his and hers

DIY deodorant update: I am in love with my all natural lavender deodorant! I made a sage-scented batch for Jeff. Very studly. We smell great.


lentil soup

I recently checked out Mad Hungry from the library. Man, it's a good cookbook! So far, I've made the blueberry muffins, breakfast sausage, and this lentil soup -- and I've copied several more recipes down for later. It's not the most beautiful cookbook around (I prefer more pictures) but the recipes have been winners so far and I like Lucinda Scala Quinn's style of writing and cooking.

This soup is delicious and hearty. I forget how rich and meaty lentils are -- and how cheap!

lentil soup
adapted from Mad Hungry
serves 6-8

3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, copped
3 garlic gloves, finely chopped
1/2 Tbs sea salt
1 small tomato, chopped
1 Tbs tomato paste
2 C green (or brown) lentils
1/2 teas dried thyme
1 small bay leaf
6 C beef broth (LSQ calls for chicken or veggie broth but I really liked the deep dark flavour of beef)
4 C water, plus more if needed
2 teas red wine vinegar

Heat large soup pot over medium-high heat and swirl in olive oil. Add the onion and saute until starting to soften. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and saute until the vegetables are lightly caramelized (5-8 mins). Add tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add lentils, spices, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender (about 20 mins). Stir in vinegar, thin the soup with more water if needed for desired consistency, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl topped with fresh croutons if you'd like. (Check out this post if you're interested in making croutons.)


lion and elephant

I know lions don't usually hibernate, but this one sure did. Deep in his den at the bottom of my WIP box. But he's done now! Yep, Hank the Lion is forever joined with his jungle buddy, Lola the Elephant.

Pattern from Susan B. Anderson's Itty-Bitty Toys


baked egg rolls

I had been craving the salty crunch of egg rolls ever since I talked with my awesome sis-in-law the other day. She was making egg rolls for dinner and just like that, I had to try to make my own. The power of suggestion is indeed powerful. (Thanks for the great idea, Ada!)

I did a little online searching, taking techniques and tips from Steamy Kitchen and from good ol' Emeril (he's annoying, but he's got some winners -- ever try his key lime pie?) This recipe is kind of cobbled together and improvised, so some measurements are approximate.

baked pork egg rolls
makes a lot (for the freezer)

2 packages egg roll wraps (6x6" square)
1 lb ground pork
cayenne pepper (I didn't measure, but I'll assume 1/4 teas)
1 14oz package of prepared coleslaw veggie mix
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs cornstarch, divided
1 Tbs sesame oil
vegetable or canola oil

In small bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Cook pork, sprinkled with a dash of salt and the cayenne pepper, until no more pink remains (about 5 mins). Add the coleslaw mix and saute for a couple of minutes. Clear a space in the center of the pan, then add a bit of vegetable oil and saute ginger and green onion for about 30 seconds. Drizzle in sesame oil and stir all ingredients together. Once vegetables have started to wilt, add soy sauce mix and stir to coat well. Remove from heat and spread on jelly roll pan, letting cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a cornstarch slurry by stirring 1 tablespoon cornstarch into 1/2 cup water.

Have a couple of damp tea towels ready to cover prepared egg rolls and the egg roll wraps while you are working.

Working one at a time, put 2-3 tablespoons of cooled pork mixture on a wrapper, and using this technique and your cornstarch slurry, prepare all of your egg rolls. Put completed egg rolls on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, and keep covered with damp towel. Brush with vegetable oil on all sides, and then bake until nice n' golden, 20-25 minutes. Serve with Chinese plum sauce.

Freeze any leftovers separately on a cookie sheet before putting them in a plastic bag together. To cook from frozen, we've been microwaving them, and their okay that way, but I'm going to try popping them in the toaster oven next time to see if I can retain some crunch.


bouncing flamingo!

But one thing: it doesn't really bounce. The ball in the butt, as seen here, was not an original Pinky Hi-Bounce but some dollar-store-variety 'bouncy' soccer ball. If you cover a not-so-bouncy ball with yarn, then it's really not very bouncy. Blame physics. Only if I really give 'er, do I get a bit of a rebound. (Yes, my kid thinks it's pretty funny that I'm throwing her new toy against the ground.)

