One To Try: Whole Wheat Muffins

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Here's a recipe I'd like to try: Mark Bittman's Whole Wheat Muffins. My mom made them when the recipe first ran in the Minimalist column in February and said that it was a good one. Bittman says the secret to a good whole wheat muffin is to use whole wheat cake flour, rather than all-purpose. I'm thinking I will try a pumpkin-carrot combo for fall.

I'm also dying to see Mark Bittman's new cookbook The Food Matters Cookbook. Anyone seen it or bought it yet?

PS - Sorry I've been lacking in posts lately -- work has been busy and I spent a lovely four days out in CA with my parents last weekend.

Vampire Party for All You

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure to work with All You magazine for the first time. I contributed some of the crafts for a vampire-themed party in their October issue. I am particularly proud of my bat invitations which had movable wings (above), but overall, I am super-thrilled with how this story turned out! Here are all of the crafts I contributed.

A "bat-mobile" made from a spray-painted embroidery hoops, ribbon, thread and black, paper bats.

Black paper treat bags cut down to look like tombstones and "engraved" with a white paint pen.

Family photos are doctored for the party with white paper fangs.

A spooky centerpiece of black flowers and spray-painted fake fruit.

Portobellos with Spinach, Leeks and Goat Cheese

Thursday, September 09, 2010

After reading the user comments on the website for Everyday Food, I decided not to follow the recipe for Portobellos with Leeks and Spinach to the letter, but rather to use it as an inspiration for my own mushroom entree. The resulting vegetarian dish was yummy and satisfying.

Here's what I did:

Portobellos with Leeks and Spinach
Inspired by Everyday Food

2 leeks
2 portobello mushroom caps
2-ish tablespoon olive oil
1-ish tablespoon red wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach (about 2 ounces)
1/4 cup crumbled soft goat cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Slice white and light green parts of leeks into half moons and wash in a salad spinner in cold water until all dirt is removed, then spin dry. Wash and dry baby spinach.
  3. Heat enough olive oil to coat a saute pan over medium heat, when hot add leeks to pan. Cook for three minutes or so until leeks soften. Toss in spinach and stir until wilted.
  4. Place portobellos on a rimmed baking sheet gill sides up; drizzle each with just a bit of oil and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes.
  5. Top the mushrooms with the cooked -leek-spinach mixture, then sprinkle goat cheese crumbles over top. Season with salt and better. Bake for an additional 10 minutes.
I also tossed a half a pint of cherry tomatoes and a few whole garlic cloves with some olive oil and coarse salt and threw them onto the baking sheet when I placed the mushrooms back in the over in Step 5 for a super-simple side dish -- who doesn't love an oven-roasted garlic clove?

Homemade Iced Tea

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Bottled iced tea has to be one of the most wasteful and overpriced beverages, especially when you can make a pitcher yourself for just a few cents. All summer I've been brewing myself pitchers of custom tinctures, and one favorite combo has been two Tazo Ginger-Green tea bags paired with two mint tea bags.

From the age of 14 until almost 21, I held jobs at a number of different coffee shops. In fact, I still get recognized on the street at the "Grey Dog Girl" despite the fact that I haven't worked there since 2001. One thing I learned during my barista years is that a cup of hot tea chilled will become cloudy. To prevent the cloudiness, you can brew a small concentrated quantity of hot tea (as you can see me doing above) and then dilute it with cold water for a clearer cup of iced tea.

Craft Idea: Leather Bracelet

Monday, September 06, 2010

As soon as I saw this simple bracelet from Land's End's Canvas line, I thought, "I could make that!" It would be a simple DIY project, but you'd have to find a nice toggle bead to make it work.


Sunday, September 05, 2010

Continuing the nautical bathroom theme, I am just tickled by design of the Bathboat by Wieke Somers. It is unclear if this tub ever made it into wide production, but it is part of the collection of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen Rotterdam.

Three Vegetarian Recipes

Thursday, September 02, 2010

This is more of a bookmark for my own memory than a proper post. In my constant quest for tasty, vegetarian dinners, I have bookmarked three recipes form Everyday Food to try this fall (from left to right):

Portobellos with Leeks and Spinach
Warm Quinoa, Spinach, and Shiitake Salad
Broiled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

That's right, I'm going to give quinoa another chance. Hopefully, this time it turns out well.

Hallway Closet Makeover - After

Here's what the finished closet looks like. It's a tight fit, but we managed to get most of W.'s things in (the rest have taken up residence in my closet). The Elfa shelves were surprisingly easy to install and I would highly recommend them to anyone thinking about a DIY closet makeover.

Ties and belts hang from a special hanger that is hung from a simple hook at left. I'd originally thought that I'd put some screw-in hooks into the white board, but the special tie-belt hanger holds way more than hooks could. However, the white board was very handy in covering up the holes left by the molly bolts.

W. needed some storage for socks, so I mounted these Elfa baskets on the wall, which worked out well because the closet is so deep. I would have liked to match the baskets to the shelves, but the Container Store only had the metal baskets in stock and I couldn't be bothered to spray paint them white to match the shelves.

A garment bag at right contains W.'s suits and his vast collection of shirts fills the hanging bar.

Obama's Oval Office Makeover

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

You may have heard that Obama redecorated the Oval Office. While it doesn't look all that different than it did in past administrations (a neutral color palette seems to be a must), there is one very exciting new feature: The table lamps!

Why, you ask, am I so excited about the table lamps? Well, my dear friend has worked for lamp designer Christopher Spitzmiller for several years and knew that some lamps had been sent to the White House for possible inclusion in the room. When the photos of the newly redesigned Oval Office came out, there they were! As she wrote to me in an email, "[I am] so excited that I have touched something that Obama looks at every day!" I am so excited for her and for Chris. What an honor!

Hallway Closet Makeover - Before

My apartment has a hallway closet that is sized for a washer dryer unit and has a hook-up (though I don't think it is quite up to code...), but I have always used it as a sort of catch-all junk closet. I know, I know, this is appalling behavior. So, when it came time for W. to move-in, I was forced to clean out the closet to make room for him. Several trips to the Goodwill later, the closet was practically empty (above).

The first step to renovating was to remove the shelf that cut the closet in two. While the self itself was poorly constructed and sagging, the side brackets were fiercely attached to the walls with some heavy-duty molly bolts. I do not exaggerate when I say it took two hours to get the shelf out. I was a sweaty, sweaty mess at the end.

As you can see, I was left with a BUNCH of messy holes and some pipes sticking out. I did my best to close the wall openings around each pipe and to patch the holes from the molly bolts. I also patched up the area around the drywall cut out near the top right. This was not a picture-perfect patch job, but I figured for a closet that would be filled with clothes, it was good enough.

Not seen above is the floor of the closet, which was a rusting drain pan for the washer dryer unit. When I concluded that removing the pan was more trouble than I was willing to go through, I created a false floor for the closet that sits on top of the drain pan. It's just a square of 3/4 plywood with little pieces of 2x4 as feet/supports. I painted that with a high gloss white paint to make it easier to clean.

We decided to paint the closet, including the ceiling, a deep blue (paint leftover from a photo shoot), and I am thrilled with the results -- in fact, I am tempted to paint the interior of my own closet the same hue! Check back tomorrow for the reveal of the finished closet.

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