see more and more gore and horror popping up in our local Halloween events. I won't participate in this kind of entertainment. I won't shop in a store that has severed limbs and decapitated heads hanging around as part of their decor. I'm all for make believe and fantasy. But murder is real, and should not be part of any celebration. 

That's why I love my daughter's Dark Elf. It's a good example of how you can have fun, be creepy and still bring beauty and light to the world. People always respond in a positive way to her costumes. It makes them happy, they can't help smiling. They ask to take pictures with her and give her lots of encouragement.

Now on to other dark things. My 11 yo said she wanted to eat black food. I was making donuts, I said if you can come up with a way to make black naturally we'll do it. She immediately said "We can use activated charcoal." She was right! It worked. I mixed some into the donut glaze and it turned extremely black. So now we have a tasty donut that can absorb any toxins from your digestive system!

She was very pleased with her black donuts and now wants a black pumpkin pie. I'll let you know how that turns out.

p.s. Creepy clothes pins painted by this happy girl.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sleepy Hollow Acorns

Looking for a little treat without calories or sugar? Try my little acorn cushions. I just finished a batch and FINALLY added a new item to my Etsy Shop. These spookies were actually gathered from the grave site of writer Washington Irving in Sleepy Hollow NY. 

This huge ancient oak towers over the other trees at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and just happens to be in the private family plot of Washington Irving. It showers the ground with these little shaggy capped acorns. 

Irving's grave is the one decorated with flags and pumpkins. Quite humble, not what one would expect from the writer of such stories as The Headless Horseman and Rip Van Winkle.

 I gathered my acorns on an overcast, drizzly October day. Noisy ravens perched on the tops of gravestones. It could not have been a more perfect day for my spooky task.

I was determined to stay until my basket was full even though it started raining. I did fill that basket and I ended up with a stow away.

My Spooky Acorns would make a nice addition to your Autumn nature display or could even be a stocking stuffer for those people on your Christmas list who enjoy the eerie all year round.