But the ball gives it shape and heft -- this flamingo feel less like a softie and more like a toy. A toy gets to be thrown about and chucked into things. A person could feel bad doing that to a cute stuffed bird.


almost done

Any guesses??


chicken with mushrooms and rice

I was craving cream-of-mushroom comfort, minus the cream of mushroom can.

chicken with mushrooms and rice
serves 4

1/2 onion, finely chopped
pinch of dried thyme
1 1/2 C brown rice
3 C low-sodium chicken stock
2 handfuls of dried mushrooms
4 chicken pieces, bone-in
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together onion, thyme, brown rice, dried mushrooms, and stock. Pour mix into 9x12 baking dish.

Meanwhile, pat chicken dry and season with pepper. Nestle chicken pieces into brown rice mixture in baking pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake, until chicken is done and rice has absorbed most of the liquid, about 1 hour. Garnish with fresh parsley.


a bag for books

I'm not sure what happened, but Blogger ate this post. Here's a repost...

Look, it's a book bag!

That's right, a bag for books -- library books, to be more precise. And look, a perfectly-sized hidden pocket for the necessary library card.

I was inspired by the Library book tote that Holly of Chez Beeper Bebe made for her boy -- made with a few adjustments.

I'm imagining a bag for the BEACH and the STORE and for FOOD. Honk if you love taxonomy too.


pale green thumb

I'm new at this. We'll see how it goes...


mummy dearest

The spring sweater I started over a month ago is almost done!

Well, the front and back are done -- it still needs sleeves and a neckline. So maybe not almost done, but gettin' there.

But I'm going to show you now, because, well, it's Mother's Day!

The pattern is from Picture Perfect Knits, a kind of beginner's guide to intarsia. I'm a newbie so it got a little messy, but apparently even the wrong side of an expert's intarsia isn't much to look at. It's like a mullet -- business in front, party in back.

I heart mom. Here's a little history and slideshow of the iconic tat.


mini double chocolate truffle cupcake bombs

Remember Calvin and his Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs? That's how I feel making up a name for these cupcakes.

I mean, the recipe says 'chocolate cupcakes' but they are so much more than boring ol' cupcakes. There is a double chocolate thing happening (I'm a fan of this choco-layering apparently.) They're a little fudgy, but not too sweet. I know I'm at risk of overselling these cupcakes right now. Okay fine, they aren't that good. Just make 'em and try 'em and see if I care.

mini double chocolate truffle cupcake bombs
makes 36-40
Sorry, I never wrote down the source for this recipe. I copied it from the internet way back in October 2005 for a Halloween party (death by chocolate, anyone?). All I remember is that it was from one of those scary and overwhelming sites like allrecipes.com with a bazillion recipes for everything.

1 1/3 C flour
1/3 C Dutch-process cocoa
3/4 teas baking soda
1/4 teas salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 Tbs instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 Tbs warm water
3/4 teas vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 C whole milk
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (even better if you have the mini ones)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare mini muffin tins by lining with paper liners or spraying with cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter until soft. Gradually pour in sugar and beat together for about a minute. Beat in coffee mixture and vanilla. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. On very low speed, add dry ingredients in 3 equal additions, alternating with the milk in 2 equal additions, beginning and ending with the dry. Stop mixer as necessary to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Fill prepared pans with batter, filling each muffin tin almost full. Bake cupcakes on center rack until a cake tester comes out clean, about 15 mins. Remove from oven and gently lift cupcakes fro the pan. Cool on a cooling rack.

Enjoy at room temperature or cover and refrigerate cupcakes for up to 2 days. If you want, dust with powdered sugar before serving.


bathing with animals

Ever since my friend gave us a little washcloth bunny, I have been meaning to add to our bathtime zoo with repurposed towels. After cleaning out the linen closet over the weekend, I had the old towels I needed -- including a striped one just destined to be a zebra!

The zebra, which admittedly looks a little piggish, and the puppy dog are puppets -- a simple zigzag stitch around the embellished pieces. The bunny is a sew-right-sides-together constructed washcloth.

Isn't it crazy how a little embroidery thread and some felt can turn a simple blank body into a recognizable animal? I mean, that one little patch under the eye is kind of an ingeniously simple way to indicate 'puppy,' don't you think? (Thanks to Martha Stewart -- the puppy puppet washcloth is in her fabric & sewing crafts encyclopedia.)

Rub-a-dub-dub. Arf, arf